Untitled Document
Advertisement Click to advertise with us!

WW scoring problems in the repertoire

Hello. As a composer and not a wind player, I hope I'm not trespassing here, but I am hoping that some of you may be able to help me improve my woodwind writing. Specifically, I'm wondering if anyone here could cite difficult or awkward passages for your instrument in the standard orchestral and/or chamber repertoire. Passages or figures where you have to make an adjustment or workaround. Issues related to breathing, fingering, acrobatics, dynamics, range, etc., or otherwise things that some composers seem not to get right about your instrument every now and then.

Any insight would be most appreciated. Thanks.


Brassica Oleracea
Staff member
I've attached a sample of one of Sigurd Rascher's 24 Intermezzi. It's the only example I could find online in 10 minutes or less. Rascher wrote these to crush your soul improve students' fingering technique on saxophone. Don't do that. Note that clarinet fingering is mostly the same as sax above :TrebleClef::Line3: to 8va :TrebleClef::Space3:.

Let me give you an example on the sax. the left hand is on the top keys and the right hand is on the bottom. "X" marks a key pressed down. "0" isn't pressed down.

:TrebleClef::Line3: flat, can be fingered at least four ways:
x00 | 000 with a separate key under the x'd key (called "Bb bis"; both keys are pressed down with the left forefinger)
x00 | x00 which doesn't sound great
xx0 | 000 with a right-hand side key you hit with your forefinger ("chromatic Bb")
xxx | xxx with a left hand pinky key, right hand pinky key, and a thumb key. This also doesn't sound great.

Going to :TrebleClef::Space3:?
0x0 | 000
x00 | 000 with a right hand side key you hit with your forefinger ("chromatic C"). No, not the same right hand key as above.
xxx | xxx with a right hand pinky key, and a thumb key (which also doesn't sound great).

Other than being traumatized by Rascher, Scoring problems I've seen:

* Not knowing the range of the instrument. As an example, I've seen arrangements that featured baritone saxophone parts down to 8vb :TrebleClef::Space1:. The general keyed range of a saxophone is to low Bb or low A.
* Not understanding that saxophones and clarinets are transposing instruments. Clarinets are generally Bb, although most pros do also have an A clarinet. Saxophones are usually Bb (soprano, tenor, bass) or Eb (sopranino, alto, baritone). I don't particularly enjoy double-sharps
* Scoring for difficult to find instruments. As an example, chances are very low that your run-of-the-mill orchestra will have a Bb sopranissimo or an Eb contrabass saxophone.


Top Bottom