Clarity of concepts first!

top, bottom...

Top and bottom in a wind instrument are never to be understood in relation to the way we hold the instrument. Top always is the mouthpiece side; bottom always the bell side of the instrument.

tone holes

Tone holes are numbered from the bottom up. Consequently the hole which plays (written) Bb – B is hole no 1 and the hole which plays (high) E – F is hole no 22. Next, register holes are numbered 23 and 24. The hole which in history came last (F – F#) is hole no 25. On some sopranos you'll find a hole no 26 for (written) G. The hole which plays low A on a baritone is numbered zero, in order to make the numbering of all the other holes run parallel.
Hole no 8 (alternative or side F#) in some instruments is placed a little higher up than hole no 9. In this case, it still retains its number. In order not to loose count too much, I often also give an alternative name.

fingerings, note names...

This site uses the Londeix system for defining fingerings; for more clarity, a zero sometimes is used for an open position.
Naming notes is done from the bottom up as well and relative to the instrument, which makes a (written) low C a C1. An octave higher up it will be a C2 and so on. Low Bb consequently is a Bb0; high (palm key) F is a F3. This yields the same note names for all saxophones, sopranos and baritones alike.

nodes and antinodes

Standing sound waves have spots were the air flow is at its maximum and spots without any movement. These spots are called displacement–antinodes and displacement–nodes. The spot which has a maximum of air flow is at the same time the spot without any pressure fluctuations and the other way around. In other words: a displacement–antinode coincides with a pressure node. In order to avoid confusion over terms, it is always given whether we deal with a displacement or with a pressure item.


A musical tone never is a simple vibration. More and speedier subsystems can be discerned in it. We call them partials.
The vibration that regularly repeats itself as a basic pattern is the first partial. It defines in what pitch we hear the tone sound. The speedier subsystems which are added to it define the timbre.
When these subsystems have a period which is faster than the first partial by a simple multiple – say twice or thrice as fast – we call them harmonics. Harmonics also show a regularly repeating vibration pattern. Non–harmonic partials show an irregular vibration pattern.