Learn to play the iconic opening line from Careless Whisper on sax in this step by step lesson.
This is probably the most famous sax riff from 1984! Even if you were living under a rock (or weren’t born) and missed this song the first time around, if you’re a sax player you’ll know this tune.
In this lesson you’ll learn how to play the opening riff from Careless Whisper on sax, in easy steps. Even if you are pretty new to saxophone, you can have a go at this one.
Grab the worksheet below to work through this lesson.
Easy to learn
This is a brilliant line to try because it’s actually very repetitive, and it’s quite easy to learn.
Make sure you grab the PDF from our Locker. Just click the link above.
Listen on the video as I play the whole thing and then we’ll break it down into sections.
The Opening Scale
Careless Whisper is in the key of B minor, so we’ve got F sharps and C sharps all the way through.
And the first thing is that great big run that goes all the way up to a high C-sharp. This run is a kind of like a D Minor scale but we go D, E, F sharp, G, A, A sharp, B, C, C sharp. It’s kind of like a scale with a little chromatic thing at the end.
Again, D, E, F, G, A, A sharp (or B flat), B, C natural, C sharp. It’s pretty fast!
The melody section 1
It take a bit of practice. But then you’ll be able to get it nice and smooth all the way up to the C sharp.
Then when the melody starts, we’ve got C sharp, B, F sharp, D, C sharp, B, F sharp, D.
Let’s try with the run-up.
The melody section 2
The second section is a similar pattern, but it starts on A.
So we’ve got A, G, D, B, A, G D.
Then, the next phrase starts on G.
G, F sharp, D, B, G.
The last phrase in this first half is just like a scale going up: F sharp, G, A, B, C sharp, D, E, F Sharp.
Now we’re halfway through the whole solo, let’s do that whole first half. See if you can play along with me.
Free Careless Whisper transcription inside Locker
Second half of the solo
The second half of the solo is almost identical to that first half. Again, we’ve got just a short run because we were going from the F sharp this time up to that C sharp. I think you could just play B, C and C sharp. Then we’re back to the melody section again.
C sharp, B, F sharp, D, C sharp, B, F sharp, D
A, G, D, B, A, G D.
G, F sharp, D, B, G.
Then the long scale again, starting on F sharp: F sharp, G, A, B, C sharp, D, E, F Sharp.
The only difference is that the last note. We finish on a B. So we do a little run up to the B using A, A sharp (or B flat) then B.
Now try putting it all together!
This melody is a hit with our Sax School members too. Check out our student Rick Herman who learned it, then played it for his cows!
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