Baker Street is such an iconic sax line, and it’s so much fun to learn on saxophone.
Amongst my community of thousands of learners in Sax School, one of the most popular solos to learn is, without a doubt, a song written by Gerry Rafferty – Baker Street.
This iconic tune has an awesome opening sax riff recorded by Rafael Ravenscroft. Everybody knows this, including those who play other instruments, which means it’s a great song to play for your friends and family.
Plus, it’s easy to learn, even if you are pretty new to saxophones.
Get the PDF for this lesson – plus the saxophone fingering chart and all of our other free resources.
In this lesson, you’ll learn the following:
- The whole riff note by note
- How to avoid the mistakes most players make on these sax solos
- How to play Baker Street on alto saxophone fast and get playing it for your friends and family quickly
Sound like fun? Let’s get started!
How Easy Is it to Learn Baker Street on Sax?
The entire opening riff of Baker Street only uses a few alto sax notes. There are really just four little melodic ideas that you need to know.
That means it’s pretty easy to learn, even if you have only been playing sax for a short while.
There are some tricky parts, though, that catch up with a saxophone player.Make sure you download the PDF Worksheet below for alto sax and tenor sax.
4 Phrases You Must Learn
There are four main phrases to learn.
The notes are pretty straightforward here, but it’s the little extra bits that make all the difference.
We’re starting off on our middle D.
The second note up here is our octave D; that’s a high D that we play with our palm key. Now the magic is what happens in between those two notes – it’s called a “gliss.” It’s just a D major scale. It’s really easy.
Now, if you keep your fingers really close to the keys and practice getting it even, then going to sound really good when you speed it up.
Watch as I demonstrate the rest of this first phrase.
The most important thing to remember here, apart from the gliss happening between the D and the octave D, is that we are tonguing every single note. So we tongue D, then we’re not going to tongue after D that because we’ve gliss up to it, but we’re going to tongue the C sharp and B and A. And then we’re going to tongue B, but because we hold it, then we go up to C sharp and back to the B – that’s the only note that we’re going to the tongue.
Now the second phase uses a lot of the same notes but with a slightly different shape. Watch as I demonstrate this phrase. Pay attention to the tonguing here too.
Hopefully, you can see from these 2 phrases that nailing this solo is not just about the notes. You also need to get the articulation right. So, you need to think about things like the tonguing, and that “gliss” from the middle D up to the High D and getting that right. When you put those elements together, that’s what makes it pop.
We focus on learning pop solos like Baker Street a lot in Sax School because they’re so great for your learning, and you can develop your saxophone skills while having a lot of fun too.
Let’s get stuck in learning the third phrase in this opening section.
There are a couple of cool things happening here. We’re using a lot of the alto sax notes we already know, and it’s very similar to the shape of the melodies we played previously.
Now the bit that really makes this work is the scoops on the As. To get that effect, I’m relaxing my jaw and letting the pitch drop, and then tightening it back up to bring it into tune. Again, notice the tonguing. I’m tonguing the first A, but I’m not tonguing any more of those As until we get down to that F sharp.
Let’s look at the very last phrase.
Again, these are all the notes we already know. On that final B, we do a big scoop. The tonguing is really important, so watch as I run through this in the video.
Now you’re ready to put it all together. We’re going to play a little bit slower than the full tempo, which is about a hundred beats a minute. So we’re going to take it right down to about 70 beats a minute and see if we can play it through.
I want you to think about:
- Attitude – so give it lots of energy, imagine you’re on stage with Gerry Rafferty!
So now you’ve played the four phrases that make up the first half of this opening solo. The second half of the solo is also based on those same four phrases
So now that you know those notes, you can go ahead and work out all the rest of the saxophone parts on this tune.
If you’re in a hurry or you’re looking for a quick reminder, here’s another older video about this solo, which is a bit shorter, from my YouTube Channel.
Get the PDF Worksheet
Make sure you grab the saxophone sheet music for beginners here, then spend some time working through that, but also listening to the original recording and seeing if you can work out all the rest of the parts throughout this whole tune.
I hope you enjoy playing Baker Street on saxophone for your family and friends.
And when you’re ready to take things up to the next level, check out Sax School. You’ll love the clear, structured learning Pathways that will help you make amazing progress on your saxophone fast! Click Here to find out more and get started.