#8 Learn The Baker Street Sax Solo

sax hall of fame Mar 03, 2019

Filmed on Baker Street itself, welcome to the ULTIMATE lesson on how to play Raphael Ravenscroft's alto sax solo from Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street', arguably the world's most famous sax solo. As the original is played on alto, this lesson focuses on the alto sax notes, but if you click here you can get a free pdf to accompany this video, which has a fantastic, 100% accurate, sheet music transcription of the solo written out for alto AND tenor sax.
If you enjoy this video, click here for all my other great Hall Of Fame free online sax lessons, featuring the world's most iconic and famous sax songs, such as Careless Whisper.
Here are the topics covered in this lesson, with video time stamps (min:sec). Clicking on the time stamp will take you straight to that portion of the video on YouTube (in a separate tab). Full Time stamps for the video and a complete transcript are at the bottom of the blog.
Where is Baker Street? (0:13)
  • Baker Street is a busy, wide street in central London, connecting Regents Park to the West End
  • Baker Street, as well as being immortalised by Gerry Rafferty's song, is famously where fictional detective Sherlock Holmes lived
Who played saxophone on Gerry Rafferty's Baker Street? (0:30)
  • The sax solo on Baker Street was recorded by session saxophonist Raphael Ravenscroft in 1978
  • allegedly he was paid £27.50 (about $36), the Musicians' Union rate at the time
  • in 2011 Ravenscroft said his performance on "the most famous sax solo of all time" irritated him as it was slightly flat and he virtually never played it in public
  • Ravenscroft died in October 2014 at the age of sixty
Who wrote the Baker Street sax line? (5:22)
  • the song is credited to Gerry Rafferty, although Raphael Ravenscroft claimed he wrote the line
  • apparently there are guitar versions of the riff recorded BEFORE Ravenscroft got there, so it seems he couldn't have written it
  • in any case, the 1968 Steve Marcus song 'Half A Heart', written by USA vibraphone player Gary Burton, has a virtually identical riff, even in the same key, so it seems unlikely that Rafferty wrote the riff himself (unless it was an outrageous co-incidence!) There is a back to back comparison of the two here
What sax is Baker Street played on?
  • Baker Street is played on alto saxophone
  • this lesson illustrates the notes for alto, but if you play tenor sax you can get a free PDF here with the riff written out for alto AND tenor
What are the notes for the sax solo on Gerry Rafferty's 'Baker Street'? (1:46)
  • the edited version of the riff has 4 phrases, but as this is the ULTIMATE guide to Baker Street you'll learn the full 8 phrase version. Notes here are for alto sax (*=2nd octave, **=3rd octave)
  • the notes for phrase 1 (1:59) are - D* [rip up E* F#* G* A* B* C#*] D** C#* B* A* B* C#* B*
  • the notes for phrase 2 (2:30) are - D* D** C#* B* A* F#*
  • the notes for phrase 3 (2:50) are - F#* D** C#* B* A* A* A* A* A* F#*
  • the notes for phrase 4 (3:07) are - F#* D** C#* B* A* B* C#* B*
  • the notes for phrase 5 (3:19) are - D* D** C#* B* A* B*
  • the notes for phrase 6 (3:33) are - D* D** C#* B* A* F#*
  • the notes for phrase 7 (3:45) are - F#* D** C#* B* A* A* A* A* A* F#*
  • the notes for phrase 8A (3:56) are - F#* D** C#* B* A* B* C#* B*
  • the notes for phrase 8B (4:06) are - F* E* D* B A B B D* D* D* B F#*
  • the whole thing, with notes names written out (4:35)
So that's it, you can now play the world's most famous sax solo! Take your time with it, practice it slowly at first and don't bother doing the first "rip" up to the top D if it's too hard - it won't make too much difference. What WILL really make a difference is carefully copying the original tone, phrasing and articulation. You can learn how to accurately transcribe for yourself here.
For more Sax Hall Of Fame lessons click here and I'll see you next week! Jamie :-)
Video Time stamps
0:00 - intro and titles

0:13 - footage filmed on Baker Street

0:28 - things you might not know about the song

1:12 - back to the studio

1:45 - the notes

1:59 - phrase 1

2:30 - phrase 2

2:50 - phrase 3

3:07 - phrase 4

3:19 - phrase 5

3:33 - phrase 6

3:45 - phrase 7

3:56 - phrase 8 (part 1)

4:06 - phrase 8 (part 2)

4:20 - phrase 8 (whole thing)

4:35 - whole thing

5:23 - little known secret about baker street origins

5:43 - sign off


Video Transcript
Yo! I'm pro saxophonist Jamie Anderson, you're watching Get Your Sax Together and this is a Baker Street special!

So as I make my way down London's famous Baker Street what springs to mind? Well, of course, Sherlock Holmes, the London Transport Lost Property Office, Howarths music shop and, of course, McDonald's!! lol

Now here's some things that you might not know about the Baker Street song. Baker Street was a massive 1978 hit for Gerry Rafferty featuring the famous saxophone solo by Raphael Ravenscroft. Interestingly, he was never really happy with his performance, saying that he thought he played a bit flat. For the most famous sax solo of all time Ravenscroft received the massive sum of £27 in total. 

He claimed that he wrote the line, although there's a demo version of the same hook played on guitar from before he arrived at the studio... So it seems that Gerry Rafferty wrote the main hook. However, if you watch to the very end of this video I'll give you a piece of insider knowledge that you can only know if you have access to Wikipedia! Right, let's get on with learning the song!

Welcome back to the studio!

Just a quick reminder this free sax lesson is part of my Hall of Fame series - you can find the playlist linked on the card up there, also, don't forget to go down into the description and find the link to get the free pdf for this lesson which has got all the music written on it. That is fantastic it's a really good transcription! If you enjoyed the content please as usual subscribe down below and "ring the notifications bell" to be told when new videos come out. And without further ado let's learn Baker Street!

Okay, so there's an edited version of Baker Street with four phrases and there's also the one, the most famous one, with eight phrases and because this is the ultimate guide to Baker Street we're gonna learn the one with eight phrases.

Now the first phrase starts from a middle D and rips straight up a D major scale very quickly to the top D, like this

Now if we speed that up a little bit…

The second phrase also starts on middle D but doesn't rip up this time, it just jumps straight up to the high D. And remember it's all quite loose. You'll see in the transcription in the free pdf I've written it out, but he is quite loose about the rhythms.

The third phrase the first note is now an f-sharp instead of the D from the first two phrases and there's scoops on these repeated “A”s, like this…

Phrase 4 has a long bend on the final B, like this…

Okay moving on to phrase 5 which is very similar to the first phrase again. It starts on the D but this time it just holds the B.

Phrase 6 - again, similar to phrase 2. It's got the additional Bend on the f-sharp, that phrase.

Phrase seven is pretty much identical to phrase three.

Now phrase 8, I'm going to break it into two separate parts - the first part is…

and then he does a little fill section to round it off.

So let's join up both parts of phrase eight, a little bit faster.

So that is all eight phrases and now we can join them up at full battle speed! 3, 4, 1, 2…

So remember earlier I said if you stay tuned we'll find out something you might not know about Baker Street? Well, if you listen to the tune "Half A Heart" by Steve Marcus, which is a composition by the vibraphone player Gary Burton, you can tell me if you think that sounds where Baker Street might have come from, as it was recorded ten years earlier! lol

Okay, hope you enjoyed that video on how to play Baker Street. One more time, remember to get the free pdf in the description which has got the full transcription - you're gonna love that one - if you enjoy the video please do subscribe down below "ring the bell" to be notified of new videos and I will see you next time on Get Your Sax Together!

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