#96 How To Play The Sax Hook From "Who Can It Be Now?" by Men At Work

sax hall of fame Nov 15, 2020

In this week's free online saxophone lesson you'll be learning a real rock/pop classic from Men At Work, and that's the iconic 1981 sax hook from Who Can It Be Now, featuring the gravelly tenor sax of band member Greg Ham. This was originally released on Men At Work's 1981 album "Business As Usual". This one should be quite manageable if you're a beginner on sax, although the high F# might be a bit high on tenor! 

Be sure to pick up your free PDF sheet music transcription for Who Can It Be Now here, which has got the sax hook written out for alto AND tenor. Here are the Q&A 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 available at the bottom of the blog.


Who plays the sax solo on Who Can It Be Now by Men At Work? (1:00)

  • the sax solo on Just The Two Of Us is played by Australian tenor saxophonist and multi-instrumentalist Greg Ham
  • Greg Ham was a founder member of Men At Work and played with them from 1979 to 1985
  • he also played flute, organ, piano, and keys
  • sadly, Greg Ham died at the young age of 59 in 2012


Is it hard to play the sax hook on Who Can It Be Now? (0:40)

  • the sax hook on Who Can It Be Now is quite easy to play if you're a beginner on alto sax
  • it's easier if you play it down the octave on tenor


What are the notes for the sax hook on Who Can It Be Now by Men At Work? (2:21)

For full fingerings, get your free PDF sheet music transcription for Who Can It Be Now . These are the notes for each phrase.

* = second octave, ** = third octave

__ = a longer note

  • main hook - tenor (2:57): D#*  A#*  B*  F#**__B*  A#*

  • main hook - alto (2:57): Db  F*  Gb*  Db*__Gb*  F*


Where can I find a backing track for the Who Can It Be Now hook? (3:49)

  • there's a backing track that you can play along to, here!


So that's it for this week, I hope you enjoy learning this famous sax hook. Don't forget to get your free PDF sheet music transcription for Who Can It Be Now here, lovingly transcribed as always for tenor and alto. Next week you'll be learning Ernie Watts' funky riff on The Dude by Quincy Jones. Until next week, keep practicing smart and I'll see you later! 

Jamie :-)


Video Timestamps

0:00 - intro performance

0:14 - intro and titles

0:40 - what the video is about

1:00 - about Who Can It Be Now

1:36 - how to get your free PDF transcription of Who can It Be Now

2:14 - how to get your free one hour masterclass

2:21 - about the riff




4:12 - about my new format


5:52 - sign off

7:02 - outro music and bloopers


Video Transcript

Hi, I’m pro saxophonist Jamie Anderson and you’re watching Get Your Sax Together. I sax up your Sunday every week, with free online saxophone lessons teaching you great technique tips, player profiles and breakdowns of your favourite sax solos. On today’s lesson you’ll learn how to play Greg Ham’s iconic sax hook from “Who Can It Be Now?” by Men At Work.


This week is another easy one. Partly because it’s good to cater for the beginner’s on sax, and partly because I can’t spend all week making complicated videos at the moment as I’m furiously working away on my new Total Tone Mastery course. If you wanna improve your sound this course is gonna be perfect for you, but you’re gonna have to wait for a few more weeks I’m afraid! Who Can It Be Now is by Aussie band Men At Work and it was released on their 1981 album Business As Usual. The tenor saxophone is played by founder member Greg Ham, who played with the band from 1979 to 1985. Men At Work reformed in 1996, but Ham died prematurely in 2012 at the age of 59. To keep it manageable, we’re just gonna learn the main riff of the song today, and it’s only four notes, but I know some of you are gonna want the main solo in the song as well, so as a special bonus at the end of the video I’ll play the solo for you, but just with the music transcription underneath. I’ve got you covered though, cos if you go to the link below, you can get your free PDF for Who Can It Be Now, which has got the main riff AND the solo written out for alto AND tenor sax. If you’re not sure of your sax fingerings, then go and check out my new Deluxe Finger Chart for sax, which has got all saxophone fingerings PLUS full altissimo fingerings. You can get that from the description or at Get Your Sax Together, forward slash fingerchart. All the normal fingerings are on one sheet, there’s a sheet for alternative fingerings, a map so that you can understand the chart and six different fingerings for EVERY altissimo note for alto and tenor. Pretty damn cool. And, as always, you can check out my FREE one hour Saxophone Success Masterclass using the link below.

[STING: The Notes]

If you like learning classic sax riffs and solos then there’s a treasure trove of them on my Hall Of Fame playlist linked above now. There’s only four notes in the main riff for Who Can It Be Now, which makes it quite straight forward. The only challenge might be hitting the high F# on tenor. You can always take it all down the octave though. The key isn’t very kind for us sax players either - D# minor for tenor or Bb minor for alto. Anyway, here’s the riff broken down in slow motion. There’s only one phrase, which is repeated. This phrase also comes back to echo the vocal in the chorus.

[phrase 1 slow]

Ok, simple as that folks! Now here’s what it sounds like at full speed, with the backing track. After I’ve played it, I’ll let you play along with the backing track. Remember you can change the speed of playback on YouTube. Just go to your settings for the video on your computer or phone and slow it down to 0.75 or even 0.5 speed until you learn it properly. There’s a two bar click before you come in and just watch out for that off beat drum fill.



[STING: Bonus: The Solo]

Now I promised you I’d play that solo bit in the middle as well, so here it is, not broken down slowly with fingerings I’m afraid, but with the music transcription for alto and tenor underneath. I’m actually toying with different formats at the moment, so that I can cover much longer solos without breaking it down to each note with the fingerings. I know some of you are advanced enough to know all the fingerings, and when it comes to long solos like Will You by Hazel O’Connor or Money by Pink Floyd I need a YouTube format that works for loads of notes. Maybe let me know in the comments if it’s helpful just having the transcription with the note names. At least that way you can get the notes if you don’t read music. Anyway, apparently the sax solo on Who can It Be Now was just Greg Ham noodling and warming up without knowing he was being recorded for the song. No offence to Men At Work fans, but that’s kinda exactly what it sounds like to me, which is another reason I haven’t given it the full treatment. Anyway, here she blows, hope you enjoy it! 

[STING: Before You Go]

So that’s it for this Sunday, I hope you enjoyed learning Greg Ham’s iconic tenor riff on Who Can It Be Now by Men At Work. Another classic sax riff in the bag. My ambition is to have every famous pop sax solo and riff covered sometime in the next ten years! Don’t forget to pick up your free PDF using the link in the description, and if you wanna learn some more in-depth sax stuff go to Get Your Sax Together dot com, forward slash masterclass, to get your free one hour lesson with me. Many thanks for watching this and supporting me, and although I will always be here for you with free content, if you wanna buy me a coffee you can do so using the link in the description. Every little helps in these Covid-infested times. If you’re diggin’ the content, please give the video a thumbs up, leave me a comment, subscribe to the channel, click the bell icon to be notified when I upload new content and check out my Insta and Facebook pages. I’m totally winging it at the moment with my content schedule, so it will be another surprise video next week - maybe a riff for the people that like Housy, club saxophone, I dunno! Until then, practice hard, practice smart, and enjoy your music. See ya later!


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