The saxophone, invented and patented in Belgium in the mid-1800s, was not designed with anything more than a semi-tone in mind, measured against the Western chromatic scale: C, C#, D, E♭, etc. As such it is not designed to play tones smaller than a semi-tone (the note between C and C# for example). As notes of this size (quarter-tones) sound “out-of-tune” when compared to what we are used to, music from places like Turkey, Lebanon, or traditional music from Japan for example sounds exotic.
To make a long story short, during my M.A. studies (2003 – 2005) I developed the quarter-tone charts pictured below (for my Yamaha YSS – 62S soprano saxophone) in order to study and perform traditional Arab and Persian classical music. Since then dozens of professional musicians have used them, including the World Music Ensemble at Berklee College in Boston. The fingerings and exact pitches take some getting used when working them into one’s scale practice, but my charts at least make such study possible. A lot of people ask me for these charts, so I am (once again) putting them up for you all to download and use.
I am also including a sample of one of my quarter tone scale exercises, in this case a basic ascending and descending pattern that helps one get a feel for moving from note to note. Starting the note encased in a square, one moves two quarter-tones up then back, then proceeds to move two quarter-tones down and back, essentially pivoting around a central point. As you are learning new fingerings that will now be “interrupting” how you regularly move from semi-tone to semi-tone, this kind of exercise retrains your fingers and mind on a fundamental level.
Note: if you are using these charts to play traditional Arabo-Persian music, make sure you remember to use them judiciously. Such quarter-tones are particularly powerful when nuanced and reticent, so use them wisely.