12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: 4x6ft practice room at South Whidbey High School (Langley, WA on Whidbey Island)
There is a practice room at South Whidbey High school that I often spend time in while teaching each week. The space is approximately 4x6ft with 8ft ceilings, and a maddeningly tight reverberation in the room makes it virtually impossible for me to play in for more than about 20 minutes. Paired with this is a persistent whoosh of air being pumped into the room from an air duct, making the room feel claustrophobic. About 50% of the room is taken up by an old upright piano, which became my source of inspiration for this improvisation.
I placed my mic setup into the belly of the upright, directly in the center of the piano and about an inch from the strings. My foot remained on the sustain pedal throughout the duration of this piece. Though the lid was open, the sound of my horn is captured from outside the piano itself, so the sound you hear is strictly from the piano’s perspective. In this improvisation I use two fingerings, the first of which creates a single pitch and the second is a complex multiphonic. I discovered the fingering this morning while practicing between lessons and felt compelled to give it a shot on this recording. This multiphonic seems to only be produced with a loose but very controlled embouchure and a very breathy approach. I felt this breathiness would be well suited to the atmosphere of this space, particularly given the persistent sound of the air duct. This fingering for this multiphonic is as follows: Fork F and Middle C in the left hand // F and D keys in the right hand // Octave key // Palm Eb // Low C // Low Bb // Side Bb.