02/06/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 37)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 37

Date: 02/06/2013
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)


Over the past month I have focused largely on textural pieces. These do have very concrete and qualifiable qualities to me but lately I’ve begun craving single note melodies. My piece today focuses on repetitive, single pitch shapes and irregular, but repeated rhythms.

During this improvisation I use a fixed scale. In concert key and in descending order the pitches are B-A-G-F-E-D-C. These are the 7 pitches in the C major scale–perhaps the most often played scale in the world. By limiting myself to such a strict set of pitches, I decided to work with the repetition of disjunct rhythms. Throughout this piece there are 3 melodic/rhythm sets that use all 7 pitches, as well as the quickly descending scale played between the motives. I attempted to perform each of the 3 rhythmic sets in exactly the same way with each repetition. 

Pitch order in melody/rhythm 1: B-F-C-A-E-G-D
Pitch order in melody/rhythm 2: G-E-A-D-B-F-C
Pitch oder in melody/rhythm 3: G-C-F-D-B-E-A

Because the rhythms were so disjunct, I was also curious to see if I could return to each motive and play it in exactly the same way again. There were certainly some mistakes, but overall I felt that my rhythmic integrity and accuracy remained clear. After playing each motive, I return to the descending scale shape as kind of a mid point between the phrases: B-A-G-F-E-D-C. This shape in this particular key was a favorite of the saxophone master John Coltrane, who played it many times throughout the album “Interstellar Space.”