12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 38
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Practice room B at South Whidbey High School. Langley, WA (Whidbey Island)
Practice room B at South Whidbey High school is one of my favorite spaces. This room, like it’s next door partner practice room A, is very small. Room B is no bigger than a closet and has 8 foots ceilings. The bulk of the room is made of concrete with some sheetrock, giving the space an alluring reverb and a quick response to any sound produced.
To explore the small and reverberant sound of this concrete space I often practice at either very high or very low volumes. Today I explored the creation of extremely high pitches and tight intervals at a medium to loud volume. I would consider this improvisation a controlled noise piece. In my improvisations and performances I spend very little time focusing on what I would define as controlled noise music. Often I perform pieces that might sound akin to this, but unlike this improvisation I generally set particular actions in motion that I predict will create a result. An example of this would be a muliphonic fingering where I might make a slight embouchure adjustment that I’ve practiced many times over, that will create a pitch or pitches within a particular register. These pitches are often indeterminate, but more often than not I have some expectation as to what might come out. My improvisation today instead had the “controlled” element of a known fingering, but a noise component of indeterminate pitches. You will hear that when I come across certain sounds I did tend try and explore them in repetition. I would not define that practice than as being completely noise-oriented.
The fingering for this piece creates vibrant clusters of pitches and a very stable mid octave concert Eb drone. I used absolutely no vibrato of any kind on this piece, but instead focused my attention on air speed, mouth shape and lip pressure. My aim was to make the extreme upper register pitches the main melodic element with the clusters and chords as supporting elements. The fingering I used for this improvisation was as follows: (Left Hand) B and A keys, octave and Low B // (Right Hand) F key, Low C and side high F.