02/13/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 44)


12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 44

Date: 02/13/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)


In our practice routines, woodwind players often take a single pitch and attempt to do a seamless crescendo or diminuendo.  This strengthens our embouchure and steadies our air flow.  This has always been a part of my daily practice routine but I also incorporate overtones into this process.  When playing particular fingerings on the saxophone, the horn seems to naturally want to jump up or down an octave as you let the note grow, and particularly so when you let the note diminish.  My improvisation today is a hybrid of the common crescendo and diminuendo practice technique and the natural octave displacement that wants to occur.  I used a single pitch Concert B in three octaves throughout this improvisation.  

I begin the piece by quickly capturing the high and middle octave Concert B at the same time.  Though this is also possible with a traditional fingering, in this piece I used the following fingering for the high and middle octaves: (Left Hand) A-G Keys, Low C# (Right Hand) F-E-D Keys, Low C.  This is a “split tone” fingering that can simultaneously make a Concert B and A, but in this piece I only play the Concert B.  The low B is played by the traditional tenor fingering of a Concert B (the tenor C#).  The transition into middle octave concert B from the low B is played through an overtone.  

My overall goal with this improvisation was to create a piece that uses careful transitions and abrupt transitions from one octave to the next, with the occasional use of two octaves at the same time.   I feel such a profound level of concentration when playing an improvisation with only a single note, even if that pitch moves into different octaves.  There is a crystal-clear picture as to what is communicated to the listener, and it is a true challenge to perform cleanly in this style.