02/20/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 51)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 51

Date: 02/20/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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

I spent the morning working on sustained pitches in the altissimo range of the upper register.  This is a difficult task on the saxophone and a small part of my daily practice routine.  A current goal of mine is to create a stable quarter tone fingering system from the lower register into this altissimo range.  In trying to find new fingerings for these quarter step pitches, I often stumble into new fingerings for traditional pitches, and my piece today uses two recent discoveries.

With the following fingering: (Left Hand) B and G keys, Octave // (Right Hand) F Key, Low C I am able to play a an alternate High F# (Concert E).  By then adding the Palm Eb key and adjusting my embouchure and air flow I can move this pitch to an altissimo C (Concert Bb).  This is an incredibly difficult motion to make, and is generally not well suited as a fingering combination to play melodically.  However, the two tones are very full and bright, and provide a very different timbral result.  

I performed this improvisation with a kind of bottled lightning approach–very short and to the point.  The piece uses only these two pitches along with an occasional interruption of a multiphonic.  This mulitphonic has an altissimo C in the upper part of its chord, and seemed a natural fit for this improvisation.  This chord is achieved by using the above Hight F# fingering: (Left Hand) B and G keys, Octave // (Right Hand) F Key, Low C and then adding the side F key.  This multiphonic seemed to only speak with a very loose embouchure and a direct air flow.  The two altissimo pitches in this piece however require a very firm embouchure and a direct air flow.