02/23/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 54)


12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 54

Date: 02/23/2013
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)


An effect I have been practicing is creating an atmosphere where a pitch can sound as though it’s bouncing or pivoting. The idea being that an interruption in the flow of air can cause a brief interruption in the pitch without completely sounding as though the pitch has halted action altogether. My intention is for the note to sound as though it has changed trajectory.

In this improvisation I created a folk melody using 5 predominant pitches. In ascending order, middle octave and in concert key the pitches are F#, G#, A#, B and C#. Towards the end of the piece I briefly deviate from these pitches by adding chromatic tones that move down by half steps from the A# to the F#. Though there are 5 main pitches used, the bulk of the energy is placed on the first two notes–F# and G#. I tried to create a very joyous atmosphere in this piece, and the end result to me feels as though a folk instrument is being accompanied by a drum.

To achieve this sound, I play traditional fingerings for the 5 pitches, but also depress the Low Bb key. As it is possible to play these notes exclusively with my left hand, I used the palm of my right hand to gently slap the fork F key. This slapping creates a full, quick, and muted tone that briefly interrupts the continuation of air and creates the percussive, bouncing sound you hear. I found that I just could not get the sound to resonate as well if I simply pushed the key open with the right hand, first finger as is generally done. There is something about the slapping motion that helps to create the best result. 

There are two multiphonics that are played during this piece as well. The first is done by playing the Concert F# (with the low Bb key depressed), and adjusting my embouchure to pull out the additional tones. The highest of these tones is a high C#, which follows suit with the 5 primary pitches used in the piece. The second multiphonic is played with the following fingering: (Left Hand) B-G keys, Octave, Low Bb This second multiphonic has at its base a Concert G#, which again follows suit with the primary melody.