02/27/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 58)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 58

Date: 02/27/2013
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)


Today I felt the impulse to create a cyclical improvisation with more traditional pitches. I wanted to create a solid, steady chord progression that balanced melancholy with joy. 

In the past few years I’ve been developing specific fingering exercises that allow me to play three to four pitches in extremely rapid succession. Unlike when traditional fingerings, these pitches can be played at such a rapid speed that a much bigger harmonic shape begins to take form. I am just not able to play these pitches with such speed otherwise. This improvisation uses four harmonic worlds, each with a different fingering. The first chord is a Concert Ab minor shape, with the second sounding like an inversion of the Concert Eb dominant, the third a Gb Major chord and the fourth the Gb dominant. These are definite approximations, because the fingering system used does not allow for specific tuning. 

During this piece I would also apply more embouchure pressure against the reed and raise up my air flow to turn these chords into multiphonic shapes. The cyclical effect is achieved by playing the desired pitch, then opening the B key, the Side C, and returning to the initial pitch. There is essentially an incredibly fast triplet shape being repeated over and over.

My goal in this improvisation was to negotiate a balance between the busy nature of the triplet effect with the intrinsic beauty of the chord progression, I’m intrigued by the idea of pairing melancholy with joy. It seems to me in daily life that this combination just seems ever present in me. It’s not as though one overpowers the other, but more the two find a way to co-exist. It’s like speaking to joyous old man–the kind of human that finds happiness knowing that time is finite. 


The image “Dusty Field” (watercolor on smooth paper 300gsm) by Alice K. http://aliceapril.deviantart.com/art/Dusty-Field-63297371