02/28/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 59)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 59

Date: 02/28/2013
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Practice Room B at South Whidbey High School. Langley, WA (Whidbey Island)


Today was an extremely long teaching day with a full studio of students, classes and ensembles. I find that on days such as this I wake with a feeling of complete calm in my body. This may be because I know that to maintain a high level of focus, energy and productivity during these days I must pace myself from lesson to lesson. I had a half hour break in the middle of the day, and I felt a desire to play an improvisation that reflected this calm state of mind and body. I decided to play a common fingered pitch that used the Perfect 5th and the Octave. These intervals are incredibly powerful, stable chords that have an intrinsic quality of strength in them.

Certain saxophone fingerings are capable of easily played overtones. They function like partials on a trumpet, where adjustments in air flow and mouth position allow a fully new pitch to blossom. My improvisation today uses the traditional fingering for a Concert F# to create separate notes using this “partial” model. But, as is the case with this particular fingering, two pitches can be playable at once. 

I maintained a steady quarter note pulse with my tongue and air, and used this gentle articulation to help pull out the desired tones. I begin my articulating the Concert F# (tenor middle octave G#), and then introduce a Concert C# a perfect 5th above. Mid-way through the improvisation I decided to introduce the octave below middle G#. Like its counterpart in the middle octave, this low G# is capable of simultaneously producing a high octave C#. My body is in transition today, and I’ve felt a cold coming on for a few days. I actually found it difficult to execute this piece today, but the horn called me to it.