03/01/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 60)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 60

Date: 03/01/2013
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)


The saxophone can create a storm inside itself. Specific fingerings allow pitches to wobble or bend, or smear from one note to another. But the fingering itself is hardly the complete picture. Air flow, embouchure, and in the case of this improvisation, tongue position, can all play critical roles in creating new colors in music. 

This improvisation uses the following base fingering: (Left Hand) B-G Keys and Low B (Right Hand) F# key and Low C. I also trill the low F, Middle C and low Bb fingerings at different tempos from one another. Over the past several years I have worked towards making a single finger in each of my hands trill at different tempos. This is virtually the same concept used in playing a piano, as the two hands are capable of playing completely different shapes at the same time. I am very excited about where this can take my music in the future.

I approached this improvisation by using the opening 10 seconds or so as my root gesture. I maintained a similar pulse throughout the entire piece, varying it at will, but mainly retaining the original shape. I also aimed to incorporate circular breathing during this piece. I’m still working on this skill and my ability is at a very novice level in this area. 

My tongue does the bulk of the work during this piece. To pull out the high smears and swipes I created the movement of “ah-yee” in fast repetition with my tongue. I tried to untether my mind, and to allow myself to see my sound in the upper and lower registers at the same time. I’ve found that as I’ve trained my hands to be able to move at different speeds while doing a cyclic pattern, my mind has also been strengthened to experience two separate sound fields at once.