03/03/2013 (12 Moons Project Day 62)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 62

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


Today is a pre-dawn improvisation. After a late night recording session and only a few hours sleep, I woke up and got straight to the point. I felt a gathering storm in my horn this morning, and this improvisation reflects that mood. This was one of those mornings when energy trumped the need to sleep. 

The improvisation uses a fingering system that I’ve covered before on the 12 Moons project. (Left Hand) B-A-G keys, octave // (Right Hand) F-E Keys, Low C. At will, I also create trills, flutters and pitch loops by opening the G key and side Bb. With the above root fingering I explored textures by using embouchure control and changes in my air flow. I worked to create a sound concept that allowed pitches to enter and exit the sound field when the music deemed it necessary. It’s of note to say most these changed are intentional, but others are indeterminate. New colors that unexpectedly enter in become opportunities for exploration. 

Over the past several years I’ve learned that the air that naturally escapes the horn while playing is as good a learning tool as are pitches themselves. The same can be said for the “junk” tone that is created by air moving around the neck and mouthpiece of the horn while playing a note with a non-traditional embouchure. Slight changes in air flow, say if I hear the air bending up instead of having expected it to bend down, it can give me some expectation of where the horn might be leading me. In this sense, even tones that come out unexpectedly often have some kind of pre-curser to them.