03/12/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 71)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 71

Date: 03/12/2013
Instrument: Tenor saxophone/Trumpet cup mute
Location: Choir Room wardrobe closet at Chief Sealth High School. Seattle, WA


After a frustrating, two hour period of recording, I stumbled upon this improvisation. Seeking inspiration, I decided to begin recording in different rooms throughout the Chief Sealth High School music department. I ended up in the wardrobe room next to the choir room, where I happened to find a storage container full of brass mutes. Each mute had some kind of effect on the horn, though most seemed limited to either the predictable muting of my sound, or some kind of sonic manipulation in the extreme lower register. This is logical, due to the rich overtones present in the saxophone’s lower end. After a bit of searching, I found that a trumpet cup mute seemed to do the trick.

I found that a traditional low B fingering created the widest range of colors. The sounds captured in this improvisation are really not possible without having a major interruption in the air flow. I set the cup mute right inside my bell, and because it was made out of thin aluminum metal, the cup mute vibrated against the horn as I played. The low B fingering creates a rich, full note under normal circumstances. The saxophone is a conical bore, and by fingering the low B there is almost no interruption in the flow air from the mouthpiece to the bell. The only exception is a single key–the Low Bb, which remains open. I found that having this key open, and therefore allowing for some venting of the air flow, helped to create an amazing range of sound. When fingering the low Bb, which has all of the keys down, there was not nearly as wide a spread.