03/27/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 86)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 86

Date: 03/27/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)


This morning I worked on an exercise using subdivisions with note groupings of 6, 5, and 4.  A pair of sixteenth note triplets can be subdivided within the space of two eighth notes–as can 4 sixteenth notes subdivide within the space of 2 eighth notes.  However, a 5 note grouping cannot equally subdivide within the space of two eighth notes.   When I work on exercises that use a 5 note grouping over the space of 1 beat, I practice playing this phrase in time by simply using my ears.  However, today I sat down and tried to find some broader pattern within a 5 note grouping (and other prime numbers) that would allow me to practice it more efficiently, or at best, to understand this mathematical relationship more concretely in a musical context.  I had limited results, but it did inspire me to record a piece today that uses the mystical groupings of prime numbers.  

I decided to explore groupings with a number of notes using the following prime numbers: 3, 5, 7, 11, 13, 17, 19.   I created a scale with a total of nine pitches, which in ascending order were: (Db, D, E, F, Gb, G, A, Bb, B).   For pitches above the number nine nine, I simply kept going up the scale using the same order of pitches and assigning each new number accordingly.  For the prime number 3, I played the third, second, and first note of the scale in repetition.  For the number 5, I played the fifth, fourth, third, second, then first degrees.  This pattern was followed up to the 19th scale degree, which again was played down to the first.  

Since I omitted the prime number 2, I decided to find ways to incorporate this integer.  Mid way through the piece I began placing 2 groupings together, with the following pattern:  3/7 //  5/11 // 7/13 // 11/17 // 13/19.  At all other points in the piece I played the note grouping in sequence: 3, 5, 7, 11, etc.  To break up the improvisation, I used a harmonic gesture that used 2 multiphonic chords in alternation.  I would play these two chords for an indeterminate length, then pause and repeat for a total of 4 times.  I then returned at the end of the piece to play this gesture for the 2nd time.  


The painting “Brooklyn Bridge” accompanying today’s post by Joseph Stella (1917-18)