04/04/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 94)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 94

Date: 04/04/2013

Instrument: Alto saxophone

Location: Langley Middle School band room.  Langley, WA (Whidbey High School)


A week ago I found myself with a few minutes between sectionals at Langley Middle School.  I noticed a large, vintage looking timpani drum and I couldn’t resist playing into it.  I was amazed by the deep, lasting resonance inside this drum and particularly so compared to the other two kettle drums on either side of it.  By moving the tuning foot pedal, I created some incredible sounds inside that instrument which could bend up and down based on the direction I moved the pedal.   I decided that this morning I would make the time to work with this particular drum again.

Though I was tempted to use the foot pedal in this piece, I decided it would stretch the boundaries of this project beyond my ultimate intention.  My aim is to make this a solo project, and I believe that incorporating the resonance inside a drum is of course utilizing a second instrument.   However, there is something quite different about intentionally manipulating the sound with an additional apparatus on a secondary instrument, rather than allowing it to naturally resonate.  It feels fundamentally different to me to do this, than it would to augment my sound based upon the acoustics of a room.  The room, and in this case the timpani is a secondary instrument, but it feels like an extension of my horn rather than a separate tool.

I improvised this piece freely without any pre-concieved material.  Whole-step split tones and overtone fingerings yielded beautiful contours inside the drum.  In order to capture as much of the drum’s perspective as possible, I placed my mic setup beneath the base, so the saxophone itself was about 4 feet from the mic.  

Special note: I think this recording would be experienced the best at high volume.