04/18/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 108)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 108

Date: 04/18/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: Practice Room B at South Whidbey High School.  Langley, WA (Whidbey Island)


I captured this improvisation moments after closing out a long, productive, and incredibly tiring day of teaching.  Throughout this project I often find myself pre-planing when I’ll record.  If I know the next day will be a busy one, the night before I take a mental survey of the day to come and I generally try to carve out a bit of time where I know I’ll be productive and full of energy.  Today I took a different approach, and I recorded at a point of mass transitional and exhaustion to see if it could warrant a new perspective.  I recorded moments after finishing my last lesson, my mind preparing to go home after a 12 hour day.  I decided to bludgeon my exhaustion and draw my focus towards a single pitch as a central point of action.  The result was an improvisation that culled the image of a hive.

This improvisation uses a low Bb fingering.  My initial intent was to perform a drone piece with a steady, full tone, but once the tape began to role I was drawn into a different head space.  I decided to use a sub-tone embouchure uncomfortably close to the tip of the mouthpiece.  I used a great deal of air to explore a region that bordered the tone of the horn, but also the amazing sonic possibilities of pinched, choked air flow.  As the piece progressed I worked to transition in and out of pitch into pure air sound.

Mid way through the piece I also tried a new technique.  I have stubbled upon this in the past but only in fleeting moments.  At about the 2 minute mark, I balanced my lip pressure at the tip of the mouthpiece, allowing my top teeth to barely make contact with it.  Because of the extreme back pressure, my top teeth rattled against the mouthpiece, causing the entire aperture to vibrate and pull out beautiful sounds. 


The image accompanying today’s post is a cluster of fish struggling for air in an ice hole.