05/29/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 149)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 149

Date: 05/29/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


During my practice session today I worked at finding fingering systems that naturally had some kind of counterpoint to compliment a melody.  I ended up working with a chain of fingerings fairly close to those used in my composition A Song Cycle for Missouri, which I’ve previously recorded on a separate project.  Unlike that composition, in this improvisation I worked to maintain for the most part a fairly regular rhythmic cycle in a 6 beat phrase.  The piece was improvised and I was exploring most of the material for the first time, and because of this I would occasional break off from the strictness of 6 beats to search for new sounds or as a result of just making mistakes.  

The piece centers around two fingering systems, which can be found in an additional image in this post.  The focal point of each system is a melody in the upper register.  They were played with non-traditional fingerings capable of producing two or sometimes three to four simultaneous pitches.  I worked to fade in and out these additional pitches, which when incorporated into the fingering cycle produced polyrhythms that pushed against the main melody and altered the feel of the 6/8 groove.  My aim then was to create a melody with rhythmic counterpoint and additional melodicism.  

Before recording this improvisation I worked with the fingering cycle for some time to stabilize it into a meter, which ultimately became 6/8.  By adding more air and adjusting my embouchure I was able to bring in and out the conterpoint and its melodic material.  This would at times move above or below in range what I heard as the primary melody being explored.  There were six different fingerings used in the first melodic cycle, and six fingerings used in the second melodic cycle, some of which were common to both cycles and internally repeated some fingerings.


The image “Balzac Toward the Light, Midnight” accompanying today’s post by Edward Steichen (1908)