12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 154
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)
Because of mechanical troubles with my horn requiring an unexpected trip back to the mainland today, followed by major mechanical issues with my car while on the other side, I found myself with several hours to read. I’m nearing the end of Hemingway’s For Whom the Bell Tolls, one of my favorite books. The characters are currently engaged in fighting with the “Maquina” (Machine Gun) and the author’s descriptive language with this tool is simply amazing, using words like “sound” or “speak” to almost anthropomorphize the machine in the context of its terrible use in battle. This language and images of battle in my mind influenced this improvisation today.
During this piece I worked to maintain a constant flow of sixteenth notes at a medium fast tempo, though I inadvertently dragged the tempo considerably as the improvisation went on. I used the following base fingering as a point of departure:
(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Low B // (Right Hand) F-E-D keys, Low C, Side Bb
I tried to envision this terrifying machine being used in battle sweeping across a landscape, and the evolution in sound which must take place depending on the direction it is being fired. To simulate this sweeping back and forth I tried to create a “panning” sound by slowly opening and closing the Low E and Low C to phase the pitches up and down. I tried to create the perspective of the machine in use from a distance versus up close. At two points during the piece I settled on a Low B to Low Bb, this being the only time a singular pitch was maintained during the piece. In these moments I imagined a soldier firm on a target.
The image accompanying today’s post is a US Government World War II soldier in action.