12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 155
Instrument: Tenor saxophone/harmon mute
Location: Performance hall at Chief Sealth High School. Seattle, WA
I taught at Chief Sealth high for most of the day and I couldn’t resist practicing with a harmon mute that I found sitting on a music stand in the choir room. I’ve recorded one other time during this project with a harmon mute, but today I worked to explore deeper sonic textures with this unique tool. As was the case the last time around, I had to carefully balance the mute in my bell to avoid having it fall out from the pressure built up while blowing through the horn, but also to let it float around enough to vibrate against the bell.
During this improvisation I worked with the natural, stuffy tones the mute insisted on. Specific fingerings would create bright, crisp sound waves, as was the case at the beginning of the piece. Other fingerings, and particularly those that used the low “bell” keys, would create fuller, more vibrant chords that allowed the mute to actually shake in the bell and rotate a bit in a circle. During this piece I phased in and out the pinched tones created by the mute, as well as the dripping sounds created by opening and closing specific keys while the mute response to changes in the sound waves. I used a range spanning the middle register to extreme altissimo.
The image accompanying today’s post is of artist Joan Mitchell, by Cora Cohen and Betsy Sussler (1986).