06/12/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 163)


12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 163

Date: 06/12/2013

Instrument: Soprano saxophone

Location: Sharpe Park, outside Anacortes, WA


My wife and I spent the day driving North on Whidbey Island, and eventually found ourselves in Anacortes.  This is a beautiful, thriving community that values art and wilderness, and I could think of no better place to record for this project than in this area.  A few months ago, the fantastic musician/composer Karl Blau took my friend Bill Kautz and I out to record in the woods at the Sharpe Park.  This heavily wooded, fantastic nature preserve bustles with wildlife, and is just such a calm space.  My wife and I drove around outside the city until we finally stumbled on the park, and we walked a short distance in.  I set up camp next to a small lake that was filled with cat tails and reeds.  It was a beautiful, clear Spring day, and I improvised with the call of birds all around me.

Anacortes is situated very close to the city of Oak Harbor on Whidbey Island, where a large US naval air base is stationed.  Throughout the day the tranquility of nature intermingles with the pervasive thunder of fighter jets souring through the air.  At 3 points during this improvisation airplanes can be heard in the audio.  However the planes were at a significant distance to my location and their sound was mostly peripheral.  During this improvisation I tried to open myself fully to the environment around me.  The constant sound of airplanes became one player in a symphony of sounds.  I spent 20 minutes or so playing before finally beginning to record.  The bird calls around me began to sound very familiar, and I could easily distinguish one type of call from another, and also one bird from another singing a common call. 

I explored upper whistle tones to put myself in the same octave range as the birds.  Some of the birds seemed to use the natural reverb in the forest more than others.  I noticed that the simpler, more pitch-oriented bird calls would ring out much more than the quicker, percussive sounds of other birds.  I tried to explore both ends of this spectrum during this piece.


The image accompanying today’s post is the woods of Anacortes.