12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 165
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)
This afternoon I spent time working on very clear, specific concepts on my horn. One of those concepts was the separation of pitches through extreme octave displacement. This is an area I’ve spent quite of bit of time practicing, and today I began by creating simple melodies and “displacing” pitches by placing certain notes into the extreme upper or lower register. I eventually became interested in the use of a single, fixed pitch which I used in a touch-and-go kind of fashion. I used the altissimo D, which is a very clean, bright high octave tone. During the improvisation I focused my melodic energy from the mid to lower register. This created a specific framework and helped establish expectation for my ears amidst the disjointed dots of color. When I would eventually move into the mid or upper register, it had the effect to me of having come from a second instrument.
As the improvisation evolved I began exploring other numerical combinations and dynamic devices, the most obvious being the shift towards incorporating longer whip tones amidst the short ones. I would try to place these longer pitches very far apart from one another, and play a quick crescendo in volume with an abrupt cut off of the tongue. At other times dynamic variation became a focus. I would play the upper fixed D at a high volume, and play nearly all of the lower tones at a very quiet volume. I also explored more of a wiley sound with the melodic tones, or a very evan balance between the pithces.
During the first half of the improvisation I stick to a 1:1 ratio with the use of the altissimo D, and a melodic tone of my choosing. I then began exploring a 1:2 ratio with the altissimo D and 2 melodic tones. I eventually began briefly exploring 1:3 ratio, and also incorporating the occasional long whip tone as well. Near the end of the piece I returned to the 1:1 ratio.
The image “Pastry Case” accompanying today’s post by Claes Oldenburg (1961-62)