06/20/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 171)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 171

Date: 06/20/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: Practice Room B at South Whidbey High School.  Langley, WA (Whidbey Island)


I spent about an this afternoon working on a specific set of sounds I had been exploring earlier this morning.  I captured a solid take of an improvisation using the end result, but there was something indescribably off about the finished product.  Despite doing a transcription of what I played and a written description of my process, I walked away from the piece feeling very hollow.  Towards the end of my teaching day I had an unanticipated bit of time, and went back into the practice space to try a very different kind of piece.  The end result is the improvisation captured here, which was a multifaceted response to my mood, the horn, and the room–this piece represented a holistic cycle.

This improvisation centers around an Ab drone.  The fingering that created this pitch held a special resonance in the room, filling it without a real need for volume.  Fluctuations in air flow brought out a fullness that seemed to encompass my entire body.  During this piece I began to focus heavily on when to take my next breath.  The breath created a momentary lapse in the flow of air, and began an anticipated cycle of sound–breath–sound–breath, etc.  After some time I began “flicking” the low D, breathing before doing so.  This took the focus away from the natural breath cycle and created a very new kind of cycle in the piece.  I introduced the gentle multiphonics to become part of this new secondary cycle near the end of the improvisation.

The fingering used to create the Ab was as follows:

(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Low Bb // (Right Hand) F-E keys, Side Bb, Low C.  The small sound punctuations were created by “flicking” the D key momentarily in the right hand.  The multiphonic was created by an adjustment in embouchure pressure with the above Ab fingering.


The image “Untitled” accompanying today’s post by Leni Riefenstahl (1936)