12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 179
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)
While practicing this morning, and during my recorded improvisation today, I worked on orchestration within dense clusters of sound. I explored several fingering systems before arriving at the one used here. I was particularly interested in this system because of the half step clusters that were placed at various points throughout the registers. The piece centers around the upper to extreme upper register of the horn. While improvising I looked for markers in the sound–those being particular colors, melodies or rhythms that caught my ear and then became developmental tools. An example of this is the upper octave Concert Bb pulse that is used in repetition at various points. The pulse also became a recurring theme in sections of the improvisation where upper register bright tones were the focus.
I worked to maintain a tight sense of control over the sound clusters, but at certain points I would loosen my embouchure to allow extreme upper register tones to enter into the field. These pitches are much more unstable than the lower tones, but are also more flexible in how they can be bent or combined together in tight groupings. During these events I would then pull down the lower tones in volume, or cross fade back into the lower tone clusters after exploring the upper tones for some time. My fingers kept a fairly regular cycle of movement throughout, even in the areas of the piece that were much lighter in texture. While improvising a piece like this, I often try to detach myself from the fingering cycle taking place, and even let it evolve a bit into a slightly new rhythmic feel. To detach my brain from my fingers allows me to focus more on sound. To work on doing live orchestration in an improvisation like this, I’ll often let my mind latch onto a sound and see if I can combine it, or let it interact with other sounds of interest. In this way orchestration feels compositionally central to the improvisation, even when the overall sounds are abstract in nature.
The core fingering system used below was flexible in rhythm, and to which keys could be trilled at any given time:
(Left Hand) Fork F, C keys, Octave, Low B // (Right Hand) F-D keys, Low C
Trill options: Fork F, Side Bb, Side C, Low F#.
The image “Untitled" accompanying today’s post by Ad Reinhardt (1938)