12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 180
Instrument: Soprano saxophone
Location: A forest clearing inside Moran State Park. Orcas Island, WA
This weekend my wife and I are staying at Moran State Park on Orcas Island. Orcas is located in the San Juan island chain, about a 1 hour ferry boat ride from the mainland, and another hour and a half to Seattle from there. The island is accessible only by boat, and is filled with pristine old growth forests, mountains, and several lakes. Today we’re staying at a camp ground, the bulk of which is dug out of a steep, thickly forested mountain side. This morning I decided to take my horn and trudge up the mountain in search of solitude and inspiring natural surroundings. I did not follow any established path, and instead carved my own straight up the hill. I had to climb over recently fallen timber, old nursing logs and thick underbrush. I hiked for about 20 minutes, until the campsite below was far behind me, and the feeling of it–the laughing children, camp fires, parents and cars were out of sight, mind and earshot.
I arrived at my recording location as though it were prepared for me. Playing from the top of a hill, a gully below made a steep, cup shaped downward slope that pushed my sound outward. I placed the mic about 50 feet below me, and listened to my surroundings. The birds were out in abundance with their variety of calls, and I decided to create my own recurring melodic shape by using upper register overtones. I stayed within an octave or so range, dipping the sound up, and occasionally down and up to settle on a pitch that the horn called out for. I tried to pace my melodic action based on the duration of silence between the other calls around me. I used a single fingering in this improvisation, which was as follows:
(Left Hand) Fork F, G keys, Low B or Low Bb // (Right Hand) F-E keys. To help facilitate a more even downward to upward bend, I would occasionally slowly trill the Low C key in the right hand.
The image “Graphis 89, for a drama” accompanying today’s post by Dick Higgins (1961).