07/02/02013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 183)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 183

Date: 07/02/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)


This morning my wife and I bought a card game called “Set” which uses pattern-based pictorial recognition.  The cards are laid face up on the table for all to see, and the first person to spot a correct pattern wins the cards.   I was surprised by how challenging this game was for me, and I decided to cary this theme into my practice session.  During the game, if a pattern does exist in the cards in play, it is laying on the table waiting to be discovered.  The only hurdle is the right mind to see it. This evening I set out to find a new fingering system with what ought to be an obvious choice I have yet to use.  The moment I came upon the system used during this improvisation, I was incredibly surprised that I had not specifically improvised with it before.  The finger shape is simple, but it is the embouchure shape that brings out the wide variety of color.  It’s of course very likely that I’ve played this fingering system in the past, but I’m almost certain this is the first time I’ve played it in an isolated fashion.  

The fingering system used a very common recurring theme for me, which is a static drone with melodic action above it.  The drone is a Concert Bb (quarter step high) in the upper register of the tenor.  By continuously trilling the G key with the right hand (crossing over into what is usually the territory of the left hand), various shapes emerged, including recurring minor third intervals and other sustained altissimo pitches.  I used my embouchure to bend tones up and down while the drone and minor third shapes continued below.  Near the end of the piece, I released the octave key but maintained the same finger system.  This resulted in a much more focused, middle octave drone on a concert C (quarter step flat).  The fingering used was as follows:

(Left Hand) B-A keys, Octave, Palm D.  Continuosly trill the G key with the right hand index finger.  To create further sound colors, I also slowly opened and closed the B or A keys in the left hand.


The image “Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman” accompanying today’s post by Dara Birnbaum (1978-1979)