12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 185
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: The rec room at my childhood home in Edmonds, WA
Lately I’ve come to realize that I shy away from some textures that make me sound less refined. The phrase “some textures” is a tricky one, because it’s hard to say exactly what I might be avoiding, but like pornography you know it when you see it. Ultimately I tend to favor sounds that are either more controlled, or those that leave the door wide open–such as an energy piece where I’m screaming through the horn. The sounds explored on my improvisation today initially sound somewhat unrefined to me and I assume possibly the listener. When I first started working on this piece I almost stopped and abandoned it because it wasn’t up to my personal standards of how I want my saxophone to sound. This is ego. To me I sounded almost like a young, novice player here at times, which I eventually found to be incredibly interesting to work with, because as the improvisation evolved I tried to paint a picture for the listener that the sound itself is only a starting point. Instead of fighting my ego I decided to engage it. The improvisation does not change drastically from start to finish, but simply is what it is.
The initial figure is the core of this improvisation. It is a detuned dominant 7th chord in second inversion: Bb, Db, Eb, G. The first three pitches are all played with the same fingering, where I play the saxophone like a bugle to adjust the pitch up from one note to another. The final pitch–altissimo G, used the traditional fingering. For the Bb, Db and Eb, the fingering was as follows:
(Left Hand) B-A keys, Octave, Palm D // (Right Hand) F-D keys, Low C
The upward and downward bends were created by flicking open and closed the High F# key in the right hand, while again maintaining the single fingering for the three pitches Bb, Db and Eb. The bends that connect one note to another were what initially deterred me from wanting to continue practicing this figure. I then decided to commit to the loose simplicity of it, and worked with it enough to experience the sounds as something very beautiful, and then tried to gain greater control over them.
The image “Low Sun from Loon Lake: Eleven Drawings” accompanying today’s post by Ellen Phelan (1983)