07/10/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 191)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 191

Date: 07/10/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: Orchestra Room at Chief Sealth High School.  Seattle, WA


I found myself this morning at Chief Sealth High School over an hour before my teaching day was to get started.  My wife and I were out the door by 5:45am with only a few hours sleep, but it was one of those rare days when being exhausted and unrested actually fueled me.  School is out of session and the building was incredibly quiet.  The only room that I found open was the orchestra space, which is acoustically treated to absorb as much sound as possible so as not to bleed into the other classrooms nearby.  I’ve recorded in this space once before during this project, but today the quiet room was bearing down on me, and I decided to record an improvisation that took advantage of the artificially dry sound.  I used a trilling technique I’ve worked with extensively lately.  In this technique, I take two fingers, and while keeping them straight, outset at a 45 degree angle, I “walk” the fingers back and forth extremely fast against the key.  The trill must float the key above the key cup and never, or at least seldom makes contact with the cup itself.   By doing this an incredibly fast trill is possible.

I focused on particular pitches that would bring about the brightest, clearest tone color while doing the trill.  The improvisation begins with a trill on the open C# key.  I used my index and middle fingerings to walk on top of the C clutch key, which is only traditionally depressed while closing one of the left hand keys, and never independently.  To utilize the dryness of the room, I tried to vary the colors I pulled out of the horn.  Some pitch centers used stuffy, multi-toned chords, and others, such as the C# described above, were starkly dry in comparison.  The piece was improvised freely on a small number of total sound actions.  Some of the fingerings used were as follows:

Multiphonic/Overtone Chord (introduced at :30)

(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave, Low B // (Right Hand) F-D keys.  Use the right hand thumb to hold down the F key, and pinky to hold down the D key.  Then trill the F# with the index and middle finger.

Multiphonic Chord (Introduced at 1:52)

(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave, Low B, Palm Eb.  Use the index and middle fingers in the right hand to trill the F clutch key in the right hand.


The image “Not So Optimal” accompanying today’s post by Michele Abeles (2012)