08/07/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 219)


12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 219

Date: 08/07/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: The orchestra room at Chief Sealth High School.  Seattle, WA


I set up to record in the center of 6 or so steel drums this afternoon.  As I’ve discussed during this project in months past, the orchestra room at Chief Sealth is a very dead space, and the steel drums seemed to give it some humanity for me.  To explore the dichotomy between the vacuum-like quality of the room and the amazing gift of resonance from the steel drums, I decided to improvise a piece based off of extreme dynamic gestures.  I used wide arches of air flow to push and pull at the sound, swiping the air with my tongue and slight movements of my fingers.  I centered on two fingerings in this piece, each of which pulled out beautiful overtones and lasting resonance out of the steel drums.  My aim was not to exploit this resonance but rather to use it in such a way as to give the impression of a room with warm acoustics.

The improvisation is based off the oscillation of a Concert A and Ab.  The fingerings for these two pitches were as follows:

Concert A:

(Left Hand) B-G keys, Low B // (Right Hand) F-E-D keys, Low C.  This fingering also allows for a split-tone chord of A and Gb, which can be heard at times. 

Concert Ab:

(Left Hand) B-G keys, Low Bb // (Right Hand) F-E-D keys, Low C

As a general approach, I would not play the Ab (the second of the two pitches) without having played the A above it and sliding down into the Ab.  To make this transition as smooth as possible, I would not lift my finger from the Low B to play the Bb, but rather pivot it so as to be able to easily trill between the two.  As the piece progressed, I also began singing through the horn to pull out grittier clusters, as well as trilling the Side C.  


The image “Dinamismo di un foot-baller (Dynamism of a soccer player)” by Umberto Boccioni (1913)