08/10/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 222)


12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 222

Date: 08/10/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


Last night in briefly rained for only the second time in over a month.  This is one of the driest summers in my memory.  It didn’t rain hard but the jolting difference in soundscape pulled me from my sleep several times last night.  After waking this morning I walked outside, the air felt clear and clean, and the wind blowing from the South brought the smell of the ocean with it.  While practicing and improvising this morning I felt like the rain wanted to speak through my horn.  I decided to record a joyful, quiet piece with continuous flows of resonant sound.  There is a steadiness to the rain that I wanted to impart in this improvisation.  My attempt at this was through two complimentary major chord shapes with a quiet, understudied drone beneath.

In the simplicity of these chord shapes, I wanted to explore cyclic patterns of both rhythm and harmony, and to focus on the interrelationships of sound.  I considered sound in very broad terms here, those being the beauty of the chords, slight changes in low octave difference tones, and pitches that wanted to “speak” more than others depending on how I interpreted a rhythm, among others characteristics.  For me the creation of beauty in this piece was a delicate balance in the mechanics of the fingerings, and ultimately the sounds they produced.  There is something extraordinary about finding equal beauty in both sides.   

In this improvisation I focused on two chord shapes.  I began by presenting each of these in their “pure” state, that being the point from which they were initially executed while practicing.  These “pure” states are in the rhythms and pitches written below.  Then I would introduce rhythmic variations and new cycles with these chords.  During various points in the piece, I would let the sound settle into only the common bottom most notes in each of the chords, the wonderful Concert Eb drone that rang throughout the entire improvisation.  The two chord shapes were as follows (written in the tenor key of Bb):

Chord shape 1

Rhythm: 1 e & a 2—-

Pitches: F (drone) C#, F

Fingering: B-A keys, Octave, Palm Eb, Low B  //  (Right Hand) Low C

Chord shape 2

Rhythm: 1 e & a 2 3—–

Pitches: F (drone) Eb

Fingering: B-A keys, Octave, Palm Eb, Low B  //  (Right Hand) F key, Low C

To create the full cycles I also used the alternate F# fingering, F key, and C fingering.  In various combinations with the fingerings above, these created the bulk of the pitch material in this improvisation.


The image “Drops of Rain” accompanying today’s post by Clarence H. White (1903).