08/18/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 230)


12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 230

Date: 08/18/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


This improvisation deals with ascending shapes, both in pitch content and in harmony.  I wanted to create a singular world in three parts, each of those parts being a sonic environment complimentary to one another.  To do this I used three fingerings, each physically within the same region of the instrument, meaning the keys being opened and closed were spaced only a few centimeters from one another.  I made use of a constant trill in the right hand during this improvisation which helped to link each of the three sound worlds together.  The fingerings used were as follows:

Fingering 1:

(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave // (Right Hand) F-E-D keys.  Trill the F in the right hand constantly.

Fingering 2:  

(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave // (Right Hand) F-E-D keys, Palm Eb.  Trill the F in the right hand constantly.

Fingering 3: 

(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave // (Right Hand) F-E-D keys, Fork F.  Trill the F in the right hand constantly.

From the base point at which the sound would emerge from the horn, I used my embouchure to begin gently bending the air upward into the altissimo register of the instrument.  From there I would, when I felt the timing was correct, shift to the next fingering.  I gave myself liberty to move back and forth between the fingerings, but generally I tried to give the piece an overall shape of ascension.  Even the key clacking used in this piece itself rose in pitch.  When cycling any of the fingerings above, tones emerge from the horn with or without air.  However, when blowing even a small amount of air into the horn the “root” pitches will still sound, the same as if I were blowing at regular volume.  But if I stop the air flow and let the tones resonate against the bell, the pitch shifts upward slightly.  In this way, I used even the halting of air to contribute toward the theme of ascension.


The image “Christina’s World” accompanying today’s post by Andrew Wyeth (1948).