12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 236
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)
The current political conflict and civil war in Syria have been on my mind this past week. The alleged Syrian government’s use of chemical weapons against rebel fighters outside Damascus is a horrifying prospect. The reports, images and videos show a terrifying reality for the people of Syria. Men, women and children, experiencing “convulsions, pinpoint pupils, blurred vision and respiratory distress. 3,600 patients displaying symptoms consistent with exposure to a neurotoxic agent. Of those, 355 reportedly died.” (NRP.org). My improvisation today was inspired by this conflict and the current, alleged revelation of the use of this weapon by a government against it’s own people.
In this piece I used double and single tonging to create a palette of ambient sound with overtones that encompassed a wide backdrop of white noise air flow. I wanted to bring into this piece a focus of air. I found the use of this tonging technique to be a very direct method of achieving this. There is limited pitch use in this piece, but what little there is, I tried to carefully introduce it. This included slight fade in and fade outs, abrupt tiny dots of high pitches, and slight shifts from one pitch center to another. I based the improvisation around the following fingering:
(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave, Low B // (Right Hand) F-E-D keys. I would also occasionally slightly open the Side C key or add the Low C in the right hand.
Though a grim concept, I wanted to impart a feeling of rotten-air in this piece, a sound world where we can experience through our imagination that air, the most fundamental of human rights is being taken away.
The image “Q. And babies? A. And babies.” accompanying today’s post by the Art Workers’ Coalition. Photograph by R.L. Haeberle (1970).