12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 252
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studio in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)
I was back on my tenor today after 3 days on the soprano exclusively. Since the tenor is my main horn, it’s extremely rare that I take more than a day off of it. Even if I spend the day on alto or soprano I generally work on tenor for some period of time. It was good to get some fresh perspective on my sound and to pick up the horn feeling a bit renewed. Except for a few days last year, I have not taken a day off playing in about 8 years. Daily practice and study is a reality of my life, but this project has added a bit of pressure when I come to the instrument on certain days. To come to the horn with virgin ears was a welcome feeling.
During this improvisation I wanted to explore the concept of a “prescribed burn." With the current talk of the massive wildfire outside Yellowstone National Park, the subject of fire on a massive scale, whether prescribed, arsonist, or natural has been orbiting my brain. The use of the term "prescribed” in the sense of a fire obviously implies a high degree of control over the use of a massive force of energy. In my improvisation this was embodied by using a series of multiphonics while singing with a raspy, throaty call of sound into the horn. I wanted to pull out a wide swatch of dissonant color, including at points very beautiful, consonant chords. I played relatively quiet during this improvisation and worked to apply gentle but targeted pressure against the reed, pulling some sounds out indeterminately and other intentionally. I essentially began with an understanding of how loud I would like to get and what areas of sound I was interested in covering. For example, there is no period in this piece of elongated shrieking, or any abandonment from the core of each chord. I set specific boundaries for myself but let my embouchure wander within those boundaries.
There were three fingering areas I used, all very close to one another:
(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave, Palm Eb key // (Right Hand) F-E keys, Low C
(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave, Palm Eb key, Low B // (Right Hand) F-E keys, Low C
(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave, Palm Eb key, Low Bb // (Right Hand) F-E keys, Low C
The image “firefighters using a terra torch during a prescribed burn operation” accompanying today’s post by the USFWS.