09/09/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 252)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 252

Date: 09/09/2013

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:

Area 1

(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave, Palm Eb key // (Right Hand) F-E keys, Low C

Area 2

(Left Hand) B-A-G keys, Octave, Palm Eb key, Low B // (Right Hand) F-E keys, Low C

Area 3

(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.