12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 255
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Lecture Room 107 at South Whidbey High School.
Between students this afternoon I spent time working in the choir room at South Whidbey High School. The acoustics in this space are incredibly reverberant, and one corner of the room has a tight, pinging delay that I believe comes from the air ducts overhead in combination with the rooms large size. While I explored this space, the school band director Chris Harshman happened to come through the room and suggested I try playing in the lecture hall. It’s an oval-shaped room with concrete floors, a tall ceiling and tiered lecture hall styled seating. Chris had already pinpointed an incredible sweet spot in that room. It was in the center, 2/3 up the room and specifically between two rows of chairs. In this sweet spot there is an amazing convergence of acoustic pinging. The delay is longer and more percussive than the choir room, and the sound qualities of this space appeared to me to be a convergence of the architectural shape of the room, the materials used, and some kind of duct work in the walls and or ceiling.
During this improvisation I used a number of specific percussive techniques. The louder clacks are the use of a lighter to medium pressure slap tonging. I tried to restrict this to the fingering D. The louder, more aggressive pitch slap was done on the Low Bb or Low B. Slap tonging is an aggressive stopping of the air against the reed with a quick pull-back. In this use of slap tonging I blew air into the horn versus pulling air back out of it. The bulk of the remaining sound material is a technique that creates a kissing sound on the horn. The physical creation of this sound is very different than slap tonging. The kissing sound is quicker and is a pulling away of the reed and mouthpiece while sucking in air. While doing this my tongue releases the reed and is immediately put back on. Even on a single fingering many different pitches can be pulled out, depending on embouchure pressure and air flow. The last technique used during this piece was flutter tonging while raising my tonging in the back of my throat, creating a wind tunnel-like sound. This again was done on the low Bb.
The image accompanying today’s post is of an Anechoic Chamber, a room designed to minimize or eliminate sound.