09/13/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 256)


12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 256

Date: 09/13/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


Today I worked with repetitive, sustained pitches and chords using different tonging techniques.  In this improvisation I wanted to explore the idea that quickness of tempo can be linked to timbre.  To explore this idea, I would sustain a note and find false fingerings to play against it that would make  very marginal, subtle changes in the tuning.  Because each false fingering is a little different, some pitches speak more than others, whether because they have greater or less volume relative to one another, or maybe because of the timbral relationship from one pitch to another.  This can create sound cycles that, because some notes are more punctuated, begin to create complex rhythms and incredible sound worlds.

In the opening of this piece I use rapid, single tonging at a consistent tempo.  I play a Concert C, then close the F, E, and D keys before opening them all back up to speak the Concert C again.  This is a sound cycle with 4 components, which is easy to link up with when articulating sixteenth notes.  At :49 seconds I began using double tonging. Even though this articulation is clearly more rapid, in a way it feels almost slower to me than the single tonging.  The double tonging has a harsher attack, but in the single tonging, I strike the reed much more gently in order to play quickly.   The false fingerings bring out a very subtle, sustained C in the upper register which is very audible in the single tonging but almost inaudible in the double.  This upper octave tone combines with the sustained G in the lower register, and to my ears this pairing of sustained pitches accentuates the stark difference of the articulation attack, and makes is sound even quicker.

In this improvisation, along with the varied articulation, I was also interested in using contrasting sound elements.  At 2:33 I abruptly jump into the upper register to play two very consonant chords.  Before doing this I changed the fingering cycle pattern in the right hand in order to allow those chords to create a sound cycle as well.  The pitches and fingerings (in the tenor key of Bb) used were as follows:

Lower register sound cycles:

Pitch D: B-A keys, Palm Eb only.   Close the F, E, then D keys in the right hand, and then open fully.

Pitch Eb: Bend up to this pitch by playing the A fingering and opening the Fork F key.  Close the F, E, then D keys in the right hand, and then opening fully.

Upper register chords/sound cycles:

Chord 1:

(Left Hand) B-A keys, Octave, Palm Eb key // (Right Hand) 

Chord 2: 

(Left Hand) B-A keys, Octave, Palm D and Eb keys // (Right Hand) 

Notes: Close the E, D, then C keys in the right hand in a triplet pattern for each chord.


The image “Untitled” accompanying today’s post by Charline von Heyl (2007).