09/23/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 266)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 266

Date: 09/23/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: The rec room of my childhood home in Edmonds, WA 


In preparation for a show tonight, I worked on the great saxophonist Rosoce Mitchell’s landmark composition Nonaah during my practice session today.  The wide, disjunct melodic landscape is organized in a brilliant series of chromatic gestures separated by, in my cases, over 2 octaves of displacement.  The piece is both an achievement in composition and a fantastic platform from which to build as an improvisor.  It’s his use of octave displacement in particular that fascinates me, and in today’s improvisation I was interested in exploring the idea of opposing musical forces.  This was represented in my improvisation by using groupings of two pitches, each an octave apart, but with one side starkly more aggressive and loud in volume, and the other more subdued in timbre and significantly quieter.

There was no particular structure to the pitch choice, accept to say that I tended to avoid moving chromatically.  Though it was inadvertent, there were some pitches used very sparingly, such as: Concert, Ab, D, B, Bb, and F#.  Others used very frequently included: G, Db, A.  I had no overarching formal structure to the improvisation other than the simple concept of octave displacement paired with timbre/volume displacement.  As the piece progressed I ebbed and flowed between periods of relative calm and periods of faster, higher density action.


The image “SITE (Sculpture in the Enviornment)” accompanying today’s post by James Wines (1981).