09/26/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 269)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 269

Date: 09/26/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

Location: Practice room B at South Whidbey High School.  Langley, WA (Whidbey Island)


I tried for about an hour this morning to develop a piece and record it, unsuccessfully.  It’s difficult sometimes to walk away from a piece which you have faith in but untimely does not work.  Looking for further inspiration, on the way out the door to teach I grabbed a newly picked-up book called “To A Violent Grave: An Oral Biography of Jackson Pollock."  Just the subject matter, the font on the pages and a few lines of text gave me the inspiration for today’s improvisation.  After coming up with the initial sound design and sculpting it a bit, I recorded this piece in a single take.

This improvisation is an exploration in contrasting moods in what I hear as a blues piece.  I built sound cycles off of complex chord clusters and tried to balance an analytical approach to my sound with a gut-instinct approach to blues playing.  The improvisation was centered around a Concert Ab with the following pitches: Ab, B, Db.  The gesture overall was in this pitch order: Ab, B, Db, B, Ab—-.  There is a muted sound cycle that opens the improvisation and is returned to a total of 3 times.  The upper register tones in this cycle became progressively more and more the sound focus as the piece evolved. Though it had little tonal reference to the blues melody and chords that are used in the remainder of this piece, I felt this opening sound was the perfect platform.  There is a sad, brooding feeling to it that just fit the mood so well.  The pitches and fingerings were as follows:

The melody: Continuously open and close the Side Bb (right hand) and C key (left hand) in a staggered cycle.

Ab (mid register overtone)

(Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2-3

(Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low Bb, Eb palm key open ½ // (Right Hand) 1-2-3


(Right Hand) Fork F, 2-3, Low Bb, Eb palm key open ½ // (Right Hand) 1-2-3

The muted sound cycle: Continuously open and close the Side Bb and C key (left hand) in a staggered cycle.

(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Low C# // (Right Hand) 1-2-3

The Melodic/Harmonic gesture occasionally played with the figure: Ab, B, Ab was fingered as follows:


(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2-3.  Cycle the Side Bb (right hand) and C key (left hand).


(Left Hand) 2-3, Low C# // (Right Hand) 1-2-3.  Cycle the Side C (right hand) and B key (left hand).


(Same as Ab above)


The image "Untitled” accompanying today’s post by Jackson Pollock (circa 1948-49).