09/28/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 271)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 271

Date: 09/28/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


Yesterday I worked with taking internal pitches inside a multiphonic chord and using those notes as the melodic material for improvising.  Today I buried melodic material inside of two chord shapes.  This melodic material was improvised, and I used the two chord shapes as springboards for exploring variation in sound while singing a melodic tone within them.  Chord Shape 1 and Chord Shape 2 are very similar, but Chord Shape 1 uses tones in the mid range and is more sparsely filled in.  Chord Shape 2 is much more full, denser in sound quality and uses tones in the lower register.  During much of the improvisation I would sing a pitch with Chord shape 1 and then continue to hold that same pitch while then moving on to the fingering in Chord shape 2.  An example of this can be heard at (:12) where I sang a Concert B with Chord Shape 1, and at (:15)  moved to Chord Shape 2.  The difference is subtle, and I thought of this motion as an orchestrational move, with the initial sound being being gently filled in and rounded out by the second. 

During this improvisation it was exciting for me to hear that sometimes a major chord would ring out in Chord Shape 1, but would become some other slightly different quality chord altogether when entering into Chord Shape 2.  This was despite the fact that both chords had very similar internal pitches.  As the piece progressed, I began singing different pitches from Chord Shape 1 to Chord Shape 2 to further explore internal clusters of sound and combinations of harmonic colors. 

There was also a bit of mystical sound in this improvisation.  When singing a Concert F# with chord Shape 1, I clearly heard my own voice singing a B above it.  This was not a different tone, but to my ears clearly a 2nd tone coming out of the horn with my own vocal qualities.  I’ve experienced similar occurrences like this before while singing into the horn but never a second tone so plainly stated with the same sound as my voice.  This can be heard, at least to my ears, at :21-:24 and again from :29-34. While playing the sound was as clear as day to my ears.

The fingerings used for each chord shape were as follows:

Chord Shape 1:

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

Chord Shape 2:

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


The photograph “New York” accompanying today’s post by Helen Levitt (c. 1939).