10/04/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 277)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 277

Date: 10/04/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


A few days ago my life force felt incredibly depleted.  There was a hollowness in me that wasn’t exhaustion or depression but something deeper and older.  I described it to my wife that I felt like a human puzzle with a missing piece. There was some indescribable thing that I was yearning for, and I came to realize that I needed the healing medicine of John Coltrane’s music.  I listened to the album “Infinity,” which features music released posthumously with beautiful string arrangements by his late wife Alice Coltrane.  I let the music wash over me and I felt this missing piece of life force fill back up.  The profound human searching in Coltrane’s helped guide me towards what I was looking for.  

In gratitude to Coltrane’s music and it’s importance in my life I recorded this improvisation today.  In the last period of his music Coltrane often talked about a trying to achieve a universal sound–a boundless sound that could unite all music together.  During this period nearly every composition of his uses the major or minor pentatonic scale in some form.  From the folk sounds of Appalachia to traditional music of Ghana, this magical scale is found in all musical cultures.  It’s my feeling that Coltrane used this scale so frequently because he believed in it’s universal power.  Today I explored the C Major Pentatonic scale through singing and hollering into the horn while playing a harmonic accompaniment. 

The first two pitches in the improvisation: G-E became the fulcrum of this improvisation.  Setting off from there I then improvised the remained of the improvisation, filling it in with the full C Major pentatonic scale.  To create the bulk of the harmonic material I used a single fingering, which was as follows:

For the pitches (in ascending order from lowest to highest played/sung): E, G, A, E, G, A

(Left Hand) 1-2, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 2-3.  Continuously cycle in a staggered motion the G key (left hand) and the Side F (right hand).

The remaining Concert C and Concert A used the following fingerings

Concert C:

(Left Hand) 1-2, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2-3.  Continuously cycle in a staggered motion the G key (left hand) and the Side F (right hand).

The A minor chord created on the low octave A used the following fingering:

(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Low B // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C.   Continuously cycle in a staggered motion the G key (left hand) and the Side F (right hand).


The image “A Palm Sunday Painting” accompanying today’s post by Kai Althoff.