11/27/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 331)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 331

Date: 11/27/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


A few days ago I discovered that there is a leak in my Low C# key.  The key sits flush against the key cup normally, but if I fully open the key and gently put it back down, it sits about a millimeter above the tone hole, causing a small amount of air to escape.  However if I let go of the C# key with a bit more force it will fully close, completely eliminating the leak.  There are two small pins that help this key close, and on an old horn like mine every so often the rods that the pins are connected to become sluggish and need to be cleaned and re-oiled.  I decided to use this leaking pad in today’s improvisation, and while practicing I worked to develop a piece that incorporated the fully open C#, as well as the partially leaking C#.  

During this improvisation I used a total of 3 fingerings, each with its own sound profile.  I used fluctuations in my air flow and embouchure to phase tones in and out, and to create momentary sound worlds that would emerge and disappear.  To help illuminate slight differences in the tuning captured in each fingering, I slowly trilled my octave key open and closed through the entire piece.  Fingering 1 was a stable, common multiphonic chord that creates a Concert G major triad.  After working with this multiphonic/fingering, I carefully put down the C# key, creating the slight leak described above.  I then moved on to Fingering 2, which is possible only with the leaking C# key interacting with my air flow.  This fingering created a Perfect 4th interval with the pitches B and E in the upper register.  It can heard for the first time at 1:10.  Finally, I began playing Fingering 3, which had a rich sound profile that easily enabled me to explore the pitches contained in this overtone series.  I explored the following pitches (in ascending order) B, F#, B, D, and F#.  The B acted as a drone in the middle octave as I explored for of a melodic profile in the upper register.  This series of pitches enters at 2:07.

The fingerings for these chords were as follows:

Fingering 1.  Pitches D, B, G

(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Low C# // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C.  Trill the octave key continuously.

Fingering 2.  Pitches B, E

(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Low C# // (Right Hand) 1-3, Low C.   The low C# key is slightly open, having done so by moving from Fingering 1 into Fingering 2.  Trill the octave key continuously.

Fingering 3.  Pitches B, F#, B, D and F#.  

(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Low C# // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C.  Same as Fingering 1, but again the low C# key is slightly open.  Trill the octave key continuously.


The image “Little Brancaster” accompanying today’s post by Norman Ackroyd.