11/28/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 332)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 332

Date: 11/28/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


On Thursday mornings I’m generally scrambling to get work done early before beginning my long teaching day.  But today is Thanksgiving, and I woke early to do my own work in my own time.  On this day of family, friends and relaxation, it felt wonderful to rise first thing in the morning and play music, a wonderful ability I am so grateful to have.  My improvisation today reflected this calm, quiet gratitude on this day of Thanksgiving.

While practicing, I decided to work with extremely simple, two-note chord voicings.  I gravitated towards two chords, the first of which was a Major 6th interval, and the second a split octave.  Though they were incredibly simple in their structure, I decided to embrace their quiet beauty and sculpt an improvisation around them.  These are notated below are Chords 1 and 2.  I wanted these two chords to make up the bulk of the material in the improvisation, so I made constant reference to them, at first playing each in pure and un-ornamented style, while later on adding more rhythmic variety between them as well as occasional leading tones.  

To further magnify the stark simplicity of these two chords, I used two additional chord shapes, labeled below are Chords 3 and 4 which worked to offset the established harmonic landscape.  Chord 3 was played near the middle of the piece, at 1:38.    Throughout the improvisation, Chords 2 and 3 were directly related harmonically to Chord 1, which I viewed as the key center in G major.  However, due to slight differences in intonation, Chord 3 opened an opportunity to shift the key center at the piece’s conclusion.  I reserved Chord 4 as the final statement of the improvisation–the only time this chord was played.  It was in the key of Bb major, but sonorously I felt it was a beautiful compliment to Chord 3 and the entire piece overall.

The fingerings as well as pitch content for Chords 1-4 are notated below in concert key.

Chord 1.  Pitches (in ascending order).  D, B

(Left Hand) 1, Octave, Low Bb, Palm Eb key only // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C

Chord 2.  Pitches (in ascending order) F, F (each a quarter step flat).

(Left Hand) 1, Octave, Low Bb, Palm Eb key only // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C, High F#

Chord 3.  Pitches (in ascending order) Db, Bb (with a slight passing tone of B natural in the upper register).

(Left Hand) 2, Octave, Low B  // (Right Hand) 1-2, Low C

Chord 4.  Pitches: D, Bb.  I also used my embouchure to flex between a Bb and C in the upper octave.

(Left Hand) 1-2, Octave, Low Bb, Palm D // (Right Hand) 1, Low C


The image accompanying today’s post by Marcel van Eeden.