12/02/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 336)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 336

Date: 12/02/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


For the past several days I’ve felt an immense joyousness in me, and I believe that much of this is due to an experience I had two nights ago.  I woke up every few hours feeling remarkably well rested.  At 2am, 4am, 6am I would wake up and feel ready to begin the day.  Sometime in the 2 o'clock hour I sat up, got out of bed, walked into my practice room and wrote down the following phrase:

“Love is the practice of patience, and the product of empathy." 

The next morning I remembered feeling compelled by something in that moment, and I remember being in a half awake, half sleeping state while writing it.  This phrase has stayed with me constantly the past two days.  I am a happy, fulfilled person, but I am not intrinsically a joyous person.  I have to fight to have a light heart, and the fact that this naturally emerged from me is a fascinating thing, and today I wanted to explore this in my improvisation.

In this piece I tried to capture the transient nature of joyousness in me.  I created a loose, dreamlike atmosphere with melodies darting in and out of a harmonic palette.  By adjusting my embouchure mid-phrase I was able to shift the harmony while still executing the same fingering cycle.  These fingerings resonated parallel Major and Dominant chords.  Dominant is a transient, transitional chord, where the Major is solidly joyful.  The challenge for me was to sculpt a piece that used both "life states” simultaneously, and to allow the individualism of both states influence the improvisation in equal measure.  

The fingering motions would be impossible to fully notate below, but suffice it to say that that there were 3 primary fingering ares I used during this piece.  They employed key flicking, as well as embouchure motions to fully realize the sounds.  They could vaguely be written as follows:

-B Major/B Dominant Chord (Descending shapes).  This shape opens the piece:

Flick high F# key, and move immediately into: (Left Hand) Palm Eb, Palm D, 1-2, Octave, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C.  Then move into: (Left Hand) 1-2, Octave, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C.

-B Major/B Dominant Chord (Ascending shapes).  This shape was played faster, and enters at :22

Same as above, but begin by flicking High F key instead of the high F#.

-B Dominant sue chord.  This shape enters at 1:43.  It is distinct in that it has a much simpler sound profile.

(Left Hand) 1-2, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C.  Then move into: (Left Hand) Palm D, 1-2, Octave, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C.


The image “The Woods, In Winter”–plate 9 from the suite, “Aspects of Nature” accompanying today’s post by Henri Riviere (1898).