12/13/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 347)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 347

Date: 12/13/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


In today’s improvisation I worked with pulsating, cyclical gestures that faded in and out dynamically, while flexing upward and downward in pitch.  I approached the piece with a number of varying fingerings, but each contained a similar sound profile.  I used these fingerings to add subtle differences to the harmonic progressions each time I swelled in and out of a cycle.  With my main focus on the flexing pitch centers, I felt these variations in harmony enhanced the flexing.  At times during this improvisation I also cut directly to the upper octave, or would gradually flex the pitch upwards to this new range, or downward back into the original range.

During this piece there was no set meter, but I tried to remain award of my phrasing and the pacing of the piece while gravitating towards centers of rhythmic motion.  I tried to let the landscape ebb and flow naturally.  The physical technique of the pitch flexing was extremely challenging and required a great deal of flexibility in my mouth shapes and in my air flow. At the same time, I needed to keep the front part of my lips very tight against the mouthpiece in order to be hold onto the cycles.  With even the slightest misapplication of pressure the sound cycles would abruptly stop and interrupt the mood. Because of this I practiced these sounds for about a half hour before beginning my recording process, just to be sure I could maintain this focus and flexibility in the improvisation from start to finish.

Though there are many slight differences in fingerings used during this piece, the core fingering action was as follows:

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

I tended to focus on cycling open and closed two keys at a time, each one in turn, back and forth between the two.  These pairs included: G key/Side C // B key, Side Bb // C key, Side C, among many others.  I also changed the “core” fingering from time to time, and allowed myself the flexibility to do this at will.  Some of the fingerings that come to mind are:

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

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

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

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


The image “Le P'tit Tore” accompanying today’s post by Raoul Ubac.