12/24/2013 (12 Moons Solo Project Day 358)

12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 358

Date: 12/24/2013

Instrument: Tenor saxophone

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


In today’s improvisation I wanted to explore quiet bursts of sound energy.  To do this I used a nontraditional hand position that worked its way from an open fifths chord, and would break through into various sound clusters.  These sound clusters seemed to speak fully at a quiet to medium-quiet dynamic level, allowing their full colors to push through.  I felt that my emotional state played less a role in the sculpting of this piece than did the horn’s own willingness to offer up a beautiful range of sound.  

This improvisation used a series of progressively thickening layers of sound.  It opens with a single Concert E pitch in middle octave, which is then joined by a Concert B a fifth above.  To create each of these tones I used the following fingerings:

Concert E:

(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Octave // (Right Hand) 2-3

Concert E/B

(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Octave // (Right Hand) 2-3

For the E and D keys in the right hand (notated above as 2-3) I used my thumb and pinky instead of the Middle and Ring finger.  This freed up my middle finger to reach across and begin trilling the Low Bb bell key manually.  This began the third phase of the overall sound structure, which included an exploration of pitch clusters in the upper register.  At the mid point of the improvisation I moved back into the single Concert E, but took away the octave key.  This dropped the pitch by an octave and added a further expansion of range while incorporating the open Fifth (Concert E/B) and the upper register pitch clusters.  Despite the limited overall volume, I tried to create a wide dynamic spectrum, allowing the single pitches and clusters to rise and fall in volume between executions.


The image “Melnikov Studio” accompanying today’s post by David Diao (2012).