12 Moons Solo Saxophone Project Day 363
Instrument: Tenor saxophone
Location: Home studion in Clinton, WA (Whidbey Island)
I explored partial voice exchange and melodic shapes within multiphonics for today’s improvisation. It was a beautiful, calm morning on this island. The weather was mild, with light, misting rain and greenish hue about the forest. To reflect this I found two chords that laid well together, and tried to create an atmosphere of calm in my practice space. I approached the improvisation freely after having gained some control with the two fingerings.
I was struck by the subtle beauty of the two chords. Within their internal pitch structure was one example of voice exchange. Chord 1 used the two pitches F# and C. When moving to Chord 2, the F# moves up to a cluster of the pitches A and B (each a quarter step flat). The upper register C from Chord 1 moves up to become an upper register F# in Chord 2. Even though the voices both move upward from Chord 1 to Chord 2, the common exchange of the F# from the mid to high register binds the two chords together. These two shapes are written as follows:
Chord 1. Pitches F# and C
(Left Hand) 1-2-3, Octave, Low B // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C
Chord 2. Pitches A, B (each a quarter step flat) and F#
(Left Hand) 1-2, Octave, Low Bb // (Right Hand) 1-2-3, Low C
I also wanted to explore a combination of controlled and indeterminate elements during this improvisation. I did so by choosing a few spots during the improvisation to simply lift a key to see what harmonic colors the horn itself could add. I then incorporated these into the overall improvisation. For example, at the 1:00 mark, I decide to open and close the side Bb key during the then established tempo. This helped to transform the two simple chord shapes into more of a melodic statement. Another example of this indeterminacy can be heard at 2:03 where the harmonic language abruptly shifts upward. I thought this was an incredibly beautiful bit of unplanned material that truly added a color to the improvisation I would likely not have otherwise chosen. Once it was played, I then briefly incorporated it into the chord cycles.
During this piece I used a medium-light reed and played at an extremely quiet volume. Even though I recorded early this morning, for some reason there were more people driving out on the road than usual. The comparative volume of a few cars driving by shows how quiet my dynamic level was.
The image “Untitled” accompanying today’s post by Wade Guyton (2006). The artist “typed the characters onto a sheet of paper. He made this painting by folding a piece of linen in half vertically and pulling it through an inkjet printer, so the two halves were created autonomously and successively. In this way, the artist relinquished control over smudges, streaks, blurs, overlaps, and alignment” (moma.org).