Many feel that once they can play the soprano in tune, then it's "mission accomplished." But I'm sorry to say: This is only half the battle!
Players have this misconception because they don't play the instrument enough to know that there are several layers to the instrument's sound. It's like an onion. The more you peel it, the more layers that surface to be peeled.
To get to this point takes years of practice.
Here are some layers I have discovered, along with ways to nurture them--and not necessarily in this order:
Layer 1: Playing in tune. Tuning the octaves is good check your pitch. It's almost like tuning a piano.
Layer 2: Producing a tone rich with overtones. This is where the book "Top Tones for Saxophone: The Fourth Octave" comes in handy.
Layer 3: Being able to play with a sub-tone. Listen to Steve Lacy and Lucky Thompson for this. They are great teachers for how to utilize the low register of the instrument.
Layer 4: Playing dynamics levels from pianissimo to forte. Practicing classical etudes is great for this. I like the ones by Marcel Mule.
Layer 5: Speeding up and slowing down the airflow by changing the position of the tongue.
Layer 6: The altissimo register
Layer 7: Multi-phonics
Layer 8: Microtones
And as I continue to peel this sonic onion, I'm sure more layers to conquer will surface.
But don't let these things overwhelm you. Just take it one layer at a time!
This site was created as a platform to share my thoughts on music and politics; my music; and to connect with fellow sax players committed to sharing ideas about the soprano saxophone.
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy
Podcast for Rhizome's 2022 Catalytic Sound Festival with Layne Garrett
411 Kent - Wednesday, August 17, 2022 @ 8:00PM
Saturday, July 17, 2010
Sunday, July 4, 2010
Taking The Soprano Path: The Road Less Traveled
|Jane Ira Bloom|
She is a great example of this.
Jane is probably one the few players who lives in New York who doesn't sound like she does. Meaning her playing is absent of all of the sometimes cliche (ish) harmonic and rhythmic complexities that are prevalent in many New York players.
I'm almost certain that it's because she only plays the soprano.
|The Four Brothers|
Having been a soprano player from the beginning of her professional career, Jane probably didn't have the opportunity, and I imagine, nor the desire, to play hundreds or thousands of gigs as a side person, always learning other people's music. And she probably didn't have the opportunity to form that saxophone bond that alto and tenor players seem to have, where they're constantly exchanging ideas, which can sometimes result in them sounding very similar.
Take the first step!
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