Sam Newsome

Sam Newsome
"The potential for the saxophone is unlimited." - Steve Lacy

Now available of Bandcamp!

Now available on Bandcamp!

Now available on Bandcamp!

Friday, March 29, 2019

Prepared Saxophone (Without the Saxophone) and Extended Techniques

In more recent weeks, I've been experimenting with playing my tube extensions unattached from my soprano.

This particular concoction is made up of five (5) parts.

1. Coiled plastic tube: This is where the sound travels through.

2. Plastic funnel: This attaches to the end of the funnel to help direct the sound. Similar to an instrument's bell.

3. Balloons: This is attached to the funnel. The dry rice inside of them helps to create a rattling effect when needed.

4. Book (or flat surface): This helps to create the plunger effect heard--enabling me slightly vary the sound.

5. Mouthpiece: This, of course, is where the sound is generated.

The piece: In order to perform this, it helps to be able to circular breath. The drone effect gives it more sonic continuity. As with most of my sonic improvs, this piece follows an ABA form.

A section: Main melody--usually in time.
B section: Improvisation--usually non-metered and sound based.
A section: Main melody returns.

Enjoy. And stay tuned for more!

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

Kids’ Art and Experimental Music

The following videos demonstrate my recent fascination with using toy noisemakers as means for taking me down new sonic avenues. Much of my work in the area of sonic exploration is rooted in the simple idea that if you want unconventional outcomes, the process through which you create must also be unconventional. Two persons who've been major sources of inspiration are visual artists, Jackson Pollock, and Ushio Shinohara. Whereby I'm into exploring unconventional ways to move air through the instrument, they've introduced the art world to new ways of applying paint to canvasses.


Jackson Pollock's signature extended painting technique was drip painting, whereby he did away with the conventional means of applying paint to the canvass. First off, his canvass was on the floor, not upright on an easel. Secondly, instead of using traditional painting techniques, he would hurl, fling, drop, drip, and splash the paint onto the canvass. Hence, why he arrived at unconventional outcomes. 


Ushio Shinohara's approach, though different from Pollock's, did, however, yield similar non-linear outcomes. Shinohara developed a technique called boxing painting, whereby he dipped boxing gloves in paint and punched the canvas in order to splatter it across the canvas. He first demonstrated this style in 1960 while in Japan


The first example is a piece I call 'Saxo-Kazoo-O-Phone." Here, I've attached a toy kazoo to the neck of the soprano, which is used in place of the traditional mouthpiece. Even in the world of toy wind noisemakers, the kazoo is unique, because you can't just blow through it, you have to hum while blowing through it in order to create the buzzing effect. And as an added effect,  I attached a set of wind chimes that dangle from the neck strap holder. I use this as a kind of sonic backdrop. As I see it as an aural version of a canvass.


The next piece does not have a title, but it does follow a similar approach except that I use a plastic toy trumpet as my sound source and mouthpiece replacement. Again, fro sonic canvass purposes, I've attached 5 inch round balloons filled with dry rice, that causes the balloons to function as shakers as I move my fingers. The purpose of this is to take the ear in a different direction if needed.

This is the first installment of these types of prepared saxophone explorations. More to come. 

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, March 5, 2019

Is it Better to Be Liked or Trusted?: A Deeper Look at Social Media

Is this era of when our everyday lives are being funneled through social media, it leaves me to wonder if as a culture, we’re getting off track. Hear me out.

There was a time when being “liked” as the artist meant that people had a real and genuine connection to you and your music. In the world of social media, to be “liked” can be as meaningless as receiving a birthday card from a stranger who randomly pulled your name out of a hat. What they both lack is an emotional investment.

I’d be the first to admit that it does feel good when that uploaded picture to Instagram receives 50 "likes" in an hour—not that it happens often. It makes you feel like you’re making a real connection to a large group of people—maybe even growing your fanbase. But are you, really? Probably not.

I’ve found that the effects from this type of social interaction dissipate like a consumed plate of white rice during a strenuous workout. I call it the Chinese Food Effect because an hour later, you’re hungry again for more attention.

I propose this: Due to the shallowness of social media connections, maybe our goal shouldn’t be to be "liked," but trusted. To be "liked" can simply mean that someone randomly came across your content, and hit the “like” button for no other reason than it was there, or because everyone else did. Trust, on the other hand, is a lot more involved. First off, trust is built over time. Secondly, to have earned it means that you made a genuine human connection.

There’s also an accountability factor tied to being trusted. Meaning, you must be persistent with what you do, and you must be consistent with what you do. With trust comes a set of expectations that others have of you, and hopefully, you have of yourself.

As I see it, there are no real core set of values tied into being “liked.” "Whatever it takes" seems to be the shared sentiment. This is a dangerous place for artists. Whenever you attempt to win folks over with anything other than excellence, it will ultimately have adverse effects on your work.

Playing well and composing great music will take a backseat to spouting outrageous things and posting inappropriate pictures.

Going back to the Chinese food reference, being trusted leaves you a lot more spiritually satiated, with no desire to consume another bite. The effects of it run much more profound. One bond of trust is worth more than a thousand meaningless "likes." Quantity over quality is an age-old sentiment, and one I think would behoove us to revisit during this age of Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Snapchat, and all of the online meetups. I think we’d all be better off if we put a little less media in our lives and a lot more social.