Below are two examples of a microtonally altered "Blue Monk" by Thelonious Monk. This tune is a good vehicle for quartertone alternations, being that the melody is already centered around semitones.
Example 1 is my rendition. Here, I'm using the middle register of the instrument. The sound has more weight, but some of the quartertones are a lot more difficult finger and play in tune. Also, because I'm playing twice as many notes, the melody now has a double-time feel.
Example 2 is by Argentinian saxophonist Dario Dolci. In Dario's example, he's using the upper register of the instrument, which can make it slightly easier to play the quartertones with more clarity--not to negate the difficulty of what he's doing. As you'll hear, Dario has also slightly varied the melody.
I've also, included a few fingering charts for those of you looking to get your quartertone fingers wet.
(1) This first chart is from a book titled Preliminary Exercises and Etudes in Contemporary Techniques for Saxophone by Ronald L Caravan. An amazing book!
- Use a chromatic tuner
- Be prepared to make slight alterations more suitable for your own set-up
- Be patient. You have to allow your fingers to get used to the newfound awkwardness and your ears a chance to get used to the quarter-steps.
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