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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,
I would like to assimilate a more 'Eastern' sound on soprano sax, like a Zorna. My tone is already going that way on the instrument, but does anyone have any tried and tested ideas of perhaps preparing the instrument in some way to get an even more authentic sound? Normally I would adjust my sound with technique, but I need to sound as Eastern as possible for a particular gig, and I don't have much prep time! I've been experimenting with paper and the reed, but not getting anything that really works for me.
Look forward to hearing your ideas!
Best, S
 

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Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
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Interesting thing to try. I think it will help to shove a lot of mouthpiece into your mouth, quite a wide tip and soft reed. I have a Conn Clar-O-sax which I use for such things, but you are unlikely to find one of those easily:



You could experiment with putting a soprano mouthpiece on a penny whistle, though not being conical I'm not sure of the tone or intonation will, just a thing that could be fun to try.

I would also try getting hold of some (softish) bassoon or oboe reeds and see if there is a way to fix to the soprano neck.
 

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I wouldn't think it was a matter of "preparing the instrument in some way" (whatever that means). It's what you play that will give you a more 'Eastern' sound. There are a lot of minor scales that will help. Start with the harmonic minor scale and go from there: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7.
 

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I wouldn't think it was a matter of "preparing the instrument in some way" (whatever that means). It's what you play that will give you a more 'Eastern' sound. There are a lot of minor scales that will help. Start with the harmonic minor scale and go from there: 1 2 b3 4 5 b6 7.
Plus lots of (semitone) trills. I'm not sure if the style you want involves much bending of notes, but if so then mouthpiece only exercises would help, I find that is useful when I try to do Klezmer.
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks for your replies...
The scales/modes, effects etc. are all something I am happy with to create an Eastern sound, but my query is specifically to do with tone...perhaps I should have used that word in my post!
'Prepared instruments' is a standard term in music... in contemporary music you often find prepared instruments, such as a prepared piano, where you attach things to the strings and such to create new timbres.. there is less you can do with a sax, but for example, you can put a strip of paper instead of a reed to create a really declamatory sound!
My query is if anyone has experimented with creating a more Eastern tone by preparing a saxophone in an unconventional way.
Pete, pointing to certain reeds/setups was the kind of info I was after - cheers (I actually hopped onto your site before making this post to see if I could find any ideas)! And yes, lots of pitch bending is involved!
 

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I see what you're asking now. I don't know for sure what an eastern tone would be, except I do think the soprano sax comes closest of the saxes to what I envision (you know, snake-charmer type sound). An oboe-like sound? Probably trying different reeds would be the best way. Maybe a softer reed, to help bend notes and get a 'reedier' tone.
 

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I see what you're asking now. I don't know for sure what an eastern tone would be, except I do think the soprano sax comes closest of the saxes to what I envision (you know, snake-charmer type sound). An oboe-like sound?
Hello,
I would like to assimilate a more 'Eastern' sound on soprano sax, like a Zorna.
I think Zurna is the more common name:



 

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+1 for soft reed, be carefull with the attack, be gentle, make the notes "melt" together, although soprano is one of the most ethnic saxophones actually almost all oriental saxophonists in my country play alto! & they have this mellow sound, with less breath support, which is part of the sound!
+1 too for approaching notes with trills & Lots of ornaments!
i know you are asking for the sound not the note selection but both must be put in consideration when approaching an oriental sound,
try using these scales:
Nacreez: C D Eb F# G A Bb C
asar chord: C Db Eb F# G Ab B C
Nawa asar: C D Eb F# G Ab B C
Hegaz: C Db E F G Ab Bb C
SHahinaz C Db E F Ab B C
 

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"Eastern" is a very broad term.
Check out the Ney, it's also eastern, but not as "annoying" as a Zurna. It is more velvety and, of course, technically closer to a flute.
Since you are not playing an "eastern" instrument, you could also lean towards a sound that is more like a Ney or, even simpler, a clarinet which is also used very often in different eastern styles, but with an approach that is _very_ different from classical clarinet.
I wouldn't know how to prepare your sax, but Zurna is certainly one of the last instruments I would try to assimilate, unless there was no other option. There are more lyrical alternatives, but, of course, the Zurna has an intense effect and if you are already going down that road, I hope you find a way to get closer to your goal. +1 on using little or even no tongue. circular breathing might work out fine, too.
 

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Do you mean Eastern Asia like Egypt. That nasal sound is what most of us try to avoid.
I believe Egypt is considered part of the Middle East, sometimes called the Near East. East Asia is People's Republic of China, Republic of China, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Mongolia.

OP, when you say, "Eastern", I think you are really broadly meaning music from the Middle East, the Balkans, Turkey, Greece, and Eastern Europe, would that be right?

But more specifically, you're really just asking how you can get a sound like a Zurna (spelling) yes?

IMO forget about "preparing" the instrument. Prepare the chops. Experiment with a combination of looser chops, and raise the tongue into a more "eee" position. Play, say, G2 as a long tone and gradually arch the middle of your tongue into an "eee" position, all the while listening to how it changes the character of the tone. If you are getting more of a nasaly sound, that's what I mean. I'd do that before changing reeds but if you're not getting what you want add a softer reed to the mix. Or - start with a softer reed but then I'd also use a smaller mpc opening as well. Good luck. Let us know what worked for you.
 
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