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And to further complicate things, not all players agree on what sound is bright, and what is dark. Personally, I rather like Sue Terry's description of saxophone sounds. Here is an article Sue wrote for SOTW. She describes three components to a saxophone player's tone: the edge (the main part of the tone), the shadow tone (a very pure sound behind the edge, sounds like a sine wave), and th overtones (high pitched buzzing above the main tone). She describes how focusing on these different areas of the tone can influence a player's sound. For example:
Players like Getz or Desmond focus on the shadow tone.
Players like Coltrane or Charlie Parker focus mostly on the edge of the tone.
Players like David Sanborn focus mostly on the overtones.
Thus we see different kinds of brightness: the "edge-produced" brightness, and the "overtone-produced" brightness. Additionally, I've heard players having few overtones in their playing being described as having a "clean" sound, while players with more overtones have more of a "dirty" sound.
I hope that helps to give another perspective on sound. Do any other players agree with this?
 

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I found that it helps, at first, to play into a place that reflects as much of your sound as possible. Sue Terry recommends playing into a wall, I went into the bathroom and played into the shower (the water was off, obviously :D ). The first notes I can remember hearing it on were G#1 and D#2. I don't know why these notes worked for me, but they did. So you may hear it on certain notes for a while, and not on others. Also, your awareness of the shadow tone can fade in and out. When I first heard it, I would only hear it after playing that note for 8 or more seconds. So, it can take patience in that regard.

With some players, the timbre of their instrument changes quite a bit as they approach the bottom end of the horn (Beginning on low Eb, D, or C#). Have you ever heard an Alto player playing low Bb and think "That's a low note!", yet when a Bari player plays the same pitch, it doesn't sound nearly as low. Part of this effect is due to the shadow tone dropping below the pitch of the main tone. Trying to seperate these two pitches may help you hear the shadow tone.

One thing that Sue did not mention, but which helps me identify my own shadow tone, is that the shadow tone does not sound like it's comming from the horn. With me, the main part of my tone sounds like it's centered around my horn, but the shadow tone sounds as if it isn't resonating from any point in particular, as if the room itself is resonating. At first, I thought this was some sort of wierd echo, but now I can hear it regardless of where I stand or what pitch I play.

One question: Have you heard the overtones that she also talks about? I heard them before I heard the shadow tone. I don't know quite what else to say... Good Luck!
 

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Ptrick said:
My take is that the "shadow" tone is the first overtone (one octave up) in the series. You hear it as a shadow because it is so close to the same pitch. The first overtone that the ear hears AS AN OVERTONE would probably be the fifth above that which is the second overtone in the series.
I, for one, can hear the shadow tone, the main tone, and the first overtone (octave) simultaneously. So, I can confirm that the shadowtone is not an overtone.
 
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