Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 3 of 3 Posts

· Registered
Joined
·
66 Posts
I'm also a big fan of what he does and I've worked a bit on that tune. Not enough to be able to really play it, my circular breathing chops aren't so good. But I've played around with it enough to get a decent idea of what is involved. Before trying to think about what to transcribe, I would ask do you really need to write it down? People can mean many things when they use the word. If you had to, for college or whatever, I'd use at least two staves.

The most obvious part of the thing is the notes he fingers on the tenor. It's simple stuff, but the tuning is pretty sharp on the album version, which can lead to confusion. (perhaps as a result of recording straight to tape? Or maybe it was a really hot room) In any case, I'm pretty certain the first few notes are (transposed) :space3::line2: b:line1: The alternative, a semitone sharper, would mean that for parts of it you'd be holding low C# open for a long time while moving other fingers, not a nice thing to do on a Conn 10M, which he plays. I've tried!

While he plays these finger patterns, he keeps a pretty steady embouchure and throat voicing, not articulating or voicing any of the three notes as you would usually. I doubt he ever uses the octave key. In the first 13 seconds or so of the album version, you can hear him voice mostly the fundamentals, with a pretty loose jazz embouchure. If you're a classical player, you're going to have a hard time doing it. I have no idea where you're at as a player so some of this advice is pretty general and possibly a bit too simple. Anyway if you haven't done it already it would be a great idea to practice voicing overtones, slurring between them with no tongue. Particularly for Stetson's stuff it would be good to practice voicing two or more overtones at once, especially with big intervals between them.

He bases quite a lot of his pieces on this idea - a simple repeating pattern, and then voicing the higher overtones, making a melody out of them. I guess it would be best to notate these melodies, and the general area where he's voicing them (as there might be many pitches) on a separate stave to the one with the repeating patterns. Possibly in the same way that you would write a cluster for piano? On the "patterns" stave I would also notate the parts where he tongues notes, such as at 1.35 on the album version. The final part of the puzzle is the singing. Should be simple enough to write it on a third stave, I figure.

Finally I think it's important to mention what a big part the engineering and production has in the whole thing. It's truly incredible what they did with the album, but some parts are pretty much impossible to do acoustically. First of all there's the recording itself - up to 24 mics were used at one time, and a lot of the stuff that happens on this track is just panning and mixing. The effect is that you feel like you're moving to different places around the room in time. Secondly there's tons of reverb on it. He sounds a lot different when recorded in a dry room with less microphones, like here. It's still pretty incredible all the same. I read somewhere that they ran some mics hot, as in enough gain to cause distortion. I think this also plays a big part in the sound - while it's an old school "effect" it's still a far cry from hearing him in a recording booth close up. You can hear it at its most pronounced starting at around 3.40 and then when it drops off after the big climax at 4.08.

Anyway, I hope that was clear enough, I'm still coming to terms with what he's doing on the instrument myself. I'd love to hear some better insights into it too! I should also mention that as far as I know none of the techniques he uses are completely new. He mentions this in interviews himself. He borrows a lot from the free jazz tradition, if there's such a thing, as you probably well know! He is the first to take the techniques and really play songs, with simple melodies, harmonies, and forms, as far as I know.
 

· Registered
Joined
·
66 Posts
In addition to overtones, multiphonics are essential part of nearly every Colin Stetson piece that I've heard. So some guidance with them might be helpfull. I do not know about other books, but I have one by Daniel Kientzy that has quite a lot of fingerings for different multiphonics for different saxophones (sopranino,soprano,alto,tenor,baritone).

this is the book i'm talking about: http://www.amazon.com/LES-SONS-MULTIPLES-AUX-SAXOPHONES/dp/B001C0WW80/ref=pd_sim_sbs_b_1
Matti, this looks like an incredible book, thanks! Have you heard about this one? It's an interesting approach to overtones I haven't seen elsewhere: http://www.scribd.com/doc/80153091/armonicos-saxofon
 

· Registered
Joined
·
66 Posts
Oh yeah, one more thing - those books are both great but as far as I can tell there's no fingered multiphonics in "Stars in his head" like "LES SONS MULTIPLES AUX SAXOPHONES" is all about. I mean the kind where you would play a note and then open a key, such as low Bb without the low C key. The other book, by Pedro Iturralde, I'm still trying to understand, as it's only available in Spanish. But a lot of it is concerned with finding the best altissimo and alternate fingerings for notes, and where they come from.

The book that would be most beneficial, if you don't have it already, is "Top Tones" by Sigurd Rascher, or perhaps "Voicing" by Donald Sinta, (which I still need to check out.) But the important thing is to have a great command of the overtone series. Those books will probably be enough for a lifetime, there's no end to the practice of them. The start of the first track, "Awake on foreign shores" is a great example of what can be done just on a low Bb. Put it up an octave with software and you've got roughly what's possible on a tenor. It's all on the Bb until at 0.48, when he plays the Bb with some high overtones, slurs up an octave, and then plays a multiphonic, I think it's low Bb with low C# open. Only possible on an older horn that doesn't have selmer style bell keys of course.

Edit: Looks like I was wrong about that one, since checking this out:


He doesn't seem to be opening the C# at all, and also when I said he slurs up the octave, he seems to open the G key in the left hand to force the harmonic. There might be some kind of multiphonic where he's opening a key in his right hand maybe?
 
1 - 3 of 3 Posts
This is an older thread, you may not receive a response, and could be reviving an old thread. Please consider creating a new thread.
Top