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Discussion Starter #1
Go to YouTube.com.

Type "World Saxophone Congress" in the search window.

Make sure you're sitting down.

Enjoy.

Angel
 

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Thanks so much Angel!! It's kinda disappointing to see D. Gauthier's finger lifts up so much when he plays, but it's a beautiful performance. Thanks!!
 

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I don't care how many rules Gauthier breaks. He's an artist. Fabulous doesn't even scratch the surface. You play that well, and your fingers can commute out of the way to Cleveland before they hit the pinky keys. Buy his CDs. All of them.

And Vincent David is insane. Certifiable. Only thing missing from that video is shurikens and climbing claws. That guy is a ninja.

Angel
 

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That was beautiful. From a personal point of view i felt kind of encouraged by a)his tuning position b)the resting the horn on the leg now and again! I loved the relaxation in his hands and arms. The thing I really liked though was the range of tone colours and that left me with a question that no doubt one of you classical guys could answer if you've got time. I've noticed a very "string like" quality in some of the classical sax playing i've listened to. At times the instrument can sound just like a viola or a cello. Is that something that the instrumentalist is consciously striving for to kind of "tone match" with the orchestra or is there something else involved? Excuse my ignorance here, but i'm interested and i thought it worth asking.
 

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RootyTootoot said:
Is that something that the instrumentalist is consciously striving for to kind of "tone match" with the orchestra or is there something else involved?
Gauthier told me in an email reply that the majority of his listening is to oboist Albrecht Mayer, flutists James Galway and Emmanuel Pahud, many violinists from Oistrach to Sergej Chatschaturian, with soprano Cecilia Bartoli being an important inspiration. His favorite saxophone listening is to recordings of Mule, Deffayet, and Londeix.

I think that immersion in great recordings of the best instrumentalists broadens and further clarifies your tone palette (among many other items) in your imagination. Your level of flexibility on the instrument will determine how your imagination translates to reality.

Angel
 

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Very interesting stuff. I've often remarked how on "Interstellar Space" Coltrane's tenor starts to sound like a cello. It would be nice (but, maybe, unlikely) to think that he had been listening to jaqueline du pre, for example. No, dates can't be right, but someone else maybe. Thanks for the info.
 

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Sorry Angel, got you alittle heated with my last comment.. nonetheless, I love Gauthier's playing, it's fabulous and his tone and lyricism is at the top, and luckily, I have most of his recording.
 

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Not heated, I mean you're absolutely right. The thing is that I'm in a rather constant state of excitement about this guy, and superlatives tend to go flying out of my mouth uncontrollably whenever he's the subject of conversation. Believe me, it's not you. It's me.

The finger height issue is weird, because it causes technique glitches all the time in young people's playing. It is amazing to me that what I heretofore believed was a terrible habit is turning out to be less of an issue. Now that I can see videos of badass master saxo ninjas like Gauthier and Julien Petit, I'm noticing that those fingers go way out. And they're deadly accurate.

You listen to Julien Petit's ultra-refined technique, and it's easy to imagine Phil Woods' fingers just gracing the keyboard, barely even moving. Not really the case, but the result is fire.

Angel
 

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incidentally, and interestingly, John-Edward Kelly's fingers also fly off the keys...probably more than Gauthier. If you can play that way and sound as great as these guys, I guess it is hard to criticize them for it. For me, though, when I keep my fingers closer to the keys it is much easier to stay relaxed and therefore play more accurately. I don't know, Heifetz holds his bow wrong...what are you gonna do?
 

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Another comment on the "finger" subject. Good clarinet technique includes what is called "slow finger technique". When playing slower passages, your fingers do and should raise well above the keys so when you depress the keys your fingers are already in motion (by a substantial distance) when they touch the pearls (on the saxophone, of course) on the way down. You have better control on producing smooth passages this way. Saxophonists don't do this very much, but it is part of having a good technique.
 

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Kevin said:
incidentally, and interestingly, John-Edward Kelly's fingers also fly off the keys...probably more than Gauthier. If you can play that way and sound as great as these guys, I guess it is hard to criticize them for it. For me, though, when I keep my fingers closer to the keys it is much easier to stay relaxed and therefore play more accurately. I don't know, Heifetz holds his bow wrong...what are you gonna do?
And Sonny Rollins too - but not Bird. That guy played without moving his fingers.
 

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I think this is an interesting topic, but overall if you can be that good then that doesn't matter anymore.
 

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Just think, though, how much better they could have been on the top echelon of technical pieces had they learned to use their fingers more efficiently. As good as they are, that's scary.
 

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Speaking of technique, when I played for Delangle, I couldn't help but notice how far his fingers came off the keys. But, as we all know, he is amazing.

Steve P
 

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Ya, and I'm sure that those of you who saw Sugawa play when he was here last Fall will remember his fingers also came high off the keys.
 

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Not that I'm going to compare myself with these artists, but when I play my fingers also move away quite a bit from the keys. I even made some adjustments to my saxophone (all the keys are quite heavy to press) to suite this technique better. I believe that all those things don't really matter, as long as you have a clean technique. So I think Angel is right when he says it doesn't matter. When I have to play very fast passages, my fingers automatically move less far away from the keys. I guess this will be the same with David, Petit,...
 

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Personally, I would have thought that a high finger action would generally suggest much greater relaxation in the hands, forearms and beyond. A "keep your fingers close" approach would certainly lead to the possibility of "cramping up" unless one took specific steps to ensure relaxation. Given that, the "fingers close" approach must be quicker in fast passages. I notice that Rollins's fingers vary in their "attack" on the keys according to the nature of the music he is playing at any given moment. This must surely be the right approach, if one's aim is musical flexibility.
 
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