Beginner Chris' Beginners' Diary (Take II)

kevgermany

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I think we all go through periods like this. You need to face up to the question you're avoiding - Why are you doing this? If the answer is negative, fine, move on - or take a break for a month or two. If it's positive, set some specific goals. I'm guessing that's why the Grade 6 was suggested..... Goals are great, you measure your progress. And that's reward for the effort. Maybe you need to move to public performances... Questions only you can answer, but ones we all face sooner or later.

Right now I'm just trying to get to play a very simple walz fast enough to keep up with the beginner's play along CD. Remember back then.... Seems you've gone a long way. Hope I can get there.
 
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Good luck with the flute Chris and I hope the person who said it was easy to play is within hitting distance :)))

I bought a second hand flute some time ago and find it much harder to get a note out of than the sax (note, no mention of playing the thing :))

Took it round to a friend's house, his son picked it up and got two octaves out of it and AFAIK ahs previously played the flute.

You might find this web site of use and there are many 'how to' on YouTube.

http://www.jennifercluff.com/
 
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80
Hi Chris

If it's any consoliation I am in exactly the same place. I have the Grade 6 in early July all booked up. I have just realised over the past weeks that I am sick to death of playing Romance (Schubert), Music of the Spheres and 'Hawk gets Bird' every day (although the latter I like) and the 38 (I think) scales/appegios etc. I have decided that I am not going to take the exam and will tell my tutor this week. I just can't find the committment to follow the ABRSM 'process' and question what I am doing it for. I had set myself a goal of getting to Grade 8 in 2&1/2 years. I think it's possible but the reality is I want to play jazz and I know that I can learn a whole load more in that period of time where I would play another 9 pieces and learn the rest of the scales.

I have been playing in a Jazz ensemble since last Septemebr. We did our second 'bash' a week ago and I did a solo with no music. The ensemble is all saxes but we had a double bass, piano guitar and drums also. I was quite chuffed with myself as I only had a rough idea of the first 3 notes I was going to hit. Overall the group have come on leaps and bounds since September and it was a good feeling.

I think you have probably got to the point like me where you have realised you have learned a lot but there is such a long, long way to go. I have deciced that I want to enjoy what I am playing and the jazz improvisation is what floats my boat and is the direction I am now going to pursue.

ATB
 
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Location
Salisbury, UK
I started off going through the grading system and got fed up of the endless cycle of learn grade X piece and scales. Take exam. Learn grade X+1 piece and sclaes and so on.

I got my grade 5 flute, was going o do the 8 before I went to uni. Decided I couldn't be bothered, got a sax and played my own thing, learnt my own tunes (still did the scales etc.) and started improvising.

Personally I find the grading system only really works as a rough guide to how well you're doing. But if you want that it's much better to do the practical musicianship test thing that's offered. They just give you a load of constructive criticism and talk to you about your playing etc.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
Good luck with the flute Chris and I hope the person who said it was easy to play is within hitting distance :)))

I bought a second hand flute some time ago and find it much harder to get a note out of than the sax (note, no mention of playing the thing :))

Took it round to a friend's house, his son picked it up and got two octaves out of it and AFAIK ahs previously played the flute.

You might find this web site of use and there are many 'how to' on YouTube.

http://www.jennifercluff.com/
Hi Dave,

I got a few more notes out of the flute yesterday. I'm still trying to work out why one time the note comes out the next time it's an octave higher or more and the next time no note at all! Then I pick up the sax and it's like putting on an old friendly jumper :)

Thanks for the link.

All the best,

Chris
 
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766
Location
Costa Blanca, Spain
Yes, where are you, Chris? Not is some flute forum, one hopes :D

Thank you for sharing so much...it does help all (relative) beginners, I think, to see that most of us go through the self-doubts and frustrations. It is a journey without end...

And thank you for reminding me what a nice little tune "Not for me" is ....I picked-up the sax and tried it immediately! :)
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
I’ve shifted my allegiance from alto to tenor...

Around the end of May beginning of June I decided to really give the tenor a go, I bought it at Christmas but as I was preparing for my grade 5, which was on the alto, it didn’t get more than an occasional play. Initially if felt big and clunky next to the alto but after a short while it began to feel more normal. It certainly felt more comfortable to play, hanging in just the right position rather than having to be held like the alto.

Inevitably, well for me at least, the transition from alto to tenor also necessitated the need for the right mouthpiece which was found in the shape of a Java T75 and I’ve not looked back since. It’s a lovely mouthpiece to play and all I’m left to work out is whether I prefer V16 or Java reeds. There were some frustrating times early on when it became apparent that I needed to go back to basics, develop good air support and work on those long-tones. Low B and B♭ didn’t initially come as readily as they did on the alto, also the G and G# in the second octave had a tendency to be unstable. The palm notes were, if anything, easier on the tenor than the alto but still a weakness in terms of speed, articulation and intonation. The biggest thing with the tenor though is that I feel more relaxed playing it, I don’t get as hot and I find myself noodling far more and generally enjoying myself which is what it’s all about.

I was wondering what Kate would say when I turned up with the tenor for my lesson, but she was fine with it and asked me to bring it along to SaxPak as well as the alto just incase she was short of tenor players. This lead to a rather unnerving situation when I was the only tenor player one evening and, not knowing the music, ended up in fits of laughter as it all started to fall apart! Since then I’ve been playing the tenor exclusively in both lessons and at SaxPak, luckily there are two other regular tenor players so I can hide a bit while I get my fingers around the tunes.

As well as SaxPak there is also the Swing Band which is run by Kate’s mum Jo. Finding SaxPak more than challenging enough I was reluctant to join the Swing Band despite various members who also play in SaxPak recommending that I say on for it. Jo had occasionally suggested in passing that I should give it a go but it wasn’t until, in a moment of uncharacteristic bravado, that I said yes when Jo said it would be good to have another 2nd tenor. So the next week I rather nervously stayed on after SaxPak and took up a seat towards the back not really knowing what to expect. Luckily for me I sat next to Pete (PeeDee) and he graciously allowed me to share his music as my folder wasn’t yet ready. Sight-reading for an hour and a half of unfamiliar material on top of three quarters of an hour of SaxPak meant I was both physically and mentally drained by the end, but that didn’t matter as it was such great fun playing with the band. Playing with a rhythm section, other saxophonists and brass just took my playing experience to another level and was quite different to the sax only nature of SaxPak, I particularly like playing with a rhythm section as my timing can be a little iffy. The music is challenging but with some work it’s attainable, I was fearing lots of awkward keys and bar after bar of fast semiquavers.

There was one more rehearsal after my first session and then to finish off before the summer break Jo had organised a ‘live rehearsal’ in a pub. The live rehearsal was a blast and a nice relaxed way to perform but without presenting it as a gig. Work had been fairly full on so I’d not had time to fret about the ‘gig’ and it wasn’t until I turned up on what turned out to be a typical early summer’s evening, ie. overcast with the promise of rain later, that I began to feel a little apprehensive. I was going to be relying on my sight-reading abilities as I’d not had time to familiarise myself with most of the tunes. If you were unfortunate enough to hear me trying to sight-read anything you’d probably question the wisdom of even contemplating this! Due to the promise of rain we abandoned the original ‘open air’ idea and instead squeezed into a small ‘cozy’ room inside. After a lot of moving around and setting up music stands, finding spare slings and wishing we’d brought clip on music stand lights we were eventually ready to go. I was standing next to Pete, both of us playing 2nd tenor so I was feeling a little more comfortable as there is always safety in numbers.

The experience in the pub was great, we had a audience but we were not performing for them specifically so although it was taken seriously by us, we didn’t have the pressure of being ‘the band’. I think that relaxed nature meant everyone had a good time and when the people in the pub applauded and sounded to be enjoying themselves I felt slightly more confident and relaxed a bit as well. Having only been to two rehearsals I was having to take my cues from Pete and others as to whether we were playing the background cues or not. I have to confess to getting lost once or twice, if not more, missing a DS here or misplacing the coda somewhere, I think one time I lost track of where the first repeat was! But I’m trying not to dwell on that too much. We broke for ten minutes halfway through where upon everyone descended on the bar, the second half went just as well as the first if not smoother probably due to the revitalising nature of the beverages consumed during the break.

So that was it for the summer, no SaxPak or Swing Band and no lessons for four weeks as Kate was on holiday and I had some other commitments. I planned to use the break to get to grips with a few tunes, record a couple practice sessions and get into improvising with Aebersold Vol 24. However things didn’t quite turn out that way, work was fairly engrossing and without the regular lessons my practice discipline slipped until I was playing twice maybe three times a week instead of every day. Restarting the lessons meant I needed to get back into shape, and I am wondering now whether I needed to give myself a bit of a break as I’ve come back to it with renewed enthusiasm and commitment. I’m even tackling two studies that were driving me to distraction with the dedication they need (and probably deserve), if I’m honest it’s partly so that I can get them behind me! One is a chromatic exercise that leaves my fingers in knots and my head in pain, the other is intended to develop flexibility which is fun but I’ve yet to get through it without falling apart.

The first time I saw Jo at the end of the summer she told me that the Swing Band were playing a gig, there was only time for one rehearsal, oh, and I was to be in the front row, I took all this very calmly as none of it really registered at the time. I remember walking back to my car wandering, “when Jo said to wear black & white did that mean what I thought it meant or was it some code that meant some sort of fancy evening suit?” But the events of that evening and the lead up to it will have to wait...

All the best,

Chris
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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An Average Week - Day 1

I thought I’d try something a little different this time and do a daily diary for a week, and breaking with convention I’m starting on a Tuesday, because that’s when I came up with the idea.

Tuesday 6th October 6:45 - 9:00

Tuesday evenings are the social side of my sax playing life, from 6:45 - 7:30 I go to SaxPak, a sax only band, (currently missing a Baritone player) and from 7:30 - 9:00 it’s the Swing Band. I have to be careful here as Mr PeeDee from the forum also attends these sessions and as I sit next to him, he must be painfully aware of my interesting note selection and timing issues! So alas I can’t go off on deluded visions of grandeur and will have to resort instead to the truth.

Timing is everything on these Tuesday evenings, if I eat too early I feel hungry during Swing Band, eat too late and I just don’t feel like playing, choice of food is equally important, anything greasy just isn’t nice and a light salad is insufficient, I’ve generally decided that pasta fits the bill well.

Tonight was the first SaxPak since July and we had a reasonably good turnout, 2 sopranos, 4 altos and at the back driving the whole thing forward, the 3 tenors, you can tell I’m one of the tenor players can’t you, along with PeeDee and Graham. Kate decided ABBA might be worth a go but was a little unsure how we would take it so tentatively offered round the music.

I’m quickly coming to the conclusion that playing the tenor in SaxPak is harder than I had initially expected. Because we have no baritone player the tenors provide all of the bottom end and if it’s a little flaky it stands out. There were a few humorous moments when a noticeable hole appeared, apparently the tenors were the only ones playing in that bar so if, as had happened, they'd fallen by the way side it was a little empty. To be fair we were sight reading the whole time and it was new music.

The Swing Band was good fun and the room was interestingly arranged this time with the four piece rhythm section facing the rest of us sax and brass players, normally they are behind us but I rather enjoyed getting the full blast this time. Jo is bringing in a few new arrangements each week and tonight we had ‘Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars’ and ‘Stompin’ At The Savoy’. Jo thought ‘Quiet Nights Of Quiet Stars’ would be good to do after our success with ‘The Girl from Ipanema’. After a few initial teething problems with the beginning we were off, and I’m always amazed at how the lead players can just play new material as though they’d always been playing it, one day I hope to be able to pull that off.

The swing band is doing me good I’m sure, I’ve started to count out of necessity, as there is nothing more embarrassing than jumping back in a bar early when the trumpet solo is still going on. The first couple of times I relied on the visual clues of the players getting ready to come back in but it’s not a fail safe system.

I can’t remember which tune it was but we had just got to the bit where it was opened up for solos and Jo was looking round to see who the next taker was going to be, I was appreciating the tenor solo and then looked up only to catch Jo’s eye, so I quickly looked back to my music not wanting to give any indication that I was looking to do a solo.

At the end of the two and a quarter hours of playing I’m pretty sax-ed out and usually buzzing a bit from the feeling of being part of a band and making lot of noise!
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
An Average Week - Day 2

Wednesday 7th October 7:45pm - 9:00ish

I need to sort out a better reed system as I’ve lost track of which were the old and which were the new reeds, which also means I don’t know which one is my A* reed, note to self: sticky labels come off reed guards.

At some point I stopped using my metronome for scales and exercises, can’t remember when or why (must have been a good reason) but I decided to bring it out again today. I find the metronome a bit like very bad tasting medicine, a disgusting experience but suspecting it will do me good in the long run, and needed every day!

Long tones and general warm up went okay, I noticed my overtone exercises on the bottom four notes were much better, Bb in particular, I don’t know why, the only thing I’ve changed recently is the strap. I did my scales along to the metronome and it just illustrated how uneven they were!

Attempted ‘Flexible Variations’, a finger twisting study, at ♩= 80 with the metronome but had to drop it to ♩= 72 when I hit the semiquavers! I can play the whole piece, just, but not with the metronome, now painfully aware of my flexi-time approach! 3/4 time obviously isn’t a terribly strong point either.

‘The Quick Brown Fox’ - My heart’s not in this tune yet and I struggle when the key changes to Db which isn’t helping and progress has been slow.

‘Strike Up the Band’ - Changed the playback speed in Transcribe from 70% to 85% and pretty much held it together, it’s a good fun tune and with added confidence of that experience I played it one more time at 100% where upon things got a little interesting at times, I’ll probably ease it back to 85% tomorrow until that’s more solid.

‘Nice Work If You Can Get It’ - Oh, I’m beginning to loath this tune, how long have I been trying to wrap my fingers around it? It’s getting better but I wish I could crack the first 4 bars of the ‘lead’ bit, and I must remember to swing the notes, I’m trying too hard to get it right which is making me straighten out the notes and that’s not helping.

Low C# is sticky again, did the usual with lighter fluid but I think the mechanisms too spongy somehow, need to have it looked at, probably due some oil anyway.

Tomorrow: Need to put some effort into Db major scale & arpeggio, and chromatic. Buy some reeds, maybe try the Red Java?
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
An Average Week - Day 3

Thursday 8th October 8:30pm - 9:30ish

Confession time, I didn’t do any work on the Db major scale & arpeggio or the chromatic, but I did buy some reeds and a book from Jazzwise!

Tonight I decided to record myself, prompted in part by a post of Phil’s (thehunt). This recording malarkey involves, for me at least, mounting various bits of metal onto my music stand! The mic might not be in the best position but this is only intended to provide a feel for how I’m doing.



I recorded the whole practice session, long tones, scales, tunes, the lot. It took a bit of sorting out as two of the tunes I’m working on I can’t play at full tempo yet so I exported the backing tracks out of Transcribe at the tempo I’m working at, one at 70% and the other at 85%. I then imported each of these into it’s own multitrack project and then set up a general one for recording the rest of the session, a quick level check and then I tried to forget about the mic.



The recording highlighted many things to work on, too many really! Long tones, well as you can see the 1st note of the evening was an A and it’s hardly what you’d call consistent particularly when you look at what Pete has to say about long notes; Visualising Your Saxophone Sound

The harmonic exercise was good again, I still have to lightly tongue to get into the 1st harmonic but not the 2nd or when coming down again. I’ve noticed I’m using my diaphragm in a more exaggerated way for the 1st and 2nd harmonics which is much more consistent and my embouchure is more relaxed and consistent so I’m guessing that’s right as it then mostly comes from the breath support.

In “Strike Up The Band” there is one bit that I always play in a very indecisive way and I now know why, listening back I noticed there is a dotted minim that I hold for a fraction of it’s duration so I crash into the next note far to early and then dither a bit before picking up the tune again.



The above picture shows my Garage Band project for “Strike Up The Band”, the 1st track is from the CD slowed to 85% and has someone playing the whole thing, the 2nd is again from the CD and slowed down as well and is just the backing track, If I want to really make myself miserable I play my recording (tracks 2 & 3) against the the 1st track where upon I quickly hear all the places I come in a fraction late or early or get the wrong note! The intention is not to play verbatim what the other player plays but it’s a good guide.

Listening back to the recording I would say I need to be more assertive with my articulation and cut notes off when appropriate rather than the slow death I sometimes achieve. Dynamics... Arrr, well, umm, you see... Yep didn’t really come across well in the recoding, more work required there.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
An Average Week - Day 4

Friday 9th October 7:30 - 8:00 & 8:30pm - 9:00

A bit of a split shift tonight, I had to finish playing by 9:00 as that’s when Autumn Watch starts, but time seemed to be disappearing at an alarming rate and I suddenly realised if I didn’t get in a session before tea, I’d have lost the whole evening.

Quite a while ago I put together a spiral bound “Scales & Technique Building Exercises” booklet, which is mostly made up of bits and pieces I’ve picked up from the internet or from books and a few things I’ve done. I add new stuff as I find it and have pencil marks and post-it notes in there full of what seemed like helpful things at the time. What’s interesting is that I’ve got tempos and dates noted down next to the scale exercises and I can’t now achieve the same tempos with the metronome, not accurately anyway, so I guess using a metronome each day drums in that speed and accuracy.

Ground work covered I was into ‘Flexible Variations’ and although there was a small improvement, I still struggled to get some parts of it right when playing along to the metronome. I was pretty grateful for tea after that.

After tea I concentrated on the pieces I’d be going though tomorrow during my lesson, “Strike Up The Band” was much better, although I’m still not up to speed on it. I think listening back to the recording helped clarify some troublesome areas and I’m now swinging the notes more, I’d not realised how variable my ‘swing’ was depending on how hard I was finding the music. I worked though a few more pieces before it was time to pack it up.

On Friday evenings I’m nearly always left feeling like I’ve not progressed as much as I’d have liked during the week, but I think that is probably the healthier side to be on, at least there was some progress.
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
An Average Week - Day 5

Saturday 10th October 10:30am - 11:00ish

My weekly lesson is on a Saturday morning, I used to have a one hour lesson but since September it’s been reduced to half an hour for various reasons. At the end of SaxPak on Tuesday Kate had asked me to bring some music to my next lesson, quickly slipping in something about doing a duet with Andy, a fellow SaxPak member and student of Kate’s, she then disappeared before the ramifications of this dawned on me.

I seem to be working on so many things at the moment that my bag is getting seriously weighed down, but I like the variety and would prefer to be working on many things rather than just one or two tunes. The tune that Kate thinks would make a good duet for Andy and me is “Me And My Shadow” (as performed by Sammy Davis, Jr. & Frank Sinatra) Andy will be playing Alto and I’ll be on Tenor and this is for a concert sometime in November, I’m hoping the back end! I have to admit to feeling a little cornered by Kate and with a smile she explained that she decided to convince Andy first as he would be easier and then I’d have no choice!

So the lesson was pretty much spent playing and marking up the music as the arrangement I have isn’t written out as a duet. Kate also wants to put in a few extra twiddley bits, obviously feeling it wasn’t challenging enough!

8:30pm - 10:00

Dynamics were noticeably lacking in my recording so I’ve decided to chop and change my warmup practice, in particular the long tones, so each day I will do something different with the dynamic, so today I worked out this as an approach:

Saturday Dynamics: p - f - p
Sunday Dynamics: f - p - f
Monday Dynamics: p - f - p
Tuesday (usually no time for a practice/warm up)
Wednesday Dynamics: f - p
Thursday Dynamics: p - f
Friday a fixed dynamic

I’ll tackle pp and ff once I’m better that the others.

I was putting a lot of effort into my Eb, Ab and Db scales, arpeggios, diatonic thirds and diatonic thirds in inversion and generally getting frustrated. I could play the scales and arpeggios from memory but the diatonic thirds and diatonic thirds in inversion as well at Pete’s exercise gave me a headache because it quickly became evident that I find it a lot easier to think in sharps than flats. E major is far easier for me than Ab Major and if I’m not careful I’ll think of Db as C# even in the Db scale so I need to put in the work there I think.

Things seemed to slide downhill after that, I started making silly mistakes in the tunes I was working on and was growing more dissatisfied with the reed, well when things aren’t going right I always tend to blame the reed! Time to pack up early as it was obviously not going to happen tonight, but I wasn’t quite ready to give in so figuring a change is as good as a rest, out came the alto.

It’s been a while and it was like being reintroduced to an old friend, only this old friend seems so much smaller than I remembered, too much time gripping a tenor I guess! I dug out a recent ‘play a long’ and decided to start with “Sweet Georgia Brown”, wasn’t a particularly inspiring start, by the time I’d got to “Bye, Bye, Blackbird” I was ready to put the alto back in it’s case and just hope that tomorrow, things would be better. But the alto only made it onto the stand for a brief period, I rummaged in a box and brought out a different mouthpiece, one that I’d acquired at the end of June from ebay for £11.50 and that I’d only given a quick test blow.

New mouthpiece, same reed and back to “Bye, Bye, Blackbird”, and what a difference, this was more like it! Clearer, brighter, easier intonation and a nice tone. Time was running out so I skipped onto “Days Of Wine And Roses”, “Misty” and had great fun blasting my way through “Almost Like Being In Love” to finishing off. Talk about finishing on a high!



My main alto piece is a Vandoren Java A35, and this new contender from ebay is an E. Rousseau New Classic NC4, I have to say I was expecting if anything the E. Rousseau to be darker in tone. Anyway it’s looking like the NC 4 may, for the moment at least, take over as being my main alto piece, I wonder if the NC 4 has a smaller tip opening and that works better for me?



Interestingly the baffles are quite different, the E. Rousseau NC 4 on the left falls away quite steeply where as the Vandoren Java A35 on the right maintains a higher baffle and then slowly slopes off, I think this is a roll over baffle.
 
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Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
Quiet in the studio please...

Apart from recording myself playing against a backing track and doing a small recording project with a friend on which I did mostly the engineering, I’ve not sat down and had a go recording anything of my own. That might be because I’ve not yet come up with anything but last night after watching “Live At Abbey Road” and then not being able to sleep this strange plan to record something started to fester in my mind…

…So this morning I decided to put something together from scratch, I wanted to keep it very simple and in a key that I might have some chance of being able to play the sax in. To that very simple end, I decided not to worry about creating a song structure instead a simple repetitive four or eight bars seemed a good place to start, I can be more adventurous in the future.

Fiddling around on the guitar I found three chords that seemed to go together okay, (three seemed like a good manageable number) a simple picking pattern then emerged and I was ready. I set up Logic, positioned the mic, put the headphones on and instantly realised how nosily I breathe and how creaky the chair is. I hit the record button and spent the next half an hour just trying to get the acoustic guitar down! I changed tempo from 100, to 120 and then settled for 108bpm. Eventually I accepted what I’d done, not because it was perfect, far from it, but since playing the sax my fingers have gone soft and I was loosing the ability to play the guitar!

With this piece being so repetitive I could have just played eight bars and then looped them, but that’s not really me. I like the feel, probably the imperfection, of the music when it’s not looped plus the sense of satisfaction of having got to the end.

It was then time to add a few more tracks, another incredibly simple acoustic guitar part went down but this was later replaced with an electric guitar part with tremolo. Bass guitar was next and I spent a bit of time trying to come up with a simple bass line. I enjoy bass guitar but know my limitations (A bad version of “Money” by Pink Floyd and a failed attempt to play “Hey Bull Dog” by the Beatles) so I figured with a bit of trial and error something might, with luck come out.

Percussion was next, I love percussion and have more shakers than I know what to do with. I don’t have any drums and didn’t want to go down the route of samples or synthetic drums and as it’s predominantly an acoustic piece I thought I’d get away with just claves, a tambourine and shakers. I have some bongos I’d like to try on it but need to know how to tune them first. As I said I love percussion, you can add lots of texture and use almost any object, I’ve even seen a photo of some very dubious bloke banging two frozen fish together over a microphone! You can bet your last reed he’s some sort of saxophonist! Percussion is good, but… if I’m not careful I play all the percussion on the same beats so it just becomes a mess. So today I tried to work out which bit of percussion should go where, which has worked to some degree.

So then it was time to put some sax down on it, after all that was the reason for creating the track, I wanted something simple to have a go improvising over! But after setting up the sax I realised I was shattered, nevertheless I attempted to play something just to see how it sounded but nothing came into my head and worse, my fingers kept gravitating to the wrong notes! So after all that I’ll have to wait for another day before putting the sax down on the track.

The whole day has disappeared but I’ve had great fun playing around, and it was nice to come at music from a different perspective, tying to work out what fits where and leaving holes to fill or not later. Next time I’ll look to actually develop a tune, a slow blues I think would be a good place to start, a predictable chord progression and scope to play around.

I hope everyone else had a good weekend,

all the best,

Chris
 

Chris98

Senior Member
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1,076
Hi,

For anyone who’s interested in hearing this unfinished track here it is: “Chris98’s Un-Named Tune.” It’s very roughly mixed and still lacking any saxophone, and I think there is room for more percussion. I’d be interested to hear what anyone thinks, I know it’s repetitive, but it was really only done to see what’s possible and with the idea of doing something a little more considered later.

All the best,

Chris
 
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Location
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Having spent the last two days (on and off) reading through all of this post (didn't realise quite how big it was when I started!), I've come to the realisation that I don't think about my tone anywhere near enough! (And I definitely don't practice enough!)

I've never really thought about the tone I produce since I actually bought my sax (other than when selecting a reed) - I have a Yamaha YTS275 with a Kenilworth Jazz mpc - admittedly I did play a lot of mpc's when I first bought the sax so I did get one I'm happy with, but haven't fiddled around with anything since then. :confused:

It sounds to me like you are an incredibly dedicated learner Chris, your teacher must be very proud of you and your progress. As for the exams - I have a few informal clarinet and piano pupils, and don't make them do exams if they don't want to. I still make them learn the scales, practice sight reading and aural etc, as if they were working towards the exams, but I find that the actual thing stresses a lot of people out so much that it is actually counterproductive.
 

Chris98

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Having spent the last two days (on and off) reading through all of this post (didn't realise quite how big it was when I started!), I've come to the realisation that I don't think about my tone anywhere near enough! (And I definitely don't practice enough!)

I've never really thought about the tone I produce since I actually bought my sax (other than when selecting a reed) - I have a Yamaha YTS275 with a Kenilworth Jazz mpc - admittedly I did play a lot of mpc's when I first bought the sax so I did get one I'm happy with, but haven't fiddled around with anything since then. :confused:
Hi Jellybabybex,

That's taken a bit of dedication to read through all this, I'm sorry I think I have a tendency to waffle a bit, but thank you for reading it.

I was a bit daft early on when I bought my first mouthpiece, especially as I’d not tried any. I went purely on the marketing blurb and what I’d found review wise on the web. Needless to say it didn’t suite me and I should have stayed with the Yamaha 4c for longer. I still haven’t really learned as I still occasionally hanker after a different mouthpiece!

I’ve always been keen on that elusive thing: ‘Tone’ sometimes it there sometimes it’s not, but early on I realised I was often drawn to the tone of a player more than the complexity and skill of their playing. For me a player with good tone could play the simplest of music and yet it would have to potential to convey so much emotion and feeling that I’d be captivated. Speed and skill has it’s place, don’t get me wrong, but I can soon tire of it if there’s not something behind it, which for me is the presence of good tone.

The problem is that I struggle to find it in my own playing, I think I can get too caught up in the mechanics of playing and forget that I’m trying to convey something with the music.

You’ve got me thinking about tone, and what I mean by it, I think good tone to me, is a bit like bringing a lens into focus, there comes a point where it’s rich, clear and lovely to listen to whether guitar, sax, cello or voice. Within that tone is all the complexity of colour and texture that blends it to suite the music and impart that magical quality that separates every player. Okay I am waffling now.

It sounds to me like you are an incredibly dedicated learner Chris, your teacher must be very proud of you and your progress. As for the exams - I have a few informal clarinet and piano pupils, and don't make them do exams if they don't want to. I still make them learn the scales, practice sight reading and aural etc, as if they were working towards the exams, but I find that the actual thing stresses a lot of people out so much that it is actually counterproductive.
Proud of me, I'm not sure, I reckon she's exasperated by me! My lack of confidence I think it getting a bit trying. I did do my first solo tonight in band practice, which I think will shock Kate when she finds out. I think I went as white as a sheet when Jo (Kate's mum) said I don't care what you play but you play something there... one of the other tenor players leaned over and said "just enjoy it." I have no idea what I played, if it sounded okay or anything, all I remember is turning up the volume a bit and then noticing people glancing my way!

Best wishes,

Chris
 
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Your first solo is always a scary moment so well done! In the youth band I help with (ok, steal ideas from!), we had a pro sax player came to do an improv workshop this week. I'd actually never improvised before really, but the chap said he thought I'd done it before (hurray!). :thankyou: Maybe it's just because I've heard it done so many times I've got an idea of what's required...

The young tenor player next to me gets scared everytime a solo is even vaguely nodded in her direction though. We all improvised together (so we could have a practice when no-one could hear what anyone was doing!) but then when it came to going it alone she freaked! All we could do was say 'just play what you just played and you'll be fine' - and she did, albeit pretty quietly (I don't think I can play my tenor that quietly!) and all was well! :welldone

As for reading all your diary - it was over the course of a couple of days, and work is pretty quiet this week. :)))
 
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