Hi all,
Although I'm a former sax player (I play guitar) I haven't advanced in my sax playing to improvise freely.

The guitar which I play is a very visual instruments you have these shapes which unfold on the fretboard you can visualize the scale/ chord shape in different positions on the neck. so when improvising I don't really think of notes but more on shapes.

My question is do you do this kind visualization on the sax?
I don't really see it quite that way, but some scales have colour or texture for me. I don't know why. E Maj is green. Bb Maj is woody texture. ...
Tone is a good thing to visualise as colours on the sax. Pete has some good stuff on this in his Taming the Saxophone pages.
Leonard Bernstein (one of my musical heroes) had this. I'm afraid I'm colour blind where it comes to music, although I love African harmony.
Welcome to the Cafe Saxophone Jay,

I know exactly what you're talking about. I currently learning to improvise blues and jazz on both the guitar and the sax. It's actually easier for me to improvise on the guitar, precisely for the reasons you just gave. As you move up and down the neck of the guitar the scale patterns change under your fingers. Because of this you tend to improvise differently in different position. In fact, the guitar is a great instrument to improvise on precisely because of this feature.

The sax doesn't offer this. You learn the scale, it's basically under your fingers. And that's it. So you're going to need to find some other method of learning how to "create new riffs".

However, what I've found is that since I play both instruments, I can actually do some improve on the guitar. I record it with a backing track. Then I pick up the sax and try to play similar note runs. What I'm discovering by doing this is that I'm learning a whole lot of new "feels" on the sax. They are "patterns by feel". You don't visually look at the sax buttons or keys like you normally get a visual of a guitar fretboard. Instead you start playing by "feel".

So now what I've been learning to do is have a 1st position "feel" on the sax. Then a 2nd position "feel" on the sax, and so on as I work through the same riffs that I had improvised on the guitar.

I think if you try this you'll quickly see what I mean.

Just put on a really simple backing track. Maybe even something that just stays in a single chord or jumps back and forth between two chord. Then improvise to that on the guitar in the 1st position. Then pick up the sax and try to play those same riffs. You'll get a "feel" for what's that like.

Then improvise in the 2nd position on the guitar. Stop, pick up the sax, and play those riffs on the sax. You'll get a totally different "feel" for how those riffs are played.

Just continue up the neck of the guitar in this way, transferring the different positions over to the sax. For ever visual pattern on the guitar (which is also a specific FEEL on the guitar too), you'll find a different FEEL on the sax when you try to play those riffs.

In this way you are lucky to being playing both instruments because the guitar is actually going to help you open up a whole new way of expanding your riff patterns on the sax. And of course, the really cool thing is that as you try to "duplicate" the guitar riffs, on the sax, you're going to find that you may want to play them slightly differently on the sax. So in this way, you'll also being opening yourself up to even brand new riffs that came from the guitar, but then got modified as they were transferred over to the sax.

Anyway, that's what I've been going. I'm a RAW beginner on the sax. So thus far I've only been doing this in the key of G. Well, it's actually the key of G on the guitar, but it's played in the key of E on the alto sax. Don't forget the need to transpose the key for whatever sax you are playing.

But so far it's going really well and I'm hoping to continue this through all the keys.

But yeah, I would have been dead in the water had I tried to just improvise on the sax alone. Going back and forth between the different positions on the guitar to the sax just opens up a whole new world of possibilities. I'm playing things on the sax that I would have never thought to play using the sax alone.
Hi jayx,

Sweet dreamer, summed it up perfectly - if you can switch between both instrument - it would be incredible for you!
Enjoy the trip.
Hi Uri
Guitar is my first instrument but started on Alto in the 70's coming back to the sax (tenor) in 2001.
I understand what you mean about guitar patterns and have followed the "pattern for a given scale/mode" method but eventually found that I was churning out the same licks/motifs time after time and bored myself to death.
I suppose I did the same on the sax and eventually reached the same point, where you have a certain dexterity which pleases you but then you get lazy. I don't see the same patterns when playing sax but have built in a sort of muscle memory of runs which fit a given chord progression. I look on this as a wall that I need to break down to develop further but it's having the time to do it. It is really hard to avoid cliches. I'm trying to work on tunes not written for sax and try to avoid jazz tunes to open up some new possibilities, but this is slow work.
My wife's patience gets stretched sometimes.
wow I didn't realize there are so many sax/guitar players, as these are so different in playing approach
To pick up VKs point, this has only happened to me quite recently and helps me to recall scales. I don't think I'm synesthetic. I do know a teacher though who has colour graphemic synesthesia: she sees all numbers as colours. Remarkeable.
To pick up VKs point, this has only happened to me quite recently and helps me to recall scales. I don't think I'm synesthetic. I do know a teacher though who has colour graphemic synesthesia: she sees all numbers as colours. Remarkeable.

As a child I saw names as colours. Now, it's just some names, not all, and most of them are red or yellow. (Colin is yellow)
I would love to see scales as colours!

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