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Saxophone Wavelengths

Saxophone Wavelengths

Many colors are present in light.  They combine within sunlight.

Many things are present in music and they can also blend together. After practice and careful listening we can discern them.

With light, we see colors, and the type of energy that light is made of extends far beyond red and far beyond violet.

With a prism, we can see the colors separate.  A prism can also bring the colors back together.

For music, slowing down and listening for specific ‘wavelengths’ can allow us to break it down and work on particular things.

Six Major ‘Wavelengths’ of Music

The Saxophone (mouthpiece, reeds, horns, maintenance, etc)
Notes (includes melody & harmony)
Rhythm (includes articulation & phrasing)

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Gil Ross January 15, 2013 at 5:16 pm

Neal this is a good analogy regarding light and colors and sound, the wavelengths of music makes sense and sums it up pretty much.


Neal January 15, 2013 at 6:04 pm

Thanks Gil, glad you like the analogy. Working on writing a lot more about it.


Manuel Gonzalez January 15, 2013 at 5:29 pm

Neal: I agree with the six major wavelengths of the sax, however I don’t know if you listed them in order of importance. If that is the case I think the first should be listening and the last notes. Why this order? Because music is a sonic experience. Tone is related to sound while note is a conventional symbol used to notate a sound.

What do you think?



Neal January 15, 2013 at 6:03 pm

haha, yes Manuel, I did list them in order of importance, but starting with what I think is least important and ending with what I think is most important. Of course, the first one, especially the condition and maintenance can be pretty important depending on the state of your horn/reed/etc.

They blend together in many ways though, technique affects rhythm and tone, etc.


Manuel Gonzalez January 15, 2013 at 7:59 pm

Neal: The reason I wrote that is based on my own experience. I always thought that learning to read and notate music was more important than listening. Nobody taught me that I was wrong. It wasn’t about three months ago that I understood the important of listening. Now, I am on my way to recover the lost time working in the development of the skill by active listening, trying to hear all the sounds around me and how I receive them.


KT January 15, 2013 at 10:17 pm

So light has a prism. In music we work as the prism separating everything that makes music so we can put them back together as we play/make music. Good reminder. When I was teaching myself, I worked step by step focused on sight reading notes. Then I got so enthused at what SaxTribe was providing that I sometimes just focused on putting it all together, and practicing exercises was almost mindless. Better get my mind back in gear.


Sandy January 16, 2013 at 8:54 am

Neal, I would suggest that Melody and Harmony are also important parts of the music equation.


Neal January 16, 2013 at 1:05 pm

As concepts, they’re important, but they fit within the categories I have already listed. Harmony is part of notes. Melody is a combination of notes, rhythm, etc. Probably with the notes being the the most important part of it, you can still identify a melody if the rhythm isn’t quite perfect, if the dynamics are different, or if the other pieces change a bit.

What would your definition of melody be?

It’s like how coal and diamond are the same element, but in different forms. Diamond has more structure. Notes would be more like coal, melody more like diamond. Random notes aren’t melody. But you can turn carbon into diamond with pressure.


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