Flirtations: 3 Songs for Solo Alto Saxophone (2015)
Flirtations
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Difficulty: precollege/college | Duration: ca. 7:00 | Publisher: Markowski Creative (ASCAP)

Recording
Performed by Dr. Christopher Charbonneau
Clarke Rigsby, recording engineer
Program Note

Flirtations is designed to introduce extended techniques (such as multiphonics, harmonics, slap-tongue, etc) to precollege/college alto saxophone players in a melodic and tonal way. These techniques are often stereotyped as being rather cerebral or purely for effect (or at least, I've certainly stereotyped them as such). I've always been a rather "tuneful" writer, and so when Christopher Charbonneau asked me to write a piece that included these techniques, I became immediately curious if there was an appropriate way to use them within a "tune." That is, could it be possible to spice up a catchy melody with these techniques while giving musical and dramatic purpose to them as well? This is perhaps most obvious in the second movement, These Soft Shoes, which asks the performer to use "key clicks" to imitate a subtle "soft shoe" tap dance-like percussion. In the third movement, Showtune, the performer is asked to slap-tongue – an effect that not only enhances the vaudeville-like slapstick style, but that also works as a timbral counterpoint to the primary theme. In a way, the slap-tongues become a second voice in this movement, and the saxophone almost has a duet with itself. In the first movement, Sweet Nothings, the performer is asked to play three notes D, D#, E immediately followed by multiphonics of a similar pitch structure. The first iteration sounds sweet and pure. When played with the multiphonic fingerings, the motif becomes strange, a dastardly aside that makes us feel a bit uncomfortable when juxtaposed with the more romantic melody. Perhaps these flirtations are not as innocent as they seem.

Commissioned By

Dr. Christopher Charbonneau