I use differing techniques to adjust intonation in the two styles. I tend to tune a bit higher when playing jazz because, as I said earlier, jazz musicians tend to hear the pitch higher than classical musicians. Also, jazz saxophonists are among the softest instruments in many jazz groups, competing with brass, drums and amplified rhythm section instruments. Saxophonists compensate by playing louder to balance, and this tends to drive their pitch down. So, I tune a little higher to prevent myself from going flat when playing loudly. I generally adjust any sharp notes by loosening my embouchure a little.
In classical music, this situation is reversed. I tune lower because many classical musicians prefer the pitch on the low side. Also, saxophonists are often the loudest instruments in classical groups, dominating the strings, double reeds and other woodwinds. As saxophonists play softer to compensate, their pitch tends to rise. So, I tune a little lower to prevent myself from going sharp when playing softly. Any flat notes are adjusted by firming up slightly, which darkens the sound a bit. Sharp notes, particularly in the upper register, are adjusted by revoicing the vocal cavity (from “ah” to “oh“) and using false fingerings (closing some additional keys). It is less successful to adjust sharp pitches in classical music by loosening the embouchure (as is done in jazz), since this loosening would result in a sound that would be too open and bright for classical music.
i’ve noticed the difference in how my sax sounds with playing classical and jazz sheets, the classical stuff doesn’t sound as nice with my bright mouthpiece. But i never thought of tuning lower and higher for the different styles.
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