Embouchure is paramount – maybe an equivalent analogy is torque – it takes much less effort to turn a bolt with a long spanner than a short one. I have bari, tenor and alto saxes and find the orbicularis muscles tire sooner with the alto than the bari. With the larger mouthpiece of the bari it is easier to to maintain good embouchure and recognise when you’re doing something different. I’m not a professional though, only my opinion. Another scientific thought is that temperature can affect tuning too – I’d be interested to know if metal instruments are affected differently according to size. I’ll ask around.
Yes, the mouthpieces (and reeds) are significantly different in size and that makes a real difference to how they feel in the mouth, and how tired your mouth gets.
Temperature is also clearly an important factor, but it’s surprising that the tenor seems to warm up much quicker than the soprano. A clarinet can also take quite a while to get up to the correct pitch. I haven’t played mine for a while, but don’t remember it being as bad as the soprano. Perhaps that’s because the latter is metal so has a greater thermal expansion…
Jazz legend Courtney Pine is at Komedia Brighton this week.
Thought you might have some ‘saxophonic’ time now you’ve found somewhere to live.
All the best in your new post.
“Do you know why the soprano is so much more recalcitrant?”
Much loved by fans is the brief period around 1973 when Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull played the soprano saxophone (a straight one—is yours straight or bent?). He always jokes about it as having been one of the major goofs in his life and has never gone back to it, but actually the music from that time, and the sax parts as well, is very good.
Mine’s straight but, as usual, there are two alternative necks to go between the mouthpiece and the rest of the instrument, one straight and one with a slight angle…
…I had a go on the kind of soprano which is like a small version of an alto or tenor, and found it very fiddly, as I have quite large hands and the keys are very close together.
“Embouchure is paramount – maybe an equivalent analogy is torque – it takes much less effort to turn a bolt with a long spanner than a short one.”
Many instruments need quite a bit of work from a beginner even to get a tone, much less play several properly in sequence. This is what led Bach to remark that the organ is a wonderful instrument: all one has to do is press the correct keys and the correct times and the instrument plays itself. (Actually, Bach’s favourite instrument as a player was the viola.)
“the kind of soprano which is like a small version of an alto or tenor”
Yes, that’s what I meant by “bent”.
If you start up a jazz combo, you could call it ColesTrain.