Soprano Saxophone Sound Concept

My sound has, of course, been influenced by teachers and fellow students, as well as recordings of the masters, but in the past 10 years, I have been most influenced by violinists and singers: Anne Sophie Mutter, Nigel Kennedy, Thomas Hampson, for example. Violinists use a wide variety of vibratos: fast, slow, increasing in intensity, decreasing in intensity, resting, moving, and no vibrato at all. I’ve been thinking a lot about that in the past years and have been trying to make my vibrato suit the musical style and the musical line as much as possible. After every quartet concert, at least one person tells me how much they liked my sound, and, yes, you guessed it, they say they have never heard the saxophone sound like that. In some registers, the soprano is like the clarinet, in others it’s like the oboe. I don’t try to sound like any other instrument. I really just try to make a focused, rich, controlled sound. I have a sound in my head that I’m trying to get and I work to get it. I’m playing on a Selmer C* mouthpiece, with a Vandoren number 3 reed, and a Bonade ligature. I have been using Selmer C* mouthpieces with Vandoren reeds ever since I studied with Fred Hemke. I like the results I am getting and so I don’t switch my equipment. I do try other equipment, though, and can highly recommend the Vandoren mouthpieces for soprano. I played on a Buffet soprano saxophone during my time with the Rollin’ Phones in Sweden. That saxophone probably influenced my soprano sound, because those instruments have a lovely smooth sound. I prefer the Selmer Serie III instrument I have now, because I can play it in tune very easily, and with the bent neck, it is much more comfortable to play. I also like that I can get an edgy, rougher sound when I need to, in new music and jazz, for example. —Susan Fancher

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