"Megalovania" - arr. Connor Mikula

I have an exceptionally busy week, but I was not about to skip week 5 of this summer listening blog!

This week features a friend, Connor Mikula, and his project Maybe I'll Make My Own Quartet (MIMMOQ). Connor and I attended Michigan State University together, where we studied saxophone with Joe Lulloff. Connor joined "The President's Own" United States Marine Band in 2019, with whom he performs at ceremonies and celebrations throughout the Washington D.C. area, and on concert tours.

Connor started MIMMOQ as musicians across the U.S. miss making music with others while we take measures to stop the spread of COVID-19. On this Youtube channel, shares a range of popular songs arranged for saxophone quartet by himself, and others. This week's video is his cover of "Megalovania," a song from the video game Undertale. He uses a couple techniques that might be less familiar: altissimo, circular breathing, and slap tongue. You will also hear him use his computer to add effects to his saxophone.

We call the register above palm key F (the highest note listed by most method books) the altissimo. This register extends more than 1 octave above that F. With the addition of the altissimo register, the alto saxophone shares the same approximate range as the Bb clarinet. Around 1'00 in the video, both soprano and the alto saxophone parts have music in this upper register.

Circular breathing allows the musician to continue blowing through the instrument (pushing air from their cheeks) while breathing in through their nose. Watch Connor circular breath while playing tenor saxophone at 1'28. Australian didgeridoo players are noted for using this technique and the smooth jazz saxophonist Kenny G. has pursued Guinness World Records by using this technique to play his saxophone for more than 45 minutes, uninterrupted.

Lastly, Connor uses slap tongue in the final section of the piece, beginning around 1'50 (soprano and alto saxophones). This technique uses suction from the tongue to pull on the reed until it springs back and slaps against the mouthpiece, creating a popping or smacking sound. Both saxophonists and clarinetists use slap tongue to add another color and sound to their palette. The player controls how much percussive sound and how much pitched sound is created. "Megalovania" provides a percussive example. To hear slap tongue with pitch, search for a recording of "Jungle" by Christian Lauba.

Have a safe 4th of July!