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Playing Saxophone with Singers

Examples of Saxophone Playing around the Vocals

Start Audio Clip and read thru the article as you listen. The Audio should open in a new window so you can still see this article, but if it does not; RIGHT click and hit PLAY or open a second browser window to start the audio in, and then minimize your media player so you can see the article. The goal is, reading the main article first, then play this example while reading this and hear how it all fits together.

I was asked to give some examples based on my article - Working with Singers in Worship Music or Playing Sax Behind the Singer. (There are a few different versions of this article online.)

This example comes from a CD recorded in 1990 on Antioch Records by an artist named Brenda White. The use of this track is only for Educational Purposes. This is very old and my sax is a bit sharp in the intro but ends up being pretty in tune the rest the song. I pulled this track because it develops nicely and is a very typical example of Sax Playing around Vocals in Pop Music - or the Article you found this link on.

Pop Sax on a Vocal Pop Song - START Audio

Intro - 00:00-00:25 The Sax enters at the end of bar 4 and sets up the song with 8 bars of light solo playing. There are a few fills played just after the singer enters and then the sax lays low until the solo section.

Pre-Chorus 00:40 There is a little fill going into the Pre-Chorus.

Chorus 1 - 00:49 The sax stays out thru the first Chorus with the introduction of the Brass at the end on the first Chorus, setting up the brass for the next Chorus. The sax is not used in the Choruses due to the Brass, since the spaces for fills are orchestrated for Brass. If there was no brass section, I would be playing fills in those spaces too.

Nothing thru Verse 2 or Chorus 2

SOLO - 01:50-02:08

Typical of many pop based songs, the solo is right around 2 minutes into the counter, and all of 8 measures long. Compared to the intro, the solo is much higher energy and filling a featured role, taking the spotlight for a moment. There is little time to develop the solo in such a short time, but the development really happens over the course of the track. Also notice the handoff to the singer by ending on a long note to give the engineer the space to blend from the sax back to the vocals. This solo starts hard and winds down going into the Bridge, which the Sax does the same, hitting hard at the top and then tapering into the vocal lead.

Bridge - 02:08-02:38 The Guitar covers the moving fills and the sax covers a simple line or part role; playing long notes behind the Vocals at a lesser volume to stay out of the way. When 2 lead instruments are playing at the same time, they really need to be playing different roles like this; both playing lines or both playing fills would be very messy.

Chorus - Vamp Out

02:38-03:12 - As the Chorus starts, the Brass carry the spaces and the Sax begins to take over until the Sax is all out soloing again over the end.

03:12 the sax re-enters and by 03:30 the Sax is carrying it to the end as the featured interest thru the fade out.

I followed this basic format long before I recognized it was almost a formula. I was just a hired gun on this session 17 years ago, and I had no control over the final product. I was not the artist, just a sideman. It is a good example of the sax in modern pop music. I hope this answers some of the requests for 'examples'. You can reach me with any other questions you might have at

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