Every now and again a friend of mine brings their son or daughter (who is learning the saxophone at school) round, and of course they are asked to play for me, which is probably as awkward for me as it is for them because I’m expected to give a critique. I ask them what tunes they know and they seem to only have tunes from their grade 1 or 2 which they find very boring. Beginners tunes should be fun and entertaining as well as easy.
So I teach them this tune, and they love it. Everybody knows this tune, but not many people know what it’s called, apart from “The Snake Charming Tune”. Actually it is not played by real snake charmers, neither is it even middle eastern in origin. It has had several titles, but this I call this version Sand Dance.
The Harmonic Minor
As you know there are many variants on the minor scale, and up to now we have just looked at the natural minor. Another very useful minor scale is the harmonic minor. This has a slightly “exotic” sound to it so works very well with this tune which has a sort of “fake” middle Eastern feel.
It also fits well because the V chord is a dominant rather than being another minor chord. (see the chord slider)
In this arrangement I have used only two chords:
Alto: Am and E7
Tenor: Dm and A7.
The final note has a pause (aka fermata) and there is plenty of time to play a little cadenza if you want: just play the key scale of bits of the key scale in free time. This is a fun tune and you can make the most of it by adding some vibrato, note bends or any kind of ornament. Don’t worry about is sounding corny, the tune itself is corny!