Re: 4 tips (Re: developping personal sound)

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Posted by Rich Laird on November 26, 2001 at 09:52:26:

In Reply to: Re: 4 tips (Re: developping personal sound) posted by ben (Paris) on November 25, 2001 at 05:18:40:

: thank you for your answers.
: I forgot to stress that I was speaking more in terms of sound quality thant volume. I've got enough volume, and play acoustic most of the time, even with drummers lately.
: I'm really concentrating on learning to play classical music decently nowadays ( my teacher is student of Thierry Barbe, a decent classical player and a very demanded jazz player), and I'm amazed by the difference in sound quality between exclusively jazz trained players and players that have a classical background, which can be heard even when played pizz.
: i think it has a lot to do with the left hand being more precise and in control of pressure, vibrato, and fingerings, which allows for a wider sound palette. I think it has a lot to do with playing arco for a while, which leads you to focus on having a clean left hand as well.

: I'm amazed at the sound of guys like Bruno Chevillon, which is so controlled and varied. Or that of a non conventional players like Jean Jacques Avenel.
: I'm thinking about bringing more colour to what i've been working on for some time, ie dynamic, precision of attack, volume, note contour, length and decay.

: I can get a big fat and swinging sound, but that isn't what I'm looking for when I play improvised music, which I love doing. then I want my notes, wether pizz or arco, to have life of their own.
: Maybe it's just a question of time and playing arco.

: cheers

: ben

You're talking about a "personal sound" which, by definition, is not something you can get from a few exercises or tips. It seems like you realize that and that you're aware of the things that go into a really good "sound" - whatever that may be. It also seems like you realize it's an ongoing process of continuous study and refinement. The best recommendation I can offer is to explore all possibilities and enjoy the adventure as much as you can.

You've gotten a couple of good suggestions already...practicing long-tones with the bow is certainly tried-and-true - and not to be neglected! I also liked Don's idea of spending time on playing things that you've already learned in order to build better sound into notes you can already play.

Maybe it's because I studied classical playing a lot myself, but I agree that it can do a lot for your jazz-playing. You learn things like how the best "tone" in the world is just crap if it's not in-tune...and how really fine intonation and articulation are part of what goes into a good "sound". You can't separate them. The more I learn about good music-making, the more I realize that the musical idiom or style doesn't make that much difference.

I noticed somewhere along the line that when I listen to really good-sounding jazz players, a lot of what seems to come across really well relates to what classical players call "phrasing" and "articulation" as much as "tone". IMHO, whether your sound is fat, focused, bright, dark, doesn't matter all that much. What really "sounds" good is when you use the quality and variety of sound you've developed in the practice room to shape and connect notes into expressive musical ideas. To me, notes don't typically have a "life of their own" but a good solo, bass line, or even a little riff certainly can.

You talked about the "wider sound palette". It may sound a little corny but let's take the analogy a step further: A great artist can use his palette to mix interesting and beautiful colors. But the real artistry comes in putting them together to create something with thematic and emotional meaning.

Hope that helps.

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