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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello, I see others describe tones as "dark" or "bright," often in reference to particular alto manufacturers, coatings, metals used, etc. What does this mean? Is is a characteristic of a style, for example Paul Desmond or Art Pepper, or Charlie Parker, or is it more tune or arrangement based. Can anyone point to an example of bright tone vs. dark tone. [as you can see, I'm jazz-centric] Does this carry over to others as well -- soprano, tenor and baritone?

Thanks to everyone in advance
 

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IMO-
Bright: Phil Woods, Charlie Mariano, David Sandborn
Dark: Vincent Herring, Kenny Garrett, Gerald Albright

But I think there's another category and that's "light". I wouldn't characterise Desmond's tone as either bright or dark, rather as light; same with Lester Young.
 

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Bright just has more higher partials than lower partials in the sound, if you want to get technical. And this is really hard to detect in a recording, it's heard much more live. I think the proper terms to differentiate the players the mentioned above are complexity of tone, spread/focus of the tone (in terms of pitch), body of the tone, and edge of the tone. Ahh all of these words :) They are hard to describe in words; you really must just make up your own mind. And in terms of my own sound, I would describe mine as bright but lacking in edge. I play a meyer 5 piece, which is known for having these characteristics.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
bright/dark tones

Thanks for the replies. Admittedly, it is difficult to describe the aural with words, appreciate everyone's time. As a novice player, I do find it amazing all the various moods, emotions that can come out of that horn. Good luck to all
 

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If you play guitar, bright would be a sound high in treble, dark would be a sound high in bass. It doesn't equate to that exactly on alto, but it's a good generalization. Dark sounds would be what you'd use for rhythm guitar in a band, whereas a bright sound would be good for a rock solo.
 

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A version of Swinging Shepherd Blues (which is played in a big band I play in) offers an interesting contrast in that it features a duet between sop sax (bright) and clarinet (dark).
 

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i was about to say that too.

a brigher tone has more overtones embeaded within the timbre of the sound.

if you compare a really bright and a really dark tone, it will almost sound as if the bright tone is higher than the dark tone. even if they play the same note. its hard to explain. its not a tonal property, but a timbre one. it is controlled by pretty much everything.
 

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Razzy said:
Bright just has more higher partials than lower partials in the sound, if you want to get technical.
And of course I was talking about overtones. Am I not right in that terminology? Or was it simply that nobody noticed :wink:
 

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I would like to hear some more examples, preferrably with links or reference to a specific song, as players can have very different sounds on different recordings.

Besides bright vs. dark, I am interested in knowing what separates a "spread" sound from a "focused".
 

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I know this thread is old, but I think it's always interesting and I didn't want to open another with just the same topic, sooooo... I really like the sound of Alex Han, Candy Dulfer, Nathan Woodward - Would you describe them as bright or dark or somewhat in the middle?

Here some videos:

Alex Han

Candy Dulfer

Nathan Woodward
(Best version of Just A Closer Walk I've ever heard! Can't stop listening to that!)
 

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Saxpizza, from those clips, using my (crappy) computer speakers, IMO:

Alex Han sounded very bright.
Candy Dulfer sounded moderately bright.
Nathan Woodward sounded moderately dark.
 
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