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Finding your own sound (voice)!

2405 Views 8 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  FighterForJC
Hey wuz up folks? I have been playing the sax for about 9 yrs now. I am on a yanagisawa metal 7 mouthpiece with rico jazz selects 2m. I am trying to find my own personal sound. I notice that I have a pretty bright sound when I am playing. The thing is I have a feeling that I tend to sound like most other players around my skill level. I am trying to get my tone to the point where people can say hey that is Iceman (just using my username as an example). I am trying to get a sound between Dave Koz and Kirk Whalum. I have been playing along with people, but I don't know how much that is helping. People have told me I sound nice. I am just trying to get my personal sound to where I can be satisfied.
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If you want to sound different, you should listen to other musicians other just saxophonists.

Personally a saxophone sound is based on 2 things : Tone and Phrasing. If you listen to just other saxophonists, you will develop both of them but only until a point. Eventually, you will end up with a sound that is copied.

To really sound different and personal (I am assuming you want to sound different so people say "hey that is iceman"), you need to go beyond listening to just saxophonists. Every instruments has its advantages and weakness. For example, all wind instruments have excellent variation of tone but there is a limit to how long you can hold your breath. The piano on the other hand is kinda limited in tone, but you can play a pharse as long as your hands can take it. What you end up is that most saxophonists end up playing more lyrically while some pianist end up sounding like a typewriter (i am trained as a pianist, i know what i talking about..).

A lot of music pioneers sound different because they create something different from what is the "norm" for their instrument. If you listen to parker, he sounds as though he is playing piano lines. If you listen to Monk, he hears the notes between notes and hence bashes 2 notes on the piano a semi-tone apart. These are just examples of how some musicians "break" the mould.

One reason i went back to play saxophone is to find new insights on how to develop my piano sounds. I have become more lyrical in my playing, focusing on my breathing while i play the piano (yes, you need to breath properly when you play piano too) and other stuff.

What I am saying is that sometimes to find your own sound (voice), you need to look at places that are not obvious. Listen to everything and anything, it does not even have to be jazz. Your inner voice is something that is constantly being moulded from the music that you listen to. THe more widely you listen, the more insight you have into decide what kind of sound you want. Parker, Coltrane...they were all into other types of music too (esp Modern Classical music).

To sum up, I am just providing another view on how to find your voice. As i said previously, I am a pianist trying to be a saxophonist. Just focusing on other great saxophonists is a great idea but there are a lot more to learn when you step out and realise that you can learn from any type of music or any type of instrument.
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