Sax on the Web Forum banner

1 - 8 of 8 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,758 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I keep running across these sound descriptions regarding the properties of saxophones. I understand bright which means you hear more of the high frequencies. I understand dark, where you hear less of the higher frequencies and more of the lower frequencies coming through. I understand edge, I think. I believe it's that crisp buzzy sound you hear when the sax is played loud. I understand sub-toning as that whispery-soft sound you get especially around the low notes.


So would somebody please explain what spread tone means. What is focused? I suspect it's the opposite of spread but I don't understand spread. And what the heck is round? The opposite of square? I've only heard square tones mentioned once and it was in that awful article about how Trane killed jazz I posted a while back. I searched the site but couldn't find any discussion on the terminology of sax sound. Can y'all hep me out?:whistle:
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
TENOR, soprano, alto, baritone
Joined
·
7,444 Posts
Good luck. These terms are highly subjective and have different meanings to different people. It can help to lump terms together that we think have similar meanings, such as 'spread' and 'warm' for example. 'Spread' implies a more 'complex' tone that 'spreads out' instead of being more 'centered' and 'focused'. I've been noticing on the pop/rock/R&B records of the '50s/'60s how a spread tone on the tenor in a horn section carries more 'music' with it and fills in better. At the same time, this spread tone can also be 'bright' so it lends itself well to that kind of music which is generally played loud and noisy live. Such a sound is mostly associated with the 'Link'-type mouthpiece.

On the other hand, many sax players during those times, especially the ones who played as the only horn and took many solos, went in the other direction with a focused, centered sound. This sound sometimes is actually rather dark although it will have some 'sizzle' on it. The high-baffle mouthpieces like the Berg Larsen are typically associated with these players.

All mouthpieces can be put in one of these two basic types, and the Link-type is more like the 'standard' sax mouthpiece which is why it carries with it the warm, spread sound. The Berg-type was developed to produce more volume and projection during the time electronic amplification was starting to come in, to help sax players compete. Between the terms 'spread' and 'focused', imagine that you have a small tree branch that is fan-shaped with many branching stems. This is nice, but it can't penetrate the bushes - that's 'spread'. So you take your knife and trim away most of the extra stuff leaving a strong, pointed spear for better penetration - that's 'focused'. Its like a laser beam - you hear the core note, make no mistake, but the warmth of the spread sound has to be left behind to push the core sound.

Now that's not to say there aren't alternatives/compromises to make. One of those is very effective - using a sax with a spread sound but with a centered mouthpiece - like a Berg on a Martin. Now you put the same mouthpiece on a Selmer and it might be too much - so Berg Larsen developed the 4 different baffles, two 'lay' lengths and of course all facings from small to gigantic. In this way you could moderate the amount of focus to match your horn. At the same time the Links could be highly variable too and to this day mouthpiece development continues to offer more and more things to try.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
38,887 Posts
We have had people asking this before and there was also Pete Thomas who tried to find some sort of univocal definition for each term.

the only thread that was not a collection of words with some comparisons elements in order to illustrate them was the one that I have mentioned before

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?187213-Saxophone-sound-shape

Pete Thomas attempted to analyze and have us visualize the spectrum of each of these definitions.

Of course no one can represent or invent a word knowing what “ warm” “ deep” “ lush” or “ bright” “ focussed” “ penetrating” might mean for someone else.

It is clear that the general ballpark is understandable for these term but we will never be able to feel what someone else feels.

Terms like spread and projected are less clear because they define the sound “ in space" and that is obviously something there is no agreement (or similar perception) upon.


When it then comes to applying definitions to causes and effect as in the diatribe about finish or material influencing sound you can clearly see that things get easily complicated, so, silver is “ bright” for some while it is “ dull” for some other.

These is yet another impossibility to communicate as we have different prejudices too.







This is what I wrote in response of a similar thread (no offense meant but there is always someone who tried something before. in order to keep the archives useful please, please, try a search HERE

https://www.saxontheweb.net

Top of the page in the middle where it says Google Custom Search.

I put define bright focused in it and come up with 85 result. If you continue on ANY of those ALL the participants will receive an alert AND the thread will show up in the last active threads. Openiong a new thread only dilutes, yet again, information and next time someone wants to know something there will be 86 threads to read through ( despite what people think there are many more people who read old threads than people who post new ones).



these are many more threads on the matter, please feel free to see if you find your answer there. Some people whom have contributed to those are not even around anymore (at least one has passed away) this shows how important the archives are, using them is NO shame.

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?95597-spread-v-focused-dark-v-bright-finish-v-tone
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...warm-open-What-s-the-difference-between-these
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?209338-saxophone-tone-darker-lighter-brighter-etc
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?151566-Tonal-Style-Quality
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?127786-Clarifying-tone-and-sound-terminology
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?88702-definition-of-quot-dark-quot-sound
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?139852-Dark-vs-Bright

Here one of the best answers (if there is an answer)

- Spread: wide range of low, mid and high frequencies (yellow curve in above diagram)
- Focussed: range of low, mid and high with more mid range and less low and high than spread (red curve)
- Fat: relatively more low and mid (left part of green curve ending into the right part of the red curve)
- Dark: relatively more low and mid (green curve), less spread than fat
- Thin: relatively lot of mid, not spread or focust (blue curve, but lower and more to the right in the diagram)
- Bright: relativey more mid and high (opposite of fat, like the green curve but located more to the right in the diagram)
- Edgy: mixture of spread and bright (yellow curve with green curve located in the right part on top)
- Warm: mixture of spread and dark (yellow curve with green curve on top)
- Cool: like focussed, but less strong (blue curve with the height of the red curve)
- Core: mixture of spread an focussed (yellow curve with blue curve on top)
- In your face: mixture of spread and edgy (yellow curve with the height of the green curve)
- Clean: like cool, but a bit stronger (blue curve with the height of the green curve)
- Gritty: mixture of edgy and warm (yellow curve with the green curve and an extra green curve on the right part on top!)
- Rich: mixture of spread and focust (red curve with the height of the green one)
- ...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,758 Posts
Discussion Starter #5
We have had people asking this before and there was also Pete Thomas who tried to find some sort of univocal definition for each term.










This is what I wrote in response of a similar thread (no offense meant but there is always someone who tried something before. in order to keep the archives useful please, please, try a search HERE

https://www.saxontheweb.net

Top of the page in the middle where it says Google Custom Search.

I put define bright focused in it and come up with 85 result. If you continue on ANY of those ALL the participants will receive an alert AND the thread will show up in the last active threads. Openiong a new thread only dilutes, yet again, information and next time someone wants to know something there will be 86 threads to read through ( despite what people think there are many more people who read old threads than people who post new ones).



these are many more threads on the matter, please feel free to see if you find your answer there. Some people whom have contributed to those are not even around anymore (at least one has passed away) this shows how important the archives are, using them is NO shame.

https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?95597-spread-v-focused-dark-v-bright-finish-v-tone
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showt...warm-open-What-s-the-difference-between-these
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?209338-saxophone-tone-darker-lighter-brighter-etc
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?151566-Tonal-Style-Quality
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?127786-Clarifying-tone-and-sound-terminology
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?88702-definition-of-quot-dark-quot-sound
https://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?139852-Dark-vs-Bright

Here one of the best answers (if there is an answer)
Thanks for that, milandro. I tried searching for "definition + focus" and similar searches for definition + round etc. and came up with nothing. I guess it must have been the combination of words I used that gave me zero results. I'll look thru your links and maybe get an idea of what people mean when they use those terms.


Saxman's post was informative and thoughtful and I appreciate it. The trouble with describing mall differences in sounds is that we don't really have the words for it. I kind of get what saxman is saying about the sound penetrating the other sounds around it etc. I also know the difference in sound between a high baffle mouthpiece and a rollover baffle. I'd describe them as bright vs. dark at least when I play them on my own horn. The high baffle piece I own is not only brighter but it's a lot louder and definitely brighter.


Anyway, thanks for the input. I'll check out those links milandro put up. Hopefully one or two might have some recorded examples. That would be great to hear some high quality recordings that illustrate the different sound qualities. Thanks again.

Dave
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Coffee Guru
Joined
·
38,887 Posts
Pete Thomas' post has also audio files, but again that is his take on the terms , there is no univocal way to understand any of these terms.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
3,022 Posts
Dr. Pauline Eveno who did the resonator study and now is with the mouthpiece company SYOS has devised as survey having to do with perception of saxophone tone. Describing the Saxophone Tone It will be interesting to discover the results of the survey.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,901 Posts
I keep running across these sound descriptions regarding the properties of saxophones. I understand bright which means you hear more of the high frequencies. I understand dark, where you hear less of the higher frequencies and more of the lower frequencies coming through. I understand edge, I think. I believe it's that crisp buzzy sound you hear when the sax is played loud. I understand sub-toning as that whispery-soft sound you get especially around the low notes.


So would somebody please explain what spread tone means. What is focused? I suspect it's the opposite of spread but I don't understand spread. And what the heck is round? The opposite of square? I've only heard square tones mentioned once and it was in that awful article about how Trane killed jazz I posted a while back. I searched the site but couldn't find any discussion on the terminology of sax sound. Can y'all hep me out?:whistle:
HAHAHAHA!!! It seems like you actually have a handle on things, you're doing okay. Spread is usually a darker sound and is equated to more body, less buzz and more depth in the sound and it's usually a darker sound. Round is also used to refer to body and sound quality and is the opposite of brighter sounds provided you have any taste which a lot of players don't, especially when you look at what mouthpieces are selling, especially in LA. Focused is referred to when describing the more pointedness in a sound and usually comes along with brighter tones but a dark sound can be focused too. The idea is to get a sound that encompasses all the various aspects of tone while achieving a personal sound but try to explain that to my customers. And by the way, these terms don't just apply to saxophone, they refer to all instruments. I recently bought a piano and I played about a hundred pianos before settling on one. Also, your tone is LARGELY determined by the way you PHRASE, not the sax or the mouthpiece. Good luck, Phil Barone
 
1 - 8 of 8 Posts
Top