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I practice in my little basement studio. Primarily Soprano just because I LOVE playing soprano. I gig mostly on Tenor and once in a while on alto. In any case, I settled on a VI Soprano and Tenney Link Tone Edge 7 but my observation is NOT about set-up. It's about perceiving my own tone during performances.

Sometimes the sound is PERFECT - just what I want. But recently I played a performance at a wedding and the sound was more brilliant then I remembered. Move over a bit and stood on the carpeted area and my sound was the sound I like.

Then after the performance my wife and I are driving to the reception listening the Kirk Whalum (My favorite these days) I comment on how I like his soprano sound and she said it seemed thin compared to my wedding performance. Of course, again my perception during the performance was NOTHING like what she heard in the audience.

The question is - What is the audience hearing? I'm up front talking to myself - This is too bright - BAD BAD BAD (You know the conversation we almost always have with ourselves when we are disappointed in the performance)

I'm NOT saying I'm anywhere close to Whalum. Soprano tone is mysterious. Many will suggest recording but it seems that the ROOM really changes my perception of tone. Then when I THINK I sound bad - I START to sound bad - Or Many NOT?:?

Has anyone else had similiar live performance issues?
 

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Yes.

In my experience there are several factors at work . . . attitude, room acoustics, reed-quality, the styles of others with whom you are playing, and audience-response (nothing like playing to an appreciative audience!).

I've always claimed that what the player hears is not necessarily what the audience hears. Over the years I've learned to understand that situation and just play my horn without trying to compensate for the room's deadness or the over-amplification of electronic instruments that may be in the ensemble (hopefully NOT!).

Rarely does anyone later tell me I couldn't be heard, even on clarinet. I think many clarinetists make a huge mistake by playing into microphones - and yes, I've heard all those arguments, too - still don't believe it helps. DAVE
 

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edit: I´m talking alto here, but:

I remember taking the large thick carpet out of the rather small, yet pretty high room I live in.
It made my playing a whole new experience and was a real improvement.
Now I´m accustomed to the sound without the carpet and I don´t really enjoy playing in my room.

Whenever I play in a different place, it´s interesting and in most cases more fun than here at home.
Even going into another room in our students´ flat makes for a difference.

I think the audience will be more likely to enjoy your sound the further you develop.
But you in contrast to that are a lot more sensitive to abrupt changes, no matter how subtle they are. Might have to do something with you being in direct physical contact with the horn - among other things...

Of course, a subtle change of sound in a direction that you don´t like might be really devastating for the perception of your own sound and in effect hamper your playing. The audience might not realize a thing, though, until you really start messing up something or playing significantly worse than at other times.
 

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perhaps try playing against a wall?
you tend to hear yourself much more as the audience would,
or make a high quality recording and listen to it.
 

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Oh yes. While playing my sop in the church auditorium, it sounds nothing like when I play it at home. That live sound of our auditorium actually makes my tenor sound better, but the high frequencies of the sop just reverberate all around the room. A really dark mouthpiece helps but I really think it's just not a sop-friendly space.

And one more unrelated comment. Recently I saw a YouTube video of a good known sax player blowing on his sop. The thing sounded terrible like a snake charmer but the crowd was eating it up. You gotta' figure that different folks have very different sound concepts for sop. :?
 

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This is just in general, but people tend to be overally self critical.
I am in a class right now, and we are preparing for a competition that involves speaking. And when I heard my self on Tape, I thought I sounded like #$$%^#$% when I said that. I was told it didn't sound that bad.
We just don't like ourselves recorded.
Also I have to agree, miking a horn can just sound thin. I was playing a gig last year and for my solo was miked. I hated the sound live, but when I heard myself recorded it didn't sound half bad, just needed to work on my improve.
 

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Enviroguy said:
And one more unrelated comment. Recently I saw a YouTube video of a good known sax player blowing on his sop. The thing sounded terrible like a snake charmer but the crowd was eating it up. You gotta' figure that different folks have very different sound concepts for sop. :?
And also what it really sounded like in the room. The microphone used to do the recording may have been coloring the sound. It may have sounded great in person, and even more important is that the performer was projecting the right kind of emotion in his/her playing.

I personally think one should try to stop analyzing their playing when playing to an audience. At that point, it's not so much about you as it is about the music and performance. I've been in a few recording sessions where the player/singer comes out of the booth thinking that they were horrible and everyone in the room was jumping with excitement from what they just heard.
 

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I spent a lot of years in band in jr hi- thru college and one never sounds to one's self like (s)he does to a listening audience. You'll never appreciate it or really hear how it sounds as long as you are the one doing the playing. It all has to meld together.
Jon
 

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Kind of interesting situation similar to this:
I usually practice standing in front of the dresser/closet that's in my dorm room. Last fall, I picked up a Mark VI tenor right before coming back to school, and started playing into the closet to keep the volume down. The bottom of the horn, especially low Bb, was really difficult to play. I was getting extremely frustrated because I had no problems like this on my Buescher over the previous summer, and when I went home for a weekend (I didn't carry my Selmer on the train), I tried both a Buescher and Martin tenor and had no trouble with the bottom of the horn. I figured that I just wasn't used to the resistance of the Mark VI, and hit the longtones, but still had trouble.

While, over winter break when I headed home, I brought my Mark VI back with me and lo and behold, the bottom notes were no trouble. I brought the Buescher back in with me and realized that the clothes in my closet were actually hanging in front of/into the bell of the horn, making it difficult to play the bottom of the horn.

While, at least it pushed me to play my longtones :toothy7:
 

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The best you can ever hope for is to know what the sax sounds like to you. Play the best you can, and the sound will worry about itself.
 
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