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What's more important, a great tone or great technical facility on the horn? The answer seems obvious, but I've been to two summer jazz camp/workshops and there seems to be a crapload of lousy-sounding, not-hip sort of arrogant kids who know all scales in all 12 keys but don't sound nearly as good as a beginner clarinetist.

Why do teachers/instructors (most of them professional musicians for that matter) let that crap slide?
 

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My take? Technique is a lot easier to teach than tone.
 

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You get paid to teach technique. ;)
 

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True. Maybe tone is left unchecked because it's so individual? But also is there a difference between good tone and a voice on the instrument?

Lets take a guy who could be said to have a polarizing tone. Jackie McLean or Joe Lovano.

Sure some people dig Jackie's razor blade-like tone, straight from the street. Gritty. Etc whatever you call it.

Some people hate it because he's sharp. Or any other reason etc.

But, Jackie's sound was consistent throughout the entire horn, profoundly expressive, and he was in total control of his own thing.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGWoavmgm5I

So were guys passing out from sustained notes, sloppy tonguing marring phrases, or notes being clipped? (lol) Or is it a stylistic thing, guys reaching for Garzone, Lovano, Trane, Brecker like tones, you know hardcore *aggressive* sounds?
 

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The first things a listener notices are 1)Tone 2)Intonation 3)Time.

Mediocre technique (combined with tasteful playing) and a great tone > great technique and a mediocre tone.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
So were guys passing out from sustained notes, sloppy tonguing marring phrases, or notes being clipped? (lol) Or is it a stylistic thing, guys reaching for Garzone, Lovano, Trane, Brecker like tones, you know hardcore *aggressive* sounds?
I think many a student's misconception is that they are developing their "individual styles". Miles Davis said something like "When you learn to play the horn the right way, then you can turn around on everything you've been taught and do your own thing." Something like that anyway. But what he means is that (he was talking about Ornette Coleman playing trumpet and violin without proper musical training.) you shouldn't go your own way before "paying your dues".

My signature says it all. :bluewink:
 

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My experience: most can dazzle you with the finger work, but sound sooooo bland who cares? Just because you can play "Take 5" at lightning speed does not make it impressive.
 

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Jackie's sound was consistent throughout the entire horn, profoundly expressive, and he was in total control of his own thing.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGWoavmgm5I
Thanks for this link davetjazz. I love Jackie in some settings (Demon Dance, New Old Gospel with Ornette) but he doesn't consistently deliver for me, especially tone-wise.
However, this track from an album I've not heard yet is just beautiful tonally.
Really amazing work from a distinctive master, thanks again. :)
 

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The first things a listener notices are 1)Tone 2)Intonation 3)Time.
I'm not so sure that is true of the average listener. I think a lot of musicians listen like that, but not the "general public".

One thing I had to learn to do when I became a producer was to be able to put a different hat on when listening. I had to learn to do quality control not based on "good" intonation or "good" timing or "good" tone, but on the entire feel of the music as entertainment or art.

Tone is Technique :D
I absolutely agree with this. Is it recent phenomenon that people think of tone as somehow different from technique? Technique is basically the technical aspect of learning to play, and tone is just one part of technique. I believe you learn the whole lot together.
 

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Technique can get the crowd's attention and get them moving...Tone, eloquence, and phrasing will keep their attention and arrest them.
 

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I am absolutely no technician so I go for tone and phrasing although I have my moments with fast passages.

B
 

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Why do teachers/instructors (most of them professional musicians for that matter) let that crap slide?
Perhaps they are not letting them slide. Have you talked with the jazz educators to learn their motives and intentions?

One has to keep the students engaged vs alienated. By having them in a jazz camp, one can hope that they will hear something and learn. Awareness has to be a first step. Opportunities to listen can lead to an awareness and subsequent desire to develop tone.

I loved it this weekend when my soon-to-be 5 year old asked "How do you make your saxophone sound so good?" He gets it. He and my daughter listen to Stanley Turrentine in the car and Joe Henderson for bed time music.
 

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Yeah, I don't know about these style of either/or questions.

I just think someone needs to have an appropriate tone for the style they are playing and it will sound pretty bad without the technique required to play the style as well.

Someone's great tone is another's bad tone and vice versa.

I've read some comments on SOTW where some people say Sanborn's tone sucks which is fair enough and others think Sanborn's tone is great which is also fair enough.

If Sanborn was lacking in the technique to deliver his style then he couldn't really deliver the tone in the way he would prefer and the gear is part of the tone/technique delivery thing as well.

Most people are near to tone deaf as far as I'm concerned and great tone doesn't concern them much and they just like a good tune or something to dance to or whatever but for working and non working musical types that often go and see players they admire or wannabe like, then their personal tone taste might matter to them.
 

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For me "sound" is a better word than "tone". Many players that could be said to have a good "tone" sound boring and academic to me. Jackie McLean was mentioned as an example of a player who had a great "sound" but not necessarily a great "tone". I'd rather listen to Jackie Mac than a player with a pretty tone.
 

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I know one teacher here in Boston who emphasizes tone, embouchure, breathing etc. He can teach tone because he studied tone for many years. He is now playing in Curtis Fullers band and has an amazing and very unique sound beyond that of most pro players.

I sometimes have guys here trying horns with great finger dexterity but a sound that makes me leave the room. I don't think they are getting what they paid for from their music schools/teachers.
 

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For me "sound" is a better word than "tone". Many players that could be said to have a good "tone" sound boring and academic to me. Jackie McLean was mentioned as an example of a player who had a great "sound" but not necessarily a great "tone". I'd rather listen to Jackie Mac than a player with a pretty tone.
That's what I'm talking about!!
 

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One has to keep the students engaged vs alienated. By having them in a jazz camp, one can hope that they will hear something and learn. Awareness has to be a first step. Opportunities to listen can lead to an awareness and subsequent desire to develop tone.

I loved it this weekend when my soon-to-be 5 year old asked "How do you make your saxophone sound so good?" He gets it. He and my daughter listen to Stanley Turrentine in the car and Joe Henderson for bed time music.
Exactly. Most kids aren't exposed to jazz; they might hear it for the first time when learning to play it. I didn't care much for jazz until I started playing with a jazz ensemble, which made me want to listen more--which made me want to develop a better tone. Technique too, but listening to good players made me more aware of my tonal deficiencies than my technical ones.
 
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