RE: TONE (was 2000 hours)

DL Terry takes the position that tone equals greatness:
> OK, I know I'm not an authority on any of this, "I am only an egg"...
> BUT, When Mike Due asked about the "2000 hours to proficiency" estimate, I
> said what defines mastery of the harmonica is TONE.
> Ben Felten disagrees - says lots of masters of the harp don't have good
> tone.
> No offense Ben, but: "B.S."
> It takes a while to get tongue-blocking, bends, overblows, etc. - I'm
> beginning to think it can take (me) a LIFETIME to have GREAT tone.
> I can't think of ANY "master" who doesn't have it. I can't imagine a
> harmonica player that is considered "accomplished" in THIS community who
> doesn't have TONE. I'll go a step further: good ACCOUSTIC tone. It's the
> toughest part of the instrument to master, and the nicest arppegio, the
> trickiest tongue-switch, the meanest trill, even great rhythm, - all of it
> can be overshadowed by poor tone. On the otherhand, a simple 1st position
> melody sounds beautiful, if the player has good tone.
> From LW to Cham-ber Huang, Kim Wilson to the Harmonicats, tone is KING.
> I can't think of a _single_ "master" of the instrument that doesn't have
> good (or GREAT) tone. Can you?

Hmmm.  As it happens, I ~can~ think of at least a couple of notable
counter-examples to the mastery equals great tone equation proffered by DL
Terry.  At the risk of being accused of heresy, as masterful a player as he
was, Sonny Boy Williamson II, IMO, did not possess "great tone", acoustic or
otherwise.  And, if you define "great tone" as a deep, resonant quality, I
don't think Sonny Terry's playing exhibited "great tone", either.
Incidentally, since Sonny Terry is my favorite harmonicist, ~I~ clearly do
not equate "great tone" with great harp playing.  I feel that harmonica
virtuosity (agility, breadth and mastery of techniques, a "unique" sound,
etc.) can outweigh the absence of "great tone" (as I would define it

TONE seems to be ~the~ measure of greatness in the opinions of some, and
it's high up on the list of most other's definition of greatness.  I wonder,
then, how is "great (acoustic) TONE" defined???  How is "great TONE"
achieved?  Why is it that some players have it and others don't?  (FWIW, I
am far more pleased with my own tone than I am my virtuosity.  'Course, even
though I've doggedly pursued it for the last year, I readily admit that I'm
far from finished with my own tone quest.  It's always in the back of my
mind (back of my throat?  :).

I'm very much looking forward to some expert considered opinions on these
important questions.  Open your throats y'all!   :^)

Thanks, Michelle

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