On  Saturday, January 18, 2003 6:50 PM
"Michelle LeFree" <mlefree@xxxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote :

 I want folks to articulate (just as you have below) the features of what
> they feel is great tone, especially since some seem to feel that it is the
> most important aspect of a harmonicist's playing.  I wonder if many blues
> harp players out there define great tone as that trademark Walter Horton
> deep, resonant sound, and his amazing ability to almost bury his harp's
> sound in his immense hand cup.  I think Big Walter was great, but I like
> you, feel that there is more to tone than his deep, cavernous sound.

> Back to my question.  Does tone equal expressiveness, such as you seem to
> suggest?  Or does it equal a pleasing, resonant sound more like big
> Michelle

First , "I make a motion somebody opened a window".
The fella at the back : please put that tomato down - who you're aiming at ?
A pinch of salt in what you'll read from the next line down.

Now , <flooded in salt> I've always thought that every piece
that is of such stuff that pertains masterpieces has tone as an
ingredient. (Masterpiece , to me is any piece of art that you can't have
of , and one that calibrates your soul and all your senses ,
or even better , optimises them as you're enjoying it.)

Tone , if nothing else is the element in great pieces of music
that makes notes sound likable (as DL Terry said) ,
it's a quadrant of the whole technique
(the other portion is musicality/feel/skill)
but the one part that's the first to make you sense
that the piece you're listening to "hits the spot".

Tone tames the beast (one's soul) ,
technique/phrasing keeps the ball rolling
maintains one's interest to the very end.
That's when you're getting really hooked,
immersed, engrossed by it. When there is total balance.
Otherwise , when tone's missing
something's itching you throughout , ain't it so ?

The difference is that, granted the skill , if a piece has tone too
you're experiencing unfettered listening , music flows
and you're shaking , foot tapping at least.
The balance between tone and skill is what earns the piece
wearing out play in my stereo.

In most instances when I come across
a piece that has substantial skill in it but lacks tone I just fail to
repeat it
and get a mood shift to something else. If it's just tone I'll let it roll
before I skip it due to the sensation that a not always right first
might be deluded by ; but from then on it's a left-out.

That being said , I can overlook Coleman Hawkins strident
sounding tenor sax moments as leniently as I do with
Charlie McCoy's often (it's true) ones.
Just because their technique is captivating.
BTW , listen to the latter on tone showcases like
Today I Started Loving You Again
or Cayman Moon , or the brilliant Hank Williams cover
I'm So Lonesome I could Cry and tell me he ain't got tone.
His Little Walter Tribute piece is okay tonewise but a bit muffled.
In my opinion , all great musicmakers have their highlights.
And tone in the pocket , that's for sure , regardless of
situations and contexts that necessitate tone adjustments
that act as vein setters.

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