re: TONE [ain't ~sound~]

Tom Ball [of all people] said:

<Probably the first time Walter would've even 
<heard his 'tone' would've been upon playback.

<the "tone" we are discussing is 
<all-too-often a result of the addition/subtraction of
other musical information via electronics

<And all this is without even getting into the
<inalienable fact that when it comes to tone, one
<man's ceiling is another man's 

Those, above, are examples of someone?s ~sound~. Not
their ~tone~. This is NOT semantics. If a
student carelessly drags his bow across their violin
they ruin their ~tone~ [and no one will yet care about
their ~sound~].
- ------------------------------

Just when I was ready to let this thread die- - - Tom,
Tom, Tom, why would you say these things??? Many
of the factoids you mentioned about mic and amps and
recordings are true and helpful, but you could
not have kicked more mud into the Tone-pond if you?d
planted water-lilies with a backhoe, on a rainy day. 
I hear you play a mean harp, and I?ve loved your books
[including the latest fiction which I proudly have a 
signed first edition] but you are making newbies think
that ~Tone~ is something like ~groove~ or ~style~ 
or ~His Sound~. It ain?t. It ain?t. It ain?t. I beg
you to think it over and make a clarification. ~One
ceiling is another man?s floor~ is a perfect example
of applying to things like ~style~ or ~goodness~, 
but it has little to do with ~tone~ [It?s comparable
to telling a beginning piano student that the amount 
of pressure they put on the keys, or how they sit or
finger is irrelevant, ~so long as they are happy 
with it~. When is ~one man?s, ~fat, well-placed, full
TONE~, another man?s shabby, thin shallow 
tone? When is someone?s thin, ill-conceived, weak tone
someone else?s ~GREAT TONE~. 
Answer: Never.]. 

~Tone~  has almost nothing to do with amplification or
the recording process. All the things you 
talked about with Little Walter are going to cause
confusion. Little Walter HAD Tone. He had it 
because of his cupping, his embouchure, his harp
placement and his absolute mastery of - - -for 
lack of a better word; ~hole selection~ [this
includes: non sloppy tongue blocking- a BIG factor, 
and clearly emphasizing the notes- thru milking them,
and only them- that he wanted

Here are some absolutes:

- -If you play stiffly, from note to note, concentrating
on the area between your molars and the harps 
edge; you?ll probably have worse tone- - If you have
enough skill and knowledge to play smoothly, 
and concentrate on the areas between your diaphragm
and the back of your knuckles; you?ll probably 
have better tone.

- -If you cover only enough of the harp with your lips
to isolate your hole; you?ll probably have worse
tone. If you place the harp as deeply in your mouth as
possible and open as widely as possible- while 
still being able to isolate the desired hole; you?ll
definitely have better tone.

- -If you have thin, small, stiff dry lips; you?ll
probably have worse tone. If you have large soft,
lips that make a good seal on the harp [and not
dry-mouthed]- you?ll probably have better tone.

- -If you hold your harp with two fingers on each side
of the harp; you?ll probably have lousy tone.
If you form a cup around the harp that allows you to
totally control where ANY air goes/escape; you?ll 
probably have better tone.

- -If you understand the music that you are playing on
many different levels [and therefore know what 
you want to play-down or emphasize] you?ll probably
have better tone. If you are playing 
~by-the-numbers~ and sustain or mute only according to
what you read or hear; you?ll 
probably have worse tone.

- -If you have shallow breathing you?ll probably have
lousy tone. If you breathe from deep in 
your lungs you?ll be at an advantage for producing
better tone.

- -If you have a big, wide, full ~sound~ in mind that
you want to emulate [and THIS part is 
subjective. LW had the saxophone. I have LW] then
you?ll probably have better tone. 

- -If your ~sound~ is big, round, smooth and full;
you?ll probably have better tone. If your sound 
is small, thin, rocky and weak; you?ll have worse
tone. There are factors that effect the above
mentioned qualities; none of them are subjective or
fit under the rubric: ~One?s man ceiling 
is another man?s floor~ [I?d tried to head this off
with my comment: ~One man?s good tone is NOT another
man?s car alarm~]. There is lots more I could say but
better teachers have already said it better [Steve 
Baker, Kim Wilson, Portnoy, Gindick, Hunter, David

Like a cello, you do not have the option to play
stiffly or scratchily or with extraneous static 
[sounds YOU don?t choose, like running the bow on the
strings in a non-smooth way]. If you want 
good tone with harp you need a good cup, a good
embouchure, a good breathing technique 
and a good appreciation for what you are playing. No
way around it. Some of you might have 
good tone without having had to study or practice, but
that doesn?t change the fact that those 
other things are necessary.

Now. For the Blanket Statement Police out there who
believe that ALL generalizations are 
bad [except this one]; If you wants to pick at these
nits, have at it. I?m done until we are discussing 
harp-knowledge in a way that will forward us [and THAT
is also subjective] [And yes, someone did die and
appoint me the Harp-l Philosopher King; I will decide
that for everyone.] [Thank you. 
Thank you very much].

Your servant,

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