Factors determining big, fat, smooth tone in acoustic harmonica

Mr. Ross said,

<Anything that can only be measured by a 
<vote poll is inherently subjective.  You 
<are looking for the majority of
<people's opinions.  What you are trying 
<to do is transfer that into an
<objective standard.  However, that does not 
<work: the subjective can no
<more be made into an objective 
<than the objective into a subjective.

Oh for goodness sake. You can have your subjectivity.
No one is after it. I hope you are very happy

But ~Tone~, for the harmonica player practicing in
his-non-moving- car, is something that happens before
something is mixed/recorded/effected. Most of us know
what it is. Mainly it is a function of certain
manipulations of air [in the body, in placement, in
mouth opening and lip application, in controlling the
air pressure in and around the harp, and manipulating
it after it is out of the harp, with hands. It is very
similar to the bows application to the cello strings
[on a different level: but still air and vibration,
and culling out extraneous sounds/static] and has
almost nothing to do with ~people?s opinions~: Some
kids grasp the bow and saw at the strings; they have
no tone to speak of. Some folks hold their harp in a
way that wastes air; and they have worse tone than
they could.

No one is arguing that anyone should give up their
precious opinions [though it might make things a lot
easier in all areas]. If you are a proponent of
~subjectivism~ [thinking ~nothing is true~, and
~everything is relative~ and ~proof for anything is
unavailable~, and, ~everything is open to
interpretation~; then you?re in plenty of good company
and you can easily defend your position- - -. You?re
welcome to it, but you might be happier on Nihilism-L.
For the record, your arguments are easily defended and
I take no issue with them [at least not in this

But we need to agree on SOMETHING to have any
conversation. I agree, for instance not to call you
names or talk while you are talking. I also agree that
certain words have certain meanings [whether they, at
heart, actually ~do~]. One of the things that might
help this conversation is us agreeing that ~tone~ is
one thing and someone?s overall ~sound~ is a very
different animal [~tone~, for our purposes occurring
prior to recording/effects/mixing; because ANYTHING
can be done to almost anything to alter it. I could
make a ~dog bark file~ sound like a G-sharp on
clarinet with simple software; It?s not germane that
Chess Records had a certain ~sound~- - - and doesn?t
address improving my ~harmonica playing tone~. We?re
talking about the harmonica PLAYER?S ~Tone~ here, as
he plays the harp, in a room, alone. Let?s say he?s
deaf]. [Just kidding]. 

Rod Piazza and Steve Baker both have big, fat tone
[and I?m talking about in person, not after
recording]. We all know Rod relies heavier on effects
and recording for his ~sound~. They have very
different ~sounds~ before and after ~treatment~. The
~Rod Piazza sound~ is one thing [Electric George
Smith?], and the ~Steve Baker Sound~ is another
[no-nonsense fat, studied, TONE. IMHO, mind you]. They
both have great tone, applied to their own repertoire
of other skills and ideas. I don?t really see how this
is debatable but I understand that it?s tricky to nail
down. I like a challenge myself.

If you don?t want to agree with this distinction
between a player?s ~tone~ and his ~sound~ then we have
no where to go, and I wish you well. I think we?ve all
made our semantical points about relativity, etc. For
those interested let?s keep tossing up
concepts/constructs for consideration as far as, ~What
factors determine fat, smooth tone
[pre-effects/amp/recording please], and how can it be

<I do not believe that "hand-cupping" is any more 
<or less related to a player's tone than any 
<of the factors that Tom mentioned.  

Mr. Ross is referring to Tom Ball's mention of 
old amplification/recording techniques, that
undoubtedly effect what we come to think of
as Little Walter?s ~sound~ [and that it might blur
what we hear as his ~tone~]. He already conceded
the distinction but it?s true that few of us know
what he sounded like at a live concert. I think
that is also a good topic for conversation 
but it?s separate from one about ~What factor?s
determine a harp students acquisition of tone~. 
As I said, of course anything can be done in 
the studio and this subject could easily bleed 
into that one. I?m trying to keep it distinct. 

<Can someone have "good tone" without using 
<their hands at all?  In my opinion, yes.  
<And that's the important thing for this 
<debate--it's _my opinion_, not
<quantifiable, not objective, not a 
<science but an art.

Not by any criteria I can think of- except if 
you want to do something with
effects/amplification/mixing, which would 
not really be conforming to the topic of, 
~How does one acquire tone in harmonica 
playing~. Again, nothing wrong with a 
little ~delay~ and a little reverb and 
a little simulated amp- - -it?s just not 
something you can practice in the woodshed.

<good tone"
<can not be quantified 

Again, I don?t know why you are married to this, but
you?re welcome to it. I hope you?ll allow us to pursue
it anyway.

<When I hear someone say "they have great 
<tone" someone else can say "they have 
<horrible tone" and we can both be right, 
<because we both are right: for ourselves.  

You think so? Okay. I leave you to it. As a
father/teacher/counselor I find all kinds of
situations where a judgment can, and should, 
be made. I take you back to the kid refusing 
to learn to apply the bow to the cello strings
properly. Someone might say he?s fine hacking 
at it like that- - - but I can?t keep him as a

<(PS, you are not now nor have you ever been 
<nor will you ever be harp-l's philosopher king.  
<That title is held in perpetuity by

Ah. There's the rub. No problem. But I thought he was
the List Poet Laureate. Alright. But, listen, if he?s
deposed, overthrown or killed can I reserve the right
to seek the nomination? My platform is: ~Tone in every
harp~, and, ~A Notation System that applies to all
harmonicas, be they key of A, be they key of C. All
keys, united in one, easy to read system of notation.
With fatness and bigness for all.

Your servant,

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