Even although new words may express particular personal feelings, the 10 or so common ones cover so much ground that they are a "must" and the rest gravy.
More important to me than an "absolute" definition of the color of sound, is the palette required for making music. I will maintain that most modern instruments have colors (at the extreme loud side) that are unusable in real music making events. Most important is developing a feeling for color that allows us to fit into any situation that may come up. Judging from what I read here at TM, I will maintain that most players invest too much time in red and yellow and not enough in blues and greens.
Black in the recording engineers lingo means absolute silence - something many of us are afraid of, but definitely of great value to our music and the people around us!
Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
Derek's links were really interesting and helpful, thanks. I've been stuck in the rut of describing sound as either dark or light, but there's more to it than that. Gives me better idea of the sound I'm looking to achieve. In retrospect, my sound on larger mouthpieces may be too "tubby" out to the audience even tho I believe it sounds fuller to my own ears. Thinking about keeping a "core" sound that stays together seems to help my playing. I suppose I might also have to keep in mind that I'm playing on a strad 72 bell flare which tends to widen out the sound anyway. It's really nice to hear one's sound on recording but it's not always possible for the average trumpet player.
Using words to describe sound is always tough and using math to identify qualities within a sound is appriciated by the very few. So where does that leave us? Sometimes more confused than when we started.
However, I think if we use comparisons we can come to a stable answer.
As you know, humans often look and think in "twos".
pretty - ugly
We tend to bifricate things in order to understand things. This could have biological significance since we have two ears, two eyes, two nose holes, two feet, two hands, and two halves of the body and even the brain is basically divided in half and connected by the corpus collosum.
Now that I've given my justification for what we divide things the way we do let's talk sound and comparisons.
As you know, different trumpet players sound different. Some have a sound that if put in literary terms, sounds introspective. Examples of that would be Miles Davis and Ingrid Jensen. When they are playing "in the pocket", its almost like they are talking to you. Its a very sexy quality that lacks brightness and since it lacks that particular spectrum, its often referred to as "dark"
Some trumpet players have a sound that if put in literary terms, sounds angelic and can part the clouds. When you hear it you think "Oh my God is all that sound coming out of just this person"?
This type of trumpet player has that particular part of the spectrum in their sound which we often call "bright".
In general, people will lean towards a bright or dark sound. A rare few can color the sound however they wish. A prime example is Arturo Sandoval's recording of Trumpet Evolution. However, (and this is a big however) eventhough Arturo can color his sound, he basically heads back to "his sound" which is beautiful and bright.
Some people would say that a great sound is a sound that balances the dark and bright qualities at the same time. I would not disagree with this but finding that person is harder than finding hen's teeth. Possibly Louis Armstrong or Rafeal Mendez.
Now, does dark mean not full bodied? no. Does bright mean blasting the roof off? no.
I think Phil Woods said it best when he said on his DVD Master class from NYU, that
"a person's particular sound is based on their physiogomy"
"Paradoxically, I'm coming to believe in the importance of silence in music. The power of silence after a phrase of music for example; the dramatic silence after the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony, or the space between the notes of a Miles Davis solo. There is something very specific about a rest in music. You take your foot off the pedal and pay attention. I'm wondering whether, as musicians, the most important thing we do is merely to provide a frame for silence. I'm wondering if silence itself is perhaps the mystery at the heart of music? And is silence the most perfect music of all?
Songwriting is the only form of meditation that I know. And it is only in silence that the gifts of melody and metaphor are offered. To people in the modern world, true silence is something we rarely experience. It is almost as if we conspire to avoid it. Three minutes of silence seems like a very long time. It forces us to pay attention to ideas and emotions that we rarely make any time for. There are some people who find this awkward, or even frightening.
Silence if disturbing. It is disturbing because it is the wavelength of the soul. If we leave no space in our music - and I'm as guilty as anyone else in this regard - then we rob the sound we make of a defining context. It is often music born from anxiety to create more anxiety. It's as if we're afraid of leaving space. Great music's as much about the space between the notes as it is about the notes themselves. A bar's rest is as important and significant as the bar of demi-, semi-quavers that precedes it. What I'm trying to say here is that if ever I'm asked if I'm religious I always reply, "Yes, I'm a devout musician." Music puts me in touch with something beyond the intellect, something otherworldly, something sacred.
How is it that some music can move us to tears? Why is some music indescribably beautiful? I never tire of hearing Samuel Barber's 'Adagio for Strings' or Faures 'Pavane' or Otis Redding's 'Dock of the Bay'. These pieces speak to me in the only religious language I understand. They induce in me a state of deep meditation, of wonder. They make me silent.
It's very hard to talk about music in words. Words are superfluous to the abstract power of music. We can fashion words into poetry so that they are understood the way music is understood, but they only aspire to the condition where music already exists.
Music is probably the oldest religious rite. Our ancestors used melody and rhythm to co-opt the spirit world to their purposes - to try and make sense of the universe. The first priests were probably musicians. The first prayers probably songs.
So what I'm getting round to saying is that as musicians, whether we're successful, playing to thousands of people every night, or not so successful, playing in bars or small clubs, or not successful at all, just playing alone in your apartment to the cat, we are doing something that can heal souls, that can mend us when our spirits are broken. Whether you make a million dollars or not one cent, music and silence are priceless gifts, may you always possess them. May they always possess you.
you are absolutely right. The rest of the quote can be found here:
Whenever I feel blue, I start breathing again.
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