Finding Your Own Sound - Redux
I know I sometimes go on and on about finding your own sound, and how the gear you play isn't your sound, but you are. Here's a quote from a great jazz blog, The Woodshed, written by saxophonist Mike Lebrun, that echoes what I've been saying:
Forget About Mouthpieces.
Charlie Parker played on any horn, mouthpiece, and reed combo he could get his hands on, and he always created the same, beautiful, distinctive sound that defines the music we continue to play. How was he able to do this? It’s not his equipment that made the sound. It was his conception.
In order to sound like yourself, you need to have a crystal clear idea in your head of what you want to sound like before you put any air into your horn. So save your money and stop buying new mouthpieces. Instead, find something that gives you a consistent sound and lots of control, and stick with it.
Invest some time in discovering and refining what you want to sound like. Then do whatever it takes to create that sound.
So here we are, someone else saying basically the same thing I preach to my students: “It’s not his equipment that made the sound. It was his conception.” And you will consistently find this in many great players, they can play any gear and still sound like themselves, because they are the sound.
I also think this rings true: “Invest some time in discovering and refining what you want to sound like.” And this really comes down to taking the gear you have right now and committing to it. Committing to finding the sounds you can make, the sounds you can use, and learning how to get those sounds at will. It’s always easy to just say, “If I only had a better/different ride cymbal,” but that’s just being lazy!
Do the work.
Do the practice.
Make things happen.