I hope you have been enjoying the continuing NAMM 2011 footage, thanks due to the hard work of our Creative Director Raul Amador. I just listened to Alain Caron and Jeff Berlin doing their thing at the Mark Bass booth…amazing how you can pin-point these guys after hearing just a few notes (without the need to watch the video).
So many times, especially with my students, we end up talking about a player’s particular voice, and 9 times out of 10, the student takes the perspective of the players literal “sound” itself being more or less their interpretation of that players “voice”. I understand their position on this to a point. There are players that have certainly defined their sound in terms of their gear to the listening audience. Jaco and Marcus always come to mind when I’m speaking in those terms, but I could have picked out Alain and Jeff just as easily. These thoughts or analogies are not anything new per se, but if I may be so bold, I’d like to take a section out of my book, An Artistic Guide to Economic Survival, and give you my perspective on what constitutes one’s “voice”, as an alternative opinion to contemplate.
“Why is it that many of us can here just a few notes from a particular musician and know who they are, immediately? The phraseology that is typically used in an answer to this is ‘that’s their voice’. So, what is that ‘voice’? I promise you it’s far more than just the sound of their instrument or their technique. These individuals are completely clear in terms of their identity, their persona, and with that kind of clarity there’s literally nothing that interposes between their thoughts and their ability to express them. Nothing interposes…that’s their voice. This is communication in its purest form, and that translates.”
I do believe that our communication, “how” we communicate, is inherently tied to our perception of ourselves and how we “feel” about that. Said another way, and a bit more dramatically, if we were engulfed in an identity crisis of some sort, to think that our ability to communicate and “how” we’re communicating (be it musically or otherwise) would not be affected by that personal crisis would be naïve at best. It seems to go without saying as well that the greats most assuredly have their off days, but once these chosen few pick up that instrument, they’re back to their secured inner focus and that ability to communicate remains to be open and flows freely.
Nothing is written in stone on these perspectives, but there’s an analogy, or premise if you will you might want to consider giving some thought to.