Saturday, February 23, 2013

Tone is King

As regards harmonica playing, tone is technique, in my book. What's important for me isn't the amount of technique a player has, but rather the quality of what he does with it. Billy Gibbons, guitarist for ZZ Top, doesn't have a great deal of harmonica technique on their song "Waiting for the Bus", but his tone is perfect, blasting, crisp, distorted just right. The few notes he plays are punchy to say the least, precisely timed.

The same thing can be said of Taj Mahal's "Leavin' Trunk" and 'She Took the Katy"--neither are complicated, but Mahal's playing is sublime. In the solos in either song, his phrases are brief, terse, emotionally gratifying. This is a musician who, though not a virtuoso by the arbitrary standards of current thinking, still had the genius to compose memorable statements. Tone or technique isn't a real choice one needs to make, in most cases.
Tone is technique, for all reed  instruments. Technique is merely a fluent accumulation  of know-how. Tone represents the talent, the real genius to make it human, moving, worth taking note of,

1 comment:

  1. Hello Ted--I've nominated you for the Liebster Award.

    Check it out:


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