the instrument

The musical instrument, whether it uses wind, strings or skins, acts as an amplifier of the musician’s voice directly driven by his inner vibration : to take advantage of this amplifier’s acoustics, the player aims at stimulating its resonance, and at merging with the vibration inside his body, radiating from his sound source and modulated by his vocal cords.

As Alfred Tomatis describes it in The Ear And The Voice, he must sing, hence vibrate, in order to feed his instrument and make it sound, again and again, and resonate. In the case of wind players, the air column obviously comes to mind, and remains at the core of playing any other type of instrument, as Dominique Hoppenot shows it in her Inner Violin / Le violon intérieur .

More precisely, when the woodwind player lets his clarinet vibrate, after having stabilized his sound on the saxophone, he gets a better mastery from this approach, with respect to the somewhat different tension of the sound, considering the air column should develop the same way in a well centered and verticalized manner, in order to obtain the much sought-after playing ease. In his Art Of Piano Playing, George Kochevitsky describes this easiness sensation as resulting from the mental control on the playing apparatus, showing that your musical idea drives your instrument playing.


Many years of solitary introspection lead me to analyze and to understand the unconscious operations of our body, when we vibrate an instrument.

(…) you should be aware of everything which must be achieved before playing a sound : here is the real work. To achieve this : refrain from holding the instrument in your hands.

Robert Pichaureau
(translated by Guy Robert)


Your body is your real instrument.

Robert Pichaureau, Favorite Expressions
(translated by Guy Robert)


The horn is like a megaphone which amplifies the sound wave set up by the vocal cords and reed vibration. Air, even air lying still in the horn itself, becomes sound.

David Liebman,
Developing a Personal Saxophone Sound


You find the center of that horn for your physionomy : the node, what makes it vibrate, you know, and when you find it, it’s there.

Phil Woods,
Master Class at New York University


The clarinet disappears, and I disappear and all you hear is music. (…) It’s playing so great that I forget there is a clarinet.

The  clarinet is leading me. (…) Sometimes the clarinet is playing me; sometimes I think I’m playing the clarinet : that’s when it’s wrong ! When you think you’re playing the clarinet, already there’s too much separation between you and the clarinet, and then it’s not really happening (…) like when it’s just the music.

Eddie Daniels, in
A Few Moments with Eddie Daniels,
Eddie Daniels on The Art of Noodling

Share on FacebookShare on LinkedInShare on Google+Tweet about this on Twitter

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

*