My exploring the alto saxophone, coming from practicing the clarinet, made me realize how paramount the sound foundation is, as resulting from the mastering of my inner vibration : by avoiding any physical stress disturbing the musical gesture (“body tensions shrink your sound“, as Marie-Christine Mathieu shows it), we manage to merge with our instrument. In other words, the expression is fully controlled when the body fades out behind the sound. Then, the playing process of the body-instrument set becomes flexibly driven by the musician, who can then concentrate on his musical speech since his sound is already put in place : from this point onwards, other musical features logically build up, such as articulation, nuances, rests…
Many findings result from this approach, which was happily taught to me by Master Robert Pichaureau some years ago (1983-85) and is feeding my personal routine in a continuous way : practice and assimilation make concepts ripe with time, so that they become obvious. Along these lines, this great teacher helped many musicians to unveil and (re-)build up their sound, enhancing these principles in a unified way for all types of instruments (he used to refer to The Inner Violin / Le violon intérieur of Dominique Hoppenot, extending the concept beyond the brass and woodwind players…).
Le Traité méthodique de pédagogie instrumentale, written by Michel Ricquier, also shows and explains the sound produced by the brass or the woodwind player. As a complement, the paramount role of mind for the art expression is developed in his book L’utilisation de vos ressources intérieures.
In the USA, Joe Allard was a notorious Master, as a clarinet and saxophone player, who educated several generations of musicians, following similar principles, from whom I further mention excerpts consistent with my observations. David Liebman is one of his famous followers, who elaborated his ideas about the development of a personal saxophone sound.
These teachings are feeding my understanding, following the milestones selected in the left sidebar in a personal fashion, describing my feelings (and proprioceptions) stemming from a progressive assimilation of the Pichaureau method and comparable concepts : each page outlines appropriate excerpts related to the current theme.
Great musicians of all styles demonstrate as many embodiments of personal sound. Among the most significant ones to me, we can find Charlie Parker, Phil Woods, Cannonball Adderley, David Liebman, Eddie Daniels, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Clark Terry, Pierrick Pédron, Jean-Charles Richard, Géraldine Laurent, Martin Fröst, Romain Guyot, Maurice André, Timofei Dokshitser, Guy Touvron…
In the first place, you should learn to know yourself : learn to be aware of everything which must be achieved before playing a sound.
(translated by Guy Robert)
If you know how to play, if you understand your approach, then you have a good plan for your playing. You eliminate much of the fear of playing. There’s still concern because you want to play well, but you’re not afraid to blow.
In truth, there are no rules, only concepts. In all honesty, it took me years to understand some of his directions. This was especially true for the all-important overtone exercises and their significance. It finally dawned on me during my twenties how much the tone of the great players evidenced ease of production, evenness of sound, a rich and deep sonority, and most of all, personal expressiveness.