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”Blow your brains out” or ”cryin’ my heart out”?


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After reading Pete Thomas article ”Loud and Hard” on his blog which is good and gives me some reflections about the phenonmenon called Rocksax (Blues, oldtime R&B, Rock & Roll, Funk, Soul, Pop, Ska, Reggea and maybe also Country …).

I agree on Pete’s writing. Being a hobbysaxophonist in the Rocksaxfield I’m always trying to to blow/play loud and maybe also hard. I’ve my own methods to achieve a loud tone/sound. But what do we mean when we say loud? Is it high screaming tones with growl (altissimo or overblowing) or low powerful tones? Or is it just to blow into a microphone and amplify your sax?

And there are lots of terms that I use and that I think are close to Rocksax: Loud, big, large, full-body, punchy, full-tone, rocky, screaming, greasy, slabby, filthy, rough, powerful, fat, attackful, raspy, strong, bellow, wild, frantic …… (some of these words are taken from a Swedish study called ”Modelling Perceptual Dimensions of Saxophone Sounds”).

What exercises are you doing to get a ”loud/big” tone?

”Blow Your Brains Out” and ”Cryin’ My Heart Out” are two good samples of early R&B-sax songs. ”Blow Your Brains Out” is a Wynonie Harris song. Hal Singer and Tom Archia are blowing on their tenorsaxes. ”Cryin’ My Heart Out” is a Red Prysock tune and Red is is really blowing his heart out on his tenor! For me Red Prysock is #1. None of the tenorplayers is overblowin’ or playing out the ranges of their saxes. But they are using other Rocksaxtricks! And there is no loud trigging guitar on the songs. I like the guitar but less is more even when it comes to guitars. Where did the low-tuned 4-string guitar go?

I've been thinking about this quite a bit recently, but.. seeing as my kids' been keeping me awake all night for the last few days I'm not capable of any form of rational response... (will report back when rested).
One thing i have been working on- trying to even out the sound volume and 'attack' between playing 'quietly' and full on rock out (a lot of solos in sandy's set relied on playing in an almost classical, cello -ish style and then going crazy with harmonics and snarl* trying to have roughly consistent volume across these was quite challenging)

* give me long enough and I'll synthesize Jan Garbarek and James Carter together...

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