In an effort to organize the instructional material I have here on my site, I will from now on add only one lesson a week. This helps me focus my posts and helps you know when to make room in the woodshed. This Wednesday I am discussing how to expand one’s sound, or musical vocabulary. Next Wednesday I will provide musical examples.
My advice to expand one’s sound might appear in opposition to past posts where I have stressed individuality and having an original one of a kind sound. Having an “original one of a kind sound,” is a very difficult process but here I help simplify it some.
A long amount of time must be spent on all three aspects listed below to eventually chisel away one’s own unique style. Paradoxically the three aspects are based on copying playing styles that already exist.
First, listening to many different instruments and countless genres of music is needed. Spending enough time to commit songs and sounds to memory. If you can hum it on your own and hear it in your head you are making progress. Think of songs you already know and ones you like and would like to learn.
Second is, attempting to replicate the tones and intervals our ears are drawn to. First do this in the context of similar songs, then in others outside the imaginary genre compartment. Let me say this post is about music in general not instrument specific. The more instruments you play and listen to, the better off you are. Attempting to play a horn melody I have in my head on mandolin is a simple trick I find helpful for me. My replications sound far from identical, but progress can be made fairly quickly.
The third and final general aspect of finding one’s own sound is in differentiation. After a few different playing styles can be played comfortably one can pick and chose how to mix and match techniques. Be it chord melody, (which I will get to,) single line playing or a combination.
Instead of being intimidated by this task, go back to the very first step. Simply listening to music is quite easy. Like anything we do, our level of focus is crucial, take some time to really listen. Pick out instrumentation, chord changes, dominant chords, rhythm changes, etc. It is great, fun, easy practice. Till next week find a band or a song that is new to you that you like and commit it to memory. Good listening.