A How-To Guide: Styles
This is one of the most important skills for any clarinet or saxophone player that wants to play more than just classical music.
The ability to sound like or at least to play in the same style within a particular genre of music is a vital skill.
Yet, without this skill, players are confined to one particular sound and style and this can lead to a player being pigeon-holed for an entire career.
How Can You Learn This?
The first thing you will need to do is to LISTEN to a whole host of players from all eras and styles of music.
Try to hear every nuance, tone colour and the musical phrases the player performs, then ask yourself:
What is the player’s jaw doing to create the vibrato they are using?
How and where are the accents and other stylistic elements being placed?
What type of mouthpiece, reed and embouchure would you need to re-create what you’re hearing?
Is the tone soft, light and fluffy or hard, solid and powerful?
What are the backing musicians and other band members doing and playing?
How does the soloist interact with and blend with them?
All these and many more questions are necessary if you are to understand how to re-create a player’s sound and style.
Where do you Begin?
The easiest and most stress-free way to begin this long journey is to:
1. Play a long note and listen to its qualities, tone, strength, texture and pitch.
2. Play the note again but this time visualise a scene or image of some type and vary your sound to reflect the qualities of this image.
3. Play long, hard and strong with a tight, cutting edge and a fast vibrato.
4. Play soft and light with a warm modulated vibrato.
5. Play medium loud with a wide but strong vibrato or no vibrato or gradually add the vibrato.
6. Try bending the pitch of the note as you play it.
7. Try bending the pitch then adding a fast vibrato or bend the pitch, correct it and use a slow, warm vibrato.
8. Try playing a long note and as you come to its end, add a vibrato that increases in speed as the note fades.
All of these exercises help to develop your ability to manipulate, colour and shape your sound and this is a vital skill if you are to play in different styles.
Working with a recording:
Listen to the following excerpts for Clarinet, Tenor and Alto Sax and try to re-create them as accurately as you can.
The music is provided to make this easier.
Ex 1 “Warm and Sweet”
Ex 2 “Glenn Miller Styled”
Ex 3 “Lip Slurs”
Ex 4 “Funky!”
Develop your Styles Playing with these books:
(Available for Clarinet, Alto & Tenor Saxes. Except for the Benny Goodman book)