“The quality of your tone will probably have a more immediate impact on listeners than any other feature of your execution.”
–The Musician’s Way, p. 22
We performers know the power of tone quality. Sweet tones can charm, almost like magic, and harsh sounds quickly put people on edge.
Nonetheless, I’ve found that many music students don’t pay close attention to tone production nor the emotional language of tone color.
Here, then, are six tips for building masterful tone control.
6 Ways to Cultivate Expressive Tone
1. Understand Tone Production
Be sure that you grasp the inner workings of tone production with your instrument or voice and that you can readily alter your sound by significant amounts at various volume levels. If not, consult a teacher for guidance.
2. Vary Tone in Scale Practice
Refine your tone-producing skills by employing tone color variations in your scale practice, experimenting across registers and keys.
3. Explore the Expressive Grammar of Tone
In your repertoire practice, use tone colors to enhance expressive gestures, going beyond your habitual patterns.
Compare, for instance, how passages comes across when you make your tone bright when executing piano versus dark when executing forte – here’s an example excerpted from Chapter 2 of The Musician’s Way:
4. Attune Your Listening
Bring fresh attention to the density, color and shape of your sound in each phrase you play or sing. Also listen to recordings of master artists and scrutinize how they use tone color.
5. Perform for Colleagues
As you expand your tone-color vocabulary, do practice performances for colleagues and request their feedback.
6. Record Yourself
Good-quality digital recorders enable us evaluate our work objectively and make our practice optimally productive.
See The Musician’s Way for far-reaching strategies to grow your artistic powers.
© 2015 Gerald Klickstein
Photo of flautist © Furtseff, licensed from Shutterstock.com