Producing The Tone You Desire

By Daniel Nistico
I want you to ask yourself, what is the purpose of music? For me personally, Bach summarized it perfectly well by saying "music's only purpose should be the glory of God and the re-creation of the human spirit." This perfectly captures Bach’s musical style and is a great insight into learning about Baroque performance practice style, but that’s a whole other story.

Even if you’re not spiritually inclined, imagine what the sound of God’s glory would be like. How about the re-creation of the human spirit? Love, loss, hate, jealousy, rage, betrayal, freedom, humour… these are just some words that come to mind. You will have your own personal words, memories and feelings to draw upon.

You’re probably wondering, what on earth does this have to do with tone production? My answer: everything. Tone production is your intention manifested into sound. If you don’t know what you’re intention is, your sound will be empty. It might be loud, clear, rich and full – but there will still be something lacking.

Why should our sound even be loud, clear, rich and full, why are those words so often used when describing a good foundational tone? Because we want to project our intention out to the listener and share with them a deep part of our spirit that cannot be shared through ordinary language.

***I want you to write down what the purpose of music is for you***. Do it right now before reading on. Investing a few minutes doing this will change your attitude towards music-making forever. Send it to me if you like, I’d love to hear your thoughts. I’d also like to share some in the next email, if that’s ok with you (it can be anonymous if you wish).

Once you’ve written that down, imagine what it would feel like to play that sentiment.

I’m not using language you ordinarily hear when it comes to producing tone. Things like, “just relax your shoulders” or “place your nail here at this precise angle to get this precise sound”.  This stuff is important… later on. You probably know it all already too. If your intention is at the forefront of your mind, you will be relaxed and you will use different tone colours to express your sentiments.

Tension is much more a mental habit than a physical response. We play better when we’re relaxed mentally. This is the way to start doing it, make your intention the main focus, not you, not your body, not your fingers.

I would like you to do one simple thing and incorporate this into your 15-minute block of foundational practice time (if you haven’t done the practice system from yesterday, read here and please do it today).
 
***Play the open E string (first string) for 5 minutes*** (see your timer go from 45 to 40). Think about your intention, inhabit it and manifest it. I encourage you to re-create your spirit into sound, use your feelings and your memories. Manifest that into your sound on the first string. Put those sentiments into your pieces.

I’m going to give you a few days now to put this and your new practice system into motion. An extra reading from Carlevaro’s School of Guitar is available here if you want to read more.

Download PDF here
You are free to copy this to others unchanged, but please reference Daniel Nistico as the author.
Questions/comments: danielnisticoguitarist@gmail.com   
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Daniel Nistico · 1/644 Main Rd, Eltham · Melbourne, VIC 3095 · Australia

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