Miles Davis: You Have to Get Your Own Sound


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SKF NOTE: This advice to upcoming musicians from Miles Davis strikes me as a lifelong pursuit. I remember Miles himself telling an interviewer how he, Miles, lost his well-known sound for awhile, and it took Miles two years to get it back. When he did, Miles said he was determined to not lose his sound again.


Down Beat contributor Howard Mandel asks, “What would Miles [Davis] tell a youngster seeking advice?”

Miles Davis: They have to get their own sound. Then, notes go with your sound. It’s like a color. My color — I’m black, brown, with a little red-orange in my skin. Red looks good on me.

You have to do the same with music. If you have a tone, you play notes to match your sound, your tone, if you’re gonna make it pleasin’ to yourself — and then you can please somebody else with it.

But your sound has to match what you think — not what somebody else thinks.

Source: Miles Davis, by Howard Mandel, Down Beat December 1984

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