Miles Davis: You Have to Get Your Own Sound

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Photo courtesy MilesDavis.com

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.

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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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