I want to add to something I said in yesterday's post on evenness. I was talking about clarity and wrote, "I soon realized that clarity had to do with the synchronization of air, lip vibration and tongue, coming together for an immediate impact of sound, not the hardness of the attack or the note length."
It is about definition of sound. The immediate impact of of sound needs to have its synchrony focused on a specific pitch center. When this happens, clarity is the result no matter how short or long, soft or hard the actual length or attack is.
Of course there is the consideration on the subject of release at the end of the note and what impact that has on evenness. Plus another interesting consideration is how a person thinks when they articulate a note. Many brass players sound like they play with lots of 'down bows'. This can get very labored and horizontal sounding to the listener. It also does not do much to the phrasing in general. 'Up bows' in our articulation add to the movement of the line just as it does to string players. In fact, a teacher of mine told me once that all fine wind players 'bow' and all fine string players 'breathe'.
So when considering the topic of evenness, I find it very useful to examine and experiment with it in the light of the following:
1. Musical context
2. Fundamental command
3. Working on stability
Also, when I do my 'evenness' exercises I listen to the three basic parts of each note:
1. Beginning or 'head' of the note
2. The middle or 'body' of the note
3. The end, release or 'tail' of the note
We also can get into the shape of the note which was hinted at in the subject of bowing, but one needs to find a mental concept for their basic note shape. 'Bricks' is a popular shape but I have found it a stumbling 'block' for some people. I often think of a tubular shape, and again this can change according to the nature of the music or an aspect of articulation I could be working on.
My last paragraph on yesterday's post ended with the thought of if a brass or wind player played with as much sound and articulation variations as some string soloist do what would that do to most listeners of the 'classic' kind and would it be practical to work on lots of variation if we have not 'mastered' the one even color yet. Well, the way I have had to solve this in my mind, dealing with it from a very young age, was from the stand point of realizing that the one even basic sound is just one kind of tone color. It is one of many colors in the timber spectrum. In most orchestral settings there is not a great need for a huge diversity of tone flavors and colors. Yes, of course you need to play with a large volume contrast and to blend with others and different instruments. This requires sensitivity to balance and nuance. But in my experience with what most people want, is subtle variations on a basic acceptable color. Which takes its own kind of skill to do well.
For me, it is fun, broadening and musically necessary to venture outside of that realm. It is important at some point, at least it was for me, to not care to, to much on only that which is looked upon by a majority to be the only valid way. If that were the case, how could anything new ever have a chance to appear?