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  1. #1

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    I have to admit I have no idea what people exactly mean when they refer to a guitarist's style or sound as "horn like". For example sometimes people refer to Wes Montgomery's guitar playing as horn like. I'm not sure if I hear that.
    It's true that the defining tone and phrasing of jazz is shaped by early horn players, like Bird, Dizzy, Lester Young, Clifford Brown etc. This influence has infused in all jazz players. So it's possible that what I hear as just "jazz" is referred to as "horn like" I'm not sure. So:
    1- Does horn like refer to phrasing or is it more about the tone (attack, note duration etc.)?
    2- What are some examples of very horn like and very UN-horn like (guitar like?) guitar solos?
    3- Why do some guitarist think it's desirable to make your guitar sound like another instrument?

    I personally like jazz guitar sound at least as much as any other instrument used in jazz. I have not heard sax or piano players being praised to sound "guitar-like". In fact I rather listen to a guitar player than a "guitar-like" sax player (or a sax-like sax player for that matter).
    Why do we guitar players take it as a complement if we are told we sound horn-like?

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  3. #2
    Also, is "horn-like" one of these music critic terms that got internalized by jazz musicians as a result of peer pressure?
    Last edited by Tal_175; 03-27-2019 at 10:29 PM.

  4. #3

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    I take all compliments as well intentioned, even if they're misguided and a little insulting sometimes ("Man, that GUITAR sounds great")

    Re: Horn-like...I think it's a backhanded compliment, sometimes, as it insinuates most guitar players aren't "horn-like" and that horns are "better" or something.

    Generally, it's attack and phrasing, I think. But it's a mostly meaningless term to me. I've heard it applied to players who sound nothing alike, and nothing like "horns" to my ear. It's like when a guitar player says a guitar sounds "warm." What the hell does that even mean? I just means "I like it."
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  5. #4

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    To me horn like most of all means legato, or slur technique. Horn players don't tongue every note, so guitarists shouldn't pick every note.

    Horn like player, for me, the best example is Sco. Least horn like maybe Al di Meola, McLaughlin...

    is it superior? IMO yes, totally. In jazz, especially bebop related. If I wanted to play jazz from the beginning guitar would be my last choice of an instrument. It needs to adapt, while horns sound perfectly natural from the get go.

  6. #5

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    IIRC Charlie Christian was the first player to „play like a horn“. I‘ve certainly heard it in relation to Grant Green. He played all single notes and no chords, so the comparison comes easy.

    It is a way of phrasing, and also of playing single notes. I think you need to see where it comes from - Eddie Lang was certainly a great player, but horn-like? Django - horn-like? No way. I guess it took amplification to make that way of expression even possible.

    In these days, Bill Frisell comes to mind as a distinctly un-hornlike player.


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  7. #6

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    I think slurs are huge. I also think more focus on chord tones rather than scales up and down.


  8. #7

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    I always thought that it refers to the way they "have to" cut their phrases to be able to breathe
    But maybe I'm wrong.
    Make a jazz noise here

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    is it superior? IMO yes, totally. In jazz, especially bebop related. If I wanted to play jazz from the beginning guitar would be my last choice of an instrument. It needs to adapt, while horns sound perfectly natural from the get go.
    Well, I don't play the horn but I believe horn instruments default to legato phrasing naturally. So IMO being horn-like is related to legato elements of the phrasing. Like tongued up beats, legato down beats (I'm not saying that's done always of course).
    By that measure, must un-horn like instruments are piano and vibraphone as true legato is impossible with these instruments.
    So, based on your criteria guitars should be reasonably high up on the "choice of instrument for jazz" list With guitar you can at least play 3 or 4 (if you include open strings) true legato notes in a row.

  10. #9

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    Interesting topic!

    Here are two of my favorite horn players (with a not-so-bad pianist!); what I would love to do (and love to hear from others) is learn how to play guitar like these cats play horn! If I sounded like them, and someone told me I sounded "horn like," I would break down in tears of joy! [I could insert any number of horn videos here; I thought this one was fun.]


  11. #10

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    I think it's a mixture of accents and slurs.

    I note that Billy Bean picked almost everything and I've never heard anyone accuse him of sounding un-hornlike! (er, whatever that means of course)

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy View Post
    Interesting topic!

    Here are two of my favorite horn players (with a not-so-bad pianist!); what I would love to do (and love to hear from others) is learn how to play guitar like these cats play horn! If I sounded like them, and someone told me I sounded "horn like," I would break down in tears of joy! [I could insert any number of horn videos here; I thought this one was fun.]



  13. #12

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    what makes a guitar sound like a horn is the blurring/slurring of the fundamental notes...legato..(besides ollie halsall) the greatest early exponent of modern sax style legato was allan holdsworth..he wanted to play sax!!! and he played it through his guitar...(he wanted to be trane not wes) and invented/fine tuned the technique..he later turned to guitar synth...in an attempt to get even more sax-like..but he lost me with that..and tech wise it doesnt stand up these days


    holdsworth was also part of later era- soft machine..with keyboardist mike ratledge..who played his organ like a sax and flute..so i'm sure there was some further influence on the mighty holdsworth



    cheers

    ps- be remiss not to mention the great jimmy raney..he tried to emulate birds riffage early on..he just didnt have the tech back in '51..tho he tried valiantly!
    Last edited by neatomic; 03-27-2019 at 07:58 PM. Reason: ps-

  14. #13

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    I think I play rather horn like,




    Its a combination of phrasing, swing, intensity, and not being “restricted” to what’s natural on the guitar. That being said, I take every advantage of the guitar layout, but it’s rarely just playing in a single “position”. Also quite important is having a “legato” sound, even when you’re picking every note.

    That being said, who doesn’t love a good old guitar blues lick. There’s a few in there I’m sure.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove View Post
    I think I play rather horn like,




    Its a combination of phrasing, swing, intensity, and not being “restricted” to what’s natural on the guitar. That being said, I take every advantage of the guitar layout, but it’s rarely just playing in a single “position”. Also quite important is having a “legato” sound, even when you’re picking every note.

    That being said, who doesn’t love a good old guitar blues lick. There’s a few in there I’m sure.
    Yeah, the solo here doesn't sound particularly horn like to me. I'm hearing fast smooth alternate picked jazz guitar. Nicely played but it's nothing like horn to me. But then as I said, I'm not quite sure what that means
    Last edited by Tal_175; 03-27-2019 at 10:31 PM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Yeah, the solo here doesn't sound particularly horn like to me. I'm hearing fast smooth alternate picked jazz guitar. Nicely played but it's nothing like horn to me.


    I can appreciate that.

    Take a listen at 1:15 that’s not guitar like, first line of the bridge comes to mind as well. Imo of course.

    Interestingly, I think a lot of the magic of the horns, specifically trumpet, is the large amount of overtones present on their instrument. Now, I teach beginning horns, and I can tell you the trumpet is HARD. You really need to practice a lot. But if you put in the work, I’ll be damned if you can’t hit practically any note (with conviction), and it sounds bad ass.



    on a separate note,

    While there is a lot of alternate picking, there’s also a lot of legato. I’ve worked hard to make the two as close as possible.

  17. #16

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    When I hear of the guitar being played "horn-like", this is what I think of.




    I don't think of it as legato primarily. Mind you, I don't have any special insight into the general understanding of the term, but I always took it to mean "phrasing with a vocal quality, like a horn."

    Like this.

    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  18. #17

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    And by "horn-like," I don't think timbre, but the shape of lines.
    Last edited by marcwhy; 03-28-2019 at 07:45 AM.

  19. #18

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    There are strings, woodwinds, brass, and percussion... Some people use "horns" to mean exclusively brass, but saxes are called horns, too.

    "Horn-like" to me suggests not so much the phrasing and articulation of trumpets played well, like Miles in the 50s with The New Miles Davis Quintet, but more the lack of constraint regarding picking the right notes to play.

    Part of that probably echos of having read about the guitar technique of playing vertically up and down a string described as horn-like, meaning trumpet, in a conceptual sense. Phrasing on the guitar lends itself to certain "guitaristic" choices of notes due to the mechanics of fingering - how the notes "fold" on the finger board from string to string as one's notes ascend and descend with respect to a position.

    I think the vertical single string technique, at least conceptually, was thought to be more trumpet-like in that with almost all the trumpet notes being fingered with just the first two valves, it was relatively free of constraints, and particularly free of the temping cliches which the availability of adjacent strings suggests to the usual guitar techniques. I guess the idea was that vertical exercises on the guitar were meant to break the guitarist of some of these cliches, force a more abstract conceptual approach. Both phrasing and articulation, well played on the trumpet like Miles, do seem to sound very free of "trumpetistic" cliches (I mean freedom and excellence of note choice, not the tone that is clearly a trumpet).

    marcwhy
    And by "horn-like," I don't think timbre, but lines.

    Exactly!
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  20. #19

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    I suspect the phrase came into being when Charlie Christian arrived on the scene with the electric guitar. The way his solos flowed with such freedom and the way they sounded reminded listeners of a sax player such as Lester Young, especially compared to the acoustic unamplified solos which used to be the norm. In fact some people hearing the CC records for the first time thought it was some kind of saxophone being played.

    I’m not sure what ‘horn like’ really means now though, everyone seems to interpret it differently.

  21. #20

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    “People used to get mad at me because I’d get hired for a gig and I’d say, ‘I ain’t gonna play chords. That’s guitar. I’m a horn player. I just play a f---ed-up horn.'"
    Sonny Sharrock

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by neatomic View Post
    holdsworth was also part of later era- soft machine..with keyboardist mike ratledge..who played his organ like a sax and flute..so i'm sure there was some further influence on the mighty holdsworth
    When Holdsworth joined Soft Machine in 1975 the band had been without a guitarist for six years, during which the band moved away from rock and towards jazz. The band also had been without a sax player since 1972, when Elton Dean left, and Holdsworth effectively took his place. Holdsworth's brief, it seems, was to play guitar but not like a rock star.

  23. #22

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    Sco is definitely horn-like player... and he uses all the equipment to achieve this... bkt only guitar technique but also pedals and all...

    actually to me he sounds somewhere between the tenor and trumpet...

    the conseption of 'horn-like' guitar comes from the point when guiatr became soloing instrument in jazz.. one of them.

    I think horns just the first thing that came to mind those daus but basically the idea is linear playing with typical breath realted articulation... so this probably voice-like too.
    (it is an interesting topic.. I thing first jazz instrumetalists were influenced by typical Afro American vocals but then it was backwards influence and jazz vocalists became influnced by intruments (Billie Holiday often really sounds much like sax, Lester Young sounds like vocals).

    Guitar by its nature is very resonant harmonic/plyphonica/chordal instrument... it is not as resonant as harp or lute but still in history and in folk music its resonance was one of its important expressive characterists, one of the expressive tools.

    And using open tunings and open strings was much connected with it, players used its strings resonant quilities.

    And this is the thing that horns cannot do!

    Miles Davis used to day that he often tried to imitate guitar on teh trumpet... he tried to articulate in a way that it sounds like the sounds are attacked and duy out gradually and being overimposed one on another like an shadowy echo.

    Of course it is not possible on the horn litterally but it is possible to make an impression of it.

    Horn-style jazz playing almost totally ignores thins quality... partly because this resonance was the most effective in acoustic guitars and in amplified version they tried to avoid it becasue it was often uncontrollable and muddy... especially at the beginning of amplification era.

    In some sense elctric guitarsists were pushed towards 'horn-style' by everything that was around: equipment, soloing and language tradition of the day.
    And also by the fact that the guitar came a bit late as a solo instrument, and guitarists had to prove themselves to be a soloist an dall they competed with were mostly horn-players.


    The typical horn-style features for me:

    1) tendency for long controllable sustaine (whatever works - amps, pedals, sinths)
    2) phrasing realted to breath
    3) techniques imitating typical horn (or vocal) articulations which can be really detalized and complex

    To me there pros of this

    - I am convinced tat playing some wind instrument or singing is very good for plucked or key player, becasue they learn breath which is the nature of most music (except stricly instrumental one by its aesthetica... like Phillip Glass for example).
    - becasue they learn not only to begin the sound but also to END it... it is common problem for guitarists and pianist they just forget about the sound after it naturally dies a bit.
    - and it developes the instrumental techniques


    Cons:
    - lack of so-called 'guitarism' , the natural qualities of guitar are not being used intesively
    But it is not a big problem really as there are always players to come who do this (today guitar became much more guitaristic)


    By the way it is very interesting that piano from the very beginning was much more a sort of a 'drum' instrument conception.

  24. #23

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    It's hard to put into words, but yeah, I think phrasing is a big part of playing horn like. Pretty much any instrument that isn't played using breath is not "forced" to have natural phrasing. While this can be a great tool at times, it can also lead to what many would consider bad or unnatural phrasing. Or not "horn like".

    While it's kind of subjective bad phrasing to me it is like someone who speaks or writes in run on sentences never pausing or stopping for the brain to digest what has just been said whether music related or in other forms of communication so the listener or reader cannot really understand what is going on and is forced to say huh what did I just read or hear and guitar players are notorious for this especially in jazz and heavy metal where they may be technically brilliant but very hard to listen to for many listeners at least including me.

    It. Can. Also. Go. The. Other. Way.

    A natural solution to this can be to sing your lines as you play them. Doesn't mean you have to play slow, either - listen to Ella scat. Wow!

    I had a friend back in the day who was technically great at heavy metal but played endless fast lines. One day he said to me "how come people like BB King? He stinks - so simple". I said he talks with his guitar! Horn like. I like it!

  25. #24

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    At the risk of putting my hand in a hornet's nest, I think this is a good example of two guitarists, one playing distinctly guitaristically in terms of phrasing, the other far more horn like. Not saying one is better than the other but Martino's lines always come across as distinctly guitaristic to me. His lines, besides beving very long, are often remarkably even in their phrasing in a way I don't hear too often in horns. Compare that to Scofield's greasy, slurring way of playing shorter phrases.
    Last edited by Average Joe; 03-28-2019 at 08:22 AM.

  26. #25

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    This is a question with many layers.

    -What exactly does it mean and what are the implications for me as a guitar player and musician?

    OP claims that "horn-like" is generally desirable (even though he isn't sure about the meaning). Several members here confirm the assertion (but with no consensus of the meaning).

    I know of keyboard players that try to play "guitar-like". I don't appreciate it and can't see why a horn-player would appreciate me trying to sound like a horn.

    The general audience (non-musicians, hobbyists) as well as occasional columnists may dream up attributes to describe music and artists, but they often don't know what they talk about. "horn-like" may refer to tone, style of playing, a guitarist that holds his own in a band with horns, or just the music played according to simple mind logic: "saxophones play jazz. Ergo, If you play jazz, you're horn-like".

    If a horn-player told me my playing was "horn-like" I would be confused...It would be like me telling a horn-player he sounds "guitar-like".... just bizarre.

    When I play "Four brothers" on guitar - does it make my playing "horn-like"? From the perspective of another guitar player, a horn player, a drummer or a columnist?

    The closest I get to sound like a horn is when I play with distortion and kick in a wah-pedal. But this is the Jazz-guitar forum. My goal is to sound "archtop-like", whatever that means to you.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick View Post
    “People used to get mad at me because I’d get hired for a gig and I’d say, ‘I ain’t gonna play chords. That’s guitar. I’m a horn player. I just play a f---ed-up horn.'"
    Sonny Sharrock
    This is probably what it's about, unfortunately. Never heard of him.

  28. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by JCat View Post
    OP claims that "horn-like" is generally desirable (even though he isn't sure about the meaning).
    It seems like you didn't fully read the OP. It's rather posed as a question. That is I'm not claiming that it is desirable but I've observed that it is meant as a complement when people say it, whatever it is they mean I guess only they know.

    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    ...
    3- Why do some guitarist think it's desirable to make your guitar sound like another instrument?

    I personally like jazz guitar sound at least as much as any other instrument used in jazz. I have not heard sax or piano players being praised to sound "guitar-like". In fact I rather listen to a guitar player than a "guitar-like" sax player (or a sax-like sax player for that matter).
    Why do we guitar players take it as a complement if we are told we sound horn-like?

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by marcwhy View Post
    And by "horn-like," I don't think timbre, but the shape of lines.

    I tend to think that way too, but I have read that some of the people who heard Charlie Christian play thought he WAS playing a horn. A tenor sax, I think. (I don't own the book linked below but have read it via inter-library loan. It's where I read that at least some people mistook Charlie's guitar for a horn.)

    A Biography of Charlie Christian, Jazz Guitar's King of Swing by Wayne E. Goins, Craig R. McKinney |, Paperback | Barnes & Noble(R)

    Given that Charlie was probably the first electric guitarist many people heard, especially playing solos rather than just comping chords, they had no preconception of what an electric guitar sounded like. Perhaps "horn" was the simplest comparison for a jazz fan----horns were the dominant solo instruments of the time.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  30. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Given that Charlie was probably the first electric guitarist many people heard, especially playing solos rather than just comping chords, they had no preconception of what an electric guitar sounded like. Perhaps "horn" was the simplest comparison for a jazz fan----horns were the dominant solo instruments of the time.
    I think this is the most likely explanation of the origin of the term. Later as the electric guitar sound became well known, people had increasingly more subtle personal interpretations of the term to distinguish different players and assumed that's what's reasonably meant by "horn-like". That's one theory.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    It seems like you didn't fully read the OP. It's rather posed as a question. That is I'm not claiming that it is desirable but I've observed that it is meant as a complement when people say it, whatever it is they mean I guess only they know.
    But I did read and I appreciate it. It's clear to me that you, like myself, enjoy the sound of Jazz guitar and that you, like myself, question the validity of the simile.

    It's the very ending of the post that is complicated:

    "Why do we guitar players take it as a compliment if we are told we sound horn-like?"

    I'm not sure I would take it as a compliment...It's a bit confusing because it suggests that guitar players are wannabe horn players (as confirmed above by member Hep).

    I have played guitar my entire life. I have played other instruments too, including horns. I appreciate the unique character and qualities of different instruments, but at one point in time I decided to focus my efforts on the guitar, in particular electric guitars. Each and every instrument has strengths and weaknesses. In my book, the piano sets the standard for near perfect, but with a very different approach to expression compared to a violin or a saxophone. I know of keyboard players that try to play "guitar-like". The guitar is unique in a way it can play the role of a piano as well as an expressive solo instrument, proud to sound like itself, a guitar.

  32. #31

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    I found part of a 1958 interview with Barney Kessel in Metronome, (Volume 75, 1958, p95), in which Kessel describes Christian's playing as horn-like:


    Barney, a constant poll winner, was gracious enough to answer our questions, frankly, and at great length. An interview by mail is hardly the best kind of interview, but, when an interviewee takes the trouble Barney obviously has, it makes such an interview extremely provocative and revealing. We think you'll find Barney's comments highly candid and interesting.

    Q: We've often heard of the importance Charlie Christian has played in the evolution of modern jazz guitar playing. What, specifically, has he done?

    A: Many people believe that Charlie Christian was the first man to play an amplified guitar; others, that he was the first to play horn-like jazz. (Jazz which was styled close to patterns being played by such musicians as Eldridge, Hawkins, Goodman, Chu Berry, Berrigan etc., rather than following along in the more guitaristic approach such as demonstrated by Carl Kress, Dick McDonough, George Van Eps, Allen Reuss, and Eddie Lang).Actually, both beliefs are incorrect; however, Christian was the first guitarist to play horn-like jazz not only well enough to play in the company of first-rate horn players, but was inventive to such a degree as to be a model for many horn players as well as guitarists.

    Up until Christian's time, the guitarists who played jazz lines like a horn rather than guitaristically, were still not up to playing as soloists with the horn players. Charlie Christian combined his natural creative talent with influences of horn players of his day (of which, Lester Young was the dominant one), and blazed a trail for every guitarist in jazz, who has followed after him.






  33. #32

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    Why do we guitar players take it as a complement if we are told we sound horn-like?
    Not quite as an answer to this (rhetorical?) question...

    just some speculations.

    I believe that today we live in quite an important point for all the European artistic and cultural tradition. I think we are in some sort of 'zero' point.. when the old tradition is almost gone but the new one is not formed yet. Please, consider that I speak about a very huge scope - expanding for centutries... in our daily life of course with specific people we can feel it in a different way.

    This tradition concerns also music and understanding of what the human being it, and what it is being a human, and how it feels etc.
    That is why I think one of the possible characteristic for very modern performance is that it lacks 'humanity' (life, breath, blood, flesh, soul - whaever word is used.. most often it means it lacks the notion of what is human)... often it hurts and is found offensive, also it can be criticized as provocative becasue the conlusion may follow that the person who plays it is not human and some bad people (20th century knew many of them) can use this idea for bad actions. Especially today in teh age of total supertolerance.
    As I say today everyone has the right to be an idiot, but no-one ahs the right to tell him about it.

    Sorry for such a long prelude!))

    Jazz - at least more or less traditional (most of the jazz icluding some modern styles too) - is still related to the European musical tradition form (more or less the same blood, flesh and soul) - it is a huge genralization - I do not like generalizations at all... but consider it just a dialetical move here.

    If we look deep into the sources about the medieval music (from VI to XIII centuries) we will see that only singers were treated as real musicians ('musicus'), the education - and very solid one - was only for 'cantors'. Instrumentalists were much lower, they were invited only to accompany singers... very often the instrumentalists were first of all singers.
    Pure instrumental music was for the street and fairs and used in low genres.

    As for the instruments - those were estimated higher that were considered closer to human voice (vox humana). Again 'humanuty' long before renaissance here.
    And it is not always the tone colour but rather a flexibulity and complexity of the instrument and its application... most horns were considered the lowest as they were to plain in tone or too simplistic and used for signals and fanfare.
    For example from plucked instruments: guittern and citole for modern man seem to be very close to each other, but they have different origins and different qualities and associations. And guittern was considered lower instrument for fitting dance style accompaniment, and citole was flexible enough to accmpany voice with a counterpoint. (today it is often ignored)


    In renaissance the role of instruments increased - virtuosic players come forward and we can find records about huge salaries the top lutists or violists had at the court - but still most of the prominent instrumentalists and composers were trained as singers.
    The conception of voice as a perfect instrument still prevailed.
    Harmonic instruments like lute - though they could not have controllable sustaine - were praised for ability to express polyphony.
    Also in general the tone qulities of teh isntruments were focused more on playing on consorts than solo.
    The only wind/horn instrument that was highly regraded was cornetto (zink) that combined brass mouthpiece technique with flute/recorder fingereing and was considered one of the most difficult instrument to learn. He was compared to angel's voice and was considered bext to mix with human voice.

    Consider that the church organs (or earlier portatives) are also a sort of winds - and they were built too to imitate voice as much as possible.

    Later in baroque bow instrument developed so intensively that they practivally pushed away everything else. They were exteremely controlable, expressive and flexible...

    THough the singeres were still on top of the world (the salaries of singeres were often 10-20 times more than even best instrumentalists), the virtuosic instrumental music came more and more into fashion, late baroque vocaliats already often imitated technical tricks of violins.
    Also harpsichord and later piano with their some kind of abstracy and popularity bering in a new trenfd in the households.

    But the real change came in my opinio only in 19th century when the instrumentalists began often to overshadow singers.
    Or I would rather say they came into the same cathegory, voice more and more was getting considered as another instrument.

    (It is vast topic - if we cover composers here it will take much longer)

    Now jazz appeared as a professional music that came from a few different folk and professional traditions.
    Original jazz intonation and phrasing had also African-American roots (that was not only ruthmic) and it was very different from European 'vox humana' conception.
    But still imitating voice as expressive tool (singing, exclamations, moaning, spoken intonation) was at the beginning of it....

    Also lets not forget the folk influences: drums (piano is also a drum kit) and horns are the simplest folk instruments. Beat and scream.

    but jazz had very intereting turn: it became instrumental quickly but instruments substituted voice.
    Maybe there was even some social thing behind it even... for me jazz is definitlely related to inner movement of freedom of Afro-Americans... the freedom is the basic notion of jazz (not liberties and licentiousness but real freedom that is based on expereince and responsibility).

    Not everybody can sing - right? And thes ehorns, they gave voice to those who could not sing, and in metaphorical sense it was a voice of the people who was not allowed to speak.

    Horns becam 'vox humana' of jazz to such an extent that real vocalists imitated them.

    If even singeres tried to sound horn like, what would we expect other instruments like guitar?

    I personally like jazz guitar sound at least as much as any other instrument used in jazz. I have not heard sax or piano players being praised to sound "guitar-like". In fact I rather listen to a guitar player than a "guitar-like" sax player (or a sax-like sax player for that matter).
    with all respect to great players I was never a fan of saxaphone (I preffered brass)...
    but I definitely like jazz guitar more than any horn in jazz.

    Jazz guitar has a beautiful quality of concentration and focus on nuances... guitarist can't make and expressive long note with a moan.. he has to speak with the orgnization of phrases and harmony more.

    Besides.. I noticed and plucked instruments are treated with tolerance by non-musical people.
    If I want to introduce people to baroque I put oin lute, if to jazz I put on guitar... even if they do not dig it will never irritate them.

    Plucked instruments have soothing effect. This is also a bit negative quality because thos music does not forse people often and they listen without hearing, turning everything into some sort of relaz bacjground soundtrack.

    And to my knowledge only plucked players can sit for hours noodling through chords with out playing anything particular... it has some sort of mesmerizing effect even for the player himself


    sorry for a long post....

  34. #33

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    For me the opposite of horn-like is piano-like.

    Single notes on piano tend to have a sharp attack and decay pretty quickly. You can't bend them or apply vibrato. They have some natural resonance, but are relatively dry.

    Some guitarists play more like that than others. Strings of eighth notes strike me like that, particularly played straight. Joe Pass and Pat Martino might be considered in that light, at least at times.

    Other guitarists go in a completely different direction. Consider, for example, Santana. I don't think anybody would think of his lines as piano-like. The sustain, the swells, the attenuated attack, the grit and the soaring lines remind me more of a saxophone. Not a perfect comparison, but in that direction. Scofield may be another. Metheny, to me, is neither. Wes somewhere in between.

    I find a difference between trumpet and saxophone that I've been meaning to post about. I play in some horn bands and I hear a lot of good horn players. Mostly pros, but not stars. I find that the saxophonists are more likely to be running obvious broken scales than the trumpeters. Why is that? The trumpeters I know, for example, don't typically start a solo with a scale or arp. More likely it's a handful of neighboring notes played melodically without obvious scale or arp structure. Is this typical? My imagination? Something about the three valve thing?

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick View Post

    "Up until Christian's time, the guitarists who played jazz lines like a horn rather than guitaristically, were still not up to playing as soloists with the horn players."


    Sorry, but that old quote by Barney is a platitude. A banal cliché. "Guitaristically"...please.

    I think he means:

    "Up until Christian's time, the guitarists were neither loud enough, nor good enough improvisers to keep pace with the horn players"

    Amplification gave the guitarist a reason to develop a style of playing single lines. It's horn-like in the sense a horn is monophonic (can't play chords, octaves and double stops).

    By playing single lines all day long, a guitarist doesn't make the most out of his instrument. Therefore "horn-like" is not a compliment. My goal is to be more "Piano-like".

  36. #35

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    I posted the Kessel quote to be helpful: it is an insight into how a top guitarist in 1958 interpreted the work of Charlie Christian, who was mentioned by others on this thread. I don't think it is useful to argue about it or to make further interpretations. I doubt Kessel means any more or less what he says, which is straightforward. It is not a platitude or a cliché, because he apparently was the first to make this observation.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick View Post
    I posted the Kessel quote to be helpful: it is an insight into how a top guitarist in 1958 interpreted the work of Charlie Christian, who was mentioned by others on this thread. I don't think it is useful to argue about it or to make further interpretations. I doubt Kessel means any more or less what he says, which is straightforward. It is not a platitude or a cliché, because he apparently was the first to make this observation.
    Thanks for posting the quote, it's helpful when we try to debunk the simile "horn-like". Whatever Barney observed I have no idea what he means. I would have to make an interpretation (if it was important to me).

  38. #37
    Perhaps the fat and airy tones we get from archtops with neck humbucker pickups is also more horn like than the bright and cutting rock'n roll lead sounds of single coil bridge pickups of solid body guitars.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Perhaps the fat and airy tones we get from archtops with neck humbucker pickups is also more horn like than the bright and cutting rock'n roll lead sounds of single coil bridge pickups of solid body guitars.
    Doug Raney said something like that i.e. to get a sound more like a tenor sax. It's in one of those videos featuring him on youtube.

  40. #39

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    Horn-like means it sounds a bit like a horn.

  41. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Horn-like means it sounds a bit like a horn.
    I was able to deduce that part on my own. The part we're trying to figure out is, is it buffalo horn? goat horn? Car horn?

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by JCat View Post
    If a horn-player told me my playing was "horn-like" I would be confused...It would be like me telling a horn-player he sounds "guitar-like".... just bizarre.
    I think Brecker would have dug it. He stole a lot of rock guitar licks. I know a few horn players who have worked on guitar stuff.

    Actually that reminds me, Robben Ford said he was trying to sound like Tenor Sax.

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    I was able to deduce that part on my own. The part we're trying to figure out is, is it buffalo horn? goat horn? Car horn?
    Saxophone, you numpty.

  44. #43

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    Yeah I think this goes back to Charlie Christian who was more influenced by Lester Young than any guitar player..

    Most of the US swing era guys were ex banjo players playing chord solos. Charlie didn’t come from that. He killed that tradition stone dead.

    In this sense every single note soloist on electric is horn like by default because we all descend from Charlie, not Alan Reuss. Obviously some more so than others.

    About the same time Van Eps was developing his lap piano style.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Perhaps the fat and airy tones we get from archtops with neck humbucker pickups is also more horn like than the bright and cutting rock'n roll lead sounds of single coil bridge pickups of solid body guitars.
    Ha that I don't see. Sax or trumpet are pretty bright sounding instruments. Neck humbucker on archtop (add flats and Polytone like amp) is the least horn like sound IMO. You need not fat and airy, but bright and cutting. Some kind of distortion always helps, and single coil pickup also. Preferably a semi hollow or solid body guitar.

  46. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    Ha that I don't see. Sax or trumpet are pretty bright sounding instruments. Neck humbucker on archtop (add flats and Polytone like amp) is the least horn like sound IMO. You need not fat and airy, but bright and cutting. Some kind of distortion always helps, and single coil pickup also. Preferably a semi hollow or solid body guitar.
    Well listen to some tenor Sax then. They're so not like single coils

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hep To The Jive View Post
    Ha that I don't see. Sax or trumpet are pretty bright sounding instruments. Neck humbucker on archtop (add flats and Polytone like amp) is the least horn like sound IMO. You need not fat and airy, but bright and cutting. Some kind of distortion always helps, and single coil pickup also. Preferably a semi hollow or solid body guitar.
    I find solids have a bit more sustain than archtops....

    Charlie was playing a single coil through a cranked amp

    Come to think of it so was Grant Green

    You might be on to something

  48. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I find solids have a bit more sustain than archtops....

    Charlie was playing a single coil through a cranked amp

    Come to think of it so was Grant Green
    Mind you none of two players played solids. Both hollow archtop players.

  49. #48

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    The most natural instrument in the world is the human voice, horns imitate a voice by nature of relying on the act of breathing to make a sound. A voice is “forced” to make decisions about where to breath, and those minute pauses sound natural and human to us because we all face the same “limitations” with our voices and lungs. Any istrument not dependent on this act of breathing can easily lack phrasing.
    Ignorance is agony.



  50. #49

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    I agree, I think its about phrasing, and like a trumpet.

    I think that the guitar is better suited to trumpet style phrasing than sax. (Unless you're Alan Holdsworth, but how many Alan Holdsworth's are there?).

    I saw a noted player last night who does NOT "take a breath" very often. That approach to soloing can/did result in listener fatigue, at times. It can be a bit like listening to a motor mouth who won't shut up. At times.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    Mind you none of two players played solids. Both hollow archtop players.
    Yeah, of course. But two out of three ain’t bad. :-)

    I think it is entirely possible to be hornlike on archtop. Two words: Jim Mullen. (Although he told me started playing guitar because no one could do modern McCoy Tyner style comping.)

    It’s a lot to do with concept. Are you a melodic improviser or do you focus more on harmony?