Sadie, my cheap chinese soprano sax is a little wayward, tuning-wise, and it’s quite light and flimsy, but it’s very flimsiness means it vibrates sympathetically. I’ve played top-end Yamahas and they’re built like girders, but they’re not lively or responsive, they’re actually quite inert by comparison. I’ve played Sadie more than any of the other sopranos I’ve owned.
Price doesn’t always equate to quality but even when it does, that doesn’t mean you’re going to enjoy the quality or that you’ll hate the cheap stuff. The best pair of jeans I ever owned was a no-name brand I bought from a charity shop. The best car I owned had rattly doors and a cheap plastic interior (though to be fair, it was an Impreza). My favourite wine is a Californian red that I buy from Sainsbury’s for £5 a bottle.
Quality is nice, but a high price isn’t a precondition of satisfaction.
As a musician, I’m self-taught, which is good in many ways: my ear is quick to pick things up, I know where to fit in within a band without either disappearing over overwhelming everyone else, I can sit on a drumbeat without ever having to think about it (unless it’s in 15/11 or something – that’d take a few seconds longer to work out the groove) and I can instinctively harmonise or solo on a piece of music.
I went through a phase where I was gigging every week with Count Rippoffski and he rarely told me the title of the song, I’d just lean in and ask ‘what key’ after he’d begun playing. It usually worked out fine.
But I have virtually no theory.
Major scale, dorian scale and whatever comes into my head, that’s about the size of my theoretical knowledge. I played a proper jazz gig with Ralphie one time, I knew the tunes but not the changes, so every time it came to me playing a solo he’d lean across from the piano and whisper “Bbm, F, Gm…” and so on, and I just let it go. It sounded ok. Was quite good fun too.
Out of the blue this morning, I got a message from Johnno telling me about the modes of the melodic minor scale. So I practiced them today and while I can’t say the modes sounded particularly pleasant, in fact I thought they were a tad dissonant, and not in a good way, but it gave an extra dimension to my playing.
I woke last night before 3am and it was already light. Got up, checked my emails, read a bit, went back to sleep around four and it was full daylight.
The latitude here is only eleven degrees south of the arctic circle, so nighttime is short in the summer. In Scotland it’s even less. My family come from Thurso, and up there it barely gets dark in the summer.