De vez em quando, alguém tem paciência para postar algo deste nível no gaita-l também, mas posts como estes me fazem pensar o quão importante é a presença de determinadas pessoas com conhecimento na lista, e a diferença que elas fazem quando resolvem compartilhar suas opiniões com nós, meros mortais.
Em tempos de gaita-l agitado pela passagem polêmica e meteórica da Melissa, eu me pergunto se a melhor forma de subir o nível da lista não é justamente pela outra ponta, dos caras que sabem postarem o que sabem, sem medo de parecerem pedantes.
Muita gente reclama do baixo nível da lista, dos assuntos banais e das pessoas perguntando coisas básicas. Bem, então puxe assunto de níveis mais altos. Como diz o ditado zen, o mestre zen é como um sino. Bata suavemente, e ele lhe dará uma nota suave. Bata com toda a força e ele dará um sonoro estrondo ;-)
Mark Panfil wrote:
-Everyone recognizes his playing and I think I attribute that to the keys he plays
-in most of the time. You see, most chromatic players use the slide to add sharps
-and flats. They embellish starting with the slide relaxed. Stevie Wonder plays many
-songs with the slide pushed in as "home" and he releases it to embellish
-the notes. that makes his "sound" quite different from the crowd.
Stevie has recorded memorable solos in D (Fingertips), E (Isn't she Lovely), F (Creepin'), G (Please Don't Go), F# (For Once In My Life), C (Got to Spend A Little More Time with You, from James Taylor's "Hourglass" CD, incidentally a wonderful recording from start to finish), and even Eb using an Ab diatonic harp (Boogie On Reggae Woman). On the list above, only the key of F# is played on the chromatic mostly with the slide in. This is by no means a complete list, and even this short list shows that Wonder is instantly recognizable in any key, even on the diatonic harp, which has no slide at all. So I think we can safely say that it's not the keys he plays in that make him distinctive.
It's true that Stevie uses the slide in a distinctive way, but that's not about the key he's playing in. It's also true that many harmonica players have imitated Stevie's slide work, which is pretty easy to imitate, without being able to sound like Stevie for more than a few bars (which is enough for most studio work, of course, but not enough to fool an audience for long). And like I said above, the slide thing doesn't explain why Boogie On is so distinctively Stevie.
There are a few things that make Stevie so unique:
1) His harmonic sense. Stevie always seems to choose notes that bring out the highlights in the chord changes he plays over. His harmonic sense comes through even more strongly on his compositions, where the chord changes tell amazing stories.
2) His tone. Like Toots Thielemans, Stevie has a very personal tone (though nothing like Toots's, of course). A personal sound is something that great players achieve, regardless of their instrument. Eric Clapton has a personal sound; Lester Young had one; Stevie's got his. Asking "How does a player get that personal sound?" is like asking how the player got to be the person he or she is. In other words, it's easier to appreciate it than to explain it.
3) His attack and release. Stevie tends to play his notes marcato, meaning slightly separated, and he often ends his notes with a trailing vibrato that's very emotional.
4) The way he constructs a solo. Stevie goes for a big finish on his solos. "For Once In My Life" is an obvious example--it ends on a screaming A# at the top end of the harp, after a series of phrases that go higher and higher.
I could go on, but those are some of the highlights.
Summary: Stevie is so distinctive because he has a unique, remarkable musical conception. His harp playing is one of the things that he uses to express that conception, along with his singing, his compositions, and his orchestrations in general. Let's not forget that in the 1970s and 1980s Stevie also practically defined the sound of synthesizers in pop music. In those decades, there was hardly a musician in the world that wasn't listening closely to Stevie Wonder. I still laugh when I think about Paul Simon accepting the Grammy for "There Goes Rhymin' Simon"; his first words to the audience were "I'd like to thank Stevie Wonder for not making a record this year."
Thanks and regards, Richard Hunter