I'm spending a couple of weeks with my parents here in Madrid for Christmas and, of course, I' ve brought some of my instruments with me. The weather is surprisingly good for this time of the year, and that gives me the chance to play outside in the garden, something that I cannot do in Plasencia since I live in a flat. Not long ago, I used to drive to a close hill at least once a week to play the sax without being worried about bothering my neighbours, but lately I've just been playing at home, mainly because I feel a bit lazy, but also because I'm not playing sax as often as I should, and I spend most of my time playing the guitar, mostly flamenco stuff.
Playing outdoors is probably not the best of the situations to get a good sound, and definitely is not the right thing to do if you want to record something, but I find it quite exciting to listen to my instruments in a different context. The kind of sound that you get from them might not be better, but is at least different, and the experience somehow creates a more "organical" relation between the music and the player, since the sound is more natural when playing open-air. Those, of course, are my own perceptions, but this fact has made me think about how complex it is to find the right sound, and, on the other hand, how easy it is to alter that sound and get a different point of view about what you play. We musicians are always worried about the instrument we play, the strings we use or the reeds we have on our horns, but something as simple as the place where we play can radically change the tone and the colour of what we play, and we usually neglect that very important fact.
Finding a new place to play can be like trying a new instrument, learning a new rhythm or jamming with a new musician. I've always had the dream of playing inside a church, the acoustics must be so awesome...Needless to say, I will probably never fulfill it...but at least I can blow out some Oliver Nelson tunes on my sax while I walk around the swimming pool in the garden in a sunny december morning, listening to the birds as I play...and believe me that it is a very nice experience ;-)
By the way, if you are interested on people that play outdoors, you should check this site with recording by street musicians.
Happy new year, everybody!