Gifted Musicians?

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Gifted Musicians?

Postby DagerRande » Sat Nov 07, 2015 6:54 pm

I know that what I’m about to express may bother a few people but I have a very sincere question for everyone on this forum and hope for a response. I’ve thought about this for many years and am not one to stir up controversy but I felt that I’ve waited long enough and I’ve met many of you at CAAS and you are all very good people. I’m open to criticism and enlightenment if anyone can “straighten me out”. I won’t be offended at any response.

OK, here is my setup: Imagine sitting in an auditorium with an audience waiting to watch a very special performance by a highly acclaimed artist who is going to publicly demonstrate his skill. The introduction is made and the curtain comes up amidst a thunderous applause and there sits the artist on a stool in front of his easel. He turns it toward the audience for all to watch his work. To your surprise you can see a very exquisite and detailed famous drawing with a large sheet of tracing paper over it. Everyone can see the drawing through the tracing paper. The artist takes out his set of art pencils of various hardnesses and begins to trace the picture that lies beneath. The audience “oohs” and “aahs” as he continues to trace the picture with unwavering steadiness and control. After about 2 hours the tracing is completed and the audience jumps to their feet applauding thunderously. Afterwards, a lucky few are able to approach the artist, asking for autographs and marveling at his tremendous natural artistic talent and showering him with praises!

You know how ridiculous this would be and the audience would laugh such an “artist” off the stage!

Now let’s change the scenario a little bit. This time the performer is a musician performing with sheet music in front of him. He reads and plays every note flawlessly. As in the case of the artist and the tracing, the musician is being guided by the “external cues” in front of him. When the musician is finished performing what he read, the audience jumps to its feet and applauds thunderously. He is highly revered and viewed as a very gifted and talented musician and showered with praises.

Unlike with my previous scenario, this one is very realistic and happens all the time. Yes, there are various levels of skill in reading and reproducing music but the same is true for tracing a picture. Some have a much steadier hand and sharper eye than others

Why is it that the artist whose performance involves tracing a picture is considered to be a laughing stock and the musician whose performance involved reading music is highly revered and thought of as gifted musician?
I realize that musicians who perform in concert halls generally memorize what they perform but I’m thinking of all of those in churches and other venues where people perform publicly with sheet music and are viewed as gifted musicians?

I should admit that I don’t read music but am amazed at the public perception of those who do and depend upon it for performance or even just to accomplish playing a song that they believe would be impossible without it!

OK, I opened myself up! Just picture me as being a submissive dog lying on my back in vulnerability waiting for whatever comes!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby Norm » Sun Nov 08, 2015 2:15 am

The short answer is this...

The experienced musician, the one that tends to get paid for his music, has learned exactly how to get the most out of his instrument by way of fretting, attack and instinct for the "sweet spot" and at the same time can read sheet music like a poet reads text.

You take two (or as many as you like) guitarists and tell them to play a simple C scale even using the same guitar you will get different displays of tone due to the difference in fretting pressure the guitarist uses in his left hand and the attack by his right hand.

Muriel Anderson tells a great story about having signed up for classical guitar lessons with a local highbrow teacher. He took her money for her first lesson, pronounced her tone as terrible and told her to go home and get it right before she came back.

She listened to what she was doing and, essentially, discovered her 'sweet spot' (which is what I described above) and was accepted by her instructor.

It's a thing difficult to describe but you know it when you hear it. And it is more amazing when you know there are people who can do that and read music fluently too.
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby RonBloor » Sun Nov 08, 2015 8:13 am

Hi Rande.. I read your post yesterday and thought about. The overused comment "astute observation" comes to mind. :)
It certainly has caused me to think about the music and performers I listen to... i.e. How they play and interpret the music. Some guitarists recreate note for note music that others have created and notated, while others embellish the music... sometimes too much!! Both of these styles require talent. Is the original artist more talented than the artist who recreates it. That's a very subjective question. We all see the world differently.
As to reading music.. That could become a topic unto itself. I suspect that almost every guitarist reads music. What they probably don't/can't do is read music at tempo.. i.e. sight read music. In fact I suspect there are very few guitarists that can really sight read "cold" at tempo. etc. etc..
Anyway, thanks for the post.. It gave my tiny brain a workout.. LOL
Ron Bloor
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby Brett Foster » Sun Nov 08, 2015 8:23 pm

Rande, sounds like you are trying to turn your ignorance into a virtue, that you are somehow more artistic because you "don"t" (i.e. "can't") read music. As if an actor would be viewed as more talented because they had to memorize a script due to illiteracy. It wouldn't be viewed as more artistic, the actor would simply be encouraged to learn to read.
You clearly wanted to offend so mission accomplished,

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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby Norm » Sun Nov 08, 2015 9:47 pm

DagerRande wrote:
Why is it that the artist whose performance involves tracing a picture is considered to be a laughing stock and the musician whose performance involved reading music is highly revered and thought of as gifted musician?
I realize that musicians who perform in concert halls generally memorize what they perform but I’m thinking of all of those in churches and other venues where people perform publicly with sheet music and are viewed as gifted musicians?

I should admit that I don’t read music but am amazed at the public perception of those who do and depend upon it for performance or even just to accomplish playing a song that they believe would be impossible without it!



Symphony players use onstage sheet music. They have to otherwise chaos would reign.

When Chet was on the road Paul was in charge of making sure the musicians, be they symphony or sidemen, had written arrangements available

A lot of the Nashville studio guys didn't read music but in most other studios reading was required because sometimes the gig calls for it.
Sinatra, in a studio session once said to one of the orchestra guys who 'embellished' a note or two "If it ain't on the paper, don't play it.
Another great example... the "Dennis Faron Orchestra" that did the music for Chet's Hollywood album. They weren't a bunch of people Dennis Faron kept as a unit (like Fred Waring did) The Dennis Faron Orchestra was called and booked by knowledgeable producer's secretaries who would call musicians that could sight read and get it right the first time or after one run-through.

Glenn Campbell famously didn't read music and worked the legendary "Wrecking Crew" but Tommy Tedesco could sight read very well or play by ear.

The musician who reads music reads for precision. It's part of being a well rounded professional.
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
Norm
 
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby LMark » Mon Nov 09, 2015 1:16 am

It seems to me that Rande's query has to do in part with differences between aural phenomena and visual phenomena, and the manner in which these register in the imagination. A visual phenomenon such as a picture can be viewed and recalled at once, as a snapshot. That may be one reason that watching one trace such a thing is patently B-O-R-I-N-G. Not so a tune. Because it inheres in the imagination differently, a significantly different set of psychological operations are summoned by the performance of a piece of music, even if it has been heard many times. For us, the final product of a Michelangelo engages the imagination and rouses the affections. But it is in the the process of making and hearing (or re-making and re-hearing) music in which the imagination comes alive, and the affections are touched.

But in the end, isn't it a bit like water-witching? We don't know how it works; it just does. Watching someone trace? BORING. Listening to Chet (or Parkening, or Romero, or the Assad Brothers)? Exhilirating! LMark
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby DagerRande » Mon Nov 09, 2015 10:17 am

I want to thank those who left feedback regarding this post. I’m even including the negative response, which stated that I “clearly wanted to offend”. Those who know me, know that this would never be the case. I realize that reading music can be a touchy subject considering that some of the greats that we admire the most read very little or not at all. And as I’ve said before, many believe that they will never be able to play an instrument without the formal musical education. I guess that at 5, I was too young to believe this was necessary and just happened to “discover myself” through a lot of trial and error over the next few years during a time when I was very sick and had to remain sedentary. I’m sure that, in the case of many, if I had felt nor seen no progress, I would have given up and would have gone a different direction. By the way, the extent of my "reading music" is that I've learned to look at key signatures and know which key a song is in (for instance 3 flats is Eb), which helped me to know where I was going to be on my guitar when I followed along by ear. However, reading individual notes (at any speed) is totally foreign to me, due to my own perceived lack of necessity.

I appreciated the insights and benefits shared in support of reading music. I’m always open to reasonable thought and what I read here made sense. To tell you the truth, my only possible motivation for feeling my own need would be to come up against a wall where I just couldn’t make any more progress or there were one or more specific songs that I just couldn’t figure out. I’ve also not been in a group situation where reading music was necessary in order to fit in.

My REAL need is to improve my technique! I’ve figured out some very complex songs note for note but at, going on 67, I will never play them to my own satisfaction during my lifetime.

A related side note is that many of you know that I spent a lot of time with Tommy Jones during the last 26 years of his relatively short life. I would show him things I had figured out and he would spend very little time going over them before he would play them nearly flawlessly. I wish the converse had been true. When he showed me things, I would absorb them mentally and would be able to work on them at a very slow tempo but could never play them at his tempo. He was very unique and told me many times that developing his technique was “easy” for him. I was always very envious but also appreciated everything he shared with me over the years.

By bottom line question in my original post in this thread was for someone to tell me the reason for the difference in audience reactions with someone performing while reading music and someone tracing a picture as their "performance"?

I truly want to learn the psychology of public perception!

Thanks again!
Rande Dager

We are all capable of doing more than we think we can!
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby GaryL » Mon Nov 09, 2015 2:32 pm

I have trouble with the analogy between tracing a picture and playing music. However, I would have enjoyed watching Van Gogh do that and just to be in the same auditorium would have been cool. I’m not sure that I know what the “public perception” of watching performers play with music in front of them is. I know it does not distract me when I watch a symphony orchestra playing. My take on being able to read and play music is it’s a great thing. The repertoire is so vast that there just isn’t enough time to memorize everything, regardless if you learned it by ear, by reading music or lessons. Sometimes the visual music cues can just keep you moving forward and you’re not actually reading every single note on the page. My take is, I either liked the performance or I didn’t. I heard good and bad performances both ways. Also, being able to read music does not make one gifted.
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby awykle » Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:28 pm

Rande. It's an interesting analogy. I know I'm most impressed with an artist, being guitarist, singer or other, who takes a song and gives it his own interpretation. Don't get me wrong, and you and I have had this conversation, it's impressive and requires talent to copy note for note and come close to touch and tone, but I'm always most impressed with someone who puts their own 'spin' on it. I know Chet felt this way and I believe Jerry and Merle did too. It's just my opinion, but it should be yours!
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby Norm » Mon Nov 09, 2015 3:58 pm

By bottom line question in my original post in this thread was for someone to tell me the reason for the difference in audience reactions with someone performing while reading music and someone tracing a picture as their "performance"?..."

I don't get out much but I've never heard of anyone doing a public performance by tracing a work of art. I have seen clips of people who do impressive jobs of speedpainting onstage and it of course goes over well I think the analogy is a bit awkward

As for the musician onstage using sheet music... unless they're pretty horrible musicians or make too much of using the written score most audiences ignore the music stand and watch the musician's hands or just get carried away by the music.

reading music is a good tool and, like any other, the more you use it the easier it becomes

Re: Tommy Jones being able to speedily grasp what you showed him...Chet said in an interview once that good guitarists could usually listen to another guitarist and pretty much figure out how they did what they did. Chet, of course, was referring to guys like him who had totally committed their livelihood on guitaring for a living and all the practice that entailed.
...that's how it looks to me...The opinion expressed above is my own and does not necessarily reflect the views of this station. Your mileage may vary...

Audio samples: http://www.youtube.com/user/acountrygent/videos
That should do it.
Norm
 
Posts: 1320
Joined: Wed Aug 31, 2011 12:36 pm
Location: redwood city ca

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