Gifted Musicians?

Discussion of history's greatest guitar player.

Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby DagerRande » Mon Nov 09, 2015 6:45 pm

I too have never seen a performance of "tracing" but it seemed like a good analogy and yet ridiculous. Why would such a performance be laughed at or disregarded and yet sitting in front of an audience and performing from sheet music be accepted and even deserving of a compliment?

Yes, there are individual "spins" on a song and individuality in expressing it but the same could be said for "tracing" a picture. Some people have a better eye and a steadier hand but even the best "tracer" wouldn't be very well regarded and no agent would take promoting such an act seriously.

I just don't see the rationale for regarding one more highly than the other? It seems to me to be a case of tradition. We've seen one of these two types of performances all of our lives but have never seen the other.
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby Richard Hudson » Tue Nov 10, 2015 11:08 am

Rande, I am not exactly sure what your thinking is in regards to your question. Most of us are having a hard time to see the correlation. That's not meant to be sarcastic.

I can't read music except for the basics, and it is a very slow note for note thing for me. I will be quick to say that I am not proud of the fact that I can't, or rather don't read. I am not a full time professional musician, and never have been, but if I was, I would think that being able to read would be a much desired tool. I don't even know how to read tabs. At the risk of sounding like I am bragging, let me say very humbly that I have been blessed with a gift of being able to watch, listen, and learn, and in most cases, apply what I am hearing if I so desire.

My thinking is that it would take no talent of any kind at all to simply trace a picture, however to be able to sit down and play a piece of music by reading takes first, the ability to play, and secondly the ability to read music, which in itself is certainly no small task. Again, I am probably missing something in your thinking, but to trace a picture takes only the ability to hold a pencil and trace over what is underneath. I understand that sometimes when a musician is playing something strictly by reading, it can sound rather cold and unemotional. Not always, but sometimes. But I can almost always see and feel the artist's individual talent or emotion, even if he is reading note for note.

My apologies, because I know I am missing something here. I respect you from what I know about you, and I am not trying to make light or be sarcastic, but for me, I admire anyone who has the ability to read. Chet made the comment one time when someone asked him if he could read music. Maybe not his exact words, but it was something like, "Yeah, but not well enough to hurt my pickin'." Maybe we have subconsciously taken that statement to mean that if we read, we don't play as well. I don't think that way. To me it is just another tool to become a well rounded musician, and I believe Chet regarded it that way as well. It is a tool. It does not mean that you are a good musician just because you can read, but conversely I don't think it means you are any less of a musician because you read.

Thanks,
Richard
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby Norm » Tue Nov 10, 2015 3:13 pm

I think Chet read music better than he let on. His oft repeated humble line "not enough to hurt my playing" was probably so he didn't come across as an elitist since so many amateur guitarists don't read. He apparently wrote out a part by hand for Liona Boyd to play at one session. Liona doesn't play by ear in sessions I guess.

The thing about being able to read notes is you get it right the first time and it's still there next time you go to practice. And as I pointed out before, getting the melody accurately is important.
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby DagerRande » Tue Nov 10, 2015 5:37 pm

My correlation may have been too simplistic, but the idea is that in both scenarios the performer is being given external instructions and are following those instructions in front of an audience. In one case it is considered absurd and in the other case it is admired. Yet in both cases the instructions came from a source outside of the performer.
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby Norm » Tue Nov 10, 2015 7:05 pm

How is using sheet music different from a Chet Preservationist taking the time to learn one of Chet's songs note for note?

There were guys like Jack Baker who put in a lot of time putting guitar arrangements on tabledit so guitarists had a better chance of copying Chet and Jerry Reed songs

There is a form of sheet music called a "lead sheet" that has the bare bones of the melody with chords written in the right spot over the melody line for the artist to use as a foundation. Interpretation is still up to the musician but at least the melody is given an opportunity to be played correctly. The old style "fake books" were exactly that.

So here's the thing... if you learn a song "by ear" that was composed by someone else the core is the same in that "the instructions (the song itself) came from a source outside of the performer."

I can read music some. Not fast. I've even used it to write short licks to keep them straight for practice. No way am I a good sight reader but I can muddle through it enough to get the gold. I remember the years when I couldn't read music. I clung to that like it was a medal because those who could read music made me feel defensive even though no one ever laughed at my inability to do so.

Here’s a good line I just grabbed off the internet:

“If you have talent, if you have something to say, learning to read music will not make you less of a musician, but more of a musician.”
...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...

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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby awykle » Thu Nov 12, 2015 6:43 pm

I guess the analogy as I understood it, at least for the most part, was the copying exclusively of someones original creation. I never understood it to be finding fault with playing the written music. Playing it as written insures it being played correctly, 'as written', but would not allow us to improvise, embellish, use substitution chords, interpretation of harmony to melody, etc. If we all played every song the same way, it would be really boring, really quick. At least for me. But that's just me. Not all music was written for guitar and can be played entirely as written by one guitar at a time. Unless of course if it was written for the guitar. That was the analogy as I understood it, at least in large part. As I think Chet may have said or was attributed to him was that Segovia was great, but didn't 'swing". That certainly and obviously didn't make him a bad player, just not my personal preference for guitar playing. It certainly didn't mean I didn't like or appreciate Segovia or any other classical player. Just not what I prefer. I'm probably clear out in left field, and there's a basketball game going on! Lol!
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby DagerRande » Thu Nov 12, 2015 11:48 pm

No, I never meant to find fault with playing from written music. I just never heard a good reason why watching someone with a keen eye and a very steady hand tracing a picture would be looked down upon? Not everyone can trace with the same skill level.

My point was that to me they both seem very similar in the variations of how they can be accomplished, depending upon the ability and skill of the individual. Yet the ability to trace a picture, regardless of how perfectly it is done, is not respected or admired. Yet reading music, even at an average level, is accepted as being worthy of public performance as well as the admiration that goes along with that performance.
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby bill_h » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:23 am

Interesting thread and interesting point Rande. I believe we tend to put the cart before the horse in several ways when it comes to music.

Reading music has its' advantages no doubt but does not automatically make one a superior musician any more than knowing music theory.

For someone to sit down in front of a piece of sheet music, or even standard notation and perform a piece of music that they've already practiced to the point that they feel comfortable performing in public is a far cry from what Tommy Tedesco used to do in the studios.

It's also a far cry from that the Endless Road String Quartet does. Of course they have to be able to read music in order to function in the context that they do but they still do more than just read the notes. If they only read the notes for the sake of reading the notes, there's no way Chet would have been interested in them. Obviously they know how to interpret the music and communicate their interpretation to an audience. But to pat someone on the back just for being able to read music makes no sense to me either.

People can be the same way about music theory. If knowing music theory automatically makes one a superior player then why am I not a better player than the late Buster B Jones? I know for a fact that I know more music theory than Buster did because one time I demonstrated to Buster how jazz guitar great Pat Martino uses the diminished 7th chord to find the inversions of dominant 7th chords. When I finished Buster's reaction was priceless. He said " You mean you actually know what them things is called?"

Yeah, I actually know what them things is called but Buster can get far more out of them than I can, even though he may not always know what they're called. Evidently music theory is not the be all end all of music any more than reading music.

When reading music is only a means in and of itself, which it often is, then the musical score may as well just be a bunch of golf clubs stuck to somebody's fence!

Sorry for such a lengthy response but I feel I should close by making a disclaimer in that no way am I trying to out do Buster. As anyone who knows me can attest, I have always idolized Buster as a player and have held him in the highest regard. He's one of the greatest ever in my opinion.
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby DagerRande » Fri Nov 20, 2015 12:46 am

Bill, thanks for sharing your thoughts. I consider Buster's gift and skill to have been his physical mastery. He was great at creating "grooves" and he executed them flawlessly at speeds higher than I could ever attain. His knowledge of music theory, or lack thereof, to me isn't even a consideration because he and I have talked extensively about this. I don't know much, in the formal sense, and neither did he but that wasn't even an issue when I watched him perform.

My "tracing" analogy seems yet not to have been addressed. Your analysis of the differences in how musicians may "interpret" the music they read and the feeling that they may convey to an audience, is exactly what led to my tracing analogy. Would all people trace with the same level of skill? No! Some without good eye-hand coordination
will do a sloppy job and others may be so precise and accurate that their final product may appear identical to the original.

My point is that, regardless of the level of skill exhibited during a public exhibition of tracing, it would never be respected or considered worthy of applause. Why is this? The answer to this question, when comparing to reading music in performance, constitutes my point. Thanks.
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Re: Gifted Musicians?

Postby pattie surman » Fri Nov 20, 2015 2:28 am

Rande Please go to Google and type in Stan Surman to see my portrait work. If I can make this as simple as possible. I have never seen anyone applaud a public exhibition of tracing. I have also never seen anyone applaud a player piano or a music box. To simply play the notes is not enough. They must be brought to life. Stan.
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