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  1. #51
    TommyD Guest
    There's another approach to sight reading which I've been working on for some time *. It has the additional value of increasing hand skills on guitar. It is buying a book on elementary classical guitar playing (My bet is that most of us already have one somewhere down in that pile of music books we never look at), and playing every lesson in it at a faster-than-recommended rate, because after all, we already have pretty good playing skills, right?
    By the time you are finished you will be able to recognize most chords and single-note progressions at sight. The only danger with the method is that you may find yourself becoming addicted to classical guitar and the music that goes with it, then you'll have to fight off GAS, lest you mortgage your house to go out and buy a Hermann Hauser guitar! In case you've never heard one, here is a Hauser.


    Incidentally, it's a little tougher, but you don't need a classical guitar to learn to finger-pick properly.

    best,
    tommy/

    * My brother, a jazz pianist, was playing Round Midnight one time, with heart-breakingly luscious chords. I told him how beautiful the arrangement was. He said, "Oh. Thanks. I've been working on it for about ten years." (!)

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52

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    I find sight reading classical guitar pieces (up to level 4) much easier than reading jazz pieces. And more fun also. I read classical music much better than jazz... My classical reading didn't translate to jazz that well.


    I think jazz is difficult because of the frequent key changes and/or nondiatonic notes and the syncopation.
    Last edited by fep; 08-24-2010 at 01:38 PM.

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    I find sight reading classical guitar pieces (up to level 4) much easier than reading jazz pieces. And more fun also. I read classical music much better than jazz... My classical reading didn't translate to jazz that well.


    I think jazz is difficult because of the frequent key changes and/or nondiatonic notes and the syncopation.
    I totally agree. Terrega, Sor, Bach, et al., are much easier to read than Hammerstein, Kern & Jobim.

    I had much better reading chops when I was pursuing classical.

  5. #54

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    Derek, I didn't mean to come off as argumentative or defensive. I just figured I'd clarify what I meant by my definition with sight reading. And you are right, pure sight reading or sight unseen is probably not something that normally happens.

    Reg, you have a great point about recognizing melodic lines and rhythms and all of the similarities that go along with that. I believe that the real issue here isn't that guitar players can't sight read at varying levels, but that most guitar players don't read music.

    Truth is, you don't need to learn to read music to play guitar. Most people don't ever learn it. Tablature is good enough for most players. Especially the ones I see around here most often*.

    For this forum, I think you get a different collection of folks/players. Most all of us can/want to learn to read music and get better at it. So, for us, sight reading is an intellectual pursuit at least and a professional skill at most.

    ~DB


    Footnotes:
    *You know, the guy who is in his mid forties/fifties and can't afford a sports car to support his mid life crisis so he learns to play sixties and seventies rock on an overpriced Fendor strat and amp setup and joins a band of other guys like him. They usually don't have a bass player cause nobody wants to play bass. And the drummer drew the short straw. Their audience consists mostly of family members and that one, weird lady that comes to all their shows and dances the same rhythm to every song (regardless of tempo) in a rainbow colored tube top she got from the "vintage" clothing store and a pair of "skinny" jeans a six year old can't get into...All while smoking her fourth pack of cigarettes that night.

  6. #55

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    Hey TommyD... How goes... yea... the trial and error method does work, thats the way I started as a kid, up to HS, then started playing Jazz. And the hand skill thing works as long as you have proper technique... which does become a problem, different techniques for different styles of music. But main problem I've seen at all types of gigs... this goes for great readers as well as those who struggle... when they don't understand the big picture, the style of chart , the way accent patterns on multi-levels, rhythmically as well as harmonically and melodically function... groove, as compared to playing the notes and articulations etc... well... that's why I believe understanding what your playing is as important as "memorize and play". Most of the professional musicians I know are well informed, have great cogitative abilities and we usually help each other at gigs etc... We want the ensemble to sound good. I know your brothers comment was somewhat a joke, most talented musicians down play their abilities... but if you don't practice what it takes to get complete pictures in music you may not play that beautiful arrangement. Then again you could get lucky. I guess what I'm saying is, one can play a "heart-breaking, luscious chordal arrangement of "Round Midnight", because one understands what makes those chordal structures work or create that luscious effects and use your emotions of the moment to express those feelings... or you can memorize examples of what works and do the same... They obviously both work, but getting back to sight reading , it's pretty easy to apply those techniques when you understand what your playing while sight reading, I believe it's more difficult, when using memory... By the way I dig your expression of your brothers playing, and most of what I'm BS about is not directed toward you.. Sorry... It's more general info. for younger players...
    Best Reg

  7. #56

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    Some folks is happy being just a geetar player, but some decide they want to become a real musician. Then it's time to learn to read the language of music. I never heard anyone say they were sorry they learned to sight read.

    The big band I play in doesn't hand out new charts to play at some future rehearsal, we just attack them with no preparation. There's usually no need to run through a new chart more than twice to work things out. Most pit gigs I've done will hand out the book for the show at the first rehearsal. It's usually 3 paid rehearsals- Tues, Wed, then a public dress rehearsal on Thu, then opening night on Fri. This is for 90 minutes of music. There's no way to be this productive if you can't read. The reward at this stage, is that you spend so much more time performing, rather than learning songs and rehearsing.

  8. #57

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    Best argument for reading so far, CG.

    ~DB

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by lindydanny
    Best argument for reading so far, CG.

    ~DB
    I suppose, if you accept the assumption that a geetar player is only a musician if they can sight read.

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzaluk
    I suppose, if you accept the assumption that a geetar player is only a musician if they can sight read.
    You know, nobody even thinks twice if a piano player can read, or questions if an oboe player, or a violinist is musically literate. They don't even have to ask, it's naturally assumed. It's so "duh" that one of most BASIC and ESSENTIAL requirements of being a musician is to be able to sight read music.

    My teacher still says, "95% of guitarists are morons". Of course, he was able to take advantage of this in the 50s and 60s, when he practically "lived in the studios" in huge demand as a a session musician.

    Why was he in huge demand for studio work? Because he was an expert sight reader, which helped make him into a consummate pro who could play the part right, the first time, without mistakes and such.

  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzaluk
    I suppose, if you accept the assumption that a geetar player is only a musician if they can sight read.
    I accept that premise.

    A guitar player might make good music even without begin able to read, but I would not classify them as an actual musician. I say this as someone who used to think he knew a lot about music, and considered himself a musician...until I actually started learning theory and how to read and ear training and all that stuff. Looking back, I didn't know jack.

    Of course, anyone is free to call themselves a musician if they want - it'snot a regulated term like "doctor" or "certified engineer." But then, I'm free to my own opinion of their musicianship.

  12. #61

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    What's studio work got to do with jazz? your supposed make it up as you go along, that's what makes you an artist as apposed to a muso.I dont think there where many jazz greats back in the day that could sight read,maybe Johnny Smith. Why do we need to learn it now? we still play the same standards. I't's ear to hands not eye..

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by larry graves
    What's studio work got to do with jazz? your supposed make it up as you go along, that's what makes you an artist as apposed to a muso.I dont think there where many jazz greats back in the day that could sight read,maybe Johnny Smith. Why do we need to learn it now? we still play the same standards. I't's ear to hands not eye..
    Are you serious? Duke Ellington couldn't sight read? Louis Armstrong couldn't sight read? Miles Davis couldn't sight read?? I really, really doubt that.

  14. #63

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    Let's look at it this way: Everyone who knows how to make one note (regardless of tuning or context) on any instrument (including their voice) is a musician*. But, there are several different skills in musicianship and an infinite number of levels to each of those skills.

    So, a guitarist can't read music notation or sight read. Is he still a musician? Yes, he can make music. A person who can speak clearly and be understood but can't write isn't mute, just illiterate.

    Musicians who want to become masters do learn everything they can about music, its accepted notation, and how that applies towards their instrument of choice. Eventually, we call these musicians Masters. And they have earned that title.

    ~DB

    * I have personal trouble calling some vocalists (primarily those in my church choir) musicians.

  15. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff
    Are you serious? Duke Ellington couldn't sight read? Louis Armstrong couldn't sight read? Miles Davis couldn't sight read?? I really, really doubt that.
    Doubting what I say is one thing, proving what you say is an other. As I have stated you need ears not eyes,imo..

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by larry graves
    Doubting what I say is one thing, proving what you say is an other. As I have stated you need ears not eyes,imo..
    Larry, you made the initial assertion that the old jazz greats couldn't sight read. So, the onus of proof would be on you. But if it makes you feel better, you did know that Miles Davis went to Juilliard, right? And that Duke Ellington studied with Oliver Perry, a conservatory-trained pianist? If those guys couldn't read and read well, I would be very surprised.

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff
    Are you serious? Duke Ellington couldn't sight read? Louis Armstrong couldn't sight read? Miles Davis couldn't sight read?? I really, really doubt that.
    Well, Duke was not a good sight reader. Brilliant composer and arranger, but never actually wrote out his own parts.

    This post is not meant to support the non-reading position, merely to clarify.

    I am a staunch advocate of musical literacy for players of all instruments.

    On the other hand, I believe that many classically trained musicians fail to embrace improvisation or playing by ear.

    My arranging teacher in college wrote a piece for Duke to perform with a studio orchestra in Canada. He told me Ellington kept getting lost during the rehearsals, so when it actually came time to record, he just cued the solo spots.

  18. #67

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    Reading and understanding music is a skill. "Sight-reading" is a separate discipline which I do admire but I do not confer any special halo of musicianship to someone who reads music from a sheet. Its seems that all my favorite geetar players do not do this when they perform.

    I can sight read a novel... it doesn't make me a novelist.

  19. #68

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    Alright, well this is just getting pedantic and counter-productive, so I'll just leave it at "I think sight reading is important."

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff
    Alright, well this is just getting pedantic and counter-productive, so I'll just leave it at "I think sight reading is important."
    Sorry man. I didn't mean to be counter-productive. Just a view from a different perspective.

    This thread has called guitar players who can't SIGHT-read lazy, limited, amateur and non-musicians. In my small reptilian brain... that is counter-productive for a jazz guitar forum. Not all jazz guitar players strive for the studio, big bands and entry into the "U of Whatever". There is a whole world of improvisation and interpretation that is being conveniently ignored where sight reading plays a very small role.

    Besides, alternative views prevent group-think.

  21. #70

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    Hey Jazzaluk... I believe were simply trying to get young players to include sight reading as part of playing jazz... Playing jazz is very different today as compared to late 60's and back. I read back then but didn't see that many charts. Jazz theory was being defined and explained as compared to now... it's common knowledge if you want to know... There were not as many tunes or different forms for tunes as we see now at gigs.... I won't bore, but would you really tell a young guitarist not to bother with sight reading?
    Best Reg

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    .... I won't bore, but would you really tell a young guitarist not to bother with sight reading?
    Best Reg
    Not at all. I would certainly encourage any guitar player to learn and understand how to read music but as for the skill of sight-reading, I would leave it to them to determine how it fits with their aspirations and expectations. I certainly wouldn't criticize their musicianship if they decided to build their style or approach around someone like, lets say, Joe Pass. I think there is still room for that in the jazz world.

    I should say that I am satisfied with my ability to read and understand music but I am far from an accomplished sight-reader. I actually find it a bit boring. In fact, that is why I was attracted to jazz improvisation and interpretation. Its enough for this geetarist.

    Anyway... I think I have teased this animal too much.

  23. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzaluk

    I should say that I am satisfied with my ability to read and understand music but I am far from an accomplished sight-reader. I actually find it a bit boring. In fact, that is why I was attracted to jazz improvisation and interpretation. Its enough for this geetarist.
    I used to feel exactly the same way about reading. I knew enough to be able to figure out most anything, and that was a step above most of the musicians I played with. But these were also the same type of musicians that had to spend weeks and weeks to learn songs and rehearse before they could pull off a 3 hour gig.

    One day I got invited to play with some outstanding working musicians, because they heard I could read. I showed up, and they handed me a stack of original charts they played. I tried to fake my way through it, but it was embarrasing. They said it was too bad, because they were thinking of hiring a guitarist. I told them I could get up to speed after a few rehearsals, and they said "what rehearsals"? Either you're ready, or you're not.

    I understand that some guitarists have no desire to operate at this level, but there is something to be said about being able to gig with good musicians, with few or no rehearsals. Many earlier groups I had been in never survived the rehearsal process long enough to make it to the gigging level. Haven't alot of you been in that same place? It sucks to waste time going through that. No more.
    Last edited by cosmic gumbo; 08-25-2010 at 09:16 PM.

  24. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    I used to feel exactly the same way about reading. I knew enough to be able to figure out most anything, and that was a step above most of the musicians I played with. But these were also the same type of musicians that had to spend weeks and weeks to learn songs and rehearse before they could pull off a 3 hour gig.

    One day I got invited to play with some outstanding working musicians, because they heard I could read. I showed up, and they handed me a stack of original charts they played. I tried to fake my way through it, but it was embarrasing. They said it was too bad, because they were thinking of hiring a guitarist. I told them I could get up to speed after a few rehearsals, and they said "what rehearsals"? Either you're ready, or you're not.

    I understand that some guitarists have no desire to operate at this level, but there is something to be said about being able to gig with good musicians, with few or no rehearsals. Many earlier groups I had been in never survived the rehearsal process long enough to make it to the gigging level. Haven't alot of you been in that same place? It sucks to waste time going through that. No more.
    Good for you man. On the one hand, I agree wholeheartedly! On the other... more gigs for me!

  25. #74

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    I'm with FatJeff all the way...and most of the old-timey musicians COULD read. It's important to sort out reality from urban legend!!

    Sailor

  26. #75

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    Ahh CG... now you're just making me feel bad,

    Seriously... I certainly don't feel qualified to argue the benefits of sight-reading with a working pro who wants to work with other pros at the top of their game. Like every endeavor, to play in the big league you need to develop certain skills. But for every pro there are hundreds if not thousands of amateurs who enjoy the game just as much.

    Although, I have to say, that even with pros, the performances I enjoy the most are the ones where there is no sheet music in sight. My favorite Montreal guitarist is Greg Clayton. He can play three hours of captivating BeBop (Jazz Standards) from memory. That's a whole different discipline, and equally as valid.

    Again... I am just offering a perspective. Maybe the number one reason guitar players are poor sight readers is because the majority just don't want to.

    PS: I totally respect all the pros out there (Reg. NSJ Cosmic, Jake etc) as I do the amateurs. Its a challenge at all levels. All the Best