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  1. #101

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    I'm not sure what your point is, but "sight reading" normally refers to reading music you have not heard before. All you have to go by is what is written on the page.

    But we can read text we never saw before if we know the language...

    Practically coming back to your question:

    after you learn the elements of reading music, how do you transition from reading note by note to word by word (or phrase by phrase.)?
    Could yo be so kind to give a sample of certain notated piece of music when you encounter this problem, and I try to show on this sample how in my opinion it is possible to solve in this case?

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  3. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    But you know the language of music. You can look at the page and although you've never heard it, good readers can hear it off the page without playing it.

    Symbols are communicative devices for concepts that already exist. They can assist one in thinking and in conveying those concepts to others, or even preserving them. This applies to musical language as well as spoken/written languages.
    Well, Henry, I'm not a good reader yet, so I don't see all that you see on a page. (Much less hear the music off the page.)

    Before we get too far afield with the language / music analogy, the symbols of music are more like the symbols of mathematics than the symbols of poetry, or even conversational English.

    I had a philosophy professor who used to get a "deep" look on his face when hearing music. He would scratch his chin and say, "I think I hear in this music the mystical solution to the problem of evil." (He had heard someone say that about Beethoven's Ninth.) He thought this was funny because it was---to him---absurd that music (-music without lyrics) could assert anything, much less a solution to the problem of evil.

    This is easily seen with old tunes that have had different sets of lyrics attached to them. (Sometimes a well-known folk melody might have a religious lyric written to it and thereafter, people hear that song and get a 'spiritual' feeling but the same music is not heard as 'spiritual' when it's about a boy and a girl roaming the Irish countryside.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  4. #103

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    My first music teacher, prior to guitar, was a classical pianist. She studied with Darius Milhaud. She would pick up any piece of music and, not showing off, look at it and say, "See here! This is beautiful!" She'd hum along with the manuscript paper in her hands. I can't do this. Not yet. In some small ways I can I suppose.

    More like mathematics than poetry? Perhaps, but poetry is art like music. Very much unlike mathematics. Math is dry and emotionless. Not so music. Once the symbols are understood i becomes more like art. More like poetry. Reading music is not exactly like just connecting the dots. It is in the beginning. In fact I think its a lot more like poetry.

    The first reading exercise I have for my students is to understand the symbols on the page. This entails calling out the notes without the guitar. Just call them out. Recognize what they are independent from their location on the fretboard. So yeah ecj. On the money.

  5. #104

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    In the beginning everything can seem mechanical and mathematical. Do you think if you were learning chinese you'd be able to understand poetry as a beginner? Symbols must be understood. The concepts must be known and understood. I mean really understood to the point where there's no thinking to understand them. If you read the word "bicycle" you don't have to sit and translate or think about what that word means. You KNOW what it means. It's the same thing with reading. It takes DRILLING to get there, just like a child had to drill listening and talking. Every day. And the writing. One doesn't know how to write just by deciding that one will write. That's only the very first step. He needs to drill it over and over and over. Every day, just about. Same thing with reading music. Same thing with learning anything.

  6. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    More like mathematics than poetry? Perhaps, but poetry is art like music. Very much unlike mathematics. Math is dry and emotionless. Not so music. Once the symbols are understood i becomes more like art.
    getting off topic, but I'm a mathematician, and this sentence is false, although it's a common misconception we frequently face. We mathematicians would not do what we do if it wasn't for its *great* beauty, and ugly/dry math is typically ignored by the community, unless some engineer requires it. I could go on, but here's a link to a related essay by a mathematician who was (and still is) a great jazz musician (e.g. he plays on JJ Johnson's last album)

    http://www.ams.org/notices/201107/rtx110700929p.pdf

    His conclusion is that "mathematics is like music that only musicians can hear" which is on topic, if you think about it.
    Last edited by pkirk; 10-22-2014 at 07:19 PM.

  7. #106

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    Lol!! I had a good friend and jazz pianist who got his PHd in mathematics who told me I'd be very good at math. I never was. He says upper level math is very creative. Quantum stuff I guess. Like Coltrane or something. He had me so convinced I got some books and put them away after about 30 minutes.

    He'd agree with you of course. Just goes to show I don't know the symbols of math well enough to see the poetry.

  8. #107

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    I follow a British pianist / jazz composer on YT who posits that in the end music is about two things primarily - mathematical intervals and emotions. Interestingly, he suggests that one way to learn to play jazz well is to focus on the emotions certain progressions and intervals evoke in you. I think he is on to something.

    Certainly, chord construction is very much about steps and intervals - tonic, third, fifth, seventh....etc. That is a form of mathematics. And of course there are overtone series and the like.

    A comment about learning to read notation. I actually encountered notation first when singing in choirs or choruses from grade school through high school. I started formally learning classical guitar around eleven or twelve years old. Classical lessons involved learning notation from the very beginning through graduated exercises.

    In some ways, as you progress, it is easier to read three, four, or more note chords than single notes because an arpeggio or block chord gives you a relational context. For example, when you go to read a piece in a particular key - like G major, for instance, you soon associate the sheet music chordal notation with the steps of the key - G, Am7, Bm7, Cmaj7, D7, Em7, F#dim. These chords and their extensions are in fact intervals built over the tonic of the chord.

  9. #108

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    Lol!! I had a good friend and jazz pianist who got his PHd in mathematics who told me I'd be very good at math. I never was. He says upper level math is very creative. Quantum stuff I guess. Like Coltrane or something. He had me so convinced I got some books and put them away after about 30 minutes.

    He'd agree with you of course. Just goes to show I don't know the symbols of math well enough to see the poetry.
    I have Barbara Oakley's new book, "A Mind For Numbers." She's an engineer, though she had trouble with math as a kid. She realized as an adult that her lack of math skills was holding her back, so she decided to go back to school and learn math. Turns out she was really good at it and is now a professor of engineering. Her book is supposed to unlock the wonder of mathematical thinking--which can be highly creative---for those who don't see that. Count me in that group. I was never great at math. I hope this book helps me.....

    But the point about math and music is that they do not require translation. If a collection of your musical compositions was sold in China, the publisher would not need to translate your music into Chinese (-just popped into my head that Louis Armstrong called bebop "Chinese music," by which he meant incomprehensible to him) the way your memoirs would have to be translated into Chinese to find an audience there. Music (-written music) is not English or German or Italian (-though we all encounter some Italian terms in musical scores!).

    (Chess is the other member of this triumvirate: music, math, and chess. They all are notated in ways that are universally recognized and understood. Coincidence? I think not....)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by ecj View Post
    My reading is improving by leaps and bounds over the past year. Thoughts:

    1) The more you read music, the easier it gets. Start the way kids do. Learn the lines, spaces, figures, etc. Really drill them. How fast can you read a piece of music aloud (without the guitar)? I think that's step one..
    Then that's where I am! ;o) I mean, I can learn tunes from a fakebook but it takes me a little longer than I would like.

    In Barry Galbraith's "Fingerboard Workbook" he has pieces named Eb Major, Bb7, and the like. They run a whole page, no chord symbols, just an endless stream of eighth notes. I'm sure that if I stick with it, in six months or a year, it will seem like child's play, but it's a real slow-go now. ;o)

    I do get the point, though: just keep at it and it gets easier. If I had worked hard at this as a kid instead of watching "The Partridge Family" on TV, I would be a happier man today. As the old song says, "It's nobody's fault but mine."
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  11. #110

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    But they DO need to be translated if you don't understand the language. I know what you're saying but we 're taking two different things. There's one universal language for music, math and chess, but it still holds that if you don't know the language you will have to translate those symbols into symbols you CAN understand until you know those symbols.

  12. #111

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    A question from the beginner's corner: after you learn the elements of reading music, how do you transition from reading note by note to word by word (or phrase by phrase.)?

    Do you just gradually start to see larger units or is there a way to learn to see them as larger units? With words, in text, it is easy to tell by the space on either side of a word that it is a word, but music is not like that.

    Mark,

    Yes you can see in larger units and there are ways to learn to see larger units....

    You may need to start with VERY EASY BASIC ELEMENTARY DIATONIC stuff to get the ball rolling. I'm talking Whole, Half, and Quarter Notes....let go of any ego about playing simple Nursery Rhyme type exercise stuff.

    With simpler music that you are sight reading, it's very easy to glance ahead as many bars as you can personally handle, quickly to see what's coming up and make a mental note.

    This will get you comfortable to look ahead while playing in real time. And basically it is this same looking ahead and taking a quick mental picture that is in play with more complicated sight reading pieces, except the time frame is compacted to a couple of beats ahead of where you are actually at, instead of a couple of bars.

    Obviously this just a start, but it will get you moving in the right direction (seeing larger units)....The hard part is getting enough of this type of material together to read and not memorize... and putting in some serious time with it for at least a couple of weeks. (Meaning the easy stuff)

    Most guitarists miss out on very basic foundational reading because they usually can play decently before reading comes into the picture. It's like I could play as a teenager every note Randy Rhodes recorded perfectly, but throw Twinkle Twinkle in Gb in front of me and it would have been horrible. That's the ego deflater....

    They're may be some good elementary books out there that progress slowly...I'll check with some HS band teachers I know.....

  13. #112

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    Before we get too far afield with the language / music analogy, the symbols of music are more like the symbols of mathematics than the symbols of poetry, or even conversational English.

    I had a philosophy professor who used to get a "deep" look on his face when hearing music. He would scratch his chin and say, "I think I hear in this music the mystical solution to the problem of evil." (He had heard someone say that about Beethoven's Ninth.) He thought this was funny because it was---to him---absurd that music (-music without lyrics) could assert anything, much less a solution to the problem of evil.
    Mark,

    I would argue that.
    If someone does not hear anything it does not mean that this thing does not exist for another one.
    The difference between musical and word laguage is that the last one is conventional form of comminication.
    And music langusge is Art.
    If you take a great writer or poet their word languge in literature is like musical, they re-organaze our communicative languge and discover new meanings and make it a language of Art.

    As per possibility to express 'the mystical solution of the problem of evil' - it is absolutly possible in music of course, and if someone does not understand that it does not mean that all the others pretend to understand (it is not about your teacher, I also do not understand plenty of things).
    Great symphonies are like great novels. I am not sure that Beethoveen's Nienth would be this solution, but Bruckner's Nienth for sure))). And I do not need to hear anyone say it, I hear it myself.

    The idea is we should not try to convert it necessarily into words, when I say 'meaning' - I do not say 'litteral meaning in words' - we can give verbal description just as supportive.

    It concerns any music - for example if you have half cadence or full cadance in the ending - they render us two different meanings that we can percieve (at least those grown up in european music tradition)... the languge means may be diffferent, depends on style and tradition.
    Even the fact that we can distinguish one piece of music from another,it already says that we find some unique meaning in this certain song.

    It works in any kind of mysic even simple song... as I said we can take any and I can show it... it is easier and more interesting to speak not in general but about actual piece of music.
    Last edited by Jonah; 10-23-2014 at 02:29 AM.

  14. #113

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    As per practical issues:

    I had three or four cases when adult amateur players copmplained and asked to help them to lear to sight-read. It concerned classical music where sight-reading is more important.
    They were really passionate about music but learning pieces from the score (I am not even speaking about sight-reading) was a real nightmare for them, and they did it for years and nothing changed.
    Usually they read it very slowly and learnt and play it mechanically... so obviously just repeated practice did not work for them. And I could not tell them: quit it, because you just have no talent for them... it was obvious theat they had passion about music.
    So we started to work with styles they played: one of them played only early rennaissance music on lute - and he had bad ear for functional tonality, so with him I just tried to explain the general logic of the form in this kind of music on the sample of certain pieces. With the other guy it was more about baroque - so we went into functional tonality and its forms.

    Form is the most importnat issue, I wrote once in your thread about Buy, buy Blackbird - but it did not seem to be interesting to anybody...
    There are always some turnarounds in music which indicate the parts of the form, I always say: try to avoid formal book form skeleton, try first to hear in the music where one idea ends, and another starts.. and then you can correspond it to some clasifications and even then if you deal with great music it will not fit it...


    There is also just phisical or technical capability to read - like some people who cannot easily read the text aloud... when I took an oath in the army I missed the reheasal of the ceremony being in a hospital, so I just came there directly and they gave methe text I never saw before and of course I just read it aloud clearly without mistakes, but they were guys from small villages who just did not read much aloud in their life before, and even after rehearsals they made mistakes in reading... but it does not mean that they were dumb or did not get the meaning. Just did not practice.

    If you speak about capability to spontaneously read unknown piece of music in performance quality... well it is a doubtful merit. I mean pro should be capable to read it technically, if he is experienced, and the languge of this music is familiar and piece is not too complex musically, he will probably make some phrasings and accents correctly... but generally even pro should take a look at the score before, or rehearse it.
    Ye, I also did it... especially often again in an Army band playing 2nd trombone, result was acceptable... but it was not really about music, I do not consider it to be correct approach.

    It is like to expect that an actor will read properly an unknown text immediately... he will read it clearly being an educated person, but he should read it not just clearly. but artistically... and it is just impossible from the first sight however great he is... same with music
    Last edited by Jonah; 10-23-2014 at 02:27 AM.

  15. #114

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    After observing how two of my children became very competent sight readers, compliments of the k-12 public school system, it comes down to common sense. Music educators have assembled musical primers that consist of collections of commonly known simple melodies, "nursery rhyme" level like Twinkle Twinkle, Three Blind Mice, etc. that are ingrained into many children's memories. These are not random collections, but assembled to impart the most rhythmic and melodic bang for the buck.

    Children start to recognize how these well known melodies look on paper as music. You know what Three Blind Mice sounds like, here is what it looks like rhythmically...melodically...many of these children's melodies were actually written by composers with the intent of using them for fundamental musical instruction. If you are a beginner with sight reading, you have to start like a kid, with kid's music. Isn't that how you learn how to read in another language? You don't start reading adult novels, you start with Dick and Jane...

  16. #115

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    fter observing how two of my children became very competent sight readers, compliments of the k-12 public school system, it comes down to common sense. Music educators have assembled musical primers that consist of collections of commonly known simple melodies, "nursery rhyme" level like Twinkle Twinkle, Three Blind Mice, etc. that are ingrained into many children's memories. These are not random collections, but assembled to impart the most rhythmic and melodic bang for the buck.

    Children start to recognize how these well known melodies look on paper as music. You know what Three Blind Mice sounds like, here is what it looks like rhythmically...melodically...many of these children's melodies were actually written by composers with the intent of using them for fundamental musical instruction. If you are a beginner with sight reading, you have to start like a kid, with kid's music. Isn't that how you learn how to read in another language? You don't start reading adult novels, you start with Dick and Jane...
    Yes, but usually when we start to learn foreign language we start to learn speking and reading more or less at the same time.
    With music it may be different - this is actually where I believe the similarity with verbal language may be not working any more... it is more like learning native language, kids understand before they can speak, and speak before they read and write...
    I know lots of people who understand music very well without playing any instrument and of course without reading.

    I am coming through learning basic notations now with my elder daughter... she is also visiting musical shool but we have to go through it at home also...

    I noticed that at the very beginning teacher on purpose gave her this method: she put her right hand fingers on keyboard and plays e-g-h... and then she just asks a kid to sing these sounds, to memorize this minor tirad, then she shows that the first sound is on the lower line of the score, middle on the second etc. And then she ask a kid to play it and actually shows that on the keydoard it also looks just as on the score, she is like playing pressing on lines...
    And this way she connects free elements hearing (sound) - playing (instrument) - writing (notation)

    Of course they also play melodies as you mentioned - but goes more on unconcious level and more complex... a
    nd this one was quite direct method to conect these three important components of reading

    Kids usually cover easily one problem that happens often to the adult up students... if the teacher is good, kids learn to correspond written note with sound, they look at it and hear (if they do not have absolute pitch they hear it relatively - it does not matter)... but adults especially amateurs they take notes as signs where to press the key (practically like tab!) - so instead of reading music they have a kind of transition process: they are kind of inputing data in a playing machine and listen to it!
    Last edited by Jonah; 10-23-2014 at 03:52 AM.

  17. #116

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    But they DO need to be translated if you don't understand the language. I know what you're saying but we 're taking two different things. There's one universal language for music, math and chess, but it still holds that if you don't know the language you will have to translate those symbols into symbols you CAN understand until you know those symbols.
    But there is no translation of, say, middle C from English to Chinese because musical notation isn't in a spoken language to begin with, and neither are mathematical symbols. That's all I meant.

    (I suppose one could think of tab as translation, but tab is only for stringed instruments---it wouldn't work for a pianist, regardless of language.)

    The philosophers I read pay an extraordinary amount of attention to language, but a common mistake some of them make is to think all forms of communication---math, musical, and chess symbols, for example--are like spoken languages, but they are more unlike them than like them.

    And finally, it is not necessary to translate music into symbols at all. Many people play--and some play extremely well--without knowing how to read music (or using any form of musical writing, such as tab.) My mom's like that. She can find middle C on the piano and can move left and right alphabetically but she has no sense of what a key means. She has a great ear and can play what she hears. She has no idea what to call any of it. (And no interest in learning.) There are lots of people like my mom. They just go by sound and know the sound of each key on the piano. (Or whatever instrument they play. Lots of guitar players do well, some are highly regarded professionals, who read or write music at all. Mind you, I'm FOR musicians learning to read music. But it is nonetheless true that one can play music without having any sense of how it might be notated, or any interest in theory at all.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  18. #117

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    After observing how two of my children became very competent sight readers, compliments of the k-12 public school system, it comes down to common sense. Music educators have assembled musical primers that consist of collections of commonly known simple melodies, "nursery rhyme" level like Twinkle Twinkle, Three Blind Mice, etc. that are ingrained into many children's memories. These are not random collections, but assembled to impart the most rhythmic and melodic bang for the buck.

    Children start to recognize how these well known melodies look on paper as music. You know what Three Blind Mice sounds like, here is what it looks like rhythmically...melodically...many of these children's melodies were actually written by composers with the intent of using them for fundamental musical instruction. If you are a beginner with sight reading, you have to start like a kid, with kid's music. Isn't that how you learn how to read in another language? You don't start reading adult novels, you start with Dick and Jane...
    You're right about that. I'm seeing it in an MI book called "Music Reading for Guitar" by David Oakes. Some of the early examples are folk songs. It makes sense to start by reading simple, memorable things.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  19. #118

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    But there is no translation of, say, middle C from English to Chinese because musical notation isn't in a spoken language to begin with, and neither are mathematical symbols. That's all I meant.
    Kind of. Indian music and chinese music certainly need translation and understanding to most, just even to hear and comprehend what's going on - with all of those extra notes for example in Indian music. But that's like saying you don't need translation because every language and culture has a dog in it and we all know what dog means. Not all cultures call middle C middle C. A dog is still a dog, but the symbols we use to identify it vary language to language. Some cultures have different ways of writing C and some don't use the tempered scale either.

    The philosophers I read pay an extraordinary amount of attention to language, but a common mistake some of them make is to think all forms of communication---math, musical, and chess symbols, for example--are like spoken languages, but they are more unlike them than like them.
    Hm, I don't think I agree, if I'm understanding you correctly. All are forms of communication. Not necessarily the type of communication that says, "Hey! My name is Henry. Do you like my dog?" Some are, "This is a mathematical equation. Check it out. It's either a nice puzzle or this is a different way of getting from here to there or this will solve your problem with the universe." It communicates an idea or a concept.

    Music communicates an emotion and pitches and rhythms and much more. It's an art form that communicates music. It communicates dance, singing, happiness, sadness, beauty, ugly, sexy and humor.

    Chess communicates a specific game; intellectual warfare with Kings, queens, rooks, bishops, knights, castles and pawns.

    And finally, it is not necessary to translate music into symbols at all. Many people play--and some play extremely well--without knowing how to read music (or using any form of musical writing, such as tab.)
    True, but we're talking about READING music, not music in general.

  20. #119

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    So most are able to see and hear or read the chord "C', or middle line C...on music paper. OK maybe you need a quick cue, play the chord or the note.... take a few second break.... now sight read the chord or note. You probable got it right.

    Now do the same but add a chord or add a note..... same process.

    So you already know what the notated chord symbol implies. Cmaj7.... you probable even have a few options, or that C note, again a few options. If I notated four 8th notes of the note C and a half note rest... One bar, you could probable sight read that one bar... or if not, work it out.... take a few second break, now sight read that one bar of music.

    Now if I also had made that one bar into two bars or even four bars of the same rhythmic pattern and the same melodic pattern.... four 8th notes of C and a half note rest..... repeated 4 times. You could probable sight read that four bar phrase right there on the spot.

    As long as the tempo was within your skill level. That's all it is, it's not magic or difficult. Generally it becomes more difficult from lack of being able to recognize rhythmic and melodic patterns. And you can't recognize them unless you've trained yourself to.

    All the previous posts were really great, very cool dialects.

  21. #120

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    Kind of. Indian music and chinese music certainly need translation and understanding to most, just even to hear and comprehend what's going on - with all of those extra notes for example in Indian music. But that's like saying you don't need translation because every language and culture has a dog in it and we all know what dog means. Not all cultures call middle C middle C.
    They don't have to. It's the same note on the piano whether you're Chinese or Brazilian or German or Australian. (In other words, what we notate as middle C is NOT an English word or a German word or a Chinese word. It is not a word, period. It is a pitch.)

    If you're talking about another kind of music--in this case, Indian---then it's just that, another kind of music. There are non-Euclidean geometries too but they don't change Euclidean geometry.

    I don't think this is getting us anywhere though. Musical pitches are not the words of a spoken language. (They may be referred to in spoken languages, and the letter--- A, B, C---a speaker of one language uses can differ from the letter name a speaker of another language uses.) But musical pitches are not at all terms in the way "dog" (in English) is. They're wholly different animals! ;o)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  22. #121

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    Take a simple 8 bar phrase of mixed quarter, eighth, and half notes, with no dynamic markings and play them on any instrument.....guitar, piano, bassoon, or whatever, and you have a purely mathematical sequence of pitches (frequencies); a computer could do this just fine - just feed in the MIDI info and push the button. To me, you really don't get any music out of that excercise, just an infinite number of different arrangements of pitches. Where the music comes in is the FEELING invoked by the player. For instance, classical guitar players study a piece intensely to determine the best way to perform that string of frequecies to relate their feelings and emotions to the listener. Listen to a MIDI file of any classical piece, then listen to Christopher Parkening play it.....you'll definitely hear (and feel) a difference. That's why I don't like the, what I like to call, 'mindless improvisation' performed by many modern jazz artists. It seems that they've forgotten to put any emotion into their playing. I have a good friend locally who's a very accomplished (even college trained, partially) guitarist who spends hours playing scales, arpeggios, modes, amd dissecting chords and he can play you any scale you could imagine off the top of his head without thinking twice, BUT, when he plays with a group, even though he knows all the licks and hooks to all the tunes, his playing is sterile and uninteresting and to make it worse, he uses a compressor to maintain an even volume level - no feeling, no emotion, no dynamics...no nothin'. Personally, I'd rather hear a player play with some passion and fire and hit a clam every now and then than to just hear a string of mathematically perfect notes. I think Chet Atkins once said that if you hit a wrong note or make a mistake, do it again and people will think you did it on purpose!

  23. #122

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    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  24. #123

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    They don't have to. It's the same note on the piano whether you're Chinese or Brazilian or German or Australian. (In other words, what we notate as middle C is NOT an English word or a German word or a Chinese word. It is not a word, period. It is a pitch.)

    If you're talking about another kind of music--in this case, Indian---then it's just that, another kind of music. There are non-Euclidean geometries too but they don't change Euclidean geometry.

    I don't think this is getting us anywhere though. Musical pitches are not the words of a spoken language. (They may be referred to in spoken languages, and the letter--- A, B, C---a speaker of one language uses can differ from the letter name a speaker of another language uses.) But musical pitches are not at all terms in the way "dog" (in English) is. They're wholly different animals! ;o)
    Once again I'm talking reading music. But then again you're avoiding my example of DOG, which I believe is the same thing. DOG is dog, just like pitch is pitch, in other languages. We have different symbols to conceptualize each.

  25. #124
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    After observing how two of my children became very competent sight readers, compliments of the k-12 public school system, it comes down to common sense. Music educators have assembled musical primers that consist of collections of commonly known simple melodies, "nursery rhyme" level like Twinkle Twinkle, Three Blind Mice, etc. that are ingrained into many children's memories. These are not random collections, but assembled to impart the most rhythmic and melodic bang for the buck.
    This is it. There's a lot of value in working rote repetition and familiar tunes at the beginning of learning to read. It's very basic pedagogy on all instruments. The problem comes when we talk about learning to "sight read" when what's really needed are basic reading skills regardless of familiarity or repetition.

    "Sight" reading is a more advanced skill and assumes basic reading competency. When learning new skills (fingerings, rhythms, keys or positions etc.) repetition and familiarity are actually extremely helpful for reinforcing the new and unfamiliar. It's common practice in all basic music pedagogy, whether for adults or children.

    Also, learning to read jazz on guitar from a fake book or whatever can be very problematic even if you already read at some of level on guitar. Guitar in the classical tradition, is a transposed instrument, whereas i think jazzers tend to read things from charts at concert pitch. With classical, everything is kind of an extension of open position. If you're used to that you're almost starting over.

    If you're starting from scratch in that sense, I'd think it would be helpful to look at pedagogy for beginning readers. If you look at beginner materials, they begin simply and gradually add complexity.

    To start: limit pitch to mostly one key, one position, simple rhythms, and for God's sake, practice the stuff repeatedly. Memorization isn't a "problem" unless you're practicing actual "sight" reading. Cosmic's novel analogy is great. Reading in F or Bb is much easier when you can read in C. People that talk about the "waste" of playing things you've played before are talking about pure sight reading. That's a different beast.

    Learning to read in all keys and positions at once is the opposite of helpful at the beginning. You'll get further faster working from a basic foundation. You can see patterns like sentences only in the context of that with which you are FAMILIAR. If it's all unfamiliar you're not going to see the patterns.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 10-23-2014 at 03:28 PM.

  26. #125

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    Henry, Mark,

    excuse me interference, but since I initiated this 'off-top' comparison with language, I feel a bit responsible for it...

    When we translate we do not translate signs as they are, we translate meanings. We do not translate letters but words, so it is not middle C what is important , it is important in which context we find it, what relations it makes with other sound -and how these relations are understood?

    The problem is that we are used to verbal language bacuase as Mark truly said it is communicative and we often take it as a final reality... though actually it is only a matter of conviction (Bill Evans))) and convention... yes, we just maid a sort of agreement in certain community that the set of sounds 'dog' mean a certain animal... but we go deeper into perception of language we will see that even with dog each of us means something different actually (even when we know that we speak about the same dog we take it differently) - look around, we actully need translations within our native languge between native speakers, because people all the way just dio not understand each other... and when they consider language to be final reality, that words are exactly wnat they mean then we have social problems... I believe the only possibility to use communicative language fruitfully is toremember that is is just a matter of conviction and convention, just a relative tool to support communication between persons...

    But in art it is a bit different, in art there is no defined convention, only conviction.... not translation actually is possible because it is either you understand or not.... BUT before you ounch me back))) - there is a possibility to use our communicative langiage and to describe to another person how it works in your perception and may be the other one also sees it...

    So I think we should compare directly language of art with your communicative language... take writers they use words but they actually create their own language of art of it. Maybe there is civilization somewhere that uses pitches as communication language also?
    After all there are some oriental languages where pitch makes difference in meaning... of course it is not music.

    In musica there are meanings for sure that work in a culture, if you belong to teh culture you can more or less feel it... it is very complex subject and may take pages to go therough...

    Just thisnk of the simplest sample that dissonance had to be resolved for many years and now we can easily leave it unresolved... so now we lose the meaning of what was called lamento in European tradinion?
    and that triplets were immediately understood as movement of devilish powers? Or do we immediately identify 'motive of cross' in baroque music? And does this motive make sence when it occasionally comes up in Montgomery's improvisassion? What is occasional? After all he might hear it?

    To undertand all this and to aovoid creating a mess of it we have to study musical language of culture, how music works, what make tences, realeases, feel of time and eterninty, sence of calm and passion...

    But writing is just writing as I said sometimes it is important also in a retrospective way but in general... so this all language stuff turned out to be off-top here

  27. #126

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    Yes. Well I may differ in some opinions because I believe thinking uses words and language but is not language. I don't think in words for example. Mostly I think in concepts. Sometimes there's a lag trying to find the correct word that fits the concept. It's the same for me with music. Music = concepts of space, time, sound, rhythms, emotions, colors, imagined space and dimension. It's not C or 16th notes. But those are symbols used to convey those musical concepts to others, or to tuck away for myself for future reference.

    Communication is the sending concepts across a distance of time and space to another or oneself. Or it is receiving concepts from another or even some thing. I might not have a real conversation with my dog but I certainly can communicate with him. I can communicate with my music and not even be there, no words. But if I want someone to read some music I wrote we must agree on the symbology. That's a language that uses crotchets, rests, measures, staves, time signatures, dynamic markings, keys, etc. And the more those symbols are understood the better one can communicate. You can hear it but you cannot read it. You cannot communicate with that staff paper.

  28. #127

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    Moving this back on topic and less in the philosophical realm, that's why it's so important to KNOW the symbols and what those symbols mean. They define the concepts. If they are loosely known or understood, it will create confusion and lead to more mistakes in your reading. The FIRST step I do when I teach students to read is to thoroughly go over the page an make sure every symbol is fully understood.

  29. #128

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    Once again I'm talking reading music. But then again you're avoiding my example of DOG, which I believe is the same thing. DOG is dog, just like pitch is pitch, in other languages. We have different symbols to conceptualize each.
    I'm not avoiding 'dog,' Henry. As I learned as a kid; "Dog is a noun. His nose is round. His tail sticks up. His, er, ears hang down."

    "Dog" is not a musical pitch. A musical pitch is not a word. The difference is one reason why Shakespeare plays may be (and have been) translated into Chinese, Italian, Spanish, and many other languages but the musical compositions of Mozart and Bach cannot be translated because they aren't in that kind of language, period.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  30. #129

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    EXACTLY!!! It's a different KIND of language!!!

  31. #130

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    Look Mark a language contains symbols that are used to communicate ideas and concepts. The verbal languages of English and German use word symbols. A PITCH is a symbol. It is a THING that is defined by a sound and a word, a noun, that can be indentified in an verbal language. MUSIC is a language that uses symbols to convey musical concepts.

  32. #131

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett View Post
    EXACTLY!!! It's a different KIND of language!!!
    That was always my point, and it is a language without words and it is a language in which the notion of translation is inappropriate.. (You can't translate numbers either. Math isn't that kind of language.)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  33. #132

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    This thread could use a quick primer on use/mention distinction.

    Use scare quotes "X" when you want to talk about a word as a symbol.

    Do not use scare quotes when you want to talk about the meaning of a word.

    For example:

    "Dog" has three letters.

    A dog is a faithful friend.

    So, Mark is saying that middle C is the same pitch no matter what. Henry is saying that "middle C" may be written in many different ways. I am contending that sight reading is dependent on both quickly understanding "middle C" and being able to find middle C quickly and in a convenient location on the guitar.

  34. #133

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    Still no clips from targuit?
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  35. #134

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    That was always my point, and it is a language without words and it is a language in which the notion of translation is inappropriate.. (You can't translate numbers either. Math isn't that kind of language.)
    I gave up on this thread. But I have to say, of COURSE numbers can be translated. The number 5 translates to holding the five fingers of your hand up.