View Poll Results: Shapes or notes? What, in your opinion, is more important?

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  • Shapes

    29 14.15%
  • Notes

    29 14.15%
  • Both

    133 64.88%
  • I kind of just fiddle around and hope to hit the right notes.

    14 6.83%
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  1. #151

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Readers are shapes players too
    True but improvisation is a lot more like composing than reading.

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  3. #152

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    True but improvisation is a lot more like composing than reading.
    Well my tutor said this, which is counter intuitive and interesting.

    Reading and improvisation have a lot in common.

    You aren’t reading notes. You are composing a piece from a set of symbolic instructions. If you know lots of Mozart you are better at reading Mozart.

    I’m better at sight reading Charlie Parker than Coltrane, for instance. Transcribing too.

    Good sight readers are therefore master improvisers within a very specific framework.

  4. #153

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Well my tutor said this, which is counter intuitive and interesting.

    Reading and improvisation have a lot in common.

    You aren’t reading notes. You are composing a piece from a set of symbolic instructions. If you know lots of Mozart you are better at reading Mozart.

    I’m better at sight reading Charlie Parker than Coltrane, for instance. Transcribing too.

    Good sight readers are therefore master improvisers within a very specific framework.
    I don't see it. Knowing how to read isn't necessary to improvise well. And, being able to improvise doesn't mean you can read anything.

    Reading is not composing. It is following coded instructions. Or is there a joke I'm missing here?

  5. #154

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I don't see it. Knowing how to read isn't necessary to improvise well. And, being able to improvise doesn't mean you can read anything.

    Reading is not composing. It is following coded instructions. Or is there a joke I'm missing here?
    Reading = sight reading here. Generally that’s how people use it in my neck of the woods. If you say you can read you are saying you can sight read.

    I could ask my tutor if he was joking but I don’t think he was. One point he made is actually good sight readers familiar with a composer’s style will correct misprints. So they aren’t actually reading the notes.

    OTOH actually quite a lot of professional sight reading is ‘faking it’ and keeping the flow going in those sections that are too hard to read accurately at first glance. (Obviously this wouldn’t happen for familiar repertoire, but with hard new music it’s common.) What is the musician doing in these situations?

    (I do the same thing in chord charts very often when the harmony is a little busy and non standard. I do what I can and keep the beat going. OTOH if I see a heavily subbed chord progression on a fast number I see the basic progression and then add on the subs in my head, catching as many as I can. No doubt you do something similar.)

    And what makes a good reader? Same thing as an improviser. Lost of contact with music, lots of playing experience with other musicians. (This is why those atonal reading exercises I think are kind of unhelpful unless you mean to sight read Webern for a living - music is a language not a collection of syllables.)

    I’m not sure how much I agree, but I’m entertaining the thought as I’m always interested in finding commonalities and unities.

    Improvising is not making up music on the spot either. Not really. Not most of time. Master improvisers can approach this closer, and others create that impression by being very skilled, but everyone starts by using licks and composed material before they are ready to move onto other techniques. (At least that’s the proven, time honoured way to start.)

    So there’s not in effect any difference between a learning player improvising with 50 Parker licks you learned off the records and sight reading solos from the Omnibook - if you understand how the notation represents the lines. Ask a horn player.

    Shapes, right?

    Of course when you start doing your own stuff, you can do this. But you pass through a process of becoming familiar with music. Most guitarists don’t do that through notation....
    Last edited by christianm77; 09-18-2019 at 05:38 AM.

  6. #155

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77

    OTOH actually quite a lot of professional sight reading is ‘faking it’ and keeping the flow going in those sections that are too hard to read accurately at first glance. (Obviously this wouldn’t happen for familiar repertoire, but with hard new music it’s common.) What is the musician doing in these situations?
    So a very excellent sight reader never have to improvise.

    I see some overlap of skills. But I don't think it goes far enough to draw too many parallels between sight reading and improvisation.

  7. #156

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    Also professional classical players I know never put themselves in a situation where they have to read completely new music realtime in a performance. They are given their parts in advance also they often find recordings to listen to. There is almost always rehearsals. All these reduce if not eliminate the need to fake things on the spot.

  8. #157

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Also professional classical players I know never put themselves in a situation where they have to read completely new music realtime in a performance. They are given their parts in advance also they often find recordings to listen to. There is almost always rehearsals. All these reduce if not eliminate the need to fake things on the spot.
    Reading on the gig is commonplace in here in London, though it would usually be of a style the player is familiar with. My wife used to do gigs in church sight singing one voice a part, for instance. No one can afford to pay anyone to rehearse. Turn up and sing a service for £50. (Half of these people have been doing that shit since age 6 anyway at choir school.) Probably the stuff is familiar stylistically. And that's considered an unremarkable level of musicianship. That wouldn't get you into the BBC Singers or the Sixteen.

    Obviously you aren't reading in front of an audience not for big/prestigious concerts, but extremely common not just in classical music. And in fact, it is often the case (unless it's John Eliot Gardner or someone who can get more rehearsal time) the WHOLE piece won't have been rehearsed, just troublesome corners.

    One reason why the LSO got all the calls to do film music for ages is because they were CHEAP. Less rehearsal required, music good enough for purpose.

    West end deps too, turn up, sight read a show. You make one mistake, you don't get the call again. Rhythm section players tend to get charts in advance, but most of the horn players I know are beast readers.

    It's funny, kind of fits the (posh) UK mentality which I think is damaging not just to our music. Turn up unprepared, pull it out of the hat, look like sloppy genius. Cultivate a studied nonchalance. Never look like you've worked at it.

  9. #158

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    It's funny, kind of fits the (posh) UK mentality which I think is damaging not just to our music. Turn up unprepared, pull it out of the hat, look like sloppy genius. Cultivate a studied nonchalance. Never look like you've worked at it.
    I'm surprised that's how English see themselves. I always though that English culture valued doing things properly and took more pride in hardwork than talent or luck. May be you guys are just good at faking it

  10. #159

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    Also, orchestras are one thing, but I actually had in mind the instrumentalists I had most contact with as a classical singer - repetiteurs and accompanists. That's sight reading on an (to me) insane level, and without them the classical singing world would simply fall apart.

    They aren't sight reading in performance, but they are for masterclasses, lessons and so on... It's such an important skill.

    Many of the ones who work with singers are able to switch into Broadway and (mainstream) jazz modes as well - sight transpose, read notation from closed or open score, figured bass, chord symbols as well as a slew of other practical musicianship skills.

    To talk about reading in performance or not is a bit irrelevant, because you are still very often sight reading under pressure.

    Sight reading is an everyday skill that gets used all the time in professional music of any kind, at least in my experience.

  11. #160

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I'm surprised that's how English see themselves. I always though that English culture valued doing things properly and took more pride in hardwork than talent or luck. May be you guys are just good at faking it
    Well, there is fakery involved for sure. But the whole thing is to appear as if you didn't do any work.

  12. #161

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Well, there is fakery involved for sure. But the whole thing is to appear as if you didn't do any work.
    Tommy Tedesco made it look easy..he did "fake" some of his parts..there is a a vid o him telling some studio stories about this kind of stuff

    when you reach studio musician levels your really in a very different world of playing ...the Steely Dan and other "studio musician" groups were far from off the cuff improvising

    Herbie Hancock mentions a John Coltrain solo..on the Kind of Blue album ..he says with total surprise in his voice.."...he just played a major scale!!.."
    Last edited by wolflen; 09-19-2019 at 09:09 PM.

  13. #162

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolflen
    Tommy Tedesco made it look easy..he did "fake" some of his parts..there is a a vid o him telling some studio stories about this kind of stuff

    when you reach studio musician levels your really in a very different world of playing ...the Steely Dan and other "studio musician" groups were far from off the cuff improvising

    Herbie Hancock mentions a John Coltrain solo..on the Kind of Blue album ..he says with total surprise in his voice.."...he just played a major scale!!.."
    Sure.... but here’s a thing. How well do you think a classical musician would do in a Steely Dan session?

  14. #163

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    I am believer of the shapes. But not maybe not as is sounds first hear. I see chord shapes and only knowing the root as absolute note, and exactly knowing all places and places around which degree it is, relative to the root. So for example in every minor chord or scale shape I know where are the 6th the 9th and minor and major 7th to create dorian melody or emphasize more the minor tonality without knowing the note absolute names.

    I think this is a great advantage of guitar to relate shapes with music regardless the absolute tonality, not caring about it is Ab Major or eb minor, which is not possible on piano or sax.

  15. #164

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    It does make it easier to play Cherokee

  16. #165

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    There is a certain amount of pain that needs to be suffered to internalize a concept (called learning). Mind is lazy, it's possible the know the notes on the fretboard, understand chord and scale construction and yet not be able to instantly connect that knowledge with chord grips, scale and arpeggio shapes. Those areas of knowledge seem to remain compartmentalized unless one works on unifiying them.

    Here is what I mean. Suppose you're working on soloing over a tune, say you got Ab7 Db7 then EbMaj7 ahead of you, you're playing lines that connect these chords while mentally referencing some shapes/positions for these chords that you're comfortable with.
    Now while playing say in the second beat of Db7 bar shift to the "note view". You want to continue playing lines but make sure you are aware of the notes. Not thinking 3rd and 7th but F and Cb (in the case of Db7) for example. It doesn't need to be a fast tempo, 80bpm.

    Does it feel very slow? Does it take a lot of mental afford? Or is it seamless? Of course you can figure out the notes. But it's slow and painful if you're not used to that view. That's what I mean by compartmentalized knowledge.

    It takes certain amount of practice time and pain until shifting views gets more internalized, instant and painless (like anything in musical development). I'm not there yet myself but "shifting views" is part of my practice routine and it's working.

    So the thread topic is whether having easy access to the "note view" is useful at all. It's hard to prove one way or another. I'm just not willing to abandon working on the "note view" as it feels like it sheds lights into an otherwise blind area.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 01-13-2020 at 12:59 PM.