View Poll Results: Art Blakey said, “Opinions are like assholes, everyone’s got one.” - Do you have one?

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  • Yes, but I'd rather keep it to my self

    4 20.00%
  • Yes, and I will be expressing it in this post

    6 30.00%
  • Wait, which one do you mean? An asshole or an opinion?

    5 25.00%
  • Who is this Art Blakey fella'? He sounds strange.

    5 25.00%
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Posts 1 to 36 of 36
  1. #1

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    Hey guys,

    I'm quite philosophically minded when it comes to music and guitar... especially in Jazz. I always like to question my approach, and compare it to the ways that players like Wes, Charlie, Kenny, Django, Emily, George, Grant, Joe and the rest learnt to play.
    As Joe Lovano says, "We are meant to be practicing playing... not practicing practice." - What a good point.

    So... here are my most recent thoughts.

    With all the books, DVD's, courses, tutorials and other junk out there on the net these days... perhaps we have completely lost the point of music?
    I mean, you look at someone like Robert Conti (please do check out: http://au.youtube.com/watch?v=66A8Y0dAo5g --- crazy huh?)
    Now Robert thinks scales and modes are a load of nonsense, and he believes it's a huge distraction when it comes to actually playing.
    Now I know that this is going to spark quite a discussion... but have any of you questioned this before?
    I believe to create something new, you must question the old.
    Why does the music community believe that you must learn each scale top to bottom in every key, if you are to be able to play great music?

    It's funny when you ask players like Metheny, Scofield and the like what they practiced when they were starting off. I remember this question was asked at a recent Scofield workshop.
    You know what he said? "I've never been organized at all. And I don't think I've ever read a book about music past the first few pages. I just... played."
    This shocked probably about 95% of the audience... because they were (as many of us do) expecting the 'magical potion' which will turn us all into John Scofields.

    How is it that someone like Robert Conti can play so confidently, so accurately, so creatively, and in instances, so quickly without even knowing basic theory? I mean, sure, on the basis of seeing one of his single videos, one may state that he is just a licks or patterns player... but if you check out his entire career... to be honest, he can play anything!

    So here is my conclusion so far.

    INTERVALS are soooo very important. They are the atoms of music - as Mark Levine puts it.
    And on this basis we can create chords... or harmony.
    Why learn a bunch of scales that will go over the harmony, when the main notes you want to target are the notes that are actually IN the harmony?
    If we know what notes are IN the harmony... that means that all other notes in the key will work, and every other note is a passing note.

    Things move around too quickly these days, and songs are not even written in 'keys' any more - scales just aren't efficient enough to keep up.
    I think INTERVALS are the key, when you know and understand intervals, you can create any "scale" or any melody, any harmony, any lick or line, any colour or tone you want, straight off the cuff.

    Therefore, when you know what a particular interval sounds like, you can create anything! This narrows the gap between your mind, your ear and your creativity, because you don't rely on a picture to express what you hear in your head, but your ear and your hands know how to create those melodies on the fly.

    Of course, this is all coupled with knowing the notes on the fretboard damn well, and knowing your intervals. I know for sure that this is how (for example) Wanye Krantz approaches improv.

    On every instrument the first thing one does is to learn the notes (think of piano, sax, trumpet, anything!) so why is guitar any different?

    I fear that we have become a generation of 'visual' musicians, seeing only patterns and relying on them to create melodies, but not really utilizing what music is all about... our ears!
    I see the same thing in Audio Engineering (I am currently completing my Dip. in Music Industry at SAE) - my class is made up of accountants and intellectuals who can grasp the theory like a piece of cake. But when it comes to actually being in a studio where you must rely on your ears to create, it's a whole different story. And of course when they are using software, they can just bring up a few presets, therefore creating a bunch of 'Academic or Visual Engineers' but not 'Audio Engineers'.

    But I guess the biggest step to creative and musical freedom is overcoming fear. This plays a huge role... because we tend to think that there is a 'right' way to play, and if we don't figure out what that is... we won't be able to perform. Lies.

    Here are a few quotes from the greats:


    "Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art."
    Charlie Parker

    “The most important thing I look for in a musician is whether he knows how to listen.”
    Duke Ellington

    “Do not fear mistakes. There are none.”
    Miles Davis

    “Don’t bullshit… just play.”
    Wynton Marsalis

    “Wrong is right.”
    Thelonious Monk

    “There is no such thing as a wrong note.”
    Art Tatum

    “It bugs me when people try to analyze jazz as an intellectual theorem. It’s not. It’s feeling.”
    Bills Evans

    Annnnd my favourite of all time:

    “Opinions are like assholes . . . everyone’s got one.”
    Art Blakey

    I donno, I'm still thinking about all this... but yeah, let me know what you guys think - let's try to keep it sane though haha.

    Cheers,
    Andy

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Yes there is a lot of snake oil out there, but that doesn't mean that all the approaches are bunk.

    Jazz is a seemingly very complex form of music to learn. However, alot of the complexity is an illusion. I seems to me that most accomplished musicians create the illusion of complexity by applying simple concepts in a masterful way. They layer, overlap and manipulate thiese simple concept to produce endless melodies and harmonies. The simple concept can be scales, intervals, arpegios, licks or visual shapes on the guitar. Any one approach can yield extraodinary results depending on the time and effort.

    Often, the problem with books is when the writer tries to apply their own approach to someone elses music. Wolf Marshall is a case in point, where he thinks that it is possible to learn anyone's style by coping licks, even though most great guitar players don't think this way. If you want to know how a master thinks, go to the master or at least their own publications.

    Another problem is when students buy too many books and the various "simple concepts" start to collide and confuse.

    IMO the best way to deal with book/DVD acquisition syndrome is to pick a simple approach that makes sense to your level and stick with it until it yields fruit.

  4. #3

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    You make some good points, especially about the intervals. That's the underpinning of it all.

    The rest is just learning where the intervals are and experimenting with using the ones together that give you the sound you want to hear.

    But the books can make it happen a lot faster. Otherwise, learning music is just all trial-and-error based playing by ear. You definitely can make music that way. But for all but the most gifted, that method is simply too long. The theory books help jump start that process.

    But once you get the musical concepts down, then you are eventually just left with taking those arps, scales, and chords and making music with them.

    The greats are like everyone who accomplishes something over time - they forget the journey then they just tell some poor sap who is just starting "there are no wrong notes" or "just feel it, listen, and play." Yeah, yeah, but you have to have a palette before you can paint a masterpiece. The books give you the palette. Then it's up to the artist.

  5. #4

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    There are a lot of books out there. In my opinion and experience %90 of them are the same rehashed pieces of theoretical information that completely miss the point and are counter-intuative.

    I am no great master of this music, and I'm not going to be turning anyone's ears over and I'm not going to win any downbeat awards etc etc. But I can play, I know I can because I do at every turn I get. Sessions, gigs whatever is happenin I want to be involved. I never once told someone "I can't play, I have to shed" because I heard so many cats say that and those cats weren't getting it. So they knew scales, voicings, transcribed a few licks but when the downbeat hit they couldn't make it happen.

    The only real way to learn this music is to do it with other people and preverably with more experienced guys then you are at the time. You are elevated that way. The Jazz industry hunts down guitarists especially. Everyone and their grandmother has a method on how to improvise. Some of them might work for you and not for me and the other way around.

    All the Theory in the world is useless unless you can put into the real context that it is naturally supposed to be in. One student asked what scale to play over a chord change on a tune (can't remember) and I said, don't think just play. It took him a few tries to let go ofhis brain's hold over his fingers but he figured it out. Then I told him, okay now you tell me what you played and that's the answer to your question.

    People learn to play backwards a lot now. It's the fault of the education system as much as it is the Publishing industry. I had a student this semester that litteraly came to University and couldn't read music... Seriously, not even knowing the names of the notes on the grand staff. I thought, man this guy is a mold of clay to shape a great musician with, as long as he'll work in the proper things and gets out and gets himself beat up a bit.

    But low and behold, I have a method... learn your fundamentals and get jamming as fast and as soon as you can. Yes, we all have to spend time in the shed to get technique together, to learn those basic things. But one you know a few tunes then for God's sakes I have no idea why you wouldn't get out there and play. I had a student this semester who never played Jazz with another human being until his first lesson with me and now he jams every day and will jump up about 6 ensembles this semester because he "got" what I was telling him. Other guys didn't jam and guess what, they all will drop ensemble ranking this semester.

  6. #5
    Yeah, definitely. You both have great points.
    It's not really the books that are "bad" - it's more the reliance on them.
    As you say, learning and APPLYING some of the simple basics really well is more important than simply knowing the entire content of a book. For theory is useless unless we have something we can apply it to.

    But yeah, I think no matter what approach is taken, it should be one that leads to freedom and creativity in music, not something that you become reliant on, because at the end of the day, it's not about theory or approaches , it's about creating and enjoying what we love. And about creating a platform, or a foundation, that supports that freedom and creativity.

    Also, I think it's important to make sure that we can build upon everything we learn - because in music, everything is related anyway. And the means by which everything is related is through intervals. Intervals make up everything; chords, scales, melodies, licks, arpeggios... you name it!
    You've gotta start from the roots and then make your way up.

  7. #6
    Jake. You've nailed it mate.
    So true, so true.

    Music is only really music when it's being played. Apart from that it's just theory, and theory doesn't really mean anything, it's just an attempt to explain something, so that academics can say, "Well that's a Cmaj7 arpeggio"
    Don't get me wrong, the theory is great, and I am a huge theory nut, but it should not be something we get tied to. Learn the basics, then PLAY... and let the basics develop themselves. Also, listening is such a huge part.

    But as you say Jake, it is hugely the fault of the education system. I am a strong believer that learning comes only through interest, and through discovery.

    I mean, how did you learn to walk? You didn't sit down with a book entitled, "Walking for Dummies" - and then spend a few years looking into the physics behind movement did you? Nope. You tried a few times, fell on your arse, but after a while you began to find your feet. And I strongly believe that is the only way you truly learn something... through experience and through desire and interest.

  8. #7

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    As the owner of over 30 jazz instructional vids (not counting the twice monthly video lessons done with Tony DeCaprio last year), and dozens of musical instruction books, including Conti's, I can confidently say that there is nothing wrong with books and vids. Besides getting important information, we are helping support some of our favorite players by purchasing them.

    Imo, the problem lies in the combination of marketing and laziness on our part that says something to the effect that we are just one book away from putting it all together, or something like that. Most of us do not have the discipline to do what jazzaluk suggests when he said pick a method and stick with it.

    You have read me say this before, but as soon as jazz left the bandstand and entered the classroom, this process began in earnest. If as an intermediate player (I am), I want to get some performance experience and play with others who are better, where is the opportunity for that? Most if not all of that is dried up. Now if you want to go to a blues jam or open mic for rock/pop stuff, fine, there are still opportunities for that. good luck playing your Parker changes blues in THAT setting.

    So how is a player to get this going? BIAB, and a couple dozen of your favorite titles with our without lessons from the local guy seems to be a common solution. Not sure if it works or not, but I get plenty out of all the stuff I have purchased, and if something I get doesn't work for me, I ebay it.

  9. #8
    Yeah good point Derek.
    I too have loads of educational products (on my laptop alone, I have over 126 folders of educational material - pdfs, vids, etc).
    But I totally agree with what you said... "we [think we] are just one book away from putting it all together" - you have no idea how many times I have had that thought!!!!
    I think the problem these days is our busy lifestyle. No one really has time to just forget about responsibilities, and simply... JAM!
    My brother, I, and two good friends (guitarist & bassist) used to get together quite a bit and simply jam for hours, we could somehow read each other and we'd somehow know exactly where we wanted to go.
    But now they have loans and houses and wives and cars and jobs... and along with all that... no time!
    It really is a shame.

    But yeah totally agree that there is nothing wrong with the products and information... it's just what we do with them that counts.

    By the way, what are the Conti DVD's like?

  10. #9

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    If I grew up in a small town in Eastern Canada and found myself playing 4 nights a week in sessions or gigs then it is possible.

    It's so easy to say there's no gigs, there's no where to play. It's not true. If you're expectations are high then becareful what you think will happen. I know right now I could make 1 phone call and have a session in about an hour with good young players... that is because we have a good jazz program at our University.

    I know I could get a weekly gig here every tuesday night probably in January because I went and pounded pavement and worked out bookings and for some bread. Venues don't look for Jazz in most cases, but if you come to them then they often times will give it a try and then it's up to you to try and get people to come out and keep it alive. Sometimes there's only so much you can do and leave the rest up to fate.

    Then comes the very important and often not asked question of what is your goal anyway? Are you a hobbiest or are you looking to actually do something professionally. These are different extremes. Me, I hunt for gigs in the area because I am a professional and want to get out there and play. It's hard, not easy in any way at all but when you're out there it is far to much fun to pass up the chance to play again and again.

    Books server there purpose, and when people buy them then that's fine. I have plenty of books, but none of them are the same subject matter and all specialize in something I'm working on or have worked on in the past. Most books I have are just reading materials to get my sight reading skills to a reasonable level.

    Methods, I just try and play and listen as much as I can.

  11. #10

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    Just because there's a wealth of instructional materials doesn't mean one has to use them. Personally, I think it's good that I can find a book or a DVD to give me a bit of a boost in my musical self-education. When I was first learning to play (in the mid-1960s) there wasn't much instructional material readily available except for classical guitar and folk strumming (cowboy chords).

    Bruno and Scofield claim they lack formal training. So what? This is true of a lot of musicians. If pushed, I'm sure they'd cite as the reasons for their success: (a) learning at feet of masters, and (b) learning on the bandstand.

    That's great for them, but a lot of players (I'd hazard a guess that it's really the *vast majority* of players) don't have access to either master players or to sessions involving musicians at the top of their game. A lot of that access is location-dependent and situational: most of us can't afford to quit our day jobs and move to NYC or LA to insert ourselves into those music scenes. Does that signify a failure of commitment to music on the pro level? Of course it does. But there are those of us who would prefer to enjoy playing music without it becoming our sole means of support. At least we can get "secondhand" access to the master players through their books and DVDs.

    I'm primarily an intuitive player. Unfortunately my intuition (and my ear, and my technique) fails me in certain musical contexts. When I want to climb a particular learning curve to overcome some self-identified limitation I turn to the books and DVDs because I learn best (not more quickly, but more effectively) on my own.

    I believe that all great players study, by whatever name they choose to call the process of learning and applying new concepts. What bothers me *much more* than the players who can't break away from their practiced routines to actually create (i.e. invent) new music are the wizened "professionals" (especially and particularly in academia) who claim to possess and disseminate the "true knowledge" of a particular musical field. Obviously not every teacher/professor/instructor does this, but it seems to me that jazz has more than its share of this kind of person, surpassed only by those in the classical music disciplines. In my opinion these people, through teaching of close-mindedness backed by the authority of their position, do much more harm to music than any self-directed instructional materials.

  12. #11

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    if you spend enough time on the guitar (3-4 hrs per day) you will find what you are looking for...but is that to sound "like someone"....to play joe pass solos note for note (a noble task)...you listen and analize what has been played before...you study from books (one facet at a time)....the question is what are your goals...really...just play...listen....how did you just make that chord sound so good...time on the instrument... become your own hero..play it your way...didn't joe pass say "just forget all that stuff and play"...what you mind tells your fingers to do is the key....time on the guitar........pierre........

  13. #12

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    Actually, this really hit home with me. I have books, dvd's, cd's, notes from my lessons...plus lots of material from this and other sites.

    What I don't have is enough time to assimilate them all. 50 year old bloke, currently very stressful job, wife & 2 kids (one teen, one pre-teen), finding enough time to devote to any one thing is difficult enough. But when there's

    Chords
    Arpeggios
    Learning to solo over changes
    Comping
    Learning to read music
    Learning songs
    Trying to put a band together

    to do, then it's all starting to get too much. I'm going to have to be more discriminating in future and do one thing at a time, and structure my practicing.

  14. #13

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    Yes when you do not have "much" time it seems frustrating because you do not get anything done...you need to write yourself a plan of attack....say you only get 15 min...use that 15 for chord study and nothing else...next time 15 of arppegios and so on...get my way of thinking...if you have 30 min then half of one thing and half of another...then you can say I did 15 min of arppegio studies today instead of I ran a few chords and read a few bars of music then played my favorite song...make your goals small and stick to them and you will progress even with the little time you have available on the guitar..let me have 15 min dear and we will go out for dinner or something like that (smile)...time on the instrument...pierre....

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by andihopkins
    Hey guys,

    I'm quite philosophically minded when it comes to music and guitar... especially in Jazz. I always like to question my approach, and compare it to the ways that players like Wes, Charlie, Kenny, Django, Emily, George, Grant, Joe and the rest learnt to play.
    If I would have trained exactly like Mozart would I have wrote a great symphony by the age of 6? Would I have perfect pitch?

    My point is that not all of us have the same amount of talent, what was the most efficient way for those greats to learn guitar may not be the most efficient way for me to learn. Perhaps the books and DVDs and scales etc. have more value to one with more average talent.

  16. #15

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    I think folks are forgetting the innate beauty of instructional material in it's own right. To a lot of us "education" types, ed materials are very satisfying in, perhaps, a more philosophical and historic sense than just a means to an end, i.e playing!!

    I had a professor who always used to say, "we love the music"; he was actually referring to the written sheet music and it's own intrinsic art. Written music is this great and abstract "code" that enables us to reach back into history and convey something that could be hundreds of years old with incredible accuracy. I guess there is also an oral tradition when one thinks of blues and jazz, but oral traditions are easily lost!

    I too have rarely seen any GREAT instructional method books, I can think of a few, but I think this shows how hard it is to define this thing, music. Hundreds of years of relative continuity in western music and few great texts!

    My main gripe with method books is that they always show note values, note positions, chords, a few etudes, then something like "Camptown Races" or some such song, not idiomatic to the instrument. They move too fast, in general. Remember great musicians are by no means great teachers.

    I have so many music books and they are all just little portals into a huge abyss of music.

    Sailor

  17. #16

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    I think books can be good or bad to different people. For me I grew up as a very visual learner. Having studied classical music for many years I found I could learn faster if I had music in front of me. So I did learn a lot from transcription and method books as a young student. So for a visual learner these method books can be a good thing, though sorting through all the junk out there can be a bit of a daunting task, especially if one can only afford to buy a book or two at a time.

    These days I have found that I am more of an audio learner, so I learn much more from listening or transcribing than I do from method books etc. But I still have students that are visual learners and so with those specific cases I do recommend certain books for them to work through. Though it seems in recent years I have tended to put together my own teaching material and relied less on books written by others.

    I think it's up to each individual whether they will benefit from method books or not. What can be frustrating is when someone buys two or three books that turn out to be a wast of time and money, where they could have chosen a different set of books that would have been very beneficial.

    MW

  18. #17

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    I'd have to say that a good balance between understanding and expression is really helpful when developing a style. I think you can tell when someone is playing from their head and not their heart. However, coming from a 25 year long blues/rock career, I can tell you that a lack of theory among players, especially guitarists in that genre, is a very frustrating thing when it comes to communication. When jamming with others, theory is our quickest line of communication. The problem is, that outside of jazz and classical, most guitarists these days don't understand theory well at all, and very few can read music.

    I'd say that about 90% of the guitarists under the age of 30 who play rock these days, pretty much sit down and attempt to learn their favorite songs and solos, note per note, with no understanding of what they are really doing. Tablature has made this approach even more widespread. this is also why I really don't hear much in the way of skill and creativity anymore in that genre. In my opinion, tablature is the worst thing to happen to the guitar. What other instrument utilizes a system which simply tells you where to stick your fingers in order to learn a song?

    Even when playing covers, I've always pretty much improvised my solos, trying to express my particular mood at the time. I wouldn't be able to really expand on the songs I play with any real sensibility if I didn't have a working understanding of theory. All the DVD's, tutorials and such cannot replace an understanding of our instruments and music in general. But at the same time, as mentioned in previous posts, an understanding of theory is useless without understanding how to express that theory through your playing.

    Ok, enough rambling from the new guy.

    Doug

  19. #18

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    Bddoug, no rambling, good common sense. I've been gripeing about TABS on this site for a year! It's almost as easy to read music as it is tabs and it applies to all music, instruments, voice, etc.....

    There has been a historical context for "other" systems i.e, Lute tablature, keyboard figured bass, modern tone matrix's...

    I like that people can access music through tabs but I will always advcvate learning to READ! there are only 12 tones!!

    Now I find myself looking at the jazz tabs out of laziness and I could kick myself...

    Sailor

  20. #19

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    play and listen...close your eyes an listen to what you ae plying...sound good...terriffic...sound bad??..you need a little more time on the instrument...yes it came natural to me...I was like a sponge....still am but getting full at this late stage (im 61)....one book and one page at a time...time on the instrument...pierre...

  21. #20

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    Sailor, Don't kick yourself too hard! With all fairness, I do see a certain degree of usefulness when tabs are used as a supplement to standard notation as far as getting ideas for fingering difficult passages and such, but the reliance upon them as the primary source of song transcription has created a whole generation of guitarists who may possess a wonderful gift of natural skill, but have limited themselves to copying what they hear. Because tab for the most part has no indication of rhythm, dynamics etc., they can only use it to play things they already have heard. what really irks me is that there are actually guitar "teachers" who teach with tab. To me, it degrades the guitar to something that is less than a legitimate musical instrument.

    There is a whole world of magic out there, no need to hear it, pick it up and play it for yourself, embellish it, and enjoy the moment.

    Doug

  22. #21

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    bddoug - ditto on all points. In classical guitar they still notate position i.e, Fret #, barre, 1/2 barre, p-i-m-a right hand, circled string numbers left hand...

    I almost can't believe a music teacher would "teach" tabs, but thats my opinion. I think it degrades the instrument too, as less legitimate than others.

    Sailor

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor
    bddoug - ditto on all points. In classical guitar they still notate position i.e, Fret #, barre, 1/2 barre, p-i-m-a right hand, circled string numbers left hand...

    I almost can't believe a music teacher would "teach" tabs, but thats my opinion. I think it degrades the instrument too, as less legitimate than others.

    Sailor
    As a part time teacher, I would argue it does not "degrade" the instrument at all. We are a VERY small percentage of the guitar playing population here. The VAST majority do not have the inclination or interest in putting in the kind of time on the instrument to get to the levels we aspire to. Most just want to jam with their buddies ala a real version of Guitar Hero/Rockband.

    It all depends on your agenda. I get students in who want to learn jazz, want to get up to speed to make their MS/HS jazz ensembles, or rock/blues players who are tired of just playing major/minor pents, and want to be exposed to new ideas. Those people are open to what you guys are talking about, but the twitchy 8-12 year old Guitar Hero players who have spent HUNDREDS of hours playing on their Xbox's these tunes, want to be able to bang'em out for real. They are not interested in learning theory or to read, and tab is a short cut for helping them reach their goal.

    It is all about your agenda.

  24. #23
    hey folks, I enjoyed reading through the various responses to andihopkins. I'm a physics professor by day who likes to practice my instrument at night and have been attending jams off and on for a year or two.

    What I hear echoed through the responses is that one needs to identify one's own goals when searching for instructional materials. There isn't one "true" way to learn, and we musn't forget that the masters of the instrument are not master of everything, but have focused on particular things that excited them. Of course the choice of that is entirely up to you! There isn't any sense in phrases such as "just play" or the Scofield comments, either, because you need a palette as goofsus4 said. The palette can come from elements found within a book but your entire playing cannot.

    So it can be quite futile to hope to learn everything you need to know from a book. I read David Baker's "how to learn be bop vol. 2" and have only learned maybe 10 of the ideas really well. Partially it's because I played the things I liked and have started to focus on other things. Nothing is the final word on playing. I realize that some of the instructional material out there is not anywhere near the caliber of David Baker, which makes their utility even more suspect if you don't use your head to discern what matters for you.

    I think this is a different problem from whether or not theory--scales, arpeggios and the like--is useful for learning or whether simply using your ear or intuition is the best way. Theory does make the learning process faster for most people. A formal context allows you to generalize things quickly--for example, if you didn't understand that a chord has several inversions based on the structure within the scale, you would have to independently discover them, a process which would take more time.

    Anyway, that's long winded. But peace to y'all from the South.

  25. #24

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    Hey Andy, great post.

    Quote Originally Posted by andihopkins
    Why does the music community believe that you must learn each scale top to bottom in every key, if you are to be able to play great music?
    You answered your own question when you said "Of course, this is all coupled with knowing the notes on the fretboard damn well, and knowing your intervals."

    Quote Originally Posted by andihopkins
    INTERVALS are soooo very important. They are the atoms of music - as Mark Levine puts it.
    And on this basis we can create chords... or harmony.
    Why learn a bunch of scales that will go over the harmony, when the main notes you want to target are the notes that are actually IN the harmony?
    If we know what notes are IN the harmony... that means that all other notes in the key will work, and every other note is a passing note.

    Things move around too quickly these days, and songs are not even written in 'keys' any more - scales just aren't efficient enough to keep up.
    I think INTERVALS are the key, when you know and understand intervals, you can create any "scale" or any melody, any harmony, any lick or line, any colour or tone you want, straight off the cuff.

    Therefore, when you know what a particular interval sounds like, you can create anything! This narrows the gap between your mind, your ear and your creativity, because you don't rely on a picture to express what you hear in your head, but your ear and your hands know how to create those melodies on the fly.

    On every instrument the first thing one does is to learn the notes (think of piano, sax, trumpet, anything!) so why is guitar any different?
    Agreed, all gospel, and scales are merely organizations of intervals.

    Quote Originally Posted by andihopkins
    I fear that we have become a generation of 'visual' musicians, seeing only patterns and relying on them to create melodies, but not really utilizing what music is all about... our ears!
    The artform has been both visual and auditory for a long time. Back in the Big Band era when much of this started, if you couldn't read, you didn't work much. I feel there is no playing by ear/reading rivalry, you need to do both.

    With regards to some of this book bashing, from the view point of an old fart, I am envious of you 'kids'. When I was a pup and wanted to learn electric bass there was very little published material available. I learned to play bass by reading the lines out of a "Sgt. Pepper" book, because McLean Publishing put out a book on the album with accurate lines. That and Carol Kay's series was all I could find.

    Todays generations are blessed with a plethora of material and resources to learn from, heck you can even find lessons in magazines at the supermarket. And videos that show you how the lesson is executed? Unheard of in my day. And it's all good. Anything that you learn musically makes you a better player. No matter what style that learning applies to, and no matter how you learn it.

    Just my 2

    john
    Last edited by John Curran; 12-16-2008 at 10:37 PM.

  26. #25

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    Hi Derk - good post and I agree with basically everything you said except are tabs really a "shortcut"?? I find it just as hard to read them and they can't explain time values, etcc... As a teacher I haven't taught them because I actually thought it would be harder on the student and me!!

    Sailor

  27. #26

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    Hi all,

    Quote Originally Posted by andihopkins
    I remember this question was asked at a recent Scofield workshop.
    You know what he said? "I've never been organized at all. And I don't think I've ever read a book about music past the first few pages. I just... played."
    This shocked probably about 95% of the audience... because they were (as many of us do) expecting the 'magical potion' which will turn us all into John Scofields.

    How is it that someone like Robert Conti can play so confidently, so accurately, so creatively, and in instances, so quickly without even knowing basic theory? I mean, sure, on the basis of seeing one of his single videos, one may state that he is just a licks or patterns player... but if you check out his entire career... to be honest, he can play anything!
    no disrespect for the great John Scofield but I've seen a video where
    he shows to the audience (a masterclass perhaps) all the differents modes
    of the different scales, with their names and possible usage. He seems to
    have a very good knowing about harmony and theory.

    As for Robert Conti, I've got a book from him and indeed he doesn't give
    too much theory stuff but he uses constantly the cycle of fourth and the
    "symetry" deriving from the diminished scale (i.e. you can report each kind
    of chord position 3 frets away up or down).

    So I guess even if they didn't practice exercises or too much theory,
    I guess they have some under belt and use it maybe unconsciously ?

    Anyway I agree totally it is possible to play without it, as Django, Wes,
    and a lot of present gypsy players do.

    For Django and Wes, I don't know, it seems they were blessed ! But both
    of them were known to be very self-critical and hard at work (is it English
    correct ?), so nothing happens without work, as we all know

    Have swing
    Guelda

  28. #27

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    Yep, everybody's got one. Here's mine.

    I've played music for almost as long I can remember (50+ years). It took a long time to come to terms with what "jazz" was anyway, compared to blues, rock, pop and >gasp< classical.

    I've learned theory every step of the way, except I didn't realize it was theory. I just learned that some things work better than others. I gone through books and videos and picked up something from each of them, but in the final analysis, they just reminded me of what I already knew.

    Master the basics (chords, scales, rhythm), master the instrument, and play the music. Then write your own book.

  29. #28

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    The football coach at my high school used a modified expression of that.

    "Opinions are like as*holes. Everybody has one and they all stink."

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drumbler
    The football coach at my high school used a modified expression of that.

    "Opinions are like as*holes. Everybody has one and they all stink."
    With all due respect to your HS football coach, I have tons of jazz guitar books and none of them smell like that.

  31. #30

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    Having taught various technical subjects for many years, I have come to the conclusion that there is no single method/explanation that conveys a concept to the entire audience. If everyone gets it immediately then it was very rudimentary. The point of this being is that each of us assimilates information differently and at different rates. To approach jazz or for that matter music in general and advocate a single methodology such as book, audio or video, teacher, self taught or Karmic inspiration is naive. How one learns to hear major, minor, diminished, augmented or altered dominant intervals can vary widely. Hearing itself varies between individuals and changes over time and that affects how we interpret what we hear and attempt to emulate. I have seen some folks hear a complex piece for the first time and immediately be able to play it back - the best of these have all been piano players. Some people can intuitively connect the dots without "knowing" the theory, they can't explain what it is that they just did, but their music demonstrates that they have mastered the theory. We also have preferences to methods of learning, some like to work alone, others with a teacher and others with a group. My two cents - do whatever it takes to digest the material and enjoy it. If you aren't progressing try something else, but keep trying.

    tom

  32. #31

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    I'll add some more thoughts to this thread: I think it's really good to have a ton of books in different musical styles sitting around. Yesterday, I picked up a book of Flamenco solos I have and enjoyed playing through a few songs. If I didn't have that book, I wouldn't have done it, and I would have missed an opportunity to hear some different sounds for a change. Diversity is important.

  33. #32

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    On Musical learning

    What does it mean to "learn something" musically, and how does this happen?

    Becoming a musician is a process of psycho-acoustical-technical (and physical) training-- of training our minds (our CNS) to hear, and our bodies to be able to do (technique-wise).

    What is it not? It is NOT the acquisition of purely mental knowledge (I know this mode or that scale has these notes, etc.): we have to hear these differences, and be able to play them.

    (Side note: "Active" learning is a LOT more effective than passive learning. At Harvard Law, everyone took Civil Procedure 1st yr., required course, 600-700 pp. casebook. There was a former student who, with others, constructed detailed outlines, and sold these commercially in every legal bookstore in the country. (Steve Emanuel's "Outline For Civil Procedure", $24.95 back in 1982, a very nice business for him), about 200 pp. long, of dense, but well-organized single space text. In fact, Steve Emanuel had the very same Professor I had. So, all of us in our section,--170 of us, went out and bought their Emanuel's pre-prepared outline. Guess what, we didn't all ace Civil Procedure. We found out that passive learning was not all that effective. In another course (Torts), the professor had never taught the subject before. We were on our own...and we had to do our own outlines. It took me forever to put together-never enough hrs. in the day, but in the end, I learned the material MUCH better for having done this myself...like Bach re-copying musical scores, that he had already.)

    Any music book only works insofar as we "work it" into our playing...this takes time. Jack Z. had a great tip when he said if you can't play something all over the fretboard, you don't know it (he's right)...so take a lick, or melody, repeat it everywhere...starting on this finger, that finger, using slides or not...eventually we "get it under our fingers", and hopefully have it in our minds, by this time....this is active learning.

    When Conti says the "real action" is "under the fingers", he is right. His approach emphasizes breaking it down physically, repeat it to hear it, and do it...don't memorize intellectually....keep playing and you'll have it "under your fingers"...and you will, or can, learn it, theory-wise as well. You have to be able to play it...but you're also able to understand it. I avoided, didn't take on chord melody for years...too much information...too many choices, and I floundered. Conti's approach (for this melody note for this type of chord, play this grip) helped me to "get airborne"...in the end, I'll supplement it with other stuff, and approaches. I can take on Barry Galbraith's stuff, and am working through the ebook from this site, which lays out and develops systematically, the technique and application of chord melody stuff (also building arrangements and finger-style).

    skill isolation and reintegration: Breaking things down is effective to understand, and to drill...but physically, technique TAKES TIME...A friend of mine is a serious classical gtr. hobbyist...and he said to me, the only question is--"Are you better today than you were yesterday?".


    So, if a book sits on the shelf...no learning can take place. If we read the book, little learning takes place. If we pick up the book, read it, and then work it into our playing, and maybe come up with our exercises, variations, etc., we'll learn it better.
    Last edited by goldenwave77; 12-30-2016 at 09:51 AM.

  34. #33

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    So, if a book sits on the shelf...no learning can take place. If we read the book, little learning takes place. If we pick up the book, read it, and then work it into our playing, and maybe come up with our exercises, variations, etc., we'll learn it better.
    I studied with Ted Dunbar years ago via Jazzmobile.
    He had an expression that he would repeat periodically re; book learning:
    "For every page that you read, you should write 10 of your own".

  35. #34

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    Yes ,
    Study with books and teachers to get the basic scales and arps

    there's only a few notes and chords anyway
    its not infinite ....it is very do-able to learn them

    But as soon as you can
    start to teach yourself
    pick a song and work it out by ear ,trial and error , painful at first !

    then another song .... a bit easier
    then another song .... easier
    you get better at hearing the changes

    thats it

  36. #35

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    Ever wonder how much of the alleged sad state of music (another thread topic) may be the natural result of less learning, playing, and composing by ear, now that we have a generation or so of "music book learnt" people attempting to make music?

  37. #36

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    When does academia ever improve any of the arts???