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  1. #1

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    I love jazz and still want to develop my playing, certainly in improvisation, but I also am passionate about old school Flamenco. In both cases I am not interested particularly in solo guitar, more the group interaction (or jaleo :-) ).

    I find I am not capable unless I schedule things, to cope with my essentially all or nothing approach to either. This too often means that I don't do one at all while I am studying the other. This can actually lose a year.

    I am by the way, not talking of different styles within jazz, more completely different genres requiring different skill sets. I love the fact that with jazz I learn predominantly plectrum techniques and with flamenco, finger style. One is intellectual to some degree, the other passionate and controlled. The situation is further complicated when I start on a computer based composition project - then all playing is off.

    I don't play for a living at all now, but I don't like stasis or losing skill. I look to improve.

    One of the answers I am expecting is that you have to commit wholly and exclusively to a style to get anywhere in it. But my destination is not a big gig, it is expression of the music I want to produce as a player. But do we have to prioritise?

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks.

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Gainly View Post
    One of the answers I am expecting is that you have to commit wholly and exclusively to a style to get anywhere in it. But my destination is not a big gig, it is expression of the music I want to produce as a player. But do we have to prioritise?

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks.
    For years I've gone back and forth between electric rock and blues (and to a much lesser extent, jazz) playing and acoustic fingerstyle. Sometimes I've prioritized (I've gone years playing acoustic-only, f'rinstance), and sometimes it's a day-to-day decision. Not committing means I'm less capable in each sphere, but not gigging any more, I'm enjoying playing for myself and following my moods.

  4. #3

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    Honestly, I find it's almost impossible to excel at more than one demanding style.

    Then again, I don't even excel at the one I'm trying in, so...

  5. #4

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    Hi, Hugo,
    Great question. I play Classical and Jazz. I started playing R&B/Soul professionally in the 60's on guitar. I switched to Tenor Sax/Flute in the 70's playing/arranging in many working Jazz/Rock big bands, studied theory, arranging academically but continued playing EG. Then, began the serious study of Classical Guitar in '92. About 6 months ago, I brought my Gibson ES125 out of the closet and began exploring and rediscovering its sound and returning to my roots. Conceptually CG and JG are completely different instruments as I have stated many times. The only similarity, in my opinion, is they both have 6 strings. However, it is not impossible to live in both worlds if you have the TIME and EARS. However, playing as an aficionado with 2 hours or less a day to practice, as many on this Forum, I believe it can't be done to any high level of proficiency. However, if you ARE already proficient in one genre and are dedicated, it can be done dividing 4-5 hours a day minimum between genres--keeping both your Jazz and Flamenco chops--in your case. I have met Fareed Haque several times playing Jazz and Classical and he is a true hybrid playing CG/JG beautifully and effortlessly. But, he has been a 24/7 dedicated musician, teacher, performer his entire life--60 plus years or so. So, in your case, Hugo, Jazz and Flamenco, aside from technique, are much closer than Jazz/Classical. But, if you don't have the time, it's not a real goal. Stick to one instrument and style. I think you'll be much happier if you're reaching for the stars. Good playing . . . Marinero



  6. #5

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    Here's Fareed playing Villa Lobos, "Prelude." Enjoy. Marinero


    Last edited by Marinero; 04-08-2020 at 09:28 PM. Reason: spelling

  7. #6

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    O.K . . . you twisted my arm . . . Marinero


  8. #7

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    Great question, with no clear answer. I go back and forth constantly. In jazz, it's just Django and Charlie. But there's some rock and blues too. And undoubtedly I don't spend the time on it all that many of you do. It's obvious that if you don't stick to one style, you won't "achieve." But you need to do what you enjoy and what your muse leads you to. Even my teacher, who is a gypsy jazz specialist, says he is constantly diverted to other styles.

  9. #8

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    It has been a problem for me for many years. You can play many styles (and instruments), even on a professional level, but you can really only excel in one. At some point you have to make a choice. And the difficulty for me was indeed, passion. When you get into a particular style -or even a particular guitar-, you want to play it all day. Can't put true passion into time constraints, or logic.

    But on the other hand, whatever inspires you to play, I say go after it. Throw it in your musical melting pot, see what comes out..!

  10. #9

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    I love jazz and also love other American root music (but this is imho more or else work together)

    But also I love baroque and renaissance lutes and play them a lot.. and this is quite a gap in almost everything... actually to be honest between renaissance and barique there is already a gap...

    I should say I think I am not bad as a solo player on lute... with jazz the problem is taht I do not play a lot with others so I cannot really say if I am good or not...

    I had (and still have) the same problem that you describe ..

    I tried to choose and sometimes it seemed I chose but eventually I begin to miss the imnstrument and style of music.

    I tried to schedule but it does not work for me

    Jazz for me is really a creative territiry
    But early music is much more complex in concern of form and contents - it tells me so much and I am so much related to teh culture it comes from.

    Also I hate 'crossovers' - I am not purist - but I hate modern tendency to mix everything... to me the whole essence of the style is in its individuality, cultural indentity...


    I have more or lesscombined these things eventually when I realized the idea which is important for me in the style - I do not know how to explain it but I got that I cannot mix the styles but I can more or less understand why i do this or that - what is behind it and these things may be more related to each other than the styles.
    Because after all - it is all ME. This is what is important in art I believe.

    One important note - I have other creative area where - If I may say so - I am most demanding to myself becasue this where I know I can do best...
    Music is complimentary for me though as I sayd I am quite at hight level I think...
    so in music if I do not succede in something I feel more or less relaxed about it. that makes things easier

  11. #10

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    I try to avoid playing in different styles.

    happy to play in different genres.

  12. #11
    Great to read the responses to date and, as we could all predict, different sides of the argument are supported!

    I was impressed with Fareed Haque. He seems to sit in both genres equally well and I would certainly look to play some of those chords! I also thought his pulgar passages in the Villa-Lobos were fantastic. His time in the woodshed/venue shows. It was good to see that he played an electric too, as I was about to refer to his acoustic guitar use. :-)

    Some refer to excelling - I'm not sure I have that as a goal...actually I am, I haven't. I want to improve, which is a satisfying journey and not a destination, if it's making some original musical statements in playing over chords to tocando un poco Siguiriyas with a gypsy singer (though the latter is vanishingly unlikely in South London). I'm sure if my livelihood depended upon it I would be more sanguine about the decision.

    Everyone made great points that I am thinking about but this points to something unifying.
    I have more or lesscombined these things eventually when I realized the idea which is important for me in the style - I do not know how to explain it but I got that I cannot mix the styles but I can more or less understand why i do this or that - what is behind it and these things may be more related to each other than the styles.
    I loved the idea, but on reflection, I don't know that understanding what propels one to love different genres and finding the commonality, helps! If I understand it properly? In fact, I think I like different things about the two genres. Both serve different aspects of my musical nature.

    I think it's possible and probably desirable to do both, but there has to be some organisation at least to not lose skill and interest in 'the other style'. And, yeah, I didn't even think about another instrument!

    Thanks.

  13. #12
    I try to avoid playing in different styles.

    happy to play in different genres.
    You mean you'd play Classical with a pick? It's been done, yes.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Gainly View Post
    You mean you'd play Classical with a pick? It's been done, yes.
    Indeed. There’s actually exams you can do in that here in the UK.

    That’s not quite what I meant, I do fingerpick from time to time and my technique, while far from as developed as my picking, is informed by the classical lessons I’ve had. Technique is technique...

    what I mean is that while some here are quite purist - Jazz over here, say, bluegrass flatpicking over there, I would like to let everything bleed into everything else because that’s what my favourite musicians do.

    for instance someone once complimented me by saying they would have thought I was a different guitarist listening to me play gypsy jazz (he’d only heard me play contemporary Sco style stuff before)

    I hated this. I felt a deep sense of existential dread haha. I wanted to have one style and just do that in different contexts.

    When the chips are down I can do the straightahead or swing guitar thing pretty convincingly, so people book me for that. but I am not a purist and I enjoy being in all sorts of environments and finding a way to make it work. I’m also totally happy playing parts etc. But the idea of improvising in this or that ‘style’ is horrific to me.

    More horrible still is the idea that this or that guitar might have this or that style associated with it. YUCK!

    and yet I think I do it quite intuitively. I do do, Frisell mode, Kreisberg mode, Django mode, bop mode and so on. I kind of can’t help myself.... So I reckon if I do Kreisberg and Frisell on a selmer macaferri that might stand in for a style haha? Hard to do! The guitar wants to do Django.

    and then Sco picks up an acoustic and sounds like himself .... grrrr. That’s a real musician, not a music fan who plays.

  15. #14

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    I suppose a more constructive way to put it is that I don’t want to hear each instrument with preconception about what music it can do. And I don’t want to feel an obligation to overthink or overstyle my playing....

    what comes out of the process may well sound like a style of one kind or another, but it’ll be more organic if that makes any sense.

  16. #15
    You've now lost me. I think genre is pretty clear (Appalachian Death Dulcimer); style though, do you mean in the style of? (Frisell, Chuck Berry).

    More horrible still is the idea that this or that guitar might have this or that style associated with it. YUCK!
    Well, to me, guitars are only to be identified with a style of playing (pick, fingers) if that is a limitation they place on the genres possible to convincingly play. I don't use my flamenco guitar to play rock, but I do use it for Bossa Nova etc. Similarly I use my Django guitar for slide. I think it's odd to hear bossa nova on a folk guitar, but I'm not going to be sick over it.

    But you've changed the debate, or haven't addressed my question. Do you want to play different genres and if so, how do you sustain it? You seem to be talking of different styles within jazz which I said wasn't the point.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Gainly View Post
    You've now lost me. I think genre is pretty clear (Appalachian Death Dulcimer); style though, do you mean in the style of? (Frisell, Chuck Berry).



    Well, to me, guitars are only to be identified with a style of playing (pick, fingers) if that is a limitation they place on the genres possible to convincingly play. I don't use my flamenco guitar to play rock, but I do use it for Bossa Nova etc. Similarly I use my Django guitar for slide. I think it's odd to hear bossa nova on a folk guitar, but I'm not going to be sick over it.

    But you've changed the debate, or haven't addressed my question. Do you want to play different genres and if so, how do you sustain it? You seem to be talking of different styles within jazz which I said wasn't the point.
    I think what I’m talking about is more improvisation. If someone has written a part I’m going to play that. If the song has a specific guitar part I’m going to play that as close as I can to the original in every way.

    Re Jazz: I don’t really do anything else tbh. TBH Jazz is a load of different styles, 100 years of music. You don’t get to just say ‘I’m a jazz player.’ Oh nonononono.

    Anyhoo there’s a side of me that would like to get into Bluegrass or maybe Irish music, but I doubt that’s going to happen. If I don’t have kids maybe this would be ideal time haha.

    i played the lute for a bit. That was fun. Quite easy once you got the thing in tune. It’s all tab.

    I used to play rock and blues. I still love that music but really there’s an oversupply, so if you want to that stuff you need to be driving it. Every so often someone gives me a soul funk gig and then I have to learn to play the songs in three days. They don’t call again. Which makes me sad. But I’m probably shit at it.

    so I suppose for me, I do one thing and that’s it ... really? ATM. But I play a few styles within jazz.

    HOWEVER - I kind of don’t entirely always know what genre is in this context either; my main project, Balagan Cafe Band is a super eclectic chamber jazz project. So, we’ll go from Guillaume de Machaut and John Dowland to Algerian Cafe Music via Django, Systems Music, Free improv, and Folk Rock. But it’s all jazz. Check it out!

    playing wise I go from rock to contemporary jazz to Middle Eastern via classical guitar and gypsy swing. No one really noticed haha. I was pretty proud of my playing on that one.

    Live I just use a steel string flattop for everything, because otherwise I’d have to bring four or five guitars. It all sounds good to me, and helps unify the disparate elements into one sound world.

    Even my Gypsy Swing Band into plays in odd times and covers the music of Eric Satie.

    so dunno really... I play mostly or almost entirely jazz, but a lot of the jazz I play is quite broad and crossover-y. It’s not just bop and GASB on an L5 or whatever. I think it’s all going according to plan haha!

    But very much not - OK today I do a classical gig, tomorrow I do a country gig. I know guys who do that. Not me. Or people who have mastered two or three styles in a very purist and authentic way.

    I’m really not into trying to imitate other guitar players, but that seeps in round the corners naturally. I steal things here and there.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-09-2020 at 09:04 AM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I suppose a more constructive way to put it is that I don’t want to hear each instrument with preconception about what music it can do. And I don’t want to feel an obligation to overthink or overstyle my playing....

    what comes out of the process may well sound like a style of one kind or another, but it’ll be more organic if that makes any sense.
    For me that works for jazz or bluegrass or rock etc. - I can study early swing guitar but I easily apply that stuff for modern playing on modern guitar...
    What i am interested in most is modern imrpovizational music derived from jazz and traditional American music...

    But with early music it does not work.

    Playing Satie with Gypsy jazz band is absolutely fine I think... I would even say that even playing Schoenberg or Mahler would be fine too)))
    It is very close aesthetically

    But for example Mozart or Schubert most probably would turn our blatant in that arrangement...

  19. #18

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    Everything is fine if it isn’t shit

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Everything is fine if it isn’t shit
    You could make a manual how to maintain more than one thread with (equal) passion!

  21. #20

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    I see lots of successful musicians that play multiple instruments and as others have mentioned, play in more than one "genre". That said, most of my favorite musicians seem incapable of not sounding exactly like themselves.

    I've taken a lighter approach in the past few years. My main instrument is upright bass, but I still play some guitar (and drums just for fun) and I can hack my way through a bluegrass gig if I need to. I'm a pretty hack level drummer but I absolutely think that playing drums has improved my bass playing a lot, maybe more than if I had spent that extra time playing bass. It's not always about more hours on your instrument.

    Life is kinda too short to take this stuff too heavily. Play what brings you joy.

  22. #21

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    Maybe it's because I play by ear, I have played whatever music the bands have wanted their audiences to hear.
    I have always played a wide range; all kinds of pop, rock, soul, R&B, blues, funk, jazz... heck, even a little C&W.

  23. #22
    At some point you have to make a choice. And the difficulty for me was indeed, passion. When you get into a particular style -or even a particular guitar-, you want to play it all day. Can't put true passion into time constraints, or logic.
    It's great hearing all these points, some very good observations.

    I don't think ....did I?....maybe I did. Start again...I was hoping for a clear method. The quote from Alter above actually sums up my dilemma and why I use the term 'passion'. I'm not talking about doing a function gig at a wedding and banging out pop, or blues or rock. I can probably do a reasonable impression of all of those because that's how I came up, like most of my generation. But put me in a shouty metal band and things would be very different. Exit stage right old man dragging borrowed unplayable pointy headstock guitar in shame.... I'd need to do some serious practice (but I wouldn't as I'm not interested in that stuff).

    Of course as someone with a musical nature I can enjoy most music, but passion? I think the only thing to do is to be systematic about one's study; to allow a bit of over-extended study/woodshedding/listening but to stop when one's ability to play to one's (jeez, too many 'one's') satisfaction in the other genre observably diminishes. Pointing in one direction only is not me and at the same time I'm not concerned with 'achieving' or excelling though that's as valid an approach as anything. I just need to feed my demons.

    Actually, to be blunt, I converted hook, line and sinker to flamenco about 5/6 years ago - I was unhappy at my development as a jazzer (not particularly as a 'jazz guitarist' (I'm of the Allan Holdsworth school of jazz guitarists, i.e. really a sax player)) and whether I was sufficiently committed. I'd decided I wouldn't ever be any good. So I concentrated on composition which I've always done. During the composition passion I stopped playing anything. The composition has temporarily stopped and the jazz guitar has come back again - at least I am studying stuff that I haven't up to now (diatonic sus chords across the 4 main scale types) but I heard a Bulerías that knocked me off my feet and now want to get back playing flamenco. I suppose I have time as I don't have goals. Maybe some discipline.

    Thanks.

  24. #23

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    I wouldn’t go near flamenco much as I love to listen to it, because I know it has be done a certain way.

    are certain other styles more forgiving or is it my ignorance? Maybe it’s the guitar thing.

    i suppose I could write a flamenco influenced tune for instance, maybe on one of the compas, but so much of the language of that music is built around the guitar technique it seems a bad idea to try this without a command of those.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I wouldn’t go near flamenco much as I love to listen to it, because I know it has be done a certain way.

    are certain other styles more forgiving or is it my ignorance? Maybe it’s the guitar thing.

    i suppose I could write a flamenco influenced tune for instance, maybe on one of the compas, but so much of the language of that music is built around the guitar technique it seems a bad idea to try this without a command of those.
    For me it is more about authenticity... vibe of style... or real style?

    Styles like flamenco are interesting with its almost primeval rawness... mix of subtlety and almost savage simplicity... I feel particular culture behind it which is hard to obtain from outside...

    Of course last 50 years brought lots of 'neo' everything into the world music.

    Many people who love Piazzola are surprised to hear real tango...

    Most 'neo' film style has conventional pop vibe that makes it 'international' but less authentic


    European classical tradition has great advantage. It is music that is complex in contents, complexity and written tradition give more access to it via scholarship.
    In a word it is extremely cultivated.

  26. #25
    so much of the language of that music is built around the guitar technique
    I'd be careful about using 'language' there as it's too vague. Almost all flamencos would say that the forms and maybe what you mean by language comes from song (the cante). There are many flamenco forms that are characterised by simple unaccompanied songs (and almost everything IS a song). The guitar is a latecomer, though still an equal leg of the three legged stool - cante, baile and toque. Even then, if you ask someone about flamenco in the UK, there will be an immediate schism between those who think the whole thing is about guitar, and those who think the whole thing is dance. The guitarists though will at least recognise the role of cante .

    You're right, the discipline requirement is extremely firm, which permits a nice trajectory of study, and though new flamenco continues to develop, it's generally in the face of those who prefer the old styles. Oddly, I couldn't wait to get away from the dominant didactic view of jazz that the old styles had to be appreciated and almost venerated first before being ready to move onto more modern stuff. Conversely, with flamenco, I think the old stuff has the most value. I see it as being a social and a communal expression of its historical milieu. I would prefer to be a part of ensemble where the collective voice is far more important than solo endeavour. This same view was clear in one set of posts on the flamenco site I frequent and one notable and uber-talented solo performer, has seemingly retired hurt (from the forum) and despondent at the views expressed. Views which were immediately rowed back on of course, but a general opinion was clear.

    I don't feel able to judge but Miles was given credit by the flamenco community for Sketches. But, it wasn't flamenco of course.

  27. #26

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    As I say, I know nothing about flamenco as a musician.

    But the guitar is not the focus point for me whenever I’ve seen it live... but the sound of the instrument is very specific to most people’s understanding of that music. I just don’t feel I can do it justice as a player even as pastiche.

    There are other guitar things I am more plugged into.

  28. #27
    I feel particular culture behind it which is hard to obtain from outside...
    Olé!

  29. #28
    That''s fine, we all have different routes to nirvana but
    so much of the language of that music is built around the guitar technique
    is an assertion that required correction. No offence meant either.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    For me it is more about authenticity... vibe of style... or real style?

    Styles like flamenco are interesting with its almost primeval rawness... mix of subtlety and almost savage simplicity... I feel particular culture behind it which is hard to obtain from outside...

    Of course last 50 years brought lots of 'neo' everything into the world music.

    Many people who love Piazzola are surprised to hear real tango...

    Most 'neo' film style has conventional pop vibe that makes it 'international' but less authentic


    European classical tradition has great advantage. It is music that is complex in contents, complexity and written tradition give more access to it via scholarship.
    In a word it is extremely cultivated.
    it’s easy to get sucked into authenticity. Authenticity is a problematic concept of course. Often outsiders police a music for authenticity more than those who grew up in the culture.

    (im thinking of Irish music which is eclectic, adopting instruments like the guitar, banjo and bazouki and dance forms like the polka as well as jazz harmony and rhythmic concepts, without ever losing its identity.)

    So music is flux. i cannot be bothered with the authenticity police, although think it’s cool people go and live in Brazil and study Samba for years, or whatever. I’ve never down anything like that, too conservative in my life decisions...

    what I feel is more important is to have a basis from which to strike out from into the wider world. In the old days this would have been a given depending on where you grew up. Now - we often choose.

    Jazz is what I have gravitated to and I am quite keen in developing as complete an understanding of it as a historical art form as I can. I understand this does not interest a lot of people and that’s fine. I also have some Classical background too...

    and from a foundation you can cross over with other musicians and be an eclectic without having an absence of substance (hopefully) picking up ideas from other cultures and traditions as you go.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Gainly View Post
    That''s fine, we all have different routes to nirvana but is an assertion that required correction. No offence meant either.
    i see what you mean. To be honest, I don’t know what I’m taking about.

    perhaps ‘texture’ might have been a better word.

    what I mean is - if I come in with my style of playing (plectrum jazz guitar) it won’t feel like flamenco to the lay listener and needless to say it won’t to the knowledgable listener either.

    (This is not so true of styles which do not feature the guitar at all, where I can reference or adapt into my own approach, or where the style isn’t too different or well known to make it work.)

    Perhaps one could meaningfully incorporate some deeper aspects of flamenco into jazz (with plectrum jazz guitar.) That might be more interesting.

    For some people this approach might be offensive or disrespectful, but rather in the way a Blue Note Bossa is not remotely the same as the Brazilian feel, I feel mutation through the lens of different culture is as valid as getting it right, it allows music to develop and evolve.

    Jazz has always done this. But it does exist in other styles as well.

    You can only be true to yourself. This might mean going down a decades long quest to explore another tradition, or it might not.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    it’s easy to get sucked into authenticity. Authenticity is a problematic concept of course. Often outsiders police a music for authenticity more than those who grew up in the culture.

    (im thinking of Irish music which is eclectic, adopting instruments like the guitar, banjo and bazouki and dance forms like the polka as well as jazz harmony and rhythmic concepts, without ever losing its identity.)

    So music is flux. i cannot be bothered with the authenticity police, although think it’s cool people go and live in Brazil and study Samba for years, or whatever. I’ve never down anything like that, too conservative in my life decisions...

    what I feel is more important is to have a basis from which to strike out from into the wider world. In the old days this would have been a given depending on where you grew up. Now - we often choose.

    Jazz is what I have gravitated to and I am quite keen in developing as complete an understanding of it as a historical art form as I can. I understand this does not interest a lot of people and that’s fine. I also have some Classical background too...

    and from a foundation you can cross over with other musicians and be an eclectic without having an absence of substance (hopefully) picking up ideas from other cultures and traditions as you go.
    I wrote a long post and it was deleted ..

    In a word: it is nothing about rules or police.. it is more about feeling that that thing is original and this thing is imitation that pretends to be original....
    it is not analytical - you just feel it...

    And also it is not about ecclectis... playing flamenco and play some flamenco-influenced music are different things.. .and again no statements needed there - you just hear it...

    I can never play real blues or bluegrass but I can study the style and use the elements in my music... but I would not call it eclectic.

    Eclectism is the aesthetics that deliberately uses different styles in my opinion, it even stresses the contrasts between them (it is very post modernistic approach).


    For example Julian Lage is much influenced by different styles of American music but he is not eclectic at all.

    To be honest when you play I do not feel it is ecclectic... I like how you dive into styles with dedication and true interest and invetigate it but when you play I do not feel that you imitate the style or pretend to be 'Django' or whatever... even when you say that you try to do some things accurately according to the at style.

    It is something on the level of perception... people can elaborate orginal conception and sound fake imitators, others can use old idioms openly and sound absolutely orginal

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Gainly View Post
    I love jazz and still want to develop my playing, certainly in improvisation, but I also am passionate about old school Flamenco. In both cases I am not interested particularly in solo guitar, more the group interaction (or jaleo :-) ).

    I find I am not capable unless I schedule things, to cope with my essentially all or nothing approach to either. This too often means that I don't do one at all while I am studying the other. This can actually lose a year.

    I am by the way, not talking of different styles within jazz, more completely different genres requiring different skill sets. I love the fact that with jazz I learn predominantly plectrum techniques and with flamenco, finger style. One is intellectual to some degree, the other passionate and controlled. The situation is further complicated when I start on a computer based composition project - then all playing is off.

    I don't play for a living at all now, but I don't like stasis or losing skill. I look to improve.

    One of the answers I am expecting is that you have to commit wholly and exclusively to a style to get anywhere in it. But my destination is not a big gig, it is expression of the music I want to produce as a player. But do we have to prioritise?

    Any thoughts?

    Thanks.
    As a little kid I was fascinated by Flamenco, and actually started guitar with hoping to learn it, but never found anyone who could teach it. I briefly had a teacher who showed me a couple of things, but he disappeared, and I was back to "Stewball Was a Racehourse" and "Packington's Pound". Gave up for several years, until I was bitten by the blues. Now I listen to Flamenco and I can't imagine getting anywhere with it, but that's not really what you're asking ...

    Anyway, I play jazz, I play electric blues, a hodgepodge of different acoustic blues styles, and songs that are just songs. I have passion for all, but I'd say the only one of those I actually play legitimately well with my own style/voice is electric blues. I'm not terrible at jazz, can function on a bandstand, and love playing (with a passion). Hopefully life will be long enough to allow me to get further with it. I think there's enough similarity of technique and harmony between the two that they complement each other. I don't think I have to give up one to really get good at the other.

    When I say acoustic blues, I'm thinking of the real masters of the more complex styles, like Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee, etc, not guys doing basic shuffles and pentatonic licks in E. I can play a song or two from each passably (to some ears), but I think to get to the point of playing that way (and singing, you can't just play the blues) genuinely, fluently well requires shutting out other stuff for an extended period (maybe years). I decided a long time ago that I would have to be satisfied with being a diletante, because I didn't want to do only that. I guess I'd sum up my view by saying that it's possible to have a passion for eclecticism, and for crafting one's own music out of bits and pieces of many musics.

    To the authenticity question, I think for the kinds of music I play, authenticity means presenting an honest version of yourself through the music. I think trying to mimic someone from a different background or ethnicity risks falling into caricature and stereotype. Especially with blues, the whole schtick of Fedoras and Raybans and mangling "John the Conqueroo" is embarrassing. Other music probably requires one to excuse the stylizations true to a tradition, e.g., with Gypsy Jazz, Opera, Flamenco, etc. there's are agreed upon right ways to do it, and you have to do that or risk excommunication.

    John

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    I wrote a long post and it was deleted ..

    In a word: it is nothing about rules or police.. it is more about feeling that that thing is original and this thing is imitation that pretends to be original....
    it is not analytical - you just feel it...

    And also it is not about ecclectis... playing flamenco and play some flamenco-influenced music are different things.. .and again no statements needed there - you just hear it...

    I can never play real blues or bluegrass but I can study the style and use the elements in my music... but I would not call it eclectic.

    Eclectism is the aesthetics that deliberately uses different styles in my opinion, it even stresses the contrasts between them (it is very post modernistic approach).


    For example Julian Lage is much influenced by different styles of American music but he is not eclectic at all.

    To be honest when you play I do not feel it is ecclectic... I like how you dive into styles with dedication and true interest and invetigate it but when you play I do not feel that you imitate the style or pretend to be 'Django' or whatever... even when you say that you try to do some things accurately according to the at style.

    It is something on the level of perception... people can elaborate orginal conception and sound fake imitators, others can use old idioms openly and sound absolutely orginal
    Well thanks you very much, I’ll take that to the bank! :-)

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    I wrote a long post and it was deleted ..

    In a word: it is nothing about rules or police.. it is more about feeling that that thing is original and this thing is imitation that pretends to be original....
    it is not analytical - you just feel it...

    And also it is not about ecclectis... playing flamenco and play some flamenco-influenced music are different things.. .and again no statements needed there - you just hear it...

    I can never play real blues or bluegrass but I can study the style and use the elements in my music... but I would not call it eclectic.

    Eclectism is the aesthetics that deliberately uses different styles in my opinion, it even stresses the contrasts between them (it is very post modernistic approach).


    For example Julian Lage is much influenced by different styles of American music but he is not eclectic at all.

    To be honest when you play I do not feel it is ecclectic... I like how you dive into styles with dedication and true interest and invetigate it but when you play I do not feel that you imitate the style or pretend to be 'Django' or whatever... even when you say that you try to do some things accurately according to the at style.

    It is something on the level of perception... people can elaborate orginal conception and sound fake imitators, others can use old idioms openly and sound absolutely orginal
    But in English, eclectic simply means "drawing from various sources". Lage's music clearly meets that definition. He has training in and plays in multiple styles, and creates original music that draws from those different backgrounds. Another sense of "eclectic" in English is "using the best elements of multiple methods or theories and not adhering rigidly to only one," which is closest to the classical philosophical meaning. But I have not seen the term restricted to the sense you're using it of deliberately combining explicitly contrasting styles in a single work.

    John

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    As I say, I know nothing about flamenco as a musician.

    But the guitar is not the focus point for me whenever I’ve seen it live... but the sound of the instrument is very specific to most people’s understanding of that music. I just don’t feel I can do it justice as a player even as pastiche.

    There are other guitar things I am more plugged into.
    I lived in Andalucia for a year. When you see flamenco in a club there, the baile takes it to entirely another level, adding not just rhythm and groove,but a visceral energy.

    As much as I love flamenco, I agree that its difficulty is such that rather than attempt becoming competent in it, I was satisfied listening to a lot of it and incorporating its influence in my playing, which is not at all flamenco. It shows up most obviously when I play fingerstyle acoustic, which I do more percussively than most American acoustic guitarists. It also shows up when I play heavy rock, in the sense that I took the time to learn Phrygian alt dom, and Hungarian scales as well, and then apply them to the hard rock/metal I was playing at the time.

    I also grew up for four years in Iran (back in the 70s), and the musical exposure there was phenomenal -- indigenous Persian music as well as its Arabic and Indian forebears were all around, and though I haven't learnt as much from that (didn't play guitar until we returned to America), it too is influential to me without being definitive. So I get what you're saying, to put it shortly.

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    But in English, eclectic simply means "drawing from various sources". Lage's music clearly meets that definition. He has training in and plays in multiple styles, and creates original music that draws from those different backgrounds. Another sense of "eclectic" in English is "using the best elements of multiple methods or theories and not adhering rigidly to only one," which is closest to the classical philosophical meaning. But I have not seen the term restricted to the sense you're using it of deliberately combining explicitly contrasting styles in a single work.

    John
    I think in English and in Russian it is used in approximately the same way in concern of arts.

    I do not apply to vocabulary definition (maybe it's wrong from my side but hard to change!) - it is more from my personal experience.... maybe you are right...
    for me 'eclectic' has always been a bit negative term... there is another interesting term 'polystilistic' that I first heard in relation to Alfred Schnittkke's music who really deliberately used different styles as a part of artistic language...
    'Ecclectic' is probably more general term... maybe you are right.

    Julian Lage.. I wrote somewhere that even the guitars he uses have cultural reference for the project... he definitely communicates with history and styles.. but at the same time he is so integral that I cannot call it 'ecclectic'.. maybe it is becasue all the styles involved hav emore or less the same background? And I here it as the reflections of the same essence?
    He does not mix Indian music with Baroque... he is within Americana

    For example some McLaughlin's projects sound ecclectic to me..

    It is often hard to draw the line really: Mahler for example.... today for many people he sounds very integral classical lTE romantic but I hear a lot of 'polstylism' in his music...


    Again it is important to distinguish the genre... genres were used as references thought all the hysory.. and often unconciously:
    - like fanfare in Beethoven's 5th
    - or elements of Polonaise (in 1st part) and Sarabande (in 4th part) in Tchaykovsky's 6th symphony...

    They can be re-inforced with other elements - like instrumentation (Mozartian clarinet in Tchaikovsky's polonaise' episiode, or french horn in Sarabande)

  38. #37

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    Here is quite famous polystylistic example
    Cadenza - Rondo with Postlude from Schnittkke's Concerto grosso #1

    Listne to it consequently - it is short...

    What is interesting it may sound 'corny' if one takes it directly without hearing stylistic refereces





  39. #38
    what I mean is - if I come in with my style of playing (plectrum jazz guitar) it won’t feel like flamenco to the lay listener and needless to say it won’t to the knowledgable listener either.
    To the lay listener maybe, though if they are to the extreme end of 'lay' they will ask you if you're playing an accordion. On the foro there was a guitarist who had stellar pick chops and played flamenco at least as well as any finger picker. He used pick for the picky bits (picado, arpeggios etc) and combination picking for other stuff, like rasgueo. He was always treated with respect from the real people'. But I think in the end, everyone wanted him to 'adopt the position' - and I think only because they wanted him to 'join in'. I was a bit uncomfortable too but decided I was the one in the wrong. He didn't and apparently went off flamenco and stopped.

    When I say acoustic blues, I'm thinking of the real masters of the more complex styles, like Blind Blake, Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Johnson, Reverend Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee, etc
    Love that stuff and only recently decided to not develop a blues project on the basis of cultural appropriation. (Another Debate please!) Scheduled was a proper version of Robert Petway's Catfish Blues and Blind Willie Johnson's Trouble Soon Be Over. Sigh. I came to the conclusion myself.

    What is interesting it may sound 'corny' if one takes it directly without hearing stylistic refereces
    The Rondo clearly adopted stylistic elements of guitar and 'Spanish music' and actually after my initial feelings of pleasure it did become slightly irritating, esp. after the cadenza. But it's amazing how much new thinking comes from, what do we call it, 'modern art music'? An unexplored territory for me, which I must do something about. I do like the fact that composers who write music that sounds like a piano falling down a lift shaft still adopt the classical forms!

    I haven't answered to my own satisfaction, having thought about it, whether I love a genre for its social characteristics, and to what extent that colours my appreciation of the music itself. Oddly this doesn't include parlour guitar sessions with added lace and powdered wigs - poverty and suffering seem to figure big in my thinking and I worry that I am unconsciously patronising the history. In regards to appropriate or alien techniques within a genre I think as long as you are communicating the soul of the music and not just the techniques you will be received well.

    I agree about the Baile but I love the common culture and not the vain whirling about, dynamic though it is. I hope the site monitors will allow these videos.



    and some singing with guitar accompaniment


  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Gainly View Post
    To the lay listener maybe, though if they are to the extreme end of 'lay' they will ask you if you're playing an accordion. On the foro there was a guitarist who had stellar pick chops and played flamenco at least as well as any finger picker. He used pick for the picky bits (picado, arpeggios etc) and combination picking for other stuff, like rasgueo. He was always treated with respect from the real people'. But I think in the end, everyone wanted him to 'adopt the position' - and I think only because they wanted him to 'join in'. I was a bit uncomfortable too but decided I was the one in the wrong. He didn't and apparently went off flamenco and stopped.
    Yes... that is the authenticity police right there. Not the best musicians who are often much more open minded...

    It's very much like this in Gypsy jazz. I try to avoid the politics by not calling myself a GJ player, but a (sometimes) acoustic jazz guitarist. Again musicians from the actual Manouche culture I have been fortunate to play with seem to care less about 'authenticity' than I would expect. They play with the authentic style, technique and feel of course, and people from outside the culture want to emulate that.

    I suspect that in music in general, is there is a job of work to be done, and if that job is done well and right, that's the main thing. In swing music, it's the rhythm guitar. I suspect from what you're saying it's analogous for flamenco? Accompanying the dancers and singers. Being able to participate in the community of practice.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-14-2020 at 07:11 AM.

  41. #40
    I suspect that in music in general, is there is a job of work to be done, and if that job is done well and right, that's the main thing. In swing music, it's the rhythm guitar. I suspect from what you're saying it's analogous for flamenco? Accompanying the dancers and singers. Being able to participate in the community of practice.
    From my experience and to my knowledge exactly that. You're there to accompany and the finesse with which you do it is what counts. On the foro there are players who prefer solo guitar à la Sabicas. Amazing to listen to, but my heart breaks when I witness things like the Maria Soleá stuff below. The solo preferers also post videos of metal shredding and the DiMeola, de Lucia, John McLaughlin waffle, which implies that other viewpoints can exist.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    I think in English and in Russian it is used in approximately the same way in concern of arts.

    I do not apply to vocabulary definition (maybe it's wrong from my side but hard to change!) - it is more from my personal experience.... maybe you are right...
    for me 'eclectic' has always been a bit negative term... there is another interesting term 'polystilistic' that I first heard in relation to Alfred Schnittkke's music who really deliberately used different styles as a part of artistic language...
    'Ecclectic' is probably more general term... maybe you are right.

    Julian Lage.. I wrote somewhere that even the guitars he uses have cultural reference for the project... he definitely communicates with history and styles.. but at the same time he is so integral that I cannot call it 'ecclectic'.. maybe it is becasue all the styles involved hav emore or less the same background? And I here it as the reflections of the same essence?
    He does not mix Indian music with Baroque... he is within Americana

    For example some McLaughlin's projects sound ecclectic to me..

    It is often hard to draw the line really: Mahler for example.... today for many people he sounds very integral classical lTE romantic but I hear a lot of 'polstylism' in his music...


    Again it is important to distinguish the genre... genres were used as references thought all the hysory.. and often unconciously:
    - like fanfare in Beethoven's 5th
    - or elements of Polonaise (in 1st part) and Sarabande (in 4th part) in Tchaykovsky's 6th symphony...

    They can be re-inforced with other elements - like instrumentation (Mozartian clarinet in Tchaikovsky's polonaise' episiode, or french horn in Sarabande)
    "Eclectic" doesn't typically have negative connotations in English, though I suppose people who are purists about a particular style/form/genre view any sort of deviation as negative. Whether you consider someone eclectic does depend on where you draw the boundaries between forms. From 30,000 feet up, guitar+32-bar song forms+ a limited set of rhythmic feels + jazz-trio format can just seem like one thing. But closer up, and in comparison to others who are nominally in the same field, the boundaries between sources are pretty clear, for instance, between the country/folk/"Americana" based aesthetics Lage incorporates (Metheny and Frisell, too), and the black urban tradition that main stream of jazz is built on. I mean compare Lage to Grant Green. I don't think you're gonna be able to find a whole lot of Stephen Foster or Bill Monroe in what Grant Green did, but there's a lot in what Lage does.

    John

  43. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    "Eclectic" doesn't typically have negative connotations in English, though I suppose people who are purists about a particular style/form/genre view any sort of deviation as negative. Whether you consider someone eclectic does depend on where you draw the boundaries between forms. From 30,000 feet up, guitar+32-bar song forms+ a limited set of rhythmic feels + jazz-trio format can just seem like one thing. But closer up, and in comparison to others who are nominally in the same field, the boundaries between sources are pretty clear, for instance, between the country/folk/"Americana" based aesthetics Lage incorporates (Metheny and Frisell, too), and the black urban tradition that main stream of jazz is built on. I mean compare Lage to Grant Green. I don't think you're gonna be able to find a whole lot of Stephen Foster or Bill Monroe in what Grant Green did, but there's a lot in what Lage does.

    John
    It is my perception that I was talking about .. in general it is neutral as well as in English.

    I think I consider 'eclectic' as negative (I always did - even when I was a teenager) becasue I associate first of all with some kind of 'collage' (or pastiche) - the technique and mentality that has always been against my nature...

    'Collage' presumes that we can understand and clearly see that it is made from different fragments, right? It is a part of conception. And I do not like it, I do not like that its secondary and fragmentary essence.

    So to me 'ecclectic art', it is a work of art where styles are mixed by they ar eclearly disignated and often opposed and contrasted

    and also 'eclectism' is often connected with the period of decline of great style... as I wrote above for me it is mostly about the feeling of 'orginal' and 'imitation'...
    'ecclectic' often seems helpless to me in incapability to elaborate its own language..

    I thnk influence and absorbation of different styles do not necessarily mean ecclectic.


    That is why I probably try to avoid calling Lage or Frisell 'eclectic' - They seem to integral to me to be excclectic)) Their own personalities are so strong in their art that they dominate and integrate those different refernces in styles in one,

    As close as Julian get to bluegrass, he does not play bluegrass... he still essentially plays like he does in his jazz works, I mean aesthetically.
    It is clearly seen in comparison with Chris Eldridge.

    I am not purist at all ... on the contrary I have lots of problems in early music area of my interests exactly becasue of ignoring puristic principles.

    Another thing - feel of 'history' -- some work of art has strong historic references, historic time... some do not... but again it does not mean 'ecclectic' to me,

    I would say that Frisell and Lage refer to styles it more 'historically' - they refer to the styles consiously - it is a conception to some degree, and Metheny just incorporates these things in more direct way.. (though things like America Garage have some program behind it of course but it is not really historic, it is contemporary


    But I understant that it may look and seem different from different perspectives...

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    It is my perception that I was talking about .. in general it is neutral as well as in English.

    I think I consider 'eclectic' as negative (I always did - even when I was a teenager) becasue I associate first of all with some kind of 'collage' (or pastiche) - the technique and mentality that has always been against my nature...

    'Collage' presumes that we can understand and clearly see that it is made from different fragments, right? It is a part of conception. And I do not like it, I do not like that its secondary and fragmentary essence.

    So to me 'ecclectic art', it is a work of art where styles are mixed by they ar eclearly disignated and often opposed and contrasted

    and also 'eclectism' is often connected with the period of decline of great style... as I wrote above for me it is mostly about the feeling of 'orginal' and 'imitation'...
    'ecclectic' often seems helpless to me in incapability to elaborate its own language..

    I thnk influence and absorbation of different styles do not necessarily mean ecclectic.


    That is why I probably try to avoid calling Lage or Frisell 'eclectic' - They seem to integral to me to be excclectic)) Their own personalities are so strong in their art that they dominate and integrate those different refernces in styles in one,

    As close as Julian get to bluegrass, he does not play bluegrass... he still essentially plays like he does in his jazz works, I mean aesthetically.
    It is clearly seen in comparison with Chris Eldridge.

    I am not purist at all ... on the contrary I have lots of problems in early music area of my interests exactly becasue of ignoring puristic principles.

    Another thing - feel of 'history' -- some work of art has strong historic references, historic time... some do not... but again it does not mean 'ecclectic' to me,

    I would say that Frisell and Lage refer to styles it more 'historically' - they refer to the styles consiously - it is a conception to some degree, and Metheny just incorporates these things in more direct way.. (though things like America Garage have some program behind it of course but it is not really historic, it is contemporary


    But I understant that it may look and seem different from different perspectives...
    This reinforces my sense that you use the word "eclectic" in a personal way that is not especially common. I don't think many people view it as meaning that a work of art must consist of distinctly identifiable bits from multiple sources in order to qualify as eclectic. A person who draws from multiple sources and brings them into his/her work in such a way that listeners sense those influences is eclectic. Anyway, I hear multiple influences in Lage's music, and I like that.
    John

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    This reinforces my sense that you use the word "eclectic" in a personal way that is not especially common. I don't think many people view it as meaning that a work of art must consist of distinctly identifiable bits from multiple sources in order to qualify as eclectic. A person who draws from multiple sources and brings them into his/her work in such a way that listeners sense those influences is eclectic. Anyway, I hear multiple influences in Lage's music, and I like that.
    John
    I wonder who is not eclectic then? )

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    I wonder who is not eclectic then? )
    I like to think of my approach as syncretic.

    If "syncretic" means "swiping everything I can get my fingers around.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    I wonder who is not eclectic then? )
    Well ... in modern American music styles, maybe nobody, given that nearly all of it is hybrids of different things. But lots of people are into only a few fairly narrowly constrained things. Also, I've noticed (though this could just be my experience), that musicians in Europe tend to be more specialized than American musicians. Like, in Europe someone who is a jazz musician is less likely to have played rock/r&b/blues/country, and more likely to have gone to a specialized jazz school from a relatively early age. Whereas a jazz musician from the US is more likely to have played in different kinds of bands and less likely to have started specializing at a young age. So "eclectic" seems more baked into overall musical culture. Again, at least in my experience and observation.

    John

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    Well ... in modern American music styles, maybe nobody, given that nearly all of it is hybrids of different things. But lots of people are into only a few fairly narrowly constrained things. Also, I've noticed (though this could just be my experience), that musicians in Europe tend to be more specialized than American musicians. Like, in Europe someone who is a jazz musician is less likely to have played rock/r&b/blues/country, and more likely to have gone to a specialized jazz school from a relatively early age. Whereas a jazz musician from the US is more likely to have played in different kinds of bands and less likely to have started specializing at a young age. So "eclectic" seems more baked into overall musical culture. Again, at least in my experience and observation.

    John
    yeah I wonder? I feel like I’ve played every style, mostly badly though lol. But yeah, always struck with how many US musicians are able to play a bit of jazz for instance.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    yeah I wonder? I feel like I’ve played every style, mostly badly though lol. But yeah, always struck with how many US musicians are able to play a bit of jazz for instance.
    Jack of all trades master of none. I wrote an eclectic Americana-inspired song called that once.

    John

  50. #49

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    I met more than a few guitarists on GJ scene who proudly told me they don't play or interested in anything other than Django and GJ. I hear some challenge in the voice when they proclaim it, like anyone who does otherwise is a bit inferior. Good guys, very dedicated players, aspiring to be good in one particular style, but I can't be like that.

    Equal passion for me in hard rock, ska, surf, pop, or anything im into on any particular day. I believe, yes, you can be great in any of these style as a player, but maybe better at one than the other a little bit. Life will decide.

    But no, not flamenco, not for me lol. Only cliches, so I can awe the lay listeners for a sec, nothing deep. I'm ok with that though, no ambitions there.

  51. #50

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    I should say that lots of people do not know real flamenco... Paco is great person and musician and he could play flamenco of course but most of what popularly known is some kind of mix of flamenco and pop/jazz/latin idioms.
    Even the posture that is associated with flamenco (leg on leg) is not common and was introduced by Paco, and he was heavily criticized for it by 'old school masters'...
    I admire Paco, his personality is his style... he is a great musician. But beyond him I do not like ne0-flamenco.
    Old-school flamenco has some 'passion of earth'

    Same thing about tango - Piazzola's neo tango style with its jazzy sweet harmonies and classical ambitions is very popular...
    But authentic tango is much more raw and - to be honest - much more impressive for me...

    The same about blues by the way...

    To me any folk style is great with its straighforwardness - with its authencity inm the highest sense...
    No-one can play Freight Train as Elizabeth Cotton...

    again we seem to come to teh point of original and imitation... natural expression and pretensions...

    Conceptions are ok but it requires complex and elaborated language like in classical or in modern jazz... otherwise it turns into pretensions