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  1. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    Yeah, both of the above mentioned guys. A friend of mine studied with Berliner, and he said that he did it with every string instrument he played- mandolin, banjo, uke, all of them. TT said he did it, too.
    Huh. Tricks of the trade. Mind you, I know quite a few players who have no problem moving between tunings.

    But if the MD doesn’t care (probably won’t.)

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  3. #27

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    BTW the banjo thing is well known. It does get frowned upon a bit because of voicing spacing... but for written parts in ensemble wouldn’t make much difference.

  4. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Huh. Tricks of the trade. Mind you, I know quite a few players who have no problem moving between tunings.

    But if the MD doesn’t care (probably won’t.)
    They don't know crap about stuff like that.

  5. #29

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    Reading abilty exists on a continuum.

    At the low end, it's the ability to slowly decode notation and figure out what to play.

    At the high end, you can read anything and play it perfectly, with no prep, at full tempo, the first time. And, as a bonus, if you don't play a Concert, Treble Clef instrument, you can still read the concert chart.

    "Sight reading" is when you can play whatever it is you're trying to play quickly and accurately enough that you aren't the guy on top of the leader's **** list and you get called again.

    Tedesco said he tuned everything like a guitar.

  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Unless it’s William Leavitt in which case it’s ‘oh god it’s this one again.’
    Hey now!

    But seriously, Leavitt helped me to the point that a classical teacher was taken aback by my sight reading of Sagreras studies (in C and open position, of course). But still, the other community college students weren't doing that.

  7. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    So tune it like a guitar. Tommy Tedesco and Jay Berliner did, and they were the top studio players in LA and NY, respectively.

    I did "Me and My Girl" in a big Manhattan production, which is largely banjo, and a guy from the audience kept asking me if I tuned it in 5ths, and I just smiled and said, "Couldn't you tell?"
    He wouldn't stop asking me, so I finally said, "What does it matter if you can't tell the difference?"
    He just let out a big moan.
    Good one!..and some of the shows I doubled on banjo, I used "Chicago" tuning...DGBE, guitar/bari uke tuning, like Tedesco et al.

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar


    Tedesco said he tuned everything like a guitar.
    He said the same thing at a workshop I attended in the late 80's...and had to sight read a guitar duet with him. No one else in a room full of guitar players would volunteer, and a buddy of mine yelled out "David will read it". So I got on the tiny stage and read it about 85-90% right. Still no one else tried.

    Tedesco was very nice and very funny, as is well known.

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by BWV
    Who tunes a banjo in 5ths?
    Any traditional tenor banjo player using CGDA tuning. Currently mine is in CGDA.-, but it's been in all of the tunings below except plectrum.

    Also, lots of folks, including many Irish players, tune the banjo GDAE like an octave mandolin.

    The other tunings are plectrum, CGBD, and "Chicago", DGBE.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS
    Any traditional tenor banjo player using CGDA tuning. Currently mine is in CGDA.-, but it's been in all of the tunings below except plectrum.

    Also, lots of folks, including many Irish players, tune the banjo GDAE like an octave mandolin.

    The other tunings are plectrum, CGBD, and "Chicago", DGBE.
    ok, CGBD is also called Minstrel, as that was the tuning for the 19th century. DGCD is also common in old time music. Would have thought the string tension on the high A would be too much - like tuning the first string on a guitar up a 5th

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS
    He said the same thing at a workshop I attended in the late 80's...and had to sight read a guitar duet with him. No one else in a room full of guitar players would volunteer, and a buddy of mine yelled out "David will read it". So I got on the tiny stage and read it about 85-90% right. Still no one else tried.

    Tedesco was very nice and very funny, as is well known.
    Tedesco also deserves praise for how well-written his GP columns were. He could write!

  12. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgcim
    They don't know crap about stuff like that.
    I’ve had MD’s get a bit snotty about banjo tuning in jazz bands but I can’t imagine most mainstream ones being at all interested.

    I have gigged on a Banjo-guitar. Maybe someone might object to that in account of it having the wrong number of strings

  13. #37

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    Tenor banjo players are often scathing of guitar players who pick up banjo work using guitar tuning. Back in the day when bands started to want guitars, all the banjo players needed tenor guitars!

  14. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by garybaldy
    Tenor banjo players are often scathing of guitar players who pick up banjo work using guitar tuning. Back in the day when bands started to want guitars, all the banjo players needed tenor guitars!
    Banjoists have a lot of be angry about

    My real motivation for avoiding is that if word gets out I own a banjo I would spend the rest of my life playing trad jazz in pubs. I’m not saying a gig or two of that isn’t fun, but it never stays at that. I’ve known players who publicly announce they are never playing banjo again, sell their banjos and STILL GET CALLS.

    Worst thing is, NO DOUBLING FEE.

    Just say no kids.

  15. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Banjoists have a lot of be angry about

    My real motivation for avoiding is that if word gets out I own a banjo I would spend the rest of my life playing trad jazz in pubs. I’m not saying a gig or two of that isn’t fun, but it never stays at that. I’ve known players who publicly announce they are never playing banjo again, sell their banjos and STILL GET CALLS.

    Worst thing is, NO DOUBLING FEE. WE NEVER GET THAT.

    Just say no kids.


    I would have missed so many good paying gigs without my banjo ! We do not have a comparable theatre/musical scene over here in Germania , just the ubiquitous Lion King, Phantom of the Opera etc. productions and maybe 2 or 3 guys share the guitar seat(s), it NEVER leaves a close-knitted community.
    So I'm glad I picked up the banjo 30 years ago, started out trying the trad. tuning, went to DGBE QUICKLY and never looked back, never got complaints either.
    AFAIK the 5th tuning of the tenor banjo was adapted because so many mandolin and violin players needed work when the salon orchestras faded away after 1910 ....
    Johnny St.Cyr played a 6-string guitar banjo with Armstrong, sounded GREAT with it. The only real argument in favor of the 5th tuning is IMHO that it it has more cut in a loud group with lots of noisy, overplaying hornplayers. It just gets heard better. I get compliments from my colleagues on stage because my Plectrum banjo in DGBE sounds sweeter, has more sustain and doesn't get in the way as it's in a lower range, it leaves more room for the clarinet and trumpet. So I hear ...
    I was once called for a Bigband gig and one of the charts was "Heartland" by Pat Metheny and the head is all solo guitar - in odd meter. NO WAY, JOSE !
    I asked one of the trumpets to play my part and got away with it... Sightreading skills have to be maintained or they go out the window. Reading rhythm charts is one thing, practically normal fare for the guitar chair but syncopated unison 8th and 16th note lines with the horns, often very abstract, are difficult if you do not practice this OFTEN.

  16. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I’ve had MD’s get a bit snotty about banjo tuning in jazz bands but I can’t imagine most mainstream ones being at all interested.

    I have gigged on a Banjo-guitar. Maybe someone might object to that in account of it having the wrong number of strings
    That was the main instrument of the great Johnny St. Cyr.

  17. #41

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    Chuck Wayne recorded on banjo, on Morning Mist, I think.

    At Disneyland in Calif years ago there was a trio in New Orleans Square, clarinet, 6 string banjo with guitar tuning and bass. They sounded great. The banjo was perfect.

  18. #42

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    Quote Originally Posted by AllanAllen
    All these jokes about guitars struggling with reading. How many middle Cs are on a piano? On a horn?

    When a note gets played in only ONE place it sure makes things easier.
    Well, Allan wins the early prize! Jazz guitarists fall into two categories: 1.) they can't read music or 2.) they can't read music. This is because most gravitated from Rock/Country/R@B and were "ear" musicians, not trained musicians. Ergo, the annoying "Tabs" and chord diagram epidemic. However, those who moved from Classical Guitar or another instrument that required formal training, can read music. However, in all fairness, sight reading for trumpet, sax, or even piano is not the same as guitar since one note represents one position on the instrument(there are some multiple fingerings on sax but they wouldn't effect sight reading) which is not the case with guitar: CG of JG. So, want to get your reading chops? Go back and study guitar formally. However, a university trained JG/CG would be the best choice. Once you learn to read, you must practice these skills everyday. And, you will get better.
    I only know two guitarists who can sight read "almost" everything after a brief glance and they are both "Artist Level" CG's. Most competent CG's can sight read intermediate level music but usually need review for more advanced pieces especially when reading chords. I play from written scores/read new music every day.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  19. #43

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    Most modern jazz musicians are good sight readers: Peter Bernstein, Mike Moreno are two people that come to mind that are good sight readers. Not all classical musicians are very good sightreaders, some are very poor, actually: top level classical artists aren't asked to sightread very often, they typically know the music they are playing well. But most young Juilliard students are excellent sightreaders and can sightread literally anything you put in front of them, including Donna Lee (I agree with Christian it won't sound like jazz).

    There does also seem to be a stylistic component to it: when I was studying classical guitar, I could sightread classical guitar pieces somewhat but that didn't translate into good sight reading for jazz heads for me. More than half the battle in big band situations is "map reading" and knowing where you are in the form, getting the notes accurate is in some ways less important, this is typically less of an issue in orchestral playing.

    Long way of saying that sightreading is a big topic, and I can't think of many musicians that are truly generically good sightreaders; although I definitely know a few. Most people are good at the aspects of sightreading that matters to the kinds of gigs they play the most.

  20. #44

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    "Not all classical musicians are very good sightreaders, some are very poor, actually: top level classical artists aren't asked to sightread very often, they typically know the music they are playing well." pcsanwald

    Hi, P,
    This is patently untrue. In order to progress in CM, one begins reading simple pieces progressing to very complex pieces with a good teacher who talks about hand position, dynamics, rubato, etc. Classical orchestras(all instruments) sight read music for every concert. Many concert artists(all instruments) sight read new pieces during a performance if they haven't memorized the piece. If you weren't able to sight read well, it would take you forever to learn a new piece. I once heard a notable Chicago CG who sight read his entire concert devoted to the works of Mauro Giuliani.
    There is no CM that would agree with your above quote. Play live . . . Marinero

  21. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    "Not all classical musicians are very good sightreaders, some are very poor, actually: top level classical artists aren't asked to sightread very often, they typically know the music they are playing well." pcsanwald

    Hi, P,
    This is patently untrue. In order to progress in CM, one begins reading simple pieces progressing to very complex pieces with a good teacher who talks about hand position, dynamics, rubato, etc. Classical orchestras(all instruments) sight read music for every concert. Many concert artists(all instruments) sight read new pieces during a performance if they haven't memorized the piece. If you weren't able to sight read well, it would take you forever to learn a new piece. I once heard a notable Chicago CG who sight read his entire concert devoted to the works of Mauro Giuliani.
    There is no CM that would agree with your above quote. Play live . . . Marinero
    I took it to mean that if you're a world class violin soloist or concert pianist, you probably mostly perform pieces you shredded for a thousand hours and performed them many many times over the years already. In some cases they might still have the music in front of them just in case they black out or something, but it's certainly not like reading new music. OTOH a typical CM is hired for a variety of gigs that require them to play new music.

    I'm sure they are still excellent readers but presumably they don't rely on sight reading excellence for performance as much.

  22. #46

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    Our piano player ( who is classically trained) says that the ultimate goal of sight reading classes is to get through an unfamiliar piece on the spot in a musical way - during the exams they judge execution mainly in terms of fluency, expression and adherence to the form, but not the precision of reproducing the written pitches - sort of improvisation on a written theme.

  23. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    I play from written scores/read new music every day.
    And that's the idea way to learn and then practice sight-reading. One of my teachers suggested reading clarinet books for single-line stuff, as the written range matches the guitar pretty well.

  24. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero
    There is no CM that would agree with your above quote. Play live . . . Marinero

    Here's two top level classical musicians that self describe as "not good sightreaders":
    EI: I told Ursula Oppens, “Ursula, you must be able to sight-read this stuff,” but she said, “No, I just have to work really hard, in fact, I’m not a very good sight reader.” I was surprised that somebody who’s recorded and performed so much fresh repertoire doesn’t play it down pretty much right away. What’s your process?

    MC: Well, I would say I’m not a really good sight-reader either.

    Of course it's hard to tell on the internet, but, I'd never make a statement like this without having references. I probably should have included them originally.

  25. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I took it to mean that if you're a world class violin soloist or concert pianist, you probably mostly perform pieces you shredded for a thousand hours and performed them many many times over the years already. In some cases they might still have the music in front of them just in case they black out or something, but it's certainly not like reading new music. OTOH a typical CM is hired for a variety of gigs that require them to play new music.
    Yeah, this is accurate in terms of what I meant. My teacher, who plays in the NY Philharmonic, is pretty strict about what he refers to as sight-reading. For him, if you've read a piece more than once, it's not really sight-reading. As far as I understand, it's somewhat rare for orchestras not to have music in advance.

    Certainly most classical musicians are very good sight-readers, I'd never argue against that. I was just as surprised as y'all to read that several folks don't consider themselves particularly good sight-readers, but, there it is.

  26. #50

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    Here's a quick story about sight reading.

    I once found myself in a situation where I was sitting next to a player whose name you probably know, reading the same chart. Neither of us had seen it before.

    It was a pretty challenging chart, with chords written out on staffs (no chord symbol) and a lot of Brazilian syncopation.

    I could read it.

    He read it better. His time was more precise.

    His attack was more confident and his notes were more clearly articulated.

    So, add to the checklist, "get a pro quality sound out of what you're reading".