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Daniel108

 

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Joined: Mar. 27 2017
 

Understanding what you're playing 

So question - Is it important to understand the harmony behind what you're playing and the notes of the fretboard as you're playing? Or is it ok just to play by using patterns?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 1 2017 22:16:35
 
Piwin

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

Well, what do you think?
You already know the answer to this one...
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 1 2017 22:55:57
 
chester

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

After years of playing, I think almost anyone will develop some sort of 'theory'.
You can try to learn the one that's been developed for hundreds of years, or come up with your own.

The important thing is to be mindful of your playing.

And to sound good.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 2 2017 1:32:36
 
Daniel108

 

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Piwin

In classical guitar it's obviously a major part of learning and playing, but I was under the impression that Flamenco is different
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 2 2017 11:49:57
 
Piwin

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

Maybe I misunderstood what you were saying.
When you said "patterns", I was thinking about like people who learn the CAGE system but you can just tell they don't understand at all how the music works so they end up basically just playing scales everywhere, not music.

A lot of flamenco guitarists learn with only rudimentary western music theory (like chord names and the like), so nobody's going to care if you can't name an interval or the function of a chord (well, at least not all of them) or whether a chord is in its first inversion or whatever. It's much more based on direct observation of what a teacher is doing. Is that more to the point maybe?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 2 2017 12:34:26
 
Dudnote

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

quote:

ORIGINAL: Daniel108
So question - Is it important to understand the harmony behind what you're playing and the notes of the fretboard as you're playing? Or is it ok just to play by using patterns?

In the past I have learnt solo pieces which might use some chord inversions high up the neck and I'd have zero idea what those chords were or how they relate to the standard / common progressions of a palo.

Sure, you can play like that.

But if you can recognise an inversion, and it's relation to the root chord of the palo, you have a lot more scope to generate a variation by switching to another inversion elsewhere on the neck.

In an interview Diego del Gastor was once questioned about his liking of studying theory. His response was that knowledge can always help.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 3 2017 2:34:39
 
chester

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

quote:

ORIGINAL: Daniel108

In classical guitar it's obviously a major part of learning and playing, but I was under the impression that Flamenco is different


I would argue that in flamenco knowing theory is more useful as you're mostly improvising chord changes rather than playing a pre-written piece.

The example Dudnote gave is perfect. Learning a few inversions can make playing the same two chords much more interesting.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 3 2017 3:49:19
 
Dudnote

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to chester

All year I've been playing an alegrias in C-G7 with a capo a the 2nd with a dance class. Recently the teacher decided she'd have a go at singing it, so we slid the capo up and up the neck looking for a key to suit her voice. We ran out of neck. So I started looking to play in E-B7 or A-E7 lower down the neck. But by not having a strong enough understanding of how the shapes related to each other I was unable to transpose some of it there and then on the spot and had to go away and map it all out with a slow step-by-step analytical approach. A better musician could have transposed on-the-fly.

Same mental gymnastics apply when switching progressions and falsettas between por ariba and por medio or por tarantas etc - it should be easy and fast, but in practice it takes practice.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 3 2017 12:19:41
 
Piwin

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Dudnote

quote:

We ran out of neck.

I hate it when that happens.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 3 2017 13:04:46
 
Daniel108

 

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

Actually I was kind of referring to CAGED system lol! As in recognising interval patterns on the fretboard without not necessarily knowing what notes or even chord you're playing. Or put even more simply, just remembering the physical shapes of the chord or piece on the fretboard. Since flamenco is learned mostly by observation then I'd of thought that most players play like that.

Perhaps the alternative would be to play like a the classical method or the piano - for example to know that D triad has D F# and A, and to know where those notes are on all the frets...

Sounds to me like that accompanying the palo is a bit like comping in jazz with substitutions and inversions, sounds like fun!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 4 2017 10:03:25
 
Piwin

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108


Well, the thing is that, while it's useful to learn the fretboard, those patterns like CAGED system only help if you also understand the music. If you don't then you end up just playing scales or things that sound like scales. And that's true for any kind of music. It's hard to overestimate how much understanding chord degrees, modes and how they relate to one another can help your playing. Sure, you can probably learn those things intuitively but, well, let's just say that no musician who's learned his theory regrets having learned it. People who say things like "I don't want to learn theory because it will just lock in my creativity" are people who haven't learned their theory and speak out of ignorance. It's time-consuming but worth every second since on the long-run you actually save a lot of time thanks to it.

Anyways, basic flamenco accompaniment isn't hard at all in terms of the actual chords used. In that sense, you could get by without knowing much and just by listening carefully to what you're accompanying. But, well, to be honest I don't really understand why anyone would just want to "get by". The thing is that flamenco also has its own theory. Thinks like por arriba, por medio, por taranta are all things you have to know. Arguably you could say those things are based on different shapes and not an in-depth knowledge of the pitches involved. Learning that is more important in flamenco, at least in the beginning, than western music theory IMHO so to a certain degree you're right about shapes.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 4 2017 11:24:01
 
Erik van Goch

 

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Joined: Jul. 17 2012
From: Netherlands

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

quote:

ORIGINAL: Daniel108

Actually I was kind of referring to CAGED system lol! As in recognising interval patterns on the fretboard without not necessarily knowing what notes or even chord you're playing. Or put even more simply, just remembering the physical shapes of the chord or piece on the fretboard. Since flamenco is learned mostly by observation then I'd of thought that most players play like that.

Perhaps the alternative would be to play like a the classical method or the piano - for example to know that D triad has D F# and A, and to know where those notes are on all the frets...

Sounds to me like that accompanying the palo is a bit like comping in jazz with substitutions and inversions, sounds like fun!


Had to google CAGED to find out that basically is how i handle things all my life. Up untill the moment i entered conservatory (i was about 23 year old then) i didn't know a single chord/note by name, with the exception of the open strings. But i was trained to pick up the notes by ear from a very young age and had no trouble to translate them to the guitar at the level of playing i had at various stages in my life.

When i joined nature camps at the age of 11/12 there was a tradition of singing folk songs at a campfire from a little booklet that also offered all the chords. Despite having taking lessons in classical guitar for about 3 years i was not able to read notes nor was i familiar with chord names, the theoretical difference between minor and major, or even how to name a 3/4 or 4/4/ beat. But i had no problem understanding those things on a musical/playing level, i only failed the knowledge how to name them.

Quite often 3 or more guitarist were precent during those campfire sessions most of them way more experienced as a player as i was and on top generally able to read chord names etc. But it didn't really help them a lot because in general the singers would just spontaneously start selecting/singing a song without any previous guitar intro or agreed key and most of the time the key chosen did not match the one annotated in the book. Although i didn't know any of the songs i could hear instantly which key was selected by the singers, which key would fit best for the guitar and were to place the capo to get the best grabbing options (CAGED system). Quite often i ended up playing the chord shapes mentioned in the books (after which the book players could join in as well if they had a capo) but if that key turned out to be not applicable for one reason or the other i had no problem translating the chords to less favorable keys (sometimes the key mentioned in the book wasn't the best one imo). Most camp players were so depending on the chords mentioned in the book they were "out" as soon as the song was sung in a different key.

So lacking theoretical knowledge did not hold me from instantly playing along with most songs i met and many players i met who were able to name the chords were also trapped/caged by it in the sense of being more or less depending on a written score by not developing the skills to just play on ear/intuition. The most extreme thing i ever met was when a student of the conservatory was payed 25,- by a classical guitar trio of highly ranked teachers to annotate them a recording of bambalabamba since they were not able to ear play it themselves and wanted to add it on the menu. When i mentioned 25,- was not wel payed considering the work involved in annotating all the musical lines happening in the record it turned out they were not interested in a score covering all the notes, all they wanted were the chords........ "so you mean C,F,G repeat 1000 times" i asked in disbelieve.... yes was the answer, that's all they want me to do.

So 10 years later when i entered conservatory i still didn't know any note or chord by name nor how to read notes (i translated a score of a Harry Sacksioni from standard notation to tablature once only to find out the publisher left out all the difficult notes to make it playable for more people, so i decided ear playing it myself was way better then those kind of crap scores). I was part of the first group of flamenco students ever to enter the conservatory which ws quite a kind of cultural shock for the still very much classical based institution. The first lesson was from an iconic teacher in music history called Han Coenen. During that first lesson he played us some medieval music on record and also expected us to read the score along with it. Afterwards i asked him if he was aware the flamenco students were not able to read notes after which he replied "impossible, then you should never have been accepted to enter this institution". As a result the planned lessons in musical history and musical theory were off for that year and replaced by a alternative "theory for dummies" course given by the conservatories best teacher, Erica de Wijs. She learned us the basic of musical theory, notation etc. I recall 1 lesson were i had to annotate whatever she played on the blackboard and while i was writing she said "well you can sit down because you already have annotated it before i could play it" (as it turned out i already finished annotating the pretty predictable melody before she had played me the last notes). According to her i had the best ears of the conservatory. My father offered lessons in reading/playing rhythm. The ability to annotate/read rhythm helped me a lot when i had to analyze written scores or analyze/annotate dance lessons. One dancer i worked with tended to make many mistakes and also claimed i was wrong at moments i was actually right. By recording all the lessons and writing down and connecting all the good parts like a puzzle i was able to deduct the dancers intention and make a clear guitar arrangement for it which helped me and the dancer/students to keep track. A bit of knowledge of annotating rhythm would be a great help for dancers as well.

Unlike the other flamenco students of class 1985 i was the only one interested in learning the musical theory behind my playing and reading notes. To practice how to read i used the hand written Bach scores of my father because i knew that music by heart so i would instantly notice if i read/played a note wrong. After 1 year of "theory for dummies" we continued the "usual" program with another teacher who unfortunately tended to adapt his program to the flamenco students to much by selecting flamenco projects every now and then as well which was not a succes because he lacked flamenco knowledge and his ideas about the theory behind it were different then mine and any other flamenco guitarist. For instance when coloring the f rasgueado chord in soleares at beat 7,8,9, by

--0-----0----1-------
--1-----3----3-------
--2-----2----2-------
--3-----3----3-------
----------------------
----------------------

...7......8......9


my teacher of musical theory refused to see that as various colorings of the F chord because to him adding the d in the second chord made it a (inverted) d chord. We frequently quarreled about that kind of things like calling a chord differently simply because the player failed to hit the underlaying root note (which i knew should be included in that chord) while the teacher just looked at the notes that were actually played.

Still, although i don't use it that often i never regret learning the theory behind things. 1 classmate who was a way better player as i refused to learn how to read notes and as a result needed 3 months to learn Paco Peña's solea por bulerias by monkey see monkey do in the lesson (were my father played it to him from his written score !!!!!) Thanks to that written score i needed not 3 months but only 3 hours to memorize/analize the notes. What was a big help was that on the written score i could visually see/mark how some tricky events were related to the compas making it way more easy to understand the tricky parts then using ear playing only (despite having the best ears of the conservatory). One variation of tientos was so subtle rhythm wise all students but me ended up playing 3 beats rather then 4. My "secret" was that i was the only one able to analyze it's pitfall on paper.

In my case my luck was that the conservatory offered excellent scores of flamenco including not only the notes but also the fingering of both hands as well as the musical context and interpretation of each note. Those annotations not only offered a lifetime of knowledge of the annotator in the art of writing but also that of Paco Peña in the art of flamenco. It showed me way better ways in dealing with playing the notes and in combination with the wise lessons i received in the art of playing, interpretation and practicing it changed me from an amateur into a way more professional player.

In the 50ties/60ties my father met many good players like trio Siboney. They had very lovely trio arrangements without having any theoretical knowledge but as it turned out they also had a quite clumsy way of getting that lovely result. They would just sit down and try out all possible options until the best one popped up. So many many try and error versions were rejected fore each and every piece before they were pleased with the result and they failed to spot that in the end they always ended up adding the same kind of voices on top of the main melody in all pieces (like adding a third on top of the melody). What took them days of sweat could have been done in minutes by my father using his theoretical knowledge.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 5 2017 10:48:57
 
Piwin

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Erik van Goch

quote:

So lacking theoretical knowledge did not hold me from instantly playing along with most songs i met and many players i met who were able to name the chords were also trapped/caged by it in the sense of being more or less depending on a written score by not developing the skills to just play on ear/intuition


I see a parallel with languages here. I've seen a lot of students learning a foreign language that would excel in class and had a really good handle on the grammar (i.e. the theory) but would just freeze in real life situations. It's not their knowledge of grammar that prevents them from speaking. It's just the ego that's getting in the way because they want to get everything perfect on the first shot. Sometimes you just got muddle your way through. The theory just helps you muddle faster
Learning a language can be pretty hard on the ego if you can't just let go and laugh at yourself. For people who just can't let go, theory can give their ego something to cling on to. Sometimes it reaches ridiculous extremes. I remember a Russian colleague of mine who lived in D.C. He rather pompously told me that he spoke better American English than the vast majority of Americans. Mind you, he probably could quote more authors or cite more grammar rules than most, but the fact remained that any American would have recognized him for what he was, a foreigner, in less than one single sentence. As long as you recognize theory for what it is, a tool to help you in your practice, but not an end in itself, then it can be really useful. When it's used as a pretense for not diving in and just protecting your ego, that's when it can be a problem.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 5 2017 13:57:40
 
Miguel de Maria

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From: Phoenix, AZ

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

Devil's advocate: learning theory _can_ mess up someone's creativity. But put the pitchforks and torches away for a moment and hear me out--

Someone who doesn't know theory will tend to learn by experimentation and mimicry--both of others and of himself. In both cases, he's closer to the aural essence of music than the theoretician, who after all is manipulating a post hoc system that attempts, often crudely, to symbolize that aural essence.

Therefore, what happens is that ear players tend to play music (since that's all they know) and the theory guys tend to play scales and chord tones. The result is often similar to someone reciting the ABCs. It's not music, it's not communicative, it's ungrounded, nonsensical digital patterns. This is a very common occurrence!

The theory player has spent too much time trying to understand the alphabet and not enough on the words and phrases that are, after all, the language. The ear player doesn't because he can't.

If the theory player realizes that he actually hasn't learned **** yet and moves on to actual music, he has a huge advantage primarily in transposition--in moving various musical gestures to other keys and seeing how it all relates to other contexts.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 5 2017 15:42:01
 
Mark2

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From: San Francisco

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

My two cents-if you want to learn flamenco, at the very least learn chord construction. Which means you need to know at the very least the notes on the neck.....Otherwise you'll be like a blind guy in a china shop. The rest is all there on the records....
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 5 2017 15:58:23
 
Piwin

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Miguel de Maria

Yeah but...it's not actually the theory that's messing up that person's creativity.
It's the fact that that person lacks experience at actual music. If a person can't hold a normal conversation in Spanish (for example) it's not because he learned the grammar. It's because he never took the time to actually try conversing.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 5 2017 16:10:45
 
Fitz63

 

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RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Piwin

I think what you're saying is true (ish) for my experience, having learned 2 different languages as an adult. (1.5 maybe). Having learned Italian very quickly through grammar, when it came to speak I didn't have any way of sorting through the things I knew, to say something I wanted to say. It would have been easier to learn a bit of grammar, learn how to use it, learn a bit more, and so on. I don't think it was ego stopping me, although some of the things you say make sense, it was just rules without meaning that was the problem. Of course when I did relax, and get rid of the unnecessary grammar, I could speak reasonably well, although it still felt too intellectual.
My other language (French) has been learned pretty much without grammar, and I speak like a child, because I have no taught rules to follow, or break. So I'm more relaxed, fluent maybe, if the word has anything to do with fluidity.
Personally, I'm on the side of saying something, then learning to say it better later. But it might depend on the personality?

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 5 2017 16:54:29
 
Erik van Goch

 

Posts: 1787
Joined: Jul. 17 2012
From: Netherlands

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Miguel de Maria

quote:

ORIGINAL: Miguel de Maria

Devil's advocate: learning theory _can_ mess up someone's creativity. But put the pitchforks and torches away for a moment and hear me out--

Someone who doesn't know theory will tend to learn by experimentation and mimicry--both of others and of himself. In both cases, he's closer to the aural essence of music than the theoretician, who after all is manipulating a post hoc system that attempts, often crudely, to symbolize that aural essence.

Therefore, what happens is that ear players tend to play music (since that's all they know) and the theory guys tend to play scales and chord tones.


In my view there are as many outcomes as there are players. There are fabulous musicians who don't know a thing of theory and there are fabulous musicians who know a s*** load of it. Some can't read and some can't play without a score but both can excel as a musician/composer on the highest level.... or fail to do so. As a matter of fact, the most important thing i learned at Conservatory was not the music theory behind the notes (like chord names, intervals etc) but the theory behind playing the guitar (left and right hand management) and the theory behind expressing yourself (compas and interpretation). And yes, in the beginning we were expected to play scales and monotone finger exercises (like flamenco dance students all over the globe drilling their patterns, many of who will never be able to dance free and in full understanding of the total picture) but only because that was needed to shape us. One student seriously believed that my father was only there to give the technique lessons because that was all my father did with that particular student. But the only reason he did so was because that student had not the level yet to go to the next step, expressing oneself true music without being hindered by technical problems. My fathers real specialty was interpretation and he was at his best coaching players who had all the technical and musical skills needed to excel but screw up interpretation. Theoretical knowledge and creativity don't have to be enemies, they can be friends as well and if they are wonderful things can happen. One of the teachers at my school was Joe Pass and i attended one open lesson of him were he asked students to play a scale from bass to treble expressing a certain chord while ending on the root note. So they were totally free to include/exclude notes in that scale, all that matters was they expressed that chord in it. Non of them were able to do it and it is indeed far from easy. I don't think you can say that music theory has corrupted the creativity of jazz players although in general they have great knowledge of the theory behind their playing. And the orchestration behind Tauromagia isn't lacking creativity either but most probably is done with great understanding of musical theory. Did Bach suffer a lack of creativity because he knew the theory behind the notes ? My father who mastered both worlds once told me that if he learned a piece by ear he was not able to read it from paper anymore (not including the stag of flamenco scores he created because those transcriptions were basically a kind of extern memory) and if he learned a piece from a score he was not able to memorize it anymore. As far as undertanding what one is playing is concerned, during my 13 years of self study based on ear playing records i obtained zero understanding of the flamenco a played, that only came after i took lessens at RC were i learned the theory behind the notes in sense of compas relationship.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 5 2017 17:47:05
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13399
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

quote:

ORIGINAL: Daniel108

In classical guitar it's obviously a major part of learning and playing, but I was under the impression that Flamenco is different


Well, reading music is a different thing than understanding the theory behind the music you play. I say you probably have to learn to read to be decent at classical, but you don't need to understand super locrian application for example, just play the notes on the page.

Jazz or at least modern style jazz will focus on more sophisticated application of "theory", but almost all other guitar based genres don't need that. The main helpful tool is to understand the circle of 5ths and that's it really, the rest is terminology as per the specific music discipline....things like fugue, sonata allegro, Dorian, lydian, aeolian flat 5, phyrigian dominant, por minera, dos por Arriba mi-fa, etc etc are terms that have music theory application but ONLY to their specific disciplines. You have to get familiar with the terminology used for the specific genre discipline, there is not ONE single catch all concept of music theory.

All of the above is only 50% of music mechanics. The other 50% is called RHYTHM and again you have different "rudiments" for different disciplines and genres. Meter=common time, waltz, shuffle, clave, merengue, 6/8, 9/8, konokal, taka dimi taka juna, bulerias, tanguillo, fandango por solea, paradiddle, flam, trabili tran tran trero, soniquete, swing, funk, disco, etc etc....all have very specific theory meanings in their respective contexts that refer to the rhythmic rudiments and feel of whatever style.

So pick a music style and learn the rudiments, and terminology used by the masters of the genre.

Regarding theory knowledge and creativity, well the most important thing about composing is inspiration, not knowledge. BUT, having knowledge means you can call up on command certain specific music feelings. For a super basic example, a happy song will necessarily be in a MAJOR key or mode, and a sad song in a MINOR key or mode. But that is thinking no words involved which is a whole other can of worms in terms of creativity. But a knowledgeable theory guy can more easily do a specific thing with a song idea without having to discover it. But just doing this thing does not make a piece of music "good" necessarily, for that Inspiration is absolutely essential IMO.

Ricardo

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 5 2017 18:54:45
 
Ruphus

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Joined: Nov. 18 2010
 

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

I always admired -and still do- folks who understand music theory. It must be great to instantly understand what´s up and what could be done with / of it.

Also sometimes I am experiencing spontaneous inspiration, hearing original stuff in my head. A couple of times even beautiful really complex symphonies with classical orchestration. They will pop up, usually at bed time right before falling into sleep, and be lost again.

Even yet, when simple rock stuff, like last time, played in a dream, remembered at waking up, got out of bed and grabbed the guitar ... I would loose the first notes while exploring the next ones. When coming back to the beginning, wandering into improvisation and messing it all up. A shame, really.

But I found it interesting to see that systematical knowledge may not automatically result in musicality. I knew a person who had studied music theory academically, but the music pieces he composed were trivial schlager music patterns with zero vibe. I thought like: "What a waste of wisdom!"

Kudos to you guys who you know what you´re doing!
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 6 2017 3:56:15
 
jalalkun

Posts: 276
Joined: May 3 2017
From: Iraq, living in Cologne, Germany

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Piwin

quote:

ORIGINAL: Piwin

Yeah but...it's not actually the theory that's messing up that person's creativity.
It's the fact that that person lacks experience at actual music. If a person can't hold a normal conversation in Spanish (for example) it's not because he learned the grammar. It's because he never took the time to actually try conversing.


I like this. Music in some way is actually a language, and I would say you don't need to know about music theory to be a good player, because the ability of hearing harmony and dissonance in my opinion is innate to every human being, and this is essentially what you need to know (just like you need to have a tongue for speaking). Lots of people have no idea about grammar, but they still speak. But it's a convenience to know about music theory/grammar, that's how people excel.

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 6 2017 11:08:37
 
Erik van Goch

 

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Joined: Jul. 17 2012
From: Netherlands

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

I just remembered that when we started the flamenco department at Rotterdam Conservatory the classical based teachers in music theory and the history of music were not able to feel Soleares as being E-Phrygian, not even the ones teaching us about the old church modes like dorian, mixolidian, phrygian etc. To them soleares felt like A-minor ending on the dominant chord and they strongly felt soleares should end with an A-minor chord. Although this seems ridiculous to a flamenco trained ear don't forget we do a similar thing in Granainas were we tend to end with E-minor (although i remember discussions with my father putting that in a more nuanced perspective).

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  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 6 2017 19:59:42
 
Daniel108

 

Posts: 20
Joined: Mar. 27 2017
 

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

This topic has become an all out discussion of theory, it wasn't my original intention but I suppose it was bound to happen :P

My original intention was (perhaps mysteriously) about improving practice. The idea being that having repeated the same piece 1000 times at a slow tempo and still doing the same mistakes, something was wrong. Different mistakes have different diagnoses, but one such diagnosis from my teacher was that I was just mechanically repeating things without understanding what I was playing. That touched a soft spot since my life is full of failed attempts at coming to terms with the guitar fretboard and harmonic construction.

But nevertheless, some interesting points here. In summary sounds like the advantages of learning theory are
-communicating to other musicians
-increased speed of learning a given piece
-knowledge can help playing become creative

At the end of the day, I think the only honest answer as to why not to learn it is that it is a long term time investment. So it either has to be added on to practice time or to replace some part of existing practice, and there's already so much to practice.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 6 2017 21:50:54
 
Mark2

Posts: 1706
Joined: Jul. 12 2004
From: San Francisco

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

Take it one step at a time-

1.learn the notes on the neck if you don't know them. This is something that develops over time-you learn the notes pretty quickly, but seeing the notes on the fret board instantly happens over time as you spend time with the guitar.

2. Learn the major scale and how it's constructed(formula). Learn the formula for major and minor chords-you could do these two things in less than an hour.

3. Learn the formulas for other scales and chords. Longer term project but don't let it take years-more like months to map out various scales in four or five positions on the neck, and similar effort to learn several voicings for the most common chord types. At that point, you would have a working knowledge of the guitar, in that you would be able to figure out what a chord is called, and be able to play a chord in several ways from seeing the symbol.

Then of course you need to learn how to apply all that.......

When I first started surfing I met an Australian who surfed well. He said "It takes years mate" I was already 40, and didn't want to hear that. I'm 59 now, with 19 years of surfing experience. He was right, it took some years to figure it out, and I'm still learning. Guitar, music theory, etc. is the same. Get going....time is ticking away.



quote:

ORIGINAL: Daniel108

This topic has become an all out discussion of theory, it wasn't my original intention but I suppose it was bound to happen :P

My original intention was (perhaps mysteriously) about improving practice. The idea being that having repeated the same piece 1000 times at a slow tempo and still doing the same mistakes, something was wrong. Different mistakes have different diagnoses, but one such diagnosis from my teacher was that I was just mechanically repeating things without understanding what I was playing. That touched a soft spot since my life is full of failed attempts at coming to terms with the guitar fretboard and harmonic construction.

But nevertheless, some interesting points here. In summary sounds like the advantages of learning theory are
-communicating to other musicians
-increased speed of learning a given piece
-knowledge can help playing become creative

At the end of the day, I think the only honest answer as to why not to learn it is that it is a long term time investment. So it either has to be added on to practice time or to replace some part of existing practice, and there's already so much to practice.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 6 2017 23:41:47
 
Leñador

Posts: 5237
Joined: Jun. 8 2012
From: Los Angeles

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

quote:

but one such diagnosis from my teacher was that I was just mechanically repeating things without understanding what I was playing.

If your teacher is a flamenco teacher he's probably referring more to rhythm and accents(compas) than he is to harmonies. Besides, if you're hitting the right notes with the right rhythm and accents than you basically do understand what you're playing......

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\m/
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 6 2017 23:47:48
 
Sr. Martins

Posts: 3077
Joined: Apr. 4 2011
 

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Daniel108

-mapping out sounds in your brain

Theory and ear training go together.

Also, a common misconception is that theory is reading sheet music or something to follow that will pick the notes for you. Theory can be all that if that's what suits you but in the end, it is just what it is. Theory.

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"Ya no me conoce el sol, porque yo duermo de dia"
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 6 2017 23:49:17
 
chester

Posts: 845
Joined: Oct. 29 2010
 

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Leñador

quote:

ORIGINAL: Leñador

quote:

but one such diagnosis from my teacher was that I was just mechanically repeating things without understanding what I was playing.

If your teacher is a flamenco teacher he's probably referring more to rhythm and accents(compas) than he is to harmonies. Besides, if you're hitting the right notes with the right rhythm and accents than you basically do understand what you're playing......


I agree. Maybe it wasn't about knowing the names of the notes or the key etc. Maybe you're not thinking about things like articulation and phrasing.

Like Piwin and jalalkun said -- music is like a language. You need to cadence when you end a sentence, some words are more important than others, etc.

It's what people call 'musical', 'soul', or 'duende'.
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 7 2017 2:52:37
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1763
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Erik van Goch

quote:

Despite having taking lessons in classical guitar for about 3 years i was not able to read notes nor was i familiar with chord names, the theoretical difference between minor and major, or even how to name a 3/4 or 4/4/ beat


Umm… Did you consider changing your teacher?
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 7 2017 4:26:54
 
Paul Magnussen

Posts: 1763
Joined: Nov. 8 2010
From: London (living in the Bay Area)

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Erik van Goch

quote:

i translated a score of a Harry Sacksioni from standard notation to tablature once only to find out the publisher left out all the difficult notes to make it playable for more people, so i decided ear playing it myself was way better then those kind of crap scores


You surprise me: I bought a book of Harry’s music after seeing him in Antwerp with Herman van Veen (in 1977), and it seemed absolutely accurate. I think the publisher was Harlekijn Holland, so the pieces may have been transcribed by Ad.

Anyway, they seemed to me to be remarkably accurate. They included (if I remember correctly) Lappenballerina (which I found an excellent warm-up exercise), Huiswaarts and Goofy.

Perhaps you got something different…
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 7 2017 4:50:00
 
Ricardo

Posts: 13399
Joined: Dec. 14 2004
From: Washington DC

RE: Understanding what you're playing (in reply to Erik van Goch

quote:

ORIGINAL: Erik van Goch

I just remembered that when we started the flamenco department at Rotterdam Conservatory the classical based teachers in music theory and the history of music were not able to feel Soleares as being E-Phrygian, not even the ones teaching us about the old church modes like dorian, mixolidian, phrygian etc. To them soleares felt like A-minor ending on the dominant chord and they strongly felt soleares should end with an A-minor chord. Although this seems ridiculous to a flamenco trained ear don't forget we do a similar thing in Granainas were we tend to end with E-minor (although i remember discussions with my father putting that in a more nuanced perspective).



No, granainas ends on the iv chord!

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CD's and transcriptions available here:
www.ricardomarlow.com
  REPORT THIS POST AS INAPPROPRIATE |  Date Jun. 7 2017 10:40:46
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