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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
Steve Shaw Reading Lyrics vs Memorization (203* d) RE: Reading Lyrics vs Memorization 07 Jan 21

My experience, which is considerable, was playing instrumental music, not singing, and mostly traditional Irish music (with the inevitable bits of Scottish and Northumbrian...). In my opinion (an important caveat), tunes should always be learned by ear. What is in the dots is not the tune. Dots don't contain the little nuances of rhythm, tempo, variation, articulation and ornamentation. Dots keep you totally earthbound. I've sat at a table in sessions with really "gifted" instrumentalists who are great sight-readers, playing tunes they didn't know from the dots. *Groan.* Talk about wooden. All those things I mentioned ARE the tune, not add-ons, and you should be using them as you are learning the notes, not sticking them in afterwards. I would just about make an exception in the case of very experienced players with hundreds of tunes under their belt that they've learned by ear. They are so soaked in the ways of authentic, traditional playing that they might be able to avoid the impossible constraints imposed by dots alone. Absolutist, moi?

As for singers, I can fully understand getting verses in long ballads mixed up or left out. But if you're singing from a script, you're not going to be in the spirit of the song at all. A tiny, discreet prompt sheet that can be furtively glanced at not too often, just to remind what comes next, would seem to be OK to me. We had one bloke who had a bit of paper sellotaped on the top edge of his guitar... But no permanent eyes-down, or songbook on table, or (heaven forfend) music stand... all that is just awful...

Steve, ducking nervously, in a mostly-singing thread, fish out of water an' all that...

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