Mudcat Café message #1431106 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #75139   Message #1431106
Posted By: GUEST
09-Mar-05 - 08:57 PM
Thread Name: When do you become a musician?
Subject: RE: When do you become a musician?
M.Ted wrote:

Ahh, so you *do* think in measures;-)

Not really. The structure of the measure is always there, but when I'm playing it's not something I pay much attention to. I've been playing for so long that keeping the phrasing of a song just comes naturally.

That's kind of the trick to practice. Nowadays we tend to view practice as memorizing individual pieces of music, but the way I was "taught" - I never took a formal lesson when I was starting out, everything I know was picked up at jam sessions and hanging around with old players - was to view practice as a way to make the whole process of playing something natural.

How do I put this . . . ? Okay, a good example off this is picking up a chord progression on the fly. If you don't practice working with chord progressions then every time you want to learn a new song you have to consciously think about what chords are played and where the chord changes fall in the song.

If you put some real effort into working with chord progressions you can, in time, develop an instinctive feel for them. Instead of sitting down and working out a song you just "know" what and when to play.

It's the same way with measures. If you have a grasp of what a time signature means it's not that big of a deal to work up a practice routine to make learning how to phrase melodies in 4/4, 3/4 and 6/8 time. Once you "get" the interrelationships between scales and chord progressions improvising melodies becomes something natural.

The trick is to take it in sensible steps. People usually want to get into what they view as the "advanced stuff" right away. The other mistake is to assume that traditional musicians were musically illiterate. O'Carolan may or may not have known how to read standard notation, but then again the dude was blind so bringing it up isn't exactly cool. If you listen to his music there is an almost frightening level of complexity in a lot of his work. You don't pull that sort of thing out of your ass or out of your genes. The guy was one hell of a musician - and he wasn't alone. Clarance Ashley and Riley Pluckett both knew more than a little bit about the language of music. It's a lot more comforting to think their ability was based on drinking out o the right well or some genetic fluke, but the reality is that these guys spent their lives pursuing pretty unique artistic visions.

Learn the language. I don't mean you have to sit down a play note-for-note from sheet music. That's not doing anything but mechanical work. I mean get under the hood and becomes familiar with how and why this stuff works. That will give you the tools to find the right way for you to express yourself and communicate with other musicians using this wonderful thing we call music.

It's not a matter of talent. When one of my students ask me about talent I always say, "Ah, talent. Many are called, but few bother to practice."