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Play by Ear V Play from written music?

GUEST,LDT 16 Sep 10 - 08:24 AM
Bernard 16 Sep 10 - 08:48 AM
Old Vermin 16 Sep 10 - 09:07 AM
G-Force 16 Sep 10 - 09:22 AM
Marje 16 Sep 10 - 09:26 AM
wysiwyg 16 Sep 10 - 09:31 AM
Howard Jones 16 Sep 10 - 09:56 AM
MikeL2 16 Sep 10 - 09:56 AM
JHW 16 Sep 10 - 10:01 AM
Mr Happy 16 Sep 10 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,FloraG 16 Sep 10 - 10:06 AM
GUEST,Daniel Nicolato 16 Sep 10 - 10:35 AM
Will Fly 16 Sep 10 - 01:23 PM
Paul Burke 16 Sep 10 - 01:40 PM
The Sandman 16 Sep 10 - 01:44 PM
olddude 16 Sep 10 - 01:50 PM
SteveMansfield 16 Sep 10 - 01:51 PM
Leadfingers 16 Sep 10 - 02:00 PM
PoppaGator 16 Sep 10 - 02:40 PM
kmbraun 16 Sep 10 - 02:44 PM
terrier 16 Sep 10 - 03:16 PM
Melissa 16 Sep 10 - 04:52 PM
Mo the caller 16 Sep 10 - 04:54 PM
The Sandman 16 Sep 10 - 05:11 PM
Ann N 16 Sep 10 - 05:33 PM
Will Fly 16 Sep 10 - 05:43 PM
Melissa 16 Sep 10 - 05:48 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 16 Sep 10 - 06:05 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 16 Sep 10 - 06:07 PM
Bobert 16 Sep 10 - 06:26 PM
John P 16 Sep 10 - 06:30 PM
GUEST,LDT 17 Sep 10 - 08:41 AM
pavane 17 Sep 10 - 09:18 AM
SteveMansfield 17 Sep 10 - 09:40 AM
pavane 17 Sep 10 - 09:43 AM
C-flat 17 Sep 10 - 09:43 AM
C-flat 17 Sep 10 - 09:45 AM
McGrath of Harlow 17 Sep 10 - 09:55 AM
theleveller 17 Sep 10 - 10:04 AM
GUEST,leeneia 17 Sep 10 - 11:25 AM
Old Vermin 17 Sep 10 - 11:30 AM
Melissa 17 Sep 10 - 11:59 AM
Will Fly 17 Sep 10 - 01:29 PM
GUEST,Guest from Sanity 17 Sep 10 - 04:33 PM
JHW 17 Sep 10 - 05:01 PM
Lox 17 Sep 10 - 05:10 PM
Melissa 17 Sep 10 - 05:30 PM
Joybell 17 Sep 10 - 05:51 PM
Artful Codger 17 Sep 10 - 06:54 PM
Tim Chesterton 17 Sep 10 - 07:26 PM
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Subject: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 08:24 AM

(I'm assuming its okay for me to start a music related thread?)
Okay here is goes. I find that many people are either for playing by ear or playing from the dots. But thing is I don't do either...and yet do both.
Let me explain. I can't read music 'properly' all I can get is what dot means what button (I play melodeon)and generally long note/short note. So I get what to play from the dots but I have to 'hear' the tune to know *how* to play it.

I'm not sure which 'skill' is best to focus on improving.
Am I the only person doing this or do others have this dilemma too?


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Bernard
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 08:48 AM

Playing 'by ear' is far more useful for folk-related music, as all too often the dots are merely a representation of an average... there are almost as many versions of a melody as there are people playing it, and to be pedantic about which version is 'correct' is another thread altogether!

If you can read music sufficiently to work out how the tune goes for starters, that's probably all you really need.

As for myself, I read music fluently as I was classically trained. However, unlike most classically trained musicians my first instrument was the voice, so when I've learned to play instruments I've kind of learned to play by ear even though I'm 'reading' the dots. In other words, I look at the dots, hear the tune and then can play it on virtually any instrument.

Unfortunately, a lot of classically trained musicians find playing 'by ear', or even without the crutch of the dots, quite difficult... so I count myself fortunate that I can do either with little difficulty.

Some tunes are easier to play on one instrument as opposed to another, usually because the tune originated on that instrument - playing fiddle tunes on pipes may not be as easy as playing pipe tunes on a fiddle, for example. Again, another thread needed!


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 09:07 AM

Unless you can do everything by ear, you need both.

I have seen a classically-trained woodwind player utterly frozen and bewildered in a session where there were no dots.

My own approach is a mix - harmonica mostly by ear, not necessarily accurately. Melodeon by dots to get at least melody, some of the timing, but have tried the big slow session by ear at Towersey, and playing by ear seems less impossible. Ancient East German Anglo treated as subset of melodeon - it helped when I worked out that it seems to be in G/D, not a dreadfully out-if-tune G/C. Guitar by listening and guesswork in a session, but dots or sometimes tab otherwise.

Voice by ear, but dots were given the other day and came in handy.

To quote Rollo Woods, there are three secrets to playing music:

Practice

Practice

and

Practice

Quote from Lester Simpson that only when you are heartily sick of practising something are you ready to play it and play with it.


Be interested to hear how people may have got on with DVDs - I know John Kirkpatrick has done one for the melodeon.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: G-Force
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 09:22 AM

Try and improve both. But it is more important to learn to play be ear, because then you can function as a musician in the folk world. If you can only play from dots, then you are lost without them.

But ... if you can read music, it is a much quicker way of learning tunes because you can go away and practice them on your own. By ear, I find even if I've picked it up OK in a session, I've forgotten it again almost immediately.

Or get a little digital recorder, then you can learn by ear and not worry about written music.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Marje
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 09:26 AM

Bernard, you've expressed exactly what I do when facing a new tune. I have to read the music into my head to know how it should sound, and then get it from ny head to my instrument (in my case, voice or melodeon). Only when I've got my head around it and put the printed music out of sight can I begin to play it anything like properly. It's good to know I'm not the only one who does it like that!

But there are many ways to learn and play, and everyone has to find their own. I'd say that relying entirely on the dots is as limiting as not being able to read them at all, and that some sort of mixture works best for most people.

Marje


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: wysiwyg
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 09:31 AM

Old dilemma, welcome to the dilemma.

For us it's not "versus," it's both-- because each mode has advantages we want under different circumstances.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Howard Jones
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 09:56 AM

They're both useful skills. Reading from music will save you a lot of time finding and learning tunes, however to play them properly you need to have a feel for the music. Most folk tunes are written very simply, without notating the grace notes and shifts of rhythm that help to bring the music to life.

Playing by ear will help you to pick up tunes in sessions, or to learn them from recordings.

For folk music I think playing by ear is the more useful skill, but if you can try to develop both. I play by ear, and learned my instruments by ear, and I struggle with notation. I keep trying to improve my reading, but to be honest I'm not that motivated as I seem to manage pretty well without it. However I now wish that when I was learning I'd made more effort to learn to play from music.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: MikeL2
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 09:56 AM

hi

I agree with all of the above. You need both.

In my case as a guitarist and vocalist I use the dots to learn the tune , or the approximate tune, as I know I will almost certainly not play exactly as the written music "demands".

On the guitar particularly for folk music I can usually work out what and how I want to play. For some pieces and when I am feeling particularly lazy I will not use the dots but from the chord diagrams where they are provided. Or sometimes I use the tablature if it is available.

I do not believe that one plays by ear - rather I think you play from memory. But most will argue that it is the same thing.

cheers

MikeL2


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: JHW
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 10:01 AM

Were it not for the dots we would have lost many a song melody the collectors saved for us but the dots are the bare bones of the tune and need careful realignment and adjustment to interpret each verse of the song.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Mr Happy
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 10:04 AM

So many people convinced that dots is gospel.

Singers attempting stuff they don't have the range for because the dots is in a specific key.

Giving advice that any dots music is merely a reflection of the key preferred by whoever wrote down that particular version can be a total revelation to those I've advised.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: GUEST,FloraG
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 10:06 AM

I think some people are born lucky. My keyboard player is not a folkie - but he can play all our barn dance tunes second time round. I've even given him a tape of a tune that I was having difficulty with and he produced a set of dots. Me - it takes ages to get a tune in my head - and then sometimes I find I don't have the right notes on my basic melodeon.

I find with the melodeon I think I know a tune when I can play it in both D and G, as a waltz, reel, and 6/8. ( 5/4 is just showing off). I then find out how fast I can play it before the notes disappear. Then its probably ready to play out. However, over time I have got better playing by ear and with the music.

For me, the first bar of a tune written down helps to remember what the tune is.
FloraG


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: GUEST,Daniel Nicolato
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 10:35 AM

I play 100% by ear and it works for me. Some remmarks through:
- I don't care much about accuracy
- I am bad with reading dots.. this is a factor
- I don´t mind taking a long time to learn a tune (I am sure sheet music can speed up things). My cycle, with recorded music, goes like this:

1 - Listen
2 - Sing, whistle, "billy iddle diddle", tap rythm on table, all day long..
3 - Listen some more..
4 - (Try to) Play

Repeat hundreds of times.

- Daniel


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 01:23 PM

I started attending a local, monthly session of French music over a year ago (playing mandolin as I find it easier to pick up single melody lines quickly on that instrument than on guitar). Problem was, even though I got to grips with a new tune fairly quickly during the session, the moment I got in the car to go home - no memory of them remained!

I took a Zoom H2 along to one session , which was a help, but what really helped was the session organiser emailing me a PDF of the dots for the core session tunes. This reminded me of what the tunes were and helped me to learn them and practice them at home. As has been said above, the "feel" of the tunes comes from the playing of them in the session, and the dots help you to get started and to practice away from the session.

Reading Standard Notation can be daunting if you started, as I did, to play by ear. I have a good ear, which got in the way of reading music at first, then I started doing song arrangements for other people. This forced me to get to grips with the mysteries of notation - mysteries which grew less with time and patience.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Paul Burke
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 01:40 PM

If you are lucky enough to be able to do both, do both. But remember that any written folk music is only a mnemonic, there are no "authorised versions" outside the imagination of some folklorists. Read the music, but try playing it "not quite" as written, in different ways, until the tune or song becomes your own.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 01:44 PM

to have two skills is better than one, my advice is learn to do both.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: olddude
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 01:50 PM

Can't read a thing and even if I could the dot would be backwards to me
(dyslectic)   but for me the ears work ok .. and I have fun. I have no allusions of being a great studio musician so it works for me since I only play for my kids and friends. I envy those who can read however, I am sure it makes learning a new song a lot easier


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 01:51 PM

What everyone else said really - they're not competing, or mutually exclusive, skills, and having both in your armoury is far better than only having either one.

It's not ear V written, it's ear + written.

Which you prioritise in the short term depends on your situation, and which skill will benefit you better in the immediate future. But you'll be a far better, more flexible, broader-based musician if you can do both to a passable extent.

And then you'll also be able to disprove the old joke: what's the best way to shut a melodeon player up? Put sheet music in front of them.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Leadfingers
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 02:00 PM

Ideally being able to do both would be best , but as stated above , by ear is best for sessions . However , being able to read DOES make learning complicated tunes a faster process .


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: PoppaGator
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 02:40 PM

I'm a little surprised that no one has touched upon the dots-vs-tabs conroversy (which probably applies only to the guitar and similar stringed instruments). I have learned a LOT of my instrumental skills/riffs/etc. from tablature, and have real admiration for those who were able to produce those tabs by listening to records; something I could never have done for myself. However, when I've promoted tablature on this forum in the past, I have usually prompted arguments from naysayers, both from the "by-ear-only" school and from the conventional-sheet-music contingent.

I've been singing in a choir lately and am learning to more-or-less sightread from the "dots." At first, I had to hear the piece played through at least once before I was able to use the sheet music, but now I'm starting to be able to get a sense of the tune from the page even before the organist starts to play.

So far, at least, I'm really only able to read the main melody, or "soprano" part, which I usually sing an octave below the true soprano part. Howver ~ even though I am often able to improvise a harmony part ~ I get hopelessly confused trying to sing a written tenor or bass part off the page.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: kmbraun
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 02:44 PM

What has troubled me about this debate (over about 40 years of it) is that each has advocates that take pride in not being able to do the other. I've even known academic musicians that say with some pride that they haven't taken the time to learn to play by ear. Mostly, it is more in the form of a reverse snobbishness where a person takes pride in note being able to read (the dots). In no other area do so otherwise intelligent people take pride in not knowing something.

Finally, ultimately, reading music, if done properly, is playing by ear. That is, if you really read music you do not translate the symbol on the page to a button or position, but to a pitch (and duration) and then you play it. Put another way, you hear what you see and play what you hear. That is reading music, or music literacy. Plus, there are way more people in this world that really can do this than you might think and very few without the means to learn this very useful skill.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: terrier
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 03:16 PM

Just to add to kmbraun's excellent post, I find that so many people want to play music but never actually put any time into learning their instrument properly. The number of peoply I come across who can't even play a simple major or minor scale correctly, how are they going to cope with playing all the twists and turns of the tunes they want to learn.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Melissa
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 04:52 PM

PoppaG/Will:
Is there a type of tab where the melody is in bold or something to make it easier to hear what it's supposed to sound like as you go along?

(sorry for pulling off topic..figured it was a good time to ask while the thread has slid from people talking about themselves to talking about others)


As long as I have access to folks I can acquire music from, I will stick with playing by ear. I don't think I'm particularly prideful about it and I'm certain there's no reason for me to be ashamed or consider myself a dullard.
I want my head (and fingers) filled with local versions and I still have a few musicians playing around.

If I ran out of Ear, I'd learn to read.
If I was starting out with nobody to hear, I'd want to read.
If anyone thought they were going to prove me a poor musician by demanding that I play a certain scale..I suppose I'd say "You first" and IF I felt inclined to, I'd follow by playing the scale. That's how playing by ear works.

There's nothing wrong with Reading, Tab, or Ear and nothing lost by having a broader foundation to launch from.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Mo the caller
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 04:54 PM

It is good that many of the folkies going into schools are teaching both skills (e.g. I saw a TV programme about Kathryn Tickell).

In all my years learning piano and taking grade exams it was never suggested that playing by ear might be useful. Yet we sing 'by ear'.

I've learnt a lot of my tunes 'by feet', I find I can play them because I've danced them


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: The Sandman
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 05:11 PM

i think tab is pretty good, even though i can read music.
tab can be specific, lets take guitar tab, if you were in standard tuning eadgbe, you have an e open top string, but you also have an e, on the next string down on the b string, on the fifth fret,
well thought out guitar tab tells you which e, of the two you should play, to make it easier to go to the next note that you intend to play.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Ann N
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 05:33 PM

I try to do both but tend to pick up tunes by ear first :) No good at sight reading a new tune straight off but can follow the dots slowly.
   If I've heard the tune before seeing the dots it's so much easier, somehow there's a mental 'map' to fit the shape the tune makes in my head to the dots on the page.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Will Fly
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 05:43 PM

Melissa:
Is there a type of tab where the melody is in bold or something to make it easier to hear what it's supposed to sound like as you go along?

I'm assuming you're talking about guitar tab which has multiple chords/notes in it as well as the melody line?

I'm not aware of any "emphasised" tablature in this sense, though there may be some somewhere. One of the beauties of standard notation is that you can put the melody lead line with the stems pointing up (for example) and the accompanying chords or notes with the stems pointing down. This gives a very visual pointer to the melody.

When I've written my arrangements out in the past - and you can see a whole pageful of stuff at my tabs & music page - I've fluctuated between creating music sheets with music, tablature & chords. I got the occasional comment, from those who read SN, saying that the tab cluttered up the page and they preferred just music. Others said that the SN cluttered up the page - and they preferred tabs! You can't win. It's much easier to just include both, IMO - and including both lets you see a melody line much more clearly.

As an aid to all this, I can really recommend buying some simple software which allows you to (a) write music and create tab from it and (b) write tab and create music from it. It helps you to read and understand both tab and SN - with the bonus of getting the computer to play the tune for you - and the simple process of writing the notes does improve your musical knowledge. I personally use Harmony Assistant, a French package, which is fairly sophisticated but much cheaper than, say, Sibelius. You can also print the score, and I'm finding it a huge help at the moment in preparing arrangements for panto tunes for my local theatre company.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Melissa
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 05:48 PM

Thanks, Will.
If you happen to run across a type of tab where the melody line is easy to see (but still written with filler/extras) I'd really appreciate it if you'd mention it in a thread along the way.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 06:05 PM

Just as Old Vermin says, and as good friend, Mairead Nesbitt says PRACTICE, PRACTICE PRACTICE!! I also mention in my, posted, 'Ten Commandments for Musicians'!!!

NOW THIS IS NOT HARD...BUT PAY ATTENTION!!!!!!!!!!!!

Whether it be written, or by ear, THE GOAL is to hear INTERVALS!!!!!

Etch that in stone!!!!

For instance, take 'Over the Rainbow'. The first notes sung O--takes an octave leap("O--O Over the rainbow"). Learn to grab that sound, on whatever instrument you play, and KNOW that is the POSITION change, for an octave!
Now there are other songs, that you may be familiar with, whose FIRST TWO notes, are the 1-2, 1-3, 1-4, 1-5, 1-6, 1-7. Lock in those sounds!! and Those intervals, learn to grab their positional change!!!!
THAT WAY, as fast as you can imagine a melody, you can grab it on your instrument!!!!!!
IF you are ACCOMPANYING another player, you can ANTICIPATE the change, and you will KNOW exactly where to grab it!!!!!!!!(or even what fills you can do before you get to your 'target-note'!!!!!

I have, and still compose a great deal of music. This tool is invaluable!!! If you can imagine a piece of music, YOU CAN PLAY IT!!!!

Let someone else write the 'flyspecs' as to what you have played! If you play, using MIDI, just get the written print out.

LISTEN TO THIS PLEASE!!!!!!! From 00:45 to 2:20seconds into this video, LISTEN to what this young girl says!!!!!!!!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DdZx1oIgAHk

Regardless of what you think of my views, whether you agree or disagree, on other subjects(BS Threads), what I have told you here, is absolutely the path!!!!!!!!!
You can thank me later....JUST DO IT!!!!

Any questions on clarification, FEEL FREE!! I'm ON YOUR SIDE, IN THIS MATTER!!!!!!

Warmest Regards,
Guest from Sanity


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 06:07 PM

Sorry, my 'blue clicky' didn't work in the last post...here it is!!!!

where she gets it!!!!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Bobert
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 06:26 PM

Yeah, intervals is what good music is all about... I call 'um "pauses" but they are the same thing... Most younger musicans try to cram too much stuff into their music... All that crammin' does not allow for the listener to appreciate what comes next 'cause that space is all filled up and there is no time for the listener to absorb what he or she has just heard before there's more of it layered on... That makes for some very boring music...

Me??? Came up as a tab player until I internalized the art of listening and therefore playing... Since then it's all ear plus a healthy dose of my hands thinkin' that they are smarter than me and goin' off into their own thing... That's a nice problem to have 'cause it frees me up to deliver the story/song without also having to get bogged down with the playing aspect

Now the P-Vine??? She is a music major (dotter) and is clueless how I do what I do... Just as I am about what she does...

Ain't no right or wrong if the music is good...

b~


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: John P
Date: 16 Sep 10 - 06:30 PM

I'm one of those who use a combination of poor reading skills and moderate ear skills. I can do either by itself, but the combination works best for me. I can play pretty much anything once I learn/memorize it.

I often say that reading music is like reading a map. It will tell you generally how to get where you're going, but when you're actually behind the wheel it's best to have your eyes on the road. For lots of folk music, notation simply cannot tell you how to play it, only what the notes are (or might be). When I play with other people, I find it very useful and efficient if they can read music, but absolutely necessary that they know how the music should sound. Think about an Irish reel played strictly according to the notation. Doesn't work.

John


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: GUEST,LDT
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 08:41 AM

Its that whole 'jack of all trades master of none' thing.
I can either be just passable at both or good at one....as I've not got enough mental energy to retain both ways properly. If you get what I mean?


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: pavane
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 09:18 AM

Just wondered if you had noticed that my program HARMONY does Melodeon and Anglo Concertina Tablature as well as the dots? Might be useful to someone.

On the main topic, I have always found, in general, that if I learn from the dots, I need them in front of me to play it - but if I learn by ear, I don't.

Uses a different area of memory I suppose.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: SteveMansfield
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 09:40 AM

On the main topic, I have always found, in general, that if I learn from the dots, I need them in front of me to play it - but if I learn by ear, I don't.

Uses a different area of memory I suppose.


Interesting, because my experience is exactly the opposite - once a tune's in the head and/or fingers it usually stays there, regardless of the whether the inItial source was the eyes or the ears.

If anything I think I file tunes by title, because I can sometimes play a half-remembered tune much better once I've recalled its name ...


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: pavane
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 09:43 AM

Cecil Sharp noted that in his experience (collecting dances), a traditional Morris dancer could not dance a step of a dance until he heard the right tune played. He couldn't just imagine it.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: C-flat
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 09:43 AM

You can get a long way just "by ear" , it has it's limitations, but there's a lot of gigging amateur musicians that never reach those limitations by sticking to what they know or have had time to practise.
Anyone hoping to move on to a "proffessional" stage will need a decent grounding in notation and theory.
Having said that, all the theory in the world won't help the player who doesn't have an "ear", so if it had to be a choice of one over the other, the "ear" would win every time!

Joke: Q. "How do you keep a guitarist quite?"
      A. "Put a sheet of music in front of him!"

C-flat


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: C-flat
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 09:45 AM

"quite?" ????

That would be "QUIET"

tsk, tsk,


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 09:55 AM

It'd be very handy to be able to read music, in order to be able to work out new tunes and remind myself of old ones.

But a musician who has to be reading the notes in order to function is in the same position as a singer who has to be reading the words - no matter how well they play or sing, they don't really know the music or the song.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: theleveller
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 10:04 AM

mrsleveller reads the dots and I just copy what she plays. When I write a song she just copies me. Seems to work OK.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: GUEST,leeneia
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 11:25 AM

Every fall there's a pickin' party where all the folkies of River City bring their instruments and play tunes by ear. It is so boring. People spend 20 minutes trying to think of a tune most will know. Then they play it for 5 minutes, in unison, with no variations. Then they spend another 20 minutes trying to think of another one.

If somebody would prepare a list or bring their copy of the dots, it would reduce the delays, but nobody wants to do that because it would dilute the purity of their 'playing by ear.'

Oh well, as others have said here, there are advantages to both ways, playing by ear and having the dots.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Old Vermin
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 11:30 AM

Could I just ask again how much success people have had using DVD as a learning medium?


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Melissa
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 11:59 AM

Vermin,
If you're talking about good instructional dvds, I don't have much luck with them. The ones I've tried seem to focus very well on things that seem common-sensicle to me (and stay there for a tediously long time) and barely touch whatever rough spot I'm trying to get around.
The licks I've picked up from dvd don't seem to stick in my fingers as well as ones I've snagged from musicians during play.


leeneia,
When is that pickin' party? Is it open?


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Will Fly
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 01:29 PM

Vermin:
Could I just ask again how much success people have had using DVD as a learning medium?

It's probably a little unseemly to advertise oneself in this context, but may I point you to: How To Play Davy Graham's "Angie", which I posted on YouTube 3 years or more ago.

If you read through the comments, it's fairly clear that it's helped several people to play this tune. I've also sold a fair few number of DVDs on the strength of this and similar videos. One of the reasons is the animated finger positions that I use to illustrate the tune in slow-motion.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: GUEST,Guest from Sanity
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 04:33 PM

Several things: What I posted to you earlier, is the quickest, more sure way, to translate from a tune you are thinking, to your fingers. In fact, if you develop through PRACTICING, and developing 'muscle memory', then as fast as you can think it, you can play it! This is what people who read('dots'), try to get to. Just like people who don't read, but wish they could(but won't admit it, because they're too lazy), know the frustrations, of the limitations of their education, people who read, often have a frustration, that they HAVE to read!!!

HOWEVER, music that comes from the heart and soul, of the player, SHOULD NOT be impaired by the limitations, and mental blocks, that they impose upon themselves!!! Neither should you have an instrument that 'gets in the way'!!!

Written music was written for one musician to COMMUNICATE to other musicians, just what the composer had in mind, in relaying the tune, to other support musicians, so they could all have a clue, as to what in the hell the piece of music is suppose to sound like!..so others can play it, either with them, or later. It is not a curse!

Also, musical terms, are STANDARDIZED. Intervals are intervals..they are NOT 'pauses'. An 'interval' is the space between notes, as in half or whole steps(or a series of them). Pauses, are delays of time, usually between phrases of notes...and the term is 'rests'..(though between musicians familiar with each other, they could say, '..put a slight pause, between this note and that note..")

the reason for this, is so two musicians can know what the hell you're talking about! Using wrong terminologies, is just another way of telling people that you are ignorant, and don't know what the hell you're talking about!!....and if music is your passion, LEARN IT!!..How to play, how to communicate, how to allow your heart and soul to freely come out, WITHOUT offering excuses why it CAN'T.

'Folkies', and a lot of 'Blues players' are noted for not knowing much about music, other than to play a limited amount of the same ol' shit over and over again, with maybe slight variations. THIS IS BORING!!...Not only in playing, but to the listener! So, these people are usually stuck in the past, holding dearly on to their particular brain-lock!..Instead of learning 'voice leading'..they just beat on their guitars harder, to emphasize, something they hear in their heads, but can't play!..Shame, shame shame!.....If you have something to say through your 'ax', for God's sakes, get off your lazy asses, and learn how to play it!!!

The hints I gave you earlier IS the path, that most ALL proficient professional musicians strive for..and YOU CAN DO IT!!!

Once you get that down, here's some more 'little' tidbits:
LEARN THE MAJOR SCALE ON YOUR GUITAR IN ALL KEYS!!!!!!!!
This is not difficult..for there are three basic patterns on the guitar. The rest is just where you start.* (Actually there are FIVE patterns, but three will get you by, and astonish your listeners!!)

*Meaning, where you put '0ne' (Do, as in Do Re Mi). I'm sure there are charts to the patterns online.

Start with one finger per fret, and move up or down, across the fretboard to complete the scale. Then use the handy hint, I gave you earlier, to grab intervals, (let's say, 1-3-5-7...or 1-4-5...and 6-2-5-1) within those 'shapes'. Practice them over and over till you
DON'T HAVE TO THINK ABOUT THEM!!!!

Now, that is enough for now. TRY IT!!

I know people like 'Will Fly' (a very proficient player),and others KNOW exactly what I'm talking about! I'm to understand 'Donuel', has conducted, so he probably knows too!

Don't slack off. Music is a gift!!! Learn as much as you can about your gift, as to say, 'Thank You, for the gift'!!

Awaiting Either Results from Those who Tried It, or stupid, dumb excuses from those who WON"T!

GfS


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: JHW
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 05:01 PM

I can't remember (someone will) which esteemed banjo player was asked "Can you read music?"
"Yes", was the reply, "But not enough to spoil my banjo playing".


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Lox
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 05:10 PM

There is a myth that if you cab read it somehow handicaps your ability to play by ear.

It isn't true.

For everyone, apart from a very select few, learning a basic level of reading is essential if you want to train the ear to be able to hear and understand anything beyond basic harmonic understanding.

Being able to read a poem does not affect the ability to learn it by ear.

The same applies in music.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Melissa
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 05:30 PM

Where are you planning to play, LDT?

If you stick with both ways, you might find that each feeds the other and you can surprise yourself by getting a lot better than you expect..or maybe one will turn out to make more sense to you.
Why do you need to decide early on which to lean toward? You're not going to waste time by keeping the decision open for a while..


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Joybell
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 05:51 PM

Lots of interesting thoughts here. Like most people here I also use both methods. I've sung as long as I've talked so learning from written music came second.
At primary school in the 1950s, in Australia, we were given ear training alone -- a cheap option and very effective. We were shown how to find intervals by using well-known songs. We sang a lot. In high school we were taught to read music AND how to combine it with singing by ear. Again a cheap, but effective, option. There was no money for instruments for every child. Piano was used because you can easily see where the notes are -- even when it's just a picture of a keyboard.
We were very lucky -- I believe. My children and grandchildren were/are not so lucky -- Sad.
Cheers, Joy


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Artful Codger
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 06:54 PM

I jot down music to remind myself how tunes go. I learn tunes by ear fairly easily, but many fiddle tunes and such sound so similar it's easy to get them muddled. Given just a title, I may completely blank on how the tune goes, and even if I have the start, I may blank on how a subsequent section goes. So I keep lists of the tunes I'm learning or have learned, with the start of each section of the tune in ABC (essentially, dots in an ASCII form). Sometimes, I don't even need to decipher the ABC; just the visual appearance of the notation may be enough to make the mental links click.

I also get tunes coming to me at odd times, and if I don't write them down immediately in either standard or ABC notation, they're lost. I can come back to what I've jotted down weeks, months or years later and pick up where I left off. Relying on ear/memory alone, I'd never be able to do this. I've experimented with using a tape recorder for capture, but it's so much easier to file and browse written music--not to mention tolerable.

While a written tune may be just a bare-bones "average" form of how it should actually be performed, I find that if I rely only on memory, I may flake some important and desired aspect of the "original" tune. The "folk process" is not always positive.

Once I've learned a tune from written music, I have no extra difficulty transposing it to a different key.

I've learned so much music from print sources alone, much of which is hard to obtain on recordings--and certainly the cost of doing so would be prohibitive. I generally dislike the pervasive souped-up versions of "trad" music, and often would rather learn the music from untainted print sources. I also run less risk of infringing copyrighted arrangements.

I can't imagine having to learn all poetry from oral transmission alone, without the benefit of print; I can't imagine having to learn (and especially, retain) all music by ear. Written music is such a boon.


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Subject: RE: Play by Ear V Play from written music?
From: Tim Chesterton
Date: 17 Sep 10 - 07:26 PM

I think it also depends on your situation. I live in Edmonton, in western Canada, and there aren't many people in this city singing traditional songs. So I don't have the opportunity to pick up traditional songs by ear.

That being the case, if I want to learn new songsI have two choices: (1) listen to CDs (Martin Carthy, Nic Jones, Coppers, Bert Lloyd, Kate Rusby, Martin Simpson, James Keelaghan - I've picked up songs from all of them), or (2) Buy books of old folk songs with the tunes in dots, and figure them out from there.

It may be true that the dots are a song collector's interpretation of what they heard - but the same goes for the CDs. So I use both methods. Also, if I hear a song on a CD and like it, I tend to check online or in a book and see if I can find a copy of the tune (dots), so I can see what the musician who made the CD did to it. Often, I find that they made up a new tune, or played around a bit with the old one. Gives me more choices.

Just to clarify - I don't sight-read well, but I sang in choirs as a teenager and learned to use the dots that way. I can't translate the dots into guitar melody lines - I have to sing them to myself first and then transfer that to guitar. Or even better, get my wife (who plays piano by the dots) to play them for me, and copy what she's playing.

Again, if I lived in a city that had more of a living tradition I might do it differently, but I don't.


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