Can You Play a Simple Song?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
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DenisJ_III
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by DenisJ_III » Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:12 pm

I realised some time ago that my playing technique was never going to equal my ambition in terms of complex pieces. More recently it dawned on me that my playing had to satisfy me before anyone else. So now, I am motivated by the most simple of pieces, just as long as they seem to me to be beautiful. All that effort that used to go into building speed or impossible stretches now goes into trying to play well :wink:
(This is probably obvious to most players, but then I've always been a slow learner.)

For me, this is a great illustration of where my ambitions are now...

Youtube

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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:32 pm

Thanks for this reminder Rognvald. I am on this treadmill sometimes, preparing to perform someday material that is “worthy”. Then finding a new piece to learn as I progress, and putting the simpler pieces aside as my “worthy” bar continually gets raised. I am performing for friends and family more often now, the simpler pieces I can manage. One of the things that attracted me to the guitar years ago was listening to Segovia on the concert stage play simple elegant tunes, many I play now.
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
2015 Steve Ganz "Solidarity"
1980 Dauphin D30
1962 Fender pre-CBS P-Bass
National Triolian Uke ca.1930
Almost as many fly rods as guitars
_/) _/)
_/)

Lawler
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Lawler » Wed Nov 08, 2017 11:47 pm

DenisJ_III wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:12 pm
...I am motivated by the most simple of pieces, just as long as they seem to me to be beautiful.
Me too.

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:24 am

Adrian Allan wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 6:18 pm
Rognvald wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 12:40 am
Adrian Allan wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 3:30 pm
I agree with what you are saying, but how do we cure this "problem".

Should younger players need to undertake some sort of training on the subject of engaging general audiences?

And what format should that take - eg. they must take a residence at a restaurant playing popular requests?

Hi, Adrian,
I would like to address these remarks to you and Traveler based on your responses. In my opinion, CG's take a "backward first" approach to musical study and performance. The first goal of anyone studying an instrument should be to achieve a level of competence that would allow them to perform for others. Since Music IS communication, what is the purpose of intensive study if you never leave your bedroom or study and play to the same 4 walls? With whom are you communicating other than drywall or plaster? The reason I was attracted to Music was that I wanted a voice expressed in an artistic way and wanted to be able to say metaphorically: "This Is Me." So, my goal was performance. I had an advantage when I began studying the CG in that I was a well-advanced Saxophonist/Flutist who had been performing from an early age(early teens). I was a serious student, studied with two "world class" CG teachers and progressed more quickly than most students. I was also an adult with an agenda which gave me a focus that many younger players/students do not possess. Within two years, I began playing jobs in restaurants, wine tastings, weddings and wine festivals. My repertoire was very simple musically but I played it well. I had memorized half of my music and the rest I read from sheet music. As I progressed, my repertoire increased and became more sophisticated and many of my gigs included many CG standards. So, if your goal is performance, assemble 40 minutes of music you can play well and start banging on doors. You should never play more than two 40 minute sets with a 20-minute break and should have no problem repeating your program for the second set. This is a great introduction to performance since 1.) generally you are playing to Musical Neandertals, 2.) only a handful, if any, are listening, 3.) mistakes will generally never be heard and 4.) you get a paycheck at the end of the gig. However, it gives you confidence in playing before a group of people and you will not have the scrutiny that you would have in a dedicated CG concert where perhaps 10% of the audience has any music sensibility and the rest are just along for the ride. So, if you want to progress you have to be able to play a simple song. Play it cleanly, play it with expression and put your name on it. It gives you a starting point with a pathway to the future and gets you out of the bedroom and onto the stage. Play a simple song. And, NEVER PLAY FOR FREE!!! PLAYING AGAIN . . . Rognvald
I agree with what you are saying - I also spent a number of years playing at restaurants and during the process I learnt how to instinctively read the mood of the audience, and adjust my playing to suit.

However, I fear that performing opportunities, even informal ones, are limited - we have become a society of digital downloads. And thus many technically excellent players only have experience of very controlled and sterile exam conditions or masterclasses, and the whole potential to reach out to a more general audience is completely missed. Sadly, the way to go seems to be to get a lot of views on Youtube, and we are all slaves to a virtual world of clicking and listening through headphones. It's a poor compromise, but better than never being seen or heard at all.

Adrian,
Somos simpatico! And, what you say is sadly true. We are living in a world that is quickly destroying what previous generations called the human condition. It is an increasingly artificial and superficial world where "likes" on a blog post or "YouTube" by hordes of anonymous brain-dead automatons portend to determine a person's worth. Just find a catchy avatar and you can comment on anything from Kempff playing Beethoven to Chet Baker singing My Funny Valentine with equally consistent stupidity. However, there will always be some of us who choose a different path and understand the importance of the human condition, self-awareness and the importance of what the Zen practitioners call enlightenment. From your picture, I perceive you are a younger person who will be facing a steady decline and decay of what it is to be called Human in the coming years. You must find a way to cope with this quickly changing world and protect yourself from the infection of the Herd or like most artists, you will finally suffocate and spiritually die. After a long hiatus from Music, I'm back playing and soon will be performing again. You won't find me on a YouTube channel or cutting a cheesy CD in a basement recording studio but you just might wander into a local art exhibition, chic 5 star restaurant or a half-seedy Latin lounge and see someone playing that is fully absorbed in the Music and creating a place for himself that is beyond place and time. Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

soltirefa
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by soltirefa » Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:00 am

For me, this is a great illustration of where my ambitions are now...
Some of those easier Sor pieces have lots of tickle-the-brain per unit of difficulty. In other words, you get a lot of good music for relatively less effort. I like his study in D major, too. It goes well with that B minor study.

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DenisJ_III
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by DenisJ_III » Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:54 am

soltirefa wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:00 am
you get a lot of good music for relatively less effort.
Exactly the pieces I look for. I'm enjoying playing so much more as a result of not constantly struggling at a technical level. Struggling musically is more rewarding, somehow. :)

CathyCate
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by CathyCate » Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:41 am

DenisJ_III wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 9:54 am
soltirefa wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:00 am
you get a lot of good music for relatively less effort.
Exactly the pieces I look for. I'm enjoying playing so much more as a result of not constantly struggling at a technical level. Struggling musically is more rewarding, somehow. :)

+1
I have seen the light too!

There are advantages that come with decreasing the technical struggle. Performing is easier and causes less anxiety, if any. Improvisation and arranging at a musical level that fits also seems to come more naturally. Thus, there is joy and contentment to be found that may have been out of reach otherwise.
Wonderful thread.

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lucy
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by lucy » Thu Nov 09, 2017 12:27 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:24 am
We are living in a world that is quickly destroying what previous generations called the human condition. It is an increasingly artificial and superficial world where "likes" on a blog post or "YouTube" by hordes of anonymous brain-dead automatons portend to determine a person's worth.
Yes, I agree. And what really annoys me is that apparently many people attempt, and evidently succeed in manipulating YouTube's search algorithms - and then some viewers believe that the best videos are always to be found at the top. I've seen videos telling people how to do this - and people spend many, many hours on it! It's like many people believe that "succeeding" by gaining "likes" and "subscribers", is the way forward...

I find myself questioning whether many people actually perform, in real life. As far as I know, for almost everyone, there's no money in YouTube, just people sharing their talents with others and having fun - this is what it is for most people. For professionals, it's an additional promotional tool, with the aim of gaining paid work, in real life.

I agree with all posters about playing "simple" music well, but actually I don't think there are any simple pieces. They all have their own challenges...
“Do what you can, with what you have, where you are”. Theodore Roosevelt

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Allister Slingenberg
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Allister Slingenberg » Thu Nov 09, 2017 1:40 pm

I was just on a random student site just now and came across students out-boasting each other as to how fast they got to grade 8. One year, 2 years, etc. 10 months was the winner. These kids... (rant)...

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:41 pm

DenisJ_III wrote:
Wed Nov 08, 2017 8:12 pm
I realised some time ago that my playing technique was never going to equal my ambition in terms of complex pieces. More recently it dawned on me that my playing had to satisfy me before anyone else. So now, I am motivated by the most simple of pieces, just as long as they seem to me to be beautiful. All that effort that used to go into building speed or impossible stretches now goes into trying to play well :wink:
(This is probably obvious to most players, but then I've always been a slow learner.)

For me, this is a great illustration of where my ambitions are now...

Youtube
They say a picture is worth a thousand words . . . outstanding example Denis! Playing again . . . Rognvald
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

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Rick Beauregard
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rick Beauregard » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:26 pm

I have to add though, that after working hard to improve my skills on harder pieces, then going back to the simple ones I thought I knew, they are so much better. There is always something new to unpack or discover in those Sor studies or Lagrima. In this way, like three steps up and two steps back, I think I am getting better.
All this time I thought I was making music; it was making me.
2015 Steve Ganz "Solidarity"
1980 Dauphin D30
1962 Fender pre-CBS P-Bass
National Triolian Uke ca.1930
Almost as many fly rods as guitars
_/) _/)
_/)

soltirefa
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by soltirefa » Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:42 pm

Rick Beauregard wrote:
Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:26 pm
I have to add though, that after working hard to improve my skills on harder pieces, then going back to the simple ones I thought I knew, they are so much better. There is always something new to unpack or discover in those Sor studies or Lagrima. In this way, like three steps up and two steps back, I think I am getting better.
And the reverse is true; you play the easier pieces for a time and suddenly the harder ones feel easier.

soltirefa
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by soltirefa » Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:32 pm

This is literally "A Simple Song."

https://youtu.be/SEm_7OM0Xik

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Erik Zurcher
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:10 pm

I blame the system of musical education. Conservatoire students need to squeeze their development within four (batchelor) or five+ years (masters). They must push their limits all the time. They can't afford the luxury to perform simple pieces beautifully.
Reedition Domingo Esteso by Conde Hermanos 2004; Kenny Hill, model Barcelona 2001
"While you try to master classical guitar, prepare for a slave's life: the guitar will forever be your master and you its slave".

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Cloth Ears
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Cloth Ears » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:33 pm

Taarrega's Gran Vals is a nice simple piece that is guaranteed to put a smile on your face and have the odd office drone reaching for their phone :0))

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