Can You Play a Simple Song?

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tgwilt
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by tgwilt » Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:47 pm

Erik Zurcher wrote:
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.
I really think the Conservetoire method has done more harm than good for guitar students. The players all sound alike, and realistacally there aren't any jobs. The guitar is an amazing instrument that has a very wide tonal pallet, which is rarely used now. It seems to me that the pursuit of technical perfection has become more important than musicianship and much more important than exploiting the natural sounds of this truly individual instrument. Where are the Breams, Parkenings, and such players whose tone and musciality are immediately recognizable. If I hear a guitarist these days, I'm hard pressed to identify the player by the tone ore musical presentation.

Any thoughts?

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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:23 am

I don't know. I hear all the time that there's no musicianship to be found today among contemporary cg players. Really? I also hear people rave about concerts they've attended. And then supposedly western civilization has fallen off a cliff in the last 20 years and all artistry has shriveled and died. I wonder. If so, that was fast. Our heroes are still alive and kicking.

Stephen Gould, the biologist, wrote about baseball too. Why has no one hit .400 over a season since Ted Williams? Did giants of baseball walk the earth and then everything crapped out? No. Gould explains that excellence spread--there are far more excellent players in all positions playing today than in Williams' day. Including pitchers. Williams was playing against the equivalent of today's minor league teams. So no one hits .400 over a season because there are too many good pitchers and defensive players active today. Baseball is better today than it was.

You see where this is going. Where are the immediately distinctive voices? Well, there are a lot of voices and many are very good indeed. They don't have the impact of a Williams (John); but Williams was playing in a smaller park, so to speak.

I think that we have to listen differently, with different criteria, in order to discover the voices of today and not always be pining for the giants of the past--which is an eternal lament.
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PeteJ
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by PeteJ » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:01 pm

Very much agree with the general sentiment here. We forget that just one well played note on the CG is a thing of beauty and rush to play twenty more. I feel there is much to be learned from playing and writing songs. I've met excellent CG players who cannot play a G9 chord when asked.

Rasputin
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:22 pm

tgwilt wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 11:47 pm
Erik Zurcher wrote:
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.
I really think the Conservetoire method has done more harm than good for guitar students. The players all sound alike...
Who are we talking about here? The players I hear on on YT or my streaming service - or the few recitals I go to - don't sound alike, and yet like JA I read comments like this on here all the time.

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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Sat Nov 11, 2017 5:17 pm

soltirefa wrote:
Fri Nov 10, 2017 10:32 pm
This is literally "A Simple Song."

https://youtu.be/SEm_7OM0Xik

Another excellent example: interesting melody/harmony accessible to all levels of muscianship and played well by Per. 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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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Mon Nov 13, 2017 5:41 pm

I would like to share an experience I had recently at a CG recital. I would prefer to be vague since I have a long-held personal rule of thumb that I never criticize a serious musician by name in a public forum. The musician played a full concert recital with 18/19th Century Music and a couple contemporary pieces. He was an advanced player and his program was ambitious. The music was highly technical and with a few exceptions, was mostly allegro. Throughout the recital, he was clearly playing pieces that he had not practiced sufficiently or that appeared to be beyond his level of competence. The overall effect to the listener was one of static interruption and loss of continuity of expression and thought. He used little dynamic variation and rubato was almost non-existent. He never played an adagio movement and the overall effect was similar to being in the back seat of a race car during the Indy 500. In my opinion, the concert was a failure. It left me cold and uninspired. Musicians, like life, are not one dimensional . . . they are multi-faceted and their music should reflect the many sides of the performer. And, perhaps, the reason that he chose this high-speed program was that he couldn't play a simple song that presented a beautiful melody that needed to breathe, rise, and fall towards a lyrical and poignant ending where there was no place to hide behind a rapid-fire flurry of notes. The greatest failure of many highly trained musicians today is that they cannot play a simple song. They play fast . . . they play the big names, but they sadly fail the goal of all good music: they fail to communicate. This was clearly the case in this performance.
"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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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Michael.N. » Mon Nov 13, 2017 6:35 pm

I don't really understand the problem. Some can (including very many amateur musicians) and some can't. Wasn't it ever thus?
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:05 pm

Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Sat Nov 11, 2017 2:23 am
I don't know. I hear all the time that there's no musicianship to be found today among contemporary cg players. Really? I also hear people rave about concerts they've attended. And then supposedly western civilization has fallen off a cliff in the last 20 years and all artistry has shriveled and died. I wonder. If so, that was fast. Our heroes are still alive and kicking.

Stephen Gould, the biologist, wrote about baseball too. Why has no one hit .400 over a season since Ted Williams? Did giants of baseball walk the earth and then everything crapped out? No. Gould explains that excellence spread--there are far more excellent players in all positions playing today than in Williams' day. Including pitchers. Williams was playing against the equivalent of today's minor league teams. So no one hits .400 over a season because there are too many good pitchers and defensive players active today. Baseball is better today than it was.

You see where this is going. Where are the immediately distinctive voices? Well, there are a lot of voices and many are very good indeed. They don't have the impact of a Williams (John); but Williams was playing in a smaller park, so to speak.

I think that we have to listen differently, with different criteria, in order to discover the voices of today and not always be pining for the giants of the past--which is an eternal lament.

Jeff,
The difference between your baseball and music analogy is that Music, unlike baseball, reflects the culture in which it grows and is nourished whereas, in baseball, culture has nothing to do with it since it simply represents the cumulative growth of skills, size, strength, and coaching of the athletes. As a former college baseball player, a 400-500 foot home run was considered exceptional in my time. Today, they are hit every day somewhere in the Big Leagues. Culture has nothing to do with it. There is no serious student of History that would not admit periods of feast or famine exist among generations. The Renaissance was not only a flowering of Music, Literature, Philosophy, and Art but also an age of incredible world exploration and advances in Science and Technology. Similar comparisons are also valid for the 19th Century and compared to today, Giants did walk the earth. As a final remark, it is my opinion that the Literature, Poetry, Philosophy, Visual Arts and yes, Music of the YTK reflects the shallow, degenerative times in which we live. There are some bright lights . . . but they are distant and appear only seldom on the horizon. 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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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Erik Zurcher » Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:14 pm

I remember Matthew McAllister performing 4 Scottish Lute pieces during a concert at the Classical Guitar Retreat and saw members in the audience wiping away tears. I have never seen this before or since that concert. These Scottish Lute pieces are not particularly difficult to play, but Matthew managed to move his audience to tears. How often does that happen?
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Mon Nov 13, 2017 11:50 pm

Rognvald, I'm afraid that you miss the point of my analogy, which incidentally Gould made to illustrate something about evolution. In any case, there's a thread showing right now asking about good contemporary flamenco players. The list is quite long and growing. Some time back there was a similar thread that concerned modern classical guitar masters. It was a huge list. So many people disagree with your assertion that there are no good players today. And if you're not saying that...I'm unsure of the point that you're making. You went to a concert and were disappointed. From this you conclude that civilization is crumbling. Bad concerts were given in the age of Beethoven and Bach too. Somehow we muddled on.

I'm suggesting that it's the feast of good players today, and some other reasons, that make the existence of a Bream or Segovia-like stature and reputation unlikely today--rather than a complete and sudden collapse of standards. After all, I've heard contemporary guitarists play pieces that I prefer to Segovia's recorded versions. There are aspects of Antigoni Goni's playing that I prefer at times to Williams. Berta Rojas plays Barrios as well as anyone I know. And so on. It's this listening to and assessing the strengths of players in their uniqueness and difference from great players from the past and present that I find enjoyable. You seem to hear only rubbish from today's players. I respectfully disagree.

Rognvald wrote: "The difference between your baseball and music analogy is that Music, unlike baseball, reflects the culture in which it grows and is nourished whereas, in baseball, culture has nothing to do with it.." Tell that to Jackie Robinson.
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:51 am, edited 2 times in total.
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MaritimeGuitarist
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by MaritimeGuitarist » Tue Nov 14, 2017 12:59 am

Rognvald wrote:
Mon Nov 13, 2017 10:05 pm
Jeff,
The difference between your baseball and music analogy is that Music, unlike baseball, reflects the culture in which it grows and is nourished whereas, in baseball, culture has nothing to do with it since it simply represents the cumulative growth of skills, size, strength, and coaching of the athletes. As a former college baseball player, a 400-500 foot home run was considered exceptional in my time. Today, they are hit every day somewhere in the Big Leagues. Culture has nothing to do with it. There is no serious student of History that would not admit periods of feast or famine exist among generations. The Renaissance was not only a flowering of Music, Literature, Philosophy, and Art but also an age of incredible world exploration and advances in Science and Technology. Similar comparisons are also valid for the 19th Century and compared to today, Giants did walk the earth. As a final remark, it is my opinion that the Literature, Poetry, Philosophy, Visual Arts and yes, Music of the YTK reflects the shallow, degenerative times in which we live. There are some bright lights . . . but they are distant and appear only seldom on the horizon. Playing again . . . Rognvald
If music "reflects the culture in where it grows and is nourished", does renaissance and 19th century music also reflect the negative side of these cultures? Keep in mind that both of these eras were dominated with oppressive political systems where racism, misogyny, violence, and bigotry were embedded in most of the cultures throughout Europe and North America. You mention incredible world exploration. Well, many of these 'explorers' also systematically and violently appropriated land and culture from the indigenous populations they found. Imperialism was par for the course. Slavery was alive and well for much of these periods. I could go on, but, you get the point. It's easy to romanticize the past, but these were not good times for most people. If you are correct in your assertion, what does this say about the music produced in these eras?

We have a lot of serious problems in our current society here in North America and all over the world--no question. Many of the things I mentioned still exist. But our current 'degenerative' era has come a long way since the 16th or 19th centuries.

Much beautiful music was born out of the ugliness of these eras, I would really like to believe that music has the ability to transcend, rather the merely reflect, the cultures in which they were produced.

P.S. I agree with JA and others--it's absolutely ridiculous to suggest that there isn't a wealth of fantastic CG performers today.

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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:09 am

"Rognvald, I'm afraid that you miss the point of my analogy, which incidentally Gould made to illustrate something about evolution. In any case, there's a thread showing right now asking about good contemporary flamenco players. The list is quite long and growing. Some time back there was a similar thread that concerned modern classical guitar masters. It was a huge list. So many people disagree with your assertion that there are no good players today. And if you're not saying that...I'm unsure of the point that you're making. You went to a concert and were disappointed. From this you conclude that civilization is crumbling. Bad concerts were given in the age of Beethoven and Bach too. Somehow we muddled on."

Jeff,
I perfectly understood your analogy about evolution and it is why I felt it didn't work for me. My explanation is quite clear. Perhaps you should re-read it. I never said that there are "no good players today" which is patently absurd. What I did say was that there is a trend in the YTK to produce musical automatons whose main focus is playing the repertoire in a mechanical fashion like a music box and cannot play a simple song well. This, as I have stated earlier, is partially, if not wholly due to contemporary guitar pedagogy taught in American Universities and promoted by many independent teachers. I have provided many examples for the reader to contemplate and, of course, this is my opinion. Finally, your imaginative interpretation connecting my concert experience and crumbling civilizations is also off-course since the presence of "bad concerts" in Bach's and Beethoven's time were not a reflection of the Age at large, but rather of ubiquitous poor musicianship which transcends generations---even occurring in the light of these great masters. However, we are a Civilization in decline and it can be easily detailed in the failure of our education systems to maintain national standards, declining test scores, devaluation of a university degree by substandard colleges and universities graduating hordes of functionally illiterate graduates, dime store novelists and bad rhyming poets winning the Nobel Prize, technically challenged "visual artists" passing off camp installations of bedsheet art dangled from skyscrapers and indecipherable bone-head paintings reminiscent of Bobo the Chimp in Art class hanging in major museums, the death of serious reading as a pastime being supplanted by video war games and on-line dating and even the thought of a 21st Century philospher in the likes of Nietzsche, Schoppenhauer, Camus . . . .whew, Jeff . . .do I really need to continue??????? Playing again . . . Rognvald P. S. Perhaps you would like to detail the brilliant effluence of our 21st Century Renaissance . . . better yet, keep that one on the shelf for awhile . . . I just finished a superb Veal Oscar graced by a hardy White Burgundy.
"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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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by skipintro » Tue Nov 14, 2017 9:01 am

I'm a born again beginner age 72.
Sitting playing in a group of similar minded people (we are a band called Not Dead Yet) it was somebodies birthday but it transpired that non of us could play the tune - without first looking for the music.
I realised that this meant that we hadn't even begun to learn to play, even though there were all sorts of intermediate level pieces on our agendas.
This was a turning point for me - guess what I can now play Happy Birthday, Baa baa black sheep and all sorts of simple stuff impromptu!
I think the emphasis on the difficult, serious, austere, "classical", can be a serious impediment to the learning process, not much fun and the main reason for people giving up. In fact listening to performances of much of the repertoire is sometimes fairly joyless too, however admirable the technical ability and the feats of memory.
I believe absolutely anybody could play moderately well given the right stimulus, but instead are subjecting themselves to 'aversion therapy'
No more Bach on guitar for me - what a relief!!

I'm particularly grateful to Marieh of this forum for her endless supply of delightful tunes of moderate difficulty. I wish I'd had this material 50 years ago - I could have been a contender! search.php?author_id=76430&sr=posts

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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by fatwarry » Tue Nov 14, 2017 10:02 am

Rognvald wrote:
Tue Nov 14, 2017 1:09 am
However, we are a Civilization in decline and it can be easily detailed in the failure of our education systems to maintain national standards, declining test scores, devaluation of a university degree by substandard colleges and universities graduating hordes of functionally illiterate graduates, dime store novelists and bad rhyming poets winning the Nobel Prize, technically challenged "visual artists" passing off camp installations of bedsheet art dangled from skyscrapers and indecipherable bone-head paintings reminiscent of Bobo the Chimp in Art class hanging in major museums, the death of serious reading as a pastime being supplanted by video war games and on-line dating and even the thought of a 21st Century philospher in the likes of Nietzsche, Schoppenhauer, Camus . . . .whew, Jeff . . .do I really need to continue??????? Playing again . . . Rognvald P. S. Perhaps you would like to detail the brilliant effluence of our 21st Century Renaissance . . . better yet, keep that one on the shelf for awhile . . . I just finished a superb Veal Oscar graced by a hardy White Burgundy.
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Henny » Tue Nov 14, 2017 11:17 am

thanks for sharing your ideas Rognvald
i have almost 65 years of age and love to play and study to become a better musicien,
i have taken online lessons to have feedback and
although i performed in my life several times, i am not anymore '' ín the mood '' to do it.
my communication is online and I regret this some times but most of the time i just love to play and study music.
ofcourse i hope to perform once or twice again but it is not an goal anymore.
maybe it is a poor compromise as Adrian said but i would encourage everyone not to give up playing.

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