Can You Play a Simple Song?

Classical Guitar technique: studies, scales, arpeggios, theory
Forum rules
IV Laws governing the quotation/citation of music


For discussion of studies, scales, arpeggios and theory.
Rasputin
Posts: 533
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Tue Nov 14, 2017 3:06 pm

Michael.N. wrote:
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?
I'm sure it was. One undercurrent of this thread is that this is an ability that can be taught, but that up-and-coming players are being encouraged to focus on technique instead. I think that is yet to be proved, to say the least. I certainly think that playing at the limits of your technique prevents you from showing off whatever musicality you do have, but that's precisely why it's important to work on technique. To encourage someone to do that is not to downplay the importance of playing musically.

It sounds as though this particular player's programme was not very well balanced, but as far as the performance itself goes it may just have been an off day. Equally, the player may not have the natural ability to play a simple song beautifully, in which case opting for fretboard pyrotechnics would make perfect sense. You can't blame someone for playing the cards they've been dealt.

I agree that it is important to get across the idea that it is the musical and not the technical quality of the performance that really counts. I sometimes wonder whether starting people on CG works against this. Perhaps it would be better to start them with singing or on a monophonic instrument where there isn't so much else to worry about. I guess most children sing anyway, but I think teaching them sight singing and some basic practical harmony would really give them a springboard into playing the guitar.

Rognvald
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Nov 14, 2017 4:41 pm

MaritimeGuitarist wrote:
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.
Well, MG,
On one hand, Music does reflect the culture as we see in popular Music today but it can also be an anomaly. Despite my dire views of the 21st Century, there are some artists who carry the banner of the universality of serious Art and seek to live by the tried and true standards of excellence that previous generations have provided by example. However, it is my opinion that they are the exception rather than the norm as I have stated in a previous post and an example is the three-chord guitarists who represent the lion share of Pop music today in comparison to the Pop music of the 40's and 50/60's played by competent, trained musicians in bands like the Benny Goodman Orchestra, Paul Whiting, Glenn Miller, Count Basie, Ray Charles etc. Secondly, when you speak about racism, violence, misogyny, etc., that occurred during these previous periods of artistic heights, these are the shallow catchwords of the 21st Century intended to diffuse or sidetrack serious conversations of a subject and morph into a YTK version of the Salem Witch Hunts. They have no bearing on the great Art that was created and certainly wasn't how life was viewed during that era. You can believe in Art with a Social purpose: Didactic Art as Hitler, Stalin and Mao paraded or choose Art for Art's Sake which is timeless and not infected with the stench of contemporary thought, politics, and brain-dead hipsterism. Of course, we have "Art" with political themes as Goya's painting "The Third of May 1808," Picasso's "Guernica" or even our own "Star Spangled Banner," but to negatively judge an era's artistic productivity and merits or to cast aspersions on these times of incredible productivity with the above socially correct terms denigrates Art to a pastime based on contemporary political norms and values which we all know, of course, is absurd. Art should be judged on its own merits. Nothing else. So, when you say: " 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. . . "(MaritimeGuitarist), I would remark that the "ugliness" you describe is your socially conscious view of this period as seen from a biased 21st Century perspective . . . hardly a fair posture when judging previous generations or Art. Finally, to describe most contemporary musicians as a "wealth of fantastic . . . performers," I would remark that this is your opinion and would counter that in the YTK, Art does reflect the times . . . but hardly in the way you see it. Thanks for your comments. 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

dyspros
Posts: 6
Joined: Wed Nov 15, 2017 9:59 am

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by dyspros » Wed Nov 15, 2017 11:18 am

Perhaps the intention of instructors who allow their students to move fast from piece to piece is that they'll come back in a few years, after that first exposure.

Many students start at a very young age. What you perceive as not being a good performance could be the result of lacking in general maturity to convey a piece in that most complete interpretation that is well above a simple technical rendition. Perhaps it isn't a problem of lack of technique, but rather a result of not being mature enough.

Then, the question could be if a student should only be given pieces to work on that are suitable to her age and life experience.

Rognvald
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:55 am

"Many students start at a very young age. What you perceive as not being a good performance could be the result of lacking in general maturity to convey a piece in that most complete interpretation that is well above a simple technical rendition. Perhaps it isn't a problem of lack of technique, but rather a result of not being mature enough. " dyspros

This is a very good point, D, but it does not apply to an advanced adult performer. The most difficult thing for a musician to accept is that despite the technical proficiency he/she has achieved in their long journey, they can't take the music beyond the dots on the page and become an emotive player. I believe this goes beyond music pedagogy and into the realm of genetics and human development of what the 19th Century Romantics and 20th Century R and B musicians called "Soul." You either have it or you don't . . . it's just that simple and you can feel it whenever you're in the presence of a performer who has "it." It's not what many players like to admit but it is also the reason some musicians reach a high level of technical proficiency and quit. They have an epiphany of the cruelest kind that comes from years of honest soul-searching. They cannot play the way they would like to play . . . they play only the way they can play. This is why a simple song can either be your pathway to your own unique voice or a dead end to self-realization. It is an honest litmus test for every serious player. 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

Jeffrey Armbruster
Posts: 1584
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:16 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:30 am

"I believe this goes beyond music pedagogy and into the realm of genetics and human development of what the 19th Century Romantics and 20th Century R and B musicians called "Soul.""



Wow, that's a lot of gibberish.

Of course you consider yourself genetically endowed with soul and can make this determination about others.
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
Takamine C132S

kmurdick
Posts: 509
Joined: Sat Aug 09, 2014 7:48 pm

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by kmurdick » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:23 pm

Rasputin says, "I certainly think that playing at the limits of your technique prevents you from showing off whatever musicality you do have......."

I went to see Galbraith a few years ago and during the whole second half of the recital he was playing pieces that were above his technical level. I just felt like getting out of there. Others do this too. You will never see non-guitarist concert players do this.

Rognvald
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:29 pm

"Of course you consider yourself genetically endowed with soul and can make this determination about others." Jeff Armbruster


Jeff,
Of course, I forgot . . . we're all the same in the YTK, right? And, death to Beelzebub if a person actually has a personal opinion that contravenes the Herd mentality. 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
Posts: 1410
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by soltirefa » Fri Nov 17, 2017 3:57 pm

Jeff,
Of course, I forgot . . . we're all the same in the YTK, right? And, death to Beelzebub if a person actually has a personal opinion that contravenes the Herd mentality. Playing again . . . Rognvald
Rognvald,

Not really a big deal, but if you quote someone, copy what you want to quote, click reply, and then click the quote icon that is among the other icons that run across the top of the field where you write your post. A bracket will pop up where you write your post. Paste the quote you copied between the two brackets. Then the quote will show a different color and stand out. But once again, not a biggy,.

User avatar
Mark Clifton-Gaultier
Posts: 1042
Joined: Tue Dec 08, 2009 1:03 pm
Location: England

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Mark Clifton-Gaultier » Fri Nov 17, 2017 4:05 pm

Rognvald wrote:Of course, I forgot . . . we're all the same in the YTK, right? And, death to Beelzebub if a person actually has a personal opinion that contravenes the Herd mentality.
A lot of beefing for someone not part of the herd. What's YTK by the way Ronnie?

PeteJ
Posts: 656
Joined: Fri Jul 08, 2016 12:52 pm

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by PeteJ » Fri Nov 17, 2017 5:06 pm

I'd agree with Rognvald that Soul comes into it, thus genetics etc., but it cannot come into it when we're playing pieces that are too difficult for us. I find it most odd that may CGers I've met cannot play simple songs and have little grasp of how to put together simple harmonic accompaniments. Once up and running I'd advise a beginner to write lots of songs - with or without words. It's a great way to learn harmony.

I must admit though that I've never found a piece simple enough to prevent me from being unmusical and making mistakes. I blame my genes.

Rognvald
Posts: 226
Joined: Sat Jul 08, 2017 1:21 am

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:46 pm

Thanks for the info, Solti! I'll try it next time. And to Mark, the YTK is the "year 2000" referring to the 21st Century. And, I hope your "beefing" was a play on words which I'd give a 9.5 for creativity and a . . . . well, we won't talk about substance. 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
Posts: 1410
Joined: Tue Jul 11, 2006 3:59 am
Location: Southern California

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by soltirefa » Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:53 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:46 pm
Thanks for the info, Solti! I'll try it next time. And to Mark, the YTK is the "year 2000" referring to the 21st Century. And, I hope your "beefing" was a play on words which I'd give a 9.5 for creativity and a . . . . well, we won't talk about substance. Playing again . . . Rognvald
It's interesting (to me) to note that there was never a year zero, therefore the new Millennium started in 2001. Also, we count from 1 to 10, not zero to 9. By this reckoning when we have a zero-year birthday that is actually part of the preceding decade. I use this rationalization to feel better about turning a zero-year age. So, when you turn 40, that's actually part of the 30's, being 31 through 40.

Jeffrey Armbruster
Posts: 1584
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:16 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:18 pm

So let me get this straight: "soul"--and we may need to pin that down a bit more--is genetically determined so that you either have it or you don't. And if you don't, musicality will forever be beyond you. This odd mixture of pseudo-science and metaphysics relies on a half baked and discredited notion of genetics--it's known that genes alone don't 'determine' behavior or sensibility but rather are one part of the whole jigsaw puzzle. In any case, I've yet to hear of a scientific paper claiming that genes endow or withhold "soul" from people. Rognvald pictures a poor musician who struggles for years only to accept that his genes have denied him the ability to play a Sor study with feeling, or anything else. No doubt the story ends with a gunshot in a room. But this isn't how things actually work (has anyone seen this scenario first hand?) Musicality is learned too--how to phrase, how to use dynamics, etc. Most people who've played for years will hear and express the inner musicality of a piece just by reason of experience. Genes and "soul" have nothing to do with it. So what really occurs is that people learn, grow, blossom. It's not an either/or situation.

Sure, hot shot music academy graduates may like to show off their chops at the expense of a piece that they're playing. I doubt that this means they're all soulless zombies incapable of an honest feeling. I somehow think that Paul Galbraith is capable of playing Lagrima creditably. Remember, listeners have their limits and their off nights too. It's no good blaming Antigoni Goni if you have indigestion and didn't enjoy her concert.
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
Takamine C132S

Rasputin
Posts: 533
Joined: Fri May 12, 2017 12:25 pm

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rasputin » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:59 pm

soltirefa wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 6:53 pm
to 9. By this reckoning when we have a zero-year birthday that is actually part of the preceding decade. I use this rationalization to feel better about turning a zero-year age. So, when you turn 40, that's actually part of the 30's, being 31 through 40.
Mmmm yeah but even if there wasn't a year zero, we don't say babies are one as soon as they are born, so the first ten years really are up on your tenth birthday, and the first forty on your fortieth. Anyway we just call them the 30s because they start with a 3, and we just called it the millennium because the first numeral clicked over.

Nice try though.
Jeffrey Armbruster wrote:
Fri Nov 17, 2017 7:18 pm
Musicality is learned too--how to phrase, how to use dynamics, etc.

I really don't think that's true. I agree that some expressive tools are learned, but I think they are applied intuitively and that is really where the musicality lies. Actually executing a crescendo or whatever (I am not convinced that dynamics are among the tools we have to learn) is a matter of technique. I am not a teacher and would be fascinated to know what the experience of the teachers here has been, but my strong suspicion is that you would be able to tell pretty much in the first lesson whether somebody had musical potential, and what you would find out later is how much technical potential they had. Like most people on here I play and listen attentively to music pretty much every day of my life, but I don't think I could claim to be any more musical than I was when I was ten. I can put a name to musical phenomena that were nameless back then, for sure, but that's a bit like being able to break a sentence down into subjects and objects and verbs and whatnot. I couldn't do it then, I can do it now, but my understanding of a sentence is no better for that.

Jeffrey Armbruster
Posts: 1584
Joined: Fri Dec 27, 2013 3:16 am
Location: Berkeley, California

Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Jeffrey Armbruster » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:25 pm

." I am not a teacher and would be fascinated to know what the experience of the teachers here has been, but my strong suspicion is that you would be able to tell pretty much in the first lesson whether somebody had musical potential, and what you would find out later is how much technical potential they had. "

Hmmm. No allowances for nerves on the part of the student? After all, it's their first lesson this teacher--maybe their first lesson period. Maybe their boyfriend just broke up with them. Maybe the possibility of informing them that they had no soul and never would got to them. Maybe the teacher is lousy and has a bad manner and the student is just responding to that--why is it the teacher and the audience member always get to be right in this? Frankly this is a teacher that I'd walk away from.

And anyway how can someone express themselves musically if they haven't developed any technique? I mean, would you say, 'this kid doesn't get that a trill is required here; she has no musicality' without first teaching her how to perform a trill? Musicality that can't be expressed because the techniques that would allow it aren't yet learned is not the same thing as no musicality at all--but both might look the same on that first lesson. This is how musicality develops--a student learns the techniques which will allow it to emerge. So I must disagree--musicality is learned, develops and matures. Perhaps teachers will speak to watching students become better players in all regards over time. But a genetically determined soulless student never would.

My teacher has told me that there have been train wrecks among his students. I'm sure that people with little aptitude sometimes take up guitar. I doubt that too many like this graduate from a music academy.
Last edited by Jeffrey Armbruster on Fri Nov 17, 2017 10:04 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Paul Weaver spruce 2014
Takamine C132S

Return to “Classical Guitar technique”