Can You Play a Simple Song?

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

Post by skipintro » Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:50 am

davekear wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:29 am
dtoh wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 1:04 am
I wonder if the fact that so many people in audience at classical guitar performances are themselves CGists that this biases the selection by the performer toward pieces that require technical prowess rather than pieces that are musically appealing.
That's a good point. On the opposite end of that, I use to play in restaurants a lot, and that crowd would rather hear the latest movie theme or Beatles tune than a Bach lute suite.
"Can you play "Wind beneath my wings"?.........."NO"!
Why not? You are there to entertain them not to punish them or show off your gymnastic skills on a guitar.
It shouldn't be difficult to make a good performance from a simple popular tune.

davekear
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by davekear » Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:58 am

skipintro wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:50 am
davekear wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 6:29 am

That's a good point. On the opposite end of that, I use to play in restaurants a lot, and that crowd would rather hear the latest movie theme or Beatles tune than a Bach lute suite.
"Can you play "Wind beneath my wings"?.........."NO"!
Why not? You are there to entertain them not to punish them or show off your gymnastic skills on a guitar.
It shouldn't be difficult to make a good performance from a simple popular tune.
I agree. I have over 50 hours of repertoire.I play every Beatles song ever written. And just about every other tune from the 60's and 70's.
+ Sinatra, Neil Young, Tom Petty etc etc, and I love playing them. But no, I will not play "Wind beneath my wings" anymore :D
Type in "Dave Kear" in You Tube if you want to hear a few.

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Adrian Allan
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Adrian Allan » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:40 am

I think that there is a very good reason for classical players having links to more popular styles. As people have said, the basic unit of what we all relate to in the world is the song, and amidst all of the complexities of modern music and the intricacies of Baroque lute music, etc, it is too easy to lose sight of that. I even think of Bach has highly singable phrases, amidst all of the complicated counterpoint. I have a very firm foundation in popular styles myself, and I spent my youth strumming the guitar in my bedroom. All those chord shapes that I learned paid dividends to my future classical playing.

I have heard horror stories of people auditioning for the RNCM (one of the highest music colleges in the UK to study guitar) playing a Walton bagatelle, but not having a clue how to play any B7 chord (in any position) on the guitar. A complete misunderstanding of musical priorities in my opinion.
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Michael.N.
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Michael.N. » Sun Nov 19, 2017 9:23 am

Rasputin wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 8:37 pm
MaritimeGuitarist wrote:
Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:51 pm
So the question is, how are teachers and/or culture responsible for the demise of the current (alleged) lack of musicality among our performers if genetics are ultimately what determines a person's ability to express themselves through music? If we grant [Rognvald's] argument, is it not possible, or perhaps even likely, that a player's inability to play a simple song musically is really the result of genes rather than in poor teaching or cultural decline? Does this mean that teachers and culture off the hook? Does the bulk of the blame lie in genetics?
While I wouldn't like to align myself with all of Rognvald's views I don't think this is really such a conundrum. It only seems that way until you realise that "musicality" is being used in two different senses. If music is in the genes then realistically the current crop of performers is no more or less musical than past generations - but their performances may still be considerably less musical, if they are choosing material which pushes their technique to its limits. There is at least an intelligible link between, on the one hand, a culture that values technical prowess over musical prowess and, on the other, a tendency to choose that kind of material - so I don't think the form of the argument dooms it to failure. Whether it is supported by the facts, I don't know.
Some 6 pages on and I still don't know who these people are i.e. those that can't play a simple tune, although I'm quite sure that it's easy enough to find examples. You can find examples of just about anything. I mean what percentage of classical guitarists are we referring to? and are they different to any other class of musician? I mean I've heard an awful lot of pianists play grade 2 pieces and I can't really say that they are any better or any worse than classical guitarists playing the same level of music. Nor does anyone have to play modern popular music. There are countless examples from the renaissance era and even the romantic era that have the simplicity of a modern pop song. You'll find many such pieces at the start of all the well known methods such as Noad, Carcassi and Sagreras. Ultimately it depends what your objectives are. If you want to entertain people in a restaurant setting then modern popular tunes may well be necessary. For the bedroom guitarist who is perfectly happy entertaining themselves and who is hooked on classical, why should they care? How on earth would it prevent them from phrasing that little tune from 1608 well?
Historicalguitars.

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Sun Nov 19, 2017 5:56 pm

Some 6 pages on and I still don't know who these people are i.e. those that can't play a simple tune, although I'm quite sure that it's easy enough to find examples.
Michael N

Michael,
The short answer is that this subject has struck a chord(no pun intended) among many on this Forum. I can provide, perhaps, a similar example in the field of Jazz. The true judge of a Jazz musicians ability(akin to a CG) to emote musically is not playing sheets of sound at a breakneck speed but rather your ability to play a simple ballad where your control of the instrument, musical nuances, spontaneous inspirations, and personality are clearly evident. I have seen many performers fall flat on their faces when faced with this task. I once heard a "Battle of the Tenors" in the Seventies at the Jazz Showcase in Chicago featuring tenor saxophonists James Moody and Charles Lloyd. Moody was dressed in a three-piece business suit with short cropped hair and Lloyd was wearing an African Dashiki and sporting a three-story Afro hairstyle. They started the program playing mostly up-tempo pieces but when they played the old Coleman Hawkins classic "Body and soul" the tale of the tape became clear. Moody's performance showed the depth and "soul" of his playing while Lloyd played the with a thin weak sound and little, if any, musical inspiration. Once Lloyd was out of the comfort zone of up-tempo playing and had to make every note and phrase count . . . he was lost. Here's a stunning performance of "Body and Soul" by Dexter Gordon(Long Tall Dexter) from the movie "Round Midnight. Hope you enjoy! Playing again . . . Rognvald
https://youtu.be/rD3jE9MoRqs
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

skipintro
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by skipintro » Mon Nov 20, 2017 10:46 am

Some 6 pages on and I still don't know who these people are i.e. those that can't play a simple tune, although I'm quite sure that it's easy enough to find examples.
My mate Dave is learning the sax. He's a big fan of modern jazz. He makes a lot of noise and sounds like one of those melancholy buskers you meet in the street - crude wailing imitations of Coltrane et al.
I've told him he needs to be able to play simple tunes perfectly starting at the bottom with 'baa baa black sheep' but he can't do it without slipping in some uninspired Coltraney improvisations.
I don't think he's going anywhere until he can do simple stuff well. Jazz is almost entirely based on standards i.e. knowing perfectly and being able to work from the basic tune.
Many guitarists have the same problem and classical music refers back to basics all the time

PeteJ
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by PeteJ » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:21 pm

Adrian Allan wrote:
Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:40 am
I have heard horror stories of people auditioning for the RNCM (one of the highest music colleges in the UK to study guitar) playing a Walton bagatelle, but not having a clue how to play any B7 chord (in any position) on the guitar. A complete misunderstanding of musical priorities in my opinion.
My opinion also. I've come across this situation and was shocked.

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Tue Nov 21, 2017 5:34 pm

I've told him he needs to be able to play simple tunes perfectly starting at the bottom with 'baa baa black sheep' but he can't do it without slipping in some uninspired Coltraney improvisations.
I don't think he's going anywhere until he can do simple stuff well.
skipintro


This is a great point, Skip, and being a former Sax player I knew many who fell into this trap during their musical development and never became skilled players. We used to call them b-s sax players because that's what they played. It is almost always done to mask their lack of skills and musicality as they play mindless sheets of sound with no real musical foundation thinking they're the next Coltrane. And, an aside, for players like Coltrane and Miles Davis who found themselves swimming in that muck, it was never considered by aficionados or critics alike as anything other than searching for something that was already there. . . originality. When you play an Adagio piece or a ballad in Jazz, there's no place to hide from your musical skills. Just ask a b-s sax player. Maybe he'll tell you. 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

PeteJ
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by PeteJ » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:02 pm

The most boring jazz guitarist I've ever heard was also the one who played the most notes. I won't mention names and places. Miles Davis is the man.

There is something very odd about the way CG is taught, I feel, since all too often even intermediate players cannot string a few chord shapes together and commonly cannot strum a song for toffee. I find this a bit surreal.

Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Fri Dec 01, 2017 7:42 pm

PeteJ wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:02 pm
The most boring jazz guitarist I've ever heard was also the one who played the most notes. I won't mention names and places. Miles Davis is the man.

There is something very odd about the way CG is taught, I feel, since all too often even intermediate players cannot string a few chord shapes together and commonly cannot strum a song for toffee. I find this a bit surreal.

Pete,
If you're a Miles fan, check out the incomparable Chet Baker "Live in Tokyo--Almost Blue" . . . https://youtu.be/Kjf6gb8hjW8 I hope you enjoy! Playing again . . . Rognvald P.S. I agree completely with your last statement.
"And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music." Friedrich Nietzsche, Thus Spake Zarathustra

PeteJ
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by PeteJ » Sat Dec 02, 2017 1:57 pm

Great playing!

skipintro
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by skipintro » Sat Dec 02, 2017 4:23 pm

PeteJ wrote:
Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:02 pm
...
There is something very odd about the way CG is taught, I feel, since all too often even intermediate players cannot string a few chord shapes together and commonly cannot strum a song for toffee. I find this a bit surreal.
Not as odd as a lot of folkies (and other genres) who can thrash out chords til the cows come home but can't play a melody for toffee.
Melody is King!
Come to think - some CG players could have a prob picking out melodies.

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ameriken
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by ameriken » Sun Dec 03, 2017 3:06 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Tue Nov 07, 2017 12:37 am
Twenty-First Century Guitar Pedagogy is an enigma to me. In my opinion, both teachers and students, alike, are on a one-track race course to move through the river of technique and repertoire to achieve guitaristic nirvana with the majority of students playing pieces well beyond their level and control. It is, in my opinion, counter-productive and a fraud to the student. However, you hear young guitarists mouthing "I'm playing Alhambra" . . . or,"Just finished Asturias". . . as if they were on a superhighway ticking off cities on their path. The problem for the serious student is that he reaches a level of technical competency to "finger" through pieces but, sadly, discovers he can't play a simple song well.
That was written perfectly for me.

Though I had a decent handle on steel string guitar and sight reading, when I crossed over to CG in 1990 on a self-taught track, I was going after Capricho Arabe before I ever even played Lagrima.

I was so overly focused on posture, fingernails, hand position, technique, free stroke/rest stroke etc etc etc that I was told my playing was ok but it lacked feeling. Which made sense because I wasn't even enjoying the instrument, I battling myself to overcome my technical flaws as I tried to master more complex pieces. As a result there were many difficult pieces that I had started but never completed. Around 1999 I burned out and took a 2 year hiatus from the guitar.

When I picked up the guitar again, my focus was less on mastering technique and more on expression. For the first time I started to actually enjoy the music...and others did as well. There was even an improvement in technique. And yes, that's when I decided to learn Lagrima and many other simpler pieces.
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Rognvald
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by Rognvald » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:04 am

Ameriken,
Your personal revelation with the CG is a road which all serious musicians travel at some time in their development. It signifies, to me, that you are a sensitive, sentient person who is more interested in your musical voice and its message than the trampoline gymnastics so important to many players today. After all, every time we play, do we not want the listener to hear our voice? Should it sound just like A, or B or even C or should it be unique? I have said for years that I can tell you everything I need to know about a person without talking to them and by just listening to them play. It is a roadmap far more detailed than any conversation would reveal. Remember, there are none of the Arts that can convey the emotion of the human condition better than a simple sweet or discordant note. And, it is that note that we pursue that gives meaning to our lives and our music. 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

khayes
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Re: Can You Play a Simple Song?

Post by khayes » Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:52 am

Rognvald wrote:
Mon Dec 04, 2017 1:04 am
... I have said for years that I can tell you everything I need to know about a person without talking to them and by just listening to them play. It is a roadmap far more detailed than any conversation would reveal....
I'm really trying to get my head around your philosophy. Maybe you could explain how you arrived at this idea.
Ken

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