Where's the Melody????

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by AndreiKrylov » Tue Dec 26, 2017 10:24 pm

Kenbobpdx wrote:
Sun Dec 24, 2017 8:41 pm
This discussion leads more and more to the idea of the Renaissance Man. The idea that to be whole one must engage in in arts and humanities, history and statesmanship, and be grounded and connected to the physical world as well. To be versed in any one area one must have foundations in the others as well. I personally was influenced by this concept when I was at university. Oddly enough I was studying literature and history through this lens, training in the martial arts, playing music, and fishing. Needless to say it influenced me greatly.

One thing I have learned about the concept of mastery though is that everything one wishes to master takes a great deal of mundane work. But that is really where the great lessons occur. Perseverance, focus, the ability to lose oneself in the technical training necessary to make one's endeavors happen with greater ease is critical. Very few people are "naturals" but there are those blessed few who just get it right away whatever their field.
Yes exactly!
When more beautiful things you have in your life as experience, in conscience, subconscience as a memories, as a part of your Psyche - then easier to express beauty of Music, melody, different voices, harmonies, mood, spiritual message of Music by your playing (keeping in mind that one need to master technique to be able to do it too :) )
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Rognvald
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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by Rognvald » Wed Dec 27, 2017 12:59 am

Ramon Amira wrote:
Tue Dec 26, 2017 8:30 pm
Are you saying that a sax can only play in one key? Does this mean that if I want to play with an alto sax that I have to play everything in Eb? I have a feeling I'm wrong here. Or do you just mean that I have to play a step and a half higher than he/she is playing?

Ramon

Hi, Ramon,
Alto Sax is pitched in Eb in relation to Concert C. All alto sax literature for ensembles does not have to be transposed but rather is played as written on the page/transcribed music. Only when you're improvising over "unwritten" music will you have to adjust to be in "key" with the other instruments. I hope this helps. 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

ronjazz
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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by ronjazz » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:03 pm

Interesting turn in the conversation. I have one of my 7-string guitars tuned down a full tone so that I can read off a piece of music along with a horn player playing a Bb instrument such as tenor or soprano sax, trumpet or Bb Clarinet. This is great for playing songs or duets written for guitar and flute or violin. Of course, a serious duo would include transposing the horn parts into the correct key for the particular horn. Also, the unamplified classical guitar is at a real disadvantage with most other instruments as far as volume goes, so a mic and small amplifier can be a great help, or the Kremona pickup, which his on top of the bridge under the string windings, needing no alteration to the instrument, and sounds quite good.
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rpavich
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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by rpavich » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:33 pm

This has been something that (as a rank beginner) I've been trying to implement in my practice. I realized that when I tried to play before I fell into the trap of THINKING that the melody was coming out but it really was half in my head half in the sound. I was "filling in the blanks" mentally.

Good discussion.

I'd rather be able to play something simple MUSICALLY; emphasizing the melody, than something tougher where I cannot do that.
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Rognvald
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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by Rognvald » Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:42 pm

ronjazz wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:03 pm
Interesting turn in the conversation. I have one of my 7-string guitars tuned down a full tone so that I can read off a piece of music along with a horn player playing a Bb instrument such as tenor or soprano sax, trumpet or Bb Clarinet. This is great for playing songs or duets written for guitar and flute or violin. Of course, a serious duo would include transposing the horn parts into the correct key for the particular horn. Also, the unamplified classical guitar is at a real disadvantage with most other instruments as far as volume goes, so a mic and small amplifier can be a great help, or the Kremona pickup, which his on top of the bridge under the string windings, needing no alteration to the instrument, and sounds quite good.
Hi, Ron,
It's very difficult for a CG player to play unamplified with horns. However, in your above list, the clarinet(b flat) would be the best possibility for a duo. Also, I've heard an unamplified CG and oboe that works very well and you don't need to transpose since the oboe is in Concert C. When I was performing regularly on Saxophone/flute, I wrote the horn parts for saxes, trumpets and trombone. After a while, it becomes second nature when transposing. Playing again . . . Rognvald
















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Rasputin
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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by Rasputin » Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:10 pm

rpavich wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:33 pm
This has been something that (as a rank beginner) I've been trying to implement in my practice. I realized that when I tried to play before I fell into the trap of THINKING that the melody was coming out but it really was half in my head half in the sound. I was "filling in the blanks" mentally.

Good discussion.

I'd rather be able to play something simple MUSICALLY; emphasizing the melody, than something tougher where I cannot do that.
Yeah but don't forget that the listener does a bit of that too. If we are talking about a piece that is basically melody + chords I think it is good to pay attention to the balance, but I don't agree with the idea that you should thump out the melody at maximum volume as if the listener was an idiot. Just yesterday I was looking at the score for Tango en Skaï - I don't know why really, because it will be years before I can get anywhere near that piece - and I noticed that Dyens asks for the melody to be clear and the accompaniment relatively quiet. He wouldn't need to do that if it was the general rule anyway.

I am not disagreeing really, just saying you can overdo it.

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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by rpavich » Thu Jan 18, 2018 4:41 pm

Rasputin wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 3:10 pm
rpavich wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 2:33 pm
This has been something that (as a rank beginner) I've been trying to implement in my practice. I realized that when I tried to play before I fell into the trap of THINKING that the melody was coming out but it really was half in my head half in the sound. I was "filling in the blanks" mentally.

Good discussion.

I'd rather be able to play something simple MUSICALLY; emphasizing the melody, than something tougher where I cannot do that.
Yeah but don't forget that the listener does a bit of that too. If we are talking about a piece that is basically melody + chords I think it is good to pay attention to the balance, but I don't agree with the idea that you should thump out the melody at maximum volume as if the listener was an idiot. Just yesterday I was looking at the score for Tango en Skaï - I don't know why really, because it will be years before I can get anywhere near that piece - and I noticed that Dyens asks for the melody to be clear and the accompaniment relatively quiet. He wouldn't need to do that if it was the general rule anyway.

I am not disagreeing really, just saying you can overdo it.
I get it. I just thought it would be good to overdo it and then pull it back after I was comfortable with doing it in the first place. :)
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Peter Corey
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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by Peter Corey » Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:26 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Wed Dec 20, 2017 9:31 pm
Among serious musicians today, there are only a few instruments which have the ability to play both the melody and the harmonic accompaniment: piano, harp, and classical guitar and its family(please don't mention the accordion). And, in our contemporary pedagogy of Classical guitar instruction, there is a decided failure, in my opinion, to teach beginning students how to read a piece of music. I have witnessed this at all levels of performance but remarkably, there are "advanced players" as well who, sadly, cannot see the forest from the trees. I believe this is a result of a mechanistic instruction of the CG where teachers seek to create workmen rather than musicians. Since much of my earlier music instruction and performance was as a saxophonist/flutist in R and B, Soul and Jazz based groups, I learned from an early age the importance of melody as the primary communication of the song. The melody is why we remember certain pieces and quickly forget others. And if we cannot communicate the melody, we have failed to communicate the music. How many beginning CG students when they are taught Tarrega's "Adelita," "Lagrima," or "Marieta" or some of the basic chordal pieces of Bach or even the anonymous "Romanza" are completely clueless about the melody and fail, even on a basic level, to stress the melodic line? I really don't see this among Classical pianists or harpists and never see it among Jazz players. However, to me, it is ubiquitous among Classical guitar players. When we look at a new piece of music, shouldn't the first thing we do before working out the gymnastics is to ask: Where's the melody? What do you think? Playing again . . . Rognvald

Not sure I understand the basic argument.

The very fact that melody is by nature so easy for the ear to identify means it rarely has to be emphasized — with underlines, italics, and boldface — by the performer, unless specifically called for in the score or by the musical "logic" of the piece at a specific point. Sophisticated composers go to great lengths in applying their craft to supply elements that work, in a sense, opposite to that of the melodic line; not just harmony, but counterpoint, and of course, rhythm. There are lots of Villa-Lobos etudes, for example, the main interest of which lies in the propulsive rhythmic aspects, not melody. I might also mention that one of the most common compositional structures — theme and variations — relies on opposing the opening melodic line (the theme) with a series of modifications whose interest is usually not the theme — and often, not any theme at all — but some harmonic, contrapuntal, rhythmic, or even purely pyrotechnical aspect; for example, think of the 24th Caprice by Paganini. There are clips on YouTube of Jascha Heifetz playing it in live performance. The interest of many of the variations are clearly "virtuosic", showing technical agility for the sake (and the joy) of such display.

I disagree about students not emphasizing the melodic line in some of the pieces by, e.g., Tarrega. Marieta, for example, is a mazurka and should be played like a mazurka — listen to any of the Chopin mazurkas as played by Rubinstein and you'll understand how that form should be played. Most guitarists, in fact, emphasize nothing but the melodic line in that piece and know nothing about the important rhythmic thrust: dotted-eighths + sixteenth notes. Most students don't bring out essential contrapuntal textures in Bach. And speaking of Bach, many guitarists overemphasize the "melody" (if such it can be called) and harmony of the great Chaconne but pay little attention, again, to the important rhythmic aspect: a "chaconne" was a stately dance form that became highly stylized by composers (especially Bach, but I urge people to listen to the great Chaconne for violin and organ by Vitali — many fine recordings on YouTube, though again I'd recommend the Heifetz performance).

I believe the main problem is that many classical guitar students don't listen to enough non-classical guitar music (violin, piano, chamber music, symphonies), and often skirt essential studies in what used to be called "musicianship", i.e., sight-singing, solfege, basic 4-part harmonic analysis, Robert Starer's "Rhythmic Training" manual, etc.

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AndreiKrylov
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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by AndreiKrylov » Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:41 pm

Peter Corey wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 8:26 pm

I believe the main problem is that many classical guitar students don't listen to enough non-classical guitar music (violin, piano, chamber music, symphonies), and often skirt essential studies in what used to be called "musicianship", i.e., sight-singing, solfege, basic 4-part harmonic analysis, Robert Starer's "Rhythmic Training" manual, etc.
Interesting...
very good and necessary studies indeed!

these studies were mandatory when I was in Music school in USSR in 1970s...starting even in elementary (music) school .

in the music college were lot more extra studies like - Harmony, Arrangement, Conducting, work with orchestra, choir, different instruments, I had to pass exams playing some Bach on piano and accordion etc.

and!!!
despite all of these I could see that classical guitar players had same problems discussed in this topic :lol:
I'd better speak by music...Please listen my guitar at Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc.

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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by Peter Corey » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:11 am

AndreiKrylov wrote:
Thu Jan 18, 2018 9:41 pm

and!!!
despite all of these I could see that classical guitar players had same problems discussed in this topic :lol:
I believe it.

Part of the problem is that classical guitar is predominantly a solo instrument, so players don't enjoy many opportunities to collaborate with other instrumentalists in chamber music or orchestral music — a necessary experience for instrumentalists to learn how to listen attentively to other musicians.

The rigor of your studies in the former USSR was typical of the entire Russian conservatory training even under the czar. Heifetz, for example, studied with Auer at the St. Petersburg Conservatory (giving his debut there at the age of 10), and I was interested to learn that he was also a very good pianist, often accompanying other students during their group lessons with Auer.

In terms of musicianship, some of the best guitarists I've met have been studio musicians, playing either acoustic or electric instruments, because they're constantly put in the situation of playing with other musicians (often with a conductor): they have to keep time and they have to listen closely to the other musicians . . .

. . . which brings us to the old, intractable problem of the classical guitar: the lack of a large, substantive, repertoire. Some of this can be blamed on Andres Segovia, who — while reviving the great tradition of the instrument and re-popularizing congenial works by Sor, Tarrega, etc. — nevertheless opted for original compositions by "2nd tier" 20th-century composers such as Ponce and Castelnuovo-Tedesco, rather than "1st-tier" 20th figures like Prokofiev, Stravinsky, Vaughn Williams, et al.

I mentioned earlier how important I think it is for classical guitar students to listen to other kinds of music (classical and non-classical), but there's a potential danger to this: After listening to the works of Chopin, Schumann, Brahms, and others, it's easy to become disheartened by the dearth of first-rate, high quality material for the guitar. With few exceptions, most of the best works in the standard repertoire are transcriptions (mainly Bach and Scarlatti). And anything else that's transcribed, often has the appearance of a "gimmick", rather than a solid contribution to the potential programs of other players. For example, some years ago, I heard about a Japanese guitarist who played his own transcription of Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition." Is this a true contribution to the repertoire, or an impressive "one-off" parlor trick? We might compare that to Vladimir Horowitz's amazing transcription of Sousa's "Stars and Stripes", with crashing octaves in the left hand and brilliant flourishes (originally for piccolos) in the right. Lots of fun to hear — especially for a Carnegie Hall audience immediately after WWII; war-weary but patriotic — but it wasn't a contribution to the piano repertoire (nor was it meant to be, by the way). By contrast, Busoni made a famous arrangement of the Bach Chaconne that has become standard for pianists to include on programs.

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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by Peter Corey » Fri Jan 19, 2018 2:22 am

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vPcnGrie__M
Caprice No. 24 by Paganini
Jascha Heifetz, violin

The opening theme is certainly melodic enough, but is melody really the main interest of the variations that follow? Or does the interest lie in the avoidance of the original melody by means of pyrotechnical display?

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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by AndreiKrylov » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:57 am

withdrawn
I'd better speak by music...Please listen my guitar at Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, etc.

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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by Rognvald » Fri Jan 19, 2018 3:21 pm

I believe the main problem is that many classical guitar students don't listen to enough non-classical guitar music (violin, piano, chamber music, symphonies), and often skirt essential studies in what used to be called "musicianship", i.e., sight-singing, solfege, basic 4-part harmonic analysis, Robert Starer's "Rhythmic Training" manual, etc.
Top Peter Corey


Peter, you have certainly provided some very thoughtful comments in re: the concept of melody in performance. I don't agree with some of your ideas: ie; the performance of some of Tarrega's "songs" but I believe your above remark best summarizes my issue with most CG performers. If we, as musicians, are sensoriums of musical and human experience, how profound will our musical offerings be when we have isolated ourselves from the voices of other instruments/musicians and, perhaps as you and Andrei have noted, have not truly devoted our energies to serious musical theory/pedagogy? I played saxophone with several big bands in the Seventies and wrote all the horn arrangements. And, although I don't have a degree in Music or Music performance from a university, I have studied theory, composition, arranging, etc. at serious musical academies/universities and continue to study to improve my knowledge of my craft. The interesting aspect of my earlier experience was that all the other horn players in the horn section: trumpets, saxes, and trombone were all graduates of accredited musical programs and were incapable of writing even the simplest horn lines. This, to me, was/is a failure of both the musician and the music programs from which they graduated. In conclusion, I might add that listening to serious Jazz players(Coltrane, Baker, Davis, Ammons) as well as other Classical players like Horowitz, Casals, Rubenstein, Hefitz has greatly enriched my Classical Music performance on CG and are indispensable, for me, to live an enriched life. 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: Where's the Melody????

Post by PeteJ » Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:45 pm

Rognvald wrote:
Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:30 am
I think Ameriken's and Ken's honesty probably represents many of us on this forum. And, I sense a little tongue in cheek in their responses. However, the advantage of singing a melody, even poorly, is that it will tell you where to breathe naturally, where to pause, where to sing softly or loudly, etc, which are things you can't do by simply playing the melody. I was thinking about this earlier today when finishing the excellent book "Wagner on Conducting"--written by Wagner and the problems he had with the Kappelmeisters in Germany playing his music faithfully and remembering my early first attempts of "Lagrima" and trying to clearly pronounce the melody for maximum effect. However, in bars 6 and 7, section A, the melody gets temporarily lost in the broken chords before finally resolving to E major in bar 8 which resumes the clear melodic line. However, I've yet to hear a performance by any guitarist that accomplishes a clear rendering of the melody(without getting lost-so to speak) in these bars. And, the effect is even more pronounced when you sing the melody without the harmonic complement. I've often wondered if this was poor writing by Tarrega or a temporary respite from the clear melodic line for artistic effect. I have used this method in dissecting every piece of music I've played and it gives the interpreter a vision that , when done faithfully, approximates the intent of the composer. Playing again . . . Rognvald
Agree about Lagrima and those bars. I also rarely like the way it is performed. As an amateur composer I know that sometimes the melody has to become temporarily obscure for the sake of the accompaniment but it should never be lost. Also agree with the rest stroke comments. It is a way to bring our the melody, so why would it go out of fashion?

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Re: Where's the Melody????

Post by Rognvald » Wed Jan 24, 2018 1:43 pm

PeteJ wrote:
Tue Jan 23, 2018 12:45 pm
Rognvald wrote:
Fri Dec 22, 2017 3:30 am
I think Ameriken's and Ken's honesty probably represents many of us on this forum. And, I sense a little tongue in cheek in their responses. However, the advantage of singing a melody, even poorly, is that it will tell you where to breathe naturally, where to pause, where to sing softly or loudly, etc, which are things you can't do by simply playing the melody. I was thinking about this earlier today when finishing the excellent book "Wagner on Conducting"--written by Wagner and the problems he had with the Kappelmeisters in Germany playing his music faithfully and remembering my early first attempts of "Lagrima" and trying to clearly pronounce the melody for maximum effect. However, in bars 6 and 7, section A, the melody gets temporarily lost in the broken chords before finally resolving to E major in bar 8 which resumes the clear melodic line. However, I've yet to hear a performance by any guitarist that accomplishes a clear rendering of the melody(without getting lost-so to speak) in these bars. And, the effect is even more pronounced when you sing the melody without the harmonic complement. I've often wondered if this was poor writing by Tarrega or a temporary respite from the clear melodic line for artistic effect. I have used this method in dissecting every piece of music I've played and it gives the interpreter a vision that , when done faithfully, approximates the intent of the composer. Playing again . . . Rognvald
Agree about Lagrima and those bars. I also rarely like the way it is performed. As an amateur composer I know that sometimes the melody has to become temporarily obscure for the sake of the accompaniment but it should never be lost. Also agree with the rest stroke comments. It is a way to bring our the melody, so why would it go out of fashion?

Hi, Pete,
One advantage a musician has in musical performance is an intimate knowledge of Musical Theory. And, as a composer, you quickly realize that it is impossible to write anything other than a simple melodic line without this background. I believe this lack of knowledge reflects in many contemporary musicians and composers. Good point, Pete! 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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