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Beginner's books and beginner's playing: observation and que

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 cnev
(@cnev)
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Yea I've noticed that also, that some of these are not in the key as the original. Not sure if it has anything to do with copyright or not but.

When you are playing these songs by yourself the key really doesn't matter to much and transposing to a different key may make it easier to sing but if you end up jamming with a bunch of strangers most times everyone plays in the key of the original. it would be difficult to get everyone ont he same page in that situation if you tried playing your own arrangement no one would know it.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@rparker)
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I've been a fan for the White Pages series of books. I've got 5 of them. Nice. The Beatles book that you see wrapped in plastic that sells for like $70 is good too, but I need a magnifying glass to see the small print. Spot on as near as it can be I've also found that books based on albums rather than a collection - in general - are better or at least have more detail. I like them all. Each brings something to the table.

Even chord sheets you steel off the internet. You can take one of them, as wrong as it is and doctor it up with the real sheet music to get the basic outline (or arrangement?) down without having to type the whole thing out. That way you can play it off of one printed sheet in most cases. Not the detailed solos or anything, but the guts of the song. That's what I like to play anyhow. I just use the better books to help build a better foundation. It's a bit time consuming, but with my memory these days..... 'oy!

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@noteboat)
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They're not for campfire playing. And the problem has been around since I was a kid - I remember how awful the 'easy' guitar books were back then, and many haven't changed.

Problem #1 is how you define "easy". To a beginning guitarist, you'd think they'd have easy fingerings, right? But no... many publishers will define "easy" as being easy to read in standard notation - that is, not many accidentals in the key signature. While this does (in general) make music easier to read on the piano... a tune that originally has chords A, D, and E7 turns into one with chords C, F, and G7. As near as I can tell, this stems from:

Problem #2 - most publishing company music editors do NOT play guitar! They simply have no idea how to go about it. And they're under the typical corporate time demands of faster faster faster, so they're not taking the time to learn. A conscientious editor may consult a guide to orchestration - which will tell them the highest and lowest notes they can use. A really conscientious editor will even dig into the ranges of the strings. But less-than-conscientious editors abound, and not just in the 'easy' book series, and not just with popular music publishers. Every single year I've seen at least one school band chart with a chord or interval that can't be played - like a four-note chord with fourth string F as the highest note (which I saw recently) or a third with the notes E and G on the sixth string (one of last year's multiple errors in school band charts)

Assuming you get beyond those two, there's problem #3 - an over-reliance on software. Many guitar books are now printed in both standard notation and tablature... in standard notation, the player can make fingering choices - with tablature, you don't. On a standard range guitar (low E to 19th fret B on the 1st string), you've got 44 pitches, and only 10 of them can only be played in one place. Two can be played in FIVE different places, another 13 notes in four places, and 10 notes in 3 different places. This gives you a LOT of possible fingerings. Consider the Eb on the 4th fret of the 2nd string - you could also play that at the 8th fret of the 3rd, or the 13th fret of the 4th. In any of these three places, you could play it with any finger - so that's twelve possibilities. Add two more for the same note on the 5th string, and you've got 14 ways to do it. A guitarist armed with a good understanding of notation and the fretboard will easily look at a passage and pick out one or two truly easy ways to play it - and software just can't do the same thing. As long as publishers rely on fast, cheap results, they'll take the software option... and odds are good it won't be the easiest.

The situation isn't going to change until publishers start making guitarists editors of their guitar divisions. And that's not likely to happen until more guitarists understand music theory, arranging, and the nuances of standard notation.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


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(@minotaur)
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Yea I've noticed that also, that some of these are not in the key as the original. Not sure if it has anything to do with copyright or not but.

When you are playing these songs by yourself the key really doesn't matter to much and transposing to a different key may make it easier to sing but if you end up jamming with a bunch of strangers most times everyone plays in the key of the original. it would be difficult to get everyone ont he same page in that situation if you tried playing your own arrangement no one would know it.

That's pretty much all I can think of.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@rparker)
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The situation isn't going to change until publishers start making guitarists editors of their guitar divisions. And that's not likely to happen until more guitarists understand music theory, arranging, and the nuances of standard notation.
I think we have a GN'er who has a guitar instructor who does guitar transcriptions for one of the major publishers. I know it's not exactly how you describe the ideal situation, but at least it's a guitarist doing the transcriptions in that case.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@minotaur)
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They're not for campfire playing. And the problem has been around since I was a kid - I remember how awful the 'easy' guitar books were back then, and many haven't changed.

Problem #1 is how you define "easy". To a beginning guitarist, you'd think they'd have easy fingerings, right? But no... many publishers will define "easy" as being easy to read in standard notation - that is, not many accidentals in the key signature. While this does (in general) make music easier to read on the piano... a tune that originally has chords A, D, and E7 turns into one with chords C, F, and G7. As near as I can tell, this stems from:

Problem #2 - most publishing company music editors do NOT play guitar! They simply have no idea how to go about it. And they're under the typical corporate time demands of faster faster faster, so they're not taking the time to learn. ...

Assuming you get beyond those two, there's problem #3 - an over-reliance on software. Many guitar books are now printed in both standard notation and tablature... in standard notation, the player can make fingering choices - with tablature, you don't. ... A guitarist armed with a good understanding of notation and the fretboard will easily look at a passage and pick out one or two truly easy ways to play it - and software just can't do the same thing. As long as publishers rely on fast, cheap results, they'll take the software option... and odds are good it won't be the easiest.

The situation isn't going to change until publishers start making guitarists editors of their guitar divisions. And that's not likely to happen until more guitarists understand music theory, arranging, and the nuances of standard notation.

At first blush I'd be surprised at your comment that they're not for campfire playing, but given the rest of your explanation, the publishers and transcribers probably don't even know what campfire playing is.

Then this is not unlike an engineer designing something that is totally user-unfriendly, because the engineer didn't step into the real world (not hating on engineers :P ). This all makes sense, especially in light of music books and for-pay downloads of sheet music have standard notation as well as tab. I hate them, though I shamefully admit I have more than a few. Usually it's because I only wanted the standard notation but the only version had tabs, which I largely detest.

I never considered the software angle, though I have a number of Power Tab and Guitar Pro sheets. Sometimes they've been helpful, but by and large I found them to be garbage. All they've given me is beats per measure; I have to give credit for that.

In the end it's "follow the money" and "get it done fast and get it done cheap". Once purchased, if a player finds he or she can't use the book, there's generally no returning it.

You never fail to set things right. Thanks.

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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 cnev
(@cnev)
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That's why if I was a real musician I would transppose these myself by ear but I'm no where near good enough so that's what my teacher does.

I've pretty much given up on any printed materials be it the internet or books as even those give some ridiculous chord voicings that may in theory be the correct pitch but not what anyone would actually play.

At my age it's good enough for me if I were young and starting out I'd go a different route.

Right now my main concern is to be able to play songs.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@minotaur)
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That's why if I was a real musician I would transppose these myself by ear but I'm no where near good enough so that's what my teacher does.

It's actually not that difficult, even if it's a half step off. You'd be surprised. And for me to say that...

It is difficult to answer when one does not understand the question.


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(@rparker)
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I've gotten a little better at picking out which minor scale to play over backing tracks and such. I have to run down the fret board though. I can't go to it automatically. I am trying to sus out chord progressions. David's books discuss various steps and such, but I am so lost that it's not funny. Operator error for sure.

Roy
"I wonder if a composer ever intentionally composed a piece that was physically impossible to play and stuck it away to be found years later after his death, knowing it would forever drive perfectionist musicians crazy." - George Carlin


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(@joehempel)
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Many guitar books are now printed in both standard notation and tablature... in standard notation, the player can make fingering choices - with tablature, you don't.

I gotta disagree with this. I do this all the time. All it takes is a little knowledge of the fretboard.
But I guess in the "Easy" realm the typical player wouldn't be able to do that. Ignore me LOL.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


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 cnev
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Frank if we are talking standard chords or power chords maybe but anything more than that would be next to impossible unless I put serious time into it which I don't have but what you said is exactly why I don't.

I don't want to transcribe a song a half step off in this case close isn't good enough. I need to learn a song in a day or two to be able to play with my buddies and first off it would take me weeks to transcribe a whole song and then to show up and start playing the thing a half step off or more wouldn't be good. So I guess this is what I pay for a transcription that I know is sonically correct and also easy to understand. I look at songs in those song books that span 12 pages and I get the same song in a page or two.

We all have to make choices and like I said I just try and do what I can do. I am far from a musician and I'm OK with that never tried to portray myself as anything more than a regurgitator but if I can play songs well and people think they sound good I'm fine with that.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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(@minotaur)
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Frank if we are talking standard chords or power chords maybe but anything more than that would be next to impossible unless I put serious time into it which I don't have but what you said is exactly why I don't.

I don't want to transcribe a song a half step off in this case close isn't good enough. I need to learn a song in a day or two to be able to play with my buddies and first off it would take me weeks to transcribe a whole song and then to show up and start playing the thing a half step off or more wouldn't be good.

No, what I meant was for example if a chord progression is written (i.e. published) Bm G A and I didn't want to or couldn't play that (vocalist?) I would play Am F G. I can't do it in my head altogether but I have an Excel cheat sheet that I can transpose from one key to another as well as a capo cheat sheet. I've used these extensively if a song has chord progressions I just cannot make.

I've never been in a band but I'd think that when a song to be played was decided on, all the particulars... key, leads, solo, bass would also be worked out before any performance. I can't imagine Godsmack going on stage and Robbie Merrill playing one way and Tony Rombola playing another way. But as I said, I don't know the ins and outs of band work.

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 JKHC
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Songsterr (I'm not trying to advertise but I LOVE IT) is what I use for songs that have a difficult or "weird" rhythm. It plays the tabs which, for a few songs, are wrong. They won't be too off and will most likely have the same tune but some sound nothing like the song. The website also lacks bass tabs for many songs.

Watching a cover video, personally, does help especially when the camera is focused on the guitar. I probably still am considered a beginner and can't stand to use books to learn. Especially since most books that teach guitar share the same information: chords, strumming, picking, power chords, jazz and rock examples, harmonics, slides, blah blah.

TIP FOR BEGINNERS: If you have a guitar teaching book don't buy another without checking out a few pages because chances are, they will be very similar.

When we started the band, it was because we were waiting for a sound that never happened. We got tired of waiting, and we decided to just do it ourselves. - Mike Shinoda


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 cnev
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Well for the most part we use the original recording as the basis so if we say let's learn a Godsmack song everyone will go and listen to the original and then come back and play it.

For songs that have more or less guitars than we may make some decisions on the arrangement. Since we were a two guitar band we stayed away for the most part from bands that only had one guitar.

Since we never had a real singer we never transposed to fit a singer's range but my guess is if someone couldn't sing it we'd pick another song. We specifically stayed away from Led Zepplin because none of us were going to hit those notes.

Never really made any changes because someone couldn't play their part although I know our bass player rarely played the actual bass parts of a song. I'd just mess it up rather than trying to play some simplified version.

The new Foo Fighter song has some unusual chord shapes or at least unusual compared to what I'm used to and it's probably going to take me awhile to get those down but if I just play Dave Grohl's part it's pretty straight forward.

"It's all about stickin it to the man!"
It's a long way to the top if you want to rock n roll!


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