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(@joehempel)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 2418
 

No one is doubting that reading music can help you improve. Or that theory is an essential part of the guitar, but there is a very large assumption that everyone that picks up the guitar wants to make a living at it. That's not the case. I bet about 70-80% of people that pick up the guitar do so for their own enjoyment.

Speaking for me personally, when I got into music....I quite, because of sheet music....now that was the clarinet, not the guitar, which I've heard the Clarinet is the cause of more people giving up on music than any other instrument LOL.

Anyway, when I picked up the guitar it was for my own stress relief and enjoyment, I didn't take lessons, I didn't have any aspirations of going anywhere with it outside of my own house. I read/and still do read tab. My ear is terrible and I couldn't tell you the difference between a A chord and a G chord by listening to a song. Once I started to learn more and more and got into the fingerstyle aspect of playing and creating only THEN did I want to learn some theory...and only THEN did I want to read sheet music. I don't think you can force someone to read sheet music before they are ready. If I had delved into theory when I first started playing....I wouldn't be playing today...I wouldn't have a CD that sells (still trying to figure that one out), and I wouldn't be getting asked to come into Borders and other venues to play for events.

Yes I started to read music, yes, I attribute that to my playing and why I make some money, but the difference is, I did it when I was ready, and not because someone said "You'll never make it if you don't do this". If the person isn't ready to read, or doesn't want to even read, then I don't think it should be forced upon them, it's a turn off for music.

In Space, no one can hear me sing!


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 Crow
(@crow)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 554
 

If I put paint onto a canvas which already has a black and white picture on it with colour codes am I a painter?

Of course. Does it make you an ARTIST? No.
There's nothing wrong at all with staying with the paint by numbers as a hobby but it is what it is.

You have just put down every guitar player in every cover band in the world. Well done!

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


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 Ande
(@ande)
Honorable Member
Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 659
 

The "paint by number" analogy doesn't really ring true to me. (I'm a painter.)

Reading then producing music (playing covers, for example) is like paint by numbers. (using written information to produce what somebody else originated.)

Painting originals is more like composing.

Best,
Ande

PS- I read music. There are a lot of musical skills that I lack, but that is one that I have. I try to focus on what MY shortcomings. I don't want to spend too much time telling people how important it is to be able to do what I CAN do, when many of them have other valuable skills that I don't. Better to figure all skills are similarly valuable.


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(@hyperborea)
Prominent Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 833
 

If I put paint onto a canvas which already has a black and white picture on it with colour codes am I a painter?

Of course. Does it make you an ARTIST? No.
There's nothing wrong at all with staying with the paint by numbers as a hobby but it is what it is.

You have just put down every guitar player in every cover band in the world. Well done!

Just as I'm sure that there are a number of house painters who are now despondent about not being artists. :P

The "paint by number" analogy doesn't really ring true to me. (I'm a painter.)

Reading then producing music (playing covers, for example) is like paint by numbers. (using written information to produce what somebody else originated.)

Painting originals is more like composing.

All analogies give up detail and information when they map one space into the other. A possibly better analogy but one that may not make as much sense to as many people is those who write computer software without any understanding of the theory behind it. They don't really know how different data structures work or which one to choose for different tasks. Without the theory understanding a lot of poor design choices are made and often very inefficient software is written.

If you are writing software for yourself (playing guitar as a hobby) then it doesn't matter so much but you would still get more out of it and understand on a deeper level if you knew the theory. Sometimes people without real theory understanding come up with great ideas for software and then in a small number of those cases they write an acceptable implementation but most of the time they don't know how to turn the ideas into implementations or only do so with the aid of others who do know the theory (i.e. the Beatles with the aid of George Martin).

I'm not sure that I understand the desire on the part of a number of guitar players to pretend to be the great bumpkin guitar master who sprang self-actualized from nowhere with no understanding of theory. Why not use the shoulders of the giants who came before us to allow us to see farther?

Pop music is about stealing pocket money from children. - Ian Anderson


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 Nuno
(@nuno)
Famed Member
Joined: 16 years ago
Posts: 3998
 

A possibly better analogy but one that may not make as much sense to as many people is those who write computer software without any understanding of the theory behind it.
Perfect! 8)


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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5468
 

Jeez, I missed this whole thread while I was up in NJ playing guitar with friends in front of an appreciative audience.


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(@daven)
Estimable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 184
 

Boy! That'll teach you to run off and have fun.


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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5468
 

I don't mean to go all soft and Zen on you all, but does it matter? I mean besides from a semantics point of view?

I think being able to read music, even as slowly as I do is great. I love to be able to pick up a sheet of music that my daughter is learning on piano and play along with her on guitar. Everyone should learn how, it only makes you a better musician.

But there are other really important pieces of the musician puzzle, without which I wouldn't consider you much of a musician. Things like:

A sense of rhythm
stage presence
a sense of self
a sense of being part of a group
the ability to read and gauge the audience
the ability to put together a good set
being able to arrange your own music, so you aren't just playing straight chords on every song
the ability to impart your own personality on a song
a sense of when to fill, when to leave empty
the ability to identify what you are doing wrong and the desire to fix it
knowing when to put your guitar down and pick up the egg shakers because it will make the song better

and perhaps the most important quality of all

The ability to listen

So arguing whether or not reading music is what makes you a musician is a bit silly IMHO. It sure opens up a lot of doors, expands your horizons and allows you to earn money, but it is just one part of the package. Look at it this way, if you were aces on everything I wrote above except reading music, then you learned to read music, would you be fundamentally different or would you be the same except now you could read music? I'm not asking if you'd be better or worse, more capable or less, but would you have the same heart? The same desire to play? The same preferences in material? The same experience with music that formed your musicality? The same friends to jam with? The same coffee house gig? Would you have the same groove? The same trust in your bandmates? Would the set you played last week be just as tight?

NOTE: As I look back at what I just wrote it occurs to me that we are all suffering from what is called "confirmation bias". Take a look at this article that Greg sent me a while back.

http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/06/20/the-anosognosics-dilemma-1/?emc=eta1

It's about a bank robber who was too stupid to know that he was too stupid to be a bank robber, but it goes on to talk about what we really know, what we know we don't know, what we don't know we don't know and how all of that shapes our opinions and our reality.

So you can safely ignore all I said above, because really I just gave you my perception of reality based on my own experience. Your reality will be completely different from mine.

Wow, clarity and enlightenment. Now I know the reason why debating on a forum never changes anyone's mind. You aren't trying to change their mind, you are trying to change their reality. It will never work.

Oh, and don't worry about the vase.


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 Crow
(@crow)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 554
 

Both Zen and music can be soft or hard, depending on what you put into them.

In Zen, if you pursue it seriously, you will sit absolutely motionless on the same cushion facing the same wall for hours and hours and HOURS at a time (try it) and likely will be hit with sticks and made to drink your dishwater. In music, if you try to be all you can be as a musician, you will sit in the same room with the same instrument and play the same scales and arpeggios and little intricate phrases over and over and OVER until you're half mad.

You can just read an Alan Watts book and say you know Zen. You can just read tablature and say you're a musician. Fine, I have no quarrel with either, because you can get Zen from library books, and you can play guitar from tab, but there is always more to learn if you so choose.

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5468
 

Being a musician to me is about the journey. Learning to sight read allows you to choose additional routes along the way. I'll still get where I'm going and you'll still get where you're going.

I don't believe you can read any book and know Zen. That's like reading a book on swimming and saying you know how to swim. If you choose that course, make sure your life insurance is up to date before you hit the ocean.


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 Crow
(@crow)
Honorable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 554
 

Being a musician to me is about the journey.

Well put.
I don't believe you can read any book and know Zen. That's like reading a book on swimming and saying you know how to swim. If you choose that course, make sure your life insurance is up to date before you hit the ocean.

I should have said, you can get a moment of enlightenment from a book. Zen is a journey, too.

(This could become a new thread: "zen and the art of guitar playing.")

"You can't write a chord ugly enough to say what you want to say sometimes, so you have to rely on a giraffe filled with whipped cream." - Frank Zappa


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(@nicktorres)
Illustrious Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 5468
 

Ahh harmony


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(@apache)
Reputable Member
Joined: 13 years ago
Posts: 301
Topic starter  

Well, I certainly stirred up a hornets nest with my original post, and its made very interesting reading...


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(@notes_norton)
Noble Member
Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 1497
 

Being a musician to me is about the journey. <...>

Life is a journey, not a destination, so we need to make the most of it.

To me, being the best musician I can be will allow me to derive the most pleasure of the time I am both making a living and following my bliss -- so all the "work" I put into all the skills (reading music is only one) comes back multiplied when I am on stage, in my bliss, and the audience is sending back all that wonderful energy my way!

And that enhances the short time I have on this planet.

I think you can learn about music until you can no longer fog a mirror and there will still be more to learn. To me that's the beauty of it. I can never learn it all, so there is always a new adventure, a new thrill waiting around the corner for me.

Perhaps Sergei Rachmaninov said it best, "Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music."

Notes ♫

Bob "Notes" Norton

Owner, Norton Music http://www.nortonmusic.com Add-on Styles for Band-in-a-Box and Microsoft SongSmith

The Sophisticats http://www.s-cats.com >^. .^< >^. .^<


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