Go learn a song!

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Norwegianwood, Jul 11, 2005.

  1. All the time people tell me (and other aspiring musicians) not to bother with learning songs written by other people. "Go create something yourself", they say.

    And while I agree that it's important to create your own identity, I disagree that studying and LEARNING songs can do any harm. Tonight, I "learned" Jacos "continuum." I'm just done, and after a few hours I play it pretty fluid. And it feels good!

    The feeling of "mastery" should not be underrated. I also think that learning something, and really working on it to make it sound good - can make you a better musician.

    Perhaps we could learn something from the classical scene here? I have studied classical flute for a long time, and to "nail" mozart in G, I practiced for nearly a year. To give meaning to every phrase - to always know what you wanna say. It takes work. But while I worked on the piece, I could feel it growing on me. Please, I know this sounds silly. But it's like that when you work enough on one piece of music. It'll become a part of you, in some way. This is what all classical musicians do when they work on their reportoire.

    Well, I know I'm saying different things at once now - and please forgive my mindless rambling. But it just felt good, you know, being able to play this fantastic piece of Jaco.
  2. DaftCat


    Jul 26, 2004
    Medicine Hat
    I learned "Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite" on bass today and am attempting to sing it as well.

    I wrote lyrics and bass for an original today.

    Time to take the rest of the week off. :)
  3. Wrong Robot

    Wrong Robot Guest

    Apr 8, 2002
    I used to be all about learning songs. Now, I've found that I've forgotten many of the songs I used to know, and I focus almost solely on my own ****. Learning songs is invaluable, I don't think anyone could dispute that, but still, ultimately, the pursuit of your own music is a greater endeavor. imo at least.

    incidentally...I'm playing on my acoustic bass right now, and I've always loved the way donna lee sounds on this thing. I tried to play it just now, I could barely get past the first few lines. Well, I still remember how to play most of it, but like, not really heh, I used to have that song completely nailed 100% at tempo and everything. But... that was like 3 years ago. So bleh.
  4. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    Bob Dylan had a great insight into this very thing in an interview a few years back.

    He was talking about the number of young singer songwriters who only know their material. He spoke of how when he first came to NYC back in the early sixties and how before he even TRIED to write a song he had learned most of Woody Guthrie's tunes, Pete Seeger's and all the traditional blues and protest songs from the Dust Bowl era. He was saying that a lot of the young singer-songwriters he hears today have no tradition to draw on and therefore many of their songs sound the same.

    If you're going to become a surgeon, do you operate on someone based on your own techniques or do you learn how to make an incision from someone who did it before?
  5. abaguer


    Nov 27, 2001
    Milford, NJ
    By the way Norwegianwood. You live in a beautiful country :) . I tour there about 3 times a year. Always play Muddy Waters in Oslo.
  6. seanlava


    Apr 14, 2005
    Most players I know who are strictly "original" usually wind up reinventing the wheel, since they have no idea that what they're writing has already been done before. When you have learned how other people create music, then you have a map to being truly original.
  7. Richard Lindsey

    Richard Lindsey

    Mar 25, 2000
    Metro NYC
    Whoever told you that was a fool. It's that simple.
  8. Vorago

    Vorago (((o)))

    Jul 17, 2003
    Antwerp, Belgium
    I knew how to play Continuum as well, but I got stuck halfway the solo :meh: and never really picked it up again.
  9. Bruce B

    Bruce B

    Sep 2, 2004
    I think it's beneficial to do both. Learn the music of others and write your own stuff. I doubt there are very many original musicians who never played what came before them.
  10. I know:) Next time, you should spend some more time here, you know. Go further up, and take a look at our famous fjords! :bassist:
    Muddy Waters is a cool place, tell me next time you'r coming!

    One of my points here, is that a lot of people say "don't learn the whole song, just pick out parts of it, so that you can adapt to that style." And I agree with that, to a certain extent. Surely you can't learn all Jaco songs, and there is no point in that. But working a little bit on the pieces, and picking out bits and licks sure can be smart.

    Hovewer, I also feel that working on a piece to "perfection" should not be underrated. Like what I reffered to with the classical players. I'm not saying we should to that very often, but every once in a while I think it's all good.
  11. ++1. :)
  12. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    Ain't nuthin' but a slackers cop out so they don't have to do the hard work of properly learning their craft.