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Jeff Berlin discussing music education part 3

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by john turner, Feb 12, 2010.


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  1. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I'll agree with that!!

    Holy cow, I've played modes till I could puke, then I play them some more. When I'm not playing, I review them in my head.

    My new approach to learning them is to learn one at a time, versus trying to learn all 7 and getting them mixed up. Right now, I can pretty well shag through ionian, dorian, and phrygian. Lydian and mixolydian are pretty simple, so I should get them under my fingers quickly. Tonight will be devoted to working with them.

    One thing that helps me more than anything is to jump around in the mode instead of playing it chromatically. Plus, I can get a little "groove" going and it's more fun. Especially with a drum loop playing. :D (yeah, yeah...I know...that's performing....I'm a bad, bad, boy).
     
  2. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I asked my teacher about how I would apply these, and he gave me a great explanation and a demonstration (which was amazing!).

    He's not just asking me to memorize modes. I started out doing this, and was unsuccessful. He told me he wanted me to use my ears and listen to them. To learn proper fingering and economy of motion on the fretboard, and to play the modes up and down the entire fretboard and across all strings (two full octaves on my 5er).

    I can see where he's going with it, and I can see how this will really open things up for me.
     
  3. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    Here is a girl of 11 years old playing violin. Start aroun 0:25 seconds! This is why I know what everybody's future on bass would be like if they would try to learn great music. Her accomplishement translates on to any instrument in any style if players would only look past the temporary exercises that they are working on, and look at improvement on bass as a more involved process. P.S. Where did here sense of phrasing come from? Where did her technique, sense of time come from? Did she try to memorize this piece? (No!) It is all here in the package of a little girl dedicated to music, music, music!


     
  4. I took lessons from a guy Adam may know - and his teaching style sounds very similar when you talk about modes.

    I went into my lessons somewhat mystified by 'the modes' and like many, felt that learning them was critical to overcoming what I thought was an obstacle to my ability to express myself more musically. There is value in learning the modes and practicing them - and ultimately the most 'applicable' result for me was essentially 'knowing where all the good notes are all over the neck - no matter what'. The modes simply became a 'road map' to every single good note on the neck.

    While learning about them didn't turn me into a better player, not knowing them was getting in my way of thinking I could be a better player. So in a way, learning them did allow me to become better - but it's not because of what they are - it's because I no longer think of them as some sort of 'lack' in my tool kit.

    After practicing all the modes scales and arpeggios, 2-octaves, all the way up and down the neck, all the "good" notes were exposed. I put "good" in quotes because, as I am sure Adam will teach you, there are no such thing as good or bad notes - and playing 'out' is as important as playing all the 'in' notes when it comes to being musical.

    One thing that helps demystify the modes is seeing exactly how they 'work' in relation to each other. For my own benefit and for fun, I started writing a program that generates all chords for all modes - for no other reason than I could see the rather mathematical relationship in the interval sequences and was interested in exactly how much I could leverage that to expose the math in music. Here's my simple mode object that lists out the intervals of each mode (rewritten for clarity of display):


    [2,2,1,2,2,2,1] = ionian
    [2,1,2,2,2,1,2] = dorian
    [1,2,2,2,1,2,2] = phrygian
    [2,2,2,1,2,2,1] = lydian
    [2,2,1,2,2,1,2] = mixolydian
    [2,1,2,2,1,2,2] = aeolian
    [1,2,2,1,2,2,2] = locrian


    And a version to highlight the obvious patters;

    I highlighted the last interval in the first mode to show how it moves from mode to mode. Look at all the rest of the intervals and you'll see what each mode 'means' to the other with regard to how the interval groupings move from one mode to the next.


    [2,2,1,2,2,2,1] = ionian
    [2,1,2,2,2,1,2] = dorian
    [1,2,2,2,1,2,2] = phrygian
    [2,2,2,1,2,2,1] = lydian
    [2,2,1,2,2,1,2] = mixolydian
    [2,1,2,2,1,2,2] = aeolian
    [1,2,2,1,2,2,2] = locrian



    And another:


    [2,2,1,2,2,2,1] = ionian
    [2,1,2,2,2,1,2] = dorian
    [1,2,2,2,1,2,2] = phrygian
    [2,2,2,1,2,2,1] = lydian
    [2,2,1,2,2,1,2] = mixolydian
    [2,1,2,2,1,2,2] = aeolian
    [1,2,2,1,2,2,2] = locrian


    ...and another (it should all be pretty obvious at this point):


    [2,2,1,2,2,2,1] = ionian
    [2,1,2,2,2,1,2] = dorian
    [1,2,2,2,1,2,2] = phrygian
    [2,2,2,1,2,2,1] = lydian
    [2,2,1,2,2,1,2] = mixolydian
    [2,1,2,2,1,2,2] = aeolian
    [1,2,2,1,2,2,2] = locrian


    This really doesn't mean anything, musically - but it's definitely a pattern that exposes the mechanics behind the intervals as they relate to each other in sequence. I found that understanding this helped to explain 'what' the modes are in a very cold, analytical sense.

    Now the modes do have "emotional" implications (moods) that come from the mathematical facts surrounding these intervallic relationships that can be applied - but that's more of the art side and less of the science side. But from a strictly mechanical perspective, they're just shifting the intervallic relationships as you traverse the modes OR playing the exact same intervals starting at a different step each time.
     
  5. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    LOL! Great minds think alike.

    I'm a really logical guy, and I did the same exact thing. Only instead of numbers, I wrote out "w" for whole step and "h" for half step. I also circled all the notes in each scale that were "flattened" from ionian and put a box around the notes that were "sharpened" so I could see the deviations.

    Here's the sheet Adam gave me. I added the info to the right of the diagrams while I was trying to study things. The numbers in the boxes tell me which finger to use to fret the note.

    MajorScaleModes.


    And yes, I scan in each and every lesson so I can access it anywhere I have internet access, including my cell phone. Uber geekdom has it's privledges. :)
     
  6. Being predisposed to 'logic' - seeing how the numbers work is actually helpful even if it is just a way to remember where to put your fingers. Obviously the goal is to make all this a part of our DNA and not create more mental crutches (memorization of patterns and such) - but there's absolutely nothing wrong (IMO) with exposing the patterns and allowing them to demystify what're essentially basic facts.

    I don't think it's any different than understanding how to voice a chord. It's all about the intervals and the resulting harmony or dissonance.

    In this thread where we're discussing the facts, math and logic seem to be valid tools.

    When discussing this with 'musicians at large', one thing I've found are what appear to be two distinct personalities - one that's threatened by the inherent logic (the factual nature) in music and one that is not.

    The ones who seem threatened by it seem to want to embrace and perpetuate the 'mystery' - and I understand why. They see things like 'the modes' as a 'book of spells' - not a schematic for scalar intervallic relationships. Before I knew what the dots on the lines meant, what a bar was, what tempo was - music was utterly magical and it effected me as such imparting feelings that were thrilling and fascinating.

    As I learned about music - especially starting with piano and violin following the Suzuki method, the 'tricks' were revealed and how I experienced music changed - forever. I traded the ability to be completely mystified for the ability to mystify. The way music impacted me emotionally changed forever, and in my opinion, for the better based on how I want to be involved with it as a musician/performer.

    But my musician friends who don't share that same perspective or have the benefit of the same education found their way to music like Frodo on a quest. They 'discovered' guitar, then 'found' these chords, then played for people - all still very much under the mysterious influence of the music's magic - never fully know how or why it is what it is, but naively being able to create it none the less.

    I've found it's these people who get very intimidated by the fact that what they feel is so magical is actually quite explainable in most circumstances and would prefer that you not 'ruin' the magic for them by explaining the modes - or other facts.
     
  7. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Check the link out. I do not know if the references will register with people outside the UK and under a certain age but i think you will get the just of the sketch in the context of some of the things we have talked about.:)

     
  8. LOL - I remember seeing that sketch one late night, certainly on PBS... Very funny!
     
  9. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I laughed out loud!

    Mark King is a titan on bass. Love his playing!
     
  10. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I couldn't have written it better myself.

    Right now, it's all a big mystery to me. But I continue to discover the "why" of music. Heck, even this forum leads me to Google search terms more often than not.
     
  11. I feel that most people honestly interested in music from an academic standpoint tend to have a lot less emotional reactions to discussions of music in general. That little nuance between naive and educated musicians is the one that tends to lead me into 'drama' when discussing music with my peers. I look at 90% of music like you would look at building a house or car or ______ - that there are some fundamental, mechanical components that you have 100% full control over how they're used and that you can, when all else fails, start with the facts and arrive at music.

    While I have my own taste and "likes and dislikes" when it comes to music, I can easily play/work on a genre that I normally wouldn't choose to put on at home just as easily as I can working on/play music that is in my personal playlist. It's music - it's music. "Like it" and "Don't like it" are emotional/irrational modes when it comes to the nuts and bolts.

    What I run into is the sense that such a clinical view of music - and the fact that I tend to always feel that when working on music with musicians, you should be able to have a 100% drama-free discussion. There's no personal insults or attacks on "your" music if you recognize music for what it is and as long as your not simply saying "Your song sucks", you're simply talking about the cold, impersonal components that make up "your song".

    My attitude when working with musicians is that they need to define up front what they expect out of our collaboration - if they simply need a guy to deliver the bass line or if they need a guy to get under the hood and pitch in with some of the construction. If they ask for the latter, they're usually thrilled finding someone who's literate and can apply musical principles and knowledge to the situation as a whole and are not just "parts makers" with a limited scope of skills to contribute.

    But the former 'type' - that's both the easiest and hardest situation for me. It's easy in that you simply detach from caring too terribly much about the music itself and focus solely on playing a part that makes him happy. Usually a part that closely resembles the part he wrote but couldn't quite play himself. But step "over the line" and discuss a "problem" or an alternate way to approach the piece from a mechanical standpoint and watch out for the tears/venom. It's like you kicked their puppy.
     
  12. Eminentbass

    Eminentbass

    Jun 7, 2006
    South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Amps and Sandberg Basses.
    Well, I just heard my first ever composition played by trombone and piano and must say I'm actually feeling a sense of achievement(even if it did get compared to elevator music). Two months ago I wouldn't even have thought of trying to compose.

    I saw chord tone studies as a way to improve my soloing but that coupled with examining chord tones over standards changes has given me some insight into chord structures/progressions and voice leading. I can actually see how my musical understanding has levelled up by one tier.

    Thanks Jeff and Roy.
     
  13. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I agree that if you're playing for a living, this is something you must do. Pay to get your pay.

    For me, it's different. I love music. Music to me is heart and soul. It's closing your eyes and just having music come out. Never thinking about it. When I sing, I sing from my heart and soul. I don't think about anything. I just feel. During rehearsals, I don't believe I sing as well. I am too focused on the "science" behind it. Hearing my cues. Finding on what measure I come in on. Etc. When it comes time to perform, I have no sheet music. No lyric sheets. Nothing. I just sing. That's where I want to get with my playing. I just want to play. To be able to put my iPod on shuffle and play for hours. To sit with a group of players and jam. That's been a dream of mine for about as long as I can remember.

    Learning to play is methodical. You have to find the science in it so you can build that bridge between what's in your mind and your fingers. There are SO many times when I grab my bass and try to play a song and I just don't have the knowledge to play it. I try, but eventually I realize all I'm doing is butchering a fine song. I find another song I can play and try to get better.

    Strange thing is, every day I am a little better than I was the day before. I hit the right notes the first time versus hunting for them. I surprise myself. Sometimes I'll play a song so well that I'll play it again just to make sure I can do it twice. Then I have one of those "where did that come from" moments.
     
  14. True - and to the point about learning what the nuts and bolts are and how they're commonly used - that understanding provides a starting point for being able to understand music - or more importantly, when it comes to listening and playing, where a particular piece feels like it's bending or even breaking a 'rule'.

    I've found that what tends to sound like 'elevator music' tends to be 'too perfect' or hitting 100% 'right' notes on 100% ON beats (no syncopation) - it's 'vanilla' because it's perfect, square and breaks no rules. It can be FAST or sssslllllooooowwwww - but because it's so regular and 'safe' it's boring.

    Blue notes, bends, syncopation - when you hear those things - they jump at you because they 'step out' of rigid perfection. But you sort of have to know what rigid perfection is for that to matter to you. When you understand why a progression logically resolves but then you hear a song where you're expecting that resolution and somehow they 'deceptively' don't resolve but opt to 'extend' the phrase - the only way you know that's what's going on is by knowing what the 'normal' situation would have been.

    - at least, that's how it's played out for me! But I make my living as a web applications programmer, so take that for what it's worth!

    That said - I've been reading, analyzing and playing music more years that I've done anything else. I've found that there are almost 1 to 1 parallels in programming and music - and many other things - so for me, having a music education has also given me the benefit of being able to use music principles in other seemingly non-musical pursuits. The principles of harmony, rhythm and melody play out in a lot of unexpected ways!
     
  15. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    Never was a programmer. I'm a network engineer turned IT Manager. But I can tell you that being a network engineer is a lot like being a bass player. No one "sees" the network. They see the sexy programs they use and what happens on the other end of the wall jack they don't give a rip about.

    My wife pretty much summed up what most people think about bass players. We were at church and she said, "Which one is the bass player?". Nuff said.
     
  16. More often than not that's a sign that the bass player's doing their job correctly! Just like you network engineer mofo's everyone (like me) depends on so much. Like a bass player, rarely do people recognize HOW much they depend on the bass being there until the bass is gone. That's why break-down sections work so well and why the song sounds so much 'better' (complete) when the bass comes back in. You can drop the guitar player, keys, saxes, etc... but if the bass (or drums) stop - it's like the train has stopped altogether.
     
  17. chadhargis

    chadhargis Jack of all grooves, master of none Supporting Member

    Jan 5, 2010
    Nashville, TN
    I have a saying I use in business. I tell my team, "People don't want to hear about the labor pains, they just wanna see the baby".

    That's true with bass playing. People don't care who the bass player is, or what he does, they just want to groove.
     
  18. Eminentbass

    Eminentbass

    Jun 7, 2006
    South Africa
    Endorsing Artist: Ashdown Amps and Sandberg Basses.
    As my dad used to say, "people only notice the bass player when he's not there".

    They'll notice a gap but won't be able to identify it.
     
  19. Fergie Fulton

    Fergie Fulton

    Nov 22, 2008
    Braintree
    Retrovibe Artist rota
    Mmmmmm there are two ways to play as i see it as an ensemble player or as the soloist. Guitar was once an ensemble instrument but came to the front and founds its voice as a solo instrument, much in the same way bass has come on. The thing i will always point out to anyone the criticises solo bassists is that there is always room for an ensemble bass line behind it...if you want to play one.
    Is that not the principal of most two guitar bands, on solo the other supports as part of an ensemble.......like any big band or orchestra in days gone by?

    Any instrument in an ensemble situation should not really be noticed. Today with technology we have the means with mikes, DI's etc to define it better within it ensemble, but i would never confuse that with it not being noticed until it is not there.:)
     
  20. JeffBerlin

    JeffBerlin Guest

    Jan 10, 2009
    Time to depart these pages! My time is getting pretty busy, what with the gigs, new recording coming out and another newer one that is now being signed for. The chat here tells me that people here are OK with their direction in music and that maybe my presence isn't needed right now. As long as people have grabbed on to some solid learning principles in playing, then I think that my time here is at an end.

    John Wentzian knows how to get in touch with me! If things change and if people here need some help with some points about how to learn, then I can offer some suggestions. Ask John to get in touch with me and I can try to offer some thoughts, if you would like them. But, for now, I bid you all farewell, and Good Luck with your music and your playing.

    Best from Jeff
     

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