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Music As A language

Discussion in 'Technique [BG]' started by thebug, Mar 20, 2002.


  1. Hey,

    I was just checking out Victor Wootens site (again)and found this interesting article. As you all probably know there has been a lot of talk here lately about the pro's and con's of tab/standard notation and music theory, IMO Vic hits the nail right on the head with this article. Personally I really like (and only use) standard notation, but after reading this I understand why some people may find it less important. check it out...

    http://www.victorwooten.com/lessons/lesson3.htm
     
  2. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Hm, I'm not sure if I agree with everything said there.

    But to stay with the "music is a language" picture.

    Imagine how your life would be if you couldn't read and write in your language.

    Think about it.
     
  3. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    A hell of a lot harder. As if it isn't hard enough already.

    Nobody HAS to learn standard notation, why, nobody HAS to learn music at all! But you will not take damage from learning music. You will not take damage from learning standard notation either, in fact you might benefit from it. And it's completely up to the individual if he/she wishes to put in the extra effort open up another possibility in his/her musical life. That's it. Why people still love to quarrel over this issue is more or less beyond my understanding.
     
  4. I completely agree with you both, I am very glad that I learned standard notation a few years ago, it really helped to make me a better player (don't know exactly how but it did.) I didn't start this thread to quarrel over the issue I just found Vic's point of view quite interesting, I mean, you have to agree that atleast some of the things he says are right. Again I didn't want to start a quarrel (and sofar it isn't one), and I certainly hope that it won't become one, just wanted to show people Victors point of view.
     
  5. I attended a music conference once when Dr John Diamond showed that in a good performance, there's an energy that's transmitted to the listeners. (I think his term was kinesthetics)

    Maybe to get beyond the theory and technique, and let the music flow, is Vic's WIDE ANGLE VIEW. (Rare for me yet, but great when it happens!) :cool:
     
  6. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    While I can see Victor's point about there being great musicians and great thinkers who can't read (whether it be music or words), being able to read music does open you up to a whole load of music that you otherwise wouldn't be able to get inside of, and also gives you the ability to pass that music onto others in another way - in the same way that if we want to access the wisdom of those illiterate masters that victor mentions, the fastest, easiest, most accurate way of accessing that information is through reading it - you get online, you go to a library and you get a book with those thoughts written down.

    With music, it's much easier to access recordings of great music than it is to access recordings of great speeches or talk books or whatever, but reading does still give you access to yet more music, gives you the skills to trascribe as a aide to memory and analysis, gives you a common language with other instrumentalists (something that tab most definitely is not... :oops:)

    what's easier, carrying a note book, or a minidisc recorder and a mic? for ease of use, both are probably useful - you can take down melodies on the disc, but if you think of a harmony or are working on an arrangement, doing it in notation makes more sense than carrying a VS 1680 around with you to layer parts on the train to work... :oops:)

    The language analogys are so strong - it's my main way of conceptualising music and my relationship with it, and one of the things it does is it puts the emphasis firmly on the end result - in the same way that if someone says something to you, you aren't always aware of the grammar of what they are saying, who they are quoting or how they came to that thought, but are impacted by the thoughts and sentiments themselves and how well they are expressed, but it's safe to say that the vast majority of thinkers and communicators in the world can read... :oops:) Exceptions often just serve to prove how rare it is. I could list a lot of great bassists who couldn't read, and a much longer list of those who could, to some degree - so what if Pino Pallidino can memorise whole sets in a day? MOST players can't do that, and are better of being able to support their memory skills with a few written ones...

    And as Victor points out, it's not rocket science, there are 12 notes, and the basic subdivisions in rock/pop/funk/jazz etc aren't that hard to read. You don't need to be sight-reading Zappa tunes to make the exercise worthwhile... :oops:)

    cheers

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  7. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    Excellent post Steve!

    I really can't add anything to that.
     
  8. john turner

    john turner You don't want to do that. Trust me. Staff Member Administrator

    Mar 14, 2000
    atlanta ga
    yeah, it's a language, just don't try to order a burger with it. :D :rolleyes:
     
  9. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    I read that Wooten lesson a few weeks a ago, actually I read all of them, after Steve played me a snapshot of Wootens 1st solo CD in my 1st lesson...
    It did make real sense and there are some really good analogies - none of which I can recall right now... but I do remember them being good!!!

    I cant read music... yet... I have tried to learn in the past, but got put-off cause I just didnt know where to start.

    ...then the other day, whilst in the bath, I suddenly reaslised that sight reading must be easier than I first thought - because you don't need to read individual notes... you read intervals... plus knowing the key, chords and scales, etc would make it much easier to anticipate what comes next when listening to the melody.
    Before, when I'd tried to work it out myself I'd been looking at each line and trying to remember what note it represented... and getting very confused.

    Am I miles off here or have I 'got the right idea?'

    On another note...
    I find it very, very frustrating that I cant communicate my musical ideas to band members without actually playing what I mean.
    ...and I have a feeling that the more theory I learn, the more frustrating it will be playing with people who don't 'speak da language'...

    Can anyone offer experience of this? - does it suddenly become intollerable playing with musicians when you cant communicate on the same level?
     
  10. Steve Lawson

    Steve Lawson Solo Bass Exploration! Supporting Member

    Apr 21, 2000
    Birmingham, UK
    >>.then the other day, whilst in the bath, I suddenly reaslised that sight reading must be easier than I first thought - because you
    don't need to read individual notes... you read intervals... plus knowing the key, chords and scales, etc would make it much
    easier to anticipate what comes next when listening to the melody.
    Before, when I'd tried to work it out myself I'd been looking at each line and trying to remember what note it represented... and
    getting very confused. <<<

    Howard, in the words of another bath-dwelling thinker - Eureka! :oops:)

    ...you just saved yourself a couple of lessons, and me four hours of heartache... :oops:) We'll pick that thought up at your next lesson!

    well done,

    Steve
    www.steve-lawson.co.uk
     
  11. JMX

    JMX Vorsprung durch Technik

    Sep 4, 2000
    Cologne, Germany
    I guess pretty much everone experienced this or at least heard or read about this.
    Those ominous "play more orange or something" suggestions are not really helpful compared to "play it more legato or staccato" or "use a ritardando at the end".
     
  12. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - comunication can still be dodgy! So I play in a band with horn players who are all good readers and none more so than the trombone player.

    But he keeps going on to me about playing with a "drier" tone - that is me as bass player, playing with a "dry" tone. I have no idea what he means and have said so to him, but we are still no nearer reaching an understanding! ;)
     
  13. Ah, I see. You don't always read the notes, but the intervals. This whole gig makes so much more sense now. Must try this out.
     
  14. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK
    ...that is brilliant sarcasm if that was intended!! - if not, yeah, totally, that's what i thought!!
     
  15. Music as a language... I immediately thought of Close Encounters of the Third Kind...

    I'm way out of practice at sightreading and can't do it anymore, but did it back in school. Reading intervals works great, but sometimes if you're spanning close to an octave it's quicker to recognize the note on the staff.
     
  16. eli

    eli Mad showoff 7-stringer and Wish lover Supporting Member

    Dec 12, 1999
    NW suburban Chicago
    Look at the "written language" thing this way:

    It is possible to speak without being able to read and write. Therefore, it is possible to compose and act out a play without having to write it down. The author could simply memorize the entire script, and teach it to the actors by repetition and rote, and the actors could indeed then act it out, regardless of how many actors there were.

    But isn't it much easier to have this all on paper, so all the actors could read it and understand it AT THEIR LEISURE, not all in the same room and at the same time?

    Given a written script, the actors could not give a truly GREAT rendition of the play without some rehearsal. But the written script provides a wonderful head start and time savings for the actors to be ready for the REAL work when they finally do get together.

    Everything I've said here applies DIRECTLY to written vs. non-written music. This is the advantage of written music. You save lots of time, you can communicate to a large group of musicians without having to be in the room with them, and they have a pretty good idea what you want before you even meet them. Then when the rehearsals start, you can get right to the good stuff -- HOW are we gonna play this, what's it gonna feel like -- without having to spend hours and hours learning parts by memorization.
     
  17. Howard K

    Howard K

    Feb 14, 2002
    UK

    I read bits of the the Californication bass book yesterday and noticed two things... 1) that if you have to make a huge jump it's easier to read the note than the interval and 2) Flea plays mainly root notes!
     
  18. See it whatever way you want. I aim to please. :D