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Two great reasons for learning to read...you might have overlooked

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by markjsmithbass, Jun 24, 2018.


  1. lfmn16

    lfmn16 Supporting Member

    Sep 21, 2011
    charles town, wv
    It's actually easier to cure the latter.
     
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  2. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    OK, so we need to make a distinction here...

    READING: Understanding what the written notes on a clef are and using them to play music.

    SIGHT READING: Getting a sheet of music for the first time and reading through it.

    If you can read the notes on a lead sheet, then you know how to read, which makes your arguments against it null and void. So what exactly are we talking about here?
     
    Leo Smith and Bob_Ross like this.
  3. Greywoulf

    Greywoulf Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2000
    Freehold, NJ. USA
    As a once years ago keyboard player and now a re-learning bassist, I cannot find any good reasons not to read music. It appears to me to be almost essential for musical progress... But as a West African style percussionist who's been taught sound and technique principally by traditional unwritten vocal methods, I hafta say I am sometimes puzzled and confused when I'm around excellent Euro style classical musicians who simply cannot improvise anything?! These folks are wonderful musicians and I have great respect for their talents which are most times well beyond mine, but when I try to explain to them that djembe solos and jazz solos well up from within oneself (after years of first learning basics tho), they simply blank over. They seem to not even comprehend pure improvisation! If it's not written down for them to follow, they're lost...
    Like I said, it's a puzzlement to me??
    Greywoulf
     
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  4. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    There are plenty of pure classical players who can improvise good ideas. Not all but there are plenty. Many went "slumming" in jazz circles to do it, but hey...
     
    SteveCS likes this.
  5. jallenbass

    jallenbass Supporting Member Commercial User

    May 17, 2005
    Bend, Oregon
    Musicians who can't improvise haven't worked at it. Musicians who can't read music haven't worked at it. By and large, that's the crux of the matter. In general, you can apply that to just about anything in life.
     
  6. Greywoulf

    Greywoulf Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2000
    Freehold, NJ. USA
    That's true enough in most cases... But then there are many different ways to make great music. And some of the best djembefolas (djembe masters) might not know how to read western style music notation because they've been taught in the traditional West African style since early childhood. Which is simply, "-This is how it goes. Watch and listen. Learn. Now you play it..." I think I would call it 'ear reading' rather than sight reading.
    And if you read some of the autobiographies of the early jazz musicians in America, this is how many of them learned to play also... To this day I do not enjoy watching and hearing jazz being played by musicians reading lines as much as I do group improvisation. For me, reading seems to take some of the spirit out of this beautiful music, and it sounds more stilted to me than pure improvisation does! -But then times change... And we sometimes make things a lot more complicated than we need to {IMO}...

    Having said this however I am still floored by the fantastic ability of classical musicians to read some of the extremely dense and complicated music charts of Euro style classical music (-even if they cannot improvise). I know I wouldn't have enough years left in me to be able to accomplish that kind of in-depth reading and interpretation..........!
    Greywoulf ;>})
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
  7. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    IME, coming from the 'classically trained but can improvise' group, the state of mind (aural awareness, presence, 'in-the-moment', 'stream of consciousness', call it what you like) required for the depth of interpretation you allude to is very similar to that of a jazz soloist in mid-flow. The hightened state is there but manifests itself in different ways. A great classical performance of a true masterpiece played by a great orchestra with a top director - not one that 'phones it in' - can connect with and move entire audiences in ways that most other genres simply cannot. Most great directors are great improvisers, and their instrument is the entire orchestra. They (the orchestra) are the conduit, so they have to understand how to deliver what is required of them from moment to moment. Even with extensive rehearsals and the notes fixed by the score, how they get performed on the day can change dramatically on the whim of the director. Imagine that! The players have to be ready to go with him/her without notice.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2019
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  8. Greywoulf

    Greywoulf Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2000
    Freehold, NJ. USA
    I completely agree re the sensibilities and awareness and the heightened state that's required of good classical musicians behind a top director. But I would call it perhaps 'spiritual interpretation' rather than improvisation. In almost all instances the musicians and director of a symphonic orchestra are not internally spontaneously creating totally new music as they go along, as they perform. Classical music can be absolutely magical when deeply and interestingly interpreted and performed well, oh yes! -But IMO that's not improvisation...
    Greywoulf
     
  9. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Maybe, in the strictest sense you're right. But as a player I get a much greater sense of communication through how I play and present each note, phrase or passage than I do from the initial note selection/decision.
     
  10. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    One doesn't exist without the other. Have your cake and eat it, too :D
     
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  11. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Right, but so.much of the focus for people wanting to improvise is on learning hundreds of scales and developing breakneck speed, rather than articulation dynamics, phrasing etc....
     
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  12. JimmyM

    JimmyM Supporting Member

    Apr 11, 2005
    Apopka, FL
    Endorsing: Ampeg Amps, EMG Pickups
    Yep, that's what separates great players from wankers :D
     
    SteveCS likes this.
  13. Greywoulf

    Greywoulf Supporting Member

    Sep 15, 2000
    Freehold, NJ. USA
    "Even with extensive rehearsals, how they get performed on the day can change dramatically on the whim of the director. Imagine that! The players have to be ready to go with him/her without notice."

    Happens with my West African style percussion drum choir group also... As the director of a bunch of talented volunteer drummers I'm never quite sure who all's gonna show up for a Sunday morning church job or any other type gig. And sometimes the internet's gig notice get's folks showing up who are newbies to us, or others who rarely make rehearsals with our core group. So it's calling the rhythm pieces on the spot, assigning drumming parts on the spot, and hoping the more knowledgeable core members of our drum choir will influence and assist (or sometimes simply overpower?) the less ready... ;>})
    But it usually works out okay, just as long as we all remember to have fun doing it even if it's sometimes a bit less than what we're capable of...
    Greywoulf
     
  14. rufus.K

    rufus.K

    Oct 18, 2015
    SoCal
    I told Paul McCartney the same thing . He and Geezer keep telling me that it'll ruin their ears.
     
  15. SteveCS

    SteveCS

    Nov 19, 2014
    Hampshire, UK
    Once upon a time you needed to read music just to browse for tunes you might like. This is a back inside cover I found in a recently-acquired bundle of old sheet music...
    20190911_221120.
     
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  16. joebar

    joebar

    Jan 10, 2010
    I decided to relearn how to read a few years ago out of sheer boredom. Since I had an exceptional ear and solid understanding of music and perfect pitch, it was relatively easy because I could anticipate where the song would go in many cases. The one plus it gives you is better ability to navigate the FB because you can’t look at it.
    I haven’t needed to use it so I don’t keep it up but i should
     
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  17. The only reasons to not learn how to read music is that you don’t want to, or you can’t see.

    Reading musical notation is actually ridiculously easy. The hard part is playing the notation on your instrument. So not learning to read, is really just not learning where the notes are on your instrument.

    If you know the neck, you should be reading to a passable level in under a month. Cold Sight Reading is a different skill and just comes from regular reading practice.
     
    Last edited: Sep 16, 2019
  18. jamro217

    jamro217 Supporting Member

    There are probably a good number of us here who learned how to read music early on but haven't had to do so in a long time. Like anything else, use it or lose it. I have yet to miss out on a gig for the slow reading skills I haven't improved. If it was a jazz gig, that'd be different. Though there are no excuses for purposely neglecting reading, sight reading difficult parts after not having had to exercise those muscles can be a chore. I think part of the problem is that in popular music so few players are good readers that the skill is underutilized. It's more common to give out a set list and keys beforehand than sheet music. It's a shame, but that's what it seems to be degenerating to.
     

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