How did the superstars learn to play?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by tomkatzz, Feb 15, 2009.


  1. tomkatzz

    tomkatzz Member

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    SRV, Freddie King, et al. By spending hours and hours listening to others, then emulating their moves?
     
  2. phillygtr

    phillygtr Member

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    I doubt they used tablature and rarely attended music camp.
     
  3. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Basically - yes.
     
  4. kimock

    kimock Member

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    By playing that music on the bandstand with guys that new how to play.
    Watching those same guys perform obviously, but basically I would say apprenticeship was mostly responsible.
    Listening and emulating of course, early on, but there's a bunch of stuff you'll never get to without having your nose rubbed in it onstage.

    peace
     
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  5. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    WORD.

    I've heard many a great player give the advice of "always try to be the greenest guy in the band."
     
  6. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    Yes, I've heard that as well, hopefully they won't turn up their nose at you. That does happen.

    It's a tough game, your bruises need to heal and not leave scarring.
    You know, get back on the horse.

    How do you (whoever) avoid toxic shaming??
     
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  7. brad347

    brad347 Member

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    Most of the time, good musicians/people won't turn up their nose at you IF:

    1) you have paying gigs to offer them (have your hustle together)
    2) OR you have interesting music you have written

    Either of the above, AND it helps if you can muster some true humility (not ass-kissing, but rather mouth-shutting and ear-opening) and are honest and genuine.

    In addition, in many metro areas there are public jam sessions you can seek out. With any luck, you can find one where the 'house' band is totally decent/more experienced than you, and sometimes other experienced players will drop in.


    To avoid being 'shamed' or called out by more experienced musicians, even dickhead ones, Just be cool, listen more than you talk (and play), and don't try to prove how great you are.

    Occasionally, you will still be yelled at by certain types for making rookie mistakes. I had an experience once with a certain well-known musician at a session once. He thought I was playing too loud (maybe he was right). Kinda humiliated me on purpose in a way that was IMO a bit uncalled for, but he's been cool to me ever since. This particular guy kinda has a reputation for that, anyway. BUT, he did get his point across, I guess.

    There is a certain group of people who have the mentality that young players aren't "checked" enough, and therefore will never learn. They usually accompany this sentiment with a story about how Art Blakey or some similar figure would call people out and embarrass them, and through trial-by-fire they would learn. Many of these people try to compensate for what they believe to be 'too much political correctness' by going out of their way to embarrass folks. Sometimes they go overboard.

    The key is to know this and not take it too much to heart (but take it enough to heart to get their message, if you respect them).

    I'm not much in favor of fear-based or fear-driven anything, so I'm not a huge proponent of the "embarrass people" approach, but in a world with different kinds of people, if you are interested in music with a 'closed circle' or 'show-me' kind of semi-elitist attitude (as jazz can often have), it's something you have to live with occasionally.
     
  8. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Very true. You can learn plenty from copying records (most "greats" started that way), but you don't REALLY learn it until you play with people better than you, AND do it onstage.
    You have to be strong enough to take the knocks (or the plain embarrassment) and come back fighting.
     
  9. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Self belief. What separates the "men" from the "boys" is to be inspired, invigorated, by such an experience, not shamed by it.
    "That ain't gonna happen to me again..." - meaning you either give up trying (or stay at home as a bedroom player), or you do better next time.
    The wound heals, and the skin thickens...
    Or - to be less metaphorical - you either realise you just can't cut it, or you become aware of what you did wrong, and you correct it. If you care enough, you deal with it, and you get back up there.

    Charlie Parker is the classic example - laughed offstage on his first attempt, but it galvanised him into some serious woodshedding. He might not have been the player he was without that embarrassing screw-up that kicked his ass.

    As brad347 says, most good musicians won't deliberately embarrass a beginner. They're more likely (in my experience) to be encouraging. But the beginner is likely to be extremely sensitive, acutely aware of their mistakes. They're more likely to run offstage (or slink away red-faced) than get thrown off.
     
  10. kimock

    kimock Member

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    As a general response to the last couple of "ass kicking" comeuppances, the flip side of that, which is more the rule than the exception ime, is seeing the music for the first time as a real living thing. You get schooled, sure, but you get your heart opened too.

    Now obviously you're going to want to learn the material, so you're going to study the record, copy some solos, try to cop the feel etc, but the end result of that is a very static take on the actual music, whatever style it is.

    For myself, I went through 20 years of playing New Orleans funk, Meters, Doctor John, Nevilles' type stuff.
    All the guys I hung with were into that bag.
    We programmed drum machines to play Cissy Strut(!) and copped the parts, tempo, groove, feel, production values, all of it.
    There were parts of those tunes that we considered sacred.
    Here's the record, it goes like this, don't f'k it up.

    Years later I get to do a bunch of gigs with George Porter Jr.
    He says "You know Cissy Strut?"
    I'm all "Yeah, got it."
    He says "Oh, we don't do it like that no more. We play it like a blues with just the first lick until the V chord, and then the 2nd lick for the V and the IV chord."
    Ouch.
    If anybody had pulled that **** on me or my crew on that tune at any point before that, we would have taken them out back and taught 'em some respect.

    So, the record that I had spent the last 20 years worshiping and learning was, well it wasn't like living on an Indian reservation, it was a polaroid of some Indian on a reservation.

    The reality was stuff that I thought was compositional was just one players tendencies, stuff that I thought was carved in stone only happened that one day, stuff that I thought was brilliantly original and unique was known to and required of everybody, critical arrangement points were mistakes or accidents, and basically all that I thought was "sacred" was just a bunch of guys cuttin' up.

    All my uptightness about what was proper for that music was replaced in a single joyous moment with being in the music for real as a living, evolving, celebration. It was a fk'n party.
    It sure wasn't about my take on the record anyway.

    So that's why you play with people, to get that.
    To get away from the "It goes like this" nazis.
    The folks that are actually playing anything, they're not stuck in the past, and they're not stuck on pause with their trip.
    They're having a ball with it every time.

    There's great stuff on all those records, but those are just moments, 10, 20 seconds here and there. Frozen to death.
    You don't get the real music hit from the record: the beauty, the terror, the drama, the humor, the energy, the pace, the animation, the satisfaction, the serendipity, or the boundless good will and mutual respect that comes in performance. The feeling.

    That's what made those recorded performances so great, the stuff that didn't stick to tape.
    At some point, you just have to go do it.
    That's the gig.

    peace
     
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  11. sinner

    sinner Supporting Member

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    Oh man, I'm printing out your post and putting it up on the fridge--I'm gonna want to read it over and over, thank you!
     
  12. Clifford-D

    Clifford-D Member

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    I have toi agree Steve, I'll read this a number of times, maybe on my fridge, or in my studio or both.

    Thanks for the thoughts
     
  13. Ooogie

    Ooogie Member

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    Great post Steve, a lot to think about there and very timely for me right now.

    Thanks,
    Mark
     
  14. JonR

    JonR Member

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    WORD.
    Music isn't alive unless it's live.
    A recording is an artefact - there's value in that, as you say, but it's a historic value, a relic. As music, it's dead, it's just some frozen moment from the past.
    Real music is what happens when it's played in front of you (or when you play it). It's in the air, then it's gone. THIS moment will never happen again, that's the magic and the treasure: you learn to savour it and let it go - because the next moment is just as good (or better).

    Zappa said music is sculptured air. I disagree - I think it's sculptured time. It's raw material is air (vibration), but its business, its meaning, is time.
    To get it properly, you have to pay attention, in a special way, a way you don't to a recording, which you know you can play again any time.

    Music mediates time.
     
  15. entraind

    entraind Member

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    Great post Steve, very cogent to where I'm at right now. Thanks...:BEER
     
  16. cdaloia

    cdaloia Member

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    Right on Steve.......

    When we where kids and something special would happen on the bandstand my old boss Nick Brignola would say something like........."Don't try to re- create that tomorrow because it will never happen." And of course being the young band that we were.....well, we couldn't help it.....LOL, we WOULD try to re-create it and we were no longer "in the moment" and it would suck.......
    Nick would just look at us and we would know.... That's how we learned. Having a master there (a "made guy" ; ) to guide us kids along was the greatest thing that could ever happen.......Old school.....

    Chuck
     
  17. heady dude

    heady dude Member

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  18. tomkatzz

    tomkatzz Member

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    I've seen artists who were famous for a single tune have to play it over and over. They looked bored stiff.

    Joe Walsh once said that if he had know he was going to have to play "Rocky Mountain Way" for the next 30 years, he would have written something else.
     
  19. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    So dude Stevie-o-so ... rumors abound that the 'Kimock Book of Epiphanic Realizations' will be hitting the stands sometime early this century...
    Can I pre-order a signed copy ...;)
     
  20. bbarnard

    bbarnard Member

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    Really that post by Steve K, that's why I keep coming back to TGP.

    Excellent.
     

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