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To what degree do we endeavour to learn things that are of no use to us at all ?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Rock Fella, Feb 7, 2006.

  1. Rock Fella

    Rock Fella Member

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    I give an example, many years ago I sat with a strat on my lap and gawddammit I was going to be able to do the harpsichord and guitar section in yngwies icarus dream suite which he performs that bit at 130 bpm on the rising force album. years later , sure I can play the notes, can I play tham as fast as yngwie does....NO, can I play the descending line into the gtr solo as flat out as Mr Malmsteen .....NO , In N.Ireland where I live, is there an audience that would want to hear me play Icarus Dream Suite.......Mainly NO, was it worth the frustration in trying the nail the works of a guitar superhero on his terms, the way he plays it and at the speed he plays it.......NO.

    I us the phrase "on his terms " because I can do it with ease in MY style , what took its time to realise is that just because somebody records a bit of music, we will be able to nail it in the style of the original recording artist, I find that In order to try and do so is just counterproductive and its much more musical to interpret said music in the style that comes second nature to YOU.

    Another example is Gary Moore`s solo in "out in the fields" , I got the note perfect transcription and those notes nor the playing style moore employed do not fall within my natural playing style and I wasted so much time effectively pissing into the wind trying to clone something Id simply never be able to do. Ive done out in the fields with the band, I play the solo in the same Dminor key Moore does, I play a long lead break out of the solo for the same time duration and speed that Moore achieves, but I do it my way and in such a way I barely even have to think about it, if I fastidiously try to recreate Moores note choice and execution methodology.....Ill make an arse of it and try to do so is simply a good example of a waste of my time.

    I try to focus more upon sounding like ME rather than trying to be a copycat of somebody else and somebody elses note choice nor execution of those notes is playing a less and less important role in my playing these days.So when you look back can you think of music that you played over and over again trying to reproduce it straight off the record , but when you look back, you can see that youd have been far better off interpreting it YOUR way at the outset?
     
  2. Mayflower

    Mayflower Supporting Member

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    Years ago I tried to cop others style. Until I realised it was "their" style and not mine.
    I have just taken ideas from other players and twisted them into my own thing.
    Kinda glad I did, but I am still amazed to this day after all the practicing and theory that I can't cop certain licks!
    Having your own signature is a good thing, I think!
    Too late to turn back now.
     
  3. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    When you learn to paint you learn by first copying others...established masters.
    Now, the problem I've encountered when I used to give lessons is that many times folks "just want to sound like themself" don't have enough rudimentary ability to do so.

    To answer your question though...it's all a matter of context. Learning Yngwie stuff these days? The only reason I can see for that is to get your single string technique together. Other than that there isn't much of a reason doing that in 2006.
    But sheeet, the whole guitar thing is such an inbred conservative thing it's not even funny.
    It has to be a les paul or Strat, sound like_____(insert whatever).
    The notion of not bothering to learn anything "useless" is all nice and good. But to me it's just like Martial Arts. By the time you can kill some one effortlessly with your bare hands you best have your mind set together so you know better than to do so.
    Now, if you can pull off Yngwie stuff you best use it in context or don't do it at all.

    I can getaway with the weirdest lines becuase it's expected from me. But I sure as heck wouldn't use those if somebody else paid for me.

    And lastly...music is a form of communication. Even though the audiences role is largley passive.
    In an ideal world there's an interplay between musicians, a response from what some body "says" on their instrument.
    And just like a verbal language, do you limit your vocabulary just becuase some terms mught be to high brow for lads at the pub? :)
    No, you just don't use it there.
     
  4. mikem

    mikem Senior Member

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    I hear ya- sometimes you do try to chase stuff that may be above your ability- sometimes you cop it, sometimes it takes awhile to cop it- sometimes you never cop it. However, to me it's always been about the journey. To put this in context, I'm not a professional musician, just a guy who plays- maybe not even particularly well. I've always been a student of the guitar- always will be. I've learned stuff that I've never found a context to use and am always trying to learn stuff that I may or may not use- sweep picking is a good example- I've never been especially competent at it, but it's something that I will practice from time to time, because I know that I need to if I want to improve. Being a student of the instrument does not always translate into being a better musician. If you learn something new and use it every chance you get, you're probably gonna have to find a new band, a new audience or just remain self-satisfied in the knowledge that you can now do that one thing that you practiced. This means squat-all in terms of musicianship, which is just as much about knowing what not to play as it is about knowing what to play, having a voice that can carry a wide array of material and add to rather than detract from the music.

    Mike
     
  5. Scott Peterson

    Scott Peterson Staff Member

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    I think it is an important thing to go through - learning other's styles, sounds and copping licks. Some folks never get out of that; some folks don't want to come out of that.

    How can you come to learn what you like stylewise/gearwise/tonewise without trying it first? I hear stuff all the time that I'll think, "Damn, if I could do something like *that*, it be killin!" it is a part of the growth and journey as you get on with being a musician. Pro or not.

    Playing guitar has always been fascinating to me, it is the easiest thing to pickup and learn the basics on; and the hardest thing on earth to master in any way.

    I haven't met one person serious at all about playing that hasn't learned by playing songs from other folks.

    I think conquering pieces that are outside of our "comfort level" as players is a very important thing to do, if for nothing else it offers us simply another "tool in the toolbox" to work into your own style.

    Personally, I have gone through a very interesting and thought provolking few years as a player. I left the "warmth and comfort" of 4/4 rock guitar playing and have gone deep into acoustic country, old school funk, pop/country/rock, soul/R&B and other genre's that I never would have considered 10 years ago. What it has taught me over time is that each discipline brings its own set of "rules" that all really boil down to creating and sharing music. To that end, no effort ever exerted learning anything is really wasted.

    Just my thoughts on it.
     
  6. The Golden Boy

    The Golden Boy Member

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    I'm too much of a hack to "cop" or "mimic" someone's style.

    However I like to learn parts or lines that interest me and use those note combinations that work in a similar sense with my band's stuff.
     
  7. vanborgen

    vanborgen Member

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    It has been my experience that sometimes going back and studying someone else's style can help me to perceive my own music/playing from a different perspective. I believe this can lead my playing off into a totally new direction.
     
  8. Thwap

    Thwap Silver Supporting Member

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    I've always spent time learning stuff from the guitartist that I like. Whether it be a tonality type thing, phrasing, or a million notes done at a ridiculous speed. Doesn't mean I play any of those ways entirely.

    But what is "Me"?. I've found that it is a composite of all the styles I've assimilated over the years, and I know I wouldn't be ME today without somewhat being THEM yesterday. I'm not saying that it's the only way to go, but for me, if I'm not going to be listening to other guys/gals and saying to myself "that's a cool idea, I'm gonna try that" then at some point, my wells gonna run dry. I know that does'nt pertain to everyone, but it stimulates me to take a certain "something" I hear from another musician and put my own spin on it...then it's me...
     
  9. Rock Fella

    Rock Fella Member

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    all very interesting and read worthy material guys, I live for the gtr styles of john sykes and gary moore and i spend a fair bit of time playing their music, I dont get too hung up on sounding exactly like messrs sykes and moore because I never will , for me its far more important to play their songs in a way folks will recognise what i am playing and enjoy me playing it, for me that is what is important, not dissecting every slur and note with a fine tooth comb. I agree with ed, we all at some point try to cop from the masters, but at the same time, i feel its important to inject as much of your own musical vocabulary and personality into what you play, in that way i feel you grow musically in a way that simply copping somebody else doesnt allow.
     
  10. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Agreed...
    However I think one's personality will emerge eventually by itself.
     
  11. Cap'n Fingers

    Cap'n Fingers Member

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    Before I had ability to be myself I would get frustrated by trying to learn other peoples licks. I just didn't know enough to put it togther and gave up easily. At that point I started taking lessons. Some time later, after having learned a good amount of theroy and arranging, I came into my lesson and asked the teacher for help learning someone's lead lines on a paticular tune. The teacher asked, "Why would you want to copy someone elses stuff? You'd be wasting the knowledge your worked so hard on. Play it like you."

    This made sense at the time and until recently I've avoided trying to copy others note for note. In the past few years I've realized what I've missed by not studying others note for note. I've been able to improve my phrasing and expand my own style by mimicking others. I guess my point is that learning other peoples stuff note for note is great for learning and expanding your own style. Playing someone else's solo lines note for note at a gig might impress an audience member but it's doing your life long pusuit to learn this, (demon :D ), instrument an injustice.
     
  12. ctoddrun

    ctoddrun Member

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    I have never been really musically "gifted" by any stretch.

    But I have been persistent.


    Twenty years of playing along with records and reading tabs and agonizing over every bit of the songs I was most excited over brought me to a certain level of proficiency.

    I'm, in a way, glad I did that.

    The downside has been its detriment to my phrasing.

    I never learned to play using my EARS as a guide, its always been my eyes. Whether reading the tabs from a page or regurgitating patterns that were drawn out to teach me the major scale all over the finger board.

    Every now and again, during band practice, I can find the "zone" where no thoughts enter my mind and the music takes over. But those nights are exceedingly rare.

    My point in mentioning those "zone nights" is that when I'm playing WELL there is no thought to "this line is gonna sound like Eddie, then this one is gonna sound like Jimi".

    I'm not sure that copping other folks' licks over the last 20+ years has taught me anything more than how to get the notes onto my fretboard at the correct tempo.

    When I'm at my best, I'm not thinking about anything at all... just listening to the changes and hearing the RIGHT notes come out of me.

    I wish there was a pill I could take to channel that ability everytime.
     
  13. Cap'n Fingers

    Cap'n Fingers Member

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    Amen bro! Being in the zone can be better than sex. I've always heard that the zone is easier to get in when you're relaxed and not anxious. Indeed this seems to be the case when the zone happens for me. I remember John McLaughlin used to ask the audience for a moment of silence before he'd begin to play. I guess if you're John McLaughlin you can get away with that. :eek:
     
  14. mikem

    mikem Senior Member

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    Now THAT'S the reason I bother to play guitar at all. When I am "in the zone" it's like the guitar is playing itself and I am merely a spectator. The sound coming out of the amp is PERFECT- the phrasing is PERFECT- I can do no wrong- this is a place that I hope to get to every time I pick up the guitar, but it happens rarely. Usually it is contagious when other players are involved.

    Mike
     
  15. michael patrick

    michael patrick Supporting Member

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    I'm not sure there is such a thing as "learning something that is of no use." There may be no apparent use for it at the time you learn it, but it may provide a spark for something later on.

    Back a few years ago I joined a country cover band (hey, I needed the money...). I learned a bunch of country licks, played a few shows, and then I wound up moving to a different state and vowing never to play in a country band ever again. But those licks are still buried in my brain, just waiting for the right moment to be unpacked. Lo and behold, I join a pop/punk/psychedelic band that does a tune with a country twinge. Using those country licks I had learned ten years previously I was able to come up with a solo that fit the tune. And while it was based on the licks I learned, what I came up with was definitely me.

    Frankly, I like learning stuff just for the sake of learning new stuff. If I could figure out how to make a living as a full-time college student, I'd do it in a heartbeat... :AOK
     
  16. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Knowledge is never useless.
     
  17. bobgoblin

    bobgoblin Supporting Member

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    i just attended a clinic w/gary hoey & he had some interesting insights into something very similar. basically, he said that while going through periods of practice/mimicry is fun, educational, etc, the goal is to be able to never have to play at the edge of our ability. the way i understood what he was saying was that playing things beyond the level of our limits, whether a malmsteen 32nd note flurry, an srv two note bend, celtic fingerpicking, whatever, is for us to have a pad where we can play comfortably below the outer limits of our abilities. when we're constantly riding the line between slop/consistency we're never able to adequately communicate our musical thoughts/feelings. that or, like mr. zucker said, "knowledge is never useless".
     
  18. StevenA

    StevenA Member

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    Has anyone made the observation that a lick, line ,or solo that you really liked listening to ended up being something you didn't like playing. After spending 23 straight hours lifting the needle off of records I felt quite accomplished nailing the notes only to be somewhat less enthusiastic about playing the notes. However when I wasn't able to cop accurately but ended up with something sort of vague and unique I really dug it. Like my teacher always told me, "if you can't hear it and feel it in your heart to begin with, there isn't any use in playing it." It is always helpful for students to emulate masters, but I personally would never knowingly use their material.

    Steven
     
  19. mikem

    mikem Senior Member

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    Yeah, there's been tons of times that I've started off enthusiaistically trying to learn something I like only to discover that even though I feel a sense of accomplishment having learned it that I didn't keep playing it the way that it was recorded- repetition is something that really gets to me in short order. I like playing covers, but I hate playing them when you are obligated to play them the way they're recorded. It sounds like bad guitarist cliche number 133, but I like doing covers in a way that you take the song and redo it in your own style.

    Mike
     
  20. medrawt

    medrawt Member

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    I remember reading Joey Goldstein (who's posted here a few times, but is a regular on the USENET jazz guitar group) say that every once in a while he thinks that maybe he doesn't actually like jazz, he's just motivated by being a competitive guy. That's extreme, but I think lots of people spend time learning things purely for the sake of being able to do them, like in a "yeah, I can do that if I want to, but I don't, but since I can it proves that I'm a badass" kind of way. I generally try to keep some more positive goal in mind - if I were to, say, try and learn some Yngwie stuff, even though I'm not a fan, it could be justified because in learning it I'll improve my chops (which badly need it!) enough to execute things that I actually *do* want to play, and an Yngwie solo would probably be more interesting and useful practice than some finger exercise.
    ...
    Related to StevenA's comment about learning something and realizing it's not "you": Has anyone else has had the experience of learning something only to find you just don't like it anymore - whether through the repitition or the actual learning, I don't know? This summer I spent a week devoting my free time to learning what I could from Santana's early playing...after a week, I was so turned off by his style that I didn't bother moving on to Caravanserai. I don't think it was the repetition - I often listen to nothing but one album for weeks at a time, or one song on repeat for an hour or two. I think in trying to break down that particular guitar style, it just lost a lot of its lustre; nothing like that had ever happened to me before, and I still don't enjoy Santana's playing as much as I used to. Is this strange?
     

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