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damian

Who Can Actually Read Music ?

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Give me like 3 hours to get a grip on the page, I can figure it out. Doing it on the fly, not a chance. Tabs are even worse, whoever invented tabs needs to die. The best way to learn a song is by ear.

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I read music also and I would say it's a critical skill for playing in many cases, any studio work as well as writing music. I can't imagine you would ever get a second chance at songwriting if you completed it in tab.

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Read, write, transcribe, and transpose. Hard to live in a country where you are not literate in the language... why should music be any different? To make yourself understood at a certain level and be understood yourself, you need to be proficient in the language of music.

 

That said, I fricking hate writing full scores. Transposing for horns makes me want to kick a dog. For reals. Thank god I have not had to do it for a really long time.

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Give me like 3 hours to get a grip on the page, I can figure it out. Doing it on the fly, not a chance. Tabs are even worse, whoever invented tabs needs to die. The best way to learn a song is by ear.

 

 

+1. I can technically read standard notation, but i'm terrible at it.

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I think reading music is something like languages - I never seem to get it when I'm being graded, but they come in handy later on when it's almost surprising how much you might recall.

 

I've been reading music in theory for right at 60 years. I've never gotten past the "horrid as a sight reader" stage. If, however, I've heard the music enough, I can catch on and work that way off the map. That's true, I'll add, even with tab, which as I understand it, functionally predated notation for lutes and guitars and such. I still have a '60s flamenco book all in tab.

 

I was a horrid reader on piano until I quit to take up trumpet in 4th grade; played "high school band" stuff on trumpet until my freshman college year as first chair trumpet when during "pep band" my slow reading was found out. I did an "off the map" improv 'stedda "on the map." Lost first chair. A cupla years later I finally quit trumpet when I lost my front teeth and went entirely with guitar.

 

I began guitar thinking in terms of chords, not single notes. Then I went to fingerpicking and perceived that as a matter of playing stuff with the chord priority and melody as variations on chords. If I didn't like what "the book" proclaimed, I found some that did. Flamenco even worked that way. Rock? I played rhythm so it wasn't that big a deal at all. Ditto most "country" I did.

 

Now... I'm gray-haired, but still experimenting with different chord inversions and stuff. I think I'll not "make it" as a single-string sorta picker. I'm in awe of Joe Pass' ability to put that all together in a solo thing.

 

But I think reading music and learning foreign languages have some commonality in that different people's heads process things differently. If one doesn't "get" the way it's being taught, frustration takes over. Then there are talented and skilled musicians who know "chords" but not reading, so the Nashville number system came into use as a foundation for a semi improv sorta thing.

 

So... do I read music? I take the old line, "not enough to hurt my playin'," but in reality, I wish I were a decent sight reader just as I wish I spoke better German and read French and Spanish far better.

 

m

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Wow !!!!! Facinating, interesting, and amazing answers and responses !!! All of you are great and I thankyou all for replying.......

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I think if you are a young musician today, there is a greater argument for reading music than ever before, as the work out there is so varied being a 'jobbing musician'. Even the traditional conservatoires in the uk like the Royal College, teach music tech, jazz, improvisation etc etc in their courses; as to not equip students with these skills, is to send them out at a disadvantage. Equally non traditional institutes like the electric guitar academies are putting greater emphasis on music reading and general musicianship for the same reasons above. The lines more than ever before, are more blurred.

You have to take it on the chin (and groan inwardly lol), but there are a lot of jokes about guitarists' poor music reading skills (told by other musicians). I heard a load of these 'jokes' playing in a musical a year or so back. There isn't a great understanding that the guitar (without a capo that is) unlike the piano can not just play any key on the page, as the open strings, in the 'guitary' keys, such as A, E, D, C etc etc, are what makes it sound fluent.

 

On a related subject I learned as a teacher a few years ago, that if I gave pupils tab and later music, there was a great reluctance to learn music reading, as they (pupils) quite understandably didn't see the point , when tab was so much easier and music seemed in comparison so complicated. So now I show tab about 18 months into lessons, as a kind of rough short hand. Many would you believe, by this stage, find music reading easier! :)

 

Matt

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Over-rated? No.

 

Helpful? Very much so but it's not essential.

 

Understanding scales and key signatures? Definitely. Being able to hear a 4th or 5th, the root note of a chord, play or sing a minor 3rd harmony etc are all really helpful things to have in your tool bag. Applies to a band situation as well as on your own. Being able to read music is not essential for this but can be a written representation of what you hear or play.

 

I can read music to a degree, treble clef not bass. But I find it very hard for guitar.

 

Three of my children have learned piano to a basic degree and I'm very much of the view that if a child wants to learn an instrument, learning piano to Grade 1 or 2 is a huge help. They learn the fundementals of the language which can be appied to any other instrument, including guitar.

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I learnt to read from age 7 on violin

That grounding has been invaluable in taking the step to piano and then guitar/bass

One thing rarely mentioned is the benefit for nailing rhythms accurately

And the great enjoyment to be had from reading a drum score [biggrin]

 

 

 

:-({|=

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I tried to learn in high school, no go.

I work mostly by ear, Tabs and Chord charts if I can't quite pick it apart on my own.

 

Playing Bass in HS my instructor would pen in the notes over the bars for me.

msp_lol.gifmsp_lol.gifmsp_lol.gif

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Albert John

I agree it is not essential; so many great musicians in my opinion, especially in rock and blues, have 'played by ear' and used recording as their means of notating their music.

 

Personally speaking; other than the serious sides of understanding reading and writing music; I find one of life's simple pleasures is going either online, or to a library - and sight reading various pieces. It is just unadulterated fun playing through things for the first time and hearing how all the little things work together! msp_thumbup.gif

 

Also, it is very liberating choosing your own fingering for a piece, rather than just reading the tab and taking the editors word for it, that, that is where the piece must be played.

 

Matt

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Matt. Sight reading is something else entirely. I used to be able to do simple stuff on the trombone at School but sight reading for guitar is a billion times more difficult.

 

I do remember following the score of Vivaldi's Four Seasons for O Level music. A real sense of achievement when I managed to start and finish each movement at the correct place. The middle sections? - well I got to the end! I never considered a career in conducting.

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Learning to read music helped me improve. I don't read notation well, but I read it as well as I read TAB, and notation tells you so much more. Like rocketman (I believe) suggested, the trick is not learning the letter names; it's learning the scales and playing the intervals while using the notes to define the timing.

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I can read music, but not well enough for it to be useful. Funny how I learned to play trumpet by reading music when I was a kid but I learned guitar entirely by ear. I couldn't play the trumpet by ear for a million dollars and I couldn't play the guitar by reading music to save my life.

 

[scared]

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I can read both bass clef and Treble clef, But bass clef is the more simple to read, since i also play tuba. i can figure out Treble clef, but it is a bit of a challenge.

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1)I can read music

 

2)I don't think the skill is over-rated

 

3)I think every musician (including drummers, guitarists, and vocalists) should learn to read music and to learn at least basic music theory.

 

Without these skills, you are not a complete musician.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

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On a related subject I learned as a teacher a few years ago, that if I gave pupils tab and later music, there was a great reluctance to learn music reading, as they (pupils) quite understandably didn't see the point , when tab was so much easier and music seemed in comparison so complicated. So now I show tab about 18 months into lessons, as a kind of rough short hand. Many would you believe, by this stage, find music reading easier!

 

Kind of what I was saying. In my area of the states, a lot people are taking lessons from a music shop or private teacher. Typically the lessons start out, as you once did, with tablature and other short hand - and frequently never get to notation. Your method is what I would like to see more of. Bravo.

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I can read music just fine. Being able to put what is on the printed page onto my fret board is a whole 'nother thing entire.

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Ask him to supplement the TAB with standard notation.

 

If he doesn't, find another teacher.

 

Damnt right ! Otherwise, you're both

in the wrong role, and the money for

teaching should flow in the opposite

direction. Your teacher seems to

have a lotta nerve.

 

I don't sight read, and I don't read

so well that I hear the score when I

see it. But I play bass and getting a

full "piano and vocals" score makes

it much easier to devlope bass lines,

cuz I can start with the left hand of

the piano score ..... sometimes it's

ready to use, just play it !

 

Those of you geetar gawds who DO

read may have a basser who does

not. If you read the left hand of the

piano you can find some cool stuff

that perhaps never occurs to your

basser. This is especially likely if

your basser is a reassigned geetar

player who sorta plays riddm geetar

dropped an octave and broken into

single notes, a typical approach but

NOT what makes a moving bass line.

 

Also, when the basser and riddm

geetar are playing more or less

the same material, but in adjacent

octaves, the band sounds less clear.

There can be too much overlap.

 

Nobody writes a piano score with

the intent of using the left hand to

muddy down the the performance.

So the left hand material is often

an improvement, or good starting

point, for a beneficial bass line.

 

 

`

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1)I can read music

 

2)I don't think the skill is over-rated

 

3)I think every musician (including drummers, guitarists, and vocalists) should learn to read music and to learn at least basic music theory.

 

Without these skills, you are not a complete musician.

 

Insights and incites by Notes ♫

 

As much as I wish it weren't true, I'm starting to realize how cool it would be to just pick up a piece of music and play it. Or to be able to play along with a jazz band just by looking at the music, or charts, or whatever you call it.

 

How about a little music?

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AKW40qCeql8

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Reading is probably not something that most folks here have to do.

 

If you've been sitting in your room playing "Smoke on the Water" or "Stairway to Heaven" or "Back in Black", you don't need to have that written down.

 

Lots of rockers can't read a lick, and that's OK - if you're one of the lucky ones who hits the bigtime with a riff that kills.

 

I'm glad for all of them, because it has put more than one dollar in my pocket.

 

 

However... I get lots of calls from local bands that play the paying sort of gigs (New Years Eve, etc.) that play a lot of the "Big Band" stuff. Bass and guitar - and I refuse to practice forever with them.

 

If you can't read the charts, you don't get called back.

 

Period.

 

There's more than one way to make some cigar money for sure - but my ability to read music, understand chord structure, oh - and show up up on time sober - has allowed me some pretty satisfying experinces.

 

(I went looking for the Jaco Pastorius vid about reading music - but got too lazy to find it. It can be an eye opener for those who who think reading is overrated.)

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I can't read music, and watching the way others can pick up a totally new piece and play it more or less right away makes me wish I could. How could a skill like that be overrated? But it's totally like learning another language, and I suck at those.

 

On the other hand, I'm amazed at how many people (not here, apparently) can't even read Nashville chord notation. Now *that's* a level of comfort with theory that I would never give up.

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I can't read music, and watching the way others can pick up a totally new piece and play it more or less right away makes me wish I could. How could a skill like that be overrated? But it's totally like learning another language, and I suck at those.

 

On the other hand, I'm amazed at how many people (not here, apparently) can't even read Nashville chord notation. Now *that's* a level of comfort with theory that I would never give up.

 

It's a skill like any other.

 

I can muddle through wiring an electrical outlet, but I'd never call myself a professional electrician.

 

I've laid a few bricks, too.

 

But, well, you know.

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