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Musical Interpretation


Gruupi

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Years ago, a guitar playing friend of mine and I were over at his girlfriends house and her father was thinking of selling him a guitar. He pulled out an old strat and started to play some (rather rusty) western swing style rhythm. We were pretty much 70's style power chord rockers so when my buddy picked up the guitar and started playing some chords it obviously sounded different. The older guy seemed to get a bit upset and took the guitar back saying that his playing was all wrong, that the chords should be staccato and muted, not driving like he was playing. We just looked at each other a bit incredulous, and given our age maybe with a slight smirk on our faces.

 

Why do we get so hung up on style, to the point of saying something is right or wrong. Part of the beauty of being a musician and music lover is getting to know so much music from all over the globe and from many different time periods. I may like the music or I may not, but why do we say something is wrong.

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I would never say that something is "wrong" if the interpretation is intended. If the playing is just flat out bad, though, there may be some room to say "wrong." Of course, there's a lot of grey area and subjectivity between intended interpretation and just plain bad... which may be where some of the friction comes from.
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Sometimes ppl are either stuck in a particular thang they're enamored of or maybe they lack the devlopment to step back from their enthusiasms to hear the bigger, more long term idea of music.

I'd say that applied to both "sides" in the OP.

I'm fairly certain neither had never heard someone play the way the other exhibited.

 

Sometimes it's cultural entrenchment.

 

Of course there are times when one should fit into a style or manner of playing but sometimes "doing the opposite" is the spice that's called for.

 

The best thing is, of course, when we can step outside that & simply (or maybe not so simply) hear & relate.

That can pull musicians from totally diff areas together.

 

 

d=halfnote
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once you reach a certain age you gain the right to spread the knowledge that every thing you liked or learned in your youth is right and all else is wrong. you also must remind the present youth that their music sucks and it will never be as great as the music of your youth.

 

doesn't everybody know this already?

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I've run into this sort of thing before, myself. Sometimes, people have taken music lessons that were very strict in defining technique and style, effectively putting virtual stylistic "blinders"- "deafeners"?- on their perspectives, to the point that they never even considered that there could be any other way of things; a given instrument has specific roles and that's that- guitars should be clean, not distorted, a saxophone-reed should never be overblown, etc. etc....

 

This was/is often very true of those players who really do everything by rote, and stems somewhat from the heritage of the Classical music approach of sight-reading but not interpreting or improvising, as opposed to the Jazz and Blues approach which encourages and even depends on interpretation, improvisation, and personal creative expression.

Ask yourself- What Would Ren and Stimpy Do?

 

~ Caevan James-Michael Miller-O'Shite ~

_ ___ _ Leprechaun, Esquire _ ___ _

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Part of being a good musician is knowing the proper stylistic elements of various types of music.

It's unavoidable that that will sometimes lead us to think things should be a certain way.

I agree with others here, however, that it also is important to get outside those bounds when they become limitations instead of guidelines.

 

There's always a dichotomy between the flavor of intrinsic distinctions and the invention that comes from mixing things.

As an analogy, consider the U.S.A.

Is it better as a melting pot where different cultures contribute to the whole and create a new society or as a collection of cultural pockets that retain their uniqueness ?

 

I think that the ultimate art rules are that art rules.

What works well, works well.

You might call that a tautology but that's what I've been taught.

 

 

 

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When I was training to do wedding photography for a certain company, they insisted we use a technique that dated back about 40 or so years. Everything I learned about photography up until then screamed that it was foolhardy, but after learning it, it was clear the technique was foolPROOF. I continue today to use that technique(which means I still use FILM)as it affords the best results.

 

For ME, anyway.

 

As for Gruupi's story, the old guy might have been right that the kid played it wrong...for the type of music the OLD GUY plays! Seems like both of them ignored the possibility to learn something. The old guy to learn something new, the kid to learn something else. It seems in music, in an all encompassing definition, you can't learn anything wrong.

Whitefang

I started out with NOTHING...and I still have most of it left!
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I like the improv approach...you do not have to play it just like the record...I agree with Brian Setzer, you get the main idea of the song and then just go for the feel...Eric Clapton also said he never plays it live like he did in the studio recordings, even on songs with major hooks like Sunshine of Your Love...I admire the guys that can play it just like the record (to include going to the Nth degree of making the same mistakes) but that's not for me...I like to come up with my own leads and arrangements and so far the audience likes what I come up with...I do pay tribute to the original but just because I do my own thing...it does not make it "Wrong"...
Take care, Larryz
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  • 3 weeks later...

I agree with you, Larry, that it's not "wrong" to do your own version. In certain contexts, though, doing it like the original artist is EXPECTED. So I guess it's a question of finding the right context for your playing.

 

I always thought, "hell, I don't want to do it like the record," until I made friends with an acoustic rock trio that dedicated themselves to that, as best they could with 3 acoustic guitars and a drum machine. But their vocal and instrumental parts were very tight and sounded great, so I came to appreciate that approach also.

 

The jazz ensemble I play with on Saturdays gives you a lot of freedom within the context of the standards we play, in the style of '50s jazz. But you have to stay more or less in that style. Cool by me - I'm learning a lot that I can apply to other forms of music. Such as ways to get beyond the "paint by numbers" approach, phrasing, learning to be accurate with rhythms, etc.

 

This doesn't mean that I don't enjoy songwriting and coming up with my own parts when that opportunity arises! And yes, I have ideas that are totally non-bebop!

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I agree Eric...both methods have a lot to offer and there are some songs you just should not flirt with...I prefer the freedom route and enjoy improv, arranging, ad-libs, etc...If I can ever come up with the lyrics, I have some basic concepts in mind and should start writing something soon...I play some small acoustic live venues which are mostly open mic sit in's with two guitars, bass, harmonica and an accordian and have a lot of fun...but I do avoid drum machines, and play tribute to the record...we all venture off on the lead parts but you can tell what song it is... :thu:

 

Take care, Larryz
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