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Jan 26, 2021 - 8:22:42 AM
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2512 posts since 2/10/2013

I recently started to periodically play all my guitar tunes slowly. No recorded music or rhythm. I just focus on what I am hearing. In some cases tunes I thought I played well will have a little "glitch" here and there. Sometimes I will unintentionally change a phrase to make it sound better. Are you doing or have you done something like this ? If you do something like this, I would appreciate reading your suggestions and/or about your experiences. My only sources of information are the internet and music publications. The virus makes the this situation even worse.

Thanks in advance

Jan 26, 2021 - 8:44:14 AM

carlb

USA

2209 posts since 12/16/2007

There have been times when I've gone back to recordings from which I learned a specific tune and thought "when did I start leaving out that note" In another couple of cases where I couldn't figure out the notes in a phrase, I got the phrases from notation. I do usually learn tunes by ear, but can read music. The only tunes I learn only from notation is when there is no recorded version (e.g. tunes from Samuel Bayard's two books "Hill Country Tunes" and "Dance to the Fiddle, March to the Fife".

Jan 26, 2021 - 11:28:43 AM

Texasbanjo (Moderator)

USA

25483 posts since 8/3/2003

I've been playing by ear for years. Very seldom use tab unless it's a fiddle tune that I can't quite figure out in my head. Then I'll look at the tab and take whatever I need from it and then change it where it's easy for me to play, but yet the melody stays the same.

I listen to a song until I have the melody down and can sing/hum it. Then I get out my banjo and figure out the chords by vamping along with the song. When I have that figured out, I figure out what key is best for my voice and transpose chords if necessary. Then I pick out the melody, add frills (licks, slides, hammers, etc.) to make it sound like bluegrass. I don't write anything down. I play from what I hear, not what I see. I don't always play a break the same way, in fact, I'll change it up if I get to play more than one break: one break down the neck, one up the neck, one fairly simple and one that strays away from the melody but always comes back to it.

The best way I know to achieve the above is playing in jams. You learn to quickly figure out key, chord sequence and melody so you can take a break whenever you get the nod. After you've done that for a while, it becomes easier and easier. If you have to figure it out all by yourself, it's not as easy or as quick, but can be done with the aid of some kind of software that will play back chords at different tempos and in different keys (such as Band in a Box).

Jan 26, 2021 - 11:41:45 AM

73958 posts since 5/9/2007

I usually play different each time I go through a tune.

Jan 27, 2021 - 6:22:39 AM

2512 posts since 2/10/2013

I can play by "ear", but tabs often introduce me to material I was not familiar with. I sometime like that new material so much I start substituting it for things I had been using. But I work hard avoiding overuse of a technique.

Jan 27, 2021 - 8:20 AM

73958 posts since 5/9/2007

We tend to overuse our new accomplishments.We either stop doing that so much out of tiring of it,but often earlier than that if brought to our attention by a fellow picker.

Jan 27, 2021 - 8:51 AM
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RB3

USA

932 posts since 4/12/2004

A long time ago, I started making recordings of my playing for the purpose of self evaluation. Later, when I began creating my own arrangements, I learned something else from listening to the recordings.

When I work out my own arrangements, I make a concerted effort to make the melody recognizable. After I work up an arrangement, I'll play it a bit and I'll have a perception of how well I have accomplished what I set out to do with the melody and the arrangement. Then, when I listen to a recording, my perception of what I'm doing will often be different from the perception I had while I was playing. So, when I listen to the recording, sometimes the arrangement will sound worse than I thought it was when I was playing it and sometimes it will sound better.

The recordings don't lie, so I've concluded that the act of playing, somehow interferes with my brain's ability to accurately assess what I'm doing, while I'm doing it. I suspect that exceptionally accomplished performers don't experience this phenomenon.

Jan 27, 2021 - 10:23:55 AM

73958 posts since 5/9/2007

I learn from listening to myself,but I'm careful to not adjust too much.
I don't particularly enjoy listening to myself and I'm careful to listen as much to my friends who tell me what they like or don't like about certain passages.

I don't want to lose something in just pleasing myself.

Jan 27, 2021 - 11:20:39 AM
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chuckv97

Canada

55536 posts since 10/5/2013
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There’s great value in slowing down and getting each note “just right”, as Dick mentioned. I can get sloppy playing with backing tracks, cuz I can’t always distinctly hear every note. Clean playing is better than fast & sloppy, imho.

Jan 30, 2021 - 7:17:58 AM

1979 posts since 10/7/2008

I agree that clean, no (or few) mistakes playing is ideal. However, it is situational.

If you are playing with other people, you can't very well say "Stop! I can't play it that fast and play it clean enough! Slow down for me." At least, not very many times... So, what do you do? Sit out the tune and wait until they play something suitable for your standards? Or, do you say: "The heck with it!" and just play it faster, with a little bit of sloppiness? Now, you can't murder the tunes and remain popular, but you can be a little sloppy. Who can tell with a banjo anyway? Hehe...

If you are lucky enough to play with people who will accommodate you, or if you play alone, you can certainly play it your way.

That's why it is situational.

Jan 30, 2021 - 8:00:55 AM
Players Union Member

DC5

USA

16827 posts since 6/30/2015
Online Now

quote:
Originally posted by steve davis

I usually play different each time I go through a tune.


I do too, but never intentionally. sad

Jan 30, 2021 - 8:17:32 AM

3281 posts since 9/12/2016

slow is not so easy .When playing slow getting things to resonate longer to fill bigger holes precisely takes more work. yes ignoring timing as priority and listening at how much scope you can get in the area between whisper and shout can be a good thing
this is my thoughts ,I ask no one to agree

Feb 1, 2021 - 9:58:58 AM

2512 posts since 2/10/2013

I have read articles where outstanding professionals say you can't play a tune well up-to-speed unless you can play it well at a slow speed. As with listening to yourself play, playing slowly makes you aware of your problems. IMHO playing slowly improves a persons memory. And we play tunes using our memory. It may not eliminate all the problems a person has, but will reduce the number.

Feb 1, 2021 - 10:04:17 AM

chuckv97

Canada

55536 posts since 10/5/2013
Online Now

There’s a video of Jens Kruger teaching a banjo tune, Cripple Creek I think it is, and he goes through it note by note, saying “Don’t play it any faster than you can think.”

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