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Nov 14, 2021 - 8:29:16 PM
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4750 posts since 2/24/2004

Haha--of course I'm a by ear and feeling player & of course I have tab books because once you have recorded music--folks will constantly ask for tab--so you put the most popular in books. But I only write simple tabs--but just see them as learning tools to give folks some idea of where to put his/her fingers.  Also--if you read tab--you can just look over several different variations to the same tune and get ideas on  different arrangements. Then play them by ear.

But becoming a really solid player is more about being in really good physical shape and having energy and stamina.  However you learn your first tunes--tab or ear--its a good idea to play standing up with a strap and just walk around while practicing :)

Best banjo wishes,

Mary Z. Cox

maryzcox.com


Nov 15, 2021 - 8:55:49 AM

731 posts since 2/15/2015

quote:
Originally posted by carlb

One advantage of learning to play by ear, is working at catching a tune you don't know, when you in a jam.


Knowing what I know now going in I would probably opt for good ear training lessons, like a good buddy who already knew how to play and who could show me "formally" some stuff. Once you figure out how to play by ear okay... then I think you should actively engage yourself in learning how to read because the older I get the more I realize the tab just doesn't cut it, it's a good tool if you got a recording on hand but... tab is basically a fretboard guide. 

Theory walks hand in hand with notation.  

Nov 15, 2021 - 9:15:45 AM
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8318 posts since 3/17/2005

I nearly 50 years, I've learned one tune from sheet music. Old Spinning Wheel. I've worked out plenty from tab and far more by ear in jams.
Wherever I get the first batch of notes, I rearrange things to suit what I like to hear. If you're going to make a tune your own, sheet music is no better than tab. I suppose if you're going to copy someone note for note, including every nuance, maybe sheet music gives you more information. Maybe. But Old Time and folk are not Bach and you don't have to do it like a classical violinist.

Nov 15, 2021 - 4:37:02 PM
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hoodoo

Canada

811 posts since 10/6/2017

Tablature was a very helpful resource when I was a beginner, but eventually you will run into a song for which there is no existing tablature. That is when developing your ear skills comes in handy

Nov 15, 2021 - 11:39:38 PM

3258 posts since 10/17/2009

quote:
Originally posted by andantino
quote:
Originally posted by specs
I simply can't learn to play by ear -- it just isn't something I can do -- but I can read sheet music and hear it.    I don't know why there would be any "controversy" though; whatever works for each person is fine with me.

Ditto. It's kinda nice that there are different ways to learn things.

 

Different ways of learning is not necessarily learning the same things or have same results.

The so called controversy is simply real world observation of many TAB reliant players having struggle, frustration, limits - seems to be missing something, or just not getting desired results or music experience.

Of course each person is free to decide what works for them; "if" suits their goals or experience they are after... even in what they think is good enough, or might settle for.

Nov 17, 2021 - 8:17:21 PM
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208 posts since 6/15/2021

I do think part of the "controversy" is whether to learn tab from Day 1. My teach said she wasn't going to teach it. That's fine by me. My brain is already pretty overwhelmed with everything I am learning. She uses a different, very simple notation. That's also fine with me.

I studied Russian in high school and Chinese in college.

In Russian, we didn't start learning the alphabet until we had been learning the sounds and words for several months... maybe it wasn't even until the second semester. It is more like how we learn our native language, but listening and mimicking first; reading and writing later.

In college Chinese, we started learning the writing at the very beginning. It was a bit overwhelming along with learning the vowel tones, basic grammar, and so forth. Maybe they figured college-aged brains could deal with the onslaught. I had studied six or seven languages by that point. I worked harder in Chinese than any other class I took in college, including things like assembly language programming. It was grueling. I would have preferred to spend a semester learning the spoken language before touching the writing, but that's the way it was taught. I did get an A.

At least it was Mandarin (four tones) and the modern writing system, not the traditional one that is used everywhere except PRC.


Banjo tab has a purpose. It has its place. But I can certainly understand why a teacher would chose not to use it for beginners.

Nov 27, 2021 - 9:51:59 PM
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82 posts since 2/4/2009

Oh my, I didn't know there was a controversy! There's already too many in the world right now. I think whatever works for you, or me, respectfully, is the answer.

Nov 28, 2021 - 7:35:45 AM
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Jim Yates

Canada

6807 posts since 2/21/2007

quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

I always think,

"If Pete Seeger was able to play the banjo like he did without much help from tabs, I sure as well know I can!".

Tab can be extremely helpful, but over-use can also be damaging, in my opinion.


It's odd that Pete's name should come up in an anti-tab post, (well, maybe not exactly anti-tab, but. . .) since without Pete, we probably wouldn't be using or talking about tablature.  Pete revived tab, which was a relatively unused method of notating old lute tunes.  Pete thought it was a great way of writing down a technique for playing the banjo, so he used it in his 1948 banjo method How To Play The 5-String Banjo.
Prior to 1948, tablature had fallen into disuse, but Pete brought it back to life.  This book also introduced the terms hammer on and pull off.

Nov 28, 2021 - 1:05:15 PM
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7378 posts since 11/4/2005

Jim Yates wrote: "It's odd that Pete's name should come up in an anti-tab post, (well, maybe not exactly anti-tab, but. . .) since without Pete, we probably wouldn't be using or talking about tablature."

That's what I was thinking.

Nov 28, 2021 - 1:20:54 PM

894 posts since 5/22/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Jim Yates
quote:
Originally posted by BeeEnvironment

I always think,

"If Pete Seeger was able to play the banjo like he did without much help from tabs, I sure as well know I can!".

Tab can be extremely helpful, but over-use can also be damaging, in my opinion.


It's odd that Pete's name should come up in an anti-tab post, (well, maybe not exactly anti-tab, but. . .) since without Pete, we probably wouldn't be using or talking about tablature.  Pete revived tab, which was a relatively unused method of notating old lute tunes.  Pete thought it was a great way of writing down a technique for playing the banjo, so he used it in his 1948 banjo method How To Play The 5-String Banjo.
Prior to 1948, tablature had fallen into disuse, but Pete brought it back to life.  This book also introduced the terms hammer on and pull off.


Yeah, I totally agree with you on that. Tabalture is very very very helpful, especially to beginners learning the banjo from scratch. 

I think Pete invented the word "hammer on", right? I know that in his banjo book, pulling off was mentioned as "left-hand pizzicato" (pardon any bad spelling, hahah).

Nov 28, 2021 - 11:57:32 PM
Players Union Member

janolov

Sweden

41326 posts since 3/7/2006

In older classic banjo tutors, before Pete Seeger wrote his book, the hammer on was called slur, and the pull off was called snap. And a slide was called  slide.

Nov 29, 2021 - 5:02:59 AM
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7378 posts since 11/4/2005

quote:
Originally posted by janolov

In older classic banjo tutors, before Pete Seeger wrote his book, the hammer on was called slur, and the pull off was called snap. And a slide was called  slide.


That's interesting.  Not sure I like "slur," but I kind of like the term "snap."  Were all of the old minstrel and classic banjo tutors in standard notation, or did some use a tablature system?

Edited by - Don Borchelt on 11/29/2021 05:03:28

Nov 30, 2021 - 12:05:17 PM

208 posts since 6/15/2021

quote:
Originally posted by Don Borchelt
quote:
Originally posted by janolov

In older classic banjo tutors, before Pete Seeger wrote his book, the hammer on was called slur, and the pull off was called snap. And a slide was called  slide.


That's interesting.  Not sure I like "slur," but I kind of like the term "snap."  Were all of the old minstrel and classic banjo tutors in standard notation, or did some use a tablature system?


"Slur" makes perfect sense to me.  On most instruments, a slur is moving from one note to another without a clear break between them. 

Since a slide may include a bit of each note between the starting and ending notes, to me it's not so much a slur which includes only two notes, as a glissando which includes everything in between.

Nov 30, 2021 - 12:17:35 PM
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380 posts since 1/26/2020

I'll sum up the controversy in one word:
Tribalism

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