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RE: developing musicians and a musical culture

--- Will Brake <wbrake@comcast.net> wrote:

> How can you break the rules if you don't know them? 

You'll still break them (or not) whether you know about them or not. Music 
isn't about MAKING music, it's a way of EXPLAINING music. The music is the 
whether it's been analyzed or not. If I listen to a piece and think 
diatonic in G", that doesn't make it any more or less creative a piece. It
-might- make it easier for me to play it or improvise to it though.

I played guitar for a few years before I learned any theory, and I took 
notes about musical ideas I liked. Years later, after learning more, I 
found my
box of notes and went back to look them over with the expectation that 
they'd all
be crap becuase I "didn't know what I was doing". Well, they were still
interesting to me, and they fit the theory I'd learned just fine. My ear
naturally had ideas that worked in conventional theory because I made up 
I was surprised at the time.

> I've seen many
> players come and go. Almost always, the people that have done their
> homework, spent countless hours polishing their craft are the artists
> that have some brilliant careers. You might break thru not knowing much,
> but almost always that type will fall into obscurity as time passes.

There -are- exceptions, which people who have this mindset ("eduction 
creativity") always seem to trot out, but they seem to miss the point that 
every person who was musical (and successful enough to be known) without 
education, there are thousands more who WERE well educated. Education 
isn't the
problem here. Now, as I brought up in the post that started this thread, 
methods of education can repress creativity, but that isn't the fault of 
material, it's the fault of the instructor.

> Chords are built from steps in a scale. If you don't know any scales,
> what are you able to do? What can you create? 

You can create whatever your mind imagines and your ear says works. It 
really matter whether you understand WHY it works or not, your ear will 
tell you
whether it does or doesn't. Knowing the stuff helps save you time in 
making what
you want. If I understand the "colors" particular chords (or intervals) 
invoke, I
can do more precisely what I want with the music. Otherwise I may have to 
around to find what I want to hear. That approach works, it's just a lot 
and depending on how earnest you are in trying things out, may not ever 
open up
all the possibilities you could otherwise have.

> Example:      Imagine I put a white canvas in front of you. You have
> no experience with paints, brushes, pallet knives, etc. Then to top it
> all off, you get only white paint. 

I don't think it's quite that bad. Perhaps more like limiting yourself to 
painting in the primary colors. I knew someone years ago who only played
pentatonic minor scales, it was all he knew. He played his "blues scale" 
everthing that went by. If the song was in a minor key, he played it three 
higher. He complained about one of my solos one time 'cause I was using 
weird mode or something. When I told another friend about it, his comment 
"When the only tool you have is a hammer, pretty soon everything starts 
like a nail."

> I disagree with you. I still believe fundamentals are very important. If
> you learn to use a certain type of brush stroke, you know what to expect
> from that. After, YOU GET TO DECIDE, consciously or unconsciously if you
> will use that while you paint. The technique is available to you. If you
> never learn it, you can't use it.

Well, I kind of disagree with this too. I'm in favor of musical education,
especially since I've found trying to get by without much has been very 
for me personally, but I believe that in music, you can use whatever 
sounds and
techniques you want, whether you understand how & why they work or not.
Understanding them may make them easier to use, allow you more variety, 
and what
not, but nothing prevents you from playing random clusters of notes until 
come up with something that sounds good to you. 


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