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#985309 - 11/25/12 03:15 PM Does Reading Music Restrict You?  
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Iggy Offline
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Iggy  Offline
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Does reading music restrict your creativity?

I just joined a band, strictly for fun. Of the five members, I’m the only one who can’t read music. I have sat quietly and played while they slowed up to turn the page and on one occasion skipped an entire line of the song without knowing it. When that happened everyone stopped playing because they were lost. I have tried to politely suggest where to put in instrumental leads, fills etc. They look at me like I have two heads! Show me in the music! Where does it say that? For an hour once I thought they were calling me a retard until I realized that was a musical term. Forget about jamming out! A simple C-F-G jam is impossible for them. God forbid if a member drops his music sheet. I’m smiling looking around while everyone else’s eyes are glued on the page in front of them.

So do you think reading music limits your creativity? Other than orchestras and big bands, is it possible to read and play live?

#985320 - 11/25/12 03:32 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Iggy]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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I think it's best to read music and also play by ear. I never restrict myself to the written note. However, there are certain music tracks I'd never be able to accomplish without being able to write it out on manuscript (not to mention playing it back from memory).

I do understand about the musician that can't break away from the written note. It's definitely a handicap. Though not being able to read music could become an obstacle in certain situations.

John smile


#985331 - 11/25/12 03:59 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Iggy]  
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Scott Campbell Online content
Scott Campbell  Online Content

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Originally Posted by Iggy

So do you think reading music limits your creativity?


I don't think it limits your creativity. It might keep you from exercising it though. Maybe that's a distinction without a difference.

I have been amazed at people that can sight-read a piece at near performance quality. It just boggles my mind. Yet those same people aren't really comfortable improvising or jamming. I think it's just because they spend their musical time developing those other skills.

But it's probably like Mike D said on a different topic in a different thread. Of those two characteristics (reading music and improvising), there are four possible combinations. And you can probably find people that fit in all four of them smile

Scott

#985334 - 11/25/12 04:13 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Scott Campbell]  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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Iggy, I just think you're with the wrong band. smile

You need another 2LT or similar, having common knowledge of music and one's instrument, to unleash your creativity again. I hope you find such a band. There has to be other Amish who can let it fly a little,,,no? Ya know,,,the Rebel Amish sneaking out at night when their family is asleep by 7? Grab them as their carriage is lurking about with their guitar neck or cymbals hanging out!

Maybe go to the closest music store and ask the workers there about bands in your areas, or people wanting to also get together to PLAY, not read. It's not your cup of beer to be with "just" readers.

Ah,,,those 2LT days! Never to be taken for granted, huh?


Actually a Member Since 1996 or 97 (Number One Hundred Something).
https://www.soundclick.com/bands3/default.cfm?bandID=1409522





#985379 - 11/25/12 08:44 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Dave Rice (D) Offline
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Dave Rice (D)  Offline
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Hi Iggy:

As usual, you've posted and interesting topic. In simplest terms, I don't let it hold me back 'cause I can't read a note of music... LOL! To my way of thinking, being able to read music would be a wonderful thing... and super-wonderful... if, as Scott mentioned, you could scan it once and memorize the melody (and words) forever. Now that is a gift.

Playing by ear is a gift as well and I can see where someone trained to play by note reading only would have a difficult time in today's music world. Johnny D. said earlier, "You need a different band"... and that could be the case. Alot depends on the camaraderie between members and their willingness to share and learn new tricks. I know the problem is not you!

Best of luck,

Dave

#985390 - 11/25/12 10:18 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Dave Rice (D)]  
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Little_stevie_b Offline
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Little_stevie_b  Offline
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Neither Lennon or McCartney could read or write a note of music and they turned out pretty well for a little band from Liverpool.

I've heard lots of pianists in churches I've played bass in who seemed to be able to play beautifully (with a written page) but when it came to playing by ear they were lost and their music had no soul and was not expressive at all when they tried to play by ear.

Of course it would be best to be able to do both but moreso for classical or big band music. Jazz musicians don't stick to a written script and they, with the exception of a few British groups, invented Rock and Roll in the studios of the late 50s and early 60s especially. Some were also big band musicians but the point is, they didn't have written scores to go by in the early days at least, except for movies and television scores. They invented the parts. People like the Funk Brothers in Detroit, the LA studio musicians of whom I know two of personally (Carol Kaye and Billy Strange) so I know what really went on with the records back then from their own accounts. My friend, the late Billy Strange didn't read a bit of music until he wanted to compose and produce for orchestras and then he learned from bugging the fool out of his next door neighbor Henry Mancini. It wasn't the bands we thought we were hearing back then, it was studio musicians who could cut the backing tracks for an entire album in a couple 3 hour sessions rather than taking months.

Also consider this. We learn to communicate and express ourselves quite efficiently by talking long before we learn to read and write.

So, in a nutshell, is it better one way or the other? It's certainly good to be able to do both as I mentioned above but if I could only choose one I'd take playing by ear any day.


Stevie


I'm the only person here who is not unique.
#985409 - 11/26/12 12:57 AM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Little_stevie_b]  
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Iggy Offline
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Iggy  Offline
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Good points, everyone.

To quote one of my favorite 2LT songs “just wanted you to feel this music with me” I think that is the problem. None of these guys FEEL the music. Music for them is a pass time or a hobby not a passion.

But quitting is not for me. Even though next week is our first “show” and everyone (but me) wants to dress alike, I shall hang in there trying to make a difference. YES! “Blue Moon” all in minor chords or The Alley Cat Grunge! Can you feel it!

#985434 - 11/26/12 05:38 AM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Iggy]  
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Jeff Van Devender Offline
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Great topic. I am one of those church musicians. Speaking from personal experience, the lady I followed into this particular church I've been with the last few years could play circles around me technically, however...

The music worship leader has alluded that he was very frustrated with her because she could play nothing if it wasn't written out. Forget lead sheets, solo fills, etc.

I have run across many sheet music pieces with simple syncopated sections that are easy to "feel your way through" where she had written in subdivisions ad nauseam. I also noticed the lack of "soul" in her playing & have been told as much.

On the flipside, I have a 9th grade piano student who can play Beethoven Sonatas that I cannot even touch. But he plays them completely by ear. Youtubes them to death! But when I stop him during our lessons, he has no clue where he is in the music. Crazy!

As was alluded earlier by Stevie, Lennon/McCartney couldn't read. However the broad brushstroke Iggy paints that reading will restrict you is a little too broad, imho. I do believe that reading can indeed become a crutch to a musicians musicianship.

Beethoven, Mozart, etc. used to play improvisation & I believe musicians of that period would challenge each other to improv. contests. Yet their reading was far beyond what most "readers" are capable of today, based on what they wrote. They certainly were not restricted.

#985511 - 11/26/12 05:31 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Jeff Van Devender]  
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Harriet Ames Offline
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to put it in short.... yes sometimes it can

I know for me I have serious limitations with the piano. (very rusty and losing what I had now anyway)
I can hear a lot of runs and fills in my head, but when I sit down to the piano with a chord chart I just can't do it. (could it be I haven't tried hard and long enough? LOL) I can only come up with choppy and/or stuffy chords. Yes I can play the chords, but not play "my part" as it were.

On the other hand... I have a brother who was trained like I was with countless lessons... who plays professionally now. He can still read far more advanced music than I can... but he performs mostly playing improvisational music. (or playing one of his compositions) He sat down with one of my lead sheets once and played for me to sing... said it was not his strength... but he did better than I would have.

I think as with most things... it takes practice. and reinforcements. If you've always played by ear... it would take a while to learn to read music with any speed... and the same goes for turning off the need to read every note. There are always exceptions... lots of them

#985516 - 11/26/12 06:05 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Harriet Ames]  
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Colin Ward Offline
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I think the ability to read music is irrelevant regarding creativity. Some people have the knack to play music by ear, jam, make up music as they go along, etc. If those people also learn to read music, it is just another tool in their belt and helps them do more.

Other people are not naturals and cannot jam and improvise, but in some cases they can play music anyway if they learn to read and count. They will never be creative but at least they can play the written works.

So the ability to read music does not affect creativity. It just raises each person's level of ability.


Colin

I try to critique as if you mean business.....

http://colinwardmusic.com/

http://rosewoodcreekband.com/


#985521 - 11/26/12 06:51 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Colin Ward]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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"I think the ability to read music is irrelevant regarding creativity" - Colin

Couldn't let this one pass Colin. grin

Being able to notate music (then play back the written note) enables me to push the creative ideas up a notch (and to refine them). I get many creative ideas while composing the written note on the piano.

Equivalent to writing lyrics. I’m sure most lyricists get more creative ideas writing lyrics down on paper rather than improvising them vocally.

John smile


#985546 - 11/26/12 08:27 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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Kolstad Offline
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If you can't really play music and have to look at some sheet all the time, then yes, I think reading music can be bad for creativity. However if you CAN play, and use music sheets for memoration and dissemination purposes, I think it's absolutely neccessary.

#985551 - 11/26/12 08:49 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Kolstad]  
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Mike Dunbar Offline
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No, it's not possible for musicians other than in orchestras or big bands to read music and play creatively. Because musicians other than those in orchestras or big bands do not read music well enough to do so. smile


You've got to know your limitations. I don't know what your limitations are. I found out what mine were when I was twelve. I found out that there weren't too many limitations, if I did it my way. -Johnny Cash

It's only music.
-niteshift

Mike Dunbar Music

#985554 - 11/26/12 08:55 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Iggy]  
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Johnny Daubert Offline
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Johnny Daubert  Offline
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Originally Posted by Iggy

To quote one of my favorite 2LT songs “just wanted you to feel this music with me” I think that is the problem. None of these guys FEEL the music.


From our song "Don't Want To Be Famous", with JUST the ending chorus line "I just want you to feel this music with me". (based on the verse line you have above). Same thing! LOL

HEAR IT HERE! (20 seconds worth)
http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12019660

#985556 - 11/26/12 09:08 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Johnny Daubert]  
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Dan Sullivan Offline
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Dan Sullivan  Offline
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MI
Being able to write music didn't seem to slow Beethoven's creative output.


Write from your heart, not what you think others want to hear.

https://dansullivan2.bandcamp.com

http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/dansullivan2
#985565 - 11/26/12 10:26 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: Dan Sullivan]  
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John Lawrence Schick Offline
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Originally Posted by Dan Sullivan
Being able to write music didn't seem to slow Beethoven's creative output.


Exactly, and many of the great composers didn't use an instrument to compose. Often, they'd just write it out in music notation. I imagine that was unreserved creative freedom - not being bogged-down by an instrument (well, the pen & manuscript was their instrument).

Best, John smile


#985577 - 11/26/12 11:45 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: John Lawrence Schick]  
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BIG JIM MERRILEES Offline
BIG JIM MERRILEES  Offline

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Being able to read and write music is a tool........ so is being able to busk and improv or learn a piece to play by ear. There is a place for all tools. No tradesman is any good if he only has one skill or is able to ure only one tool.

#985582 - 11/26/12 11:56 PM Re: Does Reading Music Restrict You? [Re: BIG JIM MERRILEES]  
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John Voorpostel Offline
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John Voorpostel  Offline
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I like Iggy's point.

Although I have a very basic understanding of reading music, and a better understanding of chords and keys, and how it all fits together, in the end, it is all about the ear, and feeling the beat and the melody. Even in listening to music, it is all about the "experience".



If writing ever becomes work I think I'm going to have to stop

iAccountant --- Info L inc --- Taxboard

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