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User Name Thread Name Subject Posted
GUEST, Tom Bliss No such thing as a B-sharp (566* d) RE: No such thing as a B-sharp 31 Mar 11

A general comment for the open-minded posters here

Bear in mind that you can obtain an excellent knowledge of music theory without being able to read a score, and without necessarily being able to express it the way that they do in music colleges. Theory and reading are interlinked but separate skills.

You can become expert in theory (in whatever genre floats your crank) by playing, listening, watching, discussing, reading books, using diagrams - but never master the telegraph wires. As a child I advanced to the equivalent of grade 6 on the piano, higher on the violin, maybe 3 on the flute, was a red ribbon chorister and taught myself classical guitar - without ever taking an exam because I couldn't read music well enough. (I need to hear the piece first, then I can use the music as an aide memoire - and one hearing used to be enough, by the way).

Likewise you can become a great sight-reader without acquiring any real understanding of what makes music tick.

This musical I'm writing now requires me to produce scores for the players - so I am, but I'm having to get a chum to check them because I can't see the mistakes. It's a necessity evil to me - I won't be there to teach it to them myself, and that's the reason composers have always written down music (once the conventions had been thrashed out). But I'm ALSO making a CD, because the players may not be folkies, and I can't begin to write down the effect I need to make the show work as a folk musical (and for all I know the players and singers don't read anyway).

No-one here has said it's not good or better to be able to read music. And of course it's essential in certain situations like orchestras and session work.

But what a lot of us have pointed out is that you can become a very 'good' musician, with an expert appreciation of theory, without using the conventions developed in European classical music, and without being much cop at the fly-shit.

When it comes to teaching, it's 'need to know' - with the emphasis, ideally, on the aural, not the visual. You don't need to understand continuo to be a rock bass player, and you don't have to read either. Just have big balls.

I have a chum who teaches guitar to people with 'different abilities.' I'm fairly sure he has not explained to them about B-sharp, and he was right not to.


Sir Arthur Philipp Paul Thomas Bliss (Bart and Bar)

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