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Best way to learn tunes

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GUEST,Les/ Manchester uk 22 Sep 01 - 11:00 AM
Sorcha 22 Sep 01 - 11:08 AM
8_Pints 22 Sep 01 - 12:53 PM
Roger in Sheffield 22 Sep 01 - 01:59 PM
IvanB 22 Sep 01 - 04:23 PM
bill\sables 22 Sep 01 - 05:10 PM
GUEST,Ned Ludd 23 Sep 01 - 04:15 AM
Jon Freeman 23 Sep 01 - 06:32 AM
Jeri 23 Sep 01 - 08:44 AM
Gypsy 23 Sep 01 - 10:08 AM
GUEST,Les/ Manchester uk 23 Sep 01 - 01:52 PM
dick greenhaus 23 Sep 01 - 02:01 PM
Ralphie 23 Sep 01 - 02:03 PM
Jon Freeman 23 Sep 01 - 04:41 PM
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Subject: Best way to learn tunes
From: GUEST,Les/ Manchester uk
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 11:00 AM

I am trying to learn tunes on the mandola. I can play Morris, Country Dance and a few jigs but new tunes seem to take for ages. I can't really read music but I know where the notes are, so my wife plays them from the dots on the piano. I get the general drift then work from the dots myself.

Any good advice? Is it best to learn tunes phrase by phrase or by playing all the way through eacg time? Is very slow to start with a good idea.

Will I die before I master The Masons Apron?


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: Sorcha
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 11:08 AM

Put the tune you want to learn on a cassette or CD,and make several complete repeats. Put it in your Walkman. Listen to it constantly until you can whistle or "dum ditty" the whole tune in your head. Then go try to play it. (This is the point at which I get out the music to follow along, (and find out where the differences in setting/arrangment) show up, grin). Works pretty well for me. By then, of course, I am so sick of the tune I don't want to play it, but that is another story!


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: 8_Pints
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 12:53 PM

I don't think there is an easy way unless you have the gift of total recall!

I do precisely what you suggested, learn phrase by phrase starting slowly at first.

I also cheat by using the computer to copy the dots into a Noteworthy program that can replay the file through the speakers. Then I can hear what the composer/arranger intended.

Best of all, though, is to ask someone to play it straight through for you so you can also pick up the phrasing and decoration.

You can leave the latter until you become more proficient.

Good luck,

Bob vG


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: Roger in Sheffield
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 01:59 PM

Virtual session ?


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: IvanB
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 04:23 PM

If you have recordings of the tunes that you can copy to your hard drive, Winamp has a couple plug-ins that are useful for learning tunes. One, Loop Master, allows you to 'mark' a section of the song for endless repetition and the other, Pacmaker, allows you to slow down the tempo of the tune without affecting the pitch (it also allows you to change the pitch without changing the tempo, useful if the tune's in an unhandy key) You can apply Pacemaker's effects singly or in combination. If you don't presently use Winamp, it's a free download here:

Winamp

Loop Master is here:

Loop Master

and Pacemaker is here:

Pacemaker


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: bill\sables
Date: 22 Sep 01 - 05:10 PM

Les it depends on your age. If you are 95 ,Yes you probably will die before you learn Masons Apron, If you are just a young bloke you probably will die before you learn all of the variations of Masons Apron, but if you only want to learn the two usual parts of Masons Apron It should only take about a day or two. First remember that most session tunes were writen for fiddle and so are in keys reasonably easy for fiddle, ie G & D & A Masons is in A If the tune was writen for melodeon it will probably be in G or D ( But this is a music forum so we shouldn't talk about melodeons here)If you use your mandola in G D A E tuning you will be an octave below fiddle so fiddle keys should be no problem to you. When I learn a new tune I usually get a midi and play it on Cakewalk which also allows you to slow it down without altering the key. Play it slowly at first and then increase the speed till it is faster than usual and you should be able to play along with anyone. Before I had a computer I used to listen to the tune till I knew it well and then played it from memory. Another way is to attend a session and try to join in with others quietly at first. There are mandolin sites on the net which give you tabliture which is very easy to read and gives you positions for fingers.
Bill


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: GUEST,Ned Ludd
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 04:15 AM

I'm glad I'm not alone. I have no problem with things which have lyrics,but can only remember a tune when I hear it, so I invent silly lyrics for the first couple of lines.


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 06:32 AM

Les, I have your problem with the dots. I have used my mother to play some tunes on the piano when all I have is dots to go by so that I can get a feel for where the tune is going before using the dots.

I find a much better approach to just having the dots is to get hold of some music editing software. I use an Cakewalk. It is great, you just enter the dots which I do by hand (there is music recognitoin software around) and play the tune back. Another beauty of this approach is that you can alter the speed at which the piece is played.

When learning by ear, I find sorcha's aproach good but there are times I like to play along. There is a plug-in availible for WinAmp that will slow CDs played on your computer down without altering the pitch that could be useful. Also, I had a modified tape player for a while to allow me to slow a tune down (OK pitch changes) when learning. All I did was connect an old volume control from something else into the motor circuit.

As for mastering the Masons Apron, I'd guess that in the first instance it depends on what you mean by mastering and to a certain extent, you can make a tune easier or harder for yourself - playing every triplet that certain banjo players do and at the pace they do could be a lifetime ambition for example whereas on the other hand the basic 2 part tune is pretty straight forward even if it may not seem that way now.

Jon


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: Jeri
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 08:44 AM

When I started learning fiddle, I had a lot of tunes in my head already because I was a dance addict. I only had to figure out what key they were in/what note they started on, and pick them out.

I agree with everyone who's said to get the tune in your head first. You can use the software Jon mentioned to find the difficult notes.

I also agree with simple and slow to start off with. Simple because you'll be able to play the tunes and you can always add ornamentation later. A lot of tune books and ABC notation includes a lot of twiddly bits. You don't want the twiddly bits at first, and they're often just one person's way of ornamenting a tune. Find the "bones." Slow because you have to train your fingers to play the patterns. I find that if I make a mistake, I'll keep making the same mistake, and my fingers will learn it that way even if my brain knows better. Start slow and concentrate, then gradually bring it up to speed when you can play it without thinking about it.


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: Gypsy
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 10:08 AM

We use an answering machine tape, and put the tune one about three times. Then stick it into walkman, car, whatever, and don't even pay attention. Just play it. Then, learn phrase by phrase. I find when i learn a tune that way, i can jump in at any point in the song, without having to wait for the beginning. Tunes usually have 5-6 beginnings for me. And too, once you get into a style of music, you'll find that there are a finite amount of phrases....once you learn those, then new tunes are a piece of cake!


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: GUEST,Les/ Manchester uk
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 01:52 PM

Well, thanks to you all. So many strategies, some I can use straight away and some for a rainy day.

As to my age I am 55 and have played guitar - mostly chords for songs - and tunes on tenor banjo and mandolin. I bought a mandola from Hobgoblin about 3 months ago and it has inspired me. It sounds so good but I am, like Sorcha getting bored, with the same tunes. I suppose we all get slower as we get older but perhaps I have a few months left.

I will chuck my concept of age and time at this point. It revolves around always being half way through my life. My Mother lasted to nearly 90. As I can't remember much of the first 10 years I am a about half way. As I age I will realise that I wasted much of my youth so I will still have half of my most useful years ahead of me.

So, thanks to all again, ever the optimist, on to Mason's Apron!


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: dick greenhaus
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 02:01 PM

you could always learn to read the dots. Not difficult, and quite useful. Working strictly aurally is like learning words when you're illiterate.


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: Ralphie
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 02:03 PM

A small point
I'm hopeless at remembering tunes generally, so. I got myself a Filofax notebook with manuscript pages, and have written out the first 8 bars or so of my fave tunes (along with the titles !!) It's a real "aide memoire" at those difficult moments in a session, you know what I mean!!
Ralphie
Shurely Shome Mishtake....I thought was "The Mason's a Prune" !!


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Subject: RE: Best way to learn tunes
From: Jon Freeman
Date: 23 Sep 01 - 04:41 PM

I'm not sure about "not difficult" Dick. I suspect there are others like me who have a complete mental block when it comes to trying to read music.

I've known the basic principles since primary school but I still can't pick up the timing from a piece of music. The notes are no problem - that is at least within the range I would normally use in folk dance stuff on the tenor banjo - I'll often find the string from the dots without converting to a note then to a string/ fret but without the ability to get durations, if I have't heard a piece what comes out is usually meaningless.

People can tell me 1/2 notes, quarter notes, etc for all they want - I know all that but it doesn't help. I've got a pretty good natural sense of rythm but that doesn't help...

Jon


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