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Finding chords by watching other players

GUEST,Marion 07 Jan 02 - 05:07 PM
Clinton Hammond 07 Jan 02 - 05:15 PM
Justa Picker 07 Jan 02 - 05:23 PM
Mountain Dog 07 Jan 02 - 05:24 PM
Phil Cooper 07 Jan 02 - 05:57 PM
Rick Fielding 07 Jan 02 - 05:57 PM
Steve in Idaho 07 Jan 02 - 06:07 PM
DonMeixner 07 Jan 02 - 06:13 PM
SharonA 07 Jan 02 - 06:53 PM
wysiwyg 07 Jan 02 - 06:54 PM
John Hardly 07 Jan 02 - 07:58 PM
Bobert 07 Jan 02 - 08:33 PM
53 07 Jan 02 - 08:35 PM
M.Ted 07 Jan 02 - 09:33 PM
Robbyanne 07 Jan 02 - 10:05 PM
53 07 Jan 02 - 10:08 PM
Rick Fielding 07 Jan 02 - 11:10 PM
Louie Roy 07 Jan 02 - 11:30 PM
GUEST,.gargoyle 07 Jan 02 - 11:41 PM
SeanM 07 Jan 02 - 11:54 PM
GUEST,Fingerstyle 08 Jan 02 - 01:10 AM
Mark Cohen 08 Jan 02 - 01:25 AM
Cappuccino 08 Jan 02 - 02:42 AM
Hamish 08 Jan 02 - 03:38 AM
catspaw49 08 Jan 02 - 08:03 AM
English Jon 08 Jan 02 - 08:57 AM
Raptor 08 Jan 02 - 08:57 AM
MikeofNorthumbria 08 Jan 02 - 10:06 AM
Gary T 08 Jan 02 - 10:27 AM
JedMarum 08 Jan 02 - 10:37 AM
53 08 Jan 02 - 10:39 AM
Cappuccino 08 Jan 02 - 12:37 PM
Rick Fielding 08 Jan 02 - 12:43 PM
Grab 08 Jan 02 - 01:09 PM
M.Ted 08 Jan 02 - 01:14 PM
53 08 Jan 02 - 02:34 PM
Rick Fielding 08 Jan 02 - 05:19 PM
wysiwyg 08 Jan 02 - 05:35 PM
53 08 Jan 02 - 09:25 PM
GUEST,frankie 08 Jan 02 - 10:41 PM
WyoWoman 08 Jan 02 - 11:04 PM
Les B 08 Jan 02 - 11:27 PM
Banjo-Flower 09 Jan 02 - 10:40 AM
53 09 Jan 02 - 10:00 PM
GUEST,SlickerBill 09 Jan 02 - 11:36 PM
WyoWoman 09 Jan 02 - 11:50 PM
marty D 10 Jan 02 - 12:50 AM
Cappuccino 10 Jan 02 - 02:43 AM
53 10 Jan 02 - 10:57 AM
Marion 10 Jan 02 - 01:30 PM
53 10 Jan 02 - 03:40 PM
M.Ted 10 Jan 02 - 07:06 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Jan 02 - 08:32 PM
53 12 Jan 02 - 12:46 AM
Seamus Kennedy 12 Jan 02 - 02:06 AM
Genie 27 Jan 02 - 03:54 AM
Marion 05 Apr 02 - 12:34 AM
53 27 Apr 02 - 10:39 PM
Pseudolus 28 Apr 02 - 12:29 AM
C-flat 28 Apr 02 - 04:28 AM
C-flat 01 May 02 - 08:20 AM
Genie 02 May 02 - 01:25 AM
C-flat 02 May 02 - 02:23 AM
Marion 03 May 02 - 03:54 PM
McGrath of Harlow 03 May 02 - 08:27 PM
53 04 May 02 - 07:15 PM
GUEST,mcpiper (cookieless just now) 05 May 02 - 07:08 AM
McGrath of Harlow 05 May 02 - 06:43 PM
wysiwyg 05 May 02 - 10:38 PM
53 22 Oct 02 - 08:35 AM
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Subject: Finding chords by watching other players
From: GUEST,Marion
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 05:07 PM

I'd like to know what you all think of the practice of watching another player to see what chords to play. Wyowoman brought the question up in this thread but it didn't get much attention.

On the plus side, this method works great at times, is easier than finding the chords by ear, and can mean the difference between playing the right chords or wrong chords if you can't find them by ear.

However, it seems like a bit a crutch to me - if the goal is to become able to play by ear, then playing by sight won't get any closer, will it? Is there really much difference between reading chords off a page or reading them off somebody else's guitar?

Also, it seems like an undependable crutch at that - if you get used to doing it this way, then you're stuck if you can't sit across from the right person or the person you're watching starts using an alternate tuning or fancy chords.

It also seems a little questionable socially - who likes to be stared at?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Clinton Hammond
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 05:15 PM

Well, if I didn't like being stared at, I wouldn't make my living on stage...

LOL!!

Also, watching others play is more or less how I learned a lot of what I do... It was Garnet Rogers showed me 95% of what I do in DADGAD for instance...


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Justa Picker
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 05:23 PM

You have to already have a good working knowledge of chords and what those chord patterns look like, in order to be able to recognize what someone sitting across from you is doing - and if you have this knowledge, it is very helpful when participating in jams, etc.

The goal should be to become the very best player you can be while maximizng whatever talents and God-given abilities you might have. Whatever "tools" are required to accomplish this, are the right means to this end.

All tools are worth looking at and utilizing if you can derive direct benefit from them. If you start getting too analytical about methods, you'll end up screwing yourself one way or another. Remain open and utilize any and all possibilites. My $0.02


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Mountain Dog
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 05:24 PM

I've always found it very helpful to watch other players, not just for chords but for other tips and tricks. Can't say that I've ever experienced any negative reactions from the watchees, either.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Phil Cooper
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 05:57 PM

I've found watching chords helps when working out accompanyments in jam sessions, or when I'm backing up people on stage. When I was wathcing other guitarists in concert, I always watched what was happening and learned a lot.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 05:57 PM

Oops. Guess I'm the culprit here (as Marion well knows)

Yep, it's not only useful as far as I'm concerned, but invaluable to be able to "read" "mirror images" of what someone else is playing chord wise. Every good guitarist or banjoist or mandolinist and especially bassist I know of (those who can play along with others, never having heard the song before) does it. It's a combination of seeing where someone IS, and then anticipating where they're going, using both aural and visual cues.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Steve in Idaho
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 06:07 PM

Yes - and if I can't figure it out visually or by ear I find someone to stand behind me and call out the chords until I figure it out (how I finally figured out Blackberry Blossom)!

Now that is just plain good old fashioned back porch pickin and grinnin!!

Steve


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: DonMeixner
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 06:13 PM

Playing guitar isn't meant to be a secret. The best way to learn how to perform is by watching others. Notice I said "perform" and not "play". If you are at a level where you are watching fingers then you are probably already playing.

An individual style is the end result of watching others work and mixing that stew into your own musical gumbo. Figure out sometime the degrees of separation between Riley Puckett and Thom Bresh. Of course Riley didn't watch anyone but he heard pretty good. :-)

Wanna learn stage craft, watch Peter Paul and Mary, John Denver, U. Utah Phillips, Roy Book Binder, Faith Petric, Sally Rogers, Michael Doucette, the Coories, Tommy Makem, et al. Ask them all where they learned and they'll name someone else. Dig a little deeper and they'll tell you that it all started while they were stealing chords.

Don


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: SharonA
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 06:53 PM

It's part and parcel of the way I learned to play guitar, too. in fact, I think that playing by watching and hearing someone else play is part and parcel of "playing by ear", since you learn to associate chord patterns and playing techniques with the way they sound when played. For this reason, I think that instructional videos are more effective than instructional tapes or CD's.

Also, as has been pointed out, it's easier to follow the lead player in a jam session if you can visually recognize the chords (s)he's playing, since it may be difficult to hear him or her over another player standing or sitting closer to you in the circle.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: wysiwyg
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 06:54 PM

I was at a jam recently where if I had not been able to watch guitar-playing hands, I'd have been totally lost. Since we HAVE no regular guitar player HERE, at first I didn't even know what the damn chords LOOK like-- I play autoharp.

But now I found Guitar Chords where you can click on a chord for tips and photos on how it is formed!!!!!!!!!! (Thanks to Sorcha, the wonderhelper...)

I feel like Helen Keller discovering water! I'm gonna make flash cards and stick them in my case till I GET it!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: John Hardly
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 07:58 PM

alright. I'll be the dissenting voice here...
...not really, but...

I've had a few instances where that "crutch" got knocked right out from under me. My first "playing partner" learned guitar tuned the wrong way. Self-taught country-boy-will-survive that he was, he knew that there was a step-down on the six string somewhere...he just didn't know where. Thus his fingering was all screwed up and me already in the habit of watching other's fingers and following....well, I was like a fish up a crick without a paddle to strike while the iron was....

Okay, I got easily confused...as I did when watching a guy playing in alternate tunings.

The short of it. If you can't turn it off and on (be able to concentrate fully on what YOU are playing), then maybe it's a crutch best left in the closet 'til next time yer foot's ailin'.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Bobert
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 08:33 PM

I try to learn something from every one I see, even if I feel I'm more advanced. Every guitar player has something to give even if its a reminder of what not to do... But we are all in this pool together, so, take what works.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 08:35 PM

you can always learn something by watching other players, and other players can always learn something from you. chet atkins once said, and i paraphrase, youre never to good or to old to learn,just keep alert and practice, practice, practice. BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: M.Ted
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 09:33 PM

It is perfectly all right to watch the hands--in fact, it is a critical learning tool--and you can learn a lot by watching music videos(especially UNPLUGGED)--the thing about guitar is that there are a lot of different places to play the same thing, so hearing alone is often not enough, you have to know where:what frets, what string, which fingers, which chord inversions--and they are not always obvious from what you hear--

And the goal is not to learn to play something by ear--ear training is an important tool, but it is one of a number of important tools, and ear training alone will only get you so far--

Some of the problems with working things out by ear are that your ear often mis-hears melodic variations and subtle ornaments, that you will often hear notes that are only implied through harmony or as harmonics, and that you will confabulate, which means that you fill in things that you missed with things that could logically be there, without realizing it--


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Robbyanne
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 10:05 PM

What's the old saying? "Imitation is the highest form of flattery"? - I'm a music educator, as well as a songwriter and performer, and I strongly advocate watching and copying as a way of learning. That's how I learned half the stuff I do - and that's what I encourage for my students - it takes a lot of coordination and a good ear to look at someone and imitate what they are doing - especially afterward, when you sit down by yourself, to see if what you're playing from memory matches what you heard the other guy doing....

I take notes, draw pictures - anything I can do to remember what I see someone doing in a show or a jam session. (Of course, I do it discreetly - usually, I confess that I really admire what someone is doing, ans ask if they'll show me while I draw what they're doing, or try to imitate it.) They're always happy to oblige. Just my two cents! Bye for now - Love, Robin


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 10:08 PM

guitar playing is a talent, and you can learn in so many different ways, just keep your eyes, ears open and ask questions, i have learned so much from beatle music, their my idols, and they have had a great influence on my career as a musician. hooray for britian and for the beatles. BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 11:10 PM

At the Washington Getaway during one of the many jams I watched a young woman desperately trying to keep up. She was really putting an effort into it but was always changing after everyone else....Her timing was good, and she struck me as someone who WANTED to be able to pick with a group, so I disappeared for a while and wrote her out a little chart for the keys of C,F,G,A, and D. with the numbers above the one four and five chords.

She was sitting opposite me about 10 feet away, and after about two minutes she got used to me "mouthing" one, four, or five, before each change. That's REALLY stealin chords,....but it worked. After a short while her natural ability started to take over ('cause she wasn't playin' catch-up) and she started hittin' 'em dead on.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Louie Roy
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 11:30 PM

I've been picking a guitar for 70 years and I'm still learning.Songs I sang many years ago with three chords and made my voice fit the chords I now use seven.Yes I learned he correct chords by watching someone else at a jam seesion.It's just one more tool we can use to make music sound better.Louie


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: GUEST,.gargoyle
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 11:41 PM

M. Ted ... you bring up an excellent point that has been seldom touched on within the forum...there are a lot of different places to play the same thing

Generally, it is refered to as "voicings." The same chord with different fingerings. It is the rudement of jazz.

I can't imagine how anyone could accompany by visual cues, they would be two beats behind the score. But you are guitar, and I am keyboard. I


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: SeanM
Date: 07 Jan 02 - 11:54 PM

Not precisely on topic, but hey...

I learned most of my mediocre pennywhistle by watching people play - and I ran into a problem I didn't even consider (and honestly don't consider a problem still).

I reversed the 'standard' hand position. I've since been informed that one is SUPPOSED to play a pennywhistle with the left hand over the right.

Of course, my idea is that they can get stuffed and I'll just play. But I do get accused occasionally of being left handed while playing.

I'd hope this isn't a concern when trying to pick things up off of another guitar.

M


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: GUEST,Fingerstyle
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 01:10 AM

If you are playing in a song circle or a jam session and someone minds you checking out their playing then they have missed the point..playing music together is a very interactive kind of thing and very few musicians would care if you steal a chord or a lick.

Bands that play together alot sometimes will kick off songs in different keys to mix things up a bit. I played in a band where we did this to torment the singers ...kind of breaks the monotony of playing the same set list.

I saw a very old tape of the beatles ca. 1963 where John is banging away and you can see George and Paul staring at his fingers and trying to figure out where he is going with expressions of "what in the H...are you doing John...that's the kind of thing that makes playing music together fun.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Mark Cohen
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 01:25 AM

I was once at a jam at the Fiddle Tunes festival in Port Townsend, Washington, when I was just barely learning how to play backup guitar for old-time fiddle tunes. (Now, ten years later, I've gone from novice to beginner...hooray!) I remember after one tune one of the fiddlers said to me, "Hey, nice work finding that A chord!" I thanked him, and decided not to tell him that I'd been watching the fingers of a really good guitarist across the circle!

Aloha,
Mark


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Cappuccino
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 02:42 AM

Rick said at the beginning of this thread something about other instrumentalists, including bassists, reading chords. When I played regularly as a bassist, I found that I was usually sited behind the guitarists on stage, so had no chance to read the chords... curious as it sounds, after a short while you get used to reading the chords by the position of the back of their hand.

And when you * can * see their chord hand, there are other little clues (I know Rick could think of a hundred technicalities to disprove this, but I think he'll allow me to generalise!) So - if the guitarist is playing C, and you see their little finger rise slightly, that suggests thay're about to hit a C7... and logic suggests that after thast may well come an F. So you can often get credit for mind-reading, when you're just thinking a split-second ahead!

Now I'm old and past it, of course, I can't do that any more...

- Ian B


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Hamish
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 03:38 AM

There was some old blues guitarist who got so paranoid about his playing being plagiarised that he would play with a handkerchief over his left hand. To stop people stealing my lyrics, I've taken to singing with a handkerchief over my mouth ;^)


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: catspaw49
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 08:03 AM

Several interesting points brought up here. personally, I'm a big fan of watching....on any instrument. In the process you may learn both "good and bad" techniques, but some of both may work for you. I remember watching Paul Desmond play alto and trying to emulate that same embouchure and style.....loved his sound, but it wasn't me. I've always been amazed at watching mando players who manage to get clarity on every note while they appear to be sloppily misfretting. I personally enjoy watching hammered dulcimer players who are really relaxed and seem to play effortlessly.....hammers just flying.

Take what you want and leave the rest..........

Spaw


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: English Jon
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 08:57 AM

Worked out a lot of Carthy's style by sitting at the front and memorising fret numbers. Working out the bloody tuning took a bit longer though!

EJ


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Raptor
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 08:57 AM

The best thing I ever did for my guitar playing was to start an accustic jam in my home town!
It lasted for five years and I got payed to play and jam with hundreds of players of various levels.
It was great for meeting people, Learning different styles and methods, And Learning different songs, Good for other things too like Timeing, How to emphasize chords, Different tunings, Meter, Nashville numbering... The list goes on.
All you have to do is find a bar that is willing to give you one night a week. And put the word out to the music stores They will do the advertising for you in hope of selling more stuff.
PM me for more details>
Raptor


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: MikeofNorthumbria
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 10:06 AM

Studying the hand movements of more experienced players is a good way to learn guitar backup for standard tunes and songs. But it does have a downside. You can end up with tunnel vision - concentrating so much on what the other picker's hands are doing that you fail to experience the impact of the piece as a whole.

I once heard Stefan Grossman introduce a tune as follows: "Now here's one for all the guitar players in the audience to watch – and for the rest of you to listen to." Having spent most of the evening with my attention focussed on Stefan's left hand, I felt rather guilty. So, I approached him in the bar afterwards and apologised. He said, "Don't worry about it – that's how I learned – that's how everybody learns."

Nevertheless, I think it's a good idea to give your eyes a rest once in a while, and let your ears do some learning for a change.

Wassail!


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Gary T
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 10:27 AM

While overusing a helpful technique can transform it from a "tool" into a "crutch," I have to concur that watching other's hands to help find the chord is generally beneficial. Not all of us are able to nail chord sequences in unfamiliar songs by hearing alone. One would hope, of course, that in time one could find the chords without watching--sometimes even before the end of playing a song for the first time!

As a guitar player who doesn't play other instruments, I find that I can even watch banjo or mandolin players and see what they're doing. Not that I could tell what chord that was, but in a three-chorder, I can see differences among the I, IV, & V chords by watching the general location of the fingers. Watching a guitarist, I can usually identify the specific chord.

As one who plays left-handed, I occasionally run across someone who finds it odd watching me, usually because it hasn't hit them yet that I am left-handed. Watch yourself in a mirror, and that's what I look like.

In the circles I play with, watching each other's hands is the norm, and I've never heard any disparaging comments about it.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: JedMarum
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 10:37 AM

I agree that watching other players to learn the tune is common pratcice and a good one. But you also can learn so much from watching other players; some people use slightly different fingering for the same chords and that fingering may be helpful to you - some people add or drop a note from the chord resulting in a slight 'coloring' of the sound - some people use bass runs and short melodic lines along with their accompaniment and you can learn how to do these by watching and practicing later on your own - some people finger pick while others strum - some people use their right hand to mute strings (some or all) to enhance the rythyms of strumming chords - all of these things you can pick up by watching others players, thinking about what they've done, and taking those ideas home and practicng them yourself. Watching other players is a good thing.

I have found that I even watch players of other instruments for musical clues - When I'm playing banjo I can watch the guitar player and figure out where I am - when I'm on guitar I can watch the bouzouki player to see when he is actually changing chords (in some of the modal tunes it is sometimes hard to tell if we've actually changed a chord or just moved a bass line or added color). While I'm less adept at knowing precisely what's going on when watching other instruments - there are clues.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 10:39 AM

REMEMBER AS MUSICIANS IT'S OUR DUTY TO HELP ONE ANOTHER. BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Cappuccino
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 12:37 PM

That's true, mate, but it's also true that a little competitiveness slips in as well... we've all got one flashy little fast run which we play during the sound check, just to frighten others and establish our territory.

Having said that, I'm not entirely sure I can now remember mine....!

- IanB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 12:43 PM

Note to Ian B:

I'll bet when you were playing bass a lot, folks said you had "Big Ears". (unless that's strictly a North American term)
That's about the biggest compliment that one musician can pay another. It's hard to teach someone how to 'anticipate' where the music's going, but you CAN teach them what clues to look and listen for.

As an example (simple, but not always obvious to an inexperienced player) the moment your ear hears a seventh in the one chord, you prepare to play the four chord. Spending half an hour with a student, getting them to recognise the sound of a seventh instantly, is a start, in the 'big ears' department.

Just thought of something though, that might make 'watching other players' difficult. If a person is naturally shy, they may find that whole procedure awkward and a bit scary or intrusive. All I'd be able to suggest there is that OTHERS (good musicians) don't, so do your best, and it'll probably get easier.

Rick


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Grab
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 01:09 PM

Yours may be a run, Ian - mine's more of a slow afternoon stroll... ;-)

Our band at work decided they wanted to play "Pinball Wizard" a little while back. Now _there's_ one that's a bitch to follow - by the time you've found the chord, it's gone and changed again!

Graham.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: M.Ted
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 01:14 PM

Gargoyle,

A lot of times, it isn't just chord voicings that differ--the e above middle C can be played in six different positions on the guitar--the fingering for the scale in each position is different, so that a melody may flow more easily when played in one position than another--and certain h ornaments and accompaniments that fall naturally in one position are impossible in another--


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 02:34 PM

i hope that i can find my one good lick, but until then i'll just keep on pickin, and by the way rick i'm now working on all my major scales and when i have them down, i'll start on the minor scales. BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Rick Fielding
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 05:19 PM

Bob, scales are ONE DAMN BIG DRAG....but if ya wanna play more than Kumbaya at a campfire ya gotta practice 'em.

By the way, one of the most common "folksy" sayings I remember reading and hearing in my youth was "Learning to read music will hurt your creativity". Balderdash! If you CHOOSE to be "creative", reading will help immensely. Pete Seeger kind of underplays it, but he is an EXCELLENT sight reader.

Cheers

Rick


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: wysiwyg
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 05:35 PM

Then there are the players who can't follow my hymn arrangements or are just starting to learn the fiddle tunes Hardi and I play. They love my tabletop autoharping cuz if they sit close by they can see me reach for the chord bars by name! (Sometimes I mix 'em up on purpose just for a laugh! Fake to the left, fake to the right!) That's why whenever we play I sit in the middle, with people to either side, plus behind me looking down over my shoulder!

~Susan


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 09:25 PM

susan, you shouldn't try to confuse those players, shame on you, ha,ha,ha, BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: GUEST,frankie
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 10:41 PM

Shortly after I started playing the guitar I saw Doc Watson at the Cellar Door in D.C. and sat at a stage side table just a few feet from his left hand. He plays mostly the first position chords I was then struggling with so I soaked it all in and my playing took a quantam leap after that night. I notice that at jam sessions when you introduce songs that people are unfamiliar with that almost everyone who's interested in playing along will maneuver themselves into postion to watch the changes, including the better players. f


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: WyoWoman
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 11:04 PM

Gary T is one I watch to figure out the chords -- I find the mirror image of his lefty fingering works really well. Besides the fact that as soon as he sees me watching, he'll mouth the chords until I either get it or put my guitar down and decide to just sing this one or go to the bathroom.

As a beginner, it does make me feel embarrassed when I see people watching what I'm doing, because i'm so afraid I'm going to screw it up. You all wouldn't beLIEVE what a great guitarist I'm getting to be here in the privacy of my own home.

Rick, REALLY? I really have to practice scales? Yuckoid.

This may be another thread, but ... has anyone watched videos that taught them to play the scales? My brain seems to glaze over when I look at the drawings and diagrams in the Mel Bay books, and I live too far out in the boonies to have an actual teacher ...

Glad you revived this thread, Marion.

ww


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Les B
Date: 08 Jan 02 - 11:27 PM

Marion - I think you're seeing by the general direction of all these great postings that watching someone else's fingers is not a bad thing.

As you get more seasoned you'll learn little tricks like WHO to watch. If you know, for instance, that a certain fiddler, or singer, or banjo player regularly practices or plays with a certain guitarist, then its a good bet that's the fingers to watch, not the new kid on the block who has only played with the lead musician once before !

Also, if you're embarassed about watching the fingers, develop your "stealth" skills, where you nonchalantly skim your eagle eye past those important chord formations oh-so-casually just once in a while.

And you can develop your memory skills by memorizing the progression - G -C - G - D - G, or whatever, on the 1st or 2nd time through, and then work on counting the amount of time you spend in each chord on the 3rd or 4th time through 1-chuck, 2- chuck, etc. Pretty soon you won't have to watch the hands much at all.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Banjo-Flower
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 10:40 AM

You can also learn the chord changes by watching the left hand of any good accordian player by looking for the button with a dimple on it this is the C row the four rows reading up from this are G D A and E which just happens to be standard tuning for Irish tenor banjo/mandolin/fiddle as a memory aid

Gerry


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 10:00 PM

I LOVE TO WATCH ANYBODY PLAY GUITAR, FROM THE 3 CHORDER, TO THE GENIUS. BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: GUEST,SlickerBill
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 11:36 PM

This brings to mind a pet peeve I have about watching great guitarists on television. Have you ever noticed that 9 times out of ten the bloody camera is pointed at the WRONG BLOODY HAND? It drives me absolutely bugshit. Here you've got Clapton or somebody playing a beautiful acoustic country blues and you're dying to find "that chord" that you can't quite figure out, and the camera is fixed on his right hand. Absolutely incredible.

In terms of learning the chords, I think watching is especially great for the jazz and blues tunes so you can watch how a great player chooses the voicings that'll offer the right bass notes as well as the chords themselves. I guess this is as true with folk, come to think about it. When you start learning jazz, you find yourself jumping up and down the neck alot until you see a voicing much closer to the preceeding chord, and much more pleasing to boot.

I've got this friend who's amazing at the chord thing. But this guy is walking proof of why theory is ultimately so important to improve your chord knowledge. You ask this guy "Hey where do I find a cm7#5?", and his theory is so down, he goes, "Well lets see; if you play this chord shape and just drop this note and put your finger here, that'll work. OR you can go with this other shape over here..." and on and on. What he showed me was how there are all these recognizable shapes, but all the chords have structure, and if you get your theory down, then you begin to realize that there is a logic to all these wierd sounding chords. You eventually get to the place where you can figure out chords based on that theory.

So, yeah watching is great, especially for voicings and general inspiration, but sooner or later, depending on the kind of music you want to play I suppose, you're going to have to look at theory to help you make sense of the whole mess. SB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: WyoWoman
Date: 09 Jan 02 - 11:50 PM

This whole idea of 'voicings' is new to me. Until just recently, I sort of thought there were maybe two ways to do the G chord -- Rick Fielding's way and the other way -- and other than that there were the barre chords and just ordinary open chords up in the first three or four frets at the top of the neck. Now I'm discovering there's lots more room to roam around on the guitar neck. I'm getting agorophobic! ww


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: marty D
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 12:50 AM

I've been getting into voicings over the last six months. I can see why some become obsessive about their playing. It's fun!

I can't for the life of me figure out why watching someone else's hands to pick up the changes would be uncomfortable. Just remember, if they're good, they're used to it.

marty


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Cappuccino
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 02:43 AM

I've just remembered that in the introduction to some 'how to play guitar' book I was reading about thirty years back, the writer said, quite conversationally, that one of the things he enjoyed doing was watching other players in pubs. He said (and this was a real expert talking) that whoever he was watching, what always fascinated him was that everybody could do some little run or styling of their own which made him, the expert, think: 'how the hell did he do that????'!

- Ian B


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 10:57 AM

watching is fun, and you are right about the players they show on t v they always show the wrong shots and it drives me bugshit too. BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Marion
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 01:30 PM

Thanks for the replies everyone, this was interesting. Sounds like there's not many people who share my reservations.

I think that many of you were talking about using your eyes to learn new chord fingerings or voicings or general tricks, which is fair enough, but wasn't exactly what I meant. I'm just talking about knowing when to play the I, IV, and V chords in an unfamiliar I-IV-V song.

Is the ability to do so by ear not a reasonable thing to expect from myself after playing for a few years?

I was also thinking that if I want to be able to play not just in a big jam but in a group where I'm the only guitar (hey, it could happen) or in performance where everyone's sideways to each other then a habit of chord-watching wouldn't serve me well.

That's pretty cool, Ian, about being able to read the back of the other's players hands - is that how you do it too, Phil?

M.Ted, you said: "Some of the problems with working things out by ear are that your ear often mis-hears melodic variations and subtle ornaments, that you will often hear notes that are only implied through harmony or as harmonics, and that you will confabulate, which means that you fill in things that you missed with things that could logically be there, without realizing it-- "

True, but is that really a problem?

Marion


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 03:40 PM

I THINK THAT TO BE ABLE TO PLAY BY EAR, YOU HAVE TO HEAR THE MUSIC INSIDE YOUR HEAD, AND HAVE SOME NOTION OF THE WAY THE SONG IS GOING TO GO, IT WILL COME WITH TIME, TRAING, LISTENING, LOOKING, PRACTICING, AND MOST OF ALL DO NOT GIVE UP. BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: M.Ted
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 07:06 PM

Yes-it can be a big problem--if only because when you play something that you have misheard,or confabulated, it won't be the tune that you mean to be playing--

A lot of times, what you mishear/confabulate doesn't quite fit musically--and often the chord that goes with your *new* part doesn't quite fit into the song for one reason or another. You may not feel like you are an advanced enough player to have to worry about this, but actually, it is one of the more common reasons that beginners have trouble working out chords to songs--


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Jan 02 - 08:32 PM

I find as I get older I tend to play fewer chords rather than more, but maybe to change them a bit more often and play them in different places, to give the old fingers a rest as much as anything.

You watch the one singing the song (if it's a song) to get the chords when you don't know them, but just as much to check exactly when the singer is going to change them. Some people like to rush on with a song, some like to linger between lines for example, and that can change from verse to verse. It's the difference between playing a song as a song, and playing dance music. I know some good musicians who never seem to appeciate that difference.

I tend to screw it up a bit sometimes for people watching me, because, when there's more than one guitar, I'm likely to capo up. Not to stop someone following me, but because I like to avoid getting a crowded sound. In fact when I'm watching someone else, to get the chords right, most times I'll be using a capo anyway and playing different chord shapes.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 12 Jan 02 - 12:46 AM

what is a song circle? and why do you people who play folk music object to other players trying to follow you. i don't understand, please explain. BOB


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Seamus Kennedy
Date: 12 Jan 02 - 02:06 AM

I watch other people's fingers all the time, especially if I'm unfamiliar with the tune. And Rick is right, there are aural cues as well - the 7th before the 4 chord, eg. But there are two guys I just can't watch. Bill Staines and John Dady, both excellent, but both lefties who play right-handed guitars upside down. I've jammed with each, and if they play a tune I don't know, I put my guitar down and just listen.

Seamus


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Genie
Date: 27 Jan 02 - 03:54 AM

Bob, a "song circle" is just a group of people singing together, usually in a rouglhly circular configuration. Usually, folks take turns playing, singing, or requesting a song, and usually it's often a sing-along, too.

Harnish,


I was gonna say that I often watch singers' mouths, bellies, throats, etc., too, as a way of picking up tips on singing techniques!





Aside from someone not wanting their licks 'stolen,' it occurs to me that watching people play is a lot of what is involved in guitar lessons, isn't it? Sometimes folks show you stuff ( for money or for the fun of it) slowly so you can learn it; sometimes they just do it in 'real time' and you do your best to pick it up that way. You either learn by watching (a major source of pretty much all behavioral learning) or by trial and error (with or without reading some instructions before experimenting). Learning by imitation saves a lot of needless error.





Also, as has been pointed out above, even when making exactly the same chord or same chord progression, you can use different fingerings. You can't hear the difference, of course, but watching the fingerings can give you tips for smoother transitions, etc.





You said it, Gargoyle. Thinking of the premise of this thread, it occurred to me that it would sound silly if we were talking about piano, wouldn't it? I mean, no matter how good your ear is, it's not going to teach you workable fingering sequences, is it?





Frankie,


I'll admit that I find it kinda flattering when I do a song that doesn't have 'standard folk' chord progressions in a jam session and players who are a lot better than I are watching my left hand for the chord changes, runs, etc.!








As a former and sometimes dancer (especially folk), I can vouch for the fact that lots of folks learn most of what they know by watching other dancers--especially their feet. Same principle.

If someone is staring at your hands while you're playing (or feet while you're dancing), it's probably a compliment!








Marion, I do agree that sometimes folks get into the habit of watching other players for chord changes instead of "hearing" them. (It reminds me of some old folks when I do sing-alongs. If there's no book, they'll sing "You Are My Sunshine" perfectly; if there's a song book, they're at a loss until they "find the page!")




But you asked whether watching hands was a waste of time or counterproductive. I don't think so, generally. It's a time-honored, research-demonstrated technique of learning to have redundant cues in initial stages of learning which are gradually eliminated. (E.g., color coding the piano keys at first and then phasing out the colors.) The problem occurs when you don't do the gradual phasing out.

Genie


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Marion
Date: 05 Apr 02 - 12:34 AM

Monsieur Ted said: "and you can learn a lot by watching music videos(especially UNPLUGGED)."

Ted, I assume you mean Eric Clapton Unplugged? If so, I'm curious as to why you singled out that video - is there something specific you tell people to watch for?

I ask this because I've just requested that video from the library.

Cheers, Marion


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 27 Apr 02 - 10:39 PM

Tonite while I was watching the Grand Old Opry on CMT, I saw Roy Clark, and to my surprize he wasn,t that good. I think that he's just a trick player and if you really watch him you could figure out what he's doing.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Pseudolus
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 12:29 AM

I should be that bad.... *BG*

Frank


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: C-flat
Date: 28 Apr 02 - 04:28 AM

I was learning a song by the Gypsy Kings that the band I'm in wanted to cover and, as I was the only one with a nylon strung guitar,it fell to me to learn the solo parts. I was working by ear from a tape and took a few short-cuts (not to mention liberties) with the piece until I had something resembling what I was hearing on tape. Even so, I found it a hard number to perform live and needed to be sitting down and focused to attempt! One day a friend offered me a video tape of the Gypsy Kings live which included this particular track. I naturally bit his hand off and rushed to my machine to watch it in the hope of picking up some of the fingerings and neck positions. As I watched the ease with which the "difficult" solo was dropped in and marvelled at the economy of hand movement (which made hand reading all the more difficult) I noticed the lead guitarist was having a CHAT with one of the band WHILE HE PLAYED! I just found the whole thing too depressing to watch! Another player I remember wasting my time watching was the marvellous Isaac Guillory when he played a tiny gig up here on the North East coast. Despite sitting 6 feet from him I could only pick up bits and pieces of what he was doing and learned more from talking to him afterwards!


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: C-flat
Date: 01 May 02 - 08:20 AM

Marion, I was interested to see that a lot of the "clever" guitar work played on the Eric Clapton Unplugged tape comes from Andy Fairweather-Low. I don't think I'd ever seen him play a guitar before!


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Genie
Date: 02 May 02 - 01:25 AM

Cflat,
I watch B. B. King's hands whenever I see him on T.V., and his fingers move so fast, it doesn't help me at all!

Genie §;- )


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: C-flat
Date: 02 May 02 - 02:23 AM

Genie, I know what you mean!, sometimes all you can learn is the neck position but it can get you started when you're struggling!


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: Marion
Date: 03 May 02 - 03:54 PM

M.Ted answered my question about music videos above:

"I was talking about the MTV UNPLUGGED series(on MTV!), of which the Clapton show was a single episode--it has been on for years, and features live performances by rock artists, playing their usually electric stuff on acoustic instruments--most rock videos are just pantomine playing, and often, the records are so full of effects and multitracking and strings and such that you can't get a feel for what they really play--so it is a rare chance to see how the stuff really works--" (M.Ted)

Actually for a while I made it a habit to put on CMT (country music video station) to have something to jam to when I was by myself. But I stopped doing that when I discovered that they play pretty much the same videos every frigging day, and that 98% of the time all the men are playing instruments and all the women are either just singing or just strutting around looking meangingfully at the men. This got very annoying fast.

Marion


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 03 May 02 - 08:27 PM

"If you really watch him you could figure out what he's doing" - nothing wrong with that.

It isn't about it having to be difficult, it's about it sounding right. Sometimes sounding right means difficult, sometimes it means easy, but it's the sound that matters, never the difficulty. And a good player will sometimes make impossible stuff look easy anyway.

In any case, whether it's easy to see the changes doesn't have too much to do with the difficulty of making them. It depends on the chords, some look very similar, some look very different; and the size of the hands comes in too, it's just easier to see what's happening with thin fingers than with podgy ones. And so on.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 04 May 02 - 07:15 PM

Most of the players on CMT videos are not really playing at all to make matters worse. I have tried to figure out songs from the videos but I have gotten nowhere. Better just stick to the CD and hope for the best.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: GUEST,mcpiper (cookieless just now)
Date: 05 May 02 - 07:08 AM

I watch chords to find what key to play whistles or smallpipes aong with the guitarist. It usually works well and I find it quite easy, except I went to a session, really a friends birthay party, took my whistles etc ready for whatever came up. I was asked to put a bit of background in behind one performer, no trouble, I'll follow the chords for key. I didn't realise she played a right handed guitar upside down, left handed. I gave up trying to read chords and had to admit defeat and ask. Try it sometime.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 05 May 02 - 06:43 PM

Funny tunings can make it pretty hard as well.


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: wysiwyg
Date: 05 May 02 - 10:38 PM

The best players at our just-ended MudGather watched whoever was leading a song. Not just to learn, or snag the chord progression, but to go with the flow of how it was being led. It seemed to me, watching them watch each other, that they were treating each new song as an adventure in "how shall we do this one today," especially on songs they already knew. A high-level game of tag among very fine players. To keep it all truly alive.

~S~


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Subject: RE: Finding chords by watching other players
From: 53
Date: 22 Oct 02 - 08:35 AM

refresh.


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