help with some TABS,..

help with some TABS,..

After playing solo flute for many years I’m in a position to have some computer accompaniment. I’m now seeking some help to turn my abc tunes into TABS so I might program the tunes for some mild, albeit mechanical, backup.

The intent with the TABS is so I can input them into a computer melody player (Garage Band/iPad)

In hopes that I then can have some basic rhythm behind my playing.

I’m not trying to turn the abc’s into TABS but what I’d like to do is have TABS of the tunes I play so I could then put that chord structure into the computer to play some background for me, hope I’m making sense,

Job and location don’t allow me to pursue sessions on a regular basis so I find this to be my only alternative.

Currently using the County Champaign session booklet to give an idea as to the tunes in mind. If anyone might have some ideas, suggestions or links you would make me a very happy camper.
Tunes-
http://fiddletech.com/music/abcproj.abc
and here
http://www.mckenna.dk/sheetmusic.htm

Thank you all

Posted by .

Re: help with some TABS,..

irish guitar backing tracks
Posted on February 2nd 2011 by CORK
http://www.thesession.org/discussions/26667#comment564302

"… what I’d like to do is have TABS of the tunes I play so I could then put that chord structure into the computer to play some background for me…"

Jayl, that wouldn’t be difficult. But, the resulting audio would be nothing like playing with a guitarist. Well, that depends on the guitar player. I still think the discussion linked above might give you a few more *musical* options ~ as opposed to the *mechanical*.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Computers can be a whole ‘nother critter.

I actually was working with a programmable metronome the other day and remembered that I take it for granted how rewarding it is to work with another musician:

I was playing a set in 3- a march in 3/8, a couple in 3/4 and ending on a mazurka. I was trying to play with the metronome clicking on 3’s, and couldn’t get it. Changed the metronome to 4’s, and swung for it. Couldn’t hold it together more than a couple times through, kept ‘swimming’ with all the syncopations, but remembered that 3/8’s do seem to require 4’s; and that made the set.

Also remembered that when done well, the subtle compensation offered by an accomplished accompanist really makes a difference!

Re: help with some TABS,..

reply 1;
Really appreciate the replies- I’ll follow the highlighted thread and see where that leads, thanks!

reply 2;
Metronome- using that all the time and its great practice. But, as I mentioned I’m jonesing big time for additional instrument(s)

reply 3;
must be great to be you. Hope I never achieve THAT point where you are.

Posted by .

Re: help with some TABS,..

I don’t understand…. the rhythm is in the tunes. Themselves. Why would you want a mechanical backup. What do you mean by wanting to convert abc’s into TAB? are you wanting chord accompaniments? Or do you want the melody converted to TAB?
I guess I just don’t understand. Could you explain?

Re: help with some TABS,..

Chords, wyogal, chords.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Well, that’s what one would assume… but why keep calling them "TABS?"
I just would like even more explanation as to why one would think that the rhythm is provided by the back-up. I thought the rhythm was in the tunes. Just wanted to hear it again from the OP to make sure that’s what he wanted.

Re: help with some TABS,..

1) TAB is not the analog of chordal backup in anyone’s language. I think you mean chordal backup.

2) abc2MIDI will play backups automagically from the chords in an abc file. The easiest way to get this to happen might be to install EasyABC and use it to play the music. It wraps around abc2MIDI and is easy to use.

3) All that said, I’d be very uncomfortable recommending that approach. It has its uses but……

Re: help with some TABS,..

U have played with ONLY a metronome for years now. So what I’m wanting to do is hear other sounds than my own. So yes, chordal background is ONLY what I’m really after. Since I can do more than play flute it would be my way of adding a little more than a mechanically chord strum to what would now be some background sound- sorry for not explaining it better.

I had assumed that writing chord patterns out from melody lines was called tabs and was a stringed instruments way of writing their portion of the music.

I’m a musician of many years. Its not lost on me the better way to go is to play with other musicians. That ability is not at my pleasure-work, location, region etc.

So perhaps I mis-spoke using ‘rhythmn’ in my sentence,..

Tired of only playing to a metronome I was hoping to add some chord strums or piano chords in simple patterns I can follow in the tunes I already know how to play.

#2 above is new information to me so I will look into that in my search.

Thank you all

Posted by .

Re: help with some TABS,..

Why are you playing with a metronome at all? I don’t see the attraction.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Again, the rhythm, the pulse is within the melody. It’s already in the tunes. Playing with a metronome is one way to really disguise it. Playing with a metronome will make you sound like a metronome.
One doesn’t follow the strum or piano chording… it’s the other way around. Learning to play the tunes with punch, with life, with rhythm, without a metronome, or any accompaniment would be the goal, IMO.

Re: help with some TABS,..

"Why are you playing with a metronome at all? I don’t see the attraction."

Some people love playing with their metronomes.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Dragut Reis likes this…

Re: help with some TABS,..

I just had a vision of a "music minus one" CD for pipers.

70 minutes of drones, with titles.

Maybe this can go in the "session shoppe" for next Christmas? :)

Re: help with some TABS,..

Wyogal, I agree with what you’re saying.
Jayl, along those same lines there are past discussions about phrasing the music; such as > >
Re: phrasing example
Posted on April 12th 2011 by gam
http://www.thesession.org/discussions/27272/comments#comment578398

Yes, the rhythm is in the tunes. As wyogal says, One doesn’t follow the strum or piano chording…" Further up in the (phrasing example) thread Will Harmon wrote this response, "Donough, if you’re playing for dancers, then you keep the beat steady no matter what you do with the phrasing. Experienced dancers hear the lift that good varied phrasing creates and they respond to it."

Re: help with some TABS,..

Jon Kiparsky’s idea of a cd of drones is not as daft as it might seem. I often have a couple of notes an octave apart playing on my keyboard while playing the fiddle. The implicit chords become much more explicit , and it helps my intonation no end. And there’s nothing wrong with a metronome, IMO. If you can’t keep time with one, how do you expect to keep time with a dancer?

Posted by .

Re: help with some TABS… & phrasing…

Re: whistle to uilleann pipes
Posted on May 15th 2009 by Crackpot
http://www.thesession.org/discussions/21566#comment448867
"With a good tone and breath control (which impacts phrasing) and a feel for the music in your ears you can really start to worry about getting your fingering crisp and accurate."

Re: help with some TABS,..

I certainly don’t think metronomes are the be all and end all of ANY kind of musical practice, but I really don’t like to see them bad mouthed quite so much. They are very useful if used correctly. The can establish a solid pulse, help a player to get up to tempo, and provide the basis against which a player can learn to give the music lift and life. The same is true of a metronomic chordal accompaniment which adds the help of learning to play your instrument in tune.

The problem is when folks see that as the be all and end all of playing/learning.

So, obsessive compulsives of the world you should probably avoid them.

Re: help with some TABS,..

& about how many musicians are obsessive compulsives?
:-/

Re: help with some TABS,..original poster

Cheeseus, has this topic gotten way off trax.

My use of the metronome is to instill a sense of timimg. I’m a life long drummer (semi-pro) who could hold my own with any band. Acoustic guitarist were the dreads (loosely speaking and no insult to anyone) since almost NONE of them could get through a tune without speeding up/slowing down. Fine if you are solo but of no use if there is dancing or other musicians playing with you.

I told myself I would never be like them and, as a drummer my job in part is to keep the time.

A metronome can be used to teach a sense of solid ground work to instill proper time. It can also be used as a tool to help increase your ability to play a tune at its ‘normal’ speed since when first learning a tune a proven method is to attempt it slowly until feeling comfortable with all parts and then gradually increasing the tempo- the metronome helps this tremendously. Keeping it steady until comfortable speed will come naturally.

After one is comfortable playing with a metronome you can actually play ‘around’ the time implied by the tick and use it in a more musical fashion since now you are able to slow down/speed up/bend notes/slide in,out,around the implied time kept by the metronome.
Many people are afraid to play with a metronome since it will reveal the fact that they don’t have too keen a sense of time within a piece/tempo given.

BUT NONE OF THIS HAS ANYTHING TO DO WITH MY QUESTION

Simply, I don’t have the luxury of playing with other musicians in Irish music- none.

I would LOVE to hear chords once in a while during my practice session to add a little interest to the same tunes practiced over/over. Its getting a little dry.

I do appreciate the information passed along since I did not know about some of these.
Thanks one and all.

Like the subject in this topic has I will fade away,..

Posted by .

Re: help with some TABS,..

I think you may be jumping to the conclusion that by not using a metronome those players are, by default, "afraid to play with a metronome". That would be conjecture on your part, Jayl.

Also, I think that once someone is familiar with the instrument they are playing it’s good to venture beyond your comfort zone & begin to learn some tunes at speed. I’m all for taking time to get to know a tune, though it can also be good to feel what it is like to jump in & feel the rush.
It’s grand!

Re: help with some TABS,..

"I would LOVE to hear chords once in a while during my practice session to add a little interest to the same tunes practiced over/over."

The whole point about playing the same tunes over and over is to discover and invent new things to do with them. If you can’t do this, on your own, then you aren’t playing right. And you need to play some more own your own until you can.

And as far as metronomes go, yes, there is nothing inherently bad about them, except one thing that I’ve heard lots and lots of times. If a player is struggling technically with a phrase, either rushing it or not able to move the fingers quite fast enough, the metronome makes it worse. If you rush a phrase, the machine will make you slow down the next phrase to catch up, and vice versa. It sounds terrible.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

What if you don’t recognize that you are struggling with a phrase until use of the metronome makes it sound terrible ?

Re: help with some TABS,..

If you don’t recognise you are struggling with a phrase, the problem is your inability to hear yourself, not your timing. And when you play it with the metronome you won’t be able to tell which phrase you are having trouble with. If you can’t tell that you are playing a phrase too slow by hearing it, you are just as likely to think you have been playing the next phrase too slow, as the metronome makes you speed up that phrase in order to catch up.

I’ve heard it so many times. People who can tap their feet in time, and get through a tune from start to end, but their timing within the tunes is just awful … A metronome for these people makes it worse.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

OK then, so how should someone with a problem like that remedy the situation ? Assuming that an experienced listener has pointed out to them that there is a problem.

Re: help with some TABS,..

LLig - although I agree with you, you often seem to have the notion that all players have the ability to learn to play the same way you did(do). You find metronomes to be a waste of time, yet other folks find great benefit from them. Would you agree that folks learn differently and what works for one person may have no value to another?

My guess is, you will reply with - "I’ve never heard anyone who plays with a metronome play this music correctly. "

Jayl - to answer you question, seek out a session member named Davy Rogers - he has worked with TABS quite a bit and even has a webpage dedicated to TABS for Irish music. He might be able to help you.

Re: help with some TABS,..

"yet other folks find great benefit from them"

They find great comfort from them. Comfort is not always a benefit.

For phrasing, or for keeping your interest in the tune, the answer is the same: play the tune. Play it slow, play it simple, and listen to what you play. If that doesn’t work, try some other line of music. This one’s not for you.

Re: help with some TABS,..

I think Jon’s right there. I think that most phrasing and timing problems, especially rushing phrases and slowing down phrases because of lack of technical ability come from simply trying to play faster than you can. Slow down, play steady, play the whole tune slower than the pace you can easily play what you find are the hardest bits. It’s very easy to fix. I can’t think of anyone really who wouldn’t benefit from this. And yes, there may well be some people who are so entrenched in playing faster than they can that they are unable to slow down without a metronome. But as Jon says, the metronome would only become a benefit once it is no longer needed. Until then it’s a crutch.

So yes, you’ve got me there. I’ve never heard anyone who plays with a metronome play this music well. But there may be some good players who’ve once played with one.

However, I do think there are some players who seem to have a very specific and different problem … that of being somehow unable to listen … to hear. Playing with metronomes will never help people like this. In fact, playing with anyone will never help, ever. These are often green newbees who’ve learned parrot fashion some finger patterns, but they are often also people who’ve been at it for years and years and even developed some technique and repertoire.

The only cure is to stop playing all together, and to really really try as hard as you can to learn to listen. And not to even attempt to play until you can really honestly feel a great deal of progress in listening. Might take ‘em yonks. Might take ‘em years. Might never happen.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

My guitar teacher always told me, "Don’t practice mistakes." He said you should never play a tune so fast that you fluff through details, and in advice echoed by llig, said you should never play a tune faster than you can play the trickiest phrase in the tune. Otherwise, you become adept at fluffing through tunes, and playing at a ragged pace.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Yep, the advice it pretty universal. JNE, I have the notion that "all" players will benefit from not playing faster than they can.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

Some folk never learn

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

I hope you’re not expecting a counter argument.

Re: help with some TABS,..

>> My guitar teacher always told me, "Don’t practice mistakes."

That’s a buzzphrase I’ve been hearing a lot in the last five years or so, I don’t know when it really took off. I think it’s completely wrong, as catchphrases usually are. It assumes a certain correct form, and a complete lack of judgement on the part of the student. Practice mistakes, explore them, understand them, and decide whether you want to make them again.

I suppose if you’re practicing to be a good orchestral violinist, or to perform some sort of tea ceremony, it makes sense, but the appeal there is in taking part in something larger than yourself, something which you are not expected to impose yourself upon, except in so far as you instantiate it.

This is not what playing trad music is about.

On the programming forums where I help people learn to write good code, I often point out that mistakes have been my best teachers, that I learn more from making a mistake over and over again until I understand why it’s a mistake than I ever could from simply being shown the correct way to write the code. The same is true in music. Over the years that I’ve been playing, my approach to important details of playing has changed. That is, I’ve decided that what I’d done previously had been a mistake, and there’s a better way. That would have been impossible if I hadn’t spent a lot of hours becoming very, very good at that particular mistake.

I agree that you should play tunes slowly, in fact I suggest you play them as slowly as you can manage. (Think of trying to navigate a series of bends on a bicycle, as slowly as possible - the trick is to keep upright with almost no forward momentum) This is not to avoid mistakes, though. This is to find the good mistakes and polish them up.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Playing slower than the tune wants to go is really torture for me. If I use a metronome that is why: to force myself to play slowly and accurately rather than faster and erratically. And I do that with tune learned by ear or by dot. A good discipline if a bit frustrating.

And no, Michael, playing with a metronome doesn’t make rhythmic problems worse IF (and it is a big one) the metronome is correctly used.

Re: help with some TABS,..

"Playing slower than the tune wants to go is really torture for me"

If you can’t hear the tune slow, how can you possibly hear it fast?

"And no, Michael, playing with a metronome doesn’t make rhythmic problems worse IF (and it is a big one) the metronome is correctly used."

This is true. However this leaves open the question of whether the metronome can be "correctly used" in learning this music. I find that unlikely.

Re: help with some TABS,..

"Playing slower than the tune wants to go is really torture for me"

This statement assumes the rather bizarre and nonsensical philosophical notion that not only is one not in charge of one’s physical and emotional input into playing the music - even at a subconscious level - but that one shouldn’t even strive to be in charge.

There can be no such thing, of course. However, a clinging to this notion is a cowardly abdication of responsibility. An admittance that it’s too much for you.

So what happens to the music when you abdicate responsibility for it? When you try to play "it" like "it" want’s to go, "it" runs away from you. You hear music like that all the time, it’s torture for everybody. And by your own admittance, what happens when you play "it" slower than "it" want’s to go? It’s bloody torture for everybody again.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

Good answer llig, thanks. I am not convinced that listening and listening whilst playing are the same though. Most of us prefer a drummer to a drum machine, but some people actually like electronic music with a mechanical rhythm. Its a cultural thing but it suggests that as listeners we show very fine discrimination of time intervals - the drummer is interesting because we detect that it is not exactly regular.

Combining listening with developing motor skills seem the be different - there are more things going on. Our brains are geared up so that we gain the rhythm of walking and running rather than toddling, but kids have to learn (clapping games etc) to keep a beat and I believe soldiers learn to march in time with the aid of some auditory queue rather than just being told to listen to their feet and keep trying till they get it right. I think military drummers probably do keep an exactly regular beat but with a subdivision that lifts tired feet; not all that different to music for dancing which tiring if the *underlying* beat is erratic.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Crossed llig, that was to your previous longish post.

Re: help with some TABS,..

But having read the last one I think you are wrong. There is evidence that we percieve melody and rhythm differently if the tempo is very different to normal. To the extent of not even being able to recognise the melody.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Jon, I think you miss the point slightly about the "don’t practice mistakes" thing. I agree that mistakes can often be some of the best places to learn. But once one knows it is a mistake, then is the place to start learning form it. The "don’t practice mistakes" thing is saying is that if you know it’s a mistake, not to keep making the exact same mistake over and over and over.

If you find you can’t do something, not doing it repeatedly will never in a million years help you to actually do it. It merely entrenches the ability to not do it.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

What has the fact that we perceive melody and rhythm differently if the tempo is very different to normal got to do with being in control?

Surly, a test of one’s control of melody and rhythm is an ability to explore those different perceptions. If playing slow is torture to you, all that shows is that your control is not good enough to overcome your preconceived perceptions.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

Back to something you said earlier:

I think that one of the major obstacles to playing music well is the construction of the concept that listening and listening whilst playing are not the same.

They have to be the same. Absolutely have to be.

If you cannot combine listening with developing motor skills then you will never be a decent musician.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

"What has the fact that we perceive melody and rhythm differently if the tempo is very different to normal got to do with being in control?" It is do with an aesthetic which leads us to feel that a tune "wants to go" within in a limited range of tempo. A reel ‘evolved’ for dancing but played at 50 bpm may lead to an interesting exploration (and be good for developing motor skills) but it is not "this music".

"If you cannot combine listening with developing motor skills then you will never be a decent musician." Agreed (its obvious really) but just listening (as a non-player - lets keep mirror neurones out of it) does not involve all the other stuff going on to make muscles do things at the right time, a lot of which have a very complication relationship in time to the sound we want to make (e.g. the initation of a strummers left and right hand movements, and the some of the actual movements, being at different times but ahead of the desired sound).

Re: help with some TABS,..

To clarify - the strummer canot be consciously starting a hand movement before the sound, they have to train themselves so that it is what happens, accurately.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Squaring the complex relationship between sound and time is exactly why combining listening and developing motor skills is so vital. How often do you hear strummers behind the beat because they start the arm movement on the beat? And as you say, you cannot consciously train your self to strum on the beat by deliberately starting earlier. The training to do it comes from listening to what you are doing while you are doing it.

With regards to your "aesthetic which leads you to feel that a tune wants to go within in a limited range of tempo": This is merely your preconceived perception. And you need to develop your control enough to overcome it. Played well, this music is still the music far far outwith the limited range of tempo it is traditional to dance to. There are a many great players who are testaments to this.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

"If you find you can’t do something, not doing it repeatedly will never in a million years help you to actually do it. It merely entrenches the ability to not do it."

Really? When I first started picking up the flute, I couldn’t make a sound on it. Repeatedly not making a sound on it eventually led to me making a sound on it. When I was able to make a sound on it, I couldn’t make a good sound on it. Repeatedly not making a good sound on it (making a bad sound, that is) led to making a good sound. I expect that making reasonably good sounds for a while will lead to more improvement. If I didn’t I wouldn’t play the flute.

All the while, I’ve known that what I was doing was not my final state, that I would want to do something better as soon as I found it. That is, I always knew that what I was doing was a mistake, but I strove (and still strive) to make the best mistakes available to me at any given moment, and to practice those until I make them as well as possible. That’s how I learn to stop making them.

The point is, "don’t practice mistakes" is a simple and poorly-considered bit of cant that shouldn’t have become a mantra because it doesn’t actually make sense. It’s a cliche, and cliche is the enemy of thought. (As they say.)

Re: help with some TABS,..

So is playing jigs as waltzes OK then ?

Re: help with some TABS,..

Jon, I would describe a mistake as an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, misunderstanding or misconception etc.

I believe you are confusing the word mistake with what I would call practice. i.e. repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency.

I don’t think that describing the fact that when one first picks up a flute and one is unable to form an embouchure as being a mistake is any where near a correct use of the term. I’d say a mistake is to hang your top lip to far over the top of the instrument and hence blow down the hole and not across it. I’d say that no amount of hanging your top lip too far over the top of the instrument and blowing down the hole and not across it will ever help you bring your lip back, tighten it out and blow across the hole instead.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

No, jigs aren’t waltzes, they have a completely different feel to them. You can, however, play a jig a slow as a waltz and still make it sound like a jig.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

"Jon, I would describe a mistake as an error in action, calculation, opinion, or judgment caused by poor reasoning, carelessness, insufficient knowledge, misunderstanding or misconception etc.

I believe you are confusing the word mistake with what I would call practice. i.e. repeated performance or systematic exercise for the purpose of acquiring skill or proficiency."

[Mr Gill]

"Oh for christ’s sake. You know a discussion is well and truly at an end here when someone copy pastes from a feckin dictionary. (I’m not being acusational, I’ve done it myself.)"

[Mr Gill]

You’ve just done it again, twice.

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/mistake

http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/practice

At least acknowledge your source!

Re: help with some TABS,..

ha ha … it’s a fare cop guv

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

(doesn’t make my point wrong though)

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

That (llig’s version) is how I have always understand "don’t practice mistakes".

Re: help with some TABS,..

"I believe you are confusing the word mistake with what I would call practice."

I believe that practice is the habit of repeating imperfectly the things one wishes to master. Imperfections are the "mistakes" referred to in "don’t practice mistakes".

If I form my embrochure incorrectly, that’s a mistake - it’s something I do wrongly, against my intent, from lack of skill. I do it anyway, and I learn from it, and I do it less incorrectly next time, because practicing that mistake gives me the control I need to not repeat it. There is no practice without mistakes, therefore the cliche, once understood correctly, is incorrect, and, once understood, should not be repeated.
It’s fine to say it, if you don’t understand it, but now that you understand it, you shouldn’t say it. :)

Re: help with some TABS,..

If you "do it less incorrectly next time" you are not repeating it.

Unless you chose to describe doing it slightly better as "repeating imperfectly" of course.

Re: help with some TABS,..

I think there are some things that develop incrementally, intonation is a good example. But my example of a completely wrong shape for an embouchure will never develop in to a good shape. You’ll build up muscles in the wrong parts of your face that won’t help at all and may even hinder a good embouchure. If you practice it wrong, you’ll only ever get better at doing it wrong.

Posted .

Re: help with some TABS,..

"If you practice it wrong, you’ll only ever get better at doing it wrong."

That’s what practice is. Getting better at doing it wrong means doing it progressively less wrong.

"But my example of a completely wrong shape for an embouchure will never develop in to a good shape."

Nonsense. If you get the embouchure wrong to start, you’ll find that you’re limited by it and you’ll change. Probably, you’ll change by making a mistake (ie, an inadvertent change) and finding that it works better.

Skinner was wrong - people are not pigeons, and practice is not conditioning. People are capable of learning from their mistakes, and that’s what practice is: doing things wrong and picking the best wrong.

Of course i’m assuming that the player is taking part in their practice, that they are not simply mindlessly repeating some thing they’ve been told to do. I think this is sometimes called "mindfulness" - whatever you call it, without it, a player will never play anything at all worth hearing. So there is a case where the cliche is true, but in those cases, it can be stated shortly as "don’t practice". People for whom it is true are people who should play pinochle instead.

Re: help with some TABS,..

As Llig says, "when you know it’s a mistake then is the place to start learning from."

There was a mistake in the quote.

"But once one know(s) it is a mistake, then is the place to start learning form it."

Re: help with some TABS,..

"But once one know(s) it is a mistake, then is the place to start learning from it"

It’s still a mistake before you know it’s a mistake. Should you do nothing until you know it’s perfect?

Re: help with some TABS,..

Until what is perfect? What is it? Sorry, I don’t understand your context, Jon.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Should you practice nothing until you know that what you will practice will be perfect? Or should you practice mistakes?

Re: help with some TABS,..

O.K. so by *it* you’re not referring to a single mistake. You’re referring to the entire tune. That’s where you threw me. I was considering how even a mindful player may miss one instance of playing a mistake. That was the context I was thinking of with Llig’s quote, "… once one knows it is a mistake, then is the place to start learning from it."

Re: help with some TABS,..

OP the typical music that any string player would read is the same as a flute player. Guitar included, but with the advent of modern music TABS were invented to allow guitar players to learn how to play music written on paper without understanding music theory.TABS are a graphical representation of the guitar fingerboard as a y axis and time as the x axis. TABS are not the same thing as chords. Chords are any two notes played simultaneously and can be depicted above a line of sheet music with names like G, Em, Bm7, C9 and such, this notation comes from jazz I think. Chord charts for guitar are similar to TABS in that they are a graphical representation of the guitar fingerboard, but they only depict the chord frozen in time, so to speak. If you want a chord playing machine on your computer, just write chords into the ABC and then delete the melody notes.

Pick a tune,
Develop a chordal accompaniment
attempt to standardize it
write the chords into an abc file of the tune
delete the original note entries around the chords you just added
save it under a different name than the original

I think it would be more rewarding to get a recording set up of some kind and record your own backing tracks. Even that could take hours of trial and error to get right, but it would be far less than trying to get the machine to make it sound right.

I actually never practice with a metronome, my mechanical one got stolen. I find I don’t really need it, but it is helpful when practicing the concertina. I need to practice taking breaths between phrases and then landing on the next beat. Without a metronome it’s very tempting to cheat and I’m all over the place on it without realizing because the mechanics of such a thing are far from natural to me.

Re: help with some TABS,..

Ok so never was not the correct word. On my core instruments I don’t, I don’t really need to, but just when learning something foreign.

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The polarisation between Jon and I here is that he advocates a trial and error way of learning and while I think that in the long run, some gains may be made, what I really think about that attitude is that, at worst, it gets you stuck in those oft complained about troughs of despair at never getting better, and at best, it’s really just a dumb and monumental waste of time.

The choice between jon’s way and mine boils down to this. Lets say you are playing a tune and there’s a bit in it you’ve not got right. Jon says keep playing it. Keep playing over and over and over and after many many times of playing it over and over, it will eventually come. I say that as soon as you know it’s wrong, stop. Slow down. Slow it right down until you get it right. And only when you get it right, gradually speed it up. But never speed it up to a place where you start to get it wrong again.

With my way, you get it right on the very next time you play it, all be it at a reduced tempo. With Jon’s way, there’s a good chance you’ll never get it right.


But also, I don’t know why Jon feels unable to make the distinction between what every one else seems able to readily identify as a mistake, and a mere lack of perfection. Sure, it may well be impossible to draw a distinct line between these two, but no one else seems to have a problem with the, for example, pragmatic distinction between not being able at all to play some notes in a tune in the right order, and being able to play them in the right order with ease, but just not quite with the same panache as Matt Molloy does it.

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Re: help with some TABS,..

llig, your parody of my position suggests that you’re arguing against what you wish I’d say. In fact, I don’t think there’s too much difference in what we’d tell a particular person to do in a particular situation. The difference is mostly in how we understand a particular cliche.

"Lets say you are playing a tune and there’s a bit in it you’ve not got right. Jon says keep playing it. Keep playing over and over and over and after many many times of playing it over and over, it will eventually come. I say that as soon as you know it’s wrong, stop. Slow down. Slow it right down until you get it right."

I do say keep playing it. I also say (constantly, if you’re paying attention) that you should slow down, simplify, and listen - exactly what you’re saying. Of course you keep playing it. And when you play it, you listen to what you’re doing, and if you don’t get it right, you fix that and you try again.

But really, I’m talking about something more than just learning a tune. I’m talking about learning how to play tunes, generally. As you learn the instrument, you will find that some things you do don’t work as well as they should. If you "don’t practice mistakes", then you have to stop, find someone who knows how to play without mistakes, and fix everything there and then, and not play until you get it perfect.

That’s nonsense, and it’s obviously nonsense, and the fact that it’s nonsense is what I’m talking about. Nobody does this or advocates it. Anyone who’s picked up an instrument and learned it has practiced countless mistakes, and discarded them. Anyone who doesn’t play tunes today the way they did originally has evolved their style, and that’s done by playing one way until the things that don’t work become obvious to you, and then changing them.

Just to be clear about it, I don’t actually think you should take years to learn a tune and eventually maybe get it right through some sort of blind chance. I also don’t think that you make jet airplanes by throwing parts at each other until they happen to fit together correctly. You sound very much like the "what good is half an eye" creationists in your rebuttal of what I haven’t said. It would be more fun to argue with you if you’d argue with me, and not with the parody.

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Maybe the mistakes practiced most are the ones we don’t notice. Someone says "I think its like this not like that" and we say, "but I didn’t do that". It could go on forever…

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"but with the advent of modern music TABS were invented to allow guitar players to learn how to play music written on paper without understanding music theory"

ummm, no. Tablature is old. Not modern. Very old. Like centuries old.

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and believe me, there are many, many folks that read regular, notated music without the slightest understanding of music theory.

jeez.

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Jayl,

"Band-in-a-Box" (Mac/Windows) can be very useful for generating backing tracks. I’d stay away from the complex styles, found that the simpler jazz stride piano styles worked quite nicely for backing reels/jigs. You’ll still need to work out or find some basic chord patterns to enter for the tunes you want to practice. Won’t replace having a competent backup player to interact with but is a lot more fun than playing with a metronome. I’ll let Llig and John fight out whether it’s actual of any use.

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"a lot more fun than playing with a metronome"

I was going to write that it’s exactly the same as playing with a metronome, but on second thoughts, it simply IS playing with a metronome.

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"I’ll let Llig and John fight out whether it’s actual of any use."

I think we agree on that, at least. More than that, I think we agree that we agree, which is even more rare.

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Just a wee quibble: :-)

"Skinner was wrong - people are not pigeons, and practice is not conditioning. People are capable of learning from their mistakes, and that’s what practice is: doing things wrong and picking the best wrong. "

I would say that IS conditioning, as I understand it. When you train an animal to do something using straightforward operant conditioning techniques, it’s extremely unlikely the animal will do the behaviour you want when you first start training it, especially in the case of more complex or "unnatural" behavious, like training a horse to bow. So you reward the "best wrong," the behaviour the animal offers that is on the right track towards what you want. When I’ve trained a horse to bow on one knee, I start by rewarding it when it simply lifts up a front leg.

Do people learn music this way?

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@DrSS

Congratulations!

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Emily - I think there’s a big difference between operant conditioning and learning. So no, I don’t think there’s any sense at all in comparing the two. They do share one feature, which is that you progressively modify something. However, they seem as different to me as intelligent design and the contemporary Darwinian model.

We can argue about it if you like - friendly fire - but the one similarity you’ve pointed to doesn’t do much to convince me.

Congrats on getting doctored - does this mean you’re getting kicked out of the ivory tower, or that you’re kicking yourself further in?

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I would say that operant conditioning is a type of learning. Critters you train using those principles are certainly learning and you can see the gears whirring in their brains as they try to figure out the behaviour they should be doing. They learn the behaviours. If they didn’t, you would not be able to train dogs or horses or other animals.

A bit of friendly fire would be a good laugh but maybe when I’m not out planning to get pished. :-)

And cheers! Passed with minor corrections. I’m hoping to be kicked further into the ivory tower and never leave

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So llig described pretty darn well what I meant when I said "don’t practice mistakes," and I think made it clear how it can be a useful way to approach things when you are learning.
Now, to paraphrase him, Jon decided that the statement had a different meaning, and described a process that was pretty darn stupid, and if I follow his logic, then basically said that the rest of us were wrong because we were advocating something stupid.
One man’s truth is another’s cliche. And just because someone else doesn’t appreciate a concept I use doesn’t devalue that concept for me. What matters is how useful I find it.
(And congrats to our new Doc!)

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Llig, I won’t disagree with you there, it is just a very fancy metronome.

I’m curious, what’s the general consensus about playing along with recordings? Just an even fancier metronome? I’d say in the purest form, yes, it is as there is zero opportunity for interaction.

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"Now, to paraphrase him, Jon decided that the statement had a different meaning, and described a process that was pretty darn stupid, and if I follow his logic, then basically said that the rest of us were wrong because we were advocating something stupid. "


I took the statement literally and followed out the logic, and found that it failed to make sense. If you consider what is meant by "don’t practice mistakes", as an English sentence, you find that nobody would actually advocate this as a rule to guide the learning of music.

I don’t call anyone stupid, but I do think that it’s wrong to advocate this incorrect advice.

The funny thing is that the summary that llig presents is in fact very much what I’m advocating, so if you agree with that then you necessarily agree with me (as I’ve already said) so you’re simply arguing to be contrary! (I seldom get to level that charge at anyone, so I’m going to enjoy it for a moment)

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"I’m curious, what’s the general consensus about playing along with recordings? "

I don’t know about the consensus, but my feeling is:
good way to learn how some particular player played a particular tune on a particular day. Reasonable way to get hold of a tune that you’ve heard and not got the whole of. Not a great way to entertain yourself.

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As with anything on this infuriatingly daft website, you won’t get a consensus on anything. Not even something so simple and straightforward as "don’t practice mistakes". Language can follow strange paths and one of the things that annoys me about this place is that instead of making the effort to understand what people are meaning when they say something, the onus seems always to be on teasing out some form of contradiction in statements, something you may well find illogical in the original statement but completely ignores the "spirit" of the statement.

"Don’t practice mistakes" means simply: if you fluff a passage, don’t keep going on and on fluffing it. It does not mean: if you can’t play as well as Matt Molloy, give up now. It only takes half a brain to get stuff like this. But some people like to see if they can throw a brain and a half at it. It’s worse than pointless.

Any way, playing along with recordings? In this day and age, where access to hours of one to one with gifted mentors is sadly in the minority, I’d say that playing along with recordings, from time to time, is almost essential. Learning precicely how some particular player played a particular tune on a particular day is a very very important part of learning traditional music. It’s not anywhere near the end product, of course, but almost vital in getting there.

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"I think there are some things that develop incrementally, intonation is a good example" (llig) . From my experience most of that happens without concious thought. We respond the the feedback from our ears and get into the habit of doing it better. Is that conditioning and if so what sort ?

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And the point about "Don’t practice mistakes" is because we can "get into the habit" of doing it wrong.

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Not so sure about intonation getting better without conscious thought. Maybe it would, you see it with children learning to sing. But you are probably just as likely to "get into the habit" of doing it wrong. You see that with children not learning to sing … and growing up into adults who can’t sing and blame it on being tone deaf.

I’d say that though your intonation may get better without you thinking about it, you’d be much better off taking a more conscious and pro active stance towards it.

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Many sources recommend simply playing over a drone to improve intonation. If I play over a drone I tend to a just scale, if I play with a piano accordion I tend to ET. If I play with a recording of a solo fiddle it gets closer to whatever that is doing with successive iterations. No thought involved, it just happens. Like magic. I assume its simple feedback: nice sound vs not so nice sound.

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Aye, I always read "don’t practice mistakes" as meaning, "Don’t do the same wrong thing over and over again so it becomes an ingrained bad habit." If you always play sloppy rolls and never bother slowing them down and playing them correctly, you’ll always play sloppy rolls. Like most of those cliches, it probably isn’t worth over analysing or taken reductio ad absurdum. It’s along the lines of a catchphrase one of my piping teachers used to love when he told you that your technique needed work: "Practice makes permanent, not perfect."

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Yep, doc. Also… "Perfect practice makes perfect."
And in my experience, people need to be taught how to listen to themselves, and some people REALLY need to be taught how to listen for good intonation, how to recognize bad intonation, and most importantly, realize they are in charge and can fix it.
I tell my students that they play the violin, the violin doesn’t play them.