question for multi instrumentalists

question for multi instrumentalists

This one is for all you multi instrumentalists. After you learn a tune on one instrument, do find it is easily transferable to another instrument? Or do you have to sit and pick out the notes all over again?

I play guitar, flute, and bouzouki. I love all three instruments, but feel overwhelmed with all the practicing i have to do. I have to practice backup on guitar and zouk, plus learn melodies on zouk and flute.

My main instrument is guitar, but i picked up bouzouki a year ago, and used to be a classical flute player, so i am getting back into the flute, only this time with an irish flute. I am hoping that eventually i will be able to just learn a tune on one instrument, and then easily play it on the other. Having to pick out the same tune on two or three different instruments is a very time consuming task..


anton

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Re: question for multi instrumentalists

Instruments in the same group are easier ie. guitar / bazouki / fiddle / mandolin or flute / whistle / pipes as opposed to, say, pipes / fiddle / concertina / harp. Banjo / fiddle / mandolin is pretty easy cuz the fingering is all the same. If I flatpick the guitar or bazouki though, I usually have to pick out my tunes all over again. I just avoid whistles, flutes and pipes altogether unless I’ve been drinking.

It does get much, much easier after I get familiar with each new instrument. The main part of the learning process is getting a tune solidly entrenched in my brain. After that I can play it on anything. (Of course that statement excludes all the instruments I can’t play)

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

If I can’t figure a tune out on the fiddle, I drop back to the
mandolin. I that doesn’t work fast enough for my liking I take it to the piano. If that causes me grief, I go have a frosty pint and ponder.

This may seem strange, but I visualize the piano keys on the fingerboard. I guess it’s my point of reference when working out key signatures and such.

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

Once the tune is firmly in your head it’s easier to learn on any instrument. If you learn a tune on one instrument it will be easier than starting from scratch when you try it on a different one. If the instruments are closely related it will be easier, but if they aren’t you have to sort out the fingering

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

I play the flute and am learning the concertina. The only advantage I found when starting the concertina was that I knew from my early fluting days that it was practise, practise, practise and that was the secret of getting going and it worked. Of course it helps to have the tunes from the flute in your head and its not too hard to transfer them to the concertina.

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

I’ll never forget Noel Hill’s advice to me on playing both concertina and flute. He said, "Now why would you want to play the flute?"

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

I find it easy to take a tune from the fiddle to the harp, or vice versa, and from either to the plucked psaltery. But from any of those to the mountain dulcimer, now that’s a horse of a different color. I have a terrible time trying to translate across that gap!
I think it definitely depends on how similarly/differently the instruments are fingered, but also somewhat on your degree of expertise as a musician. (As far as the latter goes I am an enthusiastic amateur — i.e. not very expert, but not a complete beginner.) I suspect a really seasoned musician who was used to switching back & forth could get to do it quite easily, just as an experienced linguist can bounce from one language to another without having to stop and translate each sentence the way a learner does.
Just my .02…
Sara

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

I find that playing a tune on one instrument will help me hear the song then play it on another instrument it will not be site reading so there for it is usually easier to learn tunes on more than one instrument well for me anyway.

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Re: question for multi instrumentalists

Nah, I find the whole deal quite complex. I CAN play blackwood (or rather simple system) flute, but prefer a wooden boehm. I also play whistle, but also some DG box. I make a reasonable noise out of the wooden boehm for nearly any tune going. But for the whistle, simple system and the DG, I’m only comfy with only a handful of tunes - many of which are mutually exclusive.

Probably some mental block - "Hey, I only ever play this one on the box, I couldn’t possibly try a whistle version…" But that comes from the notion that some tunes naturally sit better on certain instruments. For example, thon Dance of the Honeybees H/P just wouldn’t sit well on the whistle, yet it hangs off the fiddle and box perfectly. The Dublin Reel is a perfect fast whistle/flute/pipes reel. Fiddle players tend to slow it down, it must have some technical challenges associated (from my experience, fiddle guys!) but it just melts off the whistle. So that’s my groatswth. Certain tunes (even sets) for certain tools & that’s the job done.

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I don’t consider myself to be a multi instrumentalist as such (even apart from the fact that I’m not that great)as all my chosen instruments are somewhat similar. As long as I know the tune in my head, I can attempt it on any of these instruments but, as I said in the mandolin discussion, I approach them slightly differently; eg triplets, ornamentation etc and my fingering is different on the tenor banjo and guitar. Basically, though, the important thing is to "know the tune" in your head and it shouldn’t be too much problem when you start to play.

John

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

Well fatwah knowing the *Jist* of a tune will help you be able to play it just as if you tryed to play a tune just from the dots and have not ever heard it if you hear it you know the tune but if the instruments are very different from each other it can make it harder or even if they have incredibly similar fingerings (Bohm flute and Simple system similar but pretty different) that can confuse you or a hard way of playing (like bowing most of my tunes that I have been playing forever I can’t get on Fiddle because it is similar but different by similar I am refering to mando).

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Re: question for multi instrumentalists

After I learn a tune on one of my insturments its easy for me to play it on all, and what fiddler said in the first comment doesn’t really apply to me that much. I can learn something on the tin whistle and transpose it over to the fiddle with little or no effort. Im not bragging *grin* but thats just how I am.

Johnathan

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

Huh? Dance of the Honeybees (in D maj) makes a great whistle tune, even for a complete whistle wannabe like myself.

As I’m learning tenor banjo after half a lifetime on fiddle, I find that my fiddle repertoire spills right out onto banjo, despite the differences. The same is true moving to whistle and flute, now that my fingers basically know where to go on those instruments. In my experience, having the tune in your head counts for 75 to 85 percent of being able to play it. At the very least, it flattens out the learning curve to one mostly of mastering the new instrument’s techniques.

Playing more than one instrument helps me:

(1) rethink phrasing and ornamentation
(2) see a tune under a new light
(3) push what I can do on my original instrument
(4) play better with other musicians

Posted .

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

hmm…….. i just wrote a dagblasted long reply to this dagblasted thread an it got dagblasted eaten up by cybermonsters, so i guess i need to learn how to write with more brevity. I agree with many of the other posts: that the most important thing is to have the tune firmly in your head or heart (or wherever the tune resides for you), then it will come out on your new instrument - it might slide or groan or wobble but it will make its way out, and in fact the newness of that instrument will probably add an element of soul to your playing that gives a surprise of energy to the tune.. that’s what I think anyway. and as i explore deeper I think I become a more and more useless member of society cuz I can’t Do anything or play Anything on Any instrument with any accomplishment whatso ever, but i feel my passion getting stronger and stronger.

*a wee note to will harmon, whose posts i am enjoying, yes yes i totaly agree about trying old tunes in new keys and getting new fingerings going, now. have you tried this? >>> playing the tune on one string? Like for example Silver Spear on the E string only? (i mean on the tenor, the notes slide and smirk they strain and try)

‘scuse me if i am wandering. think i might start a new post regarding this subject……

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

I used to be a multi instrumentalist, but found that, apart from the extra practice, the best think I ever did was sell my bazouki, my banjo, my guitar and my three mandolins. I was able to buy a pretty good fiddle.

But the multi thing is too adictive, sooner aor later, I just had to get a viola

Posted .

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

It’s all down to being able to play by ear - if you can do that, you can transfer easily. If you can’t, then you have to practise the tune on individual instruments (apart from ones that finger the same).
The worst must be between English and Anglo concertina - I have no problems with that. (Button accordion to melodion must be nearly as bad).
Does anyone else think that being a singer helps playing by ear? (You just play what you sing).

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To be honest, Will, I’ve never really tried "The Honeybee" on the whistle, so I’ll take that one back. It just doesn’t *seem* to be a whistle tune.
Oh well, wrong again…

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

Thanks everyone for the input.

I find its easiest for me to pick up tunes on the flute. Maybe its because there only six holes to deal with, but if i try to along with a tune i have heard a fair amount i can figure it out without to much trouble.

I love playing all my instruments, so i am just going have to practice and hope eventually i will be able to get a tune in my head and play it on both flute and bouzouki easily.

Its tough, because i like playing solo on guitar, doing fingerstyle picking arr. of tunes, i like zouk for being able to switch between melody and backup, and i like flute because its character is so much different from the other two. It can sustain notes, is easily portable, and some tunes just come alive on the flute.



anton

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Re: question for multi instrumentalists

If you’ve previously acquired a reasonable degree of expertise on one bowed instrument there’s no great problem in learning another. The most difficult part - bow control - you already have.
If you go from cello to violin (or vice versa) the left hand finger patterns are different, but not all that much, and the change doesn’t take all that long.
Going from violin to cello does have the problem of dealing with heavier, thicker strings, so more strength is needed, but then again, it doesn’t take all that long to adapt, and if you’re doing classical you have two more clefs to learn (bass and tenor).
Violinists, I’ve observed, adapt to the viola quickly, again only having to learn an additonal clef (alto) if they’re doing classical.
The common factor to learning a new instrument is, as has been pointed out, that you already know about the art of practising and learning, and this speeds things up a lot, and you also have most of the necessary neural pathways established.
Trevor

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

To Geoffwright, yes I definitely think being a singer helps. I play mandolin and whistle, so the fingering is not similar. It’s kinda funny when I find myself in the middle of a sesh with the wrong instrument in my hands (jeez, this tune I know on mando but not whistle, or vice versa)…sometimes I will be struggling for a few minutes before I even realize the problem is not my memory of the tune, but my memory of which instrument I learned it on. But in my head I can still hear the melody clearly, and hopefully manage to buffalo my way through.

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

I play fiddle and harmonica. I found that, sometimes, I can’t remember which instrument I learnt the tune. It is just in my mind. so the first time I play it in the other instrumet without realice it’s the first time I’m "traslating" it automatically. A friend of mine who played guitar and actually plays mandolin say that it’s very difficult for him to play his old guitar tunes in mandolin. Conclussions:
-If is in your mind you have done more than half the work.
-the translation is easier between different instruments.

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Re: question for multi instrumentalists

I play the fiddle, flute whistle and bodhran. I find that now I have some experience with the flute I can, if you like, link what fingering I use on the fiddle to what holes to put my fingers on on the flute/whistle. So if I pick up a tune on either of these, then I can immediately "translate" it on to the other. If you get what I mean? It takes longer for the bodhran though!

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Re: question for multi instrumentalists

OK, rub it in Johnathan! Are you one of Jack’s idiot savants then?

Actually, I used to consider myself a multi-instrumentalist way back when I stunk equally on all my instruments, but then I got obsessed with the fiddle. Now I stink much less on the fiddle than on my other instruments (harp, guitar, bodhran, mandolin, bazouki, whistle, piano, djembe, didgeridoo, shuttle pipes and hammered dulcimer). I’m convinced that had I been able to obsess about three or four of those instruments all at the same time I wouldn’t find it so tricky now to play tunes on my harp, hammered dulcimer or guitar. It’s a pain in the arse, now that my fiddling sounds kind of cool, to remind myself to practice my crappy flat-picking, harp, and accompaniment. I guess now I’ve accidentally become a fiddler slash folk singer.

And speaking of singing, geoff, being a singer is invaluable to me. Once the tune is in my head I can lilt it in any key on any instrument and find the right notes, whereas I could definitely see myself getting lost if I were relying solely on the intangible electrical impulses of my brain.

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

Wow… I wish I had an electric brain too.

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

Maybe I misunderstood what my friend (the biology student) was saying, but I think you do! She said that brains (my brain in particular) was either "electric" "ecclectic" or "dyslexic". It was hard to hear over the P-Funk.

Re: question for multi instrumentalists

My inner grammar pig says the second "was" should be an "are".