“Dumbing down” a tune - how far can you go?
What I’m particularly after here is audio examples, and of course discussion is very welcome.
Yesterday after our monthly session I was talking with a fellow learner and sessioneer about this and that related to tune learning. The importance of hearing the tune in your head and knowing it’s structure and what I called the anchor points in the tune.
My challenge to myself tonight was to dress a tune I was working on down as much as I could without loosing the tune, playing it just by myself. I didn’t call it a challenge when I started. It was just something to try while thinking back to yesterday’s session, having a tune pop in my mind that I do kind of play along to in the session but that was’t in the rotation at home. So I played the tune a bit, after some thinkering to remember all the paths. And thinking back to my talk with my session friend I tried to work out the dumbdest down version I could come up with. And that turned out to be a bit of a challenge.
In the proces I went back to playing the more dressed version of the tune and mixing it up some with ‘random’ variations to the paths between anchor points. And that was FUN!!! - Not saying it was pretty ;) but some bits I came up with would actually work as fun variations :)
I never tried to dress down an entire tune before. I have worked at stripping this or that phrase or part of a phrase out and replacing it with just the anchor of that spot and then later trying to fit some other variation there. Why? For fun and practice!!!
For me it’s easier to figure out those anchor points/notes when I heard the tune over and over, learning it from a recording or a very patient player/teacher. As opposed to learning it in full detail first including all the "exact" routes from anchor to anchor. As you do when learning a tune by ear in a class, getting the tune phrase by phrase. I’m not really learning the tune yet then. I do the actual learning of the tune when we play over it time and time again, and then later at home playing along the recording. Then I find the bits where I’m not quite going from anchor to anchor the same way as the source, or where I’m dumbing bits down still for lack of the given path.
So all of that made me think this: How far can one go in dressing a tune down without it loosing it’s identity? Without it being unrecognisable to someone else who knows it?
If anyone here read this far and is up for this challenge, please record and post the barest, most basic version you can think up of of one of your favourite chestnuts.
Those are for obvious reasons most suited to this game :)
If there’s previous threads on this or related matters, feel free to post a reference, I haven’t done an extensive search on account I’ve no idea what search words to use on this one.
Looking forward to any and all contributions!!!