Musical Literacy

Discussion in 'V.C.'s Parlor' started by duceditor, Sep 12, 2018.

  1. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    That is an interesting question, but in a sense convolutes upon itself for it, as did he, speaks to the power of authority -- and the power of authority is always connected to time and office. To an imprimatur.

    At least as much to the point, it seem to me, is how much do WE know as we evaluate his words.

    I, by choice and opportunity, likely know more about music in the historical/cultural context than many here do. But a few weeks back I had the opportunity (privilege, really) of view a live internet "broadcast" from the Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music in Singapore. -This because my great niece, Mary Burke, had been invited back to perform in an anniversary celebration of the school -- she, in part, having studied there as part of the Masters in musical performance degree program at the Peabody School of Music/Johns Hopkins University.

    Mary is an extraordinary mezzo-soprano, and her portion of the program was performing three works of Erich Wolfgang Korngold. (A wonder to hear and see.)

    Screen Shot 2018-09-13 at 2.58.05 PM.png

    But the program was not limited to that. Also featured were styles as diverse as modern jazz and latin dance music.

    Mary herself, despite her enormous talents and training (and, no doubt, future as an artist), is no snob. She often offers genuine enthusiasm and encouragement for my various videos shared on Facebook and YouTube and truly rejoiced when my `60s band's album was released not too many years ago.

    Yet listening to the above program, and the interviews before, in the intra act, and after the "show," I am forced to realize how shallow is my own knowledge. And how much I am missing on account of that.

    In truth here, as in all things, we can know what we know -- and build our lives around it. But we can do neither for what we do not know.

    That is, IMO, the basis for the author's thesis and, yes, complaint. And also the basis at least in part for we of lesser knowledge feeling a need to splinter it.

    Again, of course, this is just one man's opinion. But one, hopefully at least, with a continuously open and questing mind.


    -don

    As a postscript, @techowiz , I did some googling to your specific question. The answer can be found here: https://www.culturalconservation.or...amlet-might-have-asked-if-he-were-a-musician/
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2018
  2. surfrodguitar

    surfrodguitar Squier-holic

    Aug 4, 2016
    Laguna Niguel
    So are you saying in your opinion, that to be a “serious” artist (musician) one would have to have mastered music literacy? And those that have not are “folk” artists? Can someone be both? Are all “serious” musicians by default on their path to serious status had spent time “slumming” in a state of folk?
     
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  3. techowiz

    techowiz Squier-Nut

    652
    Aug 21, 2014
    new york
    I think Frank has a pretty good grasp on the topic.
     
  4. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Your questions in no way relate to the spirit of my comment. "Slumming"? Neither the word or spirit was to be found in my comment.

    What I did was discuss the goal of two groups of creative people and the tools reaching such goals typically require.

    -don
     
  5. Davis Sharp

    Davis Sharp Squier-holic

    Jan 7, 2016
    Maryland, USA
    Art, as I see it, falls into one category: art. :) I get your perspective, but let me counter.

    When people think of classical art or music, they often do not see it for the context in which it was created. Bach and many (most?) of the baroque composers wrote music for church. It was sort of "folk," by your definition of sharing a common experience. They wrote other music on commission. When the church-sponsored financial model fell apart in the classical era, composers had to rely on commissions and patrons. Essentially, they wrote pop music. Of course, the classical period used different structures and tempo changes. So, in a sense, those were new ideas to the listener. In the same way, 12-tone music, rock, punk, rap, etc. introduce new ideas. Then there's the entire catalog of folk music that, while not musically daring, attempts to introduce new social and political ideas. So is that serious or folk?
     
  6. rolloman

    rolloman Squier-Nut

    730
    Jul 29, 2013
    United States
    Musical litercy is a detriment to guitar IMHO. It will suck the soul out of your playing and making it your own..
     
  7. techowiz

    techowiz Squier-Nut

    652
    Aug 21, 2014
    new york
    Agreed. Two of the world's greatest modern day composers (Lennon & McCartney) were not very musically "literate".
     
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  8. rolloman

    rolloman Squier-Nut

    730
    Jul 29, 2013
    United States
    Enter the world of shapes and be happy. Enter the world of theory and in 2 months you will give up guitar, unless you play in an orchestra. BOOOOOOOOOOOORIIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGGG.
     
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  9. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    Again, thank you all for your very diverse comments.

    When a complex subject -- any such! -- is broken down into a few principles it runs headlong into the danger of anything painted with the proverbial "broad brush." -important -- even "key" -- small details are obliterated, or at least not given fair expression or inspection.

    @Davis Sharp , you were incisive in pointing out some of those in my two-point division. Others may well have some seen different shortcomings and be quite able to counter my points as well, but chose not too.

    One that you pointed too, Davis, that deserves yet further emphasis is that just because something was written in one of the so-called "classical" styles, and which contained the type of complex polyphony and counter melody common to it (and thus required music notational reading skills) does not put it into category 1 -- that of "serious" art designed to open new ideas.

    The pre-recording period produced lots of writers, composers and performers of just ordinary abilities. Yes, and lots of schlock. -If one back then wanted and had the ability to pay for "music" (The church and the aristocracy largely) the only choice was to have an orchestra on hand. And they would either play the few "golden oldies" by rote or one had a court composer to produce such music anew.

    Much was totally unoriginal. And to those ears exposed to the better, yes, "BOOOOOOOOOOOORIIIIIIIINNNNNNNGGGGG."(Thank you @rolloman !) ;)

    If no one liked it enough to keep it in the repertoire such died. Or was saved in a dusty library where time took its toll.

    Amazingly some works now seen as truly great -- true "serious" art in my simplified equation -- went that route. JS Bach was for years forgotten, only to be "rediscovered" latter.

    "Folk" arts -- i.e., arts of the common man -- only largely survived if it entered that common repertoire.

    How much true genius was thus lost we neither will, nor can, ever know. (This might be an argument to wish more had learned to read and write music -- now supplanted by commonly available recording methods. (Three cheers for such as the iPhone!)

    This type of music -- and the people who created it -- was celebrated with mirth and pathos even as it was passing away in Gilbert and Sullivan's one "serious" operetta: "The Yeoman of the Guard." A piece worth knowing.



    Is there "genius" there? Certainly.

    This a broad, broad subject. Yes, worthy of pages and pages.

    But not I think here. :)

    -don
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2018
  10. DougMen

    DougMen Squier-Nut

    Age:
    64
    506
    Jun 8, 2017
    Honolulu, HI
    This is a very complicated subject, but I would venture to say that most guitar players, other than those into jazz, studio work, or in Orchestra pits in places like Broadway shows, don't read music. My personal experience is this- I studied music in college, so I can deconstruct a Bach chorale in detail, but I can't sight read on guitar. My knowledge of music theory has enriched my playing though, because it has allowed me to express myself more freely, by knowing scales and harmony theory, which I use to enhance my knowledge of the fretboard and incorporate into my writing and soloing, because I more fully understand which chords work in any given key, and how they function in that key, and by knowing which notes work over any chord, and how they function over any given chord when soloing.
     
  11. Davey

    Davey Squier-holic

    Age:
    59
    Mar 31, 2015
    Monroe WA
    I cannot read music. I am in good company with sir Paul and John Lennon.

    I follow Mr. Lonely on Facebook and this very thing was bought up on a Q&A Paul McCartney did. Great story about him trying to take piano lessons..... doe ray me fa......... "that's NOT what I hear in my head".

    For me this pretty much ends any debate about it. I am sure it can make some things easier but...........
     
  12. duceditor

    duceditor Dr. Squier

    Age:
    71
    May 29, 2014
    The Monadnocks, NH USA
    At risk of oversimplification (Hey, what's life without it?) ;) our comments seem to fall into two categories.

    "I know enough (and famous people say so too)!"

    and...

    "I can NEVER know enough."


    Here's the Rorschach versions...


    Rorschach.jpg

    :D

    -don
     
    Last edited: Sep 18, 2018 at 11:45 AM
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