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I think I heard the Marion whistle blow - Charlie Patton, Green River Blues

Author Topic: Off-genre learning pursuits  (Read 2042 times)

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Offline Rivers

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Off-genre learning pursuits
« on: June 03, 2011, 06:57:10 PM »
Several members here work on other musical genres outside (but likely related, complementary and intertwined with) country blues so I thought I'd start a thread on this. Tell us what you're up to.

I've tried and failed to nail a respectable arrangement of many Cole Porter tunes over the years. His chord melody is deceptive, subtle and challenging for self-taught developing amateur jazzers like me. Night And Day though I finally got it recently. Absolutely wonderful song and I just love to play it. I like the Fred Astaire recording which has an Eddie Lang-esque guitar solo and many other understated high points. I believe the version I got from iTunes is from the soundtrack to the movie The Gay Divorcee. The intro is a really amazing piece of work. Works great on acoustic guitar.

We (me and the missus) have also been working on some other old standards. East of The Sun West of The Moon has been in the repertoire for a while, great, great tune. How High The Moon I've always loved and am working on memorizing so I don't have to think about it, so many changes, tough but worth the effort. In the Hoagy Carmichael bag Stardust & Baltimore Oriole are now pretty solid. Both of those totally do it for me.

So, that's my standards and show tunes confession. What's challenging you in the other genres department?

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #1 on: June 03, 2011, 09:35:43 PM »
Sounds like fun Rivers. I can only play what you've all heard me do here though I am interested in learning and relearning Union songs by Woody Guthrie and others from the first three decades of the twentieth century. The time is right. The other music I'm passionately involved with , Baroque & classical, I have no way of playing, which I find kind of maddening, so I've taken to trying to memorize pieces in my head via sound only, I don't read, for internal playback only of course. At first this would just happen as a matter of course, I'd listen to a great performance of Beethoven's sixth symphony, Furtwangler with the Vienna symphony from the early fifties for example and large sections would rerun in my mind for days afterwards. After a while I began to enjoy this internal sound system so much that I began trying more deliberately to memorize sections of pieces, or even whole pieces a section at a time. At this point I can recall a good deal of all 9 Beethoven symphonies, his Piano concertos, a few of his quartets & Trios and a fair amount of Bach Choral and keyboard music particularly his B minor mass. I've got odd bits of Handel & Hayden, a good bit of Mozart, with emphasis on his piano concertos and late symphonies, some Schubert trios, and various other snippets from here and there. I tend to reproduce the actual recordings rather than just a melodic line. I also enjoy memorizing the differences in particular performances one from another though that gets pretty tricky and is probably not so reliable. On occasion I've tried to Glenn Gould hum my way through a piece usually with horrible results. I love having these things in my head however.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

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Offline Rivers

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #2 on: June 04, 2011, 09:52:35 AM »
O'Muck maybe you could dabble in classical & flamenco guitar a little bit. There are plenty of baroque guitar pieces out there, Vivaldi, Bach, Sanz, Sor. Reading would help but there are other ways to skin a cat as we all know.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #3 on: June 04, 2011, 12:42:33 PM »
I've thought of that , but because i have some LD issues reading music is especially effortful (read impossible) for me. Plus I'm not a huge fan of classical guitar, or Jazz guitar. There is something about the aesthetics of the actual sounds being sought after by players in both genres that I don't love, as contrasted with the solid semi-percussive steely and big woody sound of our type of music here at Weenie. No if I were doing it I'd want it to be via piano and that just ain't in the cards at this late date. Its OK though, sometimes its nice just being a passenger albeit a backseat driver. But if i ever post a Gary Davis version of part of Beethoven's seventh symphony, don't be surprised. I've messed with it....ridiculous but kind of fun.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Slack

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #4 on: June 04, 2011, 04:42:55 PM »
O'Muck's off genre dabbling sounds so erudite and sophisticated compared to mine, I'm a little embarrassed.   :P

I have an acoustic trio called 'Johnny Swingo' (also known as 'Johnny Swingo and His Drinking Problem') that play western swing and jump blues. We've only performed a few times. It is tough to get together (bass player lives 45 miles away and is busy)... and this music demands much practice. We don't exatly suck, but music is a challenge for us all, some of the keys are a bit beyond my vocal range (and you'd think I'd find a better key), but to give you and idea here is a one hour set list of a performance last Nov. 30th.

1. Cotton Patch Blues (Bflat)
2. Miss Molly (G)
3. Down Boy Down (C)
4. Basin Street (Bflat)  (<= Johnm helped set me straight on this one)
5. Six Pack to Go (A)
6. T-Bone Shuffle (G)
7. Sheik of Araby (G)
8. No More Hard Times Blues (D)
9. Humming to Myself (A)
10. Ain?t Misbehavin? (G)
11. Milk Cow Blues (A)
12. Saturday Night Fish Fry (G)

And then a rockabilly group called 'Slackabilly' - rockabilly and jump blues.  Lots of fun, easier to play and drink beer at the same time.  :P  Swingo is on hiatus (bass player out for the summer), so the other guitarist (who is primarily a blues guitarist) and I fill the time by working on Slackabilly stuff.  He is in both bands and we overlap some of the repertoire.  Here is a link to Slackabilly's version of Saturday Night Fish Fry (off the mixer, hadn't been playing long, but not bad)

http://kenstuff.weebly.com/uploads/4/9/2/0/4920325/saturday_night_fish_fry.mp3

For solo fooling around I've been switching between working on a few Sheiks tunes (Frankie has such a great resource), trying to get a few tunes ready for Port Townsend and Them's version of 'Baby Please Don't Go'  (I'm revisiting my adolesence :P )




« Last Edit: June 04, 2011, 04:44:37 PM by Slack »

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #5 on: June 04, 2011, 06:36:38 PM »
I'd say thats a pretty damned ambitious musical agenda Mr. Dodson! Sounds fun too. Lots of plates in the air!
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline Slack

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #6 on: June 04, 2011, 06:48:41 PM »
Too many plates, country blues has suffered greatly, but i really enjoy playing with others and you are right - it is a ton of fun, pure recreation.

Offline eric

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #7 on: June 04, 2011, 07:03:33 PM »
Oh yes:

Quote
Gary Davis version of part of Beethoven's seventh symphony
--
Eric

Offline dj

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #8 on: June 05, 2011, 05:43:50 AM »
Hey, O'Muck, get yourself a viola da gamba.  Six strings, tuned in fourths, with one third thrown in, frets - sound familiar?  You just have to learn to bow.  And if you can't read music, there's the English lyra-viol repertoire, which is mostly written in tab. 

Buying a viol and relearning how to play is number 15 on my list of 1,000 things to do when I retire in 8 or 10 years.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #9 on: June 05, 2011, 10:20:53 AM »
Ya' know I'm gonna look into that viola da Gamba idea. There must be some decent cheap Chinese ones being made and a friend of mine imports violins and their larger cousins from The People's Republic. Hmmm. Bowed like a cello but with a higher arched bow right? Tied on movable frets?
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline dj

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #10 on: June 05, 2011, 12:21:50 PM »
Quote
Bowed like a cello but with a higher arched bow right? Tied on movable frets?

Yep.  The bow is a bit less taut than a cello bow, and held underhand with a finger on the hairs so you can vary the pressure on the hairs.  Slack it off and you can get a good three string chord.

Offline Rivers

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #11 on: June 05, 2011, 07:14:46 PM »
Slack, great you're still doing the rockabilly thing, I miss my last band but it just didn't work out. Still rocking out regularly to Johnny Burnette, Carl Perkins, Ronnie Hawkins, Brian Setzer, on and on, on the stereo though. My Gretsch '59 reissue single cutaway is hanging on the wall, looking at me sadly, as I type.

IMO blues, jazz and rockabilly are a nice triangle, skills learned in each area enhancing the others.

Offline uncle bud

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #12 on: June 06, 2011, 07:27:02 AM »
I'm learning old-time banjo. I've been working on clawhammer and some two- and three- finger picking styles, and while I always knew I would like to learn the banjo, I didn't know I would like it so much. It may seem odd given the number of ain't-them-banjos-obnoxious sorts of jokes in the universe, but I find it a very contemplative instrument to play. It can get pretty trance-y, and boy is it fun.

That said, I don't consider old-time really that much off-genre and a lot of material in the two types of music is obviously closely related. I've been dabbling in some black banjo styles too, so the blues is all over that stuff.

I need more hours in the day though.

Offline Mr.OMuck

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #13 on: June 06, 2011, 08:50:24 AM »
I once had a nice Fairbanks from the turn of the century but never put the necessary time in to learn. It got passed along to one of my students. I regret not getting it down however. I do know what you mean about the contemplative trance like quality it can impart.
My loathings are simple: stupidity, oppression, crime, cruelty, soft music.
Vladimir Nabokov (1899 - 1977)

http://www.youtube.com/user/MuckOVision

Offline lindy

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Re: Off-genre learning pursuits
« Reply #14 on: June 06, 2011, 09:22:23 AM »

My road to trance-like nirvana goes through West Africa. I've been spending a lot of time working on material taught by Cheick Hamala, Mohammed Kouyate, and Moussa Konate at Port Townsend three years ago.

It is very different from country blues in that the licks and riffs I'm practicing are meant to serve as a bed for solos by other guitarists, bolofon players, etc. In African pop there's always at least one guitarist whose sole function is to pick a basic pattern with variations throughout the tune--but that guitarist does not play solos, that task is given to someone else. Variations are subtle and layered. It's nothing like learning a set of individual songs in country blues or other idioms.

My capo now lives somewhere between the 5th and 7th frets, and my B string is often tuned up to C, where it serves as a drone note. My fingerpicking skills have benefited big time by the requirement of combining two independent rhythms into a single groove, I am training my middle finger to act independently of my thumb and index finger. Adding a third rhythm is really tough.

As the three teachers emphasized again and again, tempo is central to African music, so this is really supportive of my country blues playing.

L


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