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 ARCHIVED TOPIC: Thinking notes while playing


Please note this is an archived topic, so it is locked and unable to be replied to. You may, however, start a new topic and refer to this topic with a link: http://www.fiddlehangout.com/archive/53450

Yaro - Posted - 05/09/2020:  10:11:51


Hello,

Actually, since I'm a novice, during exercise I'm so concentrated on position, tune and finger movements that I've noticed I'm not thinking which note I'm playing. To be more precise, I know which note it's, and I now relative finger position on fingerboard, it's like "automatic". But If someone ask me, play this note I need a second to think where it's. Is this something that normally a player (1, 2 or 3 years) don't care?

The Violin Beautiful - Posted - 05/09/2020:  10:35:17


Practice will make it easy to identify notes without having to stop and think.

It’s like Descartes’ logic chain: you learn the basic steps and put them together through practice, so that when you return to the process later you are able to make jumps ahead without needing to revisit each step.

fiddlinsteudel - Posted - 05/09/2020:  10:37:55


It just becomes natural if that’s something you work on, like sight reading. I would imagine that those that learn only by ear may have to pause and thing about it too. I don’t find there is much need playing folk music where someone calls out a note and you need to know where it is. Sometimes in band practice if you are working on harmonies it’s helpful to be able to translate from an interval to a note.

Snafu - Posted - 05/09/2020:  11:00:40


A Second to what Mark said above. Are you learning to play using a published method that uses musical notation or by ear? If by a method/notation which one if I may ask?

farmerjones - Posted - 05/09/2020:  11:31:51


Once upon a time, i found it easier to learn tunes/songs with words.
Eventually, i guess one gets tonal/melodic memory? I dunno?

boxbow - Posted - 05/09/2020:  13:15:20


This hasn't come up much for me. More likely I'll want to identify the pitch of a note that I'm hearing. I can finger it on my fiddle and call it out from there. Clunky? Slow? Unless it's an open string, it is. And if someone is asking for a pitch to tune to, the last thing they want is to get it from a fiddle. Like I said, though, it just doesn't come up much.

Brian Wood - Posted - 05/09/2020:  14:31:10


Personally I think of notes as tones in relation to each other more than by their letter names. I've gotten better at knowing the names over time, but it's still a translation I have to make. I believe that people who learned to play by reading first think of them as having names. But I've seen some of those people can't memorize a tune very well and rely more on reading it. I believe that all approaches are good, and learning a new thing shouldn't undercut the other ways you know music. But sometimes it takes time to intigrate new information before everything works well together. That's what I mean by saying I have to 'translate' new information. If I think too hard about note names while I'm playing it slows me down. But over time it is becoming less of an issue.


Edited by - Brian Wood on 05/09/2020 14:32:27

farmerjones - Posted - 05/09/2020:  15:27:35


quote:

Originally posted by Yaro

- Actually, since I'm a novice, during exercise I'm so concentrated on position, tune and finger movements that I've noticed I'm not thinking which note I'm playing. To be more precise, I know which note it's, and I now relative finger position on fingerboard, it's like "automatic". But If someone ask me, play this note I need a second to think where it's. Is this something that normally a player (1, 2 or 3 years) don't care?



I've been playing since May, 2003. It still would take a moment to tell someone the note names. But, a tune's key is firmly framed while i play. This is important, because sometimes one needs to learn the tune while it's being played. 






 

Old Scratch - Posted - 05/09/2020:  16:03:28


If you're playing with other people in a professional context, you should make a serious effort to learn the names of the notes to the point where you don't have to think for a second where and what they are. If you're not trying to hold your own with the pros, though, I can't see that it matters much.

buckhenry - Posted - 05/09/2020:  17:55:47


I f you are learning music without musical notation then I would say taking a second to find a specified note would be pretty quick. If you need to find notes in a flash then you'll need to learn the fingerboard thoroughly. Until then, if you are asked again to play a certain note, you could answer.. "what does it sound like and I'll find it by ear..."

RinconMtnErnie - Posted - 05/09/2020:  18:52:03


I haven't played piano much for maybe 30 years.  I own a piano. If I play piano,  I know every note when I play it, even after 30 years. On fiddle, I am an excellent sight reader. I can play two dozen tunes after each other that I've never played. Despite that, I'm not aware of the notes I'm playing when I play them. If you ask me to play a low E or a low F#, it takes me a second to figure out where that is. I went to a gypsy jazz improvisation workshop, and it was clear that other players were much more aware of the notes they were playing as they were playing them.



I think most fiddlers are not really aware of the notes they are playing, including good note readers.



 



 



 

farmerjones - Posted - 05/09/2020:  19:45:31


A site reader stands as a good contrast to somebody with a good ear. It's all good. As they say.
I face a scenario often where the guitarists snap on a capo, and think there're playing in A, or B or Bb, but they're not. It's close, but it's like half a semi-tone sharp. Because a violin has no frets, something tells me even a site reader has to have a bit of ear training just to gain acceptable intonation. Either way we're all going to "nudge" up to match that guitar. If one is playing solo, the only thing that matters is "relative" intonation.

Flat_the_3rd_n7th - Posted - 05/09/2020:  20:46:40


quote:

Originally posted by RinconMtnErnie

I haven't played piano much for maybe 30 years.  I own a piano. If I play piano,  I know every note when I play it, even after 30 years. On fiddle, I am an excellent sight reader. I can play two dozen tunes after each other that I've never played. Despite that, I'm not aware of the notes I'm playing when I play them. If you ask me to play a low E or a low F#, it takes me a second to figure out where that is. I went to a gypsy jazz improvisation workshop, and it was clear that other players were much more aware of the notes they were playing as they were playing them.



I think most fiddlers are not really aware of the notes they are playing, including good note readers.




This is correct--I tend to learn songs/tunes by notation, then internalize it through the patterns.  String players that don't capo (fiddle, mando) learn melodies by PATTERNS or INTERVALS, especially Country or Bluegrass, and then they are prepared when song leaders call something in any key.  I don't care if somebody calls F# or Db, the intervals between the notes are the same, so who cares what the note is?



BTW, Rincon, I lived up Bear Canyon Rd in the early 90s (north off Tanque Verde)--beautiful place, mountain biking through the horse trails--moved away before they mowed it down to put in the golf course.  Saw a cougar in the headlights on Snyder Rd one night when few people lived there.  Back then, there was bears that came down to nuisance Redington and Houghton.  Good times.


Edited by - Flat_the_3rd_n7th on 05/09/2020 20:58:32

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/10/2020:  07:08:46


I read an interesting article on this subject. A musician strives to learn and understand music, but only thinks about it when practicing. When performing or playing for their own enjoyment, they shouldn't think about theory. The goal is to play and use what they have learned with making a conscious effort to think about technique/theory. Their subconscious would dictate how they play the music.



All that scale practice should familiarize a player with the fingerboard, and enable them to play with good intonation and tone. I used to practice scales along with recordings made by a professional fiddler/violinist. That did a lot to help my note recognition abilities. Once a person "gets this down", they don't seem to lose the ability. A person can get a little "rusty",but can quickly recover from a layoff.



I am an amateur musician and play guitar, fiddle, and 5 string banjo.  Many musicians I have played with are not familiar with the fingerboards of the instruments they play.  Unfortunately, learning materials for amateur string players do not focus on this subject very often.  


Edited by - Dick Hauser on 05/10/2020 07:14:43

Beardog - Posted - 05/10/2020:  07:25:37


Good thread. Good question, and good answers, too.

I started my musical journey many moons ago, on classical piano. I still think of "notes" as black and white keys on a keyboard. Like others, I can read music well, but I have to stop and think about what note I am playing on the banjo and fiddle (if it occurs to me to wonder), because I have trained myself to play these instruments by ear. Fingering patterns and double stops that are transposable to different keys are more useful to me on stringed instruments. I suspect the same is true for keyboard players who play the piano mostly by ear, as well.

groundhogpeggy - Posted - 05/10/2020:  10:21:36


Some people play by notes, some by ear, some by both. I play by ear, and I don't know or wanna know or care what notes I'm playing...lol. It would disturb and distract me to know. That's just me, though. Everybody is different and we each have to find our own way. But if it's fiddling, not violin playing, you're into, I think it is pretty important to realize you are free to find whatever works, specific for you, and for what you are playing.


Edited by - groundhogpeggy on 05/10/2020 10:22:23

Joel Glassman - Posted - 05/10/2020:  15:54:50


I don't think its necessary to be thinking which note you're playing. Only to be able to quickly determine it. Your third finger is the same note as the next lower string. Your first finger is one note above the open string its on. Your fourth finger is the same note as the next higher string. Its only necessary to memorize the second finger in the high and low positions. I would do that with home-made flash cards.

boxbow - Posted - 05/10/2020:  20:12:40


Kinda takes us back to that old saw about how it's not the notes themselves so much. It's the spaces between them.

Skookum - Posted - 05/10/2020:  21:15:34


I can come up with the name of whatever note I'm playing but it isn't second nature. What I pay a lot of attention to though is what degree of the scale that note is. Knowing that allows me to more easily transcribe to another key, know where a harmony note is located, or, especially, how to construct a II chord, IIIm, or VIm, et. I'm thinking that being aware of where you are on the scale seems a lot more important than knowing the name of any note.

Dick Hauser - Posted - 05/11/2020:  09:32:08


A musician who really understands what each note sounds like probably, without thinking, plays musical intervals. They know what "sound'" they want to play, and know where they can be found on the fingerboard. A person playing like that will sometime be a half note or a couple of notes "off". But like anything else, the more you do something, the better you become.

I guess that would be considered playing by "ear". I would think every decent fiddler, notation user or not, plays this way at some time.

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