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Playing Backup w Others
I was taught by 2 different teachers: classical by Sherman Pitluck then country by a backup player to George Jones (saw him on TV at the Grammy's when George won). Neither taught backup or playing along to an unfamiliar song.
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tesfalcon
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January 27, 2015 - 7:10 pm
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I didn't realize my deficiency until I met my FIL who plays folk guitar (finger-style) by ear. He can't read music. When he goes to his jam session, he can play along with anyone and everyone. I went to one session and was a spectator with a violin in my hands. I can sight read sheet music like reading a book but without it I'm lost. Help!

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Fiddlerman
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January 28, 2015 - 1:57 pm
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It helps to practice playing 3rds in every key. Chords and arpeggios. Patterns are good too. Once you can do this, you can turn on the radio or put on a good recording and just jam with it for yourself. Try not to do anything too complicated too quickly. Begin with single notes, recognizing the key and arpeggios. Learn to play comp, both rhythmically and melodically and progress to solo later.

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Schaick
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January 29, 2015 - 8:33 am
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@tesfalcon One thing I do and you can do right away is when the music is loud and fast I mute the strings and chunk or chop.  It is great fun.  Basically I am the percussionist!!

Violinist start date -  May 2013  

Fiddler start date - May 2014

FIDDLE- Gift from a dear friend. A 1930-40 german copy, of a french copy of a Stradivarius.  BOW - $50 carbon fiber. Strings - Dominants with E Pirastro Gold string.

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coolpinkone
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January 29, 2015 - 12:18 pm
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@Fiddlerman I'd be interested in a sample of how to start this sort of "thing"  .... The patterns that you are talking about.  Any chance of a sample of something really simple to learn?

Vibrato Desperato.... Desperately seeking vibrato

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BillyG
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January 29, 2015 - 1:27 pm
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Oh... that's cool - sort of thing (only sort of - not quite the same) I'm trying to do on spiccato ATM - that goes way beyond it - and sure - I get the idea...  cool tyvm for the post @Schaick  !!  

Sometimes the "fill in things I try" can be "just about musical" to the ears - I fight with that because it never feels "complete" - and I "need to play" it longer (when the bow is on the strings)  but what I do may actually be OK - I dunno - just dipping my toes in the water here....  The "percussion" effect - yup I get totally ( but can't quite do it myself yet although I kind of "sense" it as a sweet technique and can see what it can bring) LOL

And thanks for bringing the discussion/topic to us @tesfalcon - cool - I always have the same problem when meeting other musicians ( which sadly is not often ) - I need a bit of time to "get in to their groove because I am usually the new-comer" - oh - and that;s on guitar - violin is still WAY too new to me to "jam" - but I get that totally as well..   it is never easy and I don't believe it has anything to do with sight-reading capability or not.  I'll bet once you've tried the jam sessions a few times  - you will be right in there and "locked-in" to the other players - don't give up!!!  I really believe that!

I seriously recommend not copying my mistakes.  

Please make your own, different mistakes, and help us all learn :-)

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fiddlinsteudel
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January 29, 2015 - 5:13 pm
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What sort of music are you guys jamming to?

One thing to do is just follow the chords of the song. If the Chord is an A, play an A note, when the chord changes to a D chord, switch to a D.  Once you get more comfortable with that, create movement to the next chord, by playing an arpeggio or a scale from one note to the other. So if you are on that A, before that D comes, play the scale down to the D or walk up to the D. 

How much theory do you know?

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Fiddlerman
Fort Lauderdale
January 29, 2015 - 9:46 pm
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Exactly. You can start like that and progress to major or minor thirds depending on the key and work your way to more advanced comp later.

When it comes to chopping, there are two guys that I recommend you looking at.
One of them is Casey Driessen and the other is Darol Anger.

I may make a comp and jam video some day Toni. I'll definitely put it on my to do list. :)

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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fiddlinsteudel
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January 29, 2015 - 10:51 pm
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Would love to see that video! If I get some time (I've been saying that a lot lately) I'll try and do a few examples, but a well thought out video from Pierre would be awesome.

Yeah those guys are the go to guys for modern day chopping, there's so much around chopping that you can do (in moderation).

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Oliver
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January 30, 2015 - 3:47 pm
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A Fiddle Player's Guide to Jamming.

Mel Bay.

MB20889BCD

Basic good stuff

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.

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DanielB
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January 31, 2015 - 9:13 am
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First thing to do it listen.. Find the beat, identify the key, the chords if you can.  Usually safe enough to come in with root or 5th on the stressed downbeats. 

If possible, try not to crowd anybody's range too much.  Use your ears to keep aware of where everybody is playing, and try to stay in a range that isn't being used much by other instruments, especially if anyone is singing, soloing or otherwise carrying the main melody. 

It is usually better to stick pretty tight on the strongest stressed downbeats at first.  Playing even the wrong note is more likely to sound good than messing up the beat.  If you get totally lost, you can mute the strings and "chop" with the bow while you figure out what is going on.  But you want to make sure your timing is on and you have an idea what the beat is doing.

The big trick when you are comping (accompanying) is to support the beat and work in with rhythm instruments and strengthen the backbone of the song, rather than trying to think of something wild to do.

When you've settled in to the song/piece a bit, you an also try a bit of vamping and see if that works out.  "Vamping" is when you play a note or a couple notes of the chord that the instrument that is laying down the main rhythm is using, but you do them quieter and on the upbeats.  Use short durations for that usually, maybe a 16th note or so.  You can either use that to accent certain beats that seem important or to help the groove lead into a strong downbeat, like the 1 beat.  Easier to do than it is to explain, but adding that little bit of sound right before a strong beat can emphasize the big beat.  Kinda like the difference between "Boom" and "ka-BOOM".  You'd be the "ka" part and let the other instruments be the "BOOM".  LOL

None of those little things will always work. You have to try and see if you can make them work to help deepen the groove or add a little something to it that will fit. 

Accompanying, like improvisation, is a learned skill that you have to practice.  Well, and use your ears to see what other folks do that sounds good so you can try it.  Always steal from the best. LOL

Playing along with youtube and backing tracks is probably some of the best practice you can do on your own for it.  Try incorporating maybe 15 min of your practice every day as just playing along with youtube or your cd collection or whatever.  The more you do it, the better you'll get at it and the more ideas you'll have that might end up as something tasty.

If there would be one main thing to remember, I'd probably say it is "Less is more."   If you come in and support with just some little bits where you can be pretty sure of what you're doing, you'll usually do a lot better than if you try to "take charge" with wild stuff that may or may not work.

That's my thoughts on it, anyway. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
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February 2, 2015 - 10:08 pm
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I put in on my to do list. :)
Thanks

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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tesfalcon
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I'm struggling to translate the Musicese in this thread into English and answer all the questions.

1) identify the key - How am I supposed to know the key when there is no sheet music? Sometimes they'll tell the name of the song; most times they just start playing.

2a) 3rds in every key - I'm assuming that means a 2-note chord 3 notes apart like DG or BE. Which 3rds?

2b) major or minor thirds - I've never played in a minor key before. Memorizing the major & minor series was part of class, but I never used minor keys.

2a) Chords - Which chords?

2b) Follow the chords of the song - how am I supposed to know the cords when there's no sheet music? or a chord progression list. Don't tell me to look at their hands. I can't play guitar. Their fingers mean nothing to me. I barely play violin.

3) Arpeggios - My classical teacher gave us a list of arpeggios which I practiced while I was with him, but the country teacher said that it was worthless. I might still have them in my old music books.

4) Patterns are good too - What kind of patterns: bowing patterns or short patterns of music repeatedly overlaid on the melody as a harmony?

5) What sort of music are you guys jamming to? Varies by the guest. Mostly it's folk, vintage bluegrass, classic country, & modern country, but Green Day and Rolling Stones could be thrown in at any time. Each player has their favorites. Put 30 amateur musicians into a room and everyone picks a song from their repertoire and plays it. My FIL usually plays songs that he wrote, but the music varies as much as the people.

7) How much theory do you know? Very little. I wasn't a music major so my music training was general and basic from 1st-6th grade with 1 year of classic violin and 1 year of country fiddle in high school. I was able to translate the printed staff to my fingers easily enough but that doesn't mean I know WHY. When I look at the fingerboard, I see the letters in my mind's eye as though they were printed on the strings. The notes are mere letters in a different language. I hear 4400 Hz, I see the letter "A" (or whatever that is).

8) Casey Driessen and Darol Anger - Never heard of either of these people.

9) Find the beat - Often that's hard to determine. My FIL doesn't strum. He uses a rolling finger-style that has no obvious beat. Think of songs by Gordon Lightfoot or the instrumental "Jessica" by Allman Bros. There's no drums or bass section. It's all strings. I've struggled with some songs trying different rhythms and still couldn't figure out if it was 3/4, 4/4, 6/8 or what.

11) Root or 5th on the stressed downbeats - Root would go back to determining key, yes? What if there are no stressed downbeats? What's the 5th?

12) "try not to crowd anybody's range too much ... and try to stay in a range that isn't being used much by other instruments, especially if anyone is singing, soloing or otherwise carrying the main melody" - with 20 guitars and a handful of banjos, mandolins, and ukes, the lone fiddle stands out. Playing on the E string stays out of everyone's way but paints a bull's eye on my notes: fresh or foul.

13) the backbone of the song - What is this? I'm not familiar with this phrase. I imagine that it's the melody, but, again, with no sheet music how to I support what I don't know?

14) what other folks do that sounds good - Again, as the lone fiddle, there was no one else to follow. What sounds good on a guitar doesn't translate, even if I knew how.

I'm seeing why they teach accompaniment on guitar first and solo on guitar later, but don't teach accompaniment on violin until much later with lead first. A guitarist only needs 3 cords to play 90% of modern music. A violinist needs music theory to play backup on just 1 song. Playing simple melodies like "Turkey in the Straw" and "Fields of Gold" are cake compared to what y'all are talking about.

I guess this is all moot until my new violin arrives. I've been separated from all instruments for quite a while now. I don't know of any jams in West Texas, but if you're ever in the Denver area, this particular group meets at the Denver Folklore Center. Call for the jam schedule; it's usually Thursday night.

-TNF

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fiddlinsteudel
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tesfalcon
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Casey Driessen and Darol Anger

Just looked them up on YouTube. Darol is skilled beyond belief. But I can't stand the noise coming from Casey: mouth or violin. Nails on a chalkboard! Casey is to violin as rap is to singing.

Percussive violin? Isn't that an oxymoron? If I wanted to play percussion, I'd pick up the cymbals or a tambourine.

There's a chasm of difference between Darol (who's been playing for 50 years) and me who had 2 years of violin and have barely touched it in the 20 years since. I'm not a total beginner as I try to get back into it, but I'm not advanced (or fresh) either.

In case you were wondering. No, I wasn't in orchestra. School was too small to have one. 5 violinists in a class does not an orchestra make. For all 1st year students, we were doing to good to stay together.

I don't know what you mean by "getting wild". I don't know how to "get wild" w music.

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DanielB
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February 9, 2015 - 6:11 am
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Ok, sorry tesfalcon.  Not knowing how much you know, we all probably kinda "swamped" you with a lot more detail and terminology than was comfortable (or even necessary, for just giving a starting place).  The only "excuse" I'll offer on that is that I did major in music for my degree, I've been playing on assorted instruments since 1976, have made a living at it for some of the years of my life, and I spend probably around four hours a day playing, studying or writing music on one instrument or another.  So I do live and breathe this stuff a bit more than most folks, and probably more than most would even want to.  LOL

That being said, I've known plenty of good players that didn't know much theory.  Most of the players I've known over the years, actually.  Some very good players I've known claimed they didn't know *any* theory.  So I can say that a person can play without knowing much of it anyway.  I was playing pay gigs in bands back before I "knew" any of it.

But you have to understand that theory is not music.  Theory is a tool we use for analyzing and trying to understand what we are doing when it sounds good.  It is some terms and a framework for being able to discuss in words something that is a whole lot easier to understand as sounds.  Or that is my view on it anyway.

So I'm going to try a different approach here that hopefully will be more useful.  If you don't have an instrument right now, it probably won't make much sense either.  But what would?  This is at least something that probably any beginner could do from almost day one.  It is jamming, it can sound nice.  It doesn't need any sheet/score, though you could write some out if you think it would help.

You mentioned that you think:

"A guitarist only needs 3 cords (sic) to play 90% of modern music."  

Well, sorta.  If all songs were being played in the same key, I'd agree they can kinda be done with 3 chords usually.  (The Beatles "Eleanor Rigby" can be done with just two!)  Personally, I'd say that it would be easier with 4 chords, or at least it could be done better with 4.  Guitar happens to be my main instrument, so I can say yeah, one could at least make a good start with that.

However, it isn't limited to modern music, since a lot of traditional and classical can also be done with 3 or 4 chords.  (Pachelbel's Canon takes 5)  And it also isn't limited to guitarists.  A pianist (or any chording instrument) could also manage a lot of songs with just that many chords.  

But it also doesn't even take chords.  You can start out with just playing single notes and it could be said with 3 or 4 notes, a violinist/fiddler could play along with a very large amount (not just) modern music. 

Your questions and requests for clarification got me to thinking how much is actually necessary for someone who is a beginner (though you aren't a complete beginner) to be able to play accompaniment and maybe begin to get an idea of what comping (accompaniment) and jamming is.  And to be honest, with 4 notes on a violin, it can be done and wouldn't even sound bad.

For the example I'm giving, the 4 notes you'll need would be D, A, B, G.  For the sake of argument, we'll say those can be played with the D string open, the A string open, 1st finger on the A string, and 3rd finger on the D string. 

The score would look like this:

4-notes.jpgImage Enlarger

 With just that little bit, you can play along with (accompany) this:

That is "comping" (playing accompaniment) in a very simple form.  But it will work, and if you actually did play along with that vid with those 4 notes, you'd get an idea how many songs just 4 notes (two of them on open strings) you *could* play along with in a jam session.

Yeah, the vid is kinda comedy, but it's only funny because it is true.

If you try this, it will work, and you will be be playing accompaniment and you could "back up" quite a lot of songs with only knowing just that much.

Now sure, the more you learn, the more clever and impressive you can be.  But accompaniment can start with knowing very little.  It doesn't have to be more complicated than learning to play the melody parts (which from your statements you seem to think would be easier).  It can be actually simpler than the melody parts and often is.

"Comp" is not short for "complicated".  Or at least it doesn't have to be, just to work and sound good.

Something this simple can be a very good place to start from, and as one learns more (like chords/arpeggios, 3rds, 5ths and all that) it can be added to give the player more tools to work with. 

But hopefully you can see how even a total beginner could be playing along with youtube and etc even from day one.  Doesn't have to be any harder than Twinkle or Mary.

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"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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Fiddlerman
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February 9, 2015 - 8:10 am
Member Since: September 26, 2010
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tesfalcon said

1) identify the key - How am I supposed to know the key when there is no sheet music? Sometimes they'll tell the name of the song; most times they just start playing.

With training you can learn to hear the key. If you can't do it by memorizing the sound of each note, you play gently and carefully on your instrument, to identify the bass note. There are two techniques for recognizing tones. Perfect pitch which is difficult to learn and relative pitch which is kind of like the art of remembering the pitch for longer periods of time. When learning to recognize a pitch you can practice playing a note and singing it afterwards, or just hearing it in your head afterwards. Increasing the time of silence between playing a note and hearing the correct tone is what you want to improve on.

2a) 3rds in every key - I'm assuming that means a 2-note chord 3 notes apart like DG or BE. Which 3rds?

My point is that 3rds and 5ths are often acceptable in accompaniment. Sometimes 7ths (leading tones), etc......
A major 3rd is the 3rd tone in a major scale and a minor 3rd is the 3rd tone in a minor scale. So with your example above, D's major 3rd would be F#. B's major third would be D#. D's minor 3rd is F and B's minor third is D.

2b) major or minor thirds - I've never played in a minor key before. Memorizing the major & minor series was part of class, but I never used minor keys.

Chances are that you have played in minor many times but didn't realize it. Minor sounds kind of sad where major sounds happier. Of course this depends on the composition but that is a easier way to identify the difference.
Greensleeves, Beethovens Fifth, House of the Rising Sun.....are minor for example.

2a) Chords - Which chords?

2b) Follow the chords of the song - how am I supposed to know the cords when there's no sheet music? or a chord progression list. Don't tell me to look at their hands. I can't play guitar. Their fingers mean nothing to me. I barely play violin.

3) Arpeggios - My classical teacher gave us a list of arpeggios which I practiced while I was with him, but the country teacher said that it was worthless. I might still have them in my old music books.

LOL, worthless.... Arpeggios are more or less the chords of every key played one note at a time instead of together. C = C, E, G, C and back down G, E, C
Give it a shot. Here is a D major arpeggio. D, F#, A, D, A, F#, D........  These are of course one octave arpeggios.

4) Patterns are good too - What kind of patterns: bowing patterns or short patterns of music repeatedly overlaid on the melody as a harmony?

Melodic, rhythmic, simple, difficult... Just repeated and simple. You can complicate things when you get better at it.

5) What sort of music are you guys jamming to? Varies by the guest. Mostly it's folk, vintage bluegrass, classic country, & modern country, but Green Day and Rolling Stones could be thrown in at any time. Each player has their favorites. Put 30 amateur musicians into a room and everyone picks a song from their repertoire and plays it. My FIL usually plays songs that he wrote, but the music varies as much as the people.

7) How much theory do you know? Very little. I wasn't a music major so my music training was general and basic from 1st-6th grade with 1 year of classic violin and 1 year of country fiddle in high school. I was able to translate the printed staff to my fingers easily enough but that doesn't mean I know WHY. When I look at the fingerboard, I see the letters in my mind's eye as though they were printed on the strings. The notes are mere letters in a different language. I hear 4400 Hz, I see the letter "A" (or whatever that is).

8) Casey Driessen and Darol Anger - Never heard of either of these people.

9) Find the beat - Often that's hard to determine. My FIL doesn't strum. He uses a rolling finger-style that has no obvious beat. Think of songs by Gordon Lightfoot or the instrumental "Jessica" by Allman Bros. There's no drums or bass section. It's all strings. I've struggled with some songs trying different rhythms and still couldn't figure out if it was 3/4, 4/4, 6/8 or what.

Usually it's easy enough to determine the beat but you are right, it can be hard but usually when the rhythm changes beats frequently. What is a FIL?
If there are no obvious beats, you need to do the same. Sometimes when hearing a piece for the first time, you have to listen and keep it simple.

11) Root or 5th on the stressed downbeats - Root would go back to determining key, yes? What if there are no stressed downbeats? What's the 5th?

12) "try not to crowd anybody's range too much ... and try to stay in a range that isn't being used much by other instruments, especially if anyone is singing, soloing or otherwise carrying the main melody" - with 20 guitars and a handful of banjos, mandolins, and ukes, the lone fiddle stands out. Playing on the E string stays out of everyone's way but paints a bull's eye on my notes: fresh or foul.

13) the backbone of the song - What is this? I'm not familiar with this phrase. I imagine that it's the melody, but, again, with no sheet music how to I support what I don't know?

14) what other folks do that sounds good - Again, as the lone fiddle, there was no one else to follow. What sounds good on a guitar doesn't translate, even if I knew how.

I'm seeing why they teach accompaniment on guitar first and solo on guitar later, but don't teach accompaniment on violin until much later with lead first. A guitarist only needs 3 cords to play 90% of modern music. A violinist needs music theory to play backup on just 1 song. Playing simple melodies like "Turkey in the Straw" and "Fields of Gold" are cake compared to what y'all are talking about.

I think that you'll find that this is not true once you become comfortable with your instrument. A guitarist who only wants to play accompaniment or willing to sing the melody might get away with 3 chords but usually feels very limited. A violinist can get quite good without really knowing his music theory. Often they hear it but can't tell you much about it. :)

I guess this is all moot until my new violin arrives. I've been separated from all instruments for quite a while now. I don't know of any jams in West Texas, but if you're ever in the Denver area, this particular group meets at the Denver Folklore Center. Call for the jam schedule; it's usually Thursday night.

-TNF

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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Fiddlerman
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February 9, 2015 - 8:17 am
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tesfalcon said
Casey Driessen and Darol Anger

Just looked them up on YouTube. Darol is skilled beyond belief. But I can't stand the noise coming from Casey: mouth or violin. Nails on a chalkboard! Casey is to violin as rap is to singing.

Percussive violin? Isn't that an oxymoron? If I wanted to play percussion, I'd pick up the cymbals or a tambourine.

As a "musician" you have a choice. Either you stand on stage or in a group and don't do anything until it's your turn to play the melody (solo) or you learn to blend in and add to the accompaniment. You may have listened to the wrong Casey Driessen videos. One of the things that I love so much with the violin is it's versatility. I don't like to feel limited.

There's a chasm of difference between Darol (who's been playing for 50 years) and me who had 2 years of violin and have barely touched it in the 20 years since. I'm not a total beginner as I try to get back into it, but I'm not advanced (or fresh) either.

In case you were wondering. No, I wasn't in orchestra. School was too small to have one. 5 violinists in a class does not an orchestra make. For all 1st year students, we were doing to good to stay together.

I don't know what you mean by "getting wild". I don't know how to "get wild" w music.

The reference probably refers to loosing yourself in the music, picking up the tempo, kind of like a person who livens up the atmosphere at a party by being loud, funny, and interesting......

"The richest person is not the one who has the most,
but the one who needs the least."

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tesfalcon
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February 9, 2015 - 3:51 pm
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@DanielB

1) Since I wasn't born until 1975, you've forgotten more than I ever learned! I've been watching Music Theory vids on YouTube today and reading various websites on the topic. They start out with sheet music and use a piano for reference. Lots of new terms that make little sense as to why they talk about tension and problems in scales. Diminished, augmented, diatonic, philharmonic, gin & tonic, ... smokin' chronic!

2) NPR turned me on to Axis of Awesome on their whole "source of originality" series showing that there is NO originality in this world. It's all borrowed and mashed together from somewhere else. We might have not heard it before, but that doesn't make it new. As Solomon said, "There is NOTHING new under the sun." I guessed 3, but 4 chords (notes) is fine. Still, it's a lot easier than trying to figure out what the augmented 6th in D-flat is. Thanks for the simplicity. 

 

@fiddlerguy

1)"...you play gently and carefully on your instrument, to identify the bass note" - is that BASS note as in a LOW note or BASE note, the KEY note. One of the videos I watched said to HUM a drone during the song. If the drone sounds good throughout the song, it's likely the Key note. From there, all songs played in that scale would sound good. The 2 examples he used were in D-minor and D-sharp Blues scale.

2) "A major 3rd is the 3rd tone in a major scale and a minor 3rd is the 3rd tone in a minor scale." - Either you didn't catch my mistake or it was so off you just ignored it. A 3rds w C, not D.

3) Minor key songs. - I have deliberately avoided any songs written in minor key since I hadn't gotten that far in class. All songs that I've played were in C, G, or F. That's the beginning and that's the end. I've never played Greensleeves, Beethoven's 5th, or House of the Rising Sun. I had never heard "Greensleeves" until 3 years ago. I would have called it "What Child is This" since I was familiar with the Christmas Carol, but not the original tune it was written from.

4) FIL = Father-in-law. He can't read music. He knows no theory. He has an ear that hears notes that aren't there.

5) If he was such a good musician, how could I find any "bad" samples? I heard 3 Casey vids. They sounded like my cat scratching on his post.

"Casey Driessen Fiddling & Singing on a Gondola"

"Casey Driessen - Sugarfoot Rag - Dunegrass 2008"

"Casey Driessen plays and chops George Baehr's 5string"

6) Oddly enough, when I played on my turn, no one joined my song either. It was a true solo. Apparently, "Fields of Gold" wasn't as familiar as "Cotton-Eye Joe". I didn't know their music. They didn't know mine. I was an outsider on a "strange, tiny guitar". 

7) "The reference probably refers to loosing yourself in the music, picking up the tempo, kind of like a person who livens up the atmosphere at a party by being loud, funny, and interesting..." - Those people are usually drunk and get arrested on the way home.

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DanielB
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February 9, 2015 - 9:41 pm
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@tesfalcon:  Ok, a word about augmented and diminished chords.. They are not actually used much.  In the years that I've played, the only time I've used them even occasionally was in jazz.  Even there, not a lot, unless you're into playing certain kinds of jazz.  I wouldn't bother with studying or practising them much, if at all.  Not unless you're doing some genre of music where you need them. 

Most of the time what you need are just major chords and minor chords.  The difference between the two is the 3rd.  If you are not sure if a chord the others are playing is major or minor, you can either try a major or minor 3rd playing softly, like Pierre mentioned, or just skip it and stick to the root and the 5th of the chord.  The arpeggios are useful to give you more options for things to do instead of the one note per chord in the "Axis of Awesome" example I gave.  

But that one note per chord can be enough to get you started with playing along with a recording/vid or playing with others.

Find a note you can hum all the way through the song that sounds at least ok isn't a bad way of learning how to figure out the key by ear.  In a class I took a few months ago on musicianship, that was the main "technique" given for figuring out the key of a piece you don't know and don't have the sheet in front of you for.

Anyway, if you plan on playing with others, it is pretty much guaranteed that you will do a lot more backing up than you will "solo" or "lead".  (Unless you grow up to be Pierre or something.. LOL)  I think that you are doing good to figure out early on that it is a skill that you are going to want.  The point I was trying to make with the Axis of Awesome example is that it doesn't have to be hard or something you learn much later.  It is something even most beginners could learn early on, and the more you learn, the better you can do it.  In my personal opinion, it is a lot harder for a beginner to sound good playing solo than it is to learn to back up and play along with recordings or other people.  Playing solo, you have no real reference points for your intonation or keeping your timing.  It is where most of us do start, but I've been thinking on it lately, and I am not so sure that playing solo melodies is where we *should* start with violin/fiddle.

Some of the necessary basics would be easier to learn by playing along or playing backup, and it could be less discouraging in the early part of the learning process since it would "sound more like music" quicker for beginners. 

"This young wine may have a lot of tannins now, but in 5 or 10 years it is going to be spectacular, despite the fact that right now it tastes like crude oil. You know this is how it is supposed to taste at this stage of development." ~ Itzhak Perlman

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tesfalcon
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February 10, 2015 - 7:13 pm
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I found this: http://donrickert.typepad.com/.....Tuning.pdf

Using the 7 basic guitar chords of: E minor, C, G, D, A minor, E, & A

I then get a note list for violin chords as:

E minor = EGB

C = CEG

G = GBD

D = DF#A

A minor = ACE

E = EG#B

A = AC#E

Thus the 3rd is the first two letters (EG) or the 5th would be the first and last (EB).

It's 14 2-note chords instead of the guitar's 7 chords, but it's a start.

Going back to the original 4-note backup comment earlier, E C G & D are most of it.

I'm assuming that if I can play these different combinations across the 1st position, I can follow along with the guitar chord annotations and use a bowing pattern comparable to the guitar's strumming without having to know the exact notes of the melody.

Am I totally off-base or on target?

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