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Asher Guitars WD Music Products Amplified Parts Mod Kits DIY Nordstarnd Pickups

Is it only guitar players that......

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by boneyguy, Feb 21, 2012.

  1. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA
    continually get advice to listen to and emulate other instruments?

    Do piano players hear from their teachers instructions like "You should listen to guitar players more because your playing is too pianistic".

    Why is it that the guitar seems to me to get singled out as an instrument where we are often instructed to translate the qualities of other instruments on in order to be better musicians? "Listen to horn players". "Listen to piano players". "Listen to drummers".

    Is it as common an instruction for other instruments to hear this kind of directive?

    Are horn players ever asked to listen more to guitar players or piano players.?

    And while we're on it are piano players ever admonished for playing too pianistically and going for things that lay easily on the piano in the way that guitarists often are? Are pianistis routinely criticized for seeing visual patterns in the keyboard and relying on those to navigate the keyboard?

    Why does the guitar IMO seem to attract more of this kind of attention then other instruments?

    The guitar is a very visual instrument in terms of fretboard patterns but surely no more than a keyboard is.
    If your instrument of choice naturally by it's very design offers you obvious ways to navigate it (and I'm sure most do) in order to make music (and god forbid even have some fun) than why wouldn't we take full advantage of it along with other choices of approaches as well. Yet the guitar seems to get more than it's fair share of negative press in this regard and most of the criticism comes from other guitarists it seems to me.

    Just wondering.

  2. BigDaddyLH

    BigDaddyLH Telefied Ad Free Member

    I hear "too many notes" played on the piano all the time. If piano teachers aren't telling their students to listen to horn players and learn to "breathe", they perhaps they should.

  3. jazztele

    jazztele Poster Extraordinaire

    Sep 19, 2006
    I wonder about that too...

    I often wonder why guitar players go through so much trouble to make their guitar sound like something other than a sound great.

    Then again, I do think you can break out of ruts, particularly when improvising, by listening to other instruments...particualrly good for breaking out of comfort zone patterns, as that really cool trumpet lick you might want to cop might not sit in a nice shape on the guitar...

  4. ddewerd

    ddewerd Friend of Leo's Ad Free Member

    Maybe it has something to do with perhaps a difference in how guitar players vs others got into music?

    Think of a piano player, horn player, etc. Possibly started taking lessons at an early age, was in the school orchestra, etc. You might say a more formal musical education.

    Then take your typical guitar player. Sitting in his bedroom, dreaming about being a rock star, banging out 2 string power chords and hoping to get chicks. (Think of all of the "I'm a self taught guitarist" threads)

    Maybe there's something in that less formal learning setting that intrinsically exposes guitarists to less formal music experiences.

    But heck, what do I know.... I'm self taught :D


  5. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA
    It's almost like the guitar just isn't quite good enough as it is and as it just naturally 'wants' to be played. I'm curious about that.

    I see some strange parrallel between that and being human. Just simply being human as we all came out of the womb isn't quite good enough it seems for all cultures of mankind. We've got to tattoo and pierce and cut and pluck and shave and take bits off and add bits on and on and on. We are the guitars of the animal kingdom!!!

    Anyway, my thoughts wondered for a moment. :D

    Back to the guitar.....yes I agree wholeheardely that looking at other instruments for musical ideas is important and to be encouraged but the guitar just universally gets more of that directive and the attendant criticism levelled at it more than any other instrument that I'm aware of.

    And if that's true why is it so?

  6. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

    Well - arguably , there are exponentially more guitar players out there than brass, woodwind or orchestral string players just to name a few - we auditioned 300 people for college last year - 80 of those were guitarists - another 80 were singers...(theres another bunch that cops it!) - it may just be a case of statistics..

    Meanwhile , Keith Jarett has cited a few guitarists as major influences...

  7. ' burn 08

    ' burn 08 Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 26, 2011
    Decatur, AL
    Well one of the differences in guitar and piano when it comes to visual paterns comes when looking at the scales. On a piano, you only have one axis to work, horizontal, when working a scale up or down. But on a guitar you can move horizontal or vertical. To me, this expalines why the guitar is so much more visual. I think the versitality the guitar offers as a chordophone may contribute to why you hear things like "think of a horn line." I honestly use horn lines all the time. But I think that isn't so much of trying to get your guitar to sound like a horn as it is taking influence from the rhythmic or melodic content of the horn line. Having played other instruments I can say that you could take another instument and play like a guitar, if you were talking about rhythm or melody. Historically speaking I would dare guess that drums and horns were around before chordophones. This may explaine the reference. I think also that the versitality of the guitar as compared to other instruments may be why you don't have as many people making references to playing other instruments "like a guitar." One of the obvious differences is the ability to play chords vs. single note lines. Plus I think in comparing anything to a guitar part you would have to be very specific with the sample you wanted compared as opposed to the generic "think about a guitar part" that you might say as opposed to "think of a horn line." When you think of horn parts to a song, you usually think of something very specific. Also, it may have to do with the guitar being considered the instrument of the layman. Just my thoughts.

  8. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

    Mar 31, 2007
    victoria b.c. CANADA
    I'm thinking this one over SP and I'm not sure if that accounts for it. Maybe, but I'm not convinced. I'm inclined to consider that it's something more intrinsic to the design of the guitar itself. Maybe.

    The guitar in it's brief history has come to occupy a truly unique place in popular music in terms of it's popularity. And of course popularity is something that's measured in numbers so maybe what your saying contains some of the reason behind my observation. But I think it must run deeper than just numbers.

    There's just something about a guitar. Do piano players sit around for hours discussing what kind of strings they use? Do sax players on internet forums discuss all the colour options available to them?

    Look at all the monthly guitar magazines that exist!!!

    We've often heard that the Inuit have 50 different words for snow. Well that's a very clear indication of the importance of snow in their culture. The more ways we have to talk about something and the finer the distinctions we make about that thing that require all kinds of language specific to that 'thing', well, that's strong evidence of the status a thing has attained in a culture. In that light it's interesting to consider the guitar in this culture. Dozens of mags devoted. Hundreds of brands of guitar strings. A thousand different guitar picks. A thousand different brands of guitars etc etc.

    No other instrument can boast that kind of cultural importance. Why?

    And does the answer to that question have any bearing on the answer to the original question in my OP?

  9. TC6969

    TC6969 Friend of Leo's

    Dec 28, 2007
    Rockledge Florida
    Thats my main complaint with Piano players.

    They're just too busy most of the time!

  10. DaveG

    DaveG Tele-Meister

    Jul 1, 2003
    High Bridge, NJ
    I think it's all of the things mentioned, but mostly it's this:
    "that really cool trumpet lick you might want to cop might not sit in a nice shape on the guitar"
    I know so many guitar players who only know one way to do something, one set of chord shapes or lick patterns that they never break out of. So, the muscle memory takes over and it's easy. And entire bodies of guitar-based (that's why we call it that...) music have evolved out of those patterns.

    Look at one of the licks of the month in this month's Guitar Player magazine, - that "alternate way" to play the Chuck Berry root/5th/6th thing using 3 strings instead of reaching on 2, that Steve Miller's guy showed the author. I showed that to my r git player years ago and he was completely perplexed by it - it's easy and sort of obvious, but it was a total knuckle buster for him and he just gave up on it... Why? He's so rooted in the pattern he first learned and the guitar-based style that it's rooted in that he can't think of the notes in a larger musical context. Which of course speaks to his range of musical imagination.... and... we're back to "guitar-based music" again...!

    This has always been a problem going back to the 19thC attempts of Giuliani, et. al. to be more respected in the wider musical world. Read "Practicing: A Musician's Return to Music" by Glenn Kurtz for a good summary of that and a lot of insight into "piano envy."

    Also, the guitar is a physical puzzle - unlike the piano or most brass instruments where there's only one physical location or way of playing a note (yes, I know about overblowing and plucking inside the piano...), on the guitar you have some notes that you can play, what, 4, 5 places? And they all sound different. And of course there are some combinations of notes that are just physically impossible but easy on say the piano... Thus, "guitar-based" musical styles.

    This only addresses the physical aspect of the finding pitches on the instrument, with nothing about articulation. And, the "electricness" of the modern guitar is a whole other aspect that also influences what notes people do or don't play.

    All of the above is why we love it and hate it!
    <play on!>

  11. Mjark

    Mjark Doctor of Teleocity

    Feb 14, 2011
    Annapolis, MD
    The best pianist I know and he's really really good told me that bass was his favorite instrument. He did study with pianist Bernard Peiffer though and then studied/played with bassist Al Staufer in Philly back in the day. Whether he was ever advised as noted above...I don't know.

    There's certainly nothing wrong with listening to other instruments. Oscar Peterson is maybe my all time favorite musician.

  12. ottocat

    ottocat Tele-Meister

    Jul 7, 2009
    woods creek 30mi.Ne of seattle
    Using the logic of a "humble peasant" such as myself .The guitar is totally visual ,
    unless you are blind .
    Laying it on your lap and looking at it , it is a keyboard , only 6 of them .
    I found that using "conventional wisdom " of playing with the thumb behind the neck
    and the back against your body ,I cannot see the fretboard entirely . Only isolated spots , the way my head tilts and the angle of my eyes ,isolates my view.
    IMHO the way it is held makes players see in Boxes , not the overall neck , therefore making it difficult to relate to the Matrix effect the strings have .The horizontal and vertical. Resulting in Pentatonic wankerage .
    I read a treatise on the term di-atonic today .In Greek the prefix di means 2, but it also means through .Therefore through the tones . Ever heard the question which pentatonic box do I use for X ? To me it is not a question of 5 tones but, playing diatonic through the tones .
    As to your question , I play more like a keyboard player on my lap using my thumb also , on my left hand . I can see it . Everything makes so much more sense when you can see the shapes and relationships. The human mind is very good at recognizing patterns . The more I see the more I have to choose from .Not to mention how much more I can reach between my thumb and pinky.Play a dim. triad on the bottom 3 strings say BDF .can you reach it without moving your hand? On your lap thumb ,index and ring ,
    easy .
    That's my theory anyway . Many scoff at me. Many ,in fact most , great players use the paradigm method .Para-nickles IMO .I've vastly improved changing method .
    When you get down to it most people don't really listen anyway . Most guitar players
    especially young ones sound the same to me.
    I've done a few gigs recently .It is the funniest thing , first solo of the night ,playing along , end the tune, look up and see every eye in the place wait staff ,patrons , kitchen help ,50 people, jaws open ,deer in the headlight look ,right at me ......then actual applause . I've received nothing but compliments .The owners want to rebook us.
    So I'm sticking to it.

  13. middy

    middy Friend of Leo's

    Apr 28, 2010
    Dallas, TX
    I used to go watch a local jazz quartet back in my college days. They had a keyboard player who would take solos on a Jimi Hendrix cover. I was amazed at how good it sounded, sometimes just like a guitar (he would use the pitch wheel thingie for bends). I asked him once what kind of new fangled keyboard he was using to get such great sounds. Turns out, it was just a typical middle-range Roland keyboard. He said, "It sounds like a guitar mostly because I play the licks a guitar player would play, and use the bends and vibrato that a guitar player would use."

    So, yeah. They do copy us.

  14. ' burn 08

    ' burn 08 Tele-Afflicted

    Feb 26, 2011
    Decatur, AL
    Well, one of the reasons that guitar is so popular, why it is the instrument of the layman, is because it is easy to learn (but hard to master). It goes back to the visual nature of the guitar. I used to play sax, and tuba. The only two finishes I've ever seen have been brass and silver. I don't know if there even are any other color options. Maybe there is a market for alternative finishes, I don't know. But I think the differences between guitars and other intstruments in regards of options, finishes , ect is two fold. One being the mindset of the players. It may just be that the players of traditional instruments like traditional finishes. But I also see it as a difference in manufacturing and materials. Because of the versatility of the guitar there are more options in materials you can use. And as we all know, wood choice and construction can have an effect on sound. It's one of the reasons why a fender is going to sound different than a gibby. But I can't think of anything that would make a Vito alto sax sound different than a Yamaha. The sax design doesn't leave much for variation. Also, it is relatively cheap to build and manufacture guitars, especially on a mass scale. So it becomes easier to allow for more options, even if just finish options. And as far as the marketing aspect goes, you are marketing to relatively different bases. The guitar is marketed towards a wider range of people than traditional instruments, hence the larger range of options. Plus, in a sea of guitars, things like finish options become more important as a away of individualizing your guitar. I will say this, there probably are sax guys on a forum having debates about reeds and things like that.

  15. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

    Nov 28, 2006
    NELA, Ca
    +1 to the above.

    IMO ... guitar players tend to generally have a pretty bad music education in general. The proliferation of TAB (and frankly, the dearth of inaccurate and just plain BAD how to vids) should be an obvious and dead giveaway as to how forlorn the 'education' of and for guitarists can be. So yeah, we repeatedly DO need to be told to get away from 'guitar' and listen to music. The guys who make it are the guys that figure that out.

    *Having said that, yes - in jazz education all instrumentalists are told to listen to and transcribe other instruments ... even listen to guitarists ;)

  16. rave

    rave Tele-Meister

    Jun 17, 2011
    Los Angeles
    I find the most self taught instruments are the ones you can start a rock band with, guitar, bass and drums. Rarely have I met a self taught sax, clarinet etc player.

    The reason I have been given as to why guitar players should listen to horns is related to the busyness. I was told horn players solos leave space because they breath relates to the sound of their instrument and the how and why of leaving space. So I was told listen to how horn player phrase solos to hear how leaving space can improve a solo.

  17. sax4blues

    sax4blues Friend of Leo's

    Apr 14, 2006
    San Jose, CA
    I'm not sure I'm reading this correctly, I would guess exponentially more band instrument players. At my son's high school there were more than 200 kids in the band program. I would have no way of knowing a number but exponentially more guitarist would be a big number. Of course some of the band kids play guitar also.

    His school has an actual guitar program which is considered to have good enrolment and there are about 40 kids in the program, and again some of those kids play band instruments.

    When I look at college marching band programs there can easily be 200 kids on the field, so I'm surprised that exponentially more kids are active guitar players.

    Of my lifetime circle of friends, not including acquaintances made for the purpose of playing guitar music, I regularly hear about people playing flute, or trumpet, or clarinet when they were in school. But I only know five people who play guitar.

  18. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

    Nov 5, 2006
    Iowa City, IA
    In classical music, musicians often reference the singing voice as a model of lyrical phrasing.

    In jazz, the ideal of the "horn" seems pretty pervasive in the history of guitar solos. Did Charlie Christian ever comment on this, does anyone know?

    Boneyguy, this is a very interesting question.

  19. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

    Well I think thats also 'instrumental'(sorry) in this issue. And we are lumped in with piano players there. Listening to musicians who have to breathe is a tonic to the number cruncher syndrome - particularly in Jazz.
    And yet some of the worst offenders are - Saxophone players - so go figure.

    BG I there is definitely a cultural element here. I guess I've also felt that the masses of discussion around the electric guitar in particular and all the gear that goes with it are also the 'marketplaces' way of trying to create new options , new sounds , new looks, new ways of doing things(and selling the same old things), as individual players struggle to find a unique voice amongst the squillions of guitarists out there. Its pretty certain that the collective ear has figured out that there are limitations on what electronics can produce sonically , whereas there are still a myriad of complexities in the analog and acoustic signals - borne out by the about turn to vintage elecronics and gear - people abandoning digital audio for vinyl again - or just the abandonment of amps altogether - it goes and on. All of this activity means that a few voices really shine.

  20. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

    Yep - you are reading it correctly - but as I said 'arguably'...If we are talking formal study and band programmes then sure, guitar players are a minority - my daughter's school is the same - they dont even have a guitar programme - but then I wander past the local music shop and there are three teachers working from 3pm to 10 pm 5 nights a week teaching (mainly kids and mainly guitar -some bass too) - they would have more but they just dont have room. And then you have the self taught legions out there...

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