Curious, does anybody just...play the guitar?

Discussion in 'Bad Dog Cafe' started by John Backlund, Jul 16, 2020.

  1. John Backlund

    John Backlund Poster Extraordinaire Gold Supporter

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    I mean just instinctively, in nearly complete, blissful, ignorance of the proper way of doing anything musically other than just finding a way to make nice sounds come out of your guitar?

    I'm like this, and always have been...for better or worse, which it often is. I find a way to match my guitar's tuning with my vocal range, but never really know what key I may be in to do it, it just sounds 'right' and I go with it. Of course, I never play with other people, so, again, it really doesn't matter, as long as it sounds 'right'.

    It's oddly liberating...and at the same time, cripplingly restrictive.
     
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  2. unixfish

    unixfish Doctor of Teleocity Silver Supporter

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    You mean just play licks, never learn songs, play stuff in whatever key I land on by chance, and never really "learn"? Oh yeah, major guilty.

    It was just a year or two ago I started learning what notes were on the fret board. I could always figure it out - I can read music, played in band / orchestra in High School and college, but never translated that across. Guitar was just a "pleasant distraction" - play, don't think or analyze. Liberating, but limiting.
     
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  3. artdecade

    artdecade Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yup. As a Hank Marvin fan, I've always strove to make the guitar sing the melody. Flash and effects are fun, but it is gratifying to strip it all back and hear the guitar as a "voice" and not an amplified piece of wood.
     
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  4. PhredE

    PhredE Tele-Holic

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    Classical guitar for me almost exclusively these days.. One has to get 'into the zone' and tune the rest of the world out. It can be a real Zen thing when (*if*!) my brain and fingers cooperate to begin to make something known as 'music'. It does kinda work well with the current turmoil going on all around us. It does instill a certain level of discipline and follow through that might otherwise go unaddressed. I play mostly just to please me (and close family and friends) -- I know, it's selfish, but keeps me centered and something close to sane these days. I realize I'm probably in the extreme outer tails of the normal curve, but hey, I go with what works for me.
     
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  5. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's Gold Supporter

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    I'd like to think I do this. I'm glad I got a looper pedal again as it helps capture little moments that otherwise would have floated away. I do have 1 or 2 friends I still play with, or could theoretically. I'm not really trying to get better at the guitar, but I did just buy a book on blues rhythm playing. I'm trying different things with the looper to see where they take me. I don't have any guilt about it at all. I also don't consider "giving up" when I see someone who's really good. I'm actually glad because then I don't need to feel bad because I might make him insecure.
     
  6. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Do you mean that your playing is completely untouched by knowledge of chords and scales? If I say, play a C major chord, you don't know what to do?
    Well, that sounds like a recipe for frustration. I do think that the untutored / outsider artist can occasionally find their way to interesting stuff, but mostly I think it involves flailing around only to eventually wind up learning what you could have learned far faster from a few lessons and a book, or a free youtube series. It will also make it impossible to play with others, which is the real joy in playing music.

    The idea that knowledge is a straightjacket for artists is a crock of s$&% in my opinion. I'm not completely sure that's where you were headed in your post, but if so, that's my opinion!

    You might try Justin Guitar on Youtube for free and easy beginner lessons, if you have picking skills the lessons would probably go fast.
     
  7. basher

    basher Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    I started out playing classical guitar when I was 12, and I had music theory classes starting from around that time too, so I learned a fairly left-brained, academic, analytical way of approaching music. Even now that I mostly play by ear (and haven't played classical in decades), I'm still usually thinking of scales and modes and note functions and all that when I play. It's wonderful and amazing when I can just let go and let the sounds I'm making guide me. I'd like to habituate myself to doing that more.
     
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  8. SixStringSlinger

    SixStringSlinger Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I took music theory for two years in high school (having started playing guitar two years before that), and for a while it was hard to shake thinking of "the rules" (itself an uncharitable way of thinking of music theory; it's less about what you "can" do or are "supposed" to do and more a consistent system of names and relationships). Eventually, though, I evened out and I can use my basic-but-solid theory knowledge to think about what I'm playing without that getting in my way.

    You can have both.
     
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  9. blowtorch

    blowtorch Telefied Ad Free Member

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    yeah i try to have my brain not get in the way of what i'm doing. sometimes I'm successful at that

    i understand the liberating comment, but not the restrictive one.
    you're only limited by your creativity and imagination and passion , IMO
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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  10. davenumber2

    davenumber2 Friend of Leo's

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    I just play whatever come to mind. Mostly noodle until I find something that perks my ear up. I learned scales and practiced diligently years ago when I was younger. When I have the time to play (which isn't nearly as much as I would like with life and kids and all) I really don't want to "practice". It just makes it seem like work and not fun.
     
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  11. alnico357

    alnico357 Tele-Afflicted

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    My goal has always been to play with other people, so no, OP, I learned the rules. I enjoy the knowledge.
     
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  12. tfarny

    tfarny Friend of Leo's

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    Oh, I should add - I do plenty of "free doodling" when I play. My wife calls it "Jimi Hendrixing" lol. Plenty of experimenting. Knowing something about how music "works" doesn't prevent screwing around. I feel like knowing about music will help turn an interesting or unusual doodle into a full song that others could collaborate on.
     
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  13. gwjensen

    gwjensen Friend of Leo's Platinum Supporter

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    I'm an improviser at heart, so I have to have something to play along to, whether its a backing track or slotting myself into a a song....
     
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  14. trapdoor2

    trapdoor2 Tele-Afflicted Gold Supporter

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    I do this with clawhammer banjo. Pick a tuning and just start playing. Sometimes I come up with structure, sometimes it is just rhythmic noise.

    I think it is the open tunings that allows such freedom (plus 40 yrs of playing). I've never tried it on the guitar.
     
  15. NWinther

    NWinther Tele-Afflicted

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    Almost everyday these days
    Just play to get stuff out of my head.....like ever since when I started out, later on that changed....
    It is a good way of just enjoying the sound.....

    Normally when I was younger it was only to practise and learn tunes....
    Now I never practise nor learning any tunes...haha.
    Just sit with my acoustic and looking out the window.....afterwards I go...huh what was that about??! :D :D
     
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  16. Whatizitman

    Whatizitman Friend of Leo's

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    Yeah, kinda. I have some background in musical theory. But I've always liked guitar because I don't have to apply it, much. I do apply some CAGED things (if that's what it is) and rule of fifths. That and some pentatonic minor and major licks. How I ultimately put it all together is up to my ear.

    And that's just what I've learned since picking up the guitar. I didn't really need to know any of that to learn chords and sing along. It wasn't until I wanted to write songs and play solos that I had to figure a few things out. Having an ear trained for music and ensemble before that is what helped me get up to speed very quickly. Well, for arranging and rhythm playing, that is. I will always suck at notes. I have hams for mitts.

    Nowadays, if I want to deal with theory, I play bass. :D Guitar is just for noodling and learning my heroes' solos.
     
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  17. hemingway

    hemingway Poster Extraordinaire

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    Yeah, I'm a noodler. I don't read music or know notation at all. I can get a bit pentatonic at times if I'm not careful. But I like to just plug in clean and let it happen. That's my favourite kind of playing.

    Practice? Not unless I have anything I need to learn.
     
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  18. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire

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    As my theory teacher explained, theory doesn't explain how to make music sound good. It explains why certain music sounds good.
     
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  19. Chiogtr4x

    Chiogtr4x Poster Extraordinaire

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    I learned how to play guitar from two sort of parallel but maybe separate tracks- a good ear, being common to both- and after decades I'm still learning in the same manner:

    I don't read music or tab ( I've tried but too much time has passed), but I learned how to play ( in 1970's HS Church folk group) by learning basic chords ( and building ) from chord charts and just knowing the melodies in my.head, when to make the chord
    changes.
    Right hand strumming, and my ' two finger ' picking ( thumb and forefinger)actually came very easy. I now use either a flatpick, or a thumbpick/flatpick along with either index or middle finger, but not all 3 ( or pinky) together.

    I was able to read chord charts in popular songbooks ( Beatles, Cat Stevens...) and just make quick association of how to play music from hearing songs on radio and records.

    Lead guitar came along the same way but really ( the ' other track') by just a lot of f**king around all over the fretboard, ' what's up there?' and just hearing what sounded good or bad. Then the lightbulb hits you that you can repeat same patterns up and down the neck, or on different sets of strings. Also lightbulb moment- realizing that everything on fingerboard from the 12th fret up repeats itself!

    A lot of fun trial and error, and good ear and memory!
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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  20. Fretting out

    Fretting out Friend of Leo's

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    I know a couple chords but couldn’t play a arpeggiated scale to save my life (I once said this and someone said if you know a couple chords than somehow you know the scale? So that’s why I phrase it that way)

    I know about a dozen chords (maybe) and mostly play off variations of those

    So no theory but I do know a LITTLE

    and I play in open-G all the time now so I just make up everything I play

    I learned by chord books and chords in magazines, I never got into tabs and by the time I understood tabs I was well on my way and never used them.
    I’m probably one of the last generations to learn without going on the computer, YouTube wasn’t a thing yet and I never even thought to look up/google “how to play guitar?”. seems kind of silly now but I never even considered it (this is probably one of the first things a new guitarist does today, goes to YouTube and google)

    I would look up chords but that’s it
     
    Last edited: Jul 16, 2020
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