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to play or to copy

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by heltershelton, Dec 5, 2018.

  1. Relaxing at Cam

    Relaxing at Cam Strat-Talk Member

    Nov 25, 2018
    Camarillo, CA
    I play from sheet music and improvise. I have a few songs memorized.

    I have picked out a few riffs by ear.

    As far as copying a style, no. I'm not a session musician and don't have that skill.
    gwjensen likes this.
  2. rolandson

    rolandson Most Honored Senior Member


    if i am...was... being paid to play a part, I'd play my part as written...down to the hemidemisemiquaver ...

    look it up...

    (spend a bunch of months in the pit of an Andrew Lloyd Webber production and ... s**t like that becomes second nature.)

    When playing, just making music, someone else's music, it has been my practice to get it as written first. To know the piece inside and out, it's flavor, shortcomings, strengths...all of it. Only then do I give myself liberties.

    Going into a club to sit in and someone calls out a piece that has a uniquely distinctive head. Improv doesn't really cut it in times like that. Which isn't to say that there doesn't come a time to step out, but...

    one needs to know the when and how doing so is acceptable.
  3. dogletnoir

    dogletnoir WBLV Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 1, 2013
    northeastern us
    For good or ill, i've worked pretty hard not to sound like anybody besides myself.
    jimyjazz, knh555, Cerb and 6 others like this.
  4. montemerrick

    montemerrick spiritual birthday, April 1 Strat-Talk Supporter

    for good (very). you can trust me on this. i wouldn't give you a bum steer.
    dogletnoir and Silvercrow like this.
  5. Silvercrow

    Silvercrow Senior Stratmaster

    Nov 6, 2014
    Bucks County, Pa.
    I'm not a session musician and I extremely dislike [hate] playing things "as recorded" or note for note. I can do it (unless we're talking myriad players better than I am...LOL) but seriously, ever since I started playing, particularly lead, I'll sit down with tab or pick things out by ear. Almost every time I'll think "THIS would sound cool / better here.." or "Why the &*$% didn't they / he play THIS here..." and before you know it I'm making my own version / arrangement.

    As stated above, I too, would rather create my own music songs than cover others'.

    Typical example; my originals band final concert together. We'd never done covers but we each picked one to do that night. I chose "Levee" ala Led Zeppelin. IIRC the open tuning was "C" or "C#". As I'm learning it, I take a "break" and start fingerpicking; soon, a tune is forming. Wrote a pretty cool progression that had nothing to do with Levee but I was excited!

    I also extremely dislike going to hear a local band live and hear them play cover songs note for note. Just my opinion, but if I want to hear the song played as recorded, I'll listen to the recording! I WANT to hear a new / different take on cover songs...again JMHO.

    gwjensen and Believer7713 like this.
  6. Stark

    Stark Ghost of Johnny Thunders Strat-Talk Supporter

    Jul 16, 2011
    Richmond Annex, CA
    I just love knocking out all those riffs—some ‘r mine, some aren’t, but I try to make ‘em all mine, ‘cause they’re all rock ‘n roll!

    gwjensen and Electgumbo like this.
  7. Musekatcher

    Musekatcher Strat-O-Master

    Jun 30, 2016
    meridianam altum centralis
    Those that can, copy. Those that can't....

    All the great improvisers almost unanimously, from jazz to bluegrass, consistently and emphatically promote learning the signature tunes and solos that defined the art form first, and then more intelligently contribute thru improvisation. Otherwise, "it ain't no part of nuthin".
  8. 808K

    808K Strat-O-Master

    Apr 24, 2018
    Philly, USA
    I have trouble copying.
    I have trouble improvising.
    I have trouble playing guitar.
    I suck at guitar, but will die trying to get better.
  9. The Strat Dude

    The Strat Dude Posy rules! Strat-Talk Supporter

    Hell most of the things I play that are note for note still dont sound like the original, so I guess I'm just making it mine, yeah that's it.:whistling:;)
  10. StratMike10

    StratMike10 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Apr 8, 2010
    I mostly play my songs or improvise/ramble when I'm playing alone, but I'm part of two informal bands who are only interested in doing covers (old men bands obviously).

    I enjoy both, and I do like The Strat Dude, I rarely learn note for note and go from memory as much as memory allows. Not because I have good memory, but because I'm too lazy to look it up and learn it note for note.
  11. ido1957

    ido1957 Senior Stratmaster

    Oct 13, 2014
    Some songs I do note for note. Some songs I improv. Probably 50-50.
    I play at pub jams so a lot of improv goes on there and I am working hard to increase my "bag of tricks".
    I think scales (or whatever you want to call it) and knowing the notes on your fretboard is a good foundation for improv.
    gwjensen likes this.
  12. henderman

    henderman Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Dec 4, 2013
    some little pieces if i do not play them note for note i can not play them, but most of my guitar time is improv and jam session experiment time.
    gwjensen likes this.
  13. Thrup'ny Bit

    Thrup'ny Bit Grand Master Curmudgeon Strat-Talk Supporter

    May 21, 2010
    I don't even play well known instrumentals note for note, I may as well just put the record on and sit down...
    Cerb and gwjensen like this.
  14. TheDuck

    TheDuck Most Honored Senior Member

    Jan 12, 2016
    Lil' Rhody
    I dont intentionally copy. Though I am sure some of what my influences played comes through in my playing.
    gwjensen likes this.
  15. carver

    carver The East Coast Strangler Strat-Talk Supporter

    Improv is one of the ways I love to jam with others. It really shows you another persons perspective.

    For my self. When playing improv. I play the groove in my head. now. if that groove just so happens to be similar to X and X then I guess great minds think alike right?

    just have to be sure that I dont play a harmony similar to one Gene Simmons walked past one day while he was at a guitar store and some guy was playing it. Gene owns it now.
    gwjensen likes this.
  16. gwjensen

    gwjensen Senior Stratmaster

    Improviser at heart.... don't know a lot of songs... I find it almost tedious to learn them unless I REALLY like the tune... prefer to come up with my own parts and play along.

    Lately I've been doing a lot of improvising over backing tracks, mostly blues and country.
  17. dogletnoir

    dogletnoir WBLV Strat-Talk Supporter

    Nov 1, 2013
    northeastern us
    While it is true that there is much to be gleaned from the study of what has come before, i wouldn't count transcribing
    &/or learning solos by Charlie Christian as 'copying' any more than i would if i were playing a piece by Bach or Mozart.
    You do need to know the history of the genre and its stylistic conventions, and looking back can help a lot in that respect.
    When he was coming up, Wes Montgomery learned Charlie Christian solos note for note apparently, but he still managed
    to develop his own individual sound and approach to soloing.
    Lester Young learned Frankie Trumbauer solos. He didn't end up sounding like Trumbauer, though.
    The same with Charlie Parker and Lester Young, and 'Trane and Charlie Parker.
    While what you do in the woodshed definitely informs what you do on the bandstand, i think it is important to differentiate
    between 'copying' and 'appropriating' the work of those who preceded us. ;)

    "Nothing is original. Steal from anywhere that resonates with inspiration or fuels your imagination.
    Devour old films, new films, music, books, paintings, photographs, poems, dreams, random conversations,
    architecture, bridges, streets, signs, trees, clouds, bodies of water, light and shadows.
    Select only things to steal from that speak directly to your soul.
    If you do this, your work (and theft) will be authentic.
    Authenticity is invaluable; originality is non-existent.
    And don’t bother concealing your thievery – celebrate it, if you feel like it.
    In any case, always remember what Jean-Luc Godard said,It’s not where you take things from –
    it’s where you take things to.”

    - Jim Jarmusch, film maker
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2018
    gwjensen and Cerb like this.
  18. evangilder

    evangilder Strat-Talker

    Sep 18, 2018
    Ventura, California
    I believe in keeping somewhat true to the original enough to where it is recognizable, but try to give my own take on it so I make it more personal. I don't want to sound "just like" someone else.
  19. Stratoman10

    Stratoman10 Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter

    Aug 24, 2015
    Va. Beach, Va
    As much as I wouldn't mind being a human jukebox at times I'm not that guy. So fake it til it sounds close is as good as I get
    gwjensen likes this.
  20. Percy

    Percy Most Honored Senior Member Strat-Talk Supporter