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How much did/do the 'greats' know what they were / are doing?

Discussion in 'Sidewinders Bar & Grille' started by Martins Strat, May 14, 2019.

  1. Martins Strat

    Martins Strat Strat-Talker

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    This in a nutshell is what I was wondering. Do some well respected guitarists know it's the minor third or are they going off 10,000 plus hours of experience just knowing that it works?

    I'm enjoying learning the bits I'm starting to pick up. It's a bit of a revelation to me that I can learn some theory without having to learn to read music, I wish I'd understood that much earlier.
     
  2. Martins Strat

    Martins Strat Strat-Talker

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    This is a good point. There are clearly many guitarists with vast amounts of theory knowledge that are very expressive. But there are maybe a few who are regarded as being extremely technically proficient perhaps at the expense of expression.
     
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  3. Martins Strat

    Martins Strat Strat-Talker

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    Sorry, was only joking here.

    I didn't mean to open a can of worms and I didn't mean to imply that less knowledge is somehow better. I just wondered how much those guys thought about the theory side or was it more knowledge based on experience? The Crossroads example that someone mentioned is exactly the kind of thing I was thinking of.
     
  4. rich815

    rich815 Senior Stratmaster

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    Exactly. Some people need “Life Coaches”, others just live.
     
  5. jaxjaxon

    jaxjaxon Strat-Talker

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    most do know the theory behind what they want to achieve But it would still take a lot of experimenting to achieve it. some had a good idea of the sound they wanted and knew where to start to get the sound. like Link Wray and his approach to distortion or Dick Dale and his use of tremolo.
     
  6. Fakenewts

    Fakenewts Strat-Talk Member

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    Maybe what people see as a link between being 'deep in theory' and perceived 'clinical' playing has some correlation behind it; it's possible that, statistically speaking, popular electric guitar players who've been studious and nerdy enough to stay up late learning how to use Mixolydian B6 or whatever may be on average more likely to enjoy, and seek to play, a certain type of music. Or just to play with a certain rigor that is a turnoff for some listeners. Whereas by ear musicians could've been more likely to be the kind of freewheelin' pot smokin' rock paradigms we all grew up admiring. Players loudly and proudly eschewing 'technicality' seems peculiar to rock/pop and maybe that's why.

    I value learning theory now and I wish I'd paid more attention when studying for classical grades back in the day, but in terms of the music I enjoy listening to I've always tended to lean towards simpler stuff - I would much rather listen to Nirvana over Dream Theater, Hendrix over Malmsteen, Chopin over Bartok, all of which is personal and subjective... the mistake though was thinking that a dislike of certain musicians I perceived as excessively technical should equate to a dislike of music theory, as if the application of theory itself was a genre, which it clearly isn't. It's just a language and tool, and knowing more stuff is good.
     
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  7. Strat Jacket

    Strat Jacket Senior Stratmaster

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    Ah, but there is way more than just notes and scales.
    Way more.
    Tone, feedback, tremolo, pinch harmonics and muting can be learned and imitated/duplicated, but when I listen to a true classic, I am blown away by the thought process that caused the original artist to created that style to begin with. That is what separates the player from the genius. These are the people that know their guitar and amp as intimately as you can know yourself; for example, they know if they set the amp and guitar settings a certain way, they'll start a feedback loop as they turn toward the amp from 4 feet away. This isn't theory, it's familiarization. It can't be taught unless the player himself is teaching you. As another example, it took me weeks of practicing and listening to be able to play the scorching intro riff to Steely Dan's "Reelin' in the Years"...Elliott Randall belted it out, completely off the cuff with no dry runs or practice only having heard the rhythm track once.
    That's genius. And IMHO you can't buy it or teach it.
     
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  8. fezz parka

    fezz parka Making a record.... Strat-Talk Supporter

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    Harrison called dim chords the naughty chords. But he knew where they went, and he knew where they'd work as subs. Like vii° in place of the V7. :)
     
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  9. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

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    His use of diminished chords was sublime. You can almost miss the one in My Sweet Lord.
     
  10. hexnut

    hexnut Strat-Talker

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    The good ones were given a natural talent. They were born with musical ability. Many others had to learn it through sweat and hours of practice.
     
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  11. guitarface

    guitarface Senior Stratmaster

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    If you're born with the talent of a paul McCartney or an eric Clapton, have at it. If not, hit the books. :p
     
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  12. Tone Deaf

    Tone Deaf Senior Stratmaster Silver Member

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    Some folks are born with an inherent gift. People choose to either ignore or develop this according to their own drive.

    You cannot teach genius - whatever the discipline.
    Genius creates - to a degree that sometimes befuddles the rank & file.

    Wolfgang Mozart
    Jimi Hendrix
    Pablo Picasso
    Orson Welles

    You get the picture.

    Lesser mortals can also achieve success and notoriety but learning structural specifics of their craft comes into play in varying degrees.
     
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  13. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I have not done a study, nor researched it, but there appear to me to be personality types that gravitate toward different approaches and different music. There are some that value complexity to such a degree that they disregard a lot of other stuff.

    People that have a touch of OCPD in their makeup will often be quite technically proficient because the practice more due to their OCPD. Not a shocker they would gravitate toward the complex.
     
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  14. Antstrat

    Antstrat Senior Stratmaster

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    The greats and all that came before them all had one thing in common: They couldn't do anything else. They had no desire to do anything else. Call it fate or alternate wiring of the brain they were so deeply passionate about music that's all they lived for 24/7, soaking up all they could from a culture of guitarists that were a community and shared new ideas with each other.

    Did they know what they were doing? Sometimes they did and sometimes they didn't. There was a lot of experimenting and risk taking especially in live shows. That's why they are the greats, they pushed boundaries.
     
  15. Nate D

    Nate D Most Honored Senior Member

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    I disagree with this for the most part. Yes, one had to have some level inclination and aptitude for something in the first place, but most of us have probably not put in the 10k hours it takes to be a master of something.

    That’s the difference. Whether or not we choose to accept it, most of the people we talk about have put in that time. 10,000 hours to be a master. That’s 5 yrs of it being a full time job.

    I’ve never been a brick mason, but if I worked at it for 40hrs a week for the next 5 years, I’d bet I’d be pretty good with a trowel (as many of the folks on this forum are :)).

    They locked themselves away and studied their craft. Whether by ear or apprenticeship they put in the time. To those of you on this forum that have done the work to be a master I salute you.
     
  16. Antstrat

    Antstrat Senior Stratmaster

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    Well said.

    No 401K, no health benefits, paid holidays and on and on, they just went for it and many lived in poverty while doing so. I really believe the struggling a lot of them went through just added to their passion and came out in their music.
     
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  17. Dadocaster

    Dadocaster Dr. Stratster Strat-Talk Supporter

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    I think the struggling mostly fueled drug and alcohol abuse and neurosis.
     
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  18. Antstrat

    Antstrat Senior Stratmaster

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    Well there is that too but I didn't want to go too far off the rails from the intended spirit of the OP's thread.
     
  19. StratoMutt

    StratoMutt Strat-Talker

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    There are those who have an uncanny natural talent most will never know.
     
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  20. Silvercrow

    Silvercrow Senior Stratmaster

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    Natural talent, by degrees, or "sweat-equity", a combination of both? All of the above? I was not given the talent of the greats mentioned here- but a little talent, with some theory and selected mentor-ship can go a long way. Having a good ear and feel, knowing the fretboard; knowing when to play...and when not to, all combine to make a memorable solo or song. IMO.

    But I can't imagine Hendrix, Clapton or the like sitting with their instrument and saying "Well, I could go to mixolidian or dorian here, then finish with something in aoelian..."(probably ALL spelled wrong...LOL).

    Some, like Santana- mention "heart" and I think thats a big part of what I appreciate most about our instrument of choice. That and thinking "outside the box" [pentatonic or otherwise...]LOL.

    These guys by and large had it all goin' on, and I always marvel at their expression and talent.
     
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