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Re: Key Signatures
AZNpiano #3031876 10/04/20 07:09 AM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
Originally Posted by jeffcat
You are making the wrong analogy connections..

Sight reading is like Transcription <on a computer keyboard>

That is not the same as writing an essay, or free form jazz, or improv

When you transcribe, you listen to an audio and you type what you hear.

Don't you need to know how to spell in order to do that?

If you have to stop to look up every technical jargon, doesn't that make you slower?

In real life transcription, you absolutely don't need to know how to spell, you just need the syllables.

I was talking about transcription on qwerty 1:1 keystrokes from a page of text. That is the analogy to piano sight reading.

But in both cases, you don't need english, you don't need to know the word, and you don't need grammar.

The knowledge doesn't hurt, but it won't speed you up vs someone who's trained without that knowledge, because when we have to transcribe Fast, it's a very different act vs reading comprehension/ reading for enjoyment.

Especially on qwerty, if you're pushing ~130wpm that's 650 characters/min, it's On the page, to your hand, NO comprehension can happen. @ 160wpm, you're usually in the highly practiced text zone. @ ~200wpm which is the maximum a few gifted people reach, their memorized strings are longer.

This applies 1:1 to sight reading. The better sight reader has memorized or is very familiar with longer / more convoluted finger position.

Last edited by jeffcat; 10/04/20 07:12 AM.
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Re: Key Signatures
jeffcat #3031884 10/04/20 07:37 AM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
I was talking about transcription on qwerty 1:1 keystrokes from a page of text. That is the analogy to piano sight reading.

But in both cases, you don't need english, you don't need to know the word, and you don't need grammar.

Will you, please, make a simple experiment? Get a paragraph of text in English, type it on your keyboard and write down the time span it required. Then get a paragraph of the same size in, say, Finnish, type it and write down the time it required, too.

Here are two fragments in English and Finnish of the same size:
Quote
A very large number of published documents contain text only. They often look boring, and they are often written in obscure language, using mile-long sentences and cryptic technical terms, using one font only, perhaps even without headings. Such style, or lack of style, might be the one you are strongly expected to follow when writing eg scientific or technical reports, legal documents, or administrative papers. It is natural to think that such documents would benefit from a few illustrative images. (However, just adding illustration might be rather useless, if the text remains obscure and unstructured.)

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Hyvin monet julkaistut asiakirjat sisaltavat vain tekstia. Ne nayttavat usein tylsilta, ja ne kirjoitetaan usein hamaralla kielella, kayttaen mailin pituisia lauseita ja salaisia teknisia termeja, kayttaen vain yhta kirjasinta, ehka jopa ilman otsikoita. Tallainen tyyli tai tyylin puute saattaa olla sellaista, jota sinun on erittain noudatettava kirjoittaessasi esimerkiksi tieteellisia tai teknisia raportteja, oikeudellisia asiakirjoja tai hallinnollisia asiakirjoja. On luonnollista ajatella, etta tallaiset asiakirjat hyötyisivat muutamasta havainnollistavasta kuvasta. (Kuitenkin pelkan kuvituksen lisaam

And after that compare the results, please.

Re: Key Signatures
ee375 #3031919 10/04/20 09:24 AM
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Typing in the foreign language gets even slower if you need to look at the keyboard.

Re: Key Signatures
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3031978 10/04/20 12:26 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Will you, please, make a simple experiment? .....

Here are two fragments in English and Finnish of the same size:
This is a bit of a mess, including the exchange with AZNpiano a page earlier. If you are playing piano music off the page, then it is like the kind of transcription where you see written words, and type them out (not like when you hear words, and write out what you hear.) So Iaroslav, you are on the right track with your exercise.

Please note that they are not the same size. They do contain the same meaning, completely. The Finnish has 31 more characters than the English. To do the experiment, you must subtract 31 characters.

With the same number of characters I got:

English: 0.157
Finnish: 0.155 (a language that is totally unfamiliar to me)

I touch type. I also used the same process as I learned for reading piano music (belatedly). My hands got crampy with the Finnish. I noted:

The English ccontains 95 words for the same number of characters. The longest word seems to be 12 characters.
The Finnish contains 70 words. The longest words are over twice as long (over 24 characters). There is less respite for flipping to the thumb between words. The layout is for English, and not Finnish.

What I actually do for many hours when working, is to stare at foreign words, and type out English words. I work as a translator. For easy text, I type as fast as I would if it were originally in English: there is a back-process going on which involves knowledge of syntax, grammar, familiarity with English, and spelling. In this case, familiarity with such things as spelling and grammar are crucial. For transcription from written material (say handwritten) it is not necessary.

Re: Key Signatures
jeffcat #3031981 10/04/20 12:33 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
But in both cases, you don't need english, you don't need to know the word, and you don't need grammar.

The knowledge doesn't hurt, ....
A couple of things that can kick in. "Habitual mistakes" --- I have to watch out for "teh" instead of "the". Seeing what isn't there but you expect it to be there, so you type what you assume. Very predictable music can do that too. You fuzz out, your brain assumes something is there, and you think you've played what's on the page, and it even sounds plausible.

The fact of the matter is that music and language have many facets, and the more facets we have at our fingertips (semi-intentional pun), the more tools we have at our disposal. I would not preclude knowing things like key signatures, music grammar etc. At the same time I'd not want to be locked into them, because there is music that is atonal, that has wild rides, and does other stuff. Learning to play a variety of material, from a variety of angles, seems to help with that.

Key signatures are a shortcut for a number of things, and I'd want to have a good, practical grasp on them.

Re: Key Signatures
jeffcat #3032000 10/04/20 01:30 PM
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Originally Posted by jeffcat
In real life transcription, you absolutely don't need to know how to spell, you just need the syllables.

I was talking about transcription on qwerty 1:1 keystrokes from a page of text. That is the analogy to piano sight reading.

But in both cases, you don't need english, you don't need to know the word, and you don't need grammar.

The knowledge doesn't hurt, but it won't speed you up vs someone who's trained without that knowledge, because when we have to transcribe Fast, it's a very different act vs reading comprehension/ reading for enjoyment.

Especially on qwerty, if you're pushing ~130wpm that's 650 characters/min, it's On the page, to your hand, NO comprehension can happen. @ 160wpm, you're usually in the highly practiced text zone. @ ~200wpm which is the maximum a few gifted people reach, their memorized strings are longer.

This applies 1:1 to sight reading. The better sight reader has memorized or is very familiar with longer / more convoluted finger position.

I think your use of the word "transcription" is itself a technical jargon. Most people use that word to indicate a typed-out version of spoken words, like what a stenographer does to court proceedings. And even that process isn't "typing," and definitely not "typing from a written text."

Still, don't you think knowing the language of the text (i.e., prior knowledge) would make you type so much faster? Because you are not seeing one letter at a time--you see groups of them at a time.

And if you want to make the analogy to sight reading on the piano, then your argument is even worse. If you are treating each note (or, more accurately, note heads) individually as a letter, you are literally reading one letter at a time, or one note at a time. That is totally NOT what good sight readers do.

With prior knowledge, a good sight reader can take in large patterns of note heads, especially those in predictable patterns. If you got, for example, an ostinato going in the bass, you don't even need to look at the L.H. notes.

This is also why I can sight read C Major much, much, MUCH faster than something in D-sharp Major or G-sharp harmonic minor. And atonal music would be much, much, MUCH harder still.


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Re: Key Signatures
keystring #3032004 10/04/20 01:42 PM
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Originally Posted by keystring
With the same number of characters I got:

English: 0.157
Finnish: 0.155 (a language that is totally unfamiliar to me)
What do these numbers mean?

I don't touch type in English and generally I rarely write in English except for this forum. Given that, I have typed the English sample 1.5 times faster than the Finnish sample. And it was clearly easier for me mentally to type in English than in Finnish.

You are right that I counted keystrokes including spaces in the samples, not the letters.

Last edited by Iaroslav Vasiliev; 10/04/20 01:48 PM.
Re: Key Signatures
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3032034 10/04/20 03:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by keystring
With the same number of characters I got:

English: 0.157
Finnish: 0.155 (a language that is totally unfamiliar to me)
What do these numbers mean?
I jotted things down in a hurry. 1:57 and 1:55. Finnish was 2 seconds faster than English.
Quote
I don't touch type in English and generally I rarely write in English except for this forum. Given that, I have typed the English sample 1.5 times faster than the Finnish sample. And it was clearly easier for me mentally to type in English than in Finnish.
The missing part is what process you use for the actual typing / transcription.

Re: Key Signatures
AZNpiano #3032036 10/04/20 03:17 PM
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Originally Posted by AZNpiano
I think your use of the word "transcription" is itself a technical jargon. Most people use that word to indicate a typed-out version of spoken words, like what a stenographer does to court proceedings. And even that process isn't "typing," and definitely not "typing from a written text."
The important thing is to know what he was talking about, so that we're all on the same page.
Quote
Still, don't you think knowing the language of the text (i.e., prior knowledge) would make you type so much faster? Because you are not seeing one letter at a time--you see groups of them at a time.
I just did Iaroslav's test. I do not know Finnish at all, and am not even slightly familiar with it. I had the same speed for English and Finnish. (see above)

Quote
And atonal music would be much, much, MUCH harder still.
Which is actually an argument for having more than one strategy for reading music. It is why I switched. It's like being able to only type words you know, and having to hunt for the rest. This is NOT an argument against learning key signatures, or theory. They are all tools.

Re: Key Signatures
keystring #3032177 10/05/20 12:32 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Originally Posted by keystring
With the same number of characters I got:

English: 0.157
Finnish: 0.155 (a language that is totally unfamiliar to me)
What do these numbers mean?
I jotted things down in a hurry. 1:57 and 1:55. Finnish was 2 seconds faster than English.
Quote
I don't touch type in English and generally I rarely write in English except for this forum. Given that, I have typed the English sample 1.5 times faster than the Finnish sample. And it was clearly easier for me mentally to type in English than in Finnish.
The missing part is what process you use for the actual typing / transcription.
I'm puzzled. May I ask you, is it equally easy for you to read music in any key or does it feel more difficult in the keys that you are less familiar with?

Last edited by Iaroslav Vasiliev; 10/05/20 12:38 AM.
Re: Key Signatures
ee375 #3032231 10/05/20 05:05 AM
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This talk of typing reminds me of an incident when I was in university, before word processors. A friend typed dissertations for extra cash, had just finished a biology text and was halfway through a physics dissertation when she realised she'd typed "protein" for "proton" all the way through... Sure, some do copy typing letter-by-letter but I'm pretty sure most people read and type words or, indeed, whole phrases. People are different and want different things out of activities...

Just to remark that people who don't know keys are lucky that your (other) instrument isn't transposing...

Re: Key Signatures
mizmar #3032321 10/05/20 12:07 PM
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Originally Posted by mizmar
Just to remark that people who don't know keys are lucky that your (other) instrument isn't transposing...

On that:

It took me 50 years to have any theory at all, including keys. One of my recorders is an alto (F). I simply found the pitch, which was "the same Do", and then I was off and running.

We can have all kinds of weird and wonderful ways of relating to things-musical. Some are actually useful, esp. in combination with the rest.

Re: Key Signatures
ee375 #3032338 10/05/20 12:52 PM
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Originally Posted by ee375
Now for the question: If I know the key, how does that help me play the piece? If I say “It’s in the key of C# Minor, that means 4 sharps.” I already knew it was 4 sharps – it’s right at the beginning of the score. Why would I want to go through an extra step to get the same results? For 2 years of instruction we always start by naming the key. Then I promptly forget it and start playing. The key never crosses my

Ignoring the food fight and back to the original question.

I am an engineer and I thought just as you. I never memorized formulas or numbers, just used them and over time I just knew them.

But in my piano journey I have learned the scales in all keys. It is easier to communicate with other musicians that I really like E flat minor rather than saying six flats with D neutral.

Also it easier to understand the notes in a score that is titled Symphony in C minor, or Etude number 3 in E without actually seeing the music. Think of it as every time you were working with forces you had to look up F=MA, or E=IR.

When learning a new song I often will play the scale that goes with the song. The scale usually has all the notes of the song. But six flats with neutral D does not tell me which note to start playing the scale. Of course you can start playing the scale with a B flat, but it just doesn’t sound right!

Will knowing the name of the key help you play the song? Yes and no!

Re: Key Signatures
keystring #3032517 10/06/20 02:43 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
Originally Posted by mizmar
Just to remark that people who don't know keys are lucky that your (other) instrument isn't transposing...

On that:

It took me 50 years to have any theory at all, including keys. One of my recorders is an alto (F). I simply found the pitch, which was "the same Do", and then I was off and running.

...
Sure, it's easy to transpose a tenor sax "lift a finger". .. till you hit a key # or b note. And even that isn't so bad if you know you've started on the root etc. None the less, it's massively useful to be able to navigate around keys, chords, cycles of 4ths & 5ths & modes; to get some clue as to what's going on a lot of the time.

Last edited by mizmar; 10/06/20 02:45 AM.
Re: Key Signatures
ee375 #3033070 10/07/20 11:04 AM
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Anyway I think it's a good analogy of what theory is good for. I mean knowing and recognizing words instead of working letter by letter.

Re: Key Signatures
Iaroslav Vasiliev #3033076 10/07/20 11:20 AM
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Originally Posted by Iaroslav Vasiliev
Anyway I think it's a good analogy of what theory is good for. I mean knowing and recognizing words instead of working letter by letter.
There is no reason why "letter by letter" has to go into it at all.
Also, the word "read" is used for both the word-thing, and the music thing, but it's an entirely different process.

Re: Key Signatures
keystring #3033315 10/08/20 08:30 AM
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Originally Posted by keystring
There is no reason why "letter by letter" has to go into it at all.
Also, the word "read" is used for both the word-thing, and the music thing, but it's an entirely different process.
The processes are similar in that they require decyphering graphical information.

Re: Key Signatures
ee375 #3037523 10/19/20 06:54 PM
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This has been an interesting thread to read through.
I took piano lessons for almost 10 years, from age 6 to 16. Never once did my teacher mention anything about keys or music theory, just "this piece has 3 flats". I was advanced enough to play some Chopin waltzes or Mendelssohn, but mostly played popular pieces using chords. I never understood the relationship between the chords and the key the piece was in, I just played what was written. What is interesting is that I made it all the way through Hanon without really understanding what I was playing!

Now, 50 years later, I am trying to get a grip on music theory and the Circle of 5ths. I didn't really want to play when I was a kid, now I'm a lot more serious about it and enjoy practicing.
I buzzed through Hanon again until I got to Scales...I still don't know them well but I'm getting a grip on it. Will it make me a better pianist or make it easier to learn new pieces? I hope so, because it is a royal PITA to play scales and arpeggios if you're not used to it. I practiced 4 days just to be able to play a basic C scale with both hands at the same time. The fingering was maddening.

So I still don't really know the answer to the OP, but am curious what playing will be like in a few months when I am more confident with the scales and arpeggios in different keys.


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