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Joined: Jul 2009
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I used to play a lot of music - mostly songs, not classical pieces as I do now - by ear. I was pretty good at it, at least I considered myself so. If I knew a melody well I could usually play it on the run unless it didn't require too complex harmonies. Many years later I find it much more difficult. With growing experience I have become more demanding to myself. And most important - now I often see many alternative harmonic progressions that make me hesitate. Therefore I rarely play on the run anymore. I prefer spending some time choosing what I think is the best option and often work out middle voices with a "cantabile" character. Anyone else have similar experience?

Last edited by Ganddalf; 12/10/18 12:26 PM.
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Ah, so you're not losing the ability to recognize intervals or remember rhythms. That's good. What you need is the discipline to go with the obvious and not wander off into the interesting.... Either that or write up your arrangements of the songs you're most likely to need.


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In my school days I learned to play violin. I could reproduce melody lines easily. A piece like "Feel So Good" played by Chuck Mangione on flugelhorn would come on the radio and I can follow along with my violin.

Getting into piano playing didn't happen until many years later partly because of the left hand. Back then I had limited concept of how intervals & chords work. Having a good ear I could reproduce a 1-line melody on piano but without the L accompaniment. In my younger days, people would play guitar to accompany a song. I had no idea why the guitar part would be different from the melody and how chord accompaniment work.

After getting into piano playing, I learned a more music theory. I can hear easy songs and put it back together after listening to someone play.

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Originally Posted by JohnSprung

Ah, so you're not losing the ability to recognize intervals or remember rhythms. That's good. What you need is the discipline to go with the obvious and not wander off into the interesting.... Either that or write up your arrangements of the songs you're most likely to need.



You are quite right. It usually works well if I choose the "obvious" path. Whenever I need I work out more advanced arrangements and either memorize them or note them down.

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Me too...no longer satisfied with one or two chords worth of movement per measure in pop/jazz songs.

Its not the “...many alternative harmonic progressions...” that attracts me to slow down but, rather:

(i) focusing on the role of min6 chords (aka half-diminished) in achieving mostly chromatic LH chord movement of at least quarter note frequency, to underlie the melody; and

(ii) working out the resultant chord phrases in all keys and inversions.

Makes so you can spend a whole day on just a few measures of a song.

Before retirement, how could I ever have internally slowed down enough to tolerate such penible-ness in an artistic hobby...;)

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I can't even get into such technicalities. I've always had trouble memorising anything. And my eyesight's always been bad. Add to that concentration issues, and I wonder how I ever get to play anything . . . . probably because I no longer play publicly, there's no incentive as such (filthy lucre).
I need a new mindset!


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