Discussion:
Sounds or notes?
(too old to reply)
Tony Done
2010-06-09 07:20:20 UTC
Permalink
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.

Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.

I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.

Comments?

Tony D
Mike Brown
2010-06-09 10:47:00 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.
Comments?
Tony D
I'm not sure that I can separate the two in any useful way.

The aim is to play the notes clearly and accurately on a guitar that has
a pleasing sound.

If the guitar is hard to play, or if the intonation is off then it
doesn't matter how pleasing the sound is.

Have I missed the point?

MJRB
hank alrich
2010-06-09 13:02:10 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.
Comments?
For me it's the sound of the notes that matters. I aim for an engaging
tone all the time. I generally don't focus on it directly unless I want
a specific color from the instrument for a certain part of a song.

I rarely use any processing with an acoustic guitar, so sounds and notes
are all down to what I can muster manually.

Sidebar: I sometimes talk to folks about playing the music, not the
instrument, playing the song, not the guitar.
--
shut up and play your guitar * http://hankalrich.com/
http://armadillomusicproductions.com/who'slistening.html
http://www.sonicbids.com/HankandShaidriAlrichwithDougHarman
George's Pro Sound Co.
2010-06-09 13:33:59 UTC
Permalink
Post by hank alrich
Sidebar: I sometimes talk to folks about playing the music, not the
instrument, playing the song, not the guitar.
That is a wonderful concept, I too try to bring forth the song in how I
approach a song, and this determines Key and Phrasing as well as inflection
as well as 9instrument choice
example if I am playing "El Paso" I try to change the cadence of the song
from the gun fight to the fleeing of the town to the dark lonely time in the
hills to his final demise
each part of the song gets a diffrent treatment and feel
George
LA
2010-06-10 18:37:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by hank alrich
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.
Comments?
For me it's the sound of the notes that matters. I aim for an engaging
tone all the time. I generally don't focus on it directly unless I want
a specific color from the instrument for a certain part of a song.
I rarely use any processing with an acoustic guitar, so sounds and notes
are all down to what I can muster manually.
Sure you do. If you use a mic pickup and amp. You're processing that
acoustic guitar to sound like that acoustic guitar. And that don't
come cheap.

LA
Tony Done
2010-06-09 18:53:06 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.
Comments?
Tony D
OK, I'll try and clarify it a bit. It is in the nature of subscibers
to this group to be interested in how guitars look and sound. While I
don't think this is in any way a bad thing, I think it can potentially
distract us from from concentrating on technique and repertiore, OTOH,
the two can also reinforce each other. - I bought my first not-too-
cheap guitar (as opposed to japanese plywood) because I perceived that
my playing was passable and I was looking for a nice sound. However
these days I sometimes wonder if I have too much interest in guitars
and not enough in music. - Ie Hanks comment on playing the music, not
the guitar.

Tony D
John Sorell
2010-06-09 19:40:54 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.
Comments?
Tony D
OK, I'll try and clarify it a bit. It is in the nature of subscibers
to this group to be interested in how guitars look and sound. While I
don't think this is in any way a bad thing, I think it can potentially
distract us from from concentrating on technique and repertiore, OTOH,
the two can also reinforce each other. - I bought my first not-too-
cheap guitar (as opposed to japanese plywood) because I perceived that
my playing was passable and I was looking for a nice sound. However
these days I sometimes wonder if I have too much interest in guitars
and not enough in music. - Ie Hanks comment on playing the music, not
the guitar.
Tony D
I don't see how you can separate the two. Wanting to produce a certain
quality of sound is part of music. As discussed in other threads, for
some people, some guitars have a better sound and/or feel for playing
different styles of music. I think that the more accomplished you are
with your technique the more important it might become to seek
instruments that support the quality of sound you are looking for. I'm
sure for some, this is not necessarily true.

John
Tony Done
2010-06-09 21:04:04 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Sorell
Post by Tony Done
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.
Comments?
Tony D
OK, I'll try and clarify it a bit. It is in the nature of subscibers
to this group to be interested in how guitars look and sound. While I
don't think this is in any way a bad thing, I think it can potentially
distract us from from concentrating on technique and repertiore, OTOH,
the two can also reinforce each other. - I bought my first not-too-
cheap guitar (as opposed to japanese plywood) because I perceived that
my playing was passable and I was looking for a nice sound. However
these days I sometimes wonder if I have too much interest in guitars
and not enough in music. - Ie Hanks comment on playing the music, not
the guitar.
Tony D
I don't see how you can separate the two. Wanting to produce a certain
quality of sound is part of music. As discussed in other threads, for
some people, some guitars have a better sound and/or feel for playing
different styles of music. I think that the more accomplished you are
with your technique the more important it might become to seek
instruments that support the quality of sound you are looking for. I'm
sure for some, this is not necessarily true.
John
I'm just like many regulars to this group insofar as I have an assortment of
guitars (three flattops, three resos and a kona, plus assorted electrics)
all chosen for their different and good sounds. However, Youtube vids of
talented musicians or handicapped playing cheap, or at least tonally
uninspiring instruments - look at the "matchstick" vid just posted - are
starting to have an impact on my attitude. It started when I lived in
Colombia, fabulous music on mostly awful instruments. I wonder if some of
the youtube stuff is having the same effect on others? However there is also
deep dichotomy here, because I listen to electric guitar music on youtube or
soundclick and get preoccupied with the quality of the sound rather than the
music. There no accounting for human nature eh? Maybe the variation in
acoustic tones doesn't seem like much to me these days compared with that
available in electric guitars.

Tony D
John Sorell
2010-06-09 23:15:42 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
news:8fef89ab-7503-4eb8-acb9-
Post by Tony Done
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do
you pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the
two, there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $)
looking for good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to
turn notes into music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest
in sounds during those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we
can. Comments?
Tony D
OK, I'll try and clarify it a bit. It is in the nature of subscibers
to this group to be interested in how guitars look and sound. While
I don't think this is in any way a bad thing, I think it can
potentially distract us from from concentrating on technique and
repertiore, OTOH, the two can also reinforce each other. - I bought
my first not-too- cheap guitar (as opposed to japanese plywood)
because I perceived that my playing was passable and I was looking
for a nice sound. However these days I sometimes wonder if I have
too much interest in guitars and not enough in music. - Ie Hanks
comment on playing the music, not the guitar.
Tony D
I don't see how you can separate the two. Wanting to produce a
certain quality of sound is part of music. As discussed in other
threads, for some people, some guitars have a better sound and/or
feel for playing different styles of music. I think that the more
accomplished you are with your technique the more important it might
become to seek instruments that support the quality of sound you are
looking for. I'm sure for some, this is not necessarily true.
John
I'm just like many regulars to this group insofar as I have an
assortment of guitars (three flattops, three resos and a kona, plus
assorted electrics) all chosen for their different and good sounds.
However, Youtube vids of talented musicians or handicapped playing
cheap, or at least tonally uninspiring instruments - look at the
"matchstick" vid just posted - are starting to have an impact on my
attitude. It started when I lived in Colombia, fabulous music on
mostly awful instruments. I wonder if some of the youtube stuff is
having the same effect on others? However there is also deep dichotomy
here, because I listen to electric guitar music on youtube or
soundclick and get preoccupied with the quality of the sound rather
than the music. There no accounting for human nature eh? Maybe the
variation in acoustic tones doesn't seem like much to me these days
compared with that available in electric guitars.
Tony D
For me it's not so much about making music. It's about making the kind of
music (and sound) I want to hear from my guitars. I understand that is a
very refined statement and not the focus of the majority. I'm not really
a performer so I don't think about having an instrument to get the job
done for an audience.

I understand what you are saying about the people on youtube just making
music and affecting people. I think an audience is not as interested what
an instrument sounds like as much as I'm interested in what it sounds
like. Perhaps in my next life I will focus on pleasing an audience with
my music instead of just myself.

John
hank alrich
2010-06-09 23:39:54 UTC
Permalink
I think an audience is not as interested what an instrument sounds like as
much as I'm interested in what it sounds like.
I have been surprised by the general response to the sound of my
McCollum from ordinary non-musicians in audiences. I've played some
guitars I thought sounded good, and played 'em in public quite a bit,
but none of them ever stirred the kind of appreciative comments that
routinely arrive about the McC.

I realize that it doesn't sound "typical" at all. Yet folks don't come
up and say, "That guitar sure sounds different".

Maybe those folks are just trying to be polite, looking for something
good in the set. <g>
--
shut up and play your guitar * http://hankalrich.com/
http://armadillomusicproductions.com/who'slistening.html
http://www.sonicbids.com/HankandShaidriAlrichwithDougHarman
Al Evans
2010-06-10 11:24:53 UTC
Permalink
Post by hank alrich
I have been surprised by the general response to the sound of my
McCollum from ordinary non-musicians in audiences.
Well, you do tend to play it "pure acoustic" with a really good mic --
that already separates it from the "typical" guitar sound. And you
McCollum is of a quality to stand out a bit in almost any acoustic
environment.

On the main subject, as for me, I don't really consider the sounds and
the notes separately so much. I'm always trying to play the music I want
to, with the sound I want to hear. A great-sounding guitar draws me
further into the music, suggests more music to me, and keeps me from
getting frustrated trying to get what I want.

I don't think people listening care anywhere near that much about
nitpicky audio details. But I do:-)

--Al Evans--
Bob Dorgan
2010-06-10 12:54:11 UTC
Permalink
Post by Al Evans
I don't think people listening care anywhere near that much about
nitpicky audio details. But I do:-)
--Al Evans--
No, they probably don't care as much, but they can tell the difference
between what sounds pleasing and what doesn't sound pleasing.

Just recently, a woman told me that she really preferred the sound of one of
my guitars over the other one and quite a bit more than "the guy
who played here last week".

We are probably more discerning than most, but even the non musicians know
what they like.


dorgan
Misifus
2010-06-10 16:44:25 UTC
Permalink
Post by Bob Dorgan
Post by Al Evans
I don't think people listening care anywhere near that much about
nitpicky audio details. But I do:-)
--Al Evans--
No, they probably don't care as much, but they can tell the difference
between what sounds pleasing and what doesn't sound pleasing.
Just recently, a woman told me that she really preferred the sound of one of
my guitars over the other one and quite a bit more than "the guy
who played here last week".
We are probably more discerning than most, but even the non musicians know
what they like.
dorgan
Yeah, but then, people who never smoked a pipe love the smell of Cherry
Blend.

-Raf
--
Misifus-
Rafael Seibert
Photos: http://www.flickr.com/photos/rafiii
home: http://www.rafandsioux.com
Tony Done
2010-06-10 19:00:47 UTC
Permalink
Post by Al Evans
Post by hank alrich
I have been surprised by the general response to the sound of my
McCollum from ordinary non-musicians in audiences.
Well, you do tend to play it "pure acoustic" with a really good mic --
that already separates it from the "typical" guitar sound. And you
McCollum is of a quality to stand out a bit in almost any acoustic
environment.
On the main subject, as for me, I don't really consider the sounds and
the notes separately so much. I'm always trying to play the music I want
to, with the sound I want to hear. A great-sounding guitar draws me
further into the music, suggests more music to me, and keeps me from
getting frustrated trying to get what I want.
I don't think people listening care anywhere near that much about
nitpicky audio details. But I do:-)
                                        --Al Evans--
This is also a response to some other replies.

My criteria for performance are quite different from those for back
porch picking. For performance I have to be able to hear myself well,
and what I can hear is a lot more important to me than what the
audience hears - that is the soundman's problem. OTOH, when playing
for myself I try not to get too distracted by sounds, as discussed in
my original post, though as you say, a good sound draws you into the
music and makes your try harder. I'm pretty ambivalent about this
question of sounds versus notes, because of the synergy between the
two. An example - my performance flattop is a Maton 225 with a good
pickup system and just OK sound. I play it at home when I am in the
"don't care about sound" mode. When I'm interested in sound I pull out
the Bourgeois, which, in fact, isn't that often.


Tony D
hank alrich
2010-06-10 20:58:21 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
For performance I have to be able to hear myself well,
and what I can hear is a lot more important to me than what the
audience hears - that is the soundman's problem.
Gotta be real careful there. If you need too much level on stage in
order to think you can hear yourself you hand the sound operator a
nightmare. Too much monitor sound spilling back into the FOH mix impairs
intelligibility. I hear this problem very, very often.
--
shut up and play your guitar * http://hankalrich.com/
http://armadillomusicproductions.com/who'slistening.html
http://www.sonicbids.com/HankandShaidriAlrichwithDougHarman
Tony Done
2010-06-11 02:11:23 UTC
Permalink
Post by hank alrich
Post by Tony Done
For performance I have to be able to hear myself well,
and what I can hear is a lot more important to me than what the
audience hears - that is the soundman's problem.
Gotta be real careful there. If you need too much level on stage in
order to think you can hear yourself you hand the sound operator a
nightmare. Too much monitor sound spilling back into the FOH mix impairs
intelligibility. I hear this problem very, very often.
--
shut up and play your guitar *http://hankalrich.com/http://armadillomusicproductions.com/who'slistening.htmlhttp://www.sonicbids.com/HankandShaidriAlrichwithDougHarman
Feedback from the reso(s) is usually the limiting factor to monitor
volume in my case; it is more about string-to-string and bass/treble
balance than volume.

Tony D
jeff carter
2010-06-11 02:35:01 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Sorell
I don't see how you can separate the two. Wanting to produce a certain
quality of sound is part of music. As discussed in other threads, for
some people, some guitars have a better sound and/or feel for playing
different styles of music. I think that the more accomplished you are
with your technique the more important it might become to seek
instruments that support the quality of sound you are looking for. I'm
sure for some, this is not necessarily true.
John
I confess, I am fixated on my tone production; it is all-consuming.
And any short-comings in that area are more mine than the instrument.
I like what Manuel Barrueco once said in a masterclass -- we should
strive to make each and every note we play like a star in the sky, or
a diamond: full of beauty and clarity.

--Jeff






~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffretrac
www.soundclick.com/jeffcarter
John Sorell
2010-06-11 15:06:49 UTC
Permalink
Post by jeff carter
Post by John Sorell
I don't see how you can separate the two. Wanting to produce a certain
quality of sound is part of music. As discussed in other threads, for
some people, some guitars have a better sound and/or feel for playing
different styles of music. I think that the more accomplished you are
with your technique the more important it might become to seek
instruments that support the quality of sound you are looking for. I'm
sure for some, this is not necessarily true.
John
I confess, I am fixated on my tone production; it is all-consuming.
And any short-comings in that area are more mine than the instrument.
I like what Manuel Barrueco once said in a masterclass -- we should
strive to make each and every note we play like a star in the sky, or
a diamond: full of beauty and clarity.
--Jeff
Same for me.

John
Mike Brown
2010-06-12 00:28:55 UTC
Permalink
Post by John Sorell
Post by jeff carter
Post by John Sorell
I don't see how you can separate the two. Wanting to produce a certain
quality of sound is part of music. As discussed in other threads, for
some people, some guitars have a better sound and/or feel for playing
different styles of music. I think that the more accomplished you are
with your technique the more important it might become to seek
instruments that support the quality of sound you are looking for. I'm
sure for some, this is not necessarily true.
John
I confess, I am fixated on my tone production; it is all-consuming.
And any short-comings in that area are more mine than the instrument.
I like what Manuel Barrueco once said in a masterclass -- we should
strive to make each and every note we play like a star in the sky, or
a diamond: full of beauty and clarity.
--Jeff
Same for me.
John
I agree, but - if the note is wrong (for any reason, pitch, timing) the
lovely tone is wasted.

If you are a nail using fingerpicker like me then the condition of the
playing edges of your nails has as much to do with the sound as your
guitar or your strings. I use a multigrade manicure nail polisher to
keep the edges smooooooooth.

MJRB

MJ (still drooling over the sound of the new guitar) RB
jeff carter
2010-06-12 01:28:58 UTC
Permalink
Post by Mike Brown
Post by John Sorell
Post by jeff carter
Post by John Sorell
I don't see how you can separate the two. Wanting to produce a certain
quality of sound is part of music. As discussed in other threads, for
some people, some guitars have a better sound and/or feel for playing
different styles of music. I think that the more accomplished you are
with your technique the more important it might become to seek
instruments that support the quality of sound you are looking for. I'm
sure for some, this is not necessarily true.
John
I confess, I am fixated on my tone production; it is all-consuming.
And any short-comings in that area are more mine than the instrument.
I like what Manuel Barrueco once said in a masterclass -- we should
strive to make each and every note we play like a star in the sky, or
a diamond: full of beauty and clarity.
--Jeff
Same for me.
John
I agree, but - if the note is wrong (for any reason, pitch, timing) the
lovely tone is wasted.
Sorry, I assumed playing the correct notes was a given.
Post by Mike Brown
If you are a nail using fingerpicker like me then the condition of the
playing edges of your nails has as much to do with the sound as your
guitar or your strings. I use a multigrade manicure nail polisher to
keep the edges smooooooooth.
Without a doubt. I've carried 1500 grit sandpaper in my pocket for 35
years. Nail shape also figures prominently in the equation.


--Jeff





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffretrac
www.soundclick.com/jeffcarter
Sean
2010-06-10 06:30:34 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.
Comments?
Tony D
90% notes for me. It's nice to have a nice sounding instrument, but if I
can get it in tune and it stays in tune, and it's playable enough for me
to generate the notes, I'm pretty happy.
Robert Harding
2010-06-11 12:34:19 UTC
Permalink
Without thinking about it too much my first response is that its like
an actor delivering lines. The notes are the words. The sound is how
they are spoken. Together they convey something. Whatever that
something is generally defines the choice of notes and sounds.
- Robert
Tony Done
2010-06-13 21:12:33 UTC
Permalink
Post by Tony Done
For the sake of argument (not original), musical instruments have
looks, sounds and feel, musician generate notes to make music on them.
Leaving aside looks and feel, how much attention, relatively, do you
pay to notes as opposed to sounds? I tend to switch between the two,
there are long periods when I muck about (or spend big $) looking for
good sounds, then similar amounts of time trying to turn notes into
music. At the extreme, I have virtually no interest in sounds during
those periods.
I also believe it is true that good sounds help to generate good
notes, but we should make an effort to divorce the two where we can.
Comments?
Tony D
Thanks for the replies. Coincidentally this came up in the electric
guitar newsgroup recently, Seasick Steve playing a cigar box guitar
through a practice amp:



It illustratesd very well where my current preoccupation with notes
and sounds comes from, I suppose it actually started about 43 years
ago when I heard Fred McDowell live.

Tony D

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