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Post new topic Sight reading?
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Author Topic:  Sight reading?
Rob Hamilton


From:
Acton, MA, USA
Post Posted 2 Dec 2002 7:41 pm     Reply with quote

Traditionally, a serious musician learned to sight-read, and it's still true for many and on most instruments. Do "real steel players" learn to sight-read as do those who play other instruments? Are experienced session steelers able to walk into a session and play a chart while reading it? Or is it more accepted for a steel player to look over the chart first and then play by ear and memory?

I find that I have trouble shifting my eyes between the music and the steel while playing and not losing my place. I didn't have this problem playing piano as a child. (maybe it's the brain cells).

--Rob

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Sho-Bud Pro-I, '62 Fender Vibrolux
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Rob Hamilton


From:
Acton, MA, USA
Post Posted 2 Dec 2002 8:05 pm     Reply with quote

Now that I've started the topic, I used the search feature and found some threads that already address the issue of sight-reading, primarily
http://steelguitarforum.com/Forum5/HTML/002619.html

But I'm just as interested in hearing how many steelers actually sight read in a session situation.

--Rob
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Bobby Lee


From:
Cloverdale, California, USA
Post Posted 2 Dec 2002 9:17 pm     Reply with quote

I'm not much of a session player, but I do have a bit of experience. I have never been asked to play something that was written down, in the studio or on a gig or even in rehearsal. I have followed charts in the Real Book, but just to get the chords. Nobody ever expects the steel player to read. Not around here, anyway.

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Bobby Lee - email: quasar@b0b.com - gigs - CDs
Sierra Session 12 (E9), Williams 400X (Emaj9, D6), Sierra Olympic 12 (F Diatonic), Sierra Laptop 8 (D13), Fender Stringmaster (E13, A6), Roland Handsonic
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Al Marcus


From:
Cedar Springs,MI USA * R.I.P.
Post Posted 2 Dec 2002 9:27 pm     Reply with quote

Rob-It is easy for a Piano, horn , or violin to sight read. The don't have to look at their instruments so the eyes are always on the music.

With the steel ,you have to take your eyes off the music occasionally to check your Bar positions, although with a lot of experience and practice , your bar hand can find the fret intervals....al
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Pat Carlson


From:
Sutton, Nebraska, R.I.P.
Post Posted 2 Dec 2002 10:18 pm     Reply with quote

This is a very enlightening thread for a new steelpicker just starting out!

[This message was edited by Patrick Carlson on 02 December 2002 at 10:21 PM.]

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Ricky Davis


From:
Buda, Texas USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2002 2:16 am     Reply with quote

I've been handed many many charts in the Studio....which is cool....cause most the time; I've never heard the song; so I don't know what's around each corner.
So I'll look over the chart and listen to the song while looking at the chart...then I never look at the chart while playing/recording.
When you look at a chart while playing/recording(which, yes I have done that)> you tend to NOT listen to the music because you are following along on the chart.
To me; I can't play/create something unless I hear the melody; hear what the singer is singing about; hear the dynamics(ups and downs)of the song; hear the rythmic content going on.....and a chart will detour you from Hearing that.
These are my opinions and how I've been influenced in my recordings.....and I'm nearing the 100 mark of CD's and commercials and Demos; that I've been recorded on.......so I will not break the tradition of the way I record.....for anyone...ha.
Ricky
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Roger Rettig


From:
An Englishman in Naples, FL
Post Posted 3 Dec 2002 6:15 am     Reply with quote

I did a lot of sessions back in the UK, but only rarely was I asked to play something specific. It was usually much as Ricky describes it.

As for the 'thread', playing and reading at the same time is difficult - we need at least a peripheral view of our guitars to play accurately. I'm happiest when I get a chord chart as a sort of 'road map', but am allowed to use my judgement to make the musical choices; I've pretty much memorized the 'changes' after a couple of run-throughs, and my eyes - and my full concentration - are back on the guitar.

Only once did I have a problem - I was given a lead-sheet with a complex 32-measure melody I'd never heard before, and told that I was to be the 'lead' instrument; that got my attention. I don't think I've ever been given a part to play that specified the harmonies that the arranger might have wanted - very few understand how PSG works, and, almost without exception, the steel player will be relied upon to provide those characteristic nuances the instrument is best known for.

Of course, that only reinforces the stereotyping, but that's another subject...

'Earnest' - how do YOU cope with the sight-reading dilemma? You probably do more of this than anyone!




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Roger Rettig

[This message was edited by Roger Rettig on 03 December 2002 at 06:18 AM.]

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Jim Eaton


From:
Santa Susana, Ca
Post Posted 3 Dec 2002 9:19 am     Reply with quote

I did a session for a "theme" album in the late 70's where the producer sat down at the piano and started playing the notes to the specific melody he wanted me to play on the intro. He'd hit one note and then say "E". Then another note and then say "F#". etc..
This went on for about 5 min's when I finally said "please play the entire line for me in tempo". He played me the part from start to finish and once I had heard it in tempo,I started to smile to myself. He had been trying to call out note by note the most standard, stock, overused, AB pedal mashin, 1-5-1 turnaround intro lick you ever heard! Got that track on the first pass!LOL
JE:-)>
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Erv Niehaus


From:
Litchfield, MN, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2002 9:39 am     Reply with quote

I think that more adept we are at reading charts, or better yet standard music notation, lends more credibility to our instrument and our talents as musicians. Just speaking as a left-handed Norwegian, of course.
Erv

[This message was edited by Erv Niehaus on 03 December 2002 at 09:40 AM.]

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Dave Birkett


From:
Oxnard, CA, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2002 11:12 am     Reply with quote

I'm not old enough to know for sure, but I find it hard to believe that a working steeler on the club circuit of the 40s and 50s wouldn't have been able to play something out of a fake book (the illegal, good ones of that era) the first time through. And I'm not talking about just the chords.
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Drew Howard


From:
Mason, MI, U.S.A.
Post Posted 3 Dec 2002 12:13 pm     Reply with quote

Usually I get handed chord charts, never any written music. I ask that I be recorded as soon as I am set up, because the best stuff sometimes happens early on when I'm relaxed.

Back to lead sheets. When I rehearse my band, if I have a melody in mind I write it out and distribute it. Fiddles don't use tab :>)

cheers,

Drew Howard

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www.drewhoward.com

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Earnest Bovine


From:
Los Angeles CA USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2002 3:25 pm     Reply with quote

Reading music does save time (=money). I read some notes this morning, Hawaiian stuff for a cruise ship. He wrote every note and like most people he only wrote really easy stuff. Still I put in a few mistakes just to see if he was listening and because I wanted to see how good he was at punching in.
We did another pass where he said "just play".
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Rob Hamilton


From:
Acton, MA, USA
Post Posted 3 Dec 2002 6:34 pm     Reply with quote

Thanks everyone. I'm glad to know I'm not the only one who has trouble reading WHILE playing steel. I agree that knowing how to read charts (not just tab) is a valuable, if not critical, skill. But I'm also glad to hear that spontaneity still has its place in the studio. I'd hate to have to fake sounding spontaneous.

--Rob
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Ralph H. Moorehead


From:
Las Vegas, Nv. Clark
Post Posted 4 Dec 2002 2:55 pm     Reply with quote

I knew a pro who told me to practice with my eyes shut. That way I could sight read if neccesary with out looking at the fretboard. Still when he played a gig he plyed by ear.
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Donny Hinson


From:
Glen Burnie, Md. U.S.A.
Post Posted 4 Dec 2002 4:03 pm     Reply with quote

Quote:
I'm not old enough to know for sure, but I find it hard to believe that a working steeler on the club circuit of the 40s and 50s wouldn't have been able to play something out of a fake book (the illegal, good ones of that era) the first time through. And I'm not talking about just the chords.


Well Dave, let me tell you...there's been a ton of great (and famous) songwriters and musicians that never learned to read music at all, or learned late in their careers. As long as you didn't have to...most of us never learned. I regret not knowing anything about music, but it's never really kept me from working!
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chas smith


From:
Encino, CA, USA
Post Posted 4 Dec 2002 4:58 pm     Reply with quote

I've had to read single line notation, it's something that I don't do very well and I can prove it. I do like to have a chord chart that I can look at especially if the tune is unpredictable. Even if I don't look at it, I like to have it as a "security blanket".

Corroborating what most have said, usually I get a chart that says 'Steel Plays Here'. I just had one recently where after taking what they called me for, they wanted a few passes at a kindof country thing they were working on. There was no chart, it didn't go to the IV anywhere near it should have, the bass was so nondescript, I couldn't tell where the change was, the singer didn't give a clue, the drummer didn't set it up, I couldn't feel it, I was too distracted to count it. When I asked what could we do I was told to play the most nastiest, wildest harshest most original country steel guitar that I could. A couple passes later we all gave up.
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Gene Jones


From:
Oklahoma City, OK USA, R.I.P.
Post Posted 4 Dec 2002 6:05 pm     Reply with quote

....when someone sends me a book of music for an upcoming job, the first thing I do is make my own number charts that are manageable while playing....I can't play and turn pages...or look two places at one time...."steel play" notations on a stack of sheet music isn't enough for me. www.genejones.com

[This message was edited by Gene Jones on 04 December 2002 at 06:18 PM.]

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Roy Thomson


From:
Wolfville, Nova Scotia,Canada
Post Posted 4 Dec 2002 7:15 pm     Reply with quote

If I want to be able to play a song correctly
I go for the music and read it.Slowly!
Speed is not important to me. Getting it right...IS.
Learn as much about music as you can. That's
my advice.

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http://www.clictab.com/royt/tabmenu.htm

[This message was edited by Roy Thomson on 04 December 2002 at 07:16 PM.]

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