Date: Sat, 30 Jun 2007 00:57:43 -0600
From: "Jonathan Metts" <jonathan@xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx>
Subject: [Harp-L] Plagiarism and Copying Solos
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A lot of people seem to support the idea of copying the masters as a form of
tribute. I definitely think you can learn a lot from imitating your musical
heroes -- it's a great way to practice and improve your skills. But I think
it's pretty distasteful to copy solos note-for-note in a performance
setting, and it displays very little creativity. Instead, do what your
heroes did when they originally created those solos. Study the scales, get
into the groove, and let the music inside of you flow out through the
instrument. As an audience member, if I want to hear a particular Little
Walter solo performed perfectly, I can just load up that CD when I get home.
My interest in a live performance is to hear music performed live -- and
that always bears at least a hint of spontaneity, even in the greatest
professional orchestras around the world. That's why they have conductors
instead of metronomes!
I wrote out 70 Little Walter solos in as yet unpublished book, and 21 harp
solos published in the book "Master's of the Blues Harp." I intentionally
avoided memorizing a single one of them until I worked with David Barrett at
one his Masterclasses and had to demonstrate "Blues With a Feeling" for my
Little Walter class, which I performed of course with proper attribution. To
this day that was only one I ever learned. I paid a lot attention, though,
to Little Walter's technique and rhtymic usage in a particular, and have
absorbed many of those elements into my playing. But we harp players all do
things like that, I think.
Your right-if you want to hear Little Walter, you can put on the record.
Baul Butterfield said on the Homespun Tapes series he did in the 1980s that
he had heard many people play Walter's solos, and that they never sounded
right. Walter played with matchless confidence and verve, and the artist I
saw was really no exception in falling short there, although a very good
technique was demonstrated.
I think this person did this to conceal a deficit in improvisional skill.
Clever, yes, but someone in the crowd with big ears will usually see through
the sham. This time it was me.
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