[Harp-L] ii-V-I, But Lacking Resolution

Tin Lizzie TrackHarpL@xxxxx
Tue Sep 5 18:06:03 EDT 2017

Hi, Slim,

I do play piano (not at speed, because I’m about as dextrous as a sea turtle, but I can get to all the notes eventually).  I’m not in the school that disses learning to read music.  But it does seem like kind of a mean trick to have gone to the trouble of learning to read music and then be told, “You have to use your ear, dear."  Knowing how to read music is supposed to be an asset, darn it.  Innit?

[ That sounds whine-y, and it is, but I need to get the frustration off my chest, and I’m not a sufficiently-accomplished musician to express that in music.  < Cue sound effect: fists on piano keys, lol > ]

My principal frustration with ear training (with actual pieces of music rather than ear-training software, which I have tried) is that I don’t have a reliable way to verify that what I hear/interpret is what’s actually there.

At the risk of seeming too “earnest”, I just want to get it right.  I was hoping to do so by expanding on (hard-won) skills that I already have.  I.e. deciphering written music.  A tiny bit of chord theory.

I’ll share with you a funny moment from a SPAH seminar...  it was Mike Caldwell’s, on playing fills & accompaniment.  Lonnie Joe Howell, was there to play songs on guitar.  On one, he played this REALLY INTERESTING AND COOL passage right at the end.  I raised my hand and said, “For the sake of ear training, would you tell me what that was that you just played?”  And Lonnie thought for a minute, smiled sheepishly, and said, “A mistake.”  “But could you play it again, anyway?”  He tried, but over the course of as many tries as there was gracefully time for, he could only play back what he had intended to play the first time.

Btw & fwiw, the issue is not a matter of the tune in iReal Pro being in a wholly different key than what’s in the book.  (And I figured out how to change the key in iReal Pro if/when needed.)  We’re talking differences of minor vs. major, a minor IV chord vs a I chord...   There are some common junctures, but a lot of it is really all over the map.  While nominally being in the same key.

I just want to know, whom can you trust, and how do you decide?  And the answer is by ear, I guess.  Sigh.

The truth will set you free.  But first it will really piss you off.

And now I’ll stop, because I don’t aspire to perform -- just wanted to play something jazzier than my usual, for a change of pace -- so maybe I’m investing this with too much importance.

Thank you for telling it like it is, Slim.  You’re words are well taken, despite my fussing.

Tin Lizzie

On Sep 5, 2017, at 3:37 PM, Slim Heilpern wrote:

> Hi Tin -
> Not trying to be flippant, but what I do is I use my ears to decide which chord progression (as written) I like better, or better matches a recording of the tune that I like. Sometimes the chords will be similar and can be substituted to taste (e.g. C9 vs. C7, C6 vs. C, etc...). 
> Really, there’s no quick and easy way to learn this stuff, so start with the simplest tunes, preferably ones that you are familiar with. Ear training is essential and I would argue that learning an instrument that allows you to play and experiment with different chords and voicing (piano or guitar are the usual suspects) is essential as well. 
> In my opinion, learning music from the great american songbook is a journey with few shortcuts, best to take it slow and start with the basics (learn a chordal instrument, train your ears to hear the differences between the chords and how the melody fits over the chords, learn how to play what you’re hearing on the harmonica).
> BTW, you can enter different chords into a song in iRealPro and see how they sound. Also, it may be that the iRealPro default key for the tune is different, in which case you just need to change the key of the tune in iRealPro to match the book you bought. 
> Hope this helps…
> - Slim.

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