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Old 11-22-2012, 04:11 AM   #1
Danny Gomez
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Getting Familiar with Notation

Hello everyone after reading through a book I've found a very big weakness of mine. I've been running into a lot of problems lately due to my reading skills.

My theory is way ahead of my reading skills and as a result I have a very hard time recognizing this stuff on paper. I can read music on a very basic level but the problem is that I just feel so overwhelmed when I'm told to analyze a piece of music from a theoretical point of view.

For example if you told me to play a ii V I progression in the key of E Major on a guitar I can do it instantly. However if you told me to analyze the same progression on a piece of sheet music it would take me awhile to be able to recognize it.

Whenever I read theory books they write the examples in notation. It takes me awhile to interpret the example since I can't immediately recognize what it is that i'm reading.

I've tried dedicating myself to reading music on the guitar daily with a book that I have but the problem that I'm having is that I find it extremely difficult to stay motivated. The book is just a bunch of exercises so it gets really hard to focus on it. Not only that but most of the music that I'm seeing outside of the book is written on the grand staff which makes it harder since It takes me awhile to interpret the notes on the bass clef.

I know this comes off as undedicated but I'm going to ask the question anyways.

Is there any way that I can get more familiar with notation without having to go through some boring exercise book?
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Old 11-22-2012, 04:26 AM   #2
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Yes. Read music, try to transpose it to fingerings in your head, and play prima-vista. It's just mileage from what you wrote really. Just play what you read, if it's too hard, step back a little and go on with an easier level.

A reasonable solution, or advice, is to start playing classical guitar studies. The really basic, standard stuff. Try going through the books Guiliani, and Sor, Tarrega, and Aguado wrote. Try playing half of it, then move on to the next. Since they're all the same, and usually either a melody with some simple bass accompanyment, or chords with arpeggio, you should be able to pick it up relatively easily and recognize chords, and thus progressions, better.

I'm well aware that this sounds opposite of what you asked for, but on an instrument as the guitar you shouldn't expect to be able of playing it immediately, since every note can be played at least in 2, 3, or more different ways. Chords have usually fewer possibilities, but they are no easier.

As far as a bass cleff goes, you won't use it in guitar. There are a lot more signs, that we can write in, singing alone used to have 5, and but one is still in use regularly these days, for the violin if I remember correctly. Unless you will be playing Bass, or other instruments written there, you should be alright with 'just knowing what to do'. I tend to have some problems with 'unused skills', so to speak, so I wouldn't be too worried about not immediately recognizing one, as long as you know what to do with it.

I'm sorry but that is all I can tell you, there is no trick, it is simply a language that needs upkeep and practice.
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Last edited by FretboardToAsh : 11-22-2012 at 04:37 AM.
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Old 11-22-2012, 09:56 AM   #3
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Well it depends. If you want to get proficient at reading music on guitar then I recommend grabbing some simple classical pieces and read them down. Classical might not be your thing (although if you're studying Piston it very well could be) but it'll definitely help you.

On the other hand, if you just want to be able to identify notes quickly, look here: http://www.musictheory.net/exercises and just do the note exercises or chord exercises. I had to learn alto clef quickly when I was writing for Viola and that's what I used. After a few hundred of those you'll get pretty quick at reading. Of course this won't really help your reading on guitar at all.

Even better would probably be a combination of these two.
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Old 11-22-2012, 12:43 PM   #4
Danny Gomez
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Im willing to do whatever it takes and i'm glad that you guys have opened me up to different possibilities. This has to be harder than any other thing out there for me.

That exercise tool from musictheory.net has been helping me tremendously! It's helping a lot as far as training myself to recognize what i'm reading faster and more efficiently.
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Old 11-22-2012, 06:10 PM   #5
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You get better at reading music by reading music. The more you do it the better you'll get. It's just like learning to read. First you'll be "sounding everything out" but you'll get better and more comfortable over time. Don't try to find the easy way out of this.

Try learning some Bach chorales on piano. Just play through each one once and move on. You don't have to care about speed or accuracy, just play through the notes and each one will get easier.
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