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Producing: Trained Musician Vs Natural Talent/by Ear

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I reckon a mixture of both is the best but I always like the rawness that comes from someone making their own rules. I will say, a person will have less restrictions if they learn by ear as opposed to going "by the book." But in the end: Good is good regardless of what you were taught (or not taught).

Although are you speaking as in "I'm a producer and need musicians. Should I hire trained musicians or ones that learn by ear?" If that's the case, my guess it'd be easier on you if you had trained musicians. It'd probably save time also. If you're a producer that wants to produce music by someone that has their own material and plays by ear, then I would think that would be okay also. Hell, I'm interested to find out myself now! :)

Edited by just1l
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I think the onde doesn't necessarily exclude the other. A trained musician can very well be a natural talent how can play by ear. So, to answer your queation: I think a trained musician with a natural talent who can play by ear is the best option.

Why are you asking? Do you HAVE to choose for some occasion? Or is it just out of 'intelectual' interest?

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  • 1 month later...

I wish that I could go back and pummel one of my early music teachers with a wet noodle for demanding, "don't play by ear!" (And I probably would do that now, 'cept she's dead.)

Everything that you do when you play music is, to some degree or another, "by ear," because you are making sounds and as you do that you are listening to those sounds. If you don't, then you are at best a copy-typist and your performances will sound mechanical (which they are).

Reading notes on a page, and moving your hands, and listening to the sounds produced, all takes the skills of different parts of your brain, and the part that ought to be most fully engaged is the auditory part. "It don't mean a thang, if it ain't got that swang."

But, even so, there is value in figuring out how notes are written down on a page, even if (as is the case with me) you are not able to "sight read" something that you've never seen before. My "hand/eye coordination" skills are not exceptional; in fact, they are quite poor.

You can learn a lot by watching. Just look, at the shape and flow of the notes on the page. If the measures are drawn to equal size, as they generally should be, the notes might be thickly bunched-up or sparse. Going up steeply or gently. Going both one way and another way at the same time. Or, going in parallel... close together or far apart; at different rates, or synchronized. Or, standing still. Are there curved lines arching over groups of notes, or connecting one group to another? All of these things are a cue to play it that way.


... and if you don't play it exactly as-written, they call it "improvisation."


... and, in the foregoing statement, "I
being flippant, but
to a point!" Every musical performance is a real-world event between two human beings even if there's a recording in the middle. A musical "mistake," if graciously and quickly handled within the constraints of music, can be ... and, indeed,
it is...
Edited by MikeRobinson
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