Anyone else never learned a cover?

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by ncfiala, Jan 10, 2017.

  1. ncfiala

    ncfiala Silence you bastard

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    I've been playing for about 5 years or so (with a large gap of about a year in there where I didn't really play at all). I taught myself music theory out of the Kostka and Payne book and some other sources. I don't tune standard. I come up with my own shapes for everything (scales, chords, arpeggios, etc.) that are frequently different from what others seem to be commonly using. Consequently, it seems like it would be somewhat difficult for me to learn any covers. I also find that I just don't really have any interest in learning someone else's tunes. Anybody else who has never learned a cover? Am I missing out on anything by not learning covers or is my time better spent learning how to develop my own sound?
     
  2. Dayn

    Dayn silly person

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    It's one thing to have your instrument in a unique tuning and to play it in a certain way. It's another to not learn any other music. It's the latter that's perplexing to me.

    I'm going to be blunt and say you should definitely learn to play others' music. I don't see how you can develop your own sound without it. Otherwise 'your sound' will be developed in a void, bereft of ideas that anyone else has come up with. Developing your sound in that way is like reinventing the wheel. It only gets you brownie points with those who think 'true art' or whatever can only be done without reference to anyone else. (Think about all the people who think learning music theory will destroy their creativity. Don't be like them.)

    Definitely learn to play others' songs. Play it in your own tuning and have at it, you'll learn a lot. You don't need to learn a whole song to get the benefit out of it.

    If you're playing just to enjoy yourself, then do whatever. But if you're looking to develop and create your own sound, you're doing yourself a disservice by writing off every other piece of music in existence.
     
  3. Rachmaninoff

    Rachmaninoff Amateur porn actor

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    This guy started the same way you did:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jorge_Ben_Jor

    And he ended up creating many cool things.
     
  4. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    If you don't play covers because you don't feel like it, then I think that's a legit way to go. It's your own time, do what you want.

    However:
    If saying "I don't have any interest in playing other peoples' music" is an excuse to navigate around the fact that you're incapable of playing other people's music, that that's a whole other thing. Like don't join a band, then, when told what a chord progression is, respond with "I don't do chords man, I just do my own thing, ya know?"

    A large part of learning other peoples' music is learning the language of collaboration- having some baseline understanding of the same melodies and progressions and techniques etc. means that you can jump into a situation with other musicians without friction. You can pick up on subtle differences in how another person plays the same song, and usually learn something from that. Every time I've joined a new band, my playing improves from absorbing the way another musician approaches the same pieces. If that doesn't mean anything to you, maybe you have no interest in jamming with other people, then by all means, go do what you want and have fun with it.
     
  5. ncfiala

    ncfiala Silence you bastard

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    I just want to clarify some things. I don't tune standard but I also don't tune in some crazy weird tuning. I tune in 4ths. I come up with my own shapes for scales, chords, arpeggios, etc. but I'm not just making up scales, chords, arpeggios, etc. I have studied tonal harmony and have a grasp of the major, natural minor, harmonic minor, and melodic minor scales and their modes and how to harmonize them with triads and 7th chords and how to make chord progressions. Also, music is simply a hobby for me and that's all it will ever be. I have a career.
     
  6. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    Wasn't pointed at you specifically, I was just stating general opinion.

    But I stick to what I said- covers are part of a language of collaboration with people, and a valuable learning tool. They're useful for things like auditions, or for band "bonding moments" where you can play a song you enjoy together, or as a reference point where you're trying to communicate a certain riff phrasing or something like that. But also for studying how the original artist might have played a part. Or how your friend or someone on youtube plays the same part.

    My point being that covers serve a purpose outside of just having a library of "look at all the songs I can play", and outside of the weird identity politics people attach to what they play "I totally only play psuedo-blackened death-thrash-jazz-grind from Italy because playing anything else would be untrve" or "I can't play those because that's THEIR music, and I only do ME."
     
  7. Eptaceros

    Eptaceros Wayfarer

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    Guitars are already tuned to 4ths, save from the G-B strings. Do you mean 5ths?
     
  8. ncfiala

    ncfiala Silence you bastard

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    As you said yourself, guitars are not tuned in 4ths since there is a major third between the second and third strings. I tune in all 4ths, typically BEADGCF on a 7, but sometimes I bring everything down a semitone or two.
     
  9. Kanye

    Kanye SS.org Regular

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    Learning other peoples music and techniques is not only one of the greatest learning aids, it also attribute greatly to one forging their 'own sound' so to speak.

    The acquisition of knowledge is what matters, not the source. If someone thinks they can do this alone without learning absolutely anything from another person or artist, I would imagine this would slow the process immensely. But if it brings you joy. Thats awesome.
     
  10. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    I haven't learned a cover or so much as a riff in years, and also tune in 4ths down a step. Nice to meet you haha :D

    You know some theory, you know what music sounds like so you can still draw inspiration from it, that's fine - no need to know how to play it. I had good fun playing along with some songs back in the day, but as an adult with very limited guitar time and lots of goals for writing music, spending a week or more (probably a lot more given the technicality of the music I enjoy) learning a cover is little more than a waste of time to me now. Sure it develops my chops, but so does learning my own stuff to record it :)
    Save
     
  11. Keel

    Keel SS.org Regular

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    I ONLY learn other peoples stuff haha. It challenges me, whereas when I sit with a guitar and try to come up with my own stuff, I just get bothered by how the stuff I'm writing isn't technical enough. I never feel anything I come up with is good enough to say, "hey, I wrote this song." I'm sure I could, but I don't feel like trying to write and learn a complex piece of music at the same time. So I just sit and mindlessly shred on scales I know or songs I've learned.
     
  12. Semi-pro

    Semi-pro SS.org Regular

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    I remember going through a phase that involved thinking like "I rather invest my time in my own ideas than others" and thus didn't learn/study any existing music for a while. I'm glad I got over it! Learning just one song by ear every now and then makes you come up with so much cool stuff. There is so always at least one song that includes ideas that you wish you had come up with yourself!

    Like someone said before, to deliberalely avoid learning from others is rather just creating a void than "keeping your ideas pure". Afterall, it's still your desicion whether to use it or not, whatever it is you learned.
     
  13. bostjan

    bostjan MicroMetal Contributor

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    This thought is so foreign to me, I don't really know how to address it directly.

    I can't listen to a song without trying to figure out how to play it. Maybe that's good or maybe that's bad, I don't care, it's the way I am. If you are the opposite way, but feel just as confident in the state of your being that way, then cool.

    I've known maybe two other guys, personally, who have stated that they don't want to learn anybody else's stuff because it's creatively stifling, (not because they simply had no interest, and also note that those guys were not hobbyists, but trying to take on music as a profession), and those dudes all failed quite hard at making it anywhere in the local scene.

    As far as tuning guitar in all fourths, well, man, I have to point out, that you are using maybe the second or third most common tuning there, so it's not weird at all, and shouldn't have much effect on playing other people's music. It's actually a fairly intuitive tuning.
     
  14. gnoll

    gnoll SS.org Regular

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    I don't learn a lot of "covers", but when I hear music I like, I want to understand what it is and why I like it, so that I can use that information to make my own music better. That doesn't normally mean I learn whole songs, but I can for example hear chord progressions, little pieces of melody or just certain intervals over a certain chord, etc. that I really like and that I want to figure out what they are so that I can remember them and add them to my own musical tool box, so to speak. I guess that's a bit of both of "learning other peoples music" and "developing my own sound". It seems for me they kinda go hand in hand.
     
  15. TedEH

    TedEH Cromulent

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    I think there's some value too, in the idea of trying to replicate the vibe or a certain pattern or riff in a completely different tuning. The music theory doesn't change even if the tuning does.

    I've got a song that came about when trying to replicate a cool sound originally played in open tuning, but in standard instead.
     
  16. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    While finding your own voice is important, I've also always thought that the guitar, like ALL instruments, has its own unique vocabulary and tradition, and asa a guitarist you should be familiar with that. It's also helped me imprtove my own playing by learning a certain amount of other people's music to understand and learn from their approach and get myself out of my own comfort zones.

    I would never recommend ONLY playing covers, but find a few solos you like, and learn them I guarantee you'll take some valuable ideas from the process.
     
  17. Drew

    Drew Forum MVP

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    Also, if I was going to go with some modified tuning like that, I'd look at stacked 5ths, not fourths, for the utulity in 4 note per string scales that would provide - it'd make it a lot easier to borrow ideas from classical violin and string section music, too. String gauges get tricky on a 7, though, which is why I haven't bothered to try...
     
  18. ncfiala

    ncfiala Silence you bastard

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    I've thought about all 5ths, but I would miss the in-position three-note-per string scale shapes. I do use those some.
     
  19. Winspear

    Winspear Tom Winspear

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    Yeah all 5ths doesn't appeal to me much. I notice enough inconvenience with regular drop tuning and how it affects ascending or descending basslines - not a fan of the big jumps! Plus chord wise, it makes close voicings which I love even harder than they already are, or simply impossible
     
  20. Karmaic

    Karmaic SS.org Regular

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    Long time lurker, thought Id join today.

    But, ive been playing on/off for 15 years, and I can count on hand the number of covers I can play start/finish. I played a crappy 6 string for about a year and after I heard a buddy throwing down some pounding riffs on a 7, I switched and never looked back. Hell, I cant even play a 6 string anymore. After I learned basic melody/chordings/progression and a few scales, I got bored with covers and started writing my own material. Ill still look up a riff that I like and play it, but as far as learning entire covers, those days have passed. Covers to me, were just a "get your feet wet" kinda thing when I first picked up a guitar. I dont really have a lot of interest in throwing down somebody elses music. Sure, sampling a riff will open the door to some new ideas, but, after you learn the basics of guitar, you learn what goes together and what doesnt in terms of melody.

    Stephen Carpenter (Deftones) once was asked in an interview what advice he'd like to give to aspiring guitarists..."Stop playing other peoples music! That way you dont sound like anybody else." And hes been pretty successful..
     

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