Sight Reading

Discussion in 'Music Theory, Lessons & Techniques' started by Shooter, Nov 6, 2007.

  1. Vidge

    Vidge SS.org Regular

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    Thats a good point. People throw around the term talent too loosely sometimes; where a lot of the times its hard, time consuming work and practice. So in reality, "Hes talented because he can do 8 hours of play and practice everyday". :lol:
     
  2. Adriel

    Adriel SS.org Regular

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    Thanks Explorer. Just the motivation I needed.
    I'm not saying I find this material easy. I find it hard and for the amount of effort required I'd rather be hearing/learning something that sounds cool. But your point about starting with the basics is well taken. I'll keep moving through the book.

    I think music reading is definitely best learned as a beginning guitarist, when technique and reading ability are at a similar level. I think a beginner would be a lot more comfortable playing baa baa black sheep over and over until they perfected it.
     
  3. Explorer

    Explorer He seldomly knows...

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    I know exactly what you mean. I went through a period a few years ago where, in order to build my fifths tuning chops, I went through a book called "The Complete Mandolinist." I was lucky in that the book was written to allow both a teacher and a student to play along. I would read one part, then the second, and then i would read both simultaneously.

    Anyway, it's not like this will be forever. You'll be sight-reading out of the Real Book in no time!
     
  4. TheGraySlayer

    TheGraySlayer Without Open Eyes

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    I can't even read a staff on a guitar.
    But I can play the fuck out of a trumpet!
     
  5. Oceans

    Oceans Banned

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    If you wish to site read, my best advice is to learn the time signatures.
    There are whole notes, half notes, quarter notes, eighth notes, sixteenth notes, thirty second notes, and sixty fourth notes. 1/1 is basically 4/4, only the hole note gets the beat. 2/2 is 4/4 only the half notes get the beat, in other words there are only 2 half notes in the measure. 4/4 means there are 4 quarter notes in a measure. 5/1 means there are 5 hole notes in the measure, 5/2 means there are 5 half notes in the measure, 5/4 means there are 5 quarter notes in the measure, 5/8 means there are 5 eighth notes in the measure and of course 5/16 means there are 5 sixteenth notes in the measure etc... Once you learn this it's actually really simple to site read, it's just something you have to practice, so let's say you get some really fucked up time signature like 11/8 or 13/16, just means there are 11 eighth notes in the measure and there are 13 sixteenth notes in the measure, it's really simple once you think about it.
    Hole note = 1
    Half note = 2
    Quarter note = 4
    Eighth note = 8
    Sixteenth note = 16
    Thirty Second note = 32
    Sixty fourth note = 64
     
  6. Repner

    Repner SS.org Regular

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    One way that helps me is to try and sing or hum along to the notes as I'm playing them. Just play the first note to get you started, and sing along from there. It strangely made it easier for me to stay focused on the notes.





    It's a great book, but you can get bored of it sometimes. The best way I keep myself motivated on the book is to read (not play) the later pages. When I see all the stuff I'm going to be learning, it makes me really want to keep going to get to that point.

    The music gets much better as well:

     
  7. guitareben

    guitareben SS.org Regular

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    +1 to "Music Reading for the guitar. The complete Method - David Oaks"

    Very good for music reading, and while it does have many boring music reading exercises, it also includes real pieces of music every now and again :D Also covers chord charts and stuff :D
     
  8. need4speed

    need4speed SS.org Regular

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    It's probably worth noting that sheet music is probably pretty orthogonal to most modern guitar playing. Especially with the widespread use of new tools like tabs, videos, (etc).

    That said - it's not completely worthless. Sheet music is an important tool for musicians to communicate with one another.

    I started with piano when I was like 7, so sheet music is my "first language". But I still have problems tracking up and down a fretboard with sheet music. Tabs just make so much more visual sense, to me. I think that part of the problem is that I don't really bother to *know* what the letter-value notes are along my fretboard. Most of the time.

    I think that would probably be the #1 thing. (and I have to agree, with the notion that you should sometimes, write the letters of the notes on your sheet music - - when you can't immediately look at a note and *know* what the note is, you won't need to write-in every note.)

    And I would give this advice for reading notes on the staff:
    Know your treble and bass cleff.
    The Treble Cleff, you can call the "G-Cleff" - because the curly part centers on the note (line): "g". That's a landmark. The "c" (high c) is also the second space from the top. Those are the two main landmarks I use. Everything else is an interval from those.
    The Bass Cleff, you can call the "F-Cleff" - because the two dots straddle the line which is the note: "f". That's a landmark. The low "c" is the second space from the bottom. Those are the two main landmarks I use in the bass cleff.
    In between, is middle-c, which is one extension-line up from the top of the Bass Cleff, and one extension-line down from the bottom of the treble.

    More than one extension line is a pain in the ass. Nobody likes them. But they are a fact of life.

    #2 problem with reading sheet music:
    Know your time-signatures: 4/4, 4/8, 3/4, etc.
    (I don't really have any advice for this)
    #3 problem with reading sheet music:
    Know your key-signatures. Being able to keep track of sharps and flats is pretty easy. But losing-track of key signatures can screw you up. This somewhat easier on a visual instrument, (at least for me) like piano, where you can look at your sharps and flats, in terms of white/black keys. But for me, where your gaps on the fretboard are, is infinitely more difficult. I just never got the knack for it, which is why I try to just "hear" what I'm playing, and intuit where the next note is supposed to be. And I know that that's an approach that's probably crippling me as a (bass) player.

    Here's another suggestion - if you sing, AT ALL, and if you're not completely opposed to organized religion, find a church, and join the choir. Probably not a "modern"-type church, but one that has a more traditional-style worship. You'll be forced to practice sight-reading like crazy.
     
  9. Mr. Big Noodles

    Mr. Big Noodles Theory God

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    It's all about intervals. There are patterns on the staff all over the place.

    [​IMG]

    That's a lot of flipping ledger lines, huh? Let me introduce you to my friend, the octave.

    [​IMG]

    Woo! Since we know that the pitch class remains the same across octaves, we can infer that that note waaaaay down there is the same as that C an octave above it. Woo again! That octave interval is going to look the same no matter where it is. How about this one?

    [​IMG]

    That one's not so bad, in my opinion, but let's bring it down anyway.

    [​IMG]

    Just an E. All this stuff is simple patterns. If you can visualize that octave, or any other interval, it makes it easier. As far as multiple notes go, it's just a matter of familiarizing yourself with those patterns, too.

    [​IMG]

    An E major triad. A common figure. You can permute those three notes in different ways.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    These are the same sonority, just inverted. Putting everything together so far, let's have a look at this:

    [​IMG]

    You should be seeing the triad figures we just looked at, as well as various octave doublings of certain notes, namely the E and B below the staff.

    Naturally, the more you do this, the easier it comes. Read sheet music, write it, transcribe your tabs onto a staff, whatever. It'll be slow at first, but you eventually get to a point when you get fed up with counting lines and make shortcuts for yourself. So long as you learn the conventions (Like spelling tertian chords in thirds, for example.), you can easily train yourself to read all sorts of stuff. As far as relating staff notation to your instrument, if you can count frets when reading tab, you can associate note names with the fretboard. I actually find tab to be more restrictive, as it asks you to put your fingers in a specific place. There's nothing wrong with that - in some cases, I think it exceeds standard notation (specifically when demonstrating fingerings). However, knowing my patterns and having a solid grasp on intervals means that I can decide where I want to play a given note and makes it easy to transpose.
     
  10. StratoJazz

    StratoJazz SS.org Regular

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    This is an awesome post. I'd just like to add that you can internalize a certain triad inversion by isolating it.

    Let's say you want to learn the E major triad on bottom line. That triad occurs in 3 places, one beginning at the second fret on the D string, another on the 7th fret of the A string, and one at the 12th fret of the E string.

    When you can see these triads in different inversions in different places on the neck, not only can you sight read and just read notation better, you also gain what i'd like to call fretboard symmetry.

    The majority of melodies span an octave or an octave and a fifth in distance, if you can visualize a triad with in that melody, you can play it anywhere from 2 to 4 places on the neck depending on the register and key that melody is in.

    Hope I've added useful information that helps, or at least just something for anyone to think about.
     
  11. seraphim

    seraphim SS.org Regular

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    i dont know if someone said this already but when i first started reading, i leanred when it comes o chords allway read them from the top note first so you get the correct position and dont goof it up and end up with a weird stretch.
     
  12. Jaryth

    Jaryth SS.org Regular

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    This.
     
  13. Jahanasaurus

    Jahanasaurus SS.org Regular

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    Berklee Press have some great books, Especially the Melodic Rhythms book. Also check out "Serious Jazz Practice" by Barry Finnerty.Don't be put off by the "jazz" part it's a fantastic book for anyone, it's all notation and about solo phrasing and line development, It was great for me when I bothered my ass trying to sightread! Haha!
     
  14. InfinityCollision

    InfinityCollision SS.org Regular

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    This. Every good classical musician I know marks their scores to some degree even when not sightreading. Make copies if you have to (I actually do this habitually for my own library), but this is pretty standard practice and is incredibly beneficial.

    Again, this. Don't crutch on it, but it's helpful when learning notes or if there's a ton of ledger lines. I used it a lot when I had to learn C clefs and still occasionally use them if I've got a leap to a C5 or D5 in bass clef, for example, just to be safe.

    An addendum to his suggestions for things to write down:

    -Positions. If you can identify appropriate fret positions beforehand, go ahead and write them in. They're often notated in the publication, but this isn't always the case.
    -Accidentals. If there's a key change, consider writing in accidentals on some of the notes that changed for the first measure or two. Again, don't crutch on this. You shouldn't be doing this for more than one or two notes, if at all, once you're comfortable with the staff and with different key signatures. In a related vein, if you have a chord with an accidental in it then writing in the chord name or function can be helpful.
     
  15. metalaxxe11

    metalaxxe11 String Theory

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    Sight reading seems to be one thing i cant seem to achieve in real time. Seems to be that way for a lot of guitarists though!
     
  16. kekkuliheikki

    kekkuliheikki SS.org Regular

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    Anything by William Leavitt is great.

    Also old Mel Bay stuff before tabs existed.
     
  17. ROB SILVER

    ROB SILVER SS.org Regular

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    Just practice...
    I can sight read very basic classical guitar stuff at sight, and simple melodies at sight on electric.

    (Think my first recorder book, type nursery rhymes)

    It's something I wanted to earn to do, but have never pursued because I had no need to apply it.

    I think the only way to progress though is by doing it.

    Don't bother buying a "secrets of sight reading" dvd, because there is no such thing, just practice!
     
  18. cheeseandpepper

    cheeseandpepper SS.org Regular

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  19. TheOddGoat

    TheOddGoat SS.org Regular

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    Cheeseandpeppers app looks sick.

    If you're plebeian like me though, download tons of public domain music and just grind through it.

    Also, without your guitar convert it to tablature.

    Get a random note name generator and find notes on the neck as fast as possible.

    Anything at all related to it.

    I think David Oakes said "noone learns to sightread by sightreading" or quoted someone else...

    His book on reading is great too.
     
  20. meambobbo

    meambobbo SS.org Regular

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    if you slow the tempo down enough, there is little difference between figuring the next note/notes out (c, d#, f, etc), figuring out if a position switch is needed, figuring out how to finger the notes, and actually playing them. I think guitar is so open-ended that trying to get this stuff on auto-pilot may be a little futile or overly time-consuming. A 1 octave melody could be played in something like 14 different positions - at some point tonal considerations, practicality, and personal preferences determine how you actually play the passage - stuff that "auto-pilot" can't compute. So I think it's more about being able to quickly identify the notes on the page and translate them to your fretboard, and to simply have a good enough technique to be able to get to them from wherever you are, rather than feeling awkward to play a note that's out of sequence for your scale, or even outside of the current scale.

    Slow the tempo down until you CAN sight read pieces in time. If you have a beginner book, the tempo might be around the actual tempo for the piece. If you jump to an advanced book, you may think, "I can't play this". Yes, you can. You might have to set the tempo down to 20 bpm, but you have to start somewhere.

    No one ever has a stream of sheet music scrolling past them that they don't have at least 1-2 minutes time to at least skim beforehand. Just look for note extremes and start pre-calculating possible positioning. If half the piece is 2 octaves higher than the rest, you'll know there's a position shift. You don't want to try to switch positions 1 note at a time and end up walking up/down the entire fretboard. It's not cheating to make a "game plan". I feel like it's not cheating if you don't need to write it out (memorize it) and can figure it out in < the length of the piece - finding fingerings for the most complex two chords, positions, rhythm for a complex section, etc.

    For large chords, there are shortcuts as mentioned above, but on guitar the different chord shapes won't necessarily match the notes. If you have a root-fifth interval as the lowest two notes, you're probably able to (and want to) do a barre chord. Your position is determined by both the highest/lowest note extremes and fingering the actual notes to be played. As someone mentioned above, avoid crazy stretches. But you also can't chop off the bass note, especially if there's no bass player. A lot of times this is less daunting than one suspects. An uncommon chord might be the barre chord missing this or that note. If you're fingerpicking, just don't pluck that string. If picking, try to mute it (probably technically incorrect but whatevs). Or the piece may use a common subset of a usual chord shape that allows you to finger it in a much easier (and faster) way.

    Also, know your open strings. A lot of faster-paced music may rely on open strings - the tab makes playing it seem very simple, but you may get lost trying to sight read it without using open strings. Also, a lot of complex chords will leave you with impossible fingerings, but you might just need a simple power chord shape plus a couple open strings. Most of the time, music written without tab don't use these, so it's not gonna throw you into an impossible chord without open strings, but if you ever have a WTF moment, you'll see what I mean.
     

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