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Playing it Strictly by Ear

Arlen and Buddy GuyThe fact that I am completely self-taught, and that I never really learned to read music played a great role in how I developed as a player. I always in a way, had to "stick to my guns"as a way of staying true to my roots and to the process by which I developed my style.

For example, for a long time, even though I played with total "jazz-like" abandon, I never really had that "jazz"sound to my playing. I always knew that if I threw myself into studying it, which would have been a definite "fast track," I would have sacrificed my own true identity as a player, and would end up with that "stamped out"carbon-copy"" type sound that plagues so many players who for examplke, end up at a place like Berklee!! Instead, I made a concious decision to let the jazz sound assimilate its way into my playing, just the way the blues and country did. It's kind of like the way jazz really happened in the real world ... it developed over time, in an ëvolutionary way ... rooted in the blues, and developed as listener's ears and player's ears became more sophisticated over time.

I mean, there are many types of players, obviously. Some may be totally happy with the overly-schooled "Berklee"type approach, and who merely want to be a musician as a vocation, while there are the players like me, who have always had a point of view, and as artists, had something definate to say!

The self-taught and hard-earned way of playing, I believe, can actually be heard in the finished product of someone who has gone through this self-learning process. Of course, we are ALL self-taught in the end, but we will always also be the sum total of everything we've ever heard, been shown or simply learned by ear and heart. This is what gives us all our unique "fingerprint," something we can't HELP but have! More next time, as we continue on this all-important subject!

Arlen Roth

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Posted: 2/17/2009 5:55:29 PM with Comments | Add Comment | Email Link | Permalink
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