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Author Topic: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT  (Read 13014 times)

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george garside

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #60 on: August 13, 2018, 10:34:10 AM »

for those without knowledge of musical theory ( 3rds 5ths or whatever) is simply a matter of experimentation .  On the row ANY combination of buttons will harmonise on the PUSH and there is only one place where they will not harmonise on the pull which is easily discovered and never forgotten.

So  on the basis that the tune is only being played by one finger at a time the tune can be ''thickened up''  here and there simply by using a spare finger to press another button - or several spare fingers to press  more than one button at the same time, bearing in mind that there is on combination of buttons that will not work on the pull.


The spare finger on the spare button can also be used to generate extra rhythm rather than a chord  i.e one finger is playing the 'tune' note and another can be beating a bit of rhythm on another button.


If you run out of 'spare  fingers it is possible in some circumstances to angle or roll  finger one ( next to thumb) so that it will press two buttons!

In time this should become completely intuitive  but for starters  stop somewhere in a tune ,keeping the 'tune 'note going and simply experiment pressing other buttons until you get a combination providing a sound you like.  ?maybe even press a couple of buttons together (plus the tune note)


There are also situations where abutton  from the other row can be added to thicken things up a bit eg if playng on the D row the D note can be thickened or doubledd by also pushing the nearby D on the G row.


also worth keeping in mind is that when playing on the row  the saame note is srepeated every 4 buttons on the push and 5 buttons on the pull so  if for ;example the note G is being played with the first finger the note G an octaave higher can be shoved in with the little finger.  similarly twp E's can be played in the saem way on the pull.

no need to worry about ''correctness'' just work on the basis of it your combination sounds right  it will be right and if it sound crapy it won't be

george
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nigelr

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Re: Weekly Q&A with Mel Biggs
« Reply #61 on: August 13, 2018, 10:37:07 AM »

... are there any exercises you would advise just beyond scales to try and build enough familiarity to drop these combinations into tunes?
...It's often very impressive, but, I can't tell if it's practiced or adlib...
Definitely down to practice (and still something I'm far from comfortable with).  That and giving the bellows a good hard squeeze!
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #62 on: September 10, 2018, 10:15:36 AM »

Live Q&A TONIGHT! Come and join me on Facebook live for an hour of #AskMelonBox talking about anything to do with teaching, Pick Up & Play online course, melodeons, career, summer festivals, Moirai etc etc!

Link to my Facebook page: https://bit.ly/2O6Uhqd
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Clawhammer

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #63 on: September 10, 2018, 02:32:54 PM »

Hi Mel: 

That seems to convert to about 11:00 pm to 12:00 Midnight Eastern Standard Time in the US (don't make fun) which is past my bedtime. 

I was wondering as an online poster (?poser?) whether any forum participants share my frustration. (I currently live in pretty much a box wasteland and have none to ask directly as a 12-18-month learner).

I seem to learn a tune quite conversely after hundreds of practice rounds on multiple days and weeks and than seem to "forget" that tune after take on a few other somewhat dissimilar tunes for future ITM sessions.  It seems that my "muscle memory" almost returns to struggling whether X note is a "push" or "pull note" on the "learnt" tune when it had been coming so smoothly after hundreds and hundreds of rounds during the prior few weeks.

Is this a matter of learning to somehow distinguishing one tune from another on basis of first few notes? some other criteria?
Is this a matter of not practicing enough and not practicing adequately/in optimal manner?

CONFESSIONS:  1. I've been a fret player of various instruments for four decades and still tend to "look" a little at the neck as I play complex tunes out.
                         2. I have never learned to read musical notation capably. I seem to be mostly dependent on YouTube tutorial videos- don't get
                             much out of sound files.
                         3. I do try to primarily practice a new tune on the D rows of both a D/G box (for my use at "fret" life gigs) and C#/D (for "box only" session events) although the spaces between buttons seem quite similar.

I guess that I'm asking in this long-winded way, "How do folks expand their tune vocabulary "without losing ground" with other tunes? Thanks,  Bill

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Barlow

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #64 on: September 10, 2018, 11:41:52 PM »

Mel replied to this. The broadcast is now loaded on her Facebook Page.

Mel used the interesting analogy of The Generation Game conveyor belt, (might be under another name in other countries, if broadcast there at all. It was a TV game show from 1970s).

Things come into our memory and slip away and fall off the conveyor belt, so to speak. We have to pick them up and relearn them again, perhaps not so much though.

I would take the analogy further in that after a few times of learning, the subject is taken off the conveyor belt and put to your side. You've won it. It's yours now.

Learning is so personal and subjective. But we just about all  learn how to drive a car and ride a bike - forever. How come that stays with us, but the B Part of that jig just won't stay in the brain-muscle memory. What I do if I ever have a problem learning a tune, is I drop it for a while and just do some scale exercises in its key, loads of them. Then go and have a cup of tea or a break or whatever and then come back to the tune. It will start to sink in properly.

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Clawhammer

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #65 on: September 11, 2018, 02:54:57 PM »

Thanks very much for helpful analogy and advice (with dose of reassurance)!
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Stiamh

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #66 on: September 11, 2018, 03:25:22 PM »

Muscle memory is all very well and useful, but if you don't have the tune in your actual memory, it's bound to fall off the conveyor belt.

I have a pretty reliable memory for tunes - hundreds of them in active memory and a few more hundreds that are lurking under the surface - but have had the same experience of learning to play unfamiliar tunes to a decent standard and then finding a few weeks later that they aren't there. This is no doubt partly the fault of aging! But this doesn't happen if I know the tune well, if it's in my head.

So I would suggest you try my approach - which is not to bother learning tunes I don't already know! And if you don't know a tune you want to learn, listen to someone (or several different someones) playing it a few dozen or hundred times before you start. Making sure you can sing the melody is a good trick, also.

You can't internaltize tunes by muscle memory alone, in my view - and if you did succeed, I'd venture that your performances of the tunes would be lifeless. But you can play tunes (in familiar keys at least) - or pick them up quickly - that you have no muscle memory of playing but which are well established in your real memory.
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george garside

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #67 on: September 11, 2018, 05:21:27 PM »

I am dubious about the concept of muscle memory  but accept the phrase as 'shorthand' for memory ( as in the brain).  In practical terms for non readers the tune has to be stored in the brain (i.e. remembered)  .  When we decide to play a particular tune in simple terms it is transferred from the storage bit of the ;brain into the musical processer part which translates it into messages down the arm to the fingers and in turn throught he fingers to the buttons.

For me it simply boils down to the fact that to play a tune 'by ear' I have got to be able to hum or whistle it. I I can't do that for the entire tune there are bits of it that have not become firmly implanted in the 'storage' part of the brain.


Putting it the other way round I often find myself playing , far from perfectly,  a tune I havn't played before but which has, unbeknown to me , or at least the conscious bits of me, surreptitiously  crept into the brains storage bin!


george
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Clawhammer

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #68 on: September 11, 2018, 05:53:16 PM »

Yes, agreed all around with Steve and George.  I apologize for having used that nebulous phrase "muscle memory"!  I realize now (as a non-notation reader) that I don't really consider the prospect of someone trying to learn to play a tune without already having it "in their head."  Thanks,  Bill
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Jesse Smith

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #69 on: September 12, 2018, 03:40:58 AM »

Most of us who are musically inclined can whistle or sing/lilt a tune as easily as speaking, without any conscious thought as to how to shape the mouth to get the right pitches. I wonder if eventually one can achieve that on an instrument: to be so familiar and comfortable with it that one can rattle off a tune from memory as effortlessly as if they were whistling it. At least for playing a basic melody this seems feasible; maybe a complete arrangement with fancy bass runs and chord rhythms requires more direct practice.

Is this something worth practicing towards? This is basically how one learns to play by ear, but in the sense of being able to do it at speed I suppose.
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george garside

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #70 on: September 13, 2018, 01:26:02 PM »

being able to play 'the basic tune' is indeed a good way to start  and once the right notes can be played in the right order there is a lot more to be done to the basic tune ( melody ) before even thinking about 'fancy bass runs' ,chord rhythms or whatever.


The rhythm MUST be inherent in the way the tune/melody is played and no amount of arty farty bass will compensate for not so doing. Any 'chord rhythms' can later be put in to add to the inherent rhythm of the tune.


Then matters like phrasing and dynamics need to be experimented with  , again melody only .


in other words if the basic tune is not played with good rhythm, phrasing and dynamics  no amount of bass sruns and chord rhythms will improve it.  ONce the foregoing is mastered it is very much up to the individual to consider what additional ;bass stuff will add ( or detract!) from a well played melody.

george
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Winston Smith

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #71 on: September 13, 2018, 01:38:00 PM »

Jesse, this is most certainly the goal of those of us who only play by ear; we have no other choice. Indeed, we (or perhaps I should really just say "I"?) never actually considered another way.

As for playing at speed, I can do that. But I can fall down with it, as it's not something I usually want to do, plus my playing skill (haha) isn't to the standard where I can easily do things which I'm not too keen on anyway.

It's rather like playing the dance (etc.) tunes, which it seems everyone on here knows so well; I don't know most of them, don't particularly like many of those which seem to be so popular with most other Melnetters, and therefore don't really see the point of learning them by ear, by having to listen to them over and over again. Actually, if I don't like the tune; it'll never stick!

But, when it comes to hymn tunes and folk song tunes, I have no problem in rattling them off. (Although that may be just a tad of an exaggeration?)

I've just realised that this has become rather off-topic, I always let my musings and imaginings run away with me, sorry. If it's too far off, just delete it, please
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #72 on: November 04, 2018, 10:08:50 PM »

Remember remember the 5th of November... For it be #AskMelonBox! Live on my Facebook page tomorrow from 7pm GMT. Curious? Come say hi! I've got some news to share!

https://www.facebook.com/MelBiggsMusic/

Alternatively, post your questions to this thread and I shall endeavour to answer you within the hour on Facebook. Link will be shared here after for non-facebook users to see.
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #73 on: November 04, 2018, 11:29:33 PM »

Gena
When you say 3rds and 5ths, I assume you're talking about notes from the chord. I prefer to think of the right hand in terms of 3rds and 6ths (which are usually the very same notes, but describing the relationship to each other rather than to the chords). The added bonus is that some of those 3rds and 6ths will work against different chords. For example 3 pairs of 6ths (see how hard this is without notation) say, AC, BD, CE (where the first letter is the lowest pitched note) will clearly help to define an Am chord (the first and last of those pairs dictating the chord), but they also enrich a Dm7 chord in a glorious way, creating a Dm9 chord. You don't need to understand the harmonic principles (though I'm sure you do), but I think that conceiving the right hand in terms of 3rds and 6ths frees you up from sticking to simple triads.
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MelonBox

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #74 on: November 06, 2018, 12:59:15 PM »

Results from last night's Q&A with links and extras and whizzbangs:

https://wp.me/p8XyAz-uM
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #75 on: November 06, 2018, 10:09:08 PM »

I wanted to say, Mel: I thought there was a lot of really good info in your stream, about continental dancing especially. Thank you for sharing it here.

Good luck with the transition to having a 3r/18b in your collection! I must say, I do remember your posting this in the thread earlier:

I'm still finding plenty to keep me interested in the 2-row 8-bass systems I play and after seeing Frederic Paris a number of years ago, I decided there really is no need to upgrade to bigger, meatier boxes (check out his playing if you're not familiar with his music, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=C7r5vtEXbgQ) I have tried upgrading to 2.5 row 12 bass instruments purely for the fact they give you more chord options on the LH and reversals/accidentals on the RH, but overall I find them too cumbersome for my particular style preference and approach to playing.

I would be interested to know what has changed (and what new wonderful music did you discover!). Was there any important factor that helped you figure things out/a Eureka moment? And, have you considered trying to find a stradella bass on a diatonic instrument, over eg the 18 bass?


And an aside:
Gena
...

I think what would really help me is finding an example of the playing I'm thinking of and dissembling everything they do into a written arrangement, and try from there to take it apart. I've actually not had too much luck finding something that's really fit the bill yet.
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playandteach

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #76 on: November 06, 2018, 11:28:36 PM »

I hope you share it when you find your perfect example. I love taking music to bits. You're definitely one of the bright sparks that keep threads alive, so thanks for your contributions.
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Dick Rees

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #77 on: November 07, 2018, 12:03:16 AM »

I would be interested to know what has changed (and what new wonderful music did you discover!). Was there any important factor that helped you figure things out/a Eureka moment?

Did you mean Erica?
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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #78 on: December 03, 2018, 03:13:57 PM »

See you later everyone! 7pm GMT over on my Facebook page. We'll be kicking off with 'what's the meaning of voices, registers, thirds in or out and LMM?' thanks to someone who sent a message to me early! Just means I can crack straight on and not sit there twiddling my thumbs!

Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/MelBiggsMusic/
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Gena Crisman

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Re: #AskMelonBox: Live Q&A with Mel Biggs 1st Mondays 7-8pm GMT
« Reply #79 on: December 03, 2018, 04:22:12 PM »

Best of luck with the stream tonight! I have a band practice to attend, so, I'd like to rephrase a post I made upthread into the form of a direct question:

You mentioned you were looking at 3r18b instruments last month, but have also posted some time ago that, despite trying larger instruments (2.5r12b specifically), you have always come back to 2r8b as they've felt to cumbersome.

I'm currently also 2r8b adherent, and haven't generally enjoyed playing the bigger boxes. Could you talk at all about your experience so far with 3r18b? Have you found that it works for you in a way that 2.5r12b does not?
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