The Skills You Need to Play the Contents of the Song Reservoir

in “Do You Know …?”

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print September 2009 | ISBN: 9780226239217
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226239224 | DOI:
The Skills You Need to Play the Contents of the Song Reservoir

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Individual players, musical groups performing together for one or many nights, and local and national communities of players put together their performances by picking material from the large reservoir of available songs. It can seem that players need only access this song reservoir and use the results. What skills do players need in order to read printed music, “take a tune” off a record, or learn it by hearing someone else play it? How do they learn those skills? And what does knowing the answers to those questions tell us about making music together? Musicians live in a world that expects them to have a substantial amount of musical knowledge. The rhythm instruments—piano, bass, drums, guitar—call for different reading skills. Players learn to identify and reproduce the intervals between a melody's notes. Cadences, scales, and similar patterns are building blocks of a repertoire. Dick Hyman, the virtuoso jazz pianist who plays in all styles with equal facility, argued that a competent jazz player must have a minimum repertoire of 300 songs.

Keywords: musicians; song reservoir; songs; skills; jazz; musical knowledge; rhythm instruments; cadences; scales; repertoire

Chapter.  9792 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: American Music

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