More Jeff Berlin Whizzdom

aydee

Platinum Member
...

I am always intrigued by the philosophical spins that interesting minds put on music and learning. Here are some more nuggets on playing in time from the Facebook page of the irrepressible Mr. Berlin:

The Truth about Learning Music in Time!
by Jeff Berlin on Saturday, January 22, 2011 at 3:19am


1. Dave Reichen said, “Relativity!”
2. Mathew Koon said, “Life experience!”
3. Mathew also said, “Playing music with other people!”
4. Albert Calor said, “Music!”
5. Albert also said, “Drumming!”
6. Phil Romo said, “Rudimentary subdividing- Whole notes vs.half notes vs.
quarter notes!”
7. Christopher Brown said, “Rhythm as it applies to any art or discipline.”


These are sufficient to address at this time. I’ll go through them one by one.

1. Relativity is not a skill.

2. Life experience is full of errors, mistakes, and missteps. Even a child
needs to practice to walk and talk which is done out-of-time from the funtional
in-time abilities of these things!

3. Performance is always done out of time until one learns his part and also
what to expect from the other players. Who plays in time that which they
haven’t learned well (which is an out-of-time experience?)

4. Music that is not learned cannot be represented in-time. Nobody can play
that which they haven’t learned. And nobody learns that which they haven’t
taken the time to learn.

5. Drumming is an experience representing the rhythms by moving your hands and
feet. If you haven’t learned how to play drums, then how can you play it in
time?

6. Rudimentary subdividing cannot be done if one doesn’t know what it is.
Learning things like this are always done out of time!

7. Art is best reprented by the freedom to express it. It is the last thing to
accomplish, not the first. Art cannot happen well if one hasn't learned how to
express themselves through their "art or discipline", terms raised up by
Chrisopher Brown! l Interestingly, the word "discipline" is defined by one
source as " training to act in accordance with rules" the key word here being
TRAINING!

NOTHING is best learned in time!

With this philosophy, and the fact that nobody can name anything that is best
learned in its own time/speed without first learning the details related to
that thing, then music must be included in the Universal Truth that EVERYTHING
requires an out-of time regard to learn well.

This is actually a
good thing, and maybe this Truth will take root. But if you find something that
is best learned in-time, then send this my way to check out. But I don't think
that one can do this. It is too much a fact that skill requires regard, and
regard needs time to digest. If this philsophy is true for EVERYTHING, then
music has to function according to the same laws that affect everything else.

Thoughts?


...
 
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iwantmemoney

Senior Member
hahaha! funny, ambient.

i'll take a whizz at it. if i catch your drift, i totally agree. because "content" is what creates value. consider the sound of a wonton floating...and the entire industry, history and makeup expressed in its' profound silence.
 

larryace

"Uncle Larry"
This is about 20 miles over my simple head.

Learning music in time for what? Dinner? A gig?

Just kidding of course.

The only thing I THINK I understand about this is... say you're learning inverted paradiddles for instance. You have to learn them out of time first before you can play them in time? Not sure I agree, but I probably have it all wrong.
 

Bo Eder

Platinum Member
I get it. In fact, I read an older article by Mr. Berlin where he was talking about how teachers teach, and I've adopted it for myself. His phrase then was: Learning how to play things in time is like walking on a tightrope the first time and t here's a guy on the ground with a whip hitting you with it to get to the other side!

I totally got that in order for you to learn how to do anything, you must simply stop and learn how to do it out of time. As you learn more and more things like this, the act of stopping to learn soon becomes so fast observers think you're actually sight-reading music. When in fact, over time, you've stopped to learn so many phrases, instant recognition takes over and execution becomes the thing you see.

Once you're comfortable with playing music out of time, then should you attempt to do it in time.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
I think I understand the message he is subtly trying to convey- he seems to be saying that things should be learned OUT OF TIME! SKREE!!!

Aha. It's a good technique, and it may be a minor educational taboo, but I don't know if it's worthy of going full Dr. Bronner over. I am doing it a little more in my teaching- giving students permission to take things out of time, so long as the coordination is there- things have to be in the right sequence, and unisons do have to sound together; rhythmic durations should be observed, loosely.

I don't agree with his point 7:

7. Art ... is the last thing to accomplish, not the first.

Art just is. It's a property of everything human-created, not an achievement.
 
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Ekim

Silver Member
I don't agree with his point 7:


Art just is. It's a property of everything human-created, not an achievement.

You're not using the same definitions. Your definition includes baby fingerpainting as "art".

I'm with Jeff here. You have to learn to re-produce what has already been done WAY before you innovate anything original that anyone else will recognize as interesting or worthwhile. In musical terms, a one-armed retarded gorilla can make noise on a bass. It's not art.

Mr. Berlin is a very skilled and pretty wise man with ideas that are delivered with ... less than finesse. I understand he just wants to get to the point, but he sacrifices diplomacy for directness. That doesn't oft go over well with most folks.

They want the sugar-coated non-offensive version. You're not going to get that from this particular man.

He posts over at the Talkbass.com forum from time to time. Many threads get closed because folks prefer to freak out over semantics rather than think about what's been posted. It's a real shame, because Jeff's approaches probably give far better results.
 

MikeM

Platinum Member
You have to learn to re-produce what has already been done WAY before you innovate anything original that anyone else will recognize as interesting or worthwhile.
I don't think that's true at all. If I'm understanding your response correctly, your saying that one must learn to reproduce all rock drumming before one can contribute anything to it. That a mighty large pill to swallow.

Neil "The Great Polarizer" Peart can't accurately reproduce roughly 2/3 of the ZZ Top catalog and he's almost universally recognized as at least "interesting" and "worthwhile" even by those who don't care for his stiffness.

And that's just rock.
 

toddbishop

Platinum Member
You're not using the same definitions.

Right, I'm disagreeing with him on that point- I'm saying art is a thing that you do, not a thing you achieve. I'm pretty all-inclusive about it. I don't regard it as any kind of exalted thing.

Your definition includes baby fingerpainting as "art".

Sure, why not? What else are you going to call it? Athletics?
 

aydee

Platinum Member
....

Thought I lay on you some quotes on art I found interesting;


Art is the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in. ( Lowell )

Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.( Chesterson )


[Abstract art is] a product of the untalented, sold by the unprincipled to the utterly bewildered. ( Capp )


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toddbishop

Platinum Member
Art, like morality, consists of drawing the line somewhere.( Chesterson

This is my favorite- it's sounds like he's being glibly conservative, but if you take it literally it's actually very modern- it could almost be something Robert Rauschenberg might say.

Is that last one Al Capp? He wouldn't be the first cartoonist to have a chip on his shoulder about abstract painting.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
This is my favorite- it's sounds like he's being glibly conservative, but if you take it literally it's actually very modern- it could almost be something Robert Rauschenberg might say.

Is that last one Al Capp? He wouldn't be the first cartoonist to have a chip on his shoulder about abstract painting.

Bingo, Todd! Thats him.

A friend of mine, singer/songwriter Timothy Hill, who plays with Brian Blade every so often tells me that Blade stops playing in places where he feels his 'not playing' , is the playing... very Rauschenberg...


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Ekim

Silver Member
I don't think that's true at all. If I'm understanding your response correctly, your saying that one must learn to reproduce all rock drumming before one can contribute anything to it. That a mighty large pill to swallow.

Neil "The Great Polarizer" Peart can't accurately reproduce roughly 2/3 of the ZZ Top catalog and he's almost universally recognized as at least "interesting" and "worthwhile" even by those who don't care for his stiffness.

And that's just rock.

No, you're not understanding my response correctly.

I'm saying you have to learn the basics enough so it's not painful to listen.

My 9-month nephew bangs on the tray of his feeding chair (whatever it's called). That's not "art". It's noise.

Some folks simply have no standards whatsoever and would accept his filled diaper as "art" because they think "everything counts".

That's not "appreciating art". It's just stoopid.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
No, you're not understanding my response correctly.

I'm saying you have to learn the basics enough so it's not painful to listen.

Though I hear what you are saying, here's a little story about how I started to play the drums.

Like every other kid, all I had done at the time was the bang the pots & pans and chairs and tables routine. My parents could'nt afford to/did not want me to have anything to do with drums in the house.
Again like every other kid, I all I wanted out of life at the time was to play with the cool school band. and sure enough, one day I was shocked that my dream came true when their bassist came up to me and said;

" I hear you play the drums". "

" Yes" , I lied.

" Show up for practice this friday"?

"You bet" I said.


So I hustled back home, wailed at my folks to somehow magically produce a drum kit for me by friday. Still adamant that he wasn't going to buy me a kit, my dad called a friend who's kid was a professional drummer in Boston who had and old spare kit. We could borrow it, if we come get it.

Bless his heart, he drove up and down and got the kit for me just in time for our practice, which I awkwardly assembled for the very fist time at the bassist house. The going was so slow and embarrassing because I didn't even know how the basic mechanics of the hardware were supposed to work.

Anyhow so finally we are all set and I grab the sticks and sit on the stool and the guys ask me if I know " Jumpin Jack Flash?" by the Stones, I say "Sure!"

And we play. And it was like being thrown into the swimming pool and already knowing how to swim. I knew what to do with my feet, never having ever set them on pedals. The the band thought I could play too.

I tell this story not to brag about my natural instincts but to emphasize the point that if their is enough music inside you, it'll find a way to come out.

I'm all for a music education, and teachers, and the how-to books, but do we lean on them a little too heavily at times ?


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Ekim

Silver Member
No, I don't think so. Simply because to make something really interesting and original you need some skill.

Natural talent and attitude can only take you so far. Those two things are certainly not going to have you create anything original in this day and age.

I think Jeff once said "Originality is the LAST thing you develop." I agree with that.
 

mattsmith

Platinum Member
I'm all for a music education, and teachers, and the how-to books, but do we lean on them a little too heavily at times ?
...
Honestly I think these things are extremely important. But I remain amazed at how people will embrace a how to method as if it were a message from God, but will blow off the practice of actually listening to music. I remember at AIM there was this guy always pounding his teachers for insights into how to play Coltrane. Finally, Creig Harber handed him a couple of Coltrane CDs and said listen repeatedly.

Everybody laughed because it was true.
 

aydee

Platinum Member
No, I don't think so. Simply because to make something really interesting and original you need some skill.

Natural talent and attitude can only take you so far. Those two things are certainly not going to have you create anything original in this day and age.

I think Jeff once said "Originality is the LAST thing you develop." I agree with that.

My point was that one doesn't substitute the other. It is'nt an either/or type of thing in my view. There are enough examples of non formally trained musicians who play with phenomenal skill. I occasionally play with a guitar player who has lost 3 fingers of his left hand, and with a bass player who, due to a physical infirmity cannot bring his hand under and around the neck and plays the bass like a keyboard. Both are incredible musicians who have devised their own system and can pretty much play with anyone.

Conversely, I've heard enough guys with great technique who can really blow, but have nothing to say, musically speaking. New York City right now is full of awesome, trained, technically 'up there' drummers who sound just like each other. Cant tell the difference if you closed your eyes..

I dont take anything away from music ed when I say this, and have the greatest respect for its 'true' teachers. I totally buy the argument that it can only enhance and facilitate what you already have.

My beef is with a belief system some people have, who as Matt pointed out, look for short cuts and spoon feeding. Knowing the altered chords of Giant Steps and playing it without having heard and soaked in much Coltrane would be two different things.

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Deltadrummer

Platinum Member
I'm all for a music education, and teachers, and the how-to books, but do we lean on them a little too heavily at times ?


...

I guess it's all relative, isn't it. I asked Jeff Hamilton if he gave lessons and he said "Not any more." When I asked him why he said "The best lessons I ever had were sitting behind great drummers and watching them play." I said; "You are the best brush player. It would be great to get some brush lessons" and he laughed and said. "Not really." I asked, "who" and he said, "my teacher." I asked who that was and he said he learned how to play brushes watching Philly Joe Jones.

I remember a similar story from Narada saying he learned how to play sitting behind Billy Cobham and watching. Billy Cobham said about Narada, there was this kid watching him play every night, and how he didn't know he was sitting there learning how to replace him.
 

Pollyanna

Platinum Member
Agree with the comments about the value of listening and, to me, fluidity without interesting content is an impressive bore and I'd rather hear unimpressive stuff coming from the soul.

Interesting idea about practicing out of time. In all these years it never occurred to me. If an exercise was beyond me at tempo I'd just play it slower (or tense up haha). My understanding is it's standard practice to start challenging exercises at 30-40bpm to get the muscle memory and then go from there.

Still, learning out of time makes sense to me too, a bit like whatsisname's ideas in Effortless Mastery, non goal-seeking play, or maybe less intense goal seeking. If I'd done that as a cub I'd be playing much more relaxed today, just bludging on the bounce instead of busting a gut to extract notes.
 
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