'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.
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Composers' Workshop
Theory and practice of composition and arranging for classical guitar, discussion of works in progress, etc.

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ekoza

'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by ekoza » Tue Apr 15, 2014 1:31 am

Hello all, I have been curious after coming across this question 3 years back...can't remember exactly where I saw it or heard the first time.
What I want to know is to share your experience whether you can look at the sheet music of a completely new piece of music n hear the music in your mind; likewise whether you can see the sheet music in your mind when you hear a completely new piece of music.
All post about the benefits n methods/ways to develop this skills are welcome.
Thank you.

Sent from my A500 using Tapatalk

Max Karios

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by Max Karios » Tue Apr 15, 2014 10:53 pm

Both skills have their limits. You can improve them steadily, but the return on invested time will decrease just as steadily. You can make a single voice so complicated that there is no way of hearing it from the score, unless you have perfect pitch. If the voices are simple, i.e. movement only in second and third intervals, mostly diatonic and a meaningful chord progression (whatever that means), up to four voices should only be a matter of practice.

In my case, I was tested at the age of 9 years for sight-singing (at this point I had had 2 years of recorder training and additional theory plus ear training lessons once a week) and just about pulled it off. For someone who plays only a melody intrument and therefore cannot really comprehend harmony, it might be hard to "sight-sing" in his mind in multiple voices. It depends too much on recognising the chord progression. Most of Bach's 4-part chorals are beyond my mental "sight-singing" skills. There are just too many accidentals and there is too much motion in the voices.

As for seeing what I hear, I do not transcribe pieces in my mind to standard notation but see them on the fretboard. I pick an arbitrary key, since I don't have perfect pitch, and try to follow the chord progression and inversions. To me this is easier than hearing written score, because I started with guitar autodidactically at the age of 13 by playing what I heard on the radio. That works well for me with baroque and classical music if there are not too many modulations. In that case I would have to grab the guitar and figure things out by stopping the recording repeatedly. Romantic music often gets too harmonically advanced already for me to see them in my mind on the fretboard. Jazz pieces (or things like Robben Ford's album "Tiger Walk", which basically is Blues with quite a lot of Jazz harmony) are out of my reach as well. I can figure out the lines and chord progressions with the guitar in my hand in no time, but without it I am lost.
ekoza wrote:Sent from my A500 using Tapatalk
Advertisement. I see these lines more and more often on the forum.
Last edited by Max Karios on Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

JohnPierce

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by JohnPierce » Wed Apr 16, 2014 12:22 am

Max Karios wrote:
ekoza wrote:Sent from my A500 using Tapatalk
Advertisement. I see these lines more and more often on the forum.
Yeah, it seems that most phone users don't know how to turn it off. (Note how polite that was? I've mellowed a lot since I retired. At work I'd have said something like "... are too bloody ignorant and uncaring....". So that's a big personality improvement, right? I knew that working wasn't good for me.)

ekoza

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by ekoza » Wed Apr 16, 2014 3:01 am

Thank you Max for your helpful feed backs with deep music insight.
Apologies for not being able to communicate clearly, when I mention about seeing a sheet music and hear the music. Here, I don't relate it to perfect pitch (which I don't have) but whether you can hear the music, not necessarily in right pitch and not only the melody line (example, a new guitar piece you want try).
For me by looking at the new sheet music, I can somehow hear the music in my mind, but sometimes it's not acurate; I hardly get the right pitch.
It's strange that I can't see the notes while listening; I see only the melody and bass but most of the time after listening twice. Most harmonies I can identify, but it's a challenge for me to see the inner voices.
I fully agree that hearing Bach's choral by only looking at the sheet music is real hard. So far I can't percieve the right sound when Bach starts to put the accidentals.
Finally can you elaborate more on your statement "both skills have their limits.

Thank you, also for the comment adv.
:)

Max Karios

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by Max Karios » Wed Apr 16, 2014 10:48 am

ekoza wrote:Finally can you elaborate more on your statement "both skills have their limits.
What I mean is that you shouldn't expect that any amount of training would get you to the point where you can hear every score without the help of an instrument or can mentally transcribe everything you hear. A weakness of standard notation is that you cannot see the difference between minor and major intervals. A-F looks exactly like C-A in standard notation, but on the fretboard you see the difference. Maybe that is why I mentally "transcribe to the fretboard", but not to standard notation.

There is a story about Edvard Grieg and Franz Liszt. Grieg visited Liszt to show him his new a-minor piano concerto. Liszt put the orchestral score onto the piano and just played it. Grieg was gobsmacked when he saw this. Now, you have all kinds of clefs in an orchestral score, and some instruments are even written in transposed notation. When Liszt noticed Grieg's amazement, he said: "You wouldn't be surprised to find that an old man knows how to read notes, would you." So for Grieg it was inconceivable that someone could sight-read an orchestral score on piano. Since hearing a score without the help of an instrument is even more demanding, this shows that it is not just a question on getting some training. There surly is no hard limit of what you can do, but a soft limit at any given time that can be pushed further away with more practice.

ekoza

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by ekoza » Thu Apr 17, 2014 1:14 am

Thank you very much Max Karios, for clarifying and elaborating it clearly with your deep musical insights.

I totally agree with this statement you say. (But I don't want to use "any amount of training) I'm just saying it if we can use different words, but literally same meaning.

"What I mean is that you shouldn't expect that any amount of training would get you to the point where you can hear every score without the help of an instrument or can mentally transcribe everything you hear.
hearing a score without the help of an instrument is even more demanding, this shows that it is not just a question on getting some training. There surly is no hard limit of what you can do, but a soft limit at any given time that can be pushed further away with more practice.[/quote]"
I posted this because few musicians asked me to teach how one can hear music with only a score and vice-versa. (though I'm not at that high level). I suggest the persistent people to play around intervals both melodic and harmonic, and follow 3 steps i.e used for developing Aural skills:
1. Effective listening
2. Process the sounds
3. Perceive the intervals

Thanks again for your help Max, and please give more suggestion that you feel can be helpful or easier.

Hope to see more of your post and learn from it.
Bye...:P

Max Karios

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by Max Karios » Thu Apr 17, 2014 7:38 am

ekoza wrote:Hope to see more of your post
I'll be offline from right after I hit the submit button until the beginning of June. After that I may write down some more of my ideas and experiences.

SteveR

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by SteveR » Thu Apr 17, 2014 4:54 pm

I sing in a choir and can sight read "easy" choral music but, even so, I have trouble hearing the notes in my head. I guess I could probably develop that skill but I have to hum them Being able to transfer from heard music to the written page would be a great skill to acquire too, but I think it would be beyond me to pick out the intervals in most chords, even simple inversions of major ones.
I'd recommend trying to sing along as you play. It should make your performance better (i.e. later without the singing!) as the music will flow.
There is the story that Mozart heard Allegri's Miserere in the Sistine chapel where it was a "trade secret" (i.e. music not allowed anywhere else outside the Vatican) and wrote the score down from memory a few hours later. So we have him (and later Mendelssohn for writing down the high note embellishments) to thank for this wonderful piece being available to everyone. Mozart was 14 years old. If you want to hear it I recommend Harry Christophers conducting the 16 from BBC4. Elin Manahan Thomas's solo top C is sublime.

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Denian Arcoleo
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Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by Denian Arcoleo » Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:09 pm

Max Karios wrote: You can make a single voice so complicated that there is no way of hearing it from the score, unless you have perfect pitch.
Not true Max. Musicians skilled in standard notation, a great classical singer for example, can hear a single line melody in their imagination from score, no matter how complex and without the need for perfect pitch.
If you go the other way (writing down what you hear in your head ), it is admittedly true that most composers use an instrument at least to check, usually the piano. But take someone like Dimitri Shostakovich for example, he was able to compose anytime anywhere without the need to hear anything played out loud. This skill is rare, but not unique by any means.
Another example - great orchestral conductors are wonderful readers and can 'hear' an unknown orchestral score pretty accurately in their imagination.
Last edited by Denian Arcoleo on Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:56 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Lawler
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Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by Lawler » Thu Apr 17, 2014 5:49 pm

Denian Arcoleo wrote: Musicians skilled in standard notation can hear a single line melody in their imagination from score, no matter how complex and without the need for perfect pitch.
I second this. Musicianship 101. Maybe 102, depending on the complexity. :)

Standard notation shows the sound of the music.

Playing musically is all about hearing it, in great clarity, in your head, then executing that on the instrument. This is true when reading notation also.

igycrctl
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Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by igycrctl » Thu Apr 17, 2014 6:14 pm

jwp wrote:
Max Karios wrote:
ekoza wrote:Sent from my A500 using Tapatalk
Advertisement. I see these lines more and more often on the forum.
Yeah, it seems that most phone users don't know how to turn it off. (Note how polite that was? I've mellowed a lot since I retired. At work I'd have said something like "... are too bloody ignorant and uncaring....". So that's a big personality improvement, right? I knew that working wasn't good for me.)
Sorry to hijack, but I have just started to occasionally use Tapatalk. Just a couple of points: 1. Is it really so annoying? 2. Just checked the settings on the app and under signature it says: "Your forum admin may override this setting" , so presumably it could be turned off on the server side. The app doesn't seem to have an "off" switch for the signature, but I guess you could delete the sig manually.

ekoza

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by ekoza » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:38 am

igycrctl wrote:
Max Karios wrote: I see these lines more and more often on the forum.
Sorry to hijack, but I have just started to occasionally use Tapatalk. Just a couple of points: 1. Is it really so annoying? 2. Just checked the settings on the app and under signature it says: "Your forum admin may override this setting" , so presumably it could be turned off on the server side. The app doesn't seem to have an "off" switch for the signature, but I guess you could delete the sig manually.
:idea: nice question 1

ekoza

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by ekoza » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:51 am

I strongly believe and agree that great musician (or Singer) can hear the music by looking at the score.
:merci:
Denian Arcoleo wrote:
Max Karios wrote: You can make a single voice so complicated that there is no way of hearing it from the score, unless you have perfect pitch.
Not true Max. Musicians skilled in standard notation, a great classical singer for example, can hear a single line melody in their imagination from score, no matter how complex and without the need for perfect pitch.
If you go the other way (writing down what you hear in your head ), it is admittedly true that most composers use an instrument at least to check, usually the piano. But take someone like Dimitri Shostakovich for example, he was able to compose anytime anywhere without the need to hear anything played out loud. This skill is rare, but not unique by any means.
Another example - great orchestral conductors are wonderful readers and can 'hear' an unknown orchestral score pretty accurately in their imagination.

Alan Green
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Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by Alan Green » Fri Apr 18, 2014 5:57 am

I can more or less hear in my head what I see on the page; the pitches may not be exact but I can get a good idea of how it's going to go.

I've never tried doing it in reverse though.

ekoza

Re: 'Can u hear what u see' n 'see what you hear?'

Post by ekoza » Sat Apr 19, 2014 2:02 am

Thank you everyone for your honest response and especially those who agree that a musician can hear the music by looking at the score :P

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