The problem with notation:
Some thoughts on notation, feel, and the mailability of transcription:
Notation is not perfect. I’ll say it again. Notation is not perfect. If you have ever looked up a tab online to either double check what you’ve learned, or just to use it as your primary teaching source, you know that it can be VERY imperfect. There are many problems with notation, here are a few:
- harIf someone is transcribing a solo, the feel and nuance are difficult to dissect and capture into notation. This isn’t a modern problem either, it has always been an issue. Classical pianists for example, have to deal with massive amounts of historical minutia depending on the composer. Ornamental markings are vague. The constraints of the instrument WHEN it was composed have to be taken into account as well. The guitar is no different. Try playing a slide guitar solo only from sheet music alone, or learning music from a player known for bending and vibrato. It is extremely difficult to learn this way alone, it takes a multi-tiered approach.
- Going back to the “ultimate guitar” tabs, or the many other sites on the web that have somewhat accurate or completely inaccurate tabs. The problem is if you don’t know how the song SOUNDS then you will unfortunately assume what you have is correct. Worst still, you are unprepared when in a position to perform with others.
- Solos transcribed can be especially tough to tackle. Fast solos are sometimes written down in a simplified way. This is done in order for the person learning them to help internalize the rhythms. Or worse, the rhythms are harder, and likely not intended by the player. This is not a slight against any player or transcriber either, it’s simply a limitation of notation. The end result is this: you only use the notation to learn a piece/solo/exercise, and even if you play 100% correctly, you still could end up wrong.
Learning to use your ear, along with notation is the solution here.
Let’s not even talk about SWING yet! haha