How do you describe music you hear?


hunter1801
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/05
Posts: 1,331
hunter1801
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/05
Posts: 1,331
03/15/2009 12:59 am
I need to write a report on a concert that I went to for my music class. I saw Margarita Escarpa performing at my school and I'm having trouble finding ways to describe how she was playing.

Particularly, she did this one thing (first off, know that she is a classical guitar player and finger-picks) where she would pick constantly fast on the high e string, but with her thumb she would play the lower strings slower, so the song sounded like it was both fast and slow in tempo at the same time. The fast picking sounded more like it was accenting and the slower picking was the actual song being played if that makes sense. How could I describe that in better words. This is for a music class report after all.

Oh ya its due Monday so any quick help is appreciated :D

Here is a link to some youtube stuff from her:
http://www.youtube.com/results?search_type=&search_query=Margarita+Escarpa&aq=f
# 1
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,404
ChristopherSchlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor
Joined: 08/09/05
Posts: 8,404
03/15/2009 1:30 am
Originally Posted by: hunter1801Particularly, she did this one thing (first off, know that she is a classical guitar player and finger-picks) where she would pick constantly fast on the high e string, but with her thumb she would play the lower strings slower, so the song sounded like it was both fast and slow in tempo at the same time. The fast picking sounded more like it was accenting and the slower picking was the actual song being played if that makes sense. How could I describe that in better words. This is for a music class report after all.

What you are describing is a stereotypical classical guitar technique called tremolo:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tremolo

But FWIW you were doing a good job of describing it in plain English. :)
Christopher Schlegel
Guitar Tricks Instructor

Christopher Schlegel Lesson Directory
# 2
hunter1801
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/05
Posts: 1,331
hunter1801
Registered User
Joined: 01/27/05
Posts: 1,331
03/15/2009 2:10 am
Well tremolo, as I know it from playing guitar, is when I pick pretty much as fast as I can. Its very rapid playing basically, right? But when mixing that in with a slow and steady picking, how could you describe that?

Edit: My music teacher is evil and doesn't speak plain English. Only ridiculously never used musical terms.


Also, this is one of the songs she performed. Any ideas on how to describe it?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S98gx42nAHQ
# 3
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
03/15/2009 9:05 pm
Originally Posted by: hunter1801Well tremolo, as I know it from playing guitar, is when I pick pretty much as fast as I can. Its very rapid playing basically, right? But when mixing that in with a slow and steady picking, how could you describe that?

Edit: My music teacher is evil and doesn't speak plain English. Only ridiculously never used musical terms.


Also, this is one of the songs she performed. Any ideas on how to describe it?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S98gx42nAHQ



Contrapuntal? Such as playing counterpoint melodies? Please someone with more knowledge than me confirm this...Just maybe what I think your talking about.


BTW...Loved the classical links.
# 4
Hamberg
Registered User
Joined: 01/19/05
Posts: 343
Hamberg
Registered User
Joined: 01/19/05
Posts: 343
03/19/2009 7:53 am
To answer your last question first:

No, That is not counter point. While It isnt impossible to play counter point as a solo musician, it would take a life time to master. The timber of any instrument would additionally render this type of practice asthetically worthless. Counter point is when two melodies are played at the same time. If you could imagine to different guitar solos being played at the same time, this is more like what counter point would sound like.

The style that you are describing sounds like she was playing a melody part in addition to a "mock bass line." Or alternatively, playing a lower melody while using the tremelo note as a tonal center to modulate over. This playing style has several names, depending on what musical style that you are playing. Music that uses an organ refers to this technique as "using a pedal point." Heavy metal, "droning." Theres a name for it in blues (which I can't remember.) I believe that they might call it droning on the sitar also. Jazz is almost technically defined by techniques which are founded on the same concept. I'm not sure what the technique is called in classical guitar, or flamenco guitar. Your gonna have to find out what the correct termonology is for yourself cuz if you use this **** that I just said, I'm sure you will fail.

To answer your first question:

It depends on what aspect you are describing.

A good idea might be to describe how the music made you feel, and how you think it was intended to make you feel.

You can describe the technical aspects, which is basically what you have been doing. Your description, however, would look more authoritative if you used the appropriate termanologies.

You could also describe the theoretical qualities of the music. Such as the chord names, scale names, harmonic structure, sectional arrangement, the compositional nature of the piece, melodic composition.

Going further into compositional principles, you could describe the historical relevence of either the techniques used, or the theory. Or to put it simply, this would be reference to the composers influences.

Another way to describe music is to actually describe it with adjectives the are used for the other senses (particularly sight.) Your teacher probabily will not be please with this, however, it is commonly how a producer will describe music. For example saying something like, "The tremelo picking had a fuzzy sound to it." Instead of saying that it was fast.
Bass guitar is the answer to everything
# 5
Hamberg
Registered User
Joined: 01/19/05
Posts: 343
Hamberg
Registered User
Joined: 01/19/05
Posts: 343
03/19/2009 8:00 am
Originally Posted by: hunter1801Well tremolo, as I know it from playing guitar, is when I pick pretty much as fast as I can. Its very rapid playing basically, right? But when mixing that in with a slow and steady picking, how could you describe that?

Edit: My music teacher is evil and doesn't speak plain English. Only ridiculously never used musical terms.


Also, this is one of the songs she performed. Any ideas on how to describe it?
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S98gx42nAHQ


Your definition of a tremelo is both correct and wrong. A rock tremelo (I think blues also may hold the same definition) is as you have defined it. A classical or flamenco tremelo is actually played as a triplet.

If your question refers to his description, I believe what he is talking about looked more like this ---- roughly

111----111------111-------
---4-------4--------4------

So while this may be the worst drawing ever, basically the 1's are (well they could be any type of triplet but,) 16th note triplets and the 4's are 8th notes, or whatever.

Didn't see the video
Bass guitar is the answer to everything
# 6
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
JeffS65
Registered User
Joined: 10/07/08
Posts: 1,602
03/20/2009 12:18 pm
Hamberg, I'm curious; with the length of opinion provided, how are you sure of the information you provided was correct. While you conditionally gave correct info, if you didn't watch the video, how do know if it applied at all? As you'd said that contrapuntal playing is for experts, since this is stuff taught at GIT etc, isn't it possible that what he posted may have been an example. I'm by no means an expert but provided a thought on a direction but only doing so after watching the video.
# 7
Hamberg
Registered User
Joined: 01/19/05
Posts: 343
Hamberg
Registered User
Joined: 01/19/05
Posts: 343
03/22/2009 11:43 pm
Originally Posted by: JeffS65Hamberg, I'm curious; with the length of opinion provided, how are you sure of the information you provided was correct. While you conditionally gave correct info, if you didn't watch the video, how do know if it applied at all? As you'd said that contrapuntal playing is for experts, since this is stuff taught at GIT etc, isn't it possible that what he posted may have been an example. I'm by no means an expert but provided a thought on a direction but only doing so after watching the video.


Well, theres no way that I can be certain that what I said applies specifically to the video. However, most of the information that I provided was based on generalizations.

I am very sure that the information is correct.

Perhaps I wasn't entirely clear. Counter point isn't reserved for experts. I was saying that playing both couter point parts, by one musician, depending on the tempo, and complexity of the melody, is reserved for playing levels well beyond expert. I'm not quite sure how counter point is defined on this website, however, simply playing 2 notes at the same time doesn't define counter point. That is actually harmony, and while counter point may contain harmony, it isn't defined by this practice. If you are good enough to play two guitar solos at one time, as a solo musician, then you are playing the accepted definition of counter point. Usually counter point has to be played by two musicians.

The most common technique that I am familiar with, which he is describing, sounds like modulation of the bass note over a higher pitched tonal center. As I said before, I'm not sure what this is called in classical or spanish guitar, but it does have a name.
Bass guitar is the answer to everything
# 8

Please register with a free account to post on the forum.