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Formal musical training vs. self-taught

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  • Formal musical training vs. self-taught

    I'm interested to find out if our members are formally trained musicians; I.e have taken piano or guitar lessons (or another instrument) or are self-taught?

    If trained, what influence has your training been on your approach to ambient music?
    If self-taught, what has influenced you in your approach to ambient music.

    Personally, I have no formal training but have approached my music from a lifetime of being an avid music fan.

  • #2
    No formal training in that I haven't regularly attended lessons, but I have sat with quite a few musicians who have had extensive training and learned from their explanations and showing me technique.

    I taught myself to read music (not that well) and maybe one of these days I'll take some violin or piano lessons to try to improve it.


    • #3
      I've only had a couple of months of piano and trumpet lessons, and those were when I was very young, though I have taken what I could from the piano lessons (theory-wise). Other than that, I'm completely self-taught on bass and have used, like you, my extensive music appreciation to take from what I've heard over the years to apply it to my own "music".


      • #4
        Originally posted by Slatemass View Post
        If trained, what influence has your training been on your approach to ambient music?
        If self-taught, what has influenced you in your approach to ambient music.
        I work as IT specialist, and years ago my hobby was electronics. I have no formal training in music.

        My "IT legacy" helps me to smoothly configure various software tools and instruments and to keep my PC-based
        musical workshop in good form.

        From years of electronics hobby I inherited thinking about computer instruments in terms of electronics - for example,
        I see analogy between electric current flow in circuits and audio signal flow in instruments/effects. Such analogies
        and thinking with block diagrams is very helpful, when I design "ensembles" of various interconnected instruments and effects.

        Best thing inherited from years of electronics hobby: patient experimenting
        SoundCloud // FreeSound // Twitter
        Get exposure for your electronic music through WEATNU.COM independent promotion network.
        "Shortwave" - collaboration album with Ager Sonus


        • #5
          I've been studying music at a university for the past 5 years and I'll get my diploma in about 7 weeks. I've had extensive music theory and I've had guitar lessons and piano lessons. I don't care for any of it. I never use my theory to do anything, what's most important to me is that it sounds nice.
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          • #6
            My father was a musician and orchestra conductor so I grew up with lots of music around. I started reading symphonic scores at an early age as my father had many to study. I started trumpet lessons when I was around 10 but gave it up when I got braces and couldn't play so I took up piano. We always had a piano in the house so it was easy to play all the time. I later got a Hammond organ and was in a rock band. I had many other keyboards including a Farfisa Duo Compact and Fender Rhodes. I played rock for about five years and then switched to jazz. I took jazz piano lessons and learned how to voice chords and learned a lot about progressions and chord substitution. I learned ear training by copying hit tunes for the covers for the band. I do not have perfect pitch but I can usually figure out a song by ear.

            I started with electronic music in my late teens and had a small studio in the basement of my house. I bought a test oscillator and had a lot of other gear from the band I used including a Dynachord tape echo which was fantastic for spacey type delays. I had amps, mics, two tape recorders, reverbs and a bunch of guitar distortion boxes to play with. I put the Hammond organ through a fuzz box and Crybaby wha-wha and got some very interesting sounds out of it.

            I did some experimental electronic music tapes and sent them to Vladimir Ussachevsky at Columbia Princeton Electronic Music Studio. He told me about Bob Moog who I eventually went to see in upstate New York. I learned a lot about modular synthesis from him. I then worked in a National Endowment funded video production facility and met Herb Deutsch who was a good friend of Bob Moog and who was also music Director at Hofstra University. He had a lot modular synths including a huge Moog that I got to play with. I bought my first synth, a mini Moog in 1980 and then got some other keyboards over the next five years including Korg's, Rolands, Yamahas and Sequential Circuits. I also had a Fostex 8-track reel to reel recorder. I got the original Cakewalk DOS Version around 1988 and used that for several years.

            I ran a video production company for several years and then got a job with a large corporation to be the director of their multimedia department. I did a lot of corporate videos and wrote a lot of music for them. It was a good experience in learning to deal with deadlines and expanding my versatility in styles.

            I am now retired and can spend as much time with music as I care to. I gave up all my hardware gear a few years ago and went all software based.

            So, in short my music education was part formal and part self taught. And I am still learning. It never ends and it is always a challenge.


            • #7
              Thanks for sharing. It is really interesting to hear about your backgrounds.


              • #8
                No formal training at all. Kind of accept that if I still struggle with some fairly basic aspects of music theory after messing around with instruments for over twenty five years then maybe it's not something that I should worry about too much. Concentrate on the areas that interest me more (sounds basically).
                Latest release: never to be repeated

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                • #9
                  I played trumpet in high school jazz band, and taught myself bass guitar and played in an R&B band back in the 70's. I've got a daughter who takes guitar lessons and I sat in on few sessions and learned a lot about music theory that I wish I had learned earlier in life. Other than that, I am learning as I go. I work in cyber-security and have a very strong technical background. That helps with the software side of things, but is no substitution for creativity.


                  • #10
                    Lots of private music study on cello and piano, plus a couple of years studying koto with a Japanese koto master. This and about a year of music school. I am an avid autodidact, and pursue various topics in theory as needed. Music is inexhaustible as a field of study, and there are lots of great books, websites, programs to expand one's skills, the most important of which, in my experience, is ear training.


                    • #11
                      I took up the violin in middle school and continued in high school, taking private lessons with my former elementary school music teacher (who is amazing) for a couple of years to improve my technique. Also joined a community youth orchestra which met on weekends for rehearsals, music theory, and workshops.

                      Despite only having improvised on a keyboard until that point, I joined the jazz ensemble in my senior year and took Suzuki piano lessons for a while as a quick fix; my lack of experience was not exactly out of place in that band. :D I still can barely read bass clef or work out a chord in real time.

                      Self-taught on hand drums. Joined a taiko drumming beginner's class and went on to join the performing group for a year and a half. Self-taught (a little bit) on theremin. Self-teaching on fretless bass.


                      • #12
                        I have never taken a music lesson in my life. Everything I know I have learned from the internetz and from friends who have played a long time.

                        I own I guitar, and I can't play for shit, but at least I am having fun. The keyword is fun.
                        It should be fun to create something. I find that the end result is not even near as satisfying as the creation process.

                        In some ways I tell myself that It's for the better that I have not taken any lessons in music theory and what not because I think it might prohibit me from experimenting. At least in some ways. But I might be wrong.
                        Maybe I would benefit from theory as well? I don't know.


                        • #13
                          Years ago, I also wondered if learning more about music might create boundaries in my experimentation. Now, I wish I would have gone ahead and learned something. It would be much easier just focusing on creating textures than also having to struggle with what are probably very elementary musical structures in my work.

                          I do not think it would inhibit your experimentation any more than understanding the way language works would inhibit being a poet--quite the opposite. Anything to expand the language of your art would be a good thing.

                          And as we are certainly learning with the huge tide of endless options in recording digitally these days: sometimes having boundaries help make more interesting work.

                          I like that the community here comes from such varied backgrounds. It will certainly make us a strong community with such diverse experiences to draw from.


                          • #14
                            i took guitar lwssons when i was younger then bass before i discovered my true nature as the drummer in a death metal band. it was only in the past few years that i started venturing into computer music, first with industrial remixes then dubstep and now ambient

                            My record label


                            • #15
                              Formal training and self-taught. I started with trumpet in fifth grade and also with piano/organ lessons shortly after that. I had a keyboard teacher who taught me a lot more theory than I realized until later on. Pretty much learned to play bass on my own in middle school. After high school, I studied music theory and composition initially in college, and worked as a professional musician and sound engineer for many years while going on to get other degrees in aquatic sciences (my current career). These days, I make music as a serious hobby and I think it's safe to say that some of the most important things that I've learned, retained, and apply to my music productions now came from what I learned on my own, by studying other people's music, learning bass lines, keyboard parts, and chords progressions, rather than through the formal training. Not that the college studies weren't useful, but in my case, I think that what I learned on my own and from my previous instructors gave me far more preparation for the academic studies than vice versa, at least as it relates to the music I create today.
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