Sunday, April 10, 2011

Day 77: Simplified Versions of Songs

Re-learning Maple Leaf Rag has brought back the memory of hearing a simplified version of it a couple of years ago at a talent show.  This is just plain wrong to me.  If you cannot learn the original piece, you should not learn it at all.  Learn pieces at your skill level.  Learning is a "dumbed-down" version of a piece of music is akin to reading an abridged version of a great masterpiece such as a Shakespearean play or an epic novel by Dostoyevsky.  Actually, I think it is worse than that.  It is more like reading the Cliff's Notes. Yeah, you get the essence of the story, but you don't get the real meat of what is going on.

Scott Joplin is not easy.  Lots of people play The Entertainer.  There is a reason for that: It is one of his easier works to learn.  Syncopated rhythms are difficult to master, but if you practice enough, you can get it down. The kids and adults you hear playing The Entertainer may not be playing it well, but at least they are usually playing the original version.  Think I'm being too harsh?  Think there is actually some good that comes out of these simplified versions of songs?  I'd love to hear from you!

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