A GuitarTuber I agree with fully! (“talent” discussion)

DrewJD82

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I haven’t seen a ton of this guy’s vids because my GuitarYouTube is pretty well stocked as it is, but this video came up on auto play while I was cleaning up and I found myself agreeing with everything the guy was saying.



I’ve gotten into heated discussions in regards to “natural talent”, which I fully believe misdirects many people due to the definitions of both those words, especially when they’re stuck together. IMO/personal history; drive + effort + perspective = talent.

Think of *EVERY* challenging thing you’ve ever learned how to play that you couldn’t play at the very start; what changed the most? Personally, it’s always my perspective on how something is being played. Sometimes I don’t hear a grouping of notes the way it’s being played within a measure the way it’s actually being played, as my perspective is off, and only until that perspective changes, whether by hearing an isolated track or slowing the part down to understand what’s actually happening, that I can get where I want to go. Sometimes it’s the way I’m picking and while I think I can do something one way, I have to do it a different way….because my perspective is off.

I had my first lesson with this with drums; I was trying to play the drum beat from Faith No More’s “The Real Thing” (the song itself). I was all over the place when my buddy, an amazing drummer, tapped with his hands while he said “bop bada bop bop” and I immediately understood it. It’s dead simple, but my perspective wasn’t aligned properly. Playing the same thing on just the snare sounds basic and like a lame rudiment, split between the hi-hat/snare, it created the groove of the song.

Or the 20 year singing journey I went on blowing my throat out to the point I couldn’t sing for 2 years straight, only to re-learn everything from an entirely different perception and my range opened up ridiculously when I learned the ‘smoke and mirrors’ aspect of mic gain/compression and it’s importance within a mix and how it can make vocals sound like they’re being belted out at extreme volumes when they’re not at all done that way. Layne Staley, Scott Weiland and Geoff Tate had this down cold; they’re rarely getting above speaking volume with their voices, even when they’re belting. The right attitude/phrasing + mic/compression and it sounds like these dudes are soaring at high volumes when it’s not the case. If it were, Layne wouldn’t have been nailing the “Man In The Box” chorus night after night, even at his worst health at his last show. Tate wouldn’t have survived Ryche’s first tour, never mind over a decade of touring and whooping ass every night. And Scott wouldn’t have pulled off what he did, especially in the health that dude was in for a majority of his career.

I think people take offense to this as a “Well, I tried, I didn’t get there, I can’t do it so you’re wrong and f*ck you for assuming everyone is built the same” when the biggest falter point lies within that statement itself, “I can’t do it”. I believe the second that thought is introduced, one is shooting themselves in the foot. I never once allowed myself to think that, even when I’d spend months or years trying to accomplish something. I was a HORRIBLE f*cking singer, H O R R I B L E, for over a decade!!! Playing show after show, out of key and just sounding terrible. But I refused to believe I couldn’t do it. Regardless of how many people were willing to tell me I couldn’t. (There were plenty!!) Hell, my father has told me practically since day one that I essentially suck. That didn’t stop until the last year, it’s been 30 years of the one dude I once “needed” assurance from busting my balls about how I should focus on other stuff, underhanded insults and a general sense of “I can’t do that so you shouldn’t be able to either, despite the fact I’m hearing you do it” :rofl He once challenged me to learn a Hellecasters song when I was 14, he said if I did it, he’d give me $700 towards a new amp. In ‘96, that was a lot of money! So I busted ass and learned it and then he had to tell me he doubted I was going to pull it off and he realistically could not afford the money. Still didn’t stop him from sh*tting on me for 25 more years! (Sorry, parental rant over!)

I’m going to cut this off now as I’ve written a book, but I’m interested in hearing your thoughts after watching the vid!
 
I used to watch his videos. But his clickbaity titles (the one you posted, for example) turned me off.

On the bright side, if I’m ever looking for a video about someone “being tired,” at least I know I’ll find at least one.
 
I used to watch his videos. But his clickbaity titles (the one you posted, for example) turned me off.

On the bright side, if I’m ever looking for a video about someone “being tired,” at least I know I’ll find at least one.

Yeah, that didn’t have much to do with the content of the video, but he basically just said he had a bunch of stuff going on and he felt tired due to life sh*t. I can’t say I’m immune to the same issues, I just got out of a several month funk of being very tired of a lot of things going on.

But it’s kinda pointless to discuss this further if ya didn’t actually watch the video. :rofl
 
I actually watched it. ;)
Agree with everything he said. We do things that aren't fun (although I try to make them fun) because we have to. It makes us better humans. I have to continuously remind myself, because it's easy to get distracted. That feeling is awesome though, when you sweat physically or mentally, and the sense of accomplishment drives you to keep going to another level. We're built to work hard.
 
I'm pretty sure things come quicker to some than others and Music is no different, however there is a huge factor in passion, motivation, drive and desire, sure some have to work harder than others but it really is all a matter of how much drive and desire you have to learn something and yes lots of practice time is required for sure.
I'm not sure i have any Natural talent as i have to work really really hard to learn music, but I do enjoy the journey and its something i really wanted to do all my life and I now have a chance
 
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I'm pretty sure things come quicker to some than others and Music is no different, however there is a huge factor in passion, motivation, drive and desire, sure some have to work harder than others but it really is all a matter of how much drive and desire you have to learn something and yes lots of practice time is required for sure.
I'm not sure i have any Natural talent as i have to work really really hard to learn music, but I do enjoy the journey and its something i really wanted to do all my life and I now have a chance

Because the “natural” part isn’t a definable thing and “talent“ isn’t far behind, IMO.

Think of it as learning algebra back in the day; before you learned you just saw letters and your perspective was “How TF do letters make numbers?”, but after it was explained, changing your perspective, it made sense. Or a couple months back when you were askin’ about those natural harmonics in “Plush”, your perspective had you thinking it was tougher/different than it was but once your perspective changed, it made sense.

Our perspectives are what make us all unique and some are born with a perspective that allows things to make sense right away and it gets titled “natural talent”, but I strongly feel that phrase does more harm than good because it creates the idea someone is capable of doing something another is not, when the only actual difference is the amount of time it takes for the perspective to be changed.
 
@DrewJD82 , could you expand on this a bit " . . . I learned the ‘smoke and mirrors’ aspect of mic gain/compression and it’s importance within a mix and how it can make vocals sound like they’re being belted out at extreme volumes when they’re not at all done that way." I would be interested in how to get there! I have never been a singer and have sang more in the past 2 years than the rest of my life combined. I have to take off at least one day a week to let the voice rest, and having things sound bigger and bolder with less effort would be a win for me I am sure!
 
@DrewJD82 , could you expand on this a bit " . . . I learned the ‘smoke and mirrors’ aspect of mic gain/compression and it’s importance within a mix and how it can make vocals sound like they’re being belted out at extreme volumes when they’re not at all done that way." I would be interested in how to get there! I have never been a singer and have sang more in the past 2 years than the rest of my life combined. I have to take off at least one day a week to let the voice rest, and having things sound bigger and bolder with less effort would be a win for me I am sure!

It’s a little tricky because it’s a combination of both singing and studio techniques. For the singing part, do some digging on Speech Level Singing, which is essentially singing at speaking volume. Instead of belting things out at full volume and putting a bunch of stress on the throat, it focuses on staying around speaking volume and relying on inflection and emoting the words to portray the effect of belting it out.

A very quick example-



Watch Layne’s body and mannerisms in this clip; he starts off crooning in the lower range before jumping up into a gritty, higher pitched voice, but he’s just as relaxed when it sounds like he’s belting as he is when he’s doing the crooning. He gets slightly louder, but he’s not thrashing his throat to get the distortion, but utilizing vocal fry to sound like he‘s laying into his voice. And on the actual song, it sounds like he just ramps up and goes for it.

Gilmour is a perfect example of speech level singing; he has quite the large range but rarely leaves steps out of a specific dynamic range when he sings. Listening to the isolated vocals from “Comfortably Numb” you can hear he’s practically whispering his parts out, specifically the “your lips move, but I can’t hear what you’re saying”, anytime he goes up in pitch, he’s getting quieter in volume and pretty much whispering it out because it’s a lot easier to bridge between chest/head voice at lower volumes than higher volumes. But whenever you hear anyone else cover this song, they go for those higher notes with their chest voice and it’s not nearly as smooth. Gilmour seemed to decide during a show which way he’d do it, most certainly based off how his voice was feeling that particular night at that particular moment.



If that’s a bit vague, my apologies, I’ve often stayed far and away from trying to explain singing stuff just because I don’t have the terminology insight when it comes to utilizing specific parts of the throat, so it’s entirely describing a feeling which is about as productive as explaining the color orange to a blind person. I only started to understand it after blowing my throat out for years, not singing anything for 2 years and then entirely re-learning how to approach it and forgetting bad habits.

What helped me a lot was my former band would have an extra practice to just focus on guitars/vocals and we’d do it at my guitarist’s apartment, no PA, all playing at apartment volume. This vid shows both, staying relatively quiet in volume while it sounds like I’m really going for it and then at the end, when I actually do go for it and blast out at full volume. For that first ramp up, singing it the same way with a mic doing the heavy lifting with some reverb and delay, it’d sound like I was soaring over everything at a crazy volume when I’m very clearly not doing that. And even the belting at the end is far more controlled than how I started off doing trying to sing like that….which sounded like someone murdering banshees.



Oh yeah, I always forget this, but Chris Cornell in the 90’s/00’s and Chris Cornell in the several years before his passing is a really good example of someone who had to change their delivery to accommodate the pitches and sounds they were going for. Watch Chris back in the day going apesh*t, just screaming those high notes out, compared to the end of his life when he was hitting the same notes but was so much more laid back and intentional with his pitch. He used to blow his throat out regularly and the last decade he was alive I don’t recall him cancelling a lot of shows at all. I can’t remember who he trained with, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Ron Anderson who taught EVERYONE; Mariah, Celine, Jon Bon Jovi, etc. But he pretty much had to change his way of singing or he was going to destroy his voice.
 
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Do you remember that video you posted when you were 15, and how fucking fast you were playing? I've been playing for over 40 years, and I still cannot play like that. And I have put in the effort.

So how does that fit in?
 
Think of it as learning algebra back in the day; before you learned you just saw letters and your perspective was “How TF do letters make numbers?”,
I'll take the algebra analogy for $1000 Alex...

If you recall, one of the hardest things about solving an algebra problem to begin with, was in how you set up the expression. This aspect took me a little while, but I got good at it. But there were girls in my class who just couldn't get it. And they'd ask me, "How do you SEE this?" I was like, IDK, I just do. And they would even get into these little groups and put in extra work, but they never pulled an "A" in that class. Meanwhile, I could float through that class, and literally never even do my homework, and still get a B+ (and this was a Catholic school, so that would've been an A anywhere else.)

But put me in the Lit classes, and those same girls were talking 'metaphor this' and 'symbolism that', and now it was me that was lost. And, it showed up in our SAT scores: mine was very lopsided towards math, and this one particular gf I'm thinking of, her's was lopsided toward verbal.
And believe me, this girl worked her tail off, but she still couldn't touch my natural aptitude for math, and I couldn't touch hers for the lit-type classes.

I did get better as I applied myself to writing as an adult, but I don't care how many books I read, I'm never going to be able to write lyrics like Neil Peart!

It (a natural bent towards being able to learn something faster, or do something better, than someone else, while putting in less effort) exists in everything! Sure, you have to work at it if you want to take it as far as you possibly can. But you don't have to work at it at all, like I didn't in HS with math, if you're naturally gifted/talented/whatever in that particular thing.

And I think it's meant to exist in the first place, as it helps guide us towards the things we should pursue in life.
 
Do you remember that video you posted when you were 15, and how f*****g fast you were playing? I've been playing for over 40 years, and I still cannot play like that. And I have put in the effort.

So how does that fit in?

I couldn’t either until I sat in my bedroom for 4-8 hours a night with a metronome playing the Rock Discipline exercises. There was a 4 year gap from where I got that VHS and when that clip was filmed and while it might have been fast in that clip, it was rarely in time and certainly not in key because ALL I focused on was playing fast. 4-6 days a week, 4-8 hours at a time for 4 years, just running chromatics to a metronome.

I almost quit over it multiple times, I have a cassette kicking around of when I used to record myself with a boom box, you hear me trying to play some Eric Johnson song then you hear BAAAANNNNGGGGG as my guitar gets slammed into an amp then my dad from another room, “What the f*ck Andy? If you’re just going to get pissed why bother? Go look at your face in the mirror, your red!” then I squawk out “I can’t f*cking play fast! I just can’t do it! It’s stupid!”

And the biggest improvement came when I changed my perspective on how I was picking the actual notes and how much I was moving my hand. Had I focused there I would have gotten there years prior. There was absolutely nothing natural about how fast I could move my fingers, that was 100% a product of drive + time. And I’d never be able to pull that off as an adult. I don’t have the capacity at all these days for that stuff.
 
I don't want to make an incorrect assumption about what's being said here, but it sounds like what we've discussed before, in that you don't believe in such a thing as natural talent, and I do. I think we both agree it has to be developed though. Correct me if I've got that wrong.

But if it doesn't exist, we sure have a ton of words for it:


 
Yeah, if something like natural/innate propensity for some things doesn't exist then we are all
blank canvases and capable of EXACTLY the same things. That just sees a reach to me. It means
you could be Steve Vai if you just do what Steve Vai does. Or sing like Mariah Carey if you just
are the daughter of an Opera Singer and grow up in that environment, and them mimiced her
every move.

Clearly work and effort are essential. But those two alone do not explain everything. I like to say
"there are no absolutes" in this world. It all matters. What are our natural inclinations? Some are
inclined to the visual arts and can paint and draw, but are literally tone deaf. Others can't draw
stick figures, but seem to have something resembling perfect pitch. There are so many factors
at play that I find it challenging to attribute it to one thing---be it "talent" or "effort" or "environment." :idk
 
Even educators are increasingly aware that as children we are predisposed to certain types
of intelligence and not others.

Square pegs and round holes and all that jazz! :LOL:

106851973-1615392089547-Screen_Shot_2021-03-10_at_103105_AM.png


But no matter what we are drawn to, I agree that intentional effort over time is the only real way to
actualize it, so that the potential isn't just potential.
 
It’s a little tricky because it’s a combination of both singing and studio techniques. For the singing part, do some digging on Speech Level Singing, which is essentially singing at speaking volume. Instead of belting things out at full volume and putting a bunch of stress on the throat, it focuses on staying around speaking volume and relying on inflection and emoting the words to portray the effect of belting it out.

A very quick example-



Watch Layne’s body and mannerisms in this clip; he starts off crooning in the lower range before jumping up into a gritty, higher pitched voice, but he’s just as relaxed when it sounds like he’s belting as he is when he’s doing the crooning. He gets slightly louder, but he’s not thrashing his throat to get the distortion, but utilizing vocal fry to sound like he‘s laying into his voice. And on the actual song, it sounds like he just ramps up and goes for it.

Gilmour is a perfect example of speech level singing; he has quite the large range but rarely leaves steps out of a specific dynamic range when he sings. Listening to the isolated vocals from “Comfortably Numb” you can hear he’s practically whispering his parts out, specifically the “your lips move, but I can’t hear what you’re saying”, anytime he goes up in pitch, he’s getting quieter in volume and pretty much whispering it out because it’s a lot easier to bridge between chest/head voice at lower volumes than higher volumes. But whenever you hear anyone else cover this song, they go for those higher notes with their chest voice and it’s not nearly as smooth. Gilmour seemed to decide during a show which way he’d do it, most certainly based off how his voice was feeling that particular night at that particular moment.



If that’s a bit vague, my apologies, I’ve often stayed far and away from trying to explain singing stuff just because I don’t have the terminology insight when it comes to utilizing specific parts of the throat, so it’s entirely describing a feeling which is about as productive as explaining the color orange to a blind person. I only started to understand it after blowing my throat out for years, not singing anything for 2 years and then entirely re-learning how to approach it and forgetting bad habits.

What helped me a lot was my former band would have an extra practice to just focus on guitars/vocals and we’d do it at my guitarist’s apartment, no PA, all playing at apartment volume. This vid shows both, staying relatively quiet in volume while it sounds like I’m really going for it and then at the end, when I actually do go for it and blast out at full volume. For that first ramp up, singing it the same way with a mic doing the heavy lifting with some reverb and delay, it’d sound like I was soaring over everything at a crazy volume when I’m very clearly not doing that. And even the belting at the end is far more controlled than how I started off doing trying to sing like that….which sounded like someone murdering banshees.



Oh yeah, I always forget this, but Chris Cornell in the 90’s/00’s and Chris Cornell in the several years before his passing is a really good example of someone who had to change their delivery to accommodate the pitches and sounds they were going for. Watch Chris back in the day going apesh*t, just screaming those high notes out, compared to the end of his life when he was hitting the same notes but was so much more laid back and intentional with his pitch. He used to blow his throat out regularly and the last decade he was alive I don’t recall him cancelling a lot of shows at all. I can’t remember who he trained with, but I wouldn’t be surprised if it was Ron Anderson who taught EVERYONE; Mariah, Celine, Jon Bon Jovi, etc. But he pretty much had to change his way of singing or he was going to destroy his voice.

Thanks for that detailed response! Very much appreciated!! Anything on the "‘smoke and mirrors’ aspect of mic gain/compression" that you can share?
 
I have no idea how else you can explain a savant being able to hear a piece of music, then sit right down at a piano and play it. That's an extreme example, but like many/most (all?) things in life, it lies on a spectrum, a continuum, if you will... Varying amounts & degrees, etc.
 
Thanks for that detailed response! Very much appreciated!! Anything on the "‘smoke and mirrors’ aspect of mic gain/compression" that you can share?

The quickest way to see what I’m talking about is to throw on a pair of headphones and make a signal chain with at least 2 compressors, I use one with a fast attack and slow release and another with a slower attack and slow release then get the volume up between the input gain and headphone level so when you get up to the mic you can pretty much whisper and it’ll sound like you’re talking at full volume.

The compression is a bit overkill, but you can dial it back later, the idea is to just get a feel for how quietly you can sing while still achieving what you’re trying to achieve. I had to play around in that area for a while and a lot of it feels like voice acting/voiceover work, just experimenting with your voice and finding out how to make it do what you want it to do within that much quieter dynamic range. Everything gets smoothed out by the compression, it’s almost like adding a boost in front of a distorted amp to give it some forgiveness and remove the stiff feeling, same idea really.

Actually, it’s exactly the same idea as how we approach learning stuff on guitar with stamina and muscle tension; people trying to play fast often find they’re tensing up their fingers/wrists which works against them and once you come out the other side of learning that, you realize it wasn’t about locking up your wrists/hands in order to burn, but keeping everything relaxed to allow for fluid motion. In this case, you don’t need to exert as much physical energy because you’re allowing the mic/compression to do the heavy lifting.

I’m mixing a song right now that pretty much has every voice I’ve ever used in one song and is all over the place with how I manipulated the mic in order to make it happen, once I have it wrapped up I’ll bounce down some individual vocal tracks with the compression/without to make an example of how it works out in the end. Just like singing, I’m not technically minded enough to explain in detail how to do it with mixing and find examples lend themselves a little easier.
 
I have no idea how else you can explain a savant being able to hear a piece of music, then sit right down at a piano and play it. That's an extreme example, but like many/most (all?) things in life, it lies on a spectrum, a continuum, if you will... Varying amounts & degrees, etc.

Do savants have the same perspective on life we do? Certainly not.
 
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