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  1. #31
    Join Date
    Feb 2010
    Location
    Houghton, MI
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    30

    Stage Fright

    Good article that you recommended!

    I have found that what works for me is 1) getting "immersed" in the music (like Zwieg suggested). Bring as many senses as you can to the moment: "feel" what the fingerboard feels like, "imagine" the sound of the prettiest chord that you know, "see" in your mind's eye your opening moves of the piece, and above all, BREATH. Many guitarists are not even aware that in a pressure situation, they tend to hold breaths or breath shallowly. Every time you open your guitar case, get in the HABIT of starting to do deep diaphragmatic breathing - by the time you get situated, tuned up, have run a few warmup exercises you will have been deep breathing for 5 - 15 minutes. You will be amazed at how much more relaxed you will be.

    2) You must have (what Howard Roberts termed) "over-technique" for your task. It needs to be so ingrained and comfortable that you can do it at will. DO NOT expect that if you are attempting to perform a piece in public that is right at your maximum performance threshold, that it will go well. The vast majority of time it will not. Don't attempt to play "Giant Steps" on a gig until you can do it in your sleep.

    I see students get frustrated (un-necessarily) because they attempt to do a tune on a gig (without "over-technique") and then really get down on themselves when it crashes.

    A great jazz trombone player that I know practices choice "classical" material to keep his chops on. He has been diligently practicing a Bach cello sonata for 15 years, and just NOW feels ready to perform it in public. It has taken him that long to develop the "over-technique" he demands of himself for public performance of that piece.

    And finally, HAVE FUN every time you play music, and especially when you practice. That also will become habit and will help to get rid on the jitters "on the stand"! Hope this helps!

  2. #32
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Greenacres, FL
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    11,913
    Quote Originally Posted by mjirish View Post
    Here’s a really neat and quick way to improve your comping by increasing your “vocabulary”. First start with chord voicings found in Robert Conti’s Source Cod books “The Formula” and “The Chord Melody Assembly Line”....
    Hey, Mike, great post! Insightful. I appreciated that. I'm going to copy and print your ideas from this (and a couple related) posts and put them on my music stand for reference when practicing.
    "You may play your way into a different way of thinking, but you cannot think your way into a different way of playing." Terry Holmes, via Herb Ellis

  3. #33
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Greenacres, FL
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    11,913
    For those of you who don't know much about Mike Irish, here is a short film.

    "You may play your way into a different way of thinking, but you cannot think your way into a different way of playing." Terry Holmes, via Herb Ellis

  4. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chicago area
    Posts
    38
    Hello All,

    This is my favorite topic of all things guitar. Thanks everyone for your posts and the info you all shared. Thanks Mike Irish for the tips on using the Conti books. Thanks to alltunes for the tips on stage fright, and to Mike Irish for his tips as well. I suffer from those types of nerve things when playing solo guitar, although my other music interest is playing lead guitar in a cover band and I don't seem to have those problems in that setting. Maybe everybody's too loud to notice

    Anyway, I wanted to share my experiences with learning chord melody. Over the years I've studied most all of Howard Morgen's books, most of Conti's materials pertaining to chord melody and I've been a student of Martin Taylor's online guitar school.

    What I learned a few years ago which really propelled my progress is that I started playing tunes I really loved right off the lead sheets, effectively creating my own arrangements. As I learned each song I tried to improve each arrangement by implementing tips and approaches of the masters discussed above. I found my abilities really began to take off when I started doing this and I felt much more creative and enjoyed playing that much more. The guitar is such a beautiful instrument. I realized a listener will enjoy hearing even a simple arrangement or even an unaccompanied single line. This gave me confidence in creating my own arrangements.

    I've got well over 100 songs in a binder I've done this with. I've created an index card for each song where I rank it with A, B or C for how much I like the song, and 1, 2 or 3 by how well I play it and how far along the arrangement is. Starting with all the A1 cards, I committed to learning all those song arrangements I had created without referring to the lead sheet. When the grade improves to A1++ on the card, it's in the category Mike refers to above as "over-technique" as I believe I can play those in my sleep. I'm working on building that stack of cards and probably have about 40 of those now.

    So now a good part of my practice routine is to randomly pull A1++ cards and play them. It's pure enjoyment practicing as there's really no work to it. It's why I love playing the guitar. I try to get through that stack at least twice per week. My arrangements and playing of those songs have really improved in my opinion since committing to this system.

    The other part of my practice time is working on new arrangements, and committing arrangements I'm already pleased with to memory to get them into my A++ card pile. Most lead sheets, real books, etc. have decent chord suggestions on the music, and these for me are the building blocks for creating each arrangement. During this part of practice time I try and implement new things I've read about or studied into the arrangements. I try and apply what I'm learning to my own arrangements.

    Anyway, I'm very excited about how fun this process has been for me and wanted to share it.

  5. #35
    Sniping, whining, ranting, raving and other such behavior keep it interesting.....Dan

  6. #36
    Great post. I like rating system idea. I agree that we should learn tunes that speak to us (A's) not necessarily because they are in a "top ten must know standard list". Curious.... what are some of your A1 tunes?

    My limited list of A1's would be:

    Nuages
    Round Midnight
    Darn That Dream
    In a Sentimental Mood

    got a few more in the A3 category I need to move up.

  7. #37
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chicago area
    Posts
    38
    Quote Originally Posted by alltunes View Post
    Great post. I like rating system idea. I agree that we should learn tunes that speak to us (A's) not necessarily because they are in a "top ten must know standard list". Curious.... what are some of your A1 tunes?

    My limited list of A1's would be:

    Nuages
    Round Midnight
    Darn That Dream
    In a Sentimental Mood

    got a few more in the A3 category I need to move up.
    Thanks Alltunes!

    I had been accumulating songs in a binder for some time and had come up with pretty decent arrangements for most of them, at least for me. However, I had to refer to the lead sheet to play most of them. When I decided I really wanted to have a bunch of songs internalized, that's when I went through the binder and ranked each song to determine which ones to work on. The letter category was how much I liked the song personally and the number ranking was how good I felt the arrangement was and how well I played it. So, to get a jump start in memorizing I started working on all the A1s, and turned those into A1++ rankings meaning I felt i could perform them publicly without referring to music.

    I counted them this morning and only have 26 A1++ songs so far (my original post optimistically said about 40). I'm not at home to check them all but here are the A1++ songs that I can remember off the top of my head. There are a few more I can't remember! (How can I play them if I don't remember I can
    Thanks for your interest in them!

    Alfie
    Emily
    In a Sentimental Mood
    My Romance
    The Nearness of You
    Tenderly
    Softly As I leave You
    Who Can I Turn To
    If I Fell (Beatles)
    She's Leaving Home (Beatles)
    Let It Be Me
    Fields of Gold
    Autumn Leaves
    The Shadow of Your Smile
    Here's That Rainy Day
    The Water is Wide
    Ashokan Farewell
    Stranger on the Shore
    Smile
    From Both Sides Now
    I've Grown Accustomed To Her Face
    Over the Rainbow
    A Time for Us

  8. #38
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Twin Cities
    Posts
    2,614
    How is it that we over-mystificate this so much? Holy smokes.

    For one thing, the is no such thing as "chord melody." Ask a pianist how they approach "chord melody" playing and you'll get a blank look. They're just playing the song. For another, it's not that hard to play a melody and put the chords under it- but you have to have learned both the melody and the chords for the tune and have them down cold from memory. The best way to do that is to start by learning the melody by ear and not out of a book. Then learn the chords, ideally by ear but like many people I find that really hard so I often cheat and use a book. Then find out what notes of the chord the melody notes are (All The Things You Are, for example- the melody is very strongly on the 3rds of the chords; most of the notes in a melody tend to be one of the triad notes of the chord of the moment- the root, the 3rd or the 5th. Other notes are used but in almost every bar some or most of the melody notes will be a direct part of the basic chord underneath them). It helps a lot to know the lyrics if there are any.

    I think the fundamental problem is how the guitar is taught, as if chords and melodies and scales are all completely independent forms of music. There's rhythm guitar and lead guitar. Malarkey. Pianists are not taught this way, they learn early on that supporting notes are played under the melodic notes. Somehow guitarists don't get told about this for years and then it's like we're learning everything all over again (I suspect this is not true for people studying classical guitar from the start, but they don't get taught about improvisation most of the time).

    Improvising without another person comping is more of a challenge, it is very easy to get lost because we learned to play the head mechanically- one grip after another. Knowing the lyrics helps. Learning generically helps- which means extracting the commonalities in jazz tunes and learning them- so that every tune is not a new-from-scratch adventure. Knowing the lyrics can help a lot in keeping the song organized in your mind while you are playing. And if you're playing solo and get lost- so what? Come back to where it feels like you ought to be and almost no one will be the wiser. You might even sound hip.

    Watch an experienced jazz guitarist play this stuff and how simple the forms they use tend to be. They're not playing those 6 fret monstrosities in the Chord Catastrophe book (with a few exceptions, like Ted Greene...). Watch Joe Pass- his focus remains on the melody and the groove with the chords and bass notes just supporting. The audience will fill in a lot of that in their heads, BTW- listening is an active process. You may not play the root or the 5th but they'll hear it anyway because it will be there resonantly in the relationships between other notes and also in the listener's expectations. The groove and time is more important than the complexity of the chords.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  9. #39
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    How is it that we over-mystificate this so much? Holy smokes.

    For one thing, the is no such thing as "chord melody." Ask a pianist how they approach "chord melody" playing and you'll get a blank look. They're just playing the song. For another, it's not that hard to play a melody and put the chords under it- but you have to have learned both the melody and the chords for the tune and have them down cold from memory. The best way to do that is to start by learning the melody by ear and not out of a book. Then learn the chords, ideally by ear but like many people I find that really hard so I often cheat and use a book. Then find out what notes of the chord the melody notes are (All The Things You Are, for example- the melody is very strongly on the 3rds of the chords; most of the notes in a melody tend to be one of the triad notes of the chord of the moment- the root, the 3rd or the 5th. Other notes are used but in almost every bar some or most of the melody notes will be a direct part of the basic chord underneath them). It helps a lot to know the lyrics if there are any.

    I think the fundamental problem is how the guitar is taught, as if chords and melodies and scales are all completely independent forms of music. There's rhythm guitar and lead guitar. Malarkey. Pianists are not taught this way, they learn early on that supporting notes are played under the melodic notes. Somehow guitarists don't get told about this for years and then it's like we're learning everything all over again (I suspect this is not true for people studying classical guitar from the start, but they don't get taught about improvisation most of the time).

    Improvising without another person comping is more of a challenge, it is very easy to get lost because we learned to play the head mechanically- one grip after another. Knowing the lyrics helps. Learning generically helps- which means extracting the commonalities in jazz tunes and learning them- so that every tune is not a new-from-scratch adventure. Knowing the lyrics can help a lot in keeping the song organized in your mind while you are playing. And if you're playing solo and get lost- so what? Come back to where it feels like you ought to be and almost no one will be the wiser. You might even sound hip.

    Watch an experienced jazz guitarist play this stuff and how simple the forms they use tend to be. They're not playing those 6 fret monstrosities in the Chord Catastrophe book (with a few exceptions, like Ted Greene...). Watch Joe Pass- his focus remains on the melody and the groove with the chords and bass notes just supporting. The audience will fill in a lot of that in their heads, BTW- listening is an active process. You may not play the root or the 5th but they'll hear it anyway because it will be there resonantly in the relationships between other notes and also in the listener's expectations. The groove and time is more important than the complexity of the chords.
    Block chord style playing and arranging is absolutely a thing with pianists. Nobody said it's the ONLY way. There's a lot of interest in chord melody on the forum, regardless of what it "should be called". A lot of serious players give it and talk about it.

    Again, I think the articulation aspects are beside the point. You can break up chords or play smaller voicing etc. What's your point? Your whole post comes across as overly preachy and condescending honestly.

    Sent from my SM-J727P using Tapatalk

  10. #40
    Join Date
    Nov 2008
    Location
    Greenacres, FL
    Posts
    11,913
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post

    I think the fundamental problem is how the guitar is taught, as if chords and melodies and scales are all completely independent forms of music. There's rhythm guitar and lead guitar. Malarkey. Pianists are not taught this way, they learn early on that supporting notes are played under the melodic notes. Somehow guitarists don't get told about this for years and then it's like we're learning everything all over again (I suspect this is not true for people studying classical guitar from the start, but they don't get taught about improvisation most of the time).
    Well, I think the main reason the piano is taught differently is that there one sounds notes with both hands. The music is written in two staves, one for each hand. With the guitar, each note/pitch being sounded involves both hands. (One fretting the note, one picking or strumming it; the exception would be open strings.)
    "You may play your way into a different way of thinking, but you cannot think your way into a different way of playing." Terry Holmes, via Herb Ellis

  11. #41
    I am learning Days of Wine and Roses and ran across this video of someone playing a Conti arrangement. I think the playing is nice but this also a good example of taking the Conti method too literally i.e. too many chords not enough air


  12. #42
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Location
    Chicago area
    Posts
    38
    Quote Originally Posted by alltunes View Post
    I am learning Days of Wine and Roses and ran across this video of someone playing a Conti arrangement. I think the playing is nice but this also a good example of taking the Conti method too literally i.e. too many chords not enough air

    It seems that way, but if he slowed the tempo way down it may work really well.

    Sent from my SM-G920V using Tapatalk

  13. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by alltunes View Post
    I think the playing is nice but this also a good example of taking the Conti method too literally i.e. too many chords not enough air
    I'm not going to knock someone posting beginning progress, but I think what you're actually hearing as being problematic is probably more the phrasing itself. I think as he gets better at phrasing in a Jazz style , this kind of thing will be heard as sounding better, whether it's played as a single-note melody or block chords.

    Personally i think phrasing is about 98% of this stuff. Everything else is gravy. Almost doesn't matter what you play, content wise, if the phrasing isn't right.

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