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  1. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by m78w
    ...remember that all of these great composers were amazing improvisers. ... Bach's "A Musical Offering" was wrtitten after he was asked to improvise several fugue's on a them given to him by the king(or some royalty). He was not happy with his performance so he went home that night and began writing ... And if we think blowing on a few tonal changes is hard, just imagine the level of musicianship it took Bach and others to improvise a fugue!!!
    MW
    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor
    ... Bach was a tremendous improviser, in those days off of a figured bass only sometimes. Maybe he was the predecessor to jazz???
    Sailor
    Quote Originally Posted by hot ford coupe
    Bach is the best. He was the jazz musician of his time. Until I took a course when I was in college (sometime during the reign of Julius Caesar) I never realized how much improvisation he did.
    Quote Originally Posted by rio
    ...my favorite Bach improv story was that the first movement in the Musical Offering, the fugue, was made on the spot by Bach when he asked the king or whoever it was to give him a melody. He did so and then Bach improvised the entire fugue...if I could go back in time ... I would go back to hear Bach's improvisations. In fact I would even go to church just to hear him play!
    I also used to think that there was some magical or mystical secret to Bach's reported ability to improv a fugue, but many years after learning jazz harmony I went back to re-investigate this question. The answer lies in "Figured Bass" practice, and beyond that in the Italian "unfigured bass" practice called "Partimiento". Figured bass means that a typical chart consists of a melody - or parts - and (importantly) a bass line with numbers written above the notes to indicate the chords. No numbers - play the root chord of the bass note. Numbers indicate various inversions, like 6/4 means the bass note is the 5th of the chord. It really isn't much different than jazz harmony in principle. Bach was big on figured bass and taught it to all of his students. It was the true basis of his improv practice.

    There is an advanced practice to figured bass, called "Partimiento Fugue", in which only the themes of the fugue are written down, leaving the other parts to improv. In the German style, figures are included for the chords, but you are expected to improvise the other parts. In the Italian style, NO FIGURES were used, so don't imagine that the German style was the hardest! The Italians memorized a complex set of rules instead based on what degree of the scale is to be harmonized and where the line is leading. This was all common practice in the 17th and 18th centuries, and German musicians raised on figured bass would also go study the Italian style, because the Italians had a private club where they could all improv on a bass line WITHOUT figures (i.e. chord symbols) and if you didn't know the rules you were up s**t creek trying to keep up.

    Bach knew all this stuff upside down and backwards... just like you guys study the crazy substitute changes in bebop.
    - jack

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by Herby
    Re: the RH issue:
    I sometimes find myself, when playing chord-melody standards, using my RH index nail just like i would use a pick — holding it against my thumb as if I were holding a pick and doing single note runs. I never do it in classical playing, but it's pretty easy in chord-melody. One drawback is in the instant it takes me to re-orient back into regular classical style playing position to get back on to the chord elements.

    Does anyone else do this? And how is it working out for you.

    Herby
    index nail as pick:
    I thought I had replied to this, but I don't see the post, so here goes again...

    Yes, I use my index nail (re-inforced with polycarbonate sheet, a thin plexiglas-like substance which I prefer to acrylic) to do a flat-pick style tremolo such as a mandolin player might use. In this way I can get the sound that Mexican requinto players get with a thumb-pick, quite different in sound and mood from a classical tremolo. There is no reason that I could not have extended this into a complete flatpick technique, but the truth is that the tone is a little weaker than the conventional classical i-m-a scale technique, so I revert to a conventional classical scale technique for most purposes. I'm not Paco-de-Lucia fast (one of the ironies of a classical technique is that almost anybody is faster with a flatpick) but I do OK.

    On tone:

    This leads to another observation in the "classical vs jazz" apples vs oranges discussion, and that is that a trained classical player has an entirely different concept of tone than most jazz players (who are typically spoiled by the ease of playing, and getting tone from, an electric guitar, which is like power brakes, power steering and powered windows on a guitar). Take the revered Joe Pass acoustic solo recordings, for an up front example: yes the musical conceptions are brilliant, but - from any classical player's point of view - the tone sucks. Earl Klugh is pretty good in this respect, but Charlie Byrd, for another revered example, had a terrible scratchy tone. Some other pop-nylon heroes of mine (won't call them jazz cats) - Chet Atkins and Jose Feliciano - however wonderful musicians they may have been, always cause an initial shudder when listening to them because of the terrible scratchy tone. The Brazilian guitarists have better acoustic/nylon tone, but even so I can remember that same shudder when I first listened to Baden-Powell. Of course I got over it, because all of these players have taught me vitally important lessons about how to play music outside of a classical context.

    Still, it seems to me very ironic that the classical method of tone production is, as it were, hidden or disguised inside the peculiar limitations of a classical music education, and that for a player to break out requires a certain courage and independence that the classical music establishment does not encourage. (The guy mentioned above who studied with Fred Hand for five years had an advantage - Fred Hand is also into jazz and had already taken his own heat from the classical establishment for it. Although perhaps somewhat weaker nowadays, the classical establishment used to be able to almost smell the stylistic contamination of jazz (I can personally vouch for this from BOTH sides of the line), and so a wonderful player like Laurindo Almeida was never fully accepted as a classical player because of the hint of swing in his playing. Double for Charlie Byrd, who was not nearly the player Almeida was.)

    In my own interactions (often very educational and informative for me) with jazz guitarists, I have had the frequent experience of observing that these guys have no idea whatsoever of how to get the tone out of a nylon string guitar - whatever they are playing may be wonderful, but you can't hear them from two feet away - a goose is farting in the snow.

  4. #78

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    lol. i agree.

    one question that i would pose is - do we believe that it is possible to use classical guitar right hand technique while improvising? i don't see why not. on the other hand, classical music enables you to "set up" your right hand for awkward passages because you know they're coming.

  5. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    lol. i agree.

    one question that i would pose is - do we believe that it is possible to use classical guitar right hand technique while improvising? i don't see why not. on the other hand, classical music enables you to "set up" your right hand for awkward passages because you know they're coming.
    Not a question of "belief", which cuts no ice, but of "knowing"
    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    that it is possible to use classical guitar right hand technique while improvising...
    It's not an issue provided you spend the necessary time practicing the techniques that you will actually use in improvising. (Speaking about the right hand specifically here but in general this applies to everything.)
    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor
    Rio- Not sure I understand the fingering issue. I definitely play single melodic lines with fingers/nails only; feels very good to me ...
    Sailor
    What constitutes an "awkward passage" for the right hand? There are, after all, only six strings and five fingers, so how many combinations can there be? An "awkward passage", by me, is anything where you have to do right-hand cross-fingerings. My daily scale practice includes not only the several combinations of two fingers recommended by Segovia in his book of beginner scales, but also combos of three and four fingers: i-m-a, a-m-i, c-a-m-i, i-m-a-c, and more rarely c-a-m and m-a-c. I use these not only for scales but for seventh-chord extension arpeggio patterns: (which I combine freely with scales in improv)

    Code:
    ----------------4-5-4------------------------------
    --------------5-------5----------------------------
    ------------6-----------6--------------------------
    --------6-7---------------7-6----------------------
    ----4-7-----------------------7-4------------------
    --5--------------------------------5---------------
    This pretty much covers cross-fingerings. I actually avoid cross-fingerings in practice by the technic described in the next para, but they don't hang me up when I do use them.

    "i-m", obviously, is the strongest and fastest combo for straight scales, cross-fingerings not being an obstacle there. The trick with more complex passages is to learn to intelligently interpolate the "a" and "c" fingers (as well as the thumb) to facilitate string crossings. There is a simple logic to this, hard to describe, and as difficult to train as anything else, but once you have it going it works, and I don't think about it while I'm playing any more. The "a" and "c" fingers advance toward the higher pitched strings, the "i" finger and thumb reach toward the lower pitched strings, and then the "i-m" combo picks up again until the next "awkwardness". I don't think that this is in principle much more difficult than training crosspicking and sweep picking with a flatpick.

    For instance, in an ascending scale passage, I may reach ahead to each new (higher) string with the "a" finger, otherwise proceeding with "i-m". Descending, I will play the last note on a string with "a", then reach down to the next string with either "i" or "m". When I reach up across several strings I lead with "c". When there are two notes on a string ascending, the last one is played with "i". When there are two notes on a string descending, the last one is played with "a" or "c". Planning is minimized in favor of simple operating rules. (I do most of this with rest-stroke, which maintains a more secure connection of my fingers to the strings so I don't lose the position.)
    I have learned to do this as a matter of course and don't think about it, but I admit that it has been a very difficult technic to teach.

    Quote Originally Posted by ShiffronLandren
    Mates,
    Let me chime in on the RH issue... I alternate between the thumb and pointer/middle, depending on the passage, and use flesh. ... But what I've found is that I have a different approach and orientation to the instrument ... employ rolls a la Chet Atkins to play arpeggios.
    Shiffron
    I have never been an advocate or user of the thumb-index combo for scale passages, which many guitarist swear by. The tone is - in my opinion of course - lousy compared to reststrokes with the fingers. (On an electric this tone difference doesn't sound as bad, but on un-amplified nylon strings the difference is huge. ) I use the thumb for the low note of arpeggios, for bass note runs which usually include slurs (ie, hammer-ons & pull-offs in classical-speak), for banjo-style rolls, and for bass lines generally.

    Quote Originally Posted by rio
    ...And regarding single note lines, are you learning them fingerstyle? I always envied those that could do that...I can't get my feel to be right with fingers when playing single lines...
    Right, well, I don't swing, I still sound like a classical player. The up and down motion of the pick, and the similar effect of thumb/index, facilitate swing where my techniques don't. Touche'.
    Last edited by jack_gvr; 04-12-2010 at 10:43 AM. Reason: additional comments

  6. #80

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    i can see that you are very detail oriented. for example, word choice is something that you zero in on. great, me too.

    with regards to improvising with classical guitar technique - i said "believe" because there is no demonstrable case of an improviser who can blow 5 minute hot solos over Giant Steps for example, with the tone of Julian Bream or David Russell etc, etc. no such person walks the earth. you know it, i know it.

    awkward or tricky or difficult could all be used to describe difficult right hand moves. if there were no such thing then everyone/anyone could play Albeniz like Williams, or Brouwer like Cobo, or Turina and Torroba like Bream etc, etc, etc. But they can't. Neither can you.

    don't get your knickers in a knot. it's not about you.

  7. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    ...
    with regards to improvising with classical guitar technique - i said "believe" because there is no demonstrable case of an improviser who can blow 5 minute hot solos over Giant Steps for example, with the tone of Julian Bream or David Russell etc, etc. no such person walks the earth. you know it, i know it.
    ...
    don't get your knickers in a knot. it's not about you.
    Yeah, you're so right it's funny. Thanks.
    Maybe he walks on water instead.
    They say that Julian Bream was known to get out a pick and scratch up his guitars playing jazz after hours when he was younger.

  8. #82

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    umm hmm.

    i was surprised by his biographical DVD that came out a few years ago near his retirement. he points out that his original inspiration was Django - and jazz! Then he heard Segovia and decided what he really wanted to do. he could play Nuages i believe it was, and in fact is shown bending strings while playing it and otherwise jamming with his friends in a decades old TV show filmed from his apartment after hours. grooovy baby!

    he played an archtop in an army jazz/stage band while in the service after discovering that soldiering was not his cup of tea (almost cut his hand with his bayonette and started crying like a baby).

    he also recounts a story where S. Grappelli asked him to play a solo on a tune in a jazz club. Bream worked up a memorized solo - one chorus. it sounded so good on the bandtstand that Grappelli signaled him to play another. he said he wanted to kill Grapelli because he didn't have another worked up.

    and like fellow Brits George Harrison and John McLaughlin, he also became enamored with Indian classical music in the groovy 60s (or 70s, can't remember). the film shows him jamming with a solid sitar playing man or whatever. He said his thinking at the time was (paraphrasing) "why not just go off and improvise and play whatever I want, and be free". etc. thankfully for us of course, that didn't happen.
    Last edited by fumblefingers; 04-13-2010 at 08:14 PM.

  9. #83

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    that would be khan sahib, one of the great musicians of the past century. (passed away last year.)


  10. #84

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    Thanks both Randall and Fumblefingers for pointing me toward the Bream video. Saw a few of the YouTube clips and want to order the DVD.

    Note Bream playing with rh fingers even in early swing jam way back whenever.

  11. #85

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    you bet!

    i don't understand all of this Indian music very well i must say. it sounds OK i guess. but Ali Akbar for one (I actually know what that means now thanks to the terrorists! or do they say Allah Akbar before they set off their bombs? oh well, what do I know)

    it just sounds like he is jamming in a very relaxed way. cool, no problem. i just dont understand all the huge praise and everything.

    but I will trust Bream's and McLaughlin's opinions over mine on this topic.

  12. #86

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    For classical guitar, I always liked Stepan Rak who was known to mix folk styles in his compositions. Here's a vid of a Rak composition (performed by someone else) that is a classical blues, and a vid of the man himself performing, too. Hope you like...

    Rak's Blues -


    Stepan Rak himself -

  13. #87

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    I'll tell it to you straight.

    Unless you're Lang Lang, or the next Lang Lang. You will never make a real living performing classical music.

    So, what do you do? I'll tell you.

    If you want to become a real musician, then you need to diversify right now.


    Continue your classical studies. You need as much of an advantage that you can get in this business. Learn as much as you can about music theory and apply it to every style of music that you listen to.

    Develop your sight reading abilities. Read through charts like a motherfucker. Develop your chops big time.

    Diversify is the new standard. You can no longer specialize (unless you are one the next Lang Lang)!!!!!!!! You need to be a chameleon. That goes for composers and performers. One style is not going to cut it. You need to have very good chops in rock, classical and jazz.

  14. #88

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    Quote Originally Posted by KShri
    ...Unless you're Lang Lang, or the next Lang Lang. You will never make a real living performing classical music...
    If you want to become a real musician, then you need to diversify right now.
    ...You need as much of an advantage that you can get in this business. Learn as much as you can about music theory and apply it to every style of music that you listen to...
    Diversify is the new standard. You can no longer specialize (unless you are one the next Lang Lang)!!!!!!!! You need to be a chameleon. That goes for composers and performers. One style is not going to cut it. You need to have very good chops in rock, classical and jazz.
    I have to agree. The chances of making a career as a classical performer are those of the proverbial snowball in hell. (those grapes were sour anyway, he said ) I think that all of the successful classical guitarists I know of have academic teaching positions that pay the basic nut and provide a foundation for concert careers.

    Actually, in my opinion, classical music AND jazz are obsolete styles - what they offer are possible foundations for the next new thing. A lot of people have done pretty well following in Ottmar Liebert's footsteps with the Rumba Flamenco thing, but that's thirty years old now. (Don't think that I am necessarily defending Ottmar as an exceptional musician, he's more of an example of how a fairly unexceptional talent can be parlayed into a magnificent career merely by taking command of the right time and place with a new sound.) So the time is right for something new. Segovia and Bream, you must observe, both created their own repertories through transcription and commissions of other composers, even though neither of them admitted to composing themselves. But folks who go on playing those repertories 40 and 50 years later are boring, really. Anybody got a new sound for the nylon string guitar? The time is right. And there's probably more chance of inventing it with a very eclectic and hybrid stylistic background to draw on.

  15. #89

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    I think Paco de Lucia is able to use the classical right hand technique and improvize, as many good flamenco players, They are usually not as restricted as classical players with their right hands and they have some additional techniques, play more with the thumb etc. And probably lute players could do as well, as a big part of their techniques is to play with thumb and first finger alternatively, which works very good even in fast passages.

    If you play enough classical pieces, you are able to improvise without thinking which fingers to use, it comes natural. But usually classical guitarists find it difficult to do so, as they are usually not trained enough in it. And IMHO the most promiment reason why classical and jazz rarely mixes is, that we as an audience rarely accept the cross over for whatever reasons. Its the same for violin although we have some examples there, but it seems that you get kicked out of the classical music business if you are playing jazz and you never get really accepted in jazz as a classical musician.

    I am currently playing Bach - which I thought is already complex but Sylvius Leopold Weiss beats it on the Lute. Actually Baroque music is much closer to Jazz for me than romantic music. Its the feeling of architecture, chords and bass lines, that you don't find as such in romantic music.

    Certainly playing different styles from various times helps to improve technique and musical capabilities. And that is all about

  16. #90

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    i've never heard or seen him use classical technique, only flamenco. when has he used classical technique?

  17. #91

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    I do not see a big difference in the right hand between classical and flamenco when you play scales. Usually flemancas play with more grip and attack but the general movement is the same. Or not?

  18. #92

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    its the angle of the hand/fingers that i was referring to.

    it can take classical players years and years to get their attack, tone, nails just right. flamenco technique does not cut it soundwise, for classial guitar music. sorry.

    i would not be so fast to underestimate this.

  19. #93

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    Modern flamenco right hand technique is equally as advanced as classical right hand technique (in many ways more so). The way the instrument is held in classsical restricts movement of the right arm excessively. Most modern classical guitar students will tell you they would love to be able to play like PDL.

    If you try and play flamenco with a classical technique, it sounds completely amateur. Listen to the tone quality and right hand control produced by this man: The approach to his sound may be different, but he's a genius IMO.

    Last edited by czardas; 05-07-2011 at 06:36 AM.

  20. #94

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    Quote Originally Posted by czardas
    Modern flamenco right hand technique is equally as advanced as classical right hand technique (in many ways more so). The way the instrument is held in classsical restricts movement of the right arm excessively. Most modern classical guitar students will tell you they would love to be able to play like PDL.

    If you try and play flamenco with a classical technique, it sounds completely amateur. Listen to the tone quality and right hand control produced by this man: The approach to his sound may be different, but he's a genius IMO.

    then you agree, they are different. that was the point.

    also, thanks for the post, that sounded nice. but it is not traditional flamenco music, is it? much more contemporary i would say. regardless, his tone is a far cry from that of the world's top classical players.

    ciao.
    Last edited by fumblefingers; 05-07-2011 at 05:11 PM.

  21. #95

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    just to play devil's advocate, what is sight reading going to gain you in today's world in terms of making a living? Gone is the day of Tommy Tedesco where you could automatically make a mint recording jingles and movie scores 8 hours a day in a studio in LA. Sight reading is a great skill to have but it doesn't necessarily make it easier to make a living.

    Quote Originally Posted by KShri
    I'll tell it to you straight.

    Unless you're Lang Lang, or the next Lang Lang. You will never make a real living performing classical music.

    So, what do you do? I'll tell you.

    If you want to become a real musician, then you need to diversify right now.


    Continue your classical studies. You need as much of an advantage that you can get in this business. Learn as much as you can about music theory and apply it to every style of music that you listen to.

    Develop your sight reading abilities. Read through charts like a motherfucker. Develop your chops big time.

    Diversify is the new standard. You can no longer specialize (unless you are one the next Lang Lang)!!!!!!!! You need to be a chameleon. That goes for composers and performers. One style is not going to cut it. You need to have very good chops in rock, classical and jazz.

  22. #96

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    a great question for a new thread but i'll keep it here.

    i wonder what Reg has to say about this question/statement?
    Fred Hamilton at UNT stresses reading capability. he claims that it directly affects his ability to get gigs and survive those gigs (not his exact words mind you). Jake Hanlon probably heard this a few times.

    the romantic (from the outisde) LA studio days of the 70s are indeed gone from what i hear. they were starting to say that in 1980 at Dick Grove's.

    what say you Reg and other gigging pros? is reading capability a must have to get called/called back?

  23. #97

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    now wait...I'm not saying reading skills are not a must. Certainly to do reading gigs you need to be able to read. I'm just saying that mastering sight reading does not necessarily get you gigs. You still need to be a great player.

  24. #98

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    aah. no doubt about that. that would be the first order of business.

  25. #99

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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers
    aah. no doubt about that. that would be the first order of business.
    30 years ago, that wasn't necessarily the case. I knew plenty of musicians in DC who could read but weren't necessarily great players. However, they could play mandolin, banjo, classical guitar and electric guitar - Just enough to get a ton of pit-band gigs for broadway shows.

    It used to be that you could tell a student, "Learn to read fly-!@#$ and learn all your doubles and you'll always be able to make a living". That's no longer true.

  26. #100

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    Paco de Lucia has a ravishing sound, as beautiful as any classical player. His version of the Concierto de Aranjuez lacks nothing tonally, and in many respects, certainly rhythmically, is far more faithful to the score and the intent of the music than most classical players. He also is a fine improvisor and holds his own with McLaughlin, Dimeola and Corea.
    Last edited by ronjazz; 05-18-2011 at 09:49 AM.