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  1. #51
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    hey fep,
    i got to disagree with you about tatum in one respect. although largely self taught, he did study classical and was well known for his interpretation of mozart. my source for this is the great dr billy taylor who i was fortunate to get to study with. taylor was a protege of tatum who took him under his wing when taylor moved to ny. being a detroiter i've spent a lot of time in toledo (tatum's home town) and have spent alot of time with musicians that knew tatum. my wife's family (also from toledo) had a scrap iron business there which did a lot of business with tatum's family. i'm saying all these things so hopefully it will show i'm not just talking out my A$$. understandably there has been alot of myths spred about tatum and i always did my best to find out the truth whenever i had the opportunity. having said all that, i feel tatum was probably the most phenomenal musician of all time if ever there was one. probably a reincarnation of liszt if you believe in such things. also, a great deal of the early jazz pioneers were also strong classical musicians (j.p. johnson, fats waller, willie the lion). bebop cats too like bud powell, barry harris, and hank jones besides the obvious oscar peterson. all were well known for improvising on classical pieces. anyway, myth or truth, it's great to see other cats appreciate him too. as far as the classical versus jazz thing i don't see a difference between them as far as discipline goes. jazz is classical music. all the elements be it harmony or counterpoint and all the rules concerning chromaticism etc,etc exist in both worlds ( you'll find bebop scales in mozart and chopin to name 2). i think the problem will occur when your in school and you just can't find time to do what you really want to because you have to take b#%ls--t classes. sorry college guys but i learned and grew way more once i got away from academia.
    peace, tj
    Last edited by tom jobim; 09-26-2008 at 10:55 PM.

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  3. #52

    Jazz to Classical

    This is a a very insightful, intelligent discussion and thanks for this forum. You all sound like awesome, serious players! Lately I've been thinking about the relationship between these two styles and the impact studying both has on the developing guitarist (and I say this after 20 years of playing).
    I recently turned my attention to classical guitar (intermediate RCM 5)after becoming a little bored with jazz and improvisation and feeling a bit aimless. My experience with the cross-over has been nothing short of profound; practicing classical has given many insights into MUSIC which jazz has not.
    1. Time: I pratice classical with a metronome which greatly increases my awareness of both meter and time signatures. Most jazz is 4/4- ever play in 7/16 time? Or 5/8? A lot of classical pieces really "swing" in that they have strong, rhythmic propulsion. Some may say these pieces are stuffy or quaint; when they were written, however, they were meant to move people and be majestic, powerful, and inspiring.
    2. Melody: Classical pieces are all highly melodic. This awareness of melody- how melody is constructed, melodic feel, melodic devices- can only improve one's note choices in constructing memorable, fresh improvisations.
    3. Harmony and counterpoint: Most classical pieces contain a bass line and a melody line moving in tandem which spells out the harmony. This is the basis for chord-melody in jazz. It also greatly improves your ability to hear mulitple parts at once.
    4. Technique- If you want to play fingerstyle jazz (and really, who needs a pick?), there is no substitute for praticing classical technique- even if you don't employ it the same way in the jazz context. I use my thumb and index/middle for single note jazz lines.
    5. Form- Classical largely adheres to the 32 bar song form structure. (even in longer pieces, 8 bars is a musical paragraph). It's no coincidence that most jazz tunes are 32 bar forms. An awareness of form - indeed, being constrained by form - is essential in creating concise, memorable compositions.
    6. Ear training- Practing sight-reading has already greatly improved my ear. I'm beginning to be able to hear the notes just by looking at the page. Practicing jazz involves little sight reading beyond the fake book, which is a cinch after reading classical.

    That said, playing jazz involves studying jazz which I think must revolve around listening to and transcribing jazz records as opposed to reading. It's really the only way to develop insight into how a jazz player sees the fingerboard and uses scales and arpeggios to improvise.

    Happy playing!
    Shiffron
    Last edited by ShiffronLandren; 10-29-2008 at 03:10 PM.

  4. #53

    classical

    I like your input Shiffron, another classical guitarist lately turned to jazz.

    My only problem is that I find it much easier to read Bach and Ponce than to read the easiest Jazz head. It seems like jazz notation is at best an approximation. I need to hear jazz tunes before I can play them but I don't have this problem with classical pieces!!

    Sailor

  5. #54
    Hey Sailor,
    Thanks for the response.

    For what it's worth, it's actually the other way around: I'm a jazz player who's been turned on to classical. Whereas classical players may crave the freedom of jazz, I’ve lately been craving the structure of classical. I’m tired of improvising and want to focus on playing solo pieces.

    Funny what you say about reading jazz heads because, come to think of it, that’s been my experience. It certainly looks easier but, like you, I need to hear it before I can play it because, as you say, it is only an approximation. Plus, the majority of heads aren’t written on guitar and thus the fingerings can be very awkward (eg. Any Charlie Parker tune) if not played in the most optimal position.

    Since you’re mainly a classical guy, perhaps I’ll ask you a few questions. What do you think of the RCM books? Can you recommend any other resources? Flesh or nails? Is it even possible to play tremolo with flesh? Ever play classical on a steel string? (I’ve got a Martin J-40 that sounds righteous for anything).

    Cheers,
    Shiffron

  6. #55

    classical

    Wow, this could be helplful talking to someone in the opposite situation. I guess I got it backwards!

    Classical; Definitely nails, definitely nylon. It's worth getting the true experience. You can buy decent nylons, (yamaha, etc...), cheap! Unfortunately steel string guitars just don't work for this type of music.

    I think the best approach to the music itself is to start with the Fernando Sor studies, and the Matteo Caracassi studies. They have some very pretty pieces but more importantly the technique is "idiomatic"; it teaches you how the style is actually played without boring etudes, it's real music. Then if you want to go play Bach you can, but lot's of classical guitar music was not written by or for guitarists!

    I can read Bach but jazz has me stumped;the rhtythms are so, I guess, syncopated that I find myself counting like a first year student and I've been playing difficult clasical pieces for years.

    I have been practicing a lot of standards, melodies, lot's of new chords, subs, alts, Arps, etc... I get this stuff pretty well but when it comes to improvising I'm still quite lost;not jazzy.

    Hope we can help each other, this forum has been great to me so far!!

    Sailor

  7. #56
    There are a lot of little intricacies in jazz music that make it extremely difficult for me to read. I'm not a very good sight reader but I've been working at it a lot. I have a book of Carcassi and Sor studies and I can sight read many of them but jazz tunes are tough. I think a big part of what makes it difficult are the anticipation and delay and (in music written for horns) the trills. They're more interpretive than an actual part of the melody but seeing little eighth note ties and sixteenth note trills that don't really need to be there really muddy the waters a lot for me. I've found it's a lot more effective to rely on feel quite a bit when reading jazz tunes. Obviously this isn't a substitute for the actual reading but most of the tough parts are those little intricacies that are really just a result of the original composer just feeling where he wanted the melody to go.

  8. #57

    classical

    Aaaahh!! Great response DM! I always thought I was a great sight-reader until I started playing Jazz. I find, too, that the written trills, (ornamentation), etc... make it hard to get the basic melody, (muddy).

    I think, I could be wrong, that a lot of jazz tunes were written down after the fact; It's hard to transcribe actual "played" tunes. Classical pieces are quite often written in a very coherent and mathematically precise way; interptretation comes with performance. I wonder how hard it would be to read bach tunes if the expression and ornaments were written in??; probably impossible!

    I would like to see jazz solos written in a more germinal way, and then performers could interpret the "feel" later.

    Sailor

  9. #58
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    I have been practicing a lot of standards, melodies, lot's of new chords, subs, alts, Arps, etc... I get this stuff pretty well but when it comes to improvising I'm still quite lost;not jazzy.
    Sailor
    Hey Sailor,

    Have you tried blues? I think blues is a good bridge towards jazz improvising. Easier I think when you don't have such harmonic complexity. First get comfortable over the blues and then go for more complicated jazz tunes.

    Larry can say it better than me


  10. #59
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    Whoops, late to the thread but I'll chime in.

    I learned classical music on another instrument first - I had given up the guitar for four years or so to play the bass. I play(ed) jazz of course but my teacher outside school was classical. I think learning classical bass helped transition to playing classical on the guitar. I can't really imagine learning classical on guitar without knowing the bass, so I imagine that Sailor you have an advantage being a classical player learning jazz in some ways. Of course there would be advantages in the opposite too...I think both ways have their difficulties.

    I think learning the neck by playing violin music such as Wohlfahrt and Bach sonatas and partitas (much more fun than the Wohlfahrt, but that definitely has it's use) with a pick can help when crossing over. It might not be jazz but it does teach a bit of classical vocabulary, so to speak, for the jazz musician wanting to learn classical and it helps a classical player get out of the lower positions and learn the neck where you will need to play for jazz. And there is some cool stuff happening harmonically in the Bach...I think that is partially my bias towards Bach but he really gels well with jazz in my opinion.

  11. #60

    classical

    Never too late to chime in! Bach is the greatest; Dirk even included a transcription on this site. Bach is more popular now than he was three hundred years ago, how many musicians will be able to say that!

    Bach was a tremendous improviser, in those days off of a figured bass only sometimes. Maybe he was the predecessor to jazz???
    Sailor

  12. #61
    Jazz is more like life itself. Its has spontaneous conversations, among other life like traits.
    Jazz IS (one) representation of how energy manifests. The musicians use their instruments to let the energy flow through them, ideally. The musicians make sound in that moment, of the moment.

    Its beyond entertainment. It is an obvious focus on the exact moment in time that it is being played. It's one way to be totally present and in the moment. Just like life itself.

    My rambling is done.

  13. #62
    fep makes a really good point- there is no getting to jazz without first taking a detour through the blues. You'll see that the styles of all the greats are firmly rooted in blues (to me, Miles was primarily a blues player- check out Straight No Chaser on Milestones if you have any doubts). Jazz players that can't play a convincing gut-bucket twelve bar blues (I've heard guys rip on Cherokee and get lost on a I-IV-V) ultimately don't swing and sound academic. Check out Sco on YouTube play a twelve bar on a telecaster. It's convincing.
    And on the topic of classical/jazz, I thought about a player that really epitomizes a blending of the styles: African guitarist Lionel Loueke. He studied classical guitar in Europe, went to Berklee, and plays with Herbie Hancock. His new album Karibu (definitely not straight ahead jazz) is a perfect example of how cool a nylon string played fingerstyle can sound in the jazz context. Great tone, right hand technique and, above all, feel.
    Cheers Jazzers!
    Shiffron
    Last edited by ShiffronLandren; 10-30-2008 at 12:08 PM.

  14. #63
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    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.

  15. #64

    classical

    You are an educated man Hot Ford! It all begins with Bach, something for everyone and too much to listen to in a lifetime.

    I like Jamesjohns response a lot;very thoughtful. Maybe this interpretation applies to all music and art though. As a newer jazz player it DOES seem to be the most spontaneous, but I think members of any good string quartet playing Beethoven would say they experience the exact same thing even though there is a definitive score. It's still a temporal art, only in the moment!

    Sailor

  16. #65
    I'm with Sailor again as I heartily agree that Sor and Carcassi are the way to go if you're a jazzer wanting to learn classical guitar. And with nails too(!). Plus I would add Aguado into the mix. These guys had the genius to write real music that was also instructional for the chops. This definitely makes it more fun to learn. More hobby-ish then homework-ish you might say. Furthermore, you know this stuff was written by guitarists for the guitar, thereby making it by nature more "guitaristic" then some transcriptions can be. (Before you cry "j'acuse!" I did say SOME).

    I can read this kind of music pretty well, but single note jazz lines make me quiver in fright sometimes. (Does anyone remember Jerry Van Dyke trying to play the banjo when he was "awake"?). When I take the trouble to slowly learn the melody of the tune I want to play, it comes more naturally. Then I can start to feel it.

    I'm finding too that playing blues is a great bridge for me in learning to play over less familiar jazz progressions. And although it's poo-poo-ed on here sometimes, knowing the CAGED system inside and out is a tremendous help. It's helped me to understand how to "play inside" while I learn to vary it in order to "play outside".

    Herby

    P.S. What jamesjohn said was spot on. I'd only add that when I'm playing a classical piece well, I have that same feeling. It's still an exact moment in time, captured by (it so happens in this case) me! This makes it, arguably, an entire new and fresh moment of interpretation that is unique and that will perhaps ring throughout the ether. The idea that just because someone else has played the same piece before me with their own unique interpretation doesn't really matter. Listen to the different interpretations of any great classical music by any great players or orchestras and you'll hear tremendously different points of view as to how it should sound. Viva la difference.
    Last edited by Herby; 10-30-2008 at 03:12 PM.

  17. #66
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    You are an educated man Hot Ford! It all begins with Bach, something for everyone and too much to listen to in a lifetime.

    I like Jamesjohns response a lot;very thoughtful. Maybe this interpretation applies to all music and art though. As a newer jazz player it DOES seem to be the most spontaneous, but I think members of any good string quartet playing Beethoven would say they experience the exact same thing even though there is a definitive score. It's still a temporal art, only in the moment!

    Sailor
    I would agree, one can find the same kind of transcendence in jazz as they can in playing a Beethoven quartet or Brahms symphony or whatever - it is just a matter of the music being powerful and the player being connected with it. Just because the notes are written down does not mean the music is not "in the moment" - I think that has to do more with the players like Sailor is saying. I do think, though, that when playing something like Beethoven that you are definitely playing his voice, whereas in jazz that in the moment expression is coming from the improviser. Though one could argue that it's not only the improviser but also all the his heroes and influences.

    Someone might say "then what about classical improv" and I would say that if we are talking about Bach or in modern day organ recitals, yes that is similar to jazz because they are within a form and "changes" so to speak. When I think of "classical improv" now, though, I think of sort of free-form 20th century type stuff, which is more far removed from what (in my opinion) constitutes jazz...but that would be a whole other thing to talk about!

    Quick side note, 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 (this is a toss up, hearing Beethoven's 3rd for the very first time at the premiere, live Coltrane, and many others) I would go back to hear Bach's improvisations. In fact I would even go to church just to hear him play!

  18. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Herby View Post
    I'm with Sailor again as I heartily agree that Sor and Carcassi are the way to go if you're a jazzer wanting to learn classical guitar.
    and don't forget villa lobos!

  19. #68

    classical

    What about the story of Bach and Buxtehude(?), supposedly trying out for the same Kappelmeister position in some town. After hearing Bach improvising on the church organ at night the other dude left town!!

    Sailor

  20. #69

    classical

    Herby - single note jazz lines make me quiver too, but not sonatas by Ponce or Villa-Lobos. What's with this? We can read sophisticated music on one hand, and I can't even read the head to billies bounce on the other?????

    Hey Rio - Do you think the poor congregation that had to listen to hours of fresh Bach music each sunday appreciated it?? Poor saps, they probably wanted to listen to the "popular" songs of their day, their Brittany Spears! LOL

    Sailor

  21. #70
    And they were probably itching to get out of church to get to their Sunday afternoon soccer matches.

    You tell me Sailor. I've just spent the morning re-reading through Sor's #9 with no trouble, but just yesterday I actually was struggling through Billy's Bounce. The grass is always greener.... eh?

    Herby

  22. #71

    classical

    Ironic similarities. Sor is so "guitary". I too play Sor, Aguado, Carcassi, naturally. I am also working on billies bounce; it must have been an improv that was written down after the fact! I did figure out the incredibly simple head to Bags Groove and I feel like I accomplished something when in actuality it's probably like the simplest Aguado piece you could find. Jazz is HARD!

    Sailor

  23. #72
    Hey Mates
    I think the difficulty in reading jazz lines may be that jazz is first and foremost an aural art. The fake book is called "fake" for a reason. I think of the charts as friendly reminders, nothing more. The standard repetoire was passed down in essntially an aural tradition. Armstrong wasn't on the band stand reading charts. Heads have to be heard, transcribed, and memorized. This is why disciplined transcription is so important. How did Wes learn guitar? He didn't have a fakebook, or any other materials for that matter; he transcribed all of Charlie Christian's solos note for note until the records wore out- a feat so impressive that Lionel Hampton hired him for this alone. Classical music, on the other hand, is a written/notated tradition. The professional classical musician is expected to mentally translate the notation into sound. There are people who can hear everything just by reading-quite a fantastic skill. But this is quite different from hearing something and without hesitation playing it note for note.
    Ciao
    Shiffron

  24. #73

    classical

    You are so right shiffron - I am spoiled by having music as a written form first.
    It's hard for us classical guys, even with education, to transcribe a lot of these heads let alone the solos!! The 1/4s and 1/8s don't fit nicely between the bar lines and the solos don't stick to diatonic scales.

    A different art form to be sure with many similarities and differences; worthy of talking about and helping all to comprehend both styles.

    I wonder if this has been adequately written about in Ed. material?? Probably worth it seeing the response to this thread!!!

    Sailor

  25. #74
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    Hey Rio - Do you think the poor congregation that had to listen to hours of fresh Bach music each sunday appreciated it?? Poor saps, they probably wanted to listen to the "popular" songs of their day, their Brittany Spears! LOL

    Sailor
    I bet not many of them appreciated it It still amazes me that his own sons did not appreciate him musically and regarded him as "old hat". The f***ing wrapped fish with his manuscripts after he died, how much more of a disregard can there be? Though it is ironic that the "new" style they were writing in (the whole Rococo thing) is not regarded as being much more than a transitional stage...

    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...though playing with fingers for anything else or specifically classical playing is not a problem. But then again when playing violin music on the guitar I can't use my fingers either (bad time feel compared to the pick) unless it's a very chordal thing like a fugue With that said, though, I think single line playing is definitely easier with a pick...just like with a bowed instrument it just seems to lend itself better to that technique.

  26. #75

    classical

    Rio- Not sure I understand the fingering issue. I definitely play single melodic lines with fingers/nails only; feels very good to me as long as the alternation between fingers is correct and string crossing principles are applied.

    There is certainly a different feel, and at one point I would probably play rock/pop leads with a pick but the kind of Jazz I'm playing, basically old standards/ballads is very condusive to fingertips/nails.

    I do enjoy your Bach anectdotes - can't get enough of that stuff!! How prolific was this guy and how much was lost!!!

    Sailor

  27. #76
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    Sailor, Even for pop or rock you could play with fingers. Mark Knofler, for one, does.

  28. #77
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sailor View Post
    You are an educated man Hot Ford! It all begins with Bach, something for everyone and too much to listen to in a lifetime.
    Thanks Sailor but I must give credit to the teacher I had. This guy did something many music 101 teachers never even get close to. Along with all the Baroque, Classical etc etc, he threw in a healthy dose of jazz from Tatum all the way through modern jazz. He showed how the music was all tied together. Once he did that, a whole new world opened up. He was the best.

  29. #78
    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

  30. #79
    Mates,
    Let me chime in on the RH issue, being a former flat picker that made the switch. Sailor, you'd probably cringe at my techinique, but I alternate between the thumb and pointer/middle, depending on the passage, and use flesh. (I play a Martin). It is certainly more difficult to articulate single note lines on one string; hammer-ons and pull-offs are necessary. But what I've found is that I have a different approach and orientation to the instrument using fingers as opposed to pick - I'm not trying to duplicate what I'd play with a pick. Instead, I'll play across strings more, or switch positions, or employ rolls a la Chet Atkins to play arpeggios. Check out Kevin Eubanks on YouTube to see what fingers can do- he rips on both chords and lead. I can actually play faster between strings with my fingers. For some reason, I'm more in touch with the beat, more in the pocket. And maybe the constraints of using fingers forces us to dig deeper for melody and soul as opposed to aimless virtuosity.
    Cheers
    Shiffron

  31. #80
    Great posting Shiffron. I've never thought of it that way, and have been trying to "duplicate what I'd play with a pick." I'm going to give this a try.

    Thanks,
    Herby

  32. #81

    classical

    Shiffron - love your posts as always. I'm open minded enough not to cringe at anything. I don't completely understand it though.

    I still feel that a little nail goes a long way to producing a clear tone, more precise than flesh, and gives you volume when you need it.

    I would like to hear more about the way you play.

    Sailor

  33. #82
    Sorry if someone mentioned it already, I haven't read all the posts yet (but I will).

    The thing is that Adam Rogers, amazing jazz guitarist, plays with Chris Potter, Brian Blade, and all the great jazzers from nowadays, well, he did 4 or 5 years of classic guitar. Check out the album line by line by John Pattitucci. He plays some kinda classical stuff in there, his technique is amazing btw.

  34. #83
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    I talked to Adam about this one night outside a club in Chicago. He told me that he studied with Frederick Hand for about 5 years, totally classical, then just dove into jazz and never really studied with anyone, just learned on his own.

    He also said that he still has all his students work on the Segovia scales and then applies them to improv. Kind of a cool way of thinking about the neck.

    Another great modern player that has a strong classical approach to jazz is Ben Monder. His solo compositions are on par with anything written by the great classical guitar composers. Really cool stuff, check him out if you can.

    MW
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  35. #84
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    I am studying jazz in highschool and it's awesome.
    You have to decide what you would like to do in the future and chose the best option. You would better don't hurry, take some time and make a good choice
    I love to play jazz and it was not hard for me to make this decision.

  36. #85

    Newbie! Great discussion

    I just feel compelled to say that I am really impressed with the caliber of ppl here. I have had some of these same thoughts/questions. I have played Classical guitar for about a dozen years combined and I agree that the experience can be limiting. I just picked up the electric guitar recently and feel like I have been completely re-introduced to music. Sure the technique from Classical is an advantage but that is about it in my opinion. I am relieved to see that no one here is making the statement that intelligence is directly related with the type of music they pursue. I turned my nose up from Classical for a time in consideration of the biased opinions towards other genres, even though I considered myself a classical player. I never thought that Jazz guitar would strike my interest but the more that I learn the more that I find that I love it all. Wow!

    Take care everyone

  37. #86
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    Quote Originally Posted by m78w View Post
    ...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 View Post
    ... 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 View Post
    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 View Post
    ...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

  38. #87
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    index nail as pick

    Quote Originally Posted by Herby View Post
    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.

  39. #88
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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.

  40. #89
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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    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 View Post
    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 View Post
    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 View Post
    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 View Post
    ...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

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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.

  42. #91
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    Quote Originally Posted by fumblefingers View Post
    ...
    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.

  43. #92
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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.

  44. #93
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    that would be khan sahib, one of the great musicians of the past century. (passed away last year.)


  45. #94
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    bream videos very cool

    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.

  46. #95
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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.

  47. #96
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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 -

  48. #97
    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.

  49. #98
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    Quote Originally Posted by KShri View Post
    ...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.

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    It is not a matter of the right hand IMHO

    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

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

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