The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by sgosnell
    For me, the hardest part is recalling the name of the tune itself. If I can recall the name, I can usually fake my way through it, although there may be some clanks getting through it the first time or two. But sometimes I just can't think of a tune even though it was in my head not so long previously. My long-term memory is much better than my short-term memory these days.
    Faulkner and Becker (“Do you know … ?”) report that several of the gigging musicians they interviewed carried lists of tune titles (and sometimes keys) for just this reason.

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  3. #27

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    I find it really depends on how I learned the tune in the first place. If I learned it by ear in the first place, it's much more likely to stay with me. I think this is generally true for all people.

    Also, once you have a solid base of tunes you know well (say 30 to 50), it gets a LOT easier to learn and memorize more tunes.

  4. #28

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    Something that helps me to remember a song I never heard and played before is to sing it (after listening several covers of the song by different players, piano, saxophone, guitar etc.... everything that can help me to be able to sing it ).

    As soon as I can sing it (in my head), I know I can remember the song.


  5. #29

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    Hi, D,
    If you're not a working musician(who is today??) I wouldn't worry about it. Even pros use sheet music on the bandstand including many of the greats who play a mixed bag of songs. Memory is compromised as we get older and it's unavoidable. However, as Alter said, many familiar songs use the same/similar chord progressions which is helpful if someone throws you a curveball as a request. I still have my first "Fake Book" from 1964 and it still works today.
    Marinero

  6. #30

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    I heard an interview with Bobby Short in which he was asked if he learned tunes by ear.

    His response: "How else would I learn them?"

    The interviewer suggested sheet music.

    Bobby then listed the advantages of learning tunes by ear. One of them was that you remember them better.

    I think that most people would find him to be correct. Can't say that I have. The tunes I remember best are tunes that I learned when I was young and tunes that I've played a lot, especially recently. Also, tunes that I can sing all the way through, with no ambiguity. Whether I originally learned the tune from a fakebook vs a recording doesn't seem to make that much difference. I do think that when I learn tunes from fakebooks with lyrics, and I sing the lyric, the tunes are easier to remember, especially the bridges.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 06-24-2022 at 08:40 PM.

  7. #31

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    It's different when it's a job.

  8. #32

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    Yea... I guess that's why I tend to not put in practice time memorizing tunes, I learn them at Gigs. Which is the result of having the technical skills to understand charts, which are really just an abbreviated or condensed version of what actually gets played. The style and our ears will make the adjustments.

    I said before... learn common practice jazz "Chord Patterns."

  9. #33

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    A few years back I read some interesting books on the art of memory and the techniques employed. You can see how knowing the words to a melody will help memorise and it is similar to some of the ideas. I suspect a structured approach with memory palace concepts could yield some interesting results, but who has the time?? Let me know if anyone has tried it tho …

  10. #34

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    Maybe it would work to think about "absorbing" a tune rather than "memorizing" a tune.

    So, you learn it the same way anybody learns to sing a popular song they like. They get familiar with the melody, usually with lyrics, and the overall sound. Non-musicians can sing songs. They know the melody and they would know if the chords were played incorrectly.

    So, you learn the tune like that. Melody and sound. Lyrics help with remembering melody.

    Then, you need a well-enough trained ear and good enough technique to turn that impression of the sound of the song into the correct movement of your fingers. When it works, you think melody and your fingers seem to find the chords on their own.

    So, memorizing tunes becomes listening to them enough that you can sing it and know the overall sound. Then, you apply your ear and technique on the fly. A player who can do that, can learn a great many tunes.

  11. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I heard an interview with Bobby Short in which he was asked if he learned tunes by ear.

    His response: "How else would I learn them?"

    The interviewer suggested sheet music.

    Bobby then listed the advantages of learning tunes by ear. One of them was that you remember them better.

    I think that most people would find him to be correct. Can't say that I have. The tunes I remember best are tunes that I learned when I was young and tunes that I've played a lot, especially recently. Also, tunes that I can sing all the way through, with no ambiguity. Whether I originally learned the tune from a fakebook vs a recording doesn't seem to make that much difference. I do think that when I learn tunes from fakebooks with lyrics, and I sing the lyric, the tunes are easier to remember, especially the bridges.
    I don't really see it as an either/or.

    I do think people who don't learn tunes by ear are cheating themselves on the best ear training there is. Furthermore these days it's very easy to check out many versions of a tune allowing you develop a deeper understanding of how different people played it.

    On the other hand, the learning curve is steep. Charts are useful as learning aids, but you need to be a little careful of charts forming too much the focus IMO.

    Even with experience we often make mistakes. Consulting charts, again, can be helpful there, maybe you see in the chart that they have it as a Am76b5 rather than the Cm6 you heard and listening back you decide you agree with the chart, or it's a II7 instead of IIm7 etc. Or you find that charts all mildly differ and you find a chart that most reflects what you hear on your favourite recording, and so on.

    Then you listen to five recordings of Billie's Bounce by different players and they are all slightly different. You have a look at the Real Book chart and it disagrees with the Omnibook, which disagrees with what you hear on the recording, an so on.

    that's all good stuff, it expands your awareness of music, and its time well spent. For a bop head obviously eventually you have to choose which version to learn unless you have infinite time, but knowing the differences helps you make an informed decision.

    Re: memory I personally find it easiest to remember music long term by ear, but even I have to 'program' my fingers to play the melodies if they quite note (like bop heads.) I find with a lot of stuff there's always an element of re-learning tunes even where I remember how it goes. OTOH I don't really remember music visually, but people who learned to read really well early on might do this more.

  12. #36

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    Someone mentioned the Bruce Forman ‘mymusicmasterclass’ video earlier, I have it and it’s very good. Basically he can play about 1000 tunes just by remembering the melody (he calls it the ‘clothes-hanger’ to hang the changes on). For him the sound of the melody is enough to associate the changes with it. Of course this works because he has played enough tunes to know the common progressions and their sound.

    Interestingly, he boils all the common progressions down to about 3 basic ‘building blocks’. Most ‘songbook’ standards are built up from these. All he has to do is remember the occasional chord change which is an exception to these common forms.

    Very useful video, I recommend it.

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    Someone mentioned the Bruce Forman ‘mymusicmasterclass’ video earlier, I have it and it’s very good. Basically he can play about 1000 tunes just by remembering the melody (he calls it the ‘clothes-hanger’ to hang the changes on). For him the sound of the melody is enough to associate the changes with it. Of course this works because he has played enough tunes to know the common progressions and their sound.

    Interestingly, he boils all the common progressions down to about 3 basic ‘building blocks’. Most ‘songbook’ standards are built up from these. All he has to do is remember the occasional chord change which is an exception to these common forms.

    Very useful video, I recommend it.
    Bruce is great at explaining things, and his teaching content (I presume) is fantastic from what I know of him.

    Thing is, and I just want to make this clear and I think you'd agree here - this is what every experienced straight-ahead player who knows the repertoire will tell you. There's books on it if you seek them out, Coker's Hearin' the Changes is a classic.

    Straight-ahead harmony is not complicated. You can write it on the back of an envelope. Well maybe two sides, one for the common progressions, the other for the subs.

    I'm in two minds whether the best way to learn is tell people what those modules are - like Jerry Coker in his book - or just get them to learn standards. That's the traditional approach - the apprenticeship approach. Minimal pedagogy, lots of one liners from the elders and everyone realises they have to learn the repertoire because they'll get roasted if they don't. In fact, the roasting helps them learn.

    Now, it's obviously a different situation (and not everyone wants to be a pro, as ragman says). Not all of this is a bad thing, but it does change the set up a bit.

    Even when players do want to be pros, you can't actually assume jazz students are going out and playing standards gigs 5 nights a week. So the way we learn these things is different. Probably it comes more from a place of choice.

    But all that said, I don't think this is rocket surgery. I think it takes a 100 or so vocal standards and you've seen the shit.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 06-29-2022 at 11:36 AM.

  14. #38

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    "I do think people who don't learn tunes by ear are cheating themselves on the best ear training "
    Christian Miller

    Hi, C,
    There is truth to the above statement for musicians and ear training but also those who want their own voice/inspiration in playing tunes. I'm reworking a tribute to Miles' 1964 "My Funny Valentine" recorded live at the Lincoln Center and I have used only the melody as an inspiration for the harmonic structure but have tried to recapture the pacing and feel of this unique recording. And, with this approach, there are surprising revelations based on years of musicianship, tonal memory, and listening which, in one case, might land you in familiar territory but also, allow you to create your own voicings for a very personal touch. And, it is amazing how simply the harmonic structure reveals itself based on the melody once you're digging in the garden.
    Marinero

    **
    Mark Kleinhaut, a member here, uses this technique very effectively in many of his recordings

  15. #39

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    There seem to be a trick to letting go and trusting my hands and ears. A sort of non involvement. If I try to remember a tune, chaces are there's some bar in the bridge or whatever that I cant recall. If however I manage to mentally sit back and let my hands do their thing, they will find their way just fine.

    It also come up as pangs of stage fright - once in a while I feel completely blank while the drummer count us in. If I just relax and dont force it, it will come

  16. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Average Joe
    There seem to be a trick to letting go and trusting my hands and ears. A sort of non involvement. If I try to remember a tune, chaces are there's some bar in the bridge or whatever that I cant recall. If however I manage to mentally sit back and let my hands do their thing, they will find their way just fine.

    It also come up as pangs of stage fright - once in a while I feel completely blank while the drummer count us in. If I just relax and dont force it, it will come
    That's great Joe.

    That really sounds like most musicians... I'm old and have played for ever, but when I was a kid, before I could understand musically what was going on... I also trusted my ears... I think it also helped that I had chops, It was easy to fix in real time what I might have thought my ears were hearing.

    I played a big band gig last night, we work out of my Book and no piano, LOL. different drums and bass most weeks... but we, (the rhythm section), always listen together, give cues and expand on most charts. On open solo sections we change it up all the time. Depends on what soloist are sitting that night. It's very live.... very Live and audiences love it.

    It's not just a job...

  17. #41

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    It should be noted that some arrangements are more advanced than others and that some concerts are performed with higher precision than others.
    "Good enough" is relative and highly subjective, so is the meaning of "knowing 100 tunes".

    Keeping a band together is not only about agreeing on a repertoire, it's mostly about agreeing on an acceptable level of precision, sharing the same ambition. It's about respect for the music, the audience and fellow musicians. It's about practicing and rehearsals and having a good time together.

    You know this guy:
    -"I'm a horn player, I don't do chords. No need for rehearsals, each night is a happening."

    Now, if someone in the audience actually did experience a sense of magic happening that night, it was only due to the simple fact that some guys in the band were well coordinated, in sync.

    When a bunch of old players get together, when they all have played the same standards thousands of times together with hundreds of different musicians in various band settings, then maybe once in a while, there will be magic. Everybody else needs to rehearse. And if you play the guitar, you better know your harmony.

  18. #42

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    Years ago, I wondered how pro musicians could know so many tunes without charts while I sometimes got lost, even when the chart was right in front of me.

    But I worked at it and developed my ears. And the connection of my ears to my fingers. Now, if I can hear it, I can play it. A lot of times, if I don't know a tune and there is no chart, if the other guys in the band can play through it a time or two, I can play it. Bruce Forman is a master at that. He and I were on a gig some years back and I asked him if he knew a particular tune and he said that he did not, but if I played it for a chorus he would have it. He did great on it after hearing just one pass, and it was a complex tune (one that I would have needed to study a bit).

    The more you play and work at it, the better you will get. Charts can be a crutch that get in the way of your musical journey reaching it's full potential. My advice: Close the damn book at some point and play. IMO, Jazz is ear music, not eye music.

  19. #43

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    Yeah it’s as much about practicing the process as learning the tunes

  20. #44
    Quote Originally Posted by Stringswinger
    Years ago, I wondered how pro musicians could know so many tunes without charts while I sometimes got lost, even when the chart was right in front of me.

    But I worked at it and developed my ears. And the connection of my ears to my fingers. Now, if I can hear it, I can play it. A lot of times, if I don't know a tune and there is no chart, if the other guys in the band can play through it a time or two, I can play it. Bruce Forman is a master at that. He and I were on a gig some years back and I asked him if he knew a particular tune and he said that he did not, but if I played it for a chorus he would have it. He did great on it after hearing just one pass, and it was a complex tune (one that I would have needed to study a bit).

    The more you play and work at it, the better you will get. Charts can be a crutch that get in the way of your musical journey reaching it's full potential. My advice: Close the damn book at some point and play. IMO, Jazz is ear music, not eye music.
    Of all the players I listen to and heard of Bruce Forman is a master. I just love his playing and while he is not underrated as such, I do think he deserves a lot more press and recording than he gets. Probably he likes it that way he strikes me like most master players as one who knows he can play but has no need to talk himself up. This does not surprise me at all. My old friend and instructor Fred Runquist knew all the tunes period I have no idea how many. I ask him what is the secret? He said know the fingerboard? I was to dumb at 18 to realize me meant to know the sounds of the melody just looking at the fingerboard with his hands and ear.

    Well to my credit the past few months I have been working on bop heads by Parker. I have done them all over the years but now I am getting into them like memorize and absorb. Getting past the point of any technical issues so that it is all about hearing the change. With those complicated bop heads like Jordu the chords after a while you just hear them and think less. Back to the woodpile.

  21. #45

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    Some people are blessed with a good musical memory.

    And some people have very capable ears, whether by birth or through training, or both.

    I recall being surprised when a teacher, coaching a band, could tell, not just who played a wrong chord, but what the wrong chord was and what the right chord should have been. Or, when I didn't press the Eb in a first position F13 firmly enough, that the 7th was missing from my chord, in a loud band with the pianist playing the Eb as part of his chord.

    That was the thing that raised my awareness about what big ears are.

    The people who know a zillion tunes almost certainly, or so I think, memorize the melody like anybody else and have an impression of the harmony, same as any non-musician -- who can tell if the chords are wrong.

    And, the impression is all they need. Their fingers find the right chords seemingly automatically. That takes some time on the instrument to develop.

  22. #46

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    "I recall being surprised when a teacher, coaching a band, could tell, not just who played a wrong chord, but what the wrong chord was and what the right chord should have been." rpjazzguitar

    Hi, R,
    In the early 70's, I used to "sit in" with a university concert band to increase my sax chops. We were playing really boring stuff but I never knew what we were playing so it was a challenge. However, every time I dropped a note, the bandmaster looked at me. It was a great experience and after 6 months my reading chops really improved. He was a real gentleman and used to allow me to bring horn charts I was writing for our working band to hear them before rehearsals/gigs.
    Marinero

  23. #47

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    As Bill Evans said, play it in all 12 keys, to truly solidify any tune.

  24. #48

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    I have forgotten literal books worth of repertoire, tunes, transcriptions, etc…


    But the lessons learned are all still up there. It’s just the nature of the beast if you want to keep moving forward and learning new things. You simply can’t remember everything. And when you spend all your time upkeeping "everything you know" (which there is a time and a place for btw), you cease moving forward.

    It’s a balancing act for sure.

  25. #49

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    I used to memorize and memorize and it was slow going. Then one day I looked around at a gig and I was the only one not using iRealPro on a tablet. I started using it and it makes life a lot easier. I will get the songs mostly memorized but keep the chart up just as a quick refresher or if I suddenly draw a blank. Im also ready to go for requests or if people call something I dont know. Why make it harder than it needs to be.

    Now I have a 2 categories-

    tunes I know inside and out, can play the head, comp, and can even play chord melody.

    tunes where I know how they sound and there's a version I like and know well (maybe grant green or cannoball adderly). I dont know the head that well but get through it in a pinch. I know the chords like 80% solid but with a chart I'm fine. I don't even attempt chord melody on these.

    Chord melody is the big hold up. When I was trying to know every tube head/comp/chord melody I was limited to under 50 tunes for years.

  26. #50

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    Last night I went to hear a friend's gig at a local restaurant.

    It was a trio -- keys, acoustic bass and a singer. The bassist and pianist sang backup here and there.

    A couple of observations:

    The singer was a pro. They were taking requests and he knew every tune. Glanced at a tablet for lyrics on one or two. Sang in three languages.

    The sound was great. I think it was one PA speaker on a pole plus the amps. Loud for the setting, I thought (outside patio) but absolutely clear. Bass response was full. Might have been a subwoofer, I guess. When the bassist used the bow, the sound was orchestral.

    They played a bunch of old pop tunes with jazz solos. Examples: On The Street Where You Live, Under Paris Skies, Ain't That A Kick In The Head, Fly Me To The Moon, I'll Never Fall In Love Again, LOVE (the one that spells out the word), Girl From Ipanema, Blue Skies, an Italian tune, something Roma, I'd never heard -- and the kb hadn't hear it either.

    They used charts for every tune but Fly Me To The Moon. They had them in IPADS and called up every requested tune in 10 seconds or so.

    The pianist had two tablets. He set up two page charts with a page on each tablet. I didn't see any three page or more charts. The tablets were pretty big so that the font was similar to a printed page in size. Full lead sheets, not chord charts.

    The pianist has been a working pro for more than 40 years. He's got big ears and an enormous vocabulary of chord sequences and licks. If he reads on gigs, who shouldn't?
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 07-26-2022 at 02:25 PM.