The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Sioco
    Mind you, I tried singing lines and transferring it to my instrument. I play a jazz chord on my guitar and sing some melody coming from the chord. The thing is what I sing is also lame. I've heard people say melodies evolve, from singing original lines. So I am considering to play what I'm singing again.
    I'm thinking that you have a "diatonic ear". Your default is to hear melodies that fall very much inside the key. So you need to train your ear to hear "outside" sounds. I'm the same way. The way I get around it is to force myself to use a sound until it begins to sound natural to me. For example, when I first started using the #11 it sounded terrible to me. (Mind you, it sounded great when I heard other people doing it). So for a while, I played a #11 on ever major and dominant chord. I also used devices that include that note, such as playing a minor pentatonic a half step down from a major chord, or using a major arpeggio a whole step up. At first, it sounded very forced, but eventually it got to the point where I knew what it was going to sound like, and the situations where it might sound good or bad.

    I never had much a problem with the b9 or #9 since I came up as a rock and blues player, and those sounds are pretty standard.

    The #5/b13 was a bit challenging at first, but now I can hear that well enough, too.

    That's where I'm at now, and the challenge is creating lines that incorporate some of those notes, while still sounding natural. I find it helps for me to think chordally (e.g., for an altered dominant, I'm usually thinking of triads on the 3 and #11, so for an E7 chord, I'll be thinking Bb and C triads.)

    But the thing is, this took a long time. Like several years.

    And, as the others have said, sounding like yourself is not a bad thing.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boston Joe
    The way I get around it is to force myself to use a sound until it begins to sound natural to me.
    That's good advice. I do that sort of thing too, intentionally and repeatedly using a device or chord type in a practice session, even if I don't care for them at first. It gets my ear accustomed to the sound, develops muscle memory so I can instinctively find that sound when I do want it, develops my ear so I can hear when other musicians employ that device, and I'll often discover some places where that device does work for me.
    Last edited by KirkP; 07-20-2016 at 03:27 PM.

  4. #28

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    when i first started working out the solos that i was listening to all the time and that were blowing my brains out - solos by bud powell and oscar peterson mainly - i simply could not believe how developed they were - how clear they were - how many perfect little ideas they seamlessly wove together - how refined and sophisticated they were

    left to my own devices i would come up with less that was of musical interest in an afternoon of 'jamming' (to say a 12 bar) than they came up with in the first half a bar (then in the second and the third and the fourth etc.etc.)

    i'm not exaggerating here - if anything i'm not managing to capture the facts. i was just astonished at the first four bars oscar played on night train after he'd finished playing the head. it took me ages to learn to sing it - and then ages to learn to play it. but the more i played it the more i loved it - and the more blown away i was by the sheer musical intelligence of the ideas involved

    (i spent four years between the age of 12 and 16 playing serious baroque and classical music on the flute - so i was used to carefully crafted melodic phrases)

    so i certainly did not feel like i sounded like 'me' or anybody else - i just thought i sounded totally crap

    but it was only through oscar and bud that i discovered what it might be to sound like 'you' - to have a musical voice of any kind at all. certainly at the beginning the problem was not that i sounded like me - it was that i sounded like nothing at all, and that i could tell that oscar - and many many wonderful others - sounded like a whole hell of a lot of something fantastic


    the best thing to do is to listen endlessly to the improvising artists you adore and learn to sing what they are doing. for me if i'm on my own when i listen to them i always listen BY trying to sing along (this is very common - non-musicians sing along to their favorite songs when they're working etc.). this is not work - its the best thing you can do - the most fun thing. if you do it enough - it will totally change what you hear. it will begin to help you to hear a bit like the people you are listening to hear.

  5. #29

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    'Why don't I sound like my favourite Guitarists?'
    I'm sorry, but why would you want to?

    Music is the key that can open strange rooms in the house of memory.
    Llewelyn Wyn Griffith
    Last edited by Rhoderick; 07-21-2016 at 02:12 PM.

  6. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    Seems like the title of this thread doesn't match the problem you are describing in the text. You're disappointment seems to be that your playing doesn't "have good melodic sense" and that your playing recycles a bunch of licks that seem corny to you.

    If that's the case, it seems like you need to study the principles of good melody, and you need to transcribe and intensely practice melodies that are of the sort you'd like to be able to compose and/or improvise. Study melodic examples a phrase at a time, understand how they integrate with the changes, and experiment by playing them over backing tracks with different tempos and rhythm types and different keys (ireal-pro is a great tool for that). By intensely studying and experimenting with melodies you like, you'll find yourself improvising better melodies.

    While you're at it, you might also study the melodies you don't care for to understand what makes them sound corny to you, so you'll know what habits you need to break.
    Interesting point about ' corny' - sometimes the subtleties of Jazz and the sophstication are lost on people who like myself grew up on R&B and Rock.. especially some of the
    lighter more melodic major ii-V- I stuff...with 'swing' Rhythms...

    However an 'antidote' for this IMO is some Jazz Players who insert a lot of Blues and R&B into their Playing ( many 'Jazz Guys' can but don't care to and also depends on the Tune ) ...
    But my point is that to Rockers and even Metal Guys to avoid the 'corny' parts of Jazz [ which is a bad word but you get it]
    Listen to Guys like Benson who I think many Guitarists from other more aggressive styles could relate to immediately and also Guys like Michael Brecker who had tremendous ability but just did screaming wailing Blues Tones even over sophisticated changes and also stuff that Guitar Shredders ( so much more eloquent and expressive but still...) could relate to...

    So listen to the 'bad asses' of Jazz or the Guys who sound 'corny' on one Tune and
    'Bad Ass ' on another.

    Listen to stuff you can ' feel ' more especially at first.

    Also -I have known a few Guitarists who could really imitate other Players and even improvise in their different Styles which is amazing ...but that is very rare.

    Three Players ..very influenced by Clapton-

    Eddie Van Halen

    Eric Johnson

    Larry Carlton who studied with Joe Pass but was influenced by Clapton's sound etc.
    and is an amazing Hybrid of Jazz and Rock and Blues.

    But none sound a lot like Clapton did..but everyone seems to go through imitation phases and end up somewhere else.

    Which is good...and now you can learn the why and how that 'Guy' plays that way..and take it somewhere else.

    Remember also- you could ask...

    ' Why don't my favorite Guitarists sound like EACH OTHER ?'

    And the more you Play what is exactly in your Mind the stronger your Voice on the Guitar will come through-

    Don't dilute what's in your Mind- and eventually some of your Influences will start to come out and POSSIBLY morphed in a cool way.

    Play what is in your Mind...

    I have sort of Morphed a Straight Jazz Player...with some subtle note bending..and some of the crazy ' beast mode' stuff that Sax Players do...but I don't sound like any of's a Morph..

    I wish it had not taken so long.......I am ' peaking extraordinarily late...
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 09-12-2017 at 05:44 PM.

  7. #31

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    if all the work i do is successful maybe i'll sound like me one day

    the idea that sounding authentic and distinctive is a default state that you can mess up if you're overly impressed with the playing of other people is seriously confused in my view

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Groyniad
    if all the work i do is successful maybe i'll sound like me one day
    That's my objective too -- I'd just like to keep becoming a better me Why don't I sound like my favorite Guitarists?

  9. #33

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    That's my objective too -- I'd just like to keep becoming a better me
    I even have a philosiphical backup for this.... this is how you become unique and original, because essentially every person is unique and original - so basically all you have to do is to say yourself in what you do and people will feel the originality of what you do...

    But the problem is it is all much more complex - you cannot just tell yourself: I'll be myself..'
    on the contrary conciously trying 'be yourself' may lead to copying someone else 'being self'

    There's another point: it's what's on the head... I actually cannot remember taht I ever conciously tried to sound like someone... I of couse had my heroes starting with The Beatles when I was 10... and tried to copy all the time... I did not seem to care to compare if it sounded like John or not...
    It's like I subconciously felt that actually it just could not sound like John because I was not John..
    so what's the use of trying?))))

    Actually... I was so passionately interested in all that .. that I just did not think about it... I guess it's the key: if you have passion it sets you more or less on the track... you are too much in it to think about it... and only the result will show how it really worked out...

  10. #34

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    Coming from a rock angle, there were players I tried to emulate and failed in doing so -- Randy Rhoads, Jimi, Ritchie Blackmore, amongst others --but in my failing, my style developed. Perhaps a result of neuromusculature, perhaps an odd ear, but over the years, even as I've learnt that I can't sound like them, I can sound like myself.

    In a sense, our limitations define our style, don't they?
    Last edited by Thumpalumpacus; 07-24-2016 at 01:46 PM.

  11. #35

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    Ahhhh Randy Rhoads. Revelation Mother Earth what a symphony. Good bye to romance fantastically melodic. Diary if a madman sheer brilliance. Tonight makes me cry.

    Sent from my D6503 using Tapatalk
    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 07-24-2016 at 04:00 PM. Reason: For the "h" of it. ;o)

  12. #36

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    There are times I worry about "becoming myself" and then there are other times when I think that everything goes into the hopper, and something called "me" comes out - and that happens whether I want it to or not, so I might as well make friends with it.

  13. #37

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    Make hay with sunshine, brotha.

  14. #38

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    Thump said:

    "I can sound like myself"

    Amen to that.

    Developing your own sound and style is to me more elusive than getting another player, but in attempting to "get" the other player my own sound and style started to emerge.
    Still working on that after all these years. :-)

  15. #39

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    I had to come to terms with sounding like "me" too. I went through a phase years ago where I was playing a different guitar every few weeks trying to sound like my current hero of the month. Finally, my bass player said "You need to stop trying to play like everyone else and play like you."

    It was a simple comment but it struck me pretty hard. He was right and I listened to him. I have gotten comments on my playing twice this week from other players in the store while trying out gear (Yes, I still buy a lot of guitars....just for different reasons). Heck, one guy compared me to Charlie Byrd and I don't even listen to him. Now granted, my playing was probably a change from the loud rock guys they usually get it there, so it was something different.

    Point being, when I stopped trying to sound like someone else, I moved on to playing what sounds good to me and apparently some others like it, too. I suspect that would be true for the OP as well.

  16. #40

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    You will never sound like someone else even you to copy everything they do the most you'll be a copy. Learn from others and let that seep into your playing. I rather have someone saying "they can hear the <fill in the blank> influence, than say "he just sound like copy of <fill in the blank>.

    A few people are credited with saying it, I heard it from Herbie Hancock. Copy everyone you can, then forget it all and play. That's the process study others, let it go, to simmer inside you, and see hear it eventually comes out your way.

  17. #41

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    You don't because you keep on asking why. Make a move dude! No one can perfectly copy someone's image but at least you can be 99% similar to it. Begin in yourself. Then know why you sound that bad. Gradually, you will see things you need to improve. Work on it and you will soon be like your favorite guitarists. The key? Always practice with a heart.

  18. #42

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    This is an interesting update of an old, zombie thread. I have some observations that I'd like to share.

    First, Filipino music is great! As a kid in Hawaii (1964-67), I was exposed to lots of music coming out of the Philippines and to Filipino musicians. Somewhat later on, I discovered Bobby Enriquez, 'The Wildman of Mindanao.' (Billed as being from Mindanao, Enriquez was actually from Negros, just to the north in the Philippines.) Enriquez was one of the very best, most capable pianists I _ever_ heard...even if he did have to languish in Don Ho's band for several years. (Actually, this was probably the premier gig in Hawaii, at the time.) I urge everyone to listen to as much Bobby Enriquez as they can.

    Second, I really sympathize with the notion of feeling that one sounds corny in relation to one's musical heroes. My improvisations nearly always strike me as corny. However, I suggest that if the OP _recognizes_ that his playing sounds corny he is way ahead of the game. It's when a player doesn't know that his stuff is corny that there is no hope. You can always analyze music and "get it." That is, you can figure out why the non-corny stuff is that way. Then, you can assimilate it into your own ideas.

    Everybody starts out copying their heroes. Barney Kessel, Herb Ellis, and Wes Montgomery all started out copying the great Charlie Christian. Wes Montgomery's first gigs involved him playing CC solos note for note. Interestingly, although all three guys were Christian disciples, each sounds like his own man. That's because Christian got filtered through each man's sensibility, vision, and ability. The OP will find that if he picks, say, Tal Farlow (another guy originally influenced by Christian), figures out Farlow solos note-for-note, they will still ultimately come out sounding like the OP.

    That's music. That's jazz.

  19. #43

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    Search for Richie Cole Bobby Enriquez on YouTube, there's some good videos of them together. Also Bruce Forman is in the band, great stuff.

  20. #44

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  21. #45

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    If you put in the time, you can sound just like the records. Ask a generation of cover band guitarists.

  22. #46

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    Why doesn't anyone sound like their heroes? Not enough guitars of course! Not enough effects of course! Not enough accumulated knowledge about their hero's lives and life trivia of course!
    The secret of the guitar world, the more toys, and the less you play, the happier you are. Don't worry. Be happy.

  23. #47

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    That 20 year old guy sure sounded like his hero, so IT IS possible with talent and work:

  24. #48

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    As a thought experiment - what about:

    Listen, practice, play.

    But never listen to yourself recorded.

    Would that work as an approach to playing?

  25. #49

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    I think it is better to focus on what we can do best, rather than trying to imitate other players. Get inspiration from other players, but imitate, no.

    Think of how different Grant Greene's playing is from Chet Atkins. Or Wes Montgomery from Pat Metheny.

    We all have our own unique influences from our cultures, cities, environments, etc. These influences shape who we are and our playing can probably reflect some of that.

    Just a thought.

    Thank you

  26. #50

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    The reason you don't sound like your favorite guitarists is simple.

    You're not spending enough money on gear.