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  1. #26

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    I haven't seen the Leavitt theory /method books but I have used the Melodic Rhythms For Guitar and am presently working through the Advanced Reading Studies book. I could read notation before but was a poor sight reader which I wanted to improve. The Melodic Rhythms has progressively more complex rhythm studies with pre study rhythm exercises that reveal the coming rhythmic patterns seen in the following study. I often will play by ear and these studies force you to read, as they are not the most intuitively melodic pieces ( which is what you want ) It starts off in standard time but later will shift to walz and cut time and the keys all vary from piece to piece. Note values initially are simple but then progress, along with syncopation and varied rest patterns, on/off beat movement, etc. I thought it was a help.

    The Advanced reading studies book are pieces that are written to be played at the 8th fret and above. These are also in many different keys but at least of what I've been through, they tend to work more on modified arpeggios and diatonic and chromatic patterns. Each piece has a harmonic progression ( not written out per se ) that I have found to be helpful with ear training in recognizing the cadence. They have many more incidentals in the pieces also. The staff fonts are a bit smaller.

    I think one need a system to be a good sight reader, much of which involves reviewing the piece without the instrument, to know the key, the range of the notes, the time, incidentals, overall structure ( repeats/codas etc ) and any tricky rhythm areas etc. It's not easy and requires some work but no question it's worth it and you will see improvement if you do it regularly. All of this is also predicated on the fact that you have the basics ( major scales through the neck ) down to some degree. You need to start slow, embarrassingly slow if it's new for you. My 2 cents.

    Good luck, have fun.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    Here's a tip for intermediate readers who want to become advanced readers.

    You get to a point where you can read anything in the Real Book. You can play in a trio or quartet with piano and handle the heads. That's great.

    But, if you want to get to the point where you can play big band single note stuff, suddenly you need to pay attention to the articulation marks in a new way. It's not just how you hit the note, it's also when you release it. Your usual approach is not likely to meld together with the horns. It's a separate skill. Another thing that may come as new is counting long rests with time signature changes. I play one chart with a 120 bar rest and no indication of what happens in bar 119 (pencil that in yourself when you find out).

    I suspect that the guys who can play Broadway show books are at yet another level beyond. One friend told me. You get the book, the recording and a ticket to the show. The next night, you're in the band.

  4. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by vashondan
    I've been reviewing some of the learning material that some locals (JG Online) suggested in response to a question I posted. There arises the idea of learning to read standard notation. I'm not against that idea and can read basic notation but was wondering what value added arises from developing the skill.

    Hello, suffice to say you could fill a book with the data supporting the importance of the visual aspects of learning. This link makes a few good points (but it’s aimed at the classroom, so keep that in mind).

    Visual Learning: 6 Reasons Why Visuals Are The Most Powerful Aspect Of eLearning - eLearning Industry

    Also, a large percentage of people are “visual learners”. If you fall into that category, use it to your advantage.


    Take care.

  5. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by vashondan
    What about the Leavitt Modern Method books?
    Never got on with those. Just hate the way his sight-reading examples sound - they sound like exercises to me, not music. Doesn’t make me want to read them to find out how they sound.

    Get some Bach instead - that sounds good any speed and will teach you the notes.

    But not the rhythms. And usually it’s the jazz rhythms that are toughest to read, and you often get just rhythms notated in charts. It’s the bread and butter of big band reading for instance. It’s

  6. #30

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    Oh yeah - I wouldn’t sweat it too much about reading chords to start off with unless you want to play classical guitar.

    Reading jazz and pop charts is a completely different skill from reading solo guitar music. I wish I’d known that earlier!

    Usually it’s single note lines, double stops and chord symbols with and without written rhythmic figures.

    That said, there are two main situations where written voicings come up.

    1) standard shapes. You can get good at recognising them as a unit. In most cases if a non guitarist has written the music they will write these only if they know they are playable. Guitar is a difficult instrument to write for for pianists. Arrangers and composers are most likely to be pianists who at best play some basic guitar. So they’ll likely be simple.

    2) part of a larger voicing with the horns. Generally these are smaller voicing, maybe a double or triple stop. Not too hard to puzzle out provided they are actually playable, which is not a given. If the chord isn’t playable, you might need to do some judicious editing, try and work out what are the most important notes and intervals and play those.

    If it’s not mentioned by the Music Director at rehearsal, it’s probably fine. MDs are busy people and don’t want to be bombarded with questions.

    That won’t cover you for everything, but imo covers about 90% of situations.

    Tbh most of that stuff you have to learn on the gig.

  7. #31

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    Unless I missed it, nobody seems to have said this -- it's (relatively) easy to transpose standard notation. I was taught to read notes as intervals, not just as absolute pitches. So when I see, say (middle) C, E, G, B (below middle C) C in a melody on a staff, I see it as "up a third, up another third, down a sixth, up a step", and/or I see it in terms of scale steps (e.g., in C, that's 1, 3, 5, 7 down an octave). Just knowing that it's a third between lines or spaces helps enormously in seeing what's going on with a piece of music. Granted, I was never a good sight reader, and for lack of practice am not a sight reader at all these days, but I can read a tune in one key and play it in another, which I think would be next impossible with tab. Very helpful for learning tunes in cases where the chart I have is a different key from the recordings I'm checking out (I tend to go back and forth between charts and recordings to learn tunes).

    John

  8. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Never got on with those. Just hate the way his sight-reading examples sound - they sound like exercises to me, not music. Doesn’t make me want to read them to find out how they sound.

    Get some Bach instead - that sounds good any speed and will teach you the notes.

    But not the rhythms. And usually it’s the jazz rhythms that are toughest to read, and you often get just rhythms notated in charts. It’s the bread and butter of big band reading for instance. It’s

    Well it's reading everything in the books that helps, not just the "sight reading" samples alone.

    And no offense, but despite the latest "either/or" advice being offered here, I again will advocate for "both".
    (Leavitt and Bach, or Carcassi etc., etc., for that matter).

    I have demonstrable evidence of improved sight reading via a "crossover" effect. Meaning, my contemporary music reading and classical music reading each enabled the other. That shouldn't have been a surprise, but I wasn't expecting it. I once impressed a classical guitar instructor by sight reading some classical guitar music that was placed in front of me. It was without a doubt my Leavitt studies that did it, because that's all I had been working on for awhile. (now don't start ragging on me for that, that's another topic). :0

  9. #33

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    I think sightreading in jazz is probably more important than ever. a lot more people play at least some original music now, and the only way that stuff works is reading charts. I remember listening to an interview with Tim Lefebrve, and he was saying if you wanna play jazz in nyc today, you'd better be able to read your ass off, and I think he's right.

    In the age of more steady bands, you could get away with not being a good sightreader. A lot of folks in the Ellington and Basie bands were, I've heard, fairly poor readers. But the days of a single band being your full time gig are long gone.

    The universe of tunes that people play just keeps growing over time, and the opportunities to play a lot of these tunes over and over again via small gigs seems to be shrinking. I don't say this to turn this thread into a gripe session, but, the way I learned a lot of standards was playing 4-5 gigs a week at restaurants and bars in college, and I don't think too many people are doing that anymore, at least that I know.

    That said, I think it's important to make sure that you are practicing sightreading in a way that will achieve your goals. Kreutzer and Bach etudes are cool, and certainly will improve note recognition, but I personally struggle with syncopated rhythms at fast tempos and Christian's suggestion of Bellson will help a TON there. we've had some good thread on sightreading, I just wanted to chime in and agree that for today's working musicians, sightreading is extremely important.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Well it's reading everything in the books that helps, not just the "sight reading" samples alone.

    And no offense, but despite the latest "either/or" advice being offered here, I again will advocate for "both".
    (Leavitt and Bach, or Carcassi etc., etc., for that matter).

    I have demonstrable evidence of improved sight reading via a "crossover" effect. Meaning, my contemporary music reading and classical music reading each enabled the other. That shouldn't have been a surprise, but I wasn't expecting it. I once impressed a classical guitar instructor by sight reading some classical guitar music that was placed in front of me. It was without a doubt my Leavitt studies that did it, because that's all I had been working on for awhile. (now don't start ragging on me for that, that's another topic). :0
    Yeah sorry should have been clearer it’s the Leavitt sight reading books I’m talking about.

    I do believe you but I got pretty decent at reading pitches and chords etc due to looking at classical guitar and not a clue when it came to practical bandstand reading.

    So my comments are offered in light of what to prioritise, but I don’t disagree with you.

  11. #35

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    Other problem with working on solo guitar material is that you can easily get used to not keeping time when reading.

    You could practice with a metronome of course.

    Opportunities for ensemble reading practice are not that common for guitar. Best thing might be to organise an ensemble with friends and read through various bits of music.

  12. #36

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    I never found any graded practice material which really prepared me for reading big band charts.

    You can learn the notes and some syncopations - all foundational skills you need.

    But, in the big band and octet charts that I usually see, the arrangers are trying to come up with original rhythmic bits, and they go on for longer. So, instead of a short syncopated phrase (like you might see in a Lenny Niehus book), it may be several bars of idiosyncratic hits, all on different chords. So, while you're trying to figure out some strange rhythm, your eyes are bouncing back and forth between the chord symbols written above and the rhythms written on the staff. And, it's likely to be at a faster tempo than you'd like. Add in the articulation marks and needing to blend perfectly with the rest of the band, and you've got a goal.

    If anybody knows of a book of graded stuff like that, please post.

    As far as reading notes on a staff, there are a few different situations. Some arrangers know how to write for guitar and you're supposed to play exactly what is on the page. Other arrangers put in the chord extensions that the horns are playing, without regard for playability. It can sound good if you can play the extensions, but you can also play the shells (R 3 7) and let the horns fill out the chord. In some cases, the music may be playable on guitar, but, frankly, it may not be obvious. After some thought, you can figure out a fingering.

    Some more practical issues.

    Some charts have all or part of chord in bass clef. Reading multiple notes on a stem in bass clef took me by surprise. Reading bass clef fluently doesn't seem that essential a skill, but sometimes you need it.

    Older charts may be handwritten and you can have multiple notes on a staff with multiple accidentals -- and it's hard to see which note the accidental applies to. Printed charts can be worse, because the old engravers used bigger paper than modern printers usually do.

    If you look over at a horn chart, they generally look a lot simpler. The piano chart is even harder. He has to do everything you have to do, and then he has the left hand. The bass chart looks like a horn chart, except he gets no rests and every mistake is painfully obvious.

    My guess is that players develop the basic skills with Leavitt or whoever and then, on their first big band rehearsal feel like they're been shot out of a cannon.

    One final point. Most guitarists can't do this stuff, even otherwise great players. So, if you can master it, you'll get calls.

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    .

    But, if you want to get to the point where you can play big band single note stuff, suddenly you need to pay attention to the articulation marks in a new way. It's not just how you hit the note, it's also when you release it. Your usual approach is not likely to meld together with the horns. It's a separate skill. Another thing that may come as new is counting long rests with time signature changes. I play one chart with a 120 bar rest and no indication of what happens in bar 119 (pencil that in yourself when you find out).
    Just counting out 120 bars of rest, without losing it, is a skill set in itself!

  14. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Other problem with working on solo guitar material is that you can easily get used to not keeping time when reading.

    You could practice with a metronome of course.

    Opportunities for ensemble reading practice are not that common for guitar. Best thing might be to organise an ensemble with friends and read through various bits of music.
    I went looking for the Tony Rizzi 5 guitar charts but couldn't find them for purchase anywhere. Anybody know?

    Occasionally, I get the urge to organize a guitar quartet or quintet as a reading band. If I lie down and focus on my breathing, it passes.

    If anybody knows of a source of good arrangements, please post.

  15. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I went looking for the Tony Rizzi 5 guitar charts but couldn't find them for purchase anywhere. Anybody know?

    Occasionally, I get the urge to organize a guitar quartet or quintet as a reading band. If I lie down and focus on my breathing, it passes.

    If anybody knows of a source of good arrangements, please post.
    Haha

    Why does it have to be all guitars or even guitar music necessarily? The big stumbling block for me is finding charts so it’s probably good to open minded.

  16. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by whiskey02
    Access to hundreds of years of written music, thousand upon thousands of pieces across multiple instruments, genres and composers. How could anyone question the value of “learning to read”? It’s really not particularly difficult. I would be willing to bet large sums of money that those who think it will take too much time are pissing away hours and hours watching tv reruns, other people playing a sport, video games etc. etc.
    (I think making telepathic guesses and betting on about what others doing is a brave thing (all done based on that they may not share your opinion)

    Back to the topic: The "How could anyone question the value of “learning to read"
    This is far not analogous.

    1) We learn to read because 99% information what we must learn later in our life is in exclusively written form, and that is that information's native form (not audio). This is not true for music, especially not for jazz. It's native form is audio, and 99.999% music exist in audio form, in much superb interpretation what we can ever create on our mind when reading sheets.

    2) We learn to read because literature (I mean: art) is accessible in written form (well recently there are audio books) and for that kind of art the written text is its native form. This is not true for music, especially not for jazz. It's native form is audio.

    3) When talking about jazz the most repeated sentence is "you must learn the language". It is completely possible learning a language perfectly including all the nuances exclusively by ear, and without knowing to read, see children... or more: It is completely impossible to learn a language including all the nuances by reading sheets and trying to reproduce them on your instrument.

    So this is not the same...

    I think unless you are a professional studio musician or classical musician it is not important to be able to read. Spending the same time with transcribing and listening is much more beneficial. (Note: theory is an other thing)

  17. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I never found any graded practice material which really prepared me for reading big band charts.

    You can learn the notes and some syncopations - all foundational skills you need.

    But, in the big band and octet charts that I usually see, the arrangers are trying to come up with original rhythmic bits, and they go on for longer. So, instead of a short syncopated phrase (like you might see in a Lenny Niehus book), it may be several bars of idiosyncratic hits, all on different chords. So, while you're trying to figure out some strange rhythm, your eyes are bouncing back and forth between the chord symbols written above and the rhythms written on the staff. And, it's likely to be at a faster tempo than you'd like. Add in the articulation marks and needing to blend perfectly with the rest of the band, and you've got a goal.

    If anybody knows of a book of graded stuff like that, please post.

    As far as reading notes on a staff, there are a few different situations. Some arrangers know how to write for guitar and you're supposed to play exactly what is on the page. Other arrangers put in the chord extensions that the horns are playing, without regard for playability. It can sound good if you can play the extensions, but you can also play the shells (R 3 7) and let the horns fill out the chord. In some cases, the music may be playable on guitar, but, frankly, it may not be obvious. After some thought, you can figure out a fingering.

    Some more practical issues.

    Some charts have all or part of chord in bass clef. Reading multiple notes on a stem in bass clef took me by surprise. Reading bass clef fluently doesn't seem that essential a skill, but sometimes you need it.

    Older charts may be handwritten and you can have multiple notes on a staff with multiple accidentals -- and it's hard to see which note the accidental applies to. Printed charts can be worse, because the old engravers used bigger paper than modern printers usually do.

    If you look over at a horn chart, they generally look a lot simpler. The piano chart is even harder. He has to do everything you have to do, and then he has the left hand. The bass chart looks like a horn chart, except he gets no rests and every mistake is painfully obvious.

    My guess is that players develop the basic skills with Leavitt or whoever and then, on their first big band rehearsal feel like they're been shot out of a cannon.

    One final point. Most guitarists can't do this stuff, even otherwise great players. So, if you can master it, you'll get calls.
    Yep. I think one special challenge of playing guitar pads is that you need to know what you can get away with and be able to understand a diversity of information on the page.

    That’s why I think that reading guitar music isn’t necessarily going to prepare one for this. It’s a unique skill imo.

    The frontline instruments just need to read the dots.

    So I think that’s a challenge best addressed by being solid on the individual skills (rhythmic reading, single note reading, chord symbols) and developing this judgement through reading arrangements with bands a lot. That could be said of many things in jazz, though.

    I too can’t think of another way.

    I’m good at hearing and spotting classic functional jazz progressions which means I can rely on my ears somewhat when I can’t catch all the subs. OTOH when I catch more of them, I get ideas for subs in my own playing!

  18. #42

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    Another thing is that in classic big band writing there’s a lot of bits where the guitar part is not important and other points where it is.

    But other styles of writing where the guitar part is more exposed and essential....

  19. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Another thing is that in classic big band writing there’s a lot of bits where the guitar part is not important and other points where it is.

    But other styles of writing where the guitar part is more exposed and essential....
    The charts often have little notes about what is happening elsewhere in the band. For example, it may say "solo" or "solos" when somebody else is soloing. But, sometimes the word "solo" will appear and you notice that nobody is playing a solo. Inevitably, you think, who is supposed to be soloing now? Oops.

  20. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    The charts often have little notes about what is happening elsewhere in the band. For example, it may say "solo" or "solos" when somebody else is soloing. But, sometimes the word "solo" will appear and you notice that nobody is playing a solo. Inevitably, you think, who is supposed to be soloing now? Oops.
    Usually in tiny writing.

    Guitar solos being comparatively rare on BB gigs it always comes as a shock.

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Yeah sorry should have been clearer it’s the Leavitt sight reading books I’m talking about.

    I do believe you but I got pretty decent at reading pitches and chords etc due to looking at classical guitar and not a clue when it came to practical bandstand reading.

    So my comments are offered in light of what to prioritise, but I don’t disagree with you.
    Sure, lots of material helps.

    The thing is, Leavitt arranged contemporary music and it sounds that way, melodically, harmonically, and rhythmically, plus he utilized a fair amount of chord symbols.

    Agree on practicing alone and being detached from tempo and time. Snidero's materials for the guitar are but one tool to help a home based player get in touch with time, and time feeling.

  22. #46

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    Graded material for big band guitar? Hmmm.

    What do high school jazz band leaders utilize? Not that it would be "graded" as such, but should be less challenging then college charts.

    For that matter, where does one get the college charts?

    The band directors know where to get that stuff, but I don't.

  23. #47

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    How else could you play something you've never heard?

  24. #48

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    Can anybody suggest a book of Bach for sight reading that is not too difficult? The solo violin stuff has some easier stuff but much of it is pretty intense.

  25. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by alltunes
    Can anybody suggest a book of Bach for sight reading that is not too difficult? The solo violin stuff has some easier stuff but much of it is pretty intense.
    classical guitar Bach is the simplest you'll find, because, as this thread makes very clear, most guitarists suck at reading!! and while Gabor's post has a lot of truth to it, it doesn't give anybody any reason not to learn standard notation. We can't all be Wes, and most of the great masters of jazz guitar could read quite well.

    Also, Leavitt collection includes several Bach duets (Classical for Pick Guitar) the are not too very difficult.

    Reading opens lots of opportunity doors. Most that don't read remain part-time musicians, especially in the more sophisticated musical forms. Also, the jazz scene being much smaller and more competitive than ever, pit or recording gigs and the like can go a long way towards paying the bills.

  26. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by ronjazz
    classical guitar Bach is the simplest you'll find, because, as this thread makes very clear, most guitarists suck at reading!! and while Gabor's post has a lot of truth to it, it doesn't give anybody any reason not to learn standard notation. We can't all be Wes, and most of the great masters of jazz guitar could read quite well.

    Also, Leavitt collection includes several Bach duets (Classical for Pick Guitar) the are not too very difficult.

    Reading opens lots of opportunity doors. Most that don't read remain part-time musicians, especially in the more sophisticated musical forms. Also, the jazz scene being much smaller and more competitive than ever, pit or recording gigs and the like can go a long way towards paying the bills.
    Not that this goes against your basic point, but
    pit and recording gigs aren’t a fall back anymore in the sense that they are every bit as competitive.

    More and more legit players are fighting to get good theatre gigs, it’s not like the 80s when you’d go and do a show if you didn’t have anything better to do. These are, in fact, among the only decently paid performance gigs. (I think touring work is getting squeezed as artists are desperate to make up the shortfall in revenue from record sales.)

    Tbh getting theatre gigs is a bit random, based on connections and being in the right place at the right time and that’s when you do have all the necessary skills. Obviously if you fuck up you won’t get the call again. Last time I did one it was stepping in last minute for a classical player who basically couldn’t read the newly commissioned score (a mix of notation and chord symbols.)

    Afaik It is jazzers that tend to get the guitar chair for the big shows (unless it’s school of rock or something) because they are more comfortable reading and playing modern styles.

    Even then you get the charts in advance.

    As for recording work, it exists, but it’s not the 80s anymore.