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  1. #1

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    Something on my mind today......

    So much of ear training focuses on hearing that which is being played.
    Of course, one goal in improvisation is to respond meaningfully to your collaborators contributions. Within that pursuit it seems that hearing
    what is not being played and that might enhance the whole is also an important ear training skill to develop.

    Would be interested to hear others thoughts and comments on this subject.
    How do you approach this on the bandstand or in the research and development lab?

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    That's a good description of accompaniment. The only way I know to learn it is to do a lot of it, and listen to how others do it.

    Jim Hall comping for Ron Carter on Alone Together has taught me some things. Maybe it's easier to hear/not hear in a duo without a dang keyboard player filling everything up ;-)

  4. #3
    Yes duo is a very special setting.

  5. #4
    Free improvisation with small groups, not more than 4, is an excellent way to hone the listening skills. I find that it's the most effective way to learn just what happens when we play, how the addition and subtraction of one element changes the weight of the collective. I used to have a free improvisation hang, and we'd very rarely have more than 4 playing, often 2 or 3. Everyone would listen and often when NOT playing, we hear things we might have done ourselves.
    It's very distracting playing a guitar! Even more so if the practice time is, as you point out, spent developing space filling abilities. Free improvisation at best removes even the song form as something to hide behind. Space becomes something you create, something you frame with sound.

  6. #5

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    I've always considered free jazz the ultimate in listening and improvising, and it has been the hardest thing for me to do (from the little I have played the idiom).

    For me it all comes down to learning the language, like in other aspects of playing. Then you expect to hear things that fit the music, so when everyone is playing within the language, things becomes easy.

    This applies in all kinds of music, but jazz having so much more improvisation and choices, makes listening even more important. I think these two things, listening and knowing how things are supposed to sound, are the two crucial things that make or break a jazz player.

  7. #6

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    Good point! Being aware of the overall sound is crucial. It’s really easy when improvising to jump on whatever bandwagon comes along, while in fact you need to very often play something complimentary. That’s a real skill!

  8. #7

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    Free (non idiomatic) improvising is a fantastic way to develop this kind of hearing because you aren’t worried about all the other stuff; harmony, form, time (usually) so I’ve always found it a great training. (And it doesn’t have to be Squeaky Bonk although that is there if you want it lol.)

    While I have little interest atm and playing free improv for an audience, as a training for more idiomatic improvising it’s great and I’d recommend especially to people who think it’s easy :-)

  9. #8

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    A colleague of mine express it as, "Space - Tension - Resolution" with the three terms being co-equal. I concur.

  10. #9

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    "Within that pursuit it seems that hearing what is not being played and that might enhance the whole is also an important ear training skill to develop"
    bako


    Silence in music is as important as sound.
    Play live . . . Marinero

  11. #10

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    why is it called ‘negative’ space

    shouldn’t it be called ‘space’
    negative space would be ‘stuff’

    (sorry , but I’m positively a ‘pedant’)

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu View Post
    why is it called ‘negative’ space

    shouldn’t it be called ‘space’
    negative space would be ‘stuff’

    (sorry , but I’m positively a ‘pedant’)
    I think it’s an analogue to visual design where negative space is the shape around the shapes, if you like.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    I think it’s an analogue to visual design where negative space is the shape around the shapes, if you like.
    "Ground/Figure" if you will. Big in my Art School back in the day (late Cenozoic).

  14. #13
    "Positive space' is all that is being played and "negative space" is about the possible potential of all that is not presently stated.

    Ear trainings primary focus is on recognition of articulated sound.
    What I am referencing is more an act of imagination about the leftovers,
    the unstated what, when, and how with why being the engine of
    individual expressive choice. It is fine and musically wise in many
    situations to play things that reinforce that which is already being overtly stated. And without saying, all things not being played possess equal potential. A good reason might exist for omission. On the other hand, the same content contextualized can reveal hidden beauty. So much yet to learn, hear and imagine.
    Last edited by bako; 04-19-2021 at 06:57 PM.

  15. #14

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    To me it is more of cultural thing.

    If we take classical music till - lets say - early 20th century... the level of overall understanding and hearing of music was much deeper and integral than today. And in classical music this actually is to be implied through its educational system...

    Jazz is much about 'here and now' and I often see thta syudents are sort of coming from the other way around - they start from some minor details and only later they realize that the whole thing matters...


    When I play I hear much more than I actually play... this contextual hearing to me is much related to general culture and absorbation of musical language...
    Tbh honest I had problems with other players when they sort of lost me... I heard context but they did not any more... but what can I do? I still hear it. Probably not my team..
    I know people who think Sco or Pete Bernstein being too out... they do not hear relationships, well I do hear...

    It can be taught through understanding of meanings in music.

    Again and again we hear that music is only sounds, we are taught math things, we are taught abstracy etc.

    But I guess if people were taught how this or that turnaround affect the perception within the form - how their melodic move bring in the character of... whantever... doubt, hezitation, love, fear, affirmation... etc. how it can work all together creating more complex picture...

    All this would bring it on the other level of artistry.... great players usually have it naturally and do not dicuss it, they just have it.

    Looking at the painting of Botticelli you see not only colours and lines - you see figures an dobjectds, you know who they are and why they are their, you maybe know lots of the cultural story behind the plot and that discovers to you all the power of artistic contemplation of the author on the plot.
    that concerns great 'abstract painting too' - you do not see plot in Rothko's work - but his languagr is extremely intense with meanings.

    After that hearing will become more than hearing pitches, it will be hearing of meaninigs. Absolutely different level of it all... different perspective...

    Are we stonecutters or sculptors?

    We cannot learn to be a sculptor if we keep thinking like a stonecuttor only increasing the complexity of our technique.
    We should change mentality, sculptor does not see a stone, he sees its potential as a sculpture.

  16. #15
    Jonah,

    Interesting post, especially your comments about form.
    Negative space in the sense of hearing the meaning of each gesture as part of an emerging form, within the original song framework (if there be one) or superimposing a new one on the starting reference.

    My initial school ear training was within a US classical model, concerned itself solely with translating pre-existing notated examples to sound and conversely translating sound examples to notation or just naming them. In a graduate ear training seminar I took as an under-grad we were asked to spontaneously harmonize melodies at the piano. We would be presented diatonic melodies and asked to harmonize them chromatically and also the opposite, chromatic melodies harmonized diatonically. I can't say I or others succeeded that often but the act of trying was a meaningful learning experience.

    Evolution of common forms was discussed some in music history classes and in greater detail in some theory and analysis classes. While it can be fun to make broad generalizations about the state of classical or jazz educational systems in the US or the world, I only can speak with knowledge about my own personal experience.

  17. #16

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    My initial school ear training was within a US classical model, concerned itself solely with translating pre-existing notated examples to sound and conversely translating sound examples to notation or just naming them. In a graduate ear training seminar I took as an under-grad we were asked to spontaneously harmonize melodies at the piano. We would be presented diatonic melodies and asked to harmonize them chromatically and also the opposite, chromatic melodies harmonized diatonically. I can't say I or others succeeded that often but the act of trying was a meaningful learning experience.

    Evolution of common forms was discussed some in music history classes and in greater detail in some theory and analysis classes. While it can be fun to make broad generalizations about the state of classical or jazz educational systems in the US or the world, I only can speak with knowledge about my own personal experience.
    I grew up with Russian system... but not sure how much it affected me. I think I had something like that from the beginning (I clearly remember my earliest impressions from music as a kid).

    Systems ca be different... probably russian one is more fundamental, more rooted in tradition coming from late romantic and Germany, basically the harmony methods and books we used are all based on those written by Tchaikovsky and Rimsky-Korsakov which in turn were adaptation of German system.
    I guess one of the basic things is that here we have national system of musical school (not connected with regular school, (it is a separate evening time school) for kids (from around 7) that are free (or almost free) and include quite intensive drill... it is not 'noodling on recorder' (like I saw in some othe rcountries).. it usually includes a few hours per week with an instrument, theory, solfege, music history, choire, and piano (whichever your main instrument is).
    Then after you reach 15 yrs it is possible to choose professional ceducation so you can go to musical college (or if you do not wish you can stay at the regualr general school for 2 yrs more) and after that to conservatory or some other institution for Higher Education.

    but that does not mean that everybody does it good. Parents often force kids to go there just for general cultural background.
    I know quite a few who graduated from those schools and can play some robotic stuff and their understanding of music is very approximate.

    Yes we solved plenty of harmonic tasks.. but not so many of us could play them musically - mostly it was quite awkward out of time chordal haronization... I knew only few who could improvize a pice from those tasks on spot.

    In general I do not think one system is much better than another...

    To be honest I think we say too often that talent is not that important as hard work and deligence.

    But with years I think more and more that talent is at least fundamentally substantial

    there must be something already, some seed, some pre-esperience knowledge. There are things that cannot be explained. Or even often it seems that if it is needed to explain such things the maybe one should try to find some other are to apply his aspirations...
    of course, I do not say it straightly - you never want to discourage anyonem and you never know how things will go on...