The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    ...a lot of time playing in groups while trying to perceive what was going on more precisely...
    That right there is important - playing in groups while trying to perceive what was going on more precisely

    The critical ear learning really happens in that situation where you don't know what is going on very precisely, don't know what is coming. That is, the content is not already laid out on paper, or in memory, or under the habits of your fingers - you have to try to perceive with your ear.

    There is another part too, more going on. A band live has to not only hear the music but hear it from imperfect sounding instruments played by imperfect musicians. Even more so for situations where you may be playing songs you have never heard before with musicians you have just met. You have to perceive what was intended.

    There is even more going on - an application aspect to what the ear has learned to hear which I think is possibly the only thing that might be as important as the development of the ear itself. In addition to learning how to hear so you may play your best, there is learning to hear how to make other musicians and singers sound their best (would there be any better musical resume than word of mouth that you make everyone you play with sound their best?) This is your own musical judgement that additionally extends to take into account the capability and judgement of others. When accompanying another guitarist e.g., or horn or vocalist, maybe they sound best if I play simple because they are playing or singing fluently and using extensions and alterations in melodic lines, but if they are limited and doing simple lines maybe they will sound their best if I play extended chords, alterations, passing chords, etc... many dimensions to this consideration.

    Playing as guitarist of the host band for an open mic fours hours every Sunday evening for ten years (about 2000 hours), I definitely enjoyed "playing in groups while trying to perceive what was going on more precisely" pretty much continuously. Never knew in advance if the host band drums, keys, or bass might be subbed, whether guest musicians that came to play or sing would be regulars or new visitors, what songs they would call or what songs they had composed (I played those, too). The changing instruments and musicians provided exposure to listening and playing with variability of all kinds, expressed by lots of different instruments played in different styles by a wide variety of musicians over a long period of time with the gentle but always ever present one-take performance pressure of "this is it, play"... really valuable, enjoyable, and wonderful to learn to hear playing music like that. If you have the opportunity, I recommend it.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #52

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    Just heard this on a Rick Beato video (on Guthrie Govan) - "Thought is the enemy of flow" (Vinnie Colaiuta). Great at first look, though this must presumably include learned lines ('licks' in most contexts). So...

    Technique is important, but A LOT less than ear training (except maybe in classical music? flamenco?
    Flamenco aficionados tend to have a pretty polarised distribution across old and new in my experience. Contrary to my feelings about jazz where I FAR prefer to listen and play modern stuff, in flamenco, another passion, it is the simpler, folkloric, historicist, moment in time stuff that FAR more appeals to me.

    In most flamenco song forms (palos) the harmonic progressions are fixed - a sort of amended phrygian dominant figures frequently. The guitar techniques are also limited, simple - and of course, shockingly original - like rasgueo, golpe and pulgar - and need to be repeated and practised and practised. There is also a 'language' of musical lines which make up the playing in any palo - the only one I know in jazz is the alt.V-I "let's have a banana too" . In this way, flamenco is hardly improvising as jazz knows it, but it is in deploying and amending stuff on the fly.

    The emotional depth of the resultant music is entirely a product of the hands/ear of the musician. If you are playing for a cantaor/singer, who will guide the expression to the song, the result, which you could argue is a series of linked known techniques and lines, can be profound (you know, the overused term duende?). Maybe the unit of musical currency here is greater, and no thought is given to the playing of an entire line or technique. Though that canon is increasing, notably with copied lines from recent superstars like Gerardo Nuñez, the older stuff still holds the key to the identity of the music and is a sine qua non for even trying to play anything 'real'.

    With the arrival of the solo touring concert flamenco guitarist (Sabicas, best example) more attention had to paid to variety of technique to keep the punters happy up there in the corporate balcony. With the arrival of half a million graduate flamenco guitarists looking for an angle, solo flamenco guitar, and even accompaniment, is awash with complicated fusion techniques. Well, amazingly accomplished they are, without doubt, but I couldn't eat a whole one, to paraphrase WC Fields on the subject of children. Like the UPF snack, they leave me feeling unsatisfied in the end. And, all the way through actually.

    So, in response to the quote, certain techniques are critical to the identity of flamenco and without them the music would just be 'Spanish guitar'. But, recently the music in flamenco is being substituted by technique in a sort of desperate need for a personal USP. I think it's possible to like this new music for its own value but flamenco it ain't to me. It just sounds like the trivial being played well.

    Of course, there are musicians around today who are every bit as creative and original as those across the early 20th century who formed flamenco. But it was the fusion of Spanish song forms with arabic, gypsy and jewish musical influences over hundreds of years in hard social contexts that produced stunning palos like Soléa, Siguiriyas and Bulerías. Not graduates from music colleges all trying to get ahead - hungry though they will be. We have a life of ease comparatively and that has to be reflected in what we produce. I suppose hip hop was the last social music of any consequence in 'the West'.

    Anyway, I had a point several hours ago when I started this. . Er.....thought vs intuitive response, technical requirement to give existence to intuition, substitute of technique for musical value. Something like that.

  4. #53

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    Derek Bailey's conversation with Paco Peña in Bailey's Improvisation: its nature and practice in music is very insightful.

  5. #54

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    Then again, harmony in flamenco isn't fixed, especially when singer and guitarist play together. Sometimes it's the guitarist, but sometimes it's the singer that introduces the new chord, and they listen and interact. Same thing with the whole crowd, and the palmas they play at gatherings and small concerts. Lots of listening involved!

  6. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by Alter
    but sometimes it's the singer that introduces the new chord,... Lots of listening involved!
    That's sort of true, in that the singer will sing a cadential line that prompts a learned response from the accompanist, but broadly the harmonic movement as a whole within that palo is known. Yes it does require ears to hear the change, but simple knowledge to do it.

    I was just watching a video of Melchor de Marchena watching his son, Enrique play a more modern verbose flamenco - he was smiling though, whether in appreciation of the music or the flash isn't clear. He did say that to be a good flamenco guitarist it has to come from the heart. So, the intent is emotional, not intellectual.