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View Poll Results: Melody, Rhythm, or Harmony... Which is your weakness?

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34. You may not vote on this poll
  • Melody

    13 38.24%
  • Rhythm

    17 50.00%
  • Harmony

    16 47.06%
Multiple Choice Poll.
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  1. #1

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    Out of the three basic elements of music (let's just consider Melody, Rhythm, and Harmony here) which gives you the most trouble? With many musicians and students, it seems like two often feel like play while the other feels like work. I believe that the three main elements are intertwined and reliant on one another. It may be difficult to separate them clearly (a melody can outline sophisticated chordal harmony and be rhythmically driven, etc) and they each encompass a huge amount of complex subjects (Rhythm involves meter, speed, syncopation, swinging, playing ahead/behind the beat, and so on, even "harmonic rhythm" and hypermeter song forms).

    I am just curious which main element you all feel like you need to spend extra time on in the practice room. Honest self-criticism is generally good, and sharing your experiences to overcome such weaknesses is often enlightening for others.
    JonnyPac

    Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar Book by Jonathan Pac Cantin
    New PDF E-Book version available for download!
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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I voted Rhythm. I have had to spend many extra hours with a metronome and internalizing various aspects of rhythm. I really get excited about Harmony and using scales and such to create melodies- and then I forget to bring it on home to the groove. Regardless of intellectual understanding, I have to beat the rhythm into my bones (actually central nervous system) with exercises and the repetition of good habits. I still try to play with a metronome for a minimum of 30 mins per day...
    JonnyPac

    Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar Book by Jonathan Pac Cantin
    New PDF E-Book version available for download!
    Order here:
    http://jonnypac.weebly.com/
    http://amzn.com/0615431119

  4. #3

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    Coming from a background as an electric bass and tuba player, rhythm is perhaps my only strength. I groove pretty naturally, but since I'm not used to playing melodies, I have to work at that.

  5. #4

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    Melody is my weakness. When I started playing in the 60s I was a big Aretha, Wilson Pickett, etc, fan so rhythm's been there since day one. I've also listened to a lot of Basie and Ellington so I have a good ear for harmony, colour and sound texture. I couldn't write a memorable, original melody to save my life.

  6. #5

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    Getting all three of them to work together!

    Reading and writing rhythms is definitely something I struggle with...once I can internalize it, I'm usually good to go. I often worry about my rhythm because I play solo so much and in that environment you can get away with murder...so it's something I spend time on to keep up with.

    My melodic playing can always use work...it's funny how it goes in cycles...somedays I'll be relaxed and ideas will really flow...I'm definitely still having problems with playing too many notes when I'm not comfortable in a situation...I listen to myself on material I've known since the beginning of my jazz playing days and I realize how much better I sound on tunes I could write out in any key as easy as writing my name because I've played them so many times...which is comforting, because in another 10 years or so, I might actually be a decent jazz player.

    Harmony's my strongest point, most likely because it's the aspect of music that interests me the most...ik'm always searching for the perfect chord.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  7. #6

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    I think that its not a particular aspect that would trouble me, but it is the act of trying to put it all together while soloing or composing a tune. I try to play melodically or rhythmically, but i usually forget about the other.

  8. #7
    Harmony for sure. Even though I'm only an intermediate guitarist (and a humble beginner at jazz) I have a solid grasp on rhythm as far as groove, syncopation and odd time sigs go, and I can write a nice melody. It's at improvisation and knowing what to play harmonically where I have the issue. I know plenty of scales and shapes to do so, but I just don't know what to do with them to create an interesting solo.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by merritt stone View Post
    Harmony for sure. Even though I'm only an intermediate guitarist (and a humble beginner at jazz) I have a solid grasp on rhythm as far as groove, syncopation and odd time sigs go, and I can write a nice melody. It's at improvisation and knowing what to play harmonically where I have the issue. I know plenty of scales and shapes to do so, but I just don't know what to do with them to create an interesting solo.
    Well, we seem to be in the same situation! I voted for harmony too...

  10. #9

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    Rhythm.

    Poly rhythms, accents, odd counts over even times all fascinate me but I sure have much to learn about everything!

  11. #10

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    I'm not the greatest when choosing the harmonies or the melodies but timing is my biggest weakness. I tend to speed up as I go along. Toward the end of the song, I'm wondering why I'm racing.

  12. #11

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    I voted “melody” - hence, the following long-winded clarification:
    - in my parts, 7/8, 9/8 and 11/8 are the basics of the folklore meter, and mostly I can keep the time steady between 61 and 115 on the metronome. However, my internal clock goes on 8ths, and I tend to overplay, to be talkative. I need to practice silence;
    - next, my earliest experiences with jazz were the big bands, thus I consider the guitar to be mainly a harmonic instrument (piano, orchestra) and less a melodic one (horn, voice ...). I tend to pile up four parts voicings and to cram the performance with slash chords overstepping the bass player and stealing the drummer’s accents. I need to practice counterpoint - both, melodic and metric;
    - finally, my greatest weakness - the melodic contents ... how do you practice melody, the true moment of invention?

  13. #12

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    Let's get more data! Keep it coming, all y'all!
    JonnyPac

    Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar Book by Jonathan Pac Cantin
    New PDF E-Book version available for download!
    Order here:
    http://jonnypac.weebly.com/
    http://amzn.com/0615431119

  14. #13

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    I think I'm pretty balanced at all three... I need to improve in all three areas.

    So, I couldn't vote

  15. #14

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    Ok... Anyone else? My suspicions about rhythm are being confirmed...
    JonnyPac

    Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar Book by Jonathan Pac Cantin
    New PDF E-Book version available for download!
    Order here:
    http://jonnypac.weebly.com/
    http://amzn.com/0615431119

  16. #15
    My rhythm has been well as a pianist so I would say it would be harmony.

  17. #16

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    Lately I have been telling my guitar students that no matter how cool a progression, lick, or solo is, if it is not seated in time and articulated well- it is armature sounding and ultimately nowhere near as good as it can be. Taking a hard look at ones rhythm is scary, but I feel like it is imperative.

    There is a huge amount of "GREAT" music with simple harmony and melodies, but there is nearly none with lousy time. Simple but articulate and accurate is way better than complicated but sloppy, IMHO.

    ...oh rhythm rants! I've put in 90 hours with a metronome in the last 30 days trying to clean up the details! phew... Time well spent.
    JonnyPac

    Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar Book by Jonathan Pac Cantin
    New PDF E-Book version available for download!
    Order here:
    http://jonnypac.weebly.com/
    http://amzn.com/0615431119

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    Getting all three of them to work together!
    This but I voted 'Harmony'.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by
    [I
    Simple but articulate[/I] and accurate is way better than complicated but sloppy, IMHO.
    +1

  20. #19

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    I put rhythm because I have a real blind spot when it comes to reading rhythm. If I hear something< i can see what the notes are and generally play it back - but reading and writing rhythm kills me every time. I need to spend a year doing nothing else bar reading charts and playing tunes.

    But as we all know, that's never how it works out.

  21. #20

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    It seems like jazz rhythms and standard notation don't really agree! They look really counter-intuitive with ties and such, not to mention that swung 8ths are actually triplet-ish ratio figures. I believe that listening and mimicking is the best approach to a good "jazz time". Try sight-reading Oleo- it's ugly! Lol
    JonnyPac

    Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar Book by Jonathan Pac Cantin
    New PDF E-Book version available for download!
    Order here:
    http://jonnypac.weebly.com/
    http://amzn.com/0615431119

  22. #21

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    More data please!
    JonnyPac

    Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar Book by Jonathan Pac Cantin
    New PDF E-Book version available for download!
    Order here:
    http://jonnypac.weebly.com/
    http://amzn.com/0615431119

  23. #22

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    So I voted melody.

    Harmony has always been intuitive and fascinating to me.

    Basic grooves and 'feel' are somewhat natural to me but my time keeping can be horrid and my performance skills in a rhythmic sense were also horrid until I hunkered down and spent a few years spending often more than half of my practice time on rhythmic concepts. It's been enough time now that I guess I don't think of rhythm as a weakness anymore, but I have a long way to go.

    Melody is less intuitive, when I improvise or even compose it's hard for me to not just hear a melody line as a supporting voice to the harmony I want. My ear is much more harmonically oriented than melodic. I still feel kind of lost or disconnected sometimes dealing with the guitar as a melodic instrument.
    Oh, hi - if interested, I post a lot of playing/practice clips at www.instagram.com/JakeEstner

  24. #23

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    Melody. I can come up with them, but I'm torn between weaving together lines ( I can permutate etc) I know and truly original ideas. I think when I sing to complex changes it is still lines that are under my fingers on guitar or bass. I also don't really hear bass as a solo instrument, no matter how hard I work on soloing on it. I hear bass lines very well though.

    Of course you can come up with ways to whoop me on harmony, but I'm pretty good there.

    Playing bass in prog/world music bands has made my rhythm pretty good. I can also vocalize a rhythm and play it pretty quickly. Reading bass lines with the metronome on 2 and 4 to a funk thing helps too. Same with rhythm guitar.

    Oh regarding notation, it is like poetry, you MUST interpret. Things are fluid and music pushes and pulls. It is an approximation. That has really freed me.

    Having said all that I'm not as good as all that talking would make me seem!

  25. #24

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    Old Crow is my weakness. It affects melody, harmony, and rhythm.

  26. #25

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    For me its harmony and making them all work together. I can remember the melody line of any song like an elephant, and rhythms are pretty simple for me, especially improvising rhythms. But harmony i'm not sure i understand completely. I totally understand intervals, but I'm not sure what harmony is beyond chords and intervals. And then of course making all 3 work together, which is probably everybody elses problem as well.

  27. #26

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    Rhythm and Harmony tied so far...
    JonnyPac

    Chord-Scale Theory and Linear Harmony for Guitar Book by Jonathan Pac Cantin
    New PDF E-Book version available for download!
    Order here:
    http://jonnypac.weebly.com/
    http://amzn.com/0615431119