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  1. #1

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    Hi everybody,
    does it make any sense to concentrate on just one key for a long period of time, in order to master your hearing skills?

    I'm referring to this approach:

    Is it a good idea?

    I know that famous story about Charlie Parker beginnings, when he was able to play in just one key and got kicked out of a stage for that reason, so he came back home and mastered all 12 keys. So maybe starting by mastering one key is not a bad idea if even Bird started that way, but still... Why isn't this more a more widespread approach, if it works? And again, DOES it work?

    Thank a lot for your comments and experiences.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Good video! I think (ironically) that's why learning lots of Parker heads is a good way into bebop - so much of his music is in F and Bb.

  4. #3
    Imo the most important ear-training wise is to be able to play seamlessly on key changes. The video does makes sense but less when considering guitar. Because you can shift your key anywhere and not much really changes.

  5. #4

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    As a guitarist, you should be cautious taking advice from a pianist... their view of music is different.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    Imo the most important ear-training wise is to be able to play seamlessly on key changes. The video does makes sense but less when considering guitar. Because you can shift your key anywhere and not much really changes.
    I think this sound advice for playing melodies by ear and recognising chord functions. Functional ear training basically does this, to some extent.

    (Of we guitarists mostly care about the soloing :-))

    Also transposing bop material to all 12 (in practice a few different string groups and positions, but it still counts) is one the best exercises I do.... I also found playing stuff at the piano to be helpful too.... (albeit mostly in one key lol.)

    I don't buy that 'everything's in one key for us' thing - the positions all feel mechanically different, and have a different tone colour too... I can't play Donna Lee in C as well as in Ab....

  7. #6

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    It sure makes Giant Steps easier to tackle.


  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post

    i don't buy that 'everything's in one key for us' thing - the positions all feel mechanically different, and have a different tone colour too.....
    agree.

  9. #8

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    I'm not sure I agree with this, and struggled to watch after a few minutes. He could have easily said that practicing in one key only, helps with RELATIVE pitch. Well of course. You can also practice relative pitch in all twelve keys, but it might take a bit more time for it to sink in. Am I wrong?

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop View Post
    It sure makes Giant Steps easier to tackle.
    Awesome bag-piping!!

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft View Post
    Awesome bag-piping!!
    yeah, sounds more Robbie Coltrane than John.

  12. #11

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    I'll admit that I skipped parts of the video.

    But, I'm not clear exactly which aspect of ear training he's referring to.

    Pitch identification?
    Scale identification?
    Chord identification?
    Hear a C and then identify any two random notes?

    And which songs is he referring to? Only tunes with no modulation?

    For guitarists, I think a major goal is this. You can hear a song in your mind in any key, and your fingers will automatically go to the next chord, correctly.

    Most of us can already probably do that for a 12 bar blues, a jazz blues and maybe Blue Bossa. The NYC wedding musicians of my youth could do it on any song in any key without changing the bored expression on their faces.

    Nowadays even some well known pros (names you'd probably know) have to fumble a little.

    Is practicing everything in one key the way to do that? It occurs to me that it might be a decent way to start, but it won't make that connection between imagined sound and finding the grip in 12 keys.

  13. #12

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    Playing everything in JUST ONE KEY?


    I know a lot of synthesizer using "pianists" who do that, because they can only play in C maj or A min, and they have the "transpose" key...

  14. #13

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    You'll never be able to play with vocalists if you can't change keys--on the fly.
    Moving barre forms for chords, and finding some moving boxes for leads--that's the secret. Guide tones!

  15. #14

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    I think what might be gained from focusing on one key is it is easier to stay aware of all the structural elements
    within that key because they never move, are always the same. I suppose within this paradigm, once all that is
    solidly in place, transferring to all keys should be seamless or so the author asserts.

    An alternative way to practice transposition to playing a song in all 12 keys that I like is to take 6-12 songs and
    each day play through the list in the same key, covering one key each day. Again, it is easier to measure
    structural similarities and differences inside a singular key.

    While there are things to be learned from such pursuits, the video raises it to the level of a dedicated method
    of ear training. I'm a bit skeptical although I take him at his word that it did work for him.

  16. #15

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    To me it sounds like he was just starting to think functionally. He said he started listening to all music as if it were in Eb, which to me just says he was hearing functions then translating those to Eb. To get to that level though, I do agree that it may be beneficial to spend some time in a key to understand how all of the scale degrees sound in relation to the tonic, and how various common functions (e.g. ii-V to IV) sound.

    I personally never dialed into this, but is just something that happened naturally while learning tunes and making mental notes of how each chord is functioning, and then mapping those to sounds. After learning songs and relating the new with the old, those dots start to connect. Then again, I have spent a lot of time on one specific tune, so that probably qualifies as playing in one key for an extended period.

    As for actually playing, I long held the belief that it was most important to learn melodies/chords/functions in different positions (5-7 or whatever hybrid you use). While certainly helpful in being free across the neck in one key, when transferring to a new key there were far more mental roadblocks/hangups than I thought, and not as easy as "just shift the pattern". I don't want to have to do visual math to switch keys on the fly, or to play a tune in unfamiliar territory. The ideal is to be able to see the entire key at once, without the extra work of calculating where the key is depending where you are on the neck. Until I find something better, the answer just seems to be "do the work".