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  1. #1

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    Hi all, if this is the wrong forum, please take down this post;


    I've been playing for 20 sum years.. I play in church, and occasional wedding gigs.. I have no music theory under my belt.. I just learned how to play on my own, and played by ear (there was no youtube when I was young), and have been able to copy licks just by listening.. I can your usual basic song down to the note.. by copying and watching guitarists, I have learned more chord shapes across the fretboard.. more and more of these kind of styles have been used in church music (think U2)


    6 years ago I discovered blues, but due to college, work and other life activities, I only got familiar with major and minor pentatonic scales.. nothing more.. my playing improved and somehow I can do solos which has different flavors to supplement and integrate into my playing style and music.. its all just very basic.. nothing really fancy.. but I cannot read notes..


    3 years ago, I hired a guitar teacher who specializes in Jazz and theory.. he was able to teach me a bit (whole note scale) and a few simple introductions on music theory but we’re not diving too deep as I just wanted to get information and a bit knowledge on how I can improve my playing, my knowledge of how major and minor pentatonic scales work in Blues context and be able to integrate some Jazz principles in it to be able to put some spice in my music.. sadly our lessons has to stop because my wife gave birth and havent had any time to visit him or him visiting me
    to do our lessons.

    i did read a few threads here, and a few lessons, but im struggling to find a suitable plan in which i can try and do practically in a limited time i have for practicing. I can do a focused 15min practice maybe once or twice a day depending on how busy i am with house chores and helping out with the bub.

    do you have any recommendations and what to do? I can post a little bit of my playing but I’m not sure it religious music is allowed just for the context of assessing where I am in my playing.

    thank you for all your help. I just want to improve but I’m leaning towards Jazz as I have become more mature in my music selection and I feel i’ll be able to do justice in playing my new ES-330. :-)

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    What do YOU call jazz, what do you like to listen to?

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    What do YOU call jazz, what do you like to listen to?
    Since I’m not really well-versed into jazz, i guess the artist THAT got me really interested into learning jazz principles is Julian Lage.

    although I’m not sure if he’s considered a hardcore Jazz, for the past 2 years, Ive listened to him.

    and most recently, Grant Green, although, at that level, I dont know if I’ll ever get even an inch of his knowledge and playing.

    my teacher made me listen to the classics like;

    Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamingJazz
    Since I’m not really well-versed into jazz, i guess the artist THAT got me really interested into learning jazz principles is Julian Lage.

    although I’m not sure if he’s considered a hardcore Jazz, for the past 2 years, Ive listened to him.

    and most recently, Grant Green, although, at that level, I dont know if I’ll ever get even an inch of his knowledge and playing.

    my teacher made me listen to the classics like;

    Miles Davis and Wes Montgomery
    i think Grant is a great starting point. Start with working out some of his licks. I love his solo on Django, for instance, that has some killer lines.

  6. #5

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    Jazz isn't theory. Its tunes.

    Pick some tunes, learn as much as you can by ear. Learn chords...and an arpeggio for every chord.

    Pick some tunes, we can work through them together here.

  7. #6

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    When the squares expect you to zig, zag. Or zeg, zog, or zug.

    No seriously, good advice above. Just don't forget to have fun.

    And swing, if it seems appropriate.

  8. #7

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    Indeed, it is nonsensical to try and learn jazz without listening to it.
    Speaking of which, what would a nice introductory playlist consist of, for a person who happens to be fairly competent on their instrument, but looking (sincerely) to get into jazz?

    I have friends occasionally asking me for that type of advice, but I tend to maybe focus too much on their instrument. Is there something like a mandatory listening, regardless of the tool?

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by GastonD View Post
    Indeed, it is nonsensical to try and learn jazz without listening to it.
    Speaking of which, what would a nice introductory playlist consist of, for a person who happens to be fairly competent on their instrument, but looking (sincerely) to get into jazz?

    I have friends occasionally asking me for that type of advice, but I tend to maybe focus too much on their instrument. Is there something like a mandatory listening, regardless of the tool?

    The Best Of Ken Burns Jazz - YouTube

  10. #9

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    The Principal of Jazz: Listen always. Listen to the people you are playing with. Listen to yourself.

    Because it's not about learning what noise to paste in xxx spot: It's about learning what xxx spot needs you to do, today, right now, to make music. And since that spot is different than it ever has been before, you almost always need a different answer this time. And it's got to be your own answer because this, always, is the moment you are part of.

    That's not an easy or fast way to learn. Mary Halvorson's description of learning to play free improvisation really apply to all jazz improvising:

    Quote Originally Posted by Mary Halvorson
    It's really tricky and I think that it doesn't always sound good . . . you need to be OK with failing. Maybe you play something and it really doesn't sound good. So OK, so you learn something and you can try again. But if you don't experiment when you're trying to accomplish something, you're probably not going to get there.

  11. #10

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    I have to disagree with some of my fellow forumites. Jazz is a repertoire AND style AND theory. You can try to listen to Billy Holiday or Ella Fitzgerald sing the GASB, but you aren’t going to understand Grant Green or Julian Lage from that.

    The minimal theory I found I needed when trying to shift from blues pentatonic playing was to understand that jazz players didn’t ask, “what key are we in?” and start wailing in that one pentatonic over the whole tune.

    Jazz players use a dizzying array of strategies to break up a song and use different collection of notes over each section. To me, this is a defining feature of Jazz that crosses the radical spectrum from Louis Armstrong to Scofield. How they break it up and what notes they choose has a big impact on their unique sound and style.

    What does that mean to a typical blues pentatonic player? You can actually use the minor pentatonic you know to play “jazz”.

    Think of a typical 12 bar blues. You can break it into 3 sections: E answered by E/A answered by E/B answered by E. You can play lines from an E pentatonic over the first section, A pentatonic over the second, and B pentatonic over the third. If you are nimble, you can break it into six sections and play E pentatonic over the E’s, A over the A, etc. You’ve taken a first step toward playing “jazz”.

    You can apply a similar strategy to any song. Play a corresponding minor pentatonic over each section of a song. You won’t sound like Charlie Parker or Louis Armstrong, but it will give you practice in an essential mindset. And it will probably sound great in its own right!

    After that you can explore functional harmony, melodic/harmonic minor scales, triad pairs, tritone substitutions, etc. But at least you’ve started with the tools you already have.

  12. #11

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    A person who relies on minor pentatonic all the time can't really play blues.

    They need to become a musician. Style is irrelevant.

  13. #12

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    The OP asked for some ideas for learning more about jazz, preferably in short lessons.

    On every page of the Jazz Guitar Forum there is a box in the upper right side called "JGO Navigation". Click on "Jazz Guitar Lessons". Plenty of fun stuff there, with notation and audio samples.

  14. #13

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    It's been my experience that individual experimentation with basic concepts and application of them to the tunes while paying attention to the fundamentals is the only place where a real progress is made. Everything else that one does (theory, transcriptions etc) is just a prep work towards creative self experimentation and discovery.

    I think it's entirely possible for one to spend their entire life doing just prep work and feel that they are going somewhere. It not that it's not fun or it doesn't require drive. In many ways doing the prep work is actually less threatening and exposing than doing the real work. YMMV.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-04-2020 at 08:47 PM.

  15. #14

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    Do read? PM me.

  16. #15

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    Hi Guys,

    OP HERE.

    Thanks for all the responses. Like I said, I’m a noob. I’m not a pro. At the most I am a hack. I did not have the privilege to study music theory when I was young due to finances. I grew up poor and have little resources to study back then.


    anyway, fast forward to now.. i cant say I can play blues well. I dont, all I’m saying is I am familiar with the minor and major pentatonic scale and have been able to apply that to my playing and have been successful in spicing up the way I approach “contemporary church music”..

    one friendly fellow Pm’ed me and gave me a good recommendation to get a book by Joe Pass, sound of modern Harmony and Melody. And I bought it. However, being not able to read music, this is where I am sidetracked and have to at least find a crash course to read music.

    my guitar teacher gave me some basic lessons on sight reading, but reading the book feels like reading rocket science. (I’m a civil engineer, so i know how daunting it feels if I came across a problem, a formula that I do not know how to use/apply). although i really feel that this book has a lot to offer, i just need to get myself over that barrier and be able to read music.

    i can post a photo of my notes and let you evaluate what my teacher has taught me and where I am in music.

    i appeal to the more knowledgeable people to consider me as someone who dont know how to play guitar. (Ive taught a few people who dont know anything about road design, by approaching it like they dont have ANY engineering principles so i had to go slow, detailed but not overwhelming, and step by step.

    the way I thought about it is this, given a simple song progression;

    G, D, Em, C

    the way I would play or approach that is, to do different chord voicings, or pick some notes from the major and minor pentatonic scale that would sound good in that progression so as not to step on the other guitarist’s sonic footprint and to differentiate my playing from him, and to cut through using notes that spice up that song without being loud. Am I making any sense?

    so I would solo in G major/minor pentantonic, at least thats what I got from listening to a lot of rock,blues-rock songs. I did try to use the whole note scale and it did sound jazzy but thats it. I have no more ammo in my magazine.

    like all of you, i want to improve, but I dont have all the time in the world, and given the situation, i cant hire my teacher again because 1. He left for his home country, 2. Time differences, 3. Money.

    So I’m just asking the nice jazz people for some direction and hopefully a bit of structured process so i can maximize my time practicing 15minute bursts 3-4x times a day. And be able to play and add jazz principles in my style of playing.

    I hope I explained myself well and clear though. English is not my first language.

    i love listening to Julian Lage, Robben Ford, Miles Davis, (most recently) Grant Green, Pat Metheny, BB King, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and a bunch more.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by dreamingJazz
    Hi Guys,

    OP HERE.

    Thanks for all the responses. Like I said, I’m a noob. I’m not a pro. At the most I am a hack. I did not have the privilege to study music theory when I was young due to finances. I grew up poor and have little resources to study back then.


    anyway, fast forward to now.. i cant say I can play blues well. I dont, all I’m saying is I am familiar with the minor and major pentatonic scale and have been able to apply that to my playing and have been successful in spicing up the way I approach “contemporary church music”..

    one friendly fellow Pm’ed me and gave me a good recommendation to get a book by Joe Pass, sound of modern Harmony and Melody. And I bought it. However, being not able to read music, this is where I am sidetracked and have to at least find a crash course to read music.

    my guitar teacher gave me some basic lessons on sight reading, but reading the book feels like reading rocket science. (I’m a civil engineer, so i know how daunting it feels if I came across a problem, a formula that I do not know how to use/apply). although i really feel that this book has a lot to offer, i just need to get myself over that barrier and be able to read music.

    i can post a photo of my notes and let you evaluate what my teacher has taught me and where I am in music.

    i appeal to the more knowledgeable people to consider me as someone who dont know how to play guitar. (Ive taught a few people who dont know anything about road design, by approaching it like they dont have ANY engineering principles so i had to go slow, detailed but not overwhelming, and step by step.

    the way I thought about it is this, given a simple song progression;

    G, D, Em, C

    the way I would play or approach that is, to do different chord voicings, or pick some notes from the major and minor pentatonic scale that would sound good in that progression so as not to step on the other guitarist’s sonic footprint and to differentiate my playing from him, and to cut through using notes that spice up that song without being loud. Am I making any sense?

    so I would solo in G major/minor pentantonic, at least thats what I got from listening to a lot of rock,blues-rock songs. I did try to use the whole note scale and it did sound jazzy but thats it. I have no more ammo in my magazine.

    like all of you, i want to improve, but I dont have all the time in the world, and given the situation, i cant hire my teacher again because 1. He left for his home country, 2. Time differences, 3. Money.

    So I’m just asking the nice jazz people for some direction and hopefully a bit of structured process so i can maximize my time practicing 15minute bursts 3-4x times a day. And be able to play and add jazz principles in my style of playing.

    I hope I explained myself well and clear though. English is not my first language.

    i love listening to Julian Lage, Robben Ford, Miles Davis, (most recently) Grant Green, Pat Metheny, BB King, Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Robert Cray, and a bunch more.
    So I'm reading between the lines here a little... but lets say you were interested in learning to play blues with a little jazz flavour?

    • I couldn't give better advice than just - learn a lick a day that catches your ear by ear.
    • This is going to be ... very tough at first... if you haven't done it before, but trust in the process. It will get easier. It might be easier if you start with a bluesy player.
    • There is really no difference in this to being a blues player or a jazz player. The difference is of course if jazz players tend to use less minor and major pentatonic notes in their solos.
    • Conceptually you are going to need to get used to playing the chord tones of the progression as a melody. That means learning your triads and seventh chords as melodies along the neck - arpeggios.
    • Once you do that, it's going to be easier to spot how these windy chromatic jazz lines relate to the notes of the chord and how they wind around them. That's actually the single biggest blind spot for most rock/blues players, but it will make you a better rock/blues player actually.
    • In terms of voicings... there are resources on this very website with should give you some basic grips to be able to navigate jazz progressions.


    Hope that helps a little. The amount of info can seem overwhelming. Learn to use and trust your ears...

  18. #17

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    Sounds like you don’t want to play jazz standards, you just want to juice up your playing with more sophisticated & interesting lines, voicing, rhythms, and other musical devices that you associate with jazz. And the music you mostly listen to and want to perform is the religious contemporary, blues, and maybe other pop style tunes. Do I have that right?

    It’s really got to start with the music you want to listen to on a daily basis and love the most. If you want to put some jazz flavor into your blues, then maybe check out Robben Ford and all his teaching material. If you only have 1/2 hour per day, that’s not going to get you far in learning the elements of jazz.

    If that’s all the time I had, I think I’d just put it into learning licks off recordings by ear. That’s how I spent most of my playing time when I was too busy with career to focus for hours on theory, etc. Learning from recordings is great for the ear, forces you to work on finger mechanics, and if you think about what you are playing in terms of scales and the chord changes you’ll get at least some sense of the theory behind it. That’s how people used to learn to play jazz in its early days.

  19. #18

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    Listen to the stuff you want to play like, and practice, practice, practice! Good luck!

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    The minimal theory I found I needed when trying to shift from blues pentatonic playing was to understand that jazz players didn’t ask, “what key are we in?” and start wailing in that one pentatonic over the whole tune.
    This is prety much the situation i'm in. It's exactly this 'step' i want to make.

  21. #20

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    I think it's quite simple. Blues players use pentatonics because they produce exactly the right sound for a blues. It's not ignorant or lazy playing, it's the right sound.

    When jazzers play jazz-blues it's much more linear. But even they use pentatonic licks to get that real blues sound.

    When the OP says he wants to introduce 'jazz principles' into his playing, what does he mean by principles? Jazz principles are just music principles, there's no difference, it's just that jazz has become complex and needs study.

    It would be very easy just to say 'Turn all your chords into 7 chords' and go from there. But there's a bit more to it than that.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    I think it's quite simple. Blues players use pentatonics because they produce exactly the right sound for a blues. It's not ignorant or lazy playing, it's the right sound.
    Blues player do not in fact only use pentatonic notes.

    But even beyond this, there's a difference between 'playing the blues scale' and play convincing, authentic blues phrases. This is a process difference more than a 'notes' difference. Obviously great blues players spent HOURS listening to records and puzzling out phrases just as jazz musicians did.

    The laziness is in thinking you can noodle on a scale and make music. That's as true for jazz as it is for blues. And it's always transparently obvious when the playing is not heard.

    FFS, some of the stuff people come out with on this forum.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Blues player do not in fact only use pentatonic notes.
    I KNOW THAT I'M JUST SAYING

    FFS, some of the stuff people come out with on this forum.

  24. #23

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    lol lockdown is really getting to some of you guys.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    it's always transparently obvious when the playing is not heard.
    I should think it's even more obvious when it is heard!

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    lol lockdown is really getting to some of you guys.
    Oh, not moi, this is NORMAL !

    (Actually I get out a lot, but I'm no social groupie so it's fine by me. My neighbours, otoh, throw garden parties every five minutes, with kids)

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    I think it's quite simple. Blues players use pentatonics because they produce exactly the right sound for a blues. It's not ignorant or lazy playing, it's the right sound.
    Mmmm. Not sure if i agree with that.
    A lot of bluesplayers i came across just copied the licks from others, without giving it much thought. Hitting the right notes in a blues is not that complicated and i think in a lot of situations some lazyness is involved. In jazz you don't get away with lazyness that easy. It takes more of an effort in my experience.


    Once i listened to Metheny's take on a more or less traditional blues. Didn't sound anything like what i was familiair with.

  28. #27

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    No I was annoyed with the forum before lockdown. I was a bit grumpy yesterday, but the point stands. And graham bop knows what I am saying :-)

    So I'll try and be as clear as I can:

    You can't start to play music with theory. It doesn't work.

    You can use theory to describe what you can hear.

    So usually at this point Rag will say that he doesn't disagree. Problem is, his posts often read this way - 'players apply theory x and that's why they sound the way they do.' How those posts read is the important thing if someone is - god forbid - trying to learn anything from this forum. Intention doesn't matter.

    (Something I have to bear in mind when I put something poorly and then blame the reader for misunderstanding which I often do.)

    ---real world example-----

    One student was trying to use the diminished scale (otherwise a blues player) because he heard Robben Ford talk about it and just could never get it sounding musical. He knew the fingerings and the theory - so that was clearly not the problem.

    The problem was - obviously - he couldn't hear any diminished scale phrases.

    So he'd be better off listening to Robben Ford that he liked. He might not pick up any dim phrases, but that's not important. Maybe he would. As long as he liked them.

    So anyone who wants to put 'jazz concepts' in their playing is going to have to start with the way these concepts sound. For most learners, that means listening to solos and learning phrases.

    To give you an idea; this is the number one problem I have to deal with in my teaching practice. People trying to play music with theory. There are a few people on this forum with the exact same problem. Once students are using their ears, my job is basically money for old rope.

    Somehow, through the massive clusterfuck we can call commercial music educational materials, people have reached the conclusion that the way you play jazz is through applying music theory in books. This is the only thing that makes learning jazz actually difficult, as opposed to simply a lot of honest, but uncomplicated hard work. And it is rife.

  29. #28

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    By the way, I think playing blues well is harder than people think. It seems simple i.e. learn some blues guitar licks and pentatonic scale, away you go.

    But getting the feel, sound, time and phrasing that really good blues players get is deceptively difficult. And in any case, most of the great blues guitarists were also singers and entertainers, the guitar was just one part of the package.

    I actually find playing jazz easier.

  30. #29

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    As for learning jazz, yes, primarily learn it from the recordings. As Joe Henderson said, the answer to all your questions is on the records.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    By the way, I think playing blues well is harder than people think. It seems simple i.e. learn some blues guitar licks and pentatonic scale, away you go.

    But getting the feel, sound, time and phrasing that really good blues players get is deceptively difficult. And in any case, most of the great blues guitarists were also singers and entertainers, the guitar was just one part of the package.

    I actually find playing jazz easier.
    I'm reading a lot of papers and so on on jazz education and the one thing that is often brought up - and rightly so - is how jazz education minimises the importance of phrasing, rhythm and timbre. The things that are of central importance to good blues playing.

    This also has the effect of minimising the importance of certain schools of jazz playing within education.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-10-2020 at 06:59 AM.

  32. #31

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    The language metaphor is still a good one.

    Can you expect to become fluent in a language by picking up a a dictionary (notation), book on grammar (theory) and a book of common phrases (licks) without listening and trying to emulate the spoken language?


    I mean good luck using the word "Fuck" without learning thru listening how phrasing affects meaning

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marcel_A
    Mmmm. Not sure if i agree with that.
    A lot of bluesplayers i came across just copied the licks from others, without giving it much thought. Hitting the right notes in a blues is not that complicated and i think in a lot of situations some lazyness is involved. In jazz you don't get away with lazyness that easy. It takes more of an effort in my experience.
    Well, you're probably right :-)

    Once i listened to Metheny's take on a more or less traditional blues. Didn't sound anything like what i was familiair with.
    That I believe. Can't remember which one, can you?

  34. #33

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    Not sure, but i guess it was this one:


  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77

    You can't start to play music with theory. It doesn't work.

    You can use theory to describe what you can hear.

    So usually at this point Rag will say that he doesn't disagree
    Correct, I do not :-)

    Problem is, his posts often read this way - 'players apply theory x and that's why they sound the way they do.'
    Not sure what you mean. I don't think I've ever said players apply theory x, etc. If I have, and then said 'and that's why they sound the way they do' I might have said it disparagingly - except I probably wouldn't; it's not that kind.

    I think there's some misreading going on there.

    How those posts read is the important thing if someone is - god forbid - trying to learn anything from this forum
    Absolutely. I do try to be clear, often to the point of over-simplification probably.

    One student was trying to use the diminished scale (otherwise a blues player) because he heard Robben Ford talk about it and just could never get it sounding musical. He knew the fingerings and the theory - so that was clearly not the problem.
    I've seen that one, I think. The dim phrases are used as a transition from the I7 to IV7 usually. It's a question of getting the right one (dim chord) and making it fit. Therefore listen to how he, or other players do it. I tend not to use them myself, I prefer the alt sound.

    To give you an idea; this is the number one problem I have to deal with in my teaching practice. People trying to play music with theory
    Well, I'm not actually sure that's even possible. It ought to be but, as you say, it's playing brain music not music music.

    I had a good friend (and a good player) who announced one day: 'I think there are two kinds of player - reading players and listening players. One likes bits of paper and the other prefers using his ears and feelings'.

    I think he's right, although I said I thought ideally the two should go together. Which one predominates probably depends on the personality. I don't think you can make someone be one or the other if they're not made that way.

    people have reached the conclusion that the way you play jazz is through applying music theory in books
    I think they're encouraged to think that way. A lot of newbies here start by saying 'I've got such and such a book' or 'In such and such a book it says play x over y' and so on. The same applies to lots of You Tube vids as well.

    It's always difficult for a teacher to get over what he wants to without reducing it sooner or later to words, symbols, writing stuff out... what do you do?

    This is the only thing that makes learning jazz actually difficult, as opposed to simply a lot of honest, but uncomplicated hard work. And it is rife
    So is the idea that someone who knows their stuff can give you their experience or magically turn you into a good player. Personally I never went to a teacher. I sat there and worked it out by experimentation, listening, using the odd book, and all that. But I don't think enough people have that kind of drive, they want to be given things on a plate.

    Once I said to someone 'You want the success without the work' and they got very angry.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    A person who relies on minor pentatonic all the time can't really play blues.
    Ain't that the truth. The blue-notes live between and near the notes of both major and minor, and there are modal flavors that get me from Point A to Point B and beyond in any blues. Because it's about following the mood and flow of the chords, and playing with the tensions between major and minor tonalities.

    If you're just using pent minor over any ole blues, it's kinda like what Capote said of Kerouac's On the Road: "That isn't writing, that's typing." It's paint-by-numbers.

    To the OP's question, I took up jazz studies to inform my (at the time) heavy-metal playing; I wanted something to make me stand out from all the other shredders. Whole-tone and half-whole scales found their way into my playing as I got more adept at hearing and playing modally against what were and are often boring harmonies, as a means of implying extensions and alterations of said harmonies to introduce tension and release.

    I'm no jazzer, and couldn't hold a candle to you guys here in that realm. But incorporating the jazz vocabulary into my own playing (which is far afield from metal nowadays, generally) means that I can look at a progression and figure out some strategies for getting from Chord A to Chord B without playing hackneyed crap -- no matter the style I'm working in at the moment.

  37. #36

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    Marcel -

    You might be interested in this. It's a different tune but it is a blues. Or so we're told :-)


  38. #37

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    I think I should clarify this:

    I think it's quite simple. Blues players use pentatonics because they produce exactly the right sound for a blues. It's not ignorant or lazy playing, it's the right sound.
    What I meant was this: there's blues-blues and there's jazz-blues. Not the same. Most blues-blues sounds are produced by using pentatonic-based licks, like flipping the b5 or hammering the minor to major 3rd, and so on. Usually a really strong and authentic blues sound that leaps out is pentatonic based, major or minor. Can't help it, it's how those sounds are produced. No other way to do it because of the notes involved and their sequence and juxtaposition.

    But I don't mean to imply that all blues players only use pentatonics in a mechanical sort of way like someone who's just discovered the Am pentatonic shape! Of course they don't. As grahambop said, blues playing can get pretty complex and needs a ton of work. It's not very simple at even intermediate level.

    But jazz-blues is quite different, as listening to it will tell you. BUT the same applies when it comes to a strong blues sound that leaps out. It's pentatonic-based for the reasons given above. In jazz it tends to occur less often than blues-blues but it's there. Nor are they restricted to blues songs either, they're used in every sort of tune, including standards.

    Those sorts of sounds aren't the only thing that can identify a blues, though. Just having a 12-bar is sometimes good enough; the IV chord arriving in bar 5, chromatic chord sequences, turnarounds, etc, etc. So it can also be a general feel as well as just the notes used.

    Here's a Joe Pass transcription. Listen for the 'blues licks' sounds and see how they originate. There's a ton of them, straight from a blues players lick book.



    Same here:


  39. #38

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    I shouldn't think anyone's interested But I once wrote a blues - straight jazz 12-bar chords - without any blues scales in it. There's a tinge only in the first chorus, the rest is just using different notes over the chords. It sounds bluesy but it's an illusion. Only the very end phrase is anything like a pentatonic blues lick, which was deliberate.


  40. #39

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    The minor pentatonic is what your high school buddy shows you so you can fake it on blues. Since a pentatonic has no half steps a room full of people playing random notes from the same pentatonic will never sound dissonant. And yes, you’ll find a lot of pentatonic notes in blues, but you’ll find a bunch of other notes too: b5s, 6ths, 9ths, etc. How those notes are used is partly what defines each musician’s unique signature. That’s not just a jazz thing.

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    The minor pentatonic is what your high school buddy shows you so you can fake it on blues. Since a pentatonic has no half steps a room full of people playing random notes from the same pentatonic will never sound dissonant. And yes, you’ll find a lot of pentatonic notes in blues, but you’ll find a bunch of other notes too: b5s, 6ths, 9ths, etc. How those notes are used is partly what defines each musician’s unique signature. That’s not just a jazz thing.
    My opinion is, if you want to play blues, you'd better be able to dance on the line between happy and sad, and go which way you want when the mood demands. Resolution will come on its own if your ears and your fingers are working together.

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    The minor pentatonic is what your high school buddy shows you so you can fake it on blues. Since a pentatonic has no half steps a room full of people playing random notes from the same pentatonic will never sound dissonant. And yes, you’ll find a lot of pentatonic notes in blues, but you’ll find a bunch of other notes too: b5s, 6ths, 9ths, etc. How those notes are used is partly what defines each musician’s unique signature. That’s not just a jazz thing.
    thanks.

    (by the same token if you know what you are doing you can play a jazz solo using the minor pentatonic notes. It’s all it how you play things.)

  43. #42

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    And yes, you’ll find a lot of pentatonic notes in blues, but you’ll find a bunch of other notes too: b5s, 6ths, 9ths, etc.
    What is wrong with you people? The major third! The major third! That and the b7! Lots of roots. There you go....

  44. #43

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    I’m kinda in a similar spot as OP... I’m attracted to neo soul type of sounds, mainly so I can spice up those Beyonce songs my daughter sings, when she suddenly says “dad, can you comp ...” and also be able to do that on the fly because the requirements change daily :-)

    Anyway I have read a ton of theory books, and taken some lessons. But an epiphany that came surprisingly late is that blues licks, just like neo soul licks, are really vocal lines from songs. In the case of the blues, it just so happens that the minor pentatonic has a lot of the same notes as those vocal lines.

    No guitar teaching material so far has mentioned this, it always starts with the blues box.
    Last edited by frankhond; 06-13-2020 at 11:52 AM.

  45. #44

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    blues licks, just like neo soul licks, are really vocal lines from songs
    Well, it's understood that the use of 'blue notes' (or sounds somewhere between two 'ordinary' notes) originated in the indigenous music of Africa, carried to America. After all, the human voice and expression of feeling isn't confined to any particular set musical scale so it's to be expected.

    The vocal bending of notes was also imitated by instruments. This bending or slurring of notes exists in many cultures, especially in the Orient, India, the Middle East, and so on. It's also there in British and Irish folk music, for example.

    But the Blues itself came from the Deep South of America, as we know, in work songs, spirituals, ballads. The blues itself, as a genre, didn't start till after slavery. So the whole thing goes way, way back in time.

    Incidentally, talking about pentatonics, I don't know who first thought of it, but I've no doubt one of the cleverest things is the use of minor pentatonic notes over major or dominant chords. I mean, that is unbelievably smart.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hugo Gainly
    What is wrong with you people? The major third! The major third! That and the b7! Lots of roots. There you go....
    I thought mentioning the major 3rd and b7 would be too obvious, but yes.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Incidentally, talking about pentatonics, I don't know who first thought of it, but I've no doubt one of the cleverest things is the use of minor pentatonic notes over major or dominant chords. I mean, that is unbelievably smart.
    ... especially when you bend into or out of one of the several blue notes which hover between the major and minor.

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    thanks.

    (by the same token if you know what you are doing you can play a jazz solo using the minor pentatonic notes. It’s all it how you play things.)
    If you know what you are doing you can play a jazz solo using no notes at all. Good percussionists do it all the time. ;-) I’m not being contrary. You just gave me an opportunity to point out that rhythm, phrasing, dynamics, etc. are at least as important to a good solo as what notes are played. Actually, I think that point was implied in your post.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    If you know what you are doing you can play a jazz solo using no notes at all. Good percussionists do it all the time. ;-) I’m not being contrary. You just gave me an opportunity to point out that rhythm, phrasing, dynamics, etc. are at least as important to a good solo as what notes are played. Actually, I think that point was implied in your post.
    It don't mean a thing ...

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    If you know what you are doing you can play a jazz solo using no notes at all. Good percussionists do it all the time. ;-) I’m not being contrary. You just gave me an opportunity to point out that rhythm, phrasing, dynamics, etc. are at least as important to a good solo as what notes are played. Actually, I think that point was implied in your post.
    Factgasm

  51. #50

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    I've no doubt one of the cleverest things is the use of minor pentatonic notes over major or dominant chords. I mean, that is unbelievably smart.
    I can't remember if he actually said as much, but the main thing I got from Steve Khan's book Pentatonic Khancepts was to play VII minor pentatonics over IMaj7 (e.g. B min pentatonic over Cmaj7). I love that angular sound, and there's the Lydian note to boot.