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  1. #1

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    Well, I downloaded a recorder app and gave a few choruses of blues a shot.

    I already know I'm an amateur and have a long ways to go, but if you have any constructive criticism I'm open. I basically play off the chord shapes.


    11.02.2020 Blues by Allan A | Free Listening on SoundCloud

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Well done, Allan. It takes some courage to let people into your playing. It's a good start, but I think you need to leave some space. It was halfway through before you, as it were, took a breath. The listener needs to breathe too. Try listening more to Miles Davis playing the blues, for instance on Freddie Freeloader. His solo starts at 2:13



    Leaving space also allows you time to think ahead...

    Also, don't ignore the value of repetition of phrases, maybe with a some alteration. Take Kenny Burrell's "Mule" as an example:



    And above all, listen to the phrasing and timing of someone like (what am I saying? there is no one like) Lester Young. Notice how his solo (the second solo - around the 2 minute mark - he rises from his chair to play) COMPLETELY changes the mood. And notice Billie Holliday's reaction while listening to him:



    Keep at it!

  4. #3
    I dig how to moved the solo along in a progression that makes sense by using single string solo lines before hitting those double stops at the end. A lot of players just start hot and and have no where to go so their solos just kinda peter out.

  5. #4

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    Thanks to you both! I've got to say, I was a little nervous posting anything.

    Rob, the examples really help. I've been so focused on all my options and I'm trying to cram them all in to sound jazzy.

  6. #5

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    Understood. You are not alone in doing that! Try singing what you are playing - no matter how badly you sing - as then you will at some point need to breathe.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Understood. You are not alone in doing that! Try singing what you are playing - no matter how badly you sing - as then you will at some point need to breathe.
    Rob is right. (A common thing.) Another advantage of being a bit conscious about your breathing (until you no longer have to) is that it allows you to feel relaxed during a pause. Those who cannot relax at rest will nervously noodle and that's undesirable.

    Frank Vignola talks about something he learned from Leonard Bernstein. Play something once, a theme, a line. Play it again. Then vary it. That's a chorus of 12-bar blues right there!

    We all have the temptation to overplay. We have all these ideas but having 12 ideas leads to a mess. It's best to have one idea, even if it's hardly novel. If it's played well with the right feel, it will work. ;o)

  8. #7

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    I'm going to share with you some of the best advice I ever got. This was from a world class drummer who thought I was comping too gently.

    "Don't play like you're buttering bread. Play like you're sticking a fork into a piece of meat".

    Translation: Half as many notes, but make sure that you put some ooomph behind enough of them so that it's a stinging, aggressive chorus. Hit em' hard, and then don't be afraid to leave some silence between phrases. Silence is often the best thing you can play. If you're reading, make sure you give the rests their full value.

  9. #8

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    I’m guilty of a lot of solos that sound more like noodling than making a statement. If you don’t mind, I’ll say that’s my impression here. But you’ve got to start somewhere so keep playin’. One way to make a statement is to start with short, simple, compelling motifs (hooks?), repeat, then vary or wander away then return, as someone already suggested.

    I’d suggest listening to slow blues by the masters and try to copy their lines and licks, including the subtle nuances like bends, slides, vibratos, etc. Learn by copying, and eventually you’ll start coming up with your own motifs.

    Kenny Burrell is a good starting point.


    On your recording I had the sense that your melody lost the pulse during the turnaround so the 2nd half of the tune the melody and comping were a half beat apart. I wondered if this might be intentional, but I don’t think so.

  10. #9

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    Allan -

    Your lines aren't bad but they're out of time with the backing. This could be a recording glitch or it was you! You need to be on the beat and in the chord.

    I'm not sure you played the last F7 turnaround chord for a whole bar. That would mess you up.

    Were you reading the lines or actually playing them to the background by ear? I think you may have been playing them somewhat mechanically rather than placing them with the chords and hearing the combined effect as it were. You'd have spotted the error then.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by KirkP
    I’m guilty of a lot of solos that sound more like noodling than making a statement. If you don’t mind, I’ll say that’s my impression here. But you’ve got to start somewhere so keep playin’. One way to make a statement is to start with short, simple, compelling motifs (hooks?), repeat, then vary or wander away then return, as someone already suggested.

    I’d suggest listening to slow blues by the masters and try to copy their lines and licks, including the subtle nuances like bends, slides, vibratos, etc. Learn by copying, and eventually you’ll start coming up with your own motifs.

    Kenny Burrell is a good starting point.


    On your recording I had the sense that your melody lost the pulse during the turnaround so the 2nd half of the tune the melody and comping were a half beat apart. I wondered if this might be intentional, but I don’t think so.
    I did lose the beat there, but sent it anyway. Next time I'll do a count off in the start too so I'm not catching up.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Allan -

    Your lines aren't bad but they're out of time with the backing. This could be a recording glitch or it was you! You need to be on the beat and in the chord.

    I'm not sure you played the last F7 turnaround chord for a whole bar. That would mess you up.

    Were you reading the lines or actually playing them to the background by ear? I think you may have been playing them somewhat mechanically rather than placing them with the chords and hearing the combined effect as it were. You'd have spotted the error then.
    You lost me at the end there. I recorded the chords and then layered a lead on top. I lost the beat a little in the middle and it's entirely possible I didn't play a full bar at the end. On average I get 30-45 minutes to play a day so I didn't do any second takes.

  13. #12

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    Can you retrieve the backing without the lead? You can check it.

    In case you can't, listen:



    If it wasn't for that it would all have been pretty good.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Can you retrieve the backing without the lead? You can check it.

    In case you can't, listen:




    If it wasn't for that it would all have been pretty good.
    Thank you so much!!

  15. #14

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    Do it again!

  16. #15

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    Today's attempt

    Listen to 11.03.2020.mp3 by Allan A on #SoundCloud
    11.03.2020.mp3 by Allan A | Free Listening on SoundCloud

  17. #16

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    Great, thanks.

    Okay, first thing is I suspect the backing's a bit slow for you this time. Contrary to popular belief it's harder to play slowly than at a medium pace. The thing with slow speeds is that you play a lick... and then you sense this space and wonder what to do with it.

    By the way, I'm really glad you're actually improvising and not playing a memorised solo. That's brilliant and it can only get better.

    There are two basic things going on in your solo. One is the Bbm pentatonic and the other is the Eb or Eb7 box at either the 8th or 11th fret.

    Have you tried reversing them? It's also easier to do. Try the major/mixo thing on Bb7 at the 6th fret then, for Eb7, the Bbm pentatonic ALSO at the 6th.

    It doesn't mean you can't shift positions, nor does it mean you can't use the Bbm pent blues sound over the Bb. But don't forget the Bb blues scale also has a major 3rd note in it too, which is D.

    Then there are the double stops. You shouldn't really just use any old two notes, there are definite ones that work best. Try F and Ab together. And, with the Bb mixo, or the Bbm box, try G and Bb together on the 8th and 9th frets. I do that in the second chorus below.

    Incidentally, over the F7/Eb7 you can bend some notes or use double stops and just make a generally bluesy sound.

    Here's a simplified demo of all that stuff. The first chorus starts with the major/mixo sound and the second one starts with the minor pent.

    None of this is great blues, of course, but you get the idea. If I've lost you I'll explain it in better detail.

    Last edited by ragman1; 11-04-2020 at 03:09 AM.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Great, thanks.

    Okay, first thing is I suspect the backing's a bit slow for you this time. Contrary to popular belief it's harder to play slowly than at a medium pace. The thing with slow speeds is that you play a lick... and then you sense this space and wonder what to do with it.

    By the way, I'm really glad you're actually improvising and not playing a memorised solo. That's brilliant and it can only get better.

    There are two basic things going on in your solo. One is the Bbm pentatonic and the other is the Eb or Eb7 box at either the 8th or 11th fret.

    Have you tried reversing them? It's also easier to do. Try the major/mixo thing on Bb7 at the 6th fret then, for Eb7, the Bbm pentatonic ALSO at the 6th.

    It doesn't mean you can't shift positions, nor does it mean you can't use the Bbm pent blues sound over the Bb. But don't forget the Bb blues scale also has a major 3rd note in it too, which is D.

    Then there are the double stops. You shouldn't really just use any old two notes, there are definite ones that work best. Try F and Ab together. And, with the Bb mixo, or the Bbm box, try G and Bb together on the 8th and 9th frets. I do that in the second chorus below.

    Incidentally, over the F7/E7 you can bend some notes or use double stops and just make a generally bluesy sound.

    Here's a simplified demo of all that stuff. The first chorus starts with the major/mixo sound and the second one starts with the minor pent.

    None of this is great blues, of course, but you get the idea. If I've lost you I'll explain it in better detail.

    I was trying to leave space like that Miles Davis solo. Maybe it was a bit much at this tempo. I've been trying to play of the 6th fret Bb E shape and then the Eb and F off the A shape right there. I mean, this time I went up to 11 and 13th fret spots. The double stops were 6ths from minor to major third but it didn't sound good.

    This is really fun to record a minute and then talk about it. Thanks for indulging me.

  19. #18

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    I've been trying to play of the 6th fret Bb E shape and then the Eb and F off the A shape right there. I mean, this time I went up to 11 and 13th fret spots.
    I know. There's nothing wrong with that way of playing. Guitarists like Joe Pass and Herb Ellis used it all the time; the notes are right there under the fingers.

    I think space is good, no question, but it has to be musically valid. If it's a sort of blank because one doesn't know what else to do, I think that looks apparent to the listener. The Miles Davis (Freddie Freeloader) actually moves along pretty fast! Miles can play these drawn-out solos because he's on trumpet with a band behind him. The trumpet has sustain and a penetrative quality. But he's not the only player. The other instruments fill it in for him over the course of the tune; it's not the same feel all the time.

    Have you tried incorporating other positions as well, like the Bb at the 3rd fret?

    Incidentally, this form is the very basic 3-chord trick idea. Unless one knows how to embellish the notes one's using it can get pretty dull to play. The jazz blues form, although it seems more complex, is more fun because it widens the scope for improvisation.

  20. #19

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    I'll give the other positions a shot and then I guess I'll switch up and add a jazz blues form. I was thinking about moving on to a ii V I progression, but I think moving to a more complex blues seems like a better choice at this time.

  21. #20

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    I think, if you're set on doing jazz, you should at least do the jazz blues chords. In any case there's a ii-V in that (Cm7 - F7). Even if it does resolve to a dominant :-)

  22. #21

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    Allan -

    Any progress?