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  1. #1

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    Hi Forum!

    I've been woodshedding for a year- I recently completed "Modern Method" vol 1 and I'm feeling good! I followed along with the videos by Larry Baione and it was great to have him play through the exercises. At this stage, I'm pretty confident that I can learn most of the pieces correctly from the sheet music without audio/video, except when it comes to the rhythm exercises. For those, it's pretty useful to hear someone play it "right" so you can get the feel of it (for example, quarter note triplets).

    So, now I'm onto vol. 2 and have a question. On pages 16-17, there is a section on "Rhythm Guitar - The Right Hand" where the book presents several different ways to play a "four, four" rhythm for comping ("basic stroke," "orchestral," "the chop," etc). I know there is an audio CD for vol. 2, but I don't have it and my understanding is that the audio is just for the duets and chord etudes. Looking ahead in the book, there seems to be several of these right hand exercises.

    YouTube is letting me down for someone playing an example of these rhythms - anyone on the forum that can point me to a link would earn my eternal gratitude!

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcontoyannis View Post
    Hi Forum!

    I've been woodshedding for a year- I recently completed "Modern Method" vol 1 and I'm feeling good! I followed along with the videos by Larry Baione and it was great to have him play through the exercises. At this stage, I'm pretty confident that I can learn most of the pieces correctly from the sheet music without audio/video, except when it comes to the rhythm exercises. For those, it's pretty useful to hear someone play it "right" so you can get the feel of it (for example, quarter note triplets).

    So, now I'm onto vol. 2 and have a question. On pages 16-17, there is a section on "Rhythm Guitar - The Right Hand" where the book presents several different ways to play a "four, four" rhythm for comping ("basic stroke," "orchestral," "the chop," etc). I know there is an audio CD for vol. 2, but I don't have it and my understanding is that the audio is just for the duets and chord etudes. Looking ahead in the book, there seems to be several of these right hand exercises.

    YouTube is letting me down for someone playing an example of these rhythms - anyone on the forum that can point me to a link would earn my eternal gratitude!
    if you give them a try and upload a recording I will do my best to let you know how you are doing. others here can as well. several Berklee guys here - at least one who actually finished! (no not me)

  4. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by Donplaysguitar View Post
    if you give them a try and upload a recording I will do my best to let you know how you are doing. others here can as well. several Berklee guys here - at least one who actually finished! (no not me)
    Awesome! I’ll give it a go this weekend and post the recording. Thanks!

  5. #4

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    Just a suggestion, and you may be doing this already, but

    I would play drop 3 voicings with the root in the bass on the 6th string for the first three chords, then a rootless voicing for the last chord with A in the bass. Enharmonic with Adim, also drop 3.

  6. #5

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    Or you can use 3-note Freddie Green voicings too (shell voicings), but I think that Leavitt was trying to help players with larger more colorful sounding chords.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Donplaysguitar View Post
    Just a suggestion, and you may be doing this already, but

    I would play drop 3 voicings with the root in the bass on the 6th string for the first three chords, then a rootless voicing for the last chord with A in the bass. Enharmonic with Adim, also drop 3.
    Here is a video of me playing the exercises. Still a bit sloppy - need to keep practicing!


    This is how I interpreted the different rhythm styles:

    BASIC stroke - this is alternating long (hold down strings after playing chord) and short (release fingers after playing chord). No break before the long beats (1&3) and the short beats (2&4)

    ORCHESTRAL - long for all 4 beats, but with a quick release of strings at the end of each beat

    THE CHOP - short for all beats - play the chord and release right after it sounds

    TWO BEAT - long for beats two and four (downstroke), rest on Beats 1 & 3 (upstroke - I am playing the muted strings as suggested in the book).

    FAST FOUR - similar to ORCHESTRAL, but alternating up and down strokes.


    What do you guys think - is this interpretation correct?

    PS - I did go with the drop 3 voicings, except for the Ab dim in the second measure which I played as a drop 2

  8. #7

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    You’re doing great. I just listened to the first three (and only reviewed same in the book)

    I’m no expert rhythm guitarist but will just add my nickel and dime observations.

    I think you should perhaps hold the orchestral a tad longer, and do the opposite with the chop, in other words clip it more. I wonder what our resident pros think?

    Then I would encourage you to try them at a faster tempo, although it needn’t be blistering fast.

    Onward and upward!

  9. #8

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    I think of the first three examples kind of like this:

    Chung chink, Chung chink

    Chung Chung Chung Chung

    Chink chink chink chink

  10. #9
    Thanks for the feedback, Don! Faster tempos will come eventually. I will say that the quick chord changes are still a work in progress for me so when I speed up I tend to botch the change and lose the tempo. But it's improving - slowly but surely.

    One other question about these rhythm exercises - is there one strumming approach that I should be focusing more of my attention on than the others? I don't envision that I'm ever going to be playing in a big band setting, but more likely jamming with another guitarist - does that mean less emphasis on the "orchestral" approaches and more on the "chop" style?

    Like I said at the beginning - I am just playing solo in my room, working on my chops - not jamming with others yet, but one day...

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcontoyannis View Post

    One other question about these rhythm exercises - is there one strumming approach that I should be focusing more of my attention on than the others? I don't envision that I'm ever going to be playing in a big band setting, but more likely jamming with another guitarist - does that mean less emphasis on the "orchestral" approaches and more on the "chop" style?
    No not necessarily. If you play with another guitarist and want to do the four-to-the-bar thing you may well need the so called orchestra style.

    In one Berklee recording assignment I was laying down a rhythm track to play against with my melody track, and was playing the four to the bar style thinking about it the way you just mentioned. The instructor immediately told me to hold each chord longer.

    It sounds smoother for one, and you are the only one laying down any harmony or bass. The "chop" can get on one's nerves if sustained for too long.

    Again, just my opinion.

  12. #11
    Awesome - thanks again. I'm sure I'll be back with more questions - this book looks pretty intense!

  13. #12

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    Yep, some of Leavitt's chord study arrangements sound great, but are pretty tough on the hands (as are his stretch scale/arpeggio fingerings, which I now avoid). YMMV.

    I still really like all of his books though, always will.

  14. #13
    I'm going to keep posting examples of the rhythm exercises from volume 2 here in case folks find it helpful to hear them played.

    This is "Melodic Rhythm Study No.3 (duet)" from page 27.



    There are a handful of places with tricky (for me) chord changes on this one, and it took a while to get them sounding good. Unfortunately I botched the ending- the tempo falls apart and it sounds rough, but I couldn't bring myself to do another take.

  15. #14
    This is the “Rock-Style Ballad” rhythm exercise from pg. 33. As always, input on technique is welcome. In the meantime, back to practicing triads…


  16. #15

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    Sounds good, especially with the 16s added in. Actually even more effective in the higher ranges.

  17. #16

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    For duet playing with the 4-to-the-bar style, long-shorter-long-sherter world to all in the spaces yet have the feel of the hi-hat on 2 and 4. You're at the point where you need to listen to the masters. Find and study (by listening) My Funny Valentine with Bill Evans and Jim Hall. If you can find it, the great romantic Johnny Mathis recording with Misty, Chances Are, etc. I think the guitarist was Barry Galbraith or Dennis Budimir, but whoever it was, it sure is perfect.

  18. #17
    Awesome! Thanks for the feedback and listening recommendations. I suppose I should learn some actual jazz songs and not just practice technique all the time. That said, I’m really enjoying this book and plan to keep working through.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by dcontoyannis View Post
    Awesome! Thanks for the feedback and listening recommendations. I suppose I should learn some actual jazz songs and not just practice technique all the time. That said, I’m really enjoying this book and plan to keep working through.
    This particular chord movement is common to many songs, so it is not just a technique exercise in and out itself. So by all means keep going with the book, you are doing well, wishing you success following the method. That is not to say you should postpone learning songs - this is the goal after all.

    There are some difficulties with learning of rhythm playing as described in this book.
    First, instructions are geared towards ensemble playing. WL intended certain styles for different situations and tried to convey them in written. But it is hard to get them right from a paper and to appreciate these styles when not actually playing in a band. I would suggest listening to records trying to make sense of what was meant, see below.

    Second, chords voicings in the book often are elaborate with cluttered fingerings and are difficult to master - to make smooth transitions in time and to control release. A flat top guitar rich in overtones and with relatively low action paired with a metronome are especially unforgiving in this regard - a lot of control is needed to press, hit and release the strings so they would start and stop sound orderly and evenly.

    In ensemble playing situation a simpler grips would be normally used. Guitar was struggling to be heard in ensemble, so you could attack hard which naturally gives a quick wrist motion over a smaller set of strings. Instant attack across strings is one of the essential elements of a good sounding rhythm.

    Said that, if you practice it in the way the book prescribes, you'll gain a lot of skill (as it is the case with other material of the method).

    So, taking "This years's kisses" which is based on this very chord progression as an example. Suggestion would be listen and try to blend in.
    Below is a recent rendition with electric guitar with rather tasteful variations.


    I mention it first, because I happen to have a chart for it - attached chords which would fit exactly (advising not to chase extensions -- 9ths, sus4, etc). But what comes next is more representative of what is meant in the book. Minor tweaks and/or transposing may be needed.

    Orchestral 4/4 (also basic and the chop):

    Orchestral 2/2:


    This one doesn't have rhythm guitar you may try different styles:
    Attached Images Attached Images
    Last edited by Danil; 09-17-2021 at 07:19 AM.

  20. #19

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    Another thing is to sound good in a small setting -- in a duo or trio with your instrument of choice.
    If it happens to be acoustic guitar with metal strings, gypsy style is most relevant and what is used there is proven to work.
    See how good it can sound even without a melody:

    The tip on using fingernails there is important, it smooths the attack and allows you to hit set of strings almost simultaneously (due to similar distance between nails and strings).
    Last edited by Danil; 09-17-2021 at 07:22 AM.

  21. #20
    Thanks for all the great feedback and advice, Danil. I want to follow up on this comment:

    Quote Originally Posted by Danil View Post
    Second, chords voicings in the book often are elaborate with cluttered fingerings and are difficult to master - to make smooth transitions in time and to control release. A flat top guitar rich in overtones and with relatively low action paired with a metronome are especially unforgiving in this regard - a lot of control is needed to press, hit and release the strings so they would start and stop sound orderly and evenly.
    I have been wondering for a while now whether I am torturing myself trying to play through these books on a flat top acoustic. It is certainly way easier to play the chords and etudes on my electric. BUT, I really prefer playing on an acoustic these days due to the fact that I can just pick it up and play. I've started to think that maybe I should get an archtop (and play it acoustically), but I am so clueless about them and they seem very expensive compared to electric guitars. Do archtops sound any good unplugged? I come from a "classic rock" background where it is a pretty easy choice - Fender or Gibson. Based on my limited research on archtops, it seems like the choice is between a bunch of import options (reasonable prices, varying quality), a bunch of custom options (pretty expensive), or an old Gibson with some wear and tear (super expensive).

    In the meantime, I will carry on with my flat top and perhaps bring it to a luthier to lower the action a bit. I really do love this guitar - I bought it about 10 yrs ago because it has this great liveliness to it, but I rarely played it until a couple years ago. I decided to use it when I started Vol 1 of the Modern Method and haven't put it down since.

  22. #21

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    I'm no expert on archtops - the one I own is a rather obscure japanese copy of gretsch.
    It has different kind of sound compared to flattop, it is a matter of taste. Some will say the sound is more dull, others -- less agitated and disturbing.
    I like its sound more these days -- strung with flatwounds it has rounded and balanced calm quality, compared to my flattop Epiphone AJ 200S (seems to be similar to what you are using). The Epi is very full and bright, arpeggiated chords are beautiful. But strumming it hard in a quite room sort of grits my nerves.

    The archtop does sound more natural for jazz tunes indeed, but this alone doesn't justify spending money on it - if you like the sound of yours really there is no reason to switch.

    For practice higher action is not necessary a bad thing - it helps muscle memory. Also keep in mind that lowering the action makes easier to fret strings, but also it makes more difficult to control volume and release of the strings-- and chord duration and dynamics is as important as timing for rhythm playing. Ideally you want to have punctuation marks between chords of varying length between chords when all of the strings get dampened at the same time. It is very difficult to control consistently when tension is low. In fact canonical rhythm players like Freddy Green had ridiculously high action on their archtops.

  23. #22
    My acoustic is a lower-end Taylor (114). Like your Epi, it sounds really great for playing arpeggiated chords. I had a similar experience at first when strumming loudly. I tested a ton of different strings and picks before I found a combination that sounds mellow enough for my ear. I now use DR Sunbeam strings (clear and bright but not overly metallic), and a nylon pick (1.25mm). I think the nylon pick made a huge difference - it's a much softer attack, and there is minimal pick noise clacking against the strings compared to harder plastic picks.

  24. #23

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    I favor nylon picks too, my favorite ones are clayton 1.22 -- precisely to minimize clacking. When strumming you can go much thinner - maybe 0.80.
    In theory flatwound strings could bring it closer to the archtop sound, but it will probably require setting it up and may be filling nut slots, better to let a flattop stay a flattop.

  25. #24
    Yep - I'll save the flat wounds for a future guitar and keep my acoustic as is. When I need a break from the practicing the book, I tend to want to play Beatles and Pink Floyd tunes...

  26. #25
    Here is Melodic Rhythm Study #4 (pg. 42). Tempo is 120 bpm - faster than I play most of the exercises in this book, but it says to play as a “fast waltz” and to count it “in one” which I couldn’t really do at a slower tempo!