The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    Hey folks,

    Temporarily retired jazz guitarist here. I had two kids recently (30 and 6 months) and have been on 'sabbatical' from practicing. I checked out the HR super chops study group the other day and started the program in hopes of inspiring me to get back into the shed. I dig it, but it's very easy so far. (I studied with Gary Dial, Mike Stern, Wayne Krantz, Sean Jones, jazz degree, did the HaRRIS workshops, blah blah blah) I started a separate thread because this is a fairly specific question for folks who are either advanced and familiar with the program, or who have gone through the program successfully at least once.

    It's a great concept, I love the PDF and the study group. I'm immediately curious how I can address some of my own deficiencies in technique, but that means twisting the program a bit (because sight-improvising 8th notes at 60bpm is something I did 15 years ago in jazz school). For example, after playing through the progression 3 x (10 minutes) I play through it a forth time playing double time over the changes. I have always struggled with uptempo (200+) double time, so I am hoping this will help me work through some of that technique. I also recognize in my own playing (and mentors have mentioned) that I rely too heavily on triplet phrases, so I may change the program when I get to that portion as well.

    I'm wondering what are some additional challenges I can apply to myself to stay interested in the first 6 weeks? The biggest struggle for me right now is to not space out, and try to pick a different set of limitations for each chorus. IE first chorus is just free swung 8ths, playing the changes, 2nd chorus is playing a lot of octave displacement, 3rd chorus is a a bunch of Banacos/Harris embellishments, 4th chorus is double time.

    I have also found myself (if I have time after the hour is up) just picking random standards and throwing on a backing track or click on 2+4 and playing straight eighths through the progression. (my tunes knowledge is not great, at my best I knew about 150, maybe 70 right now).

    Any other advice? Suggestions? Tips? Thanks in advance!


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    I do this program every few years and it's different each time, and it's always a challenge and I'm always grateful for doing it because it kicks my butt to the next plateau. I don't even know which iteration it is this time around but I do know this time I'm working on superimposition of harmony (real time reharmonization over a given set of changes) and some of what I'm finding from the perspective 'farther down the road' I bring in hints and suggestions to the group. Bottom line: a guided and disciplined commitment to time on an actual form (not merely exercises on scale exercises) trains the ear, hands and mind to see the changing soundscape of changes and that's what the whole point of the exercise is.
    As far as how to create your own program, I don't know how good your ear is, but I will tell you this much, as with the great players, it never stops; there's always a new frontier and once you recognize the concept of what it can offer, it takes a lot of real time work to make it into music.

    I make a list of things to work on. I don't necessarily stick to the strict eighth note regimen at this point because I'm consciously using rhythmic phrasing, not as a crutch to make up for not knowing what to play or where to go, but to build up varying rhythmic phrasing too. To that end I'm using Mick's Factorial Rhythms to create new relationships with space and the bar line. I do NOT recommend that for anyone doing this for the first few times because there's the greatest value in not having the space to avoid hesitation.
    What's keeping your playing static? What's out there that you feel your playing can benefit from in mastering?
    As mentioned, on my personal list is the relationship between tonal areas (diatonic) and dominant areas (the parts of the harmony that really employs the tension and release of intervals). The treatment of dominant harmony can be mastered in a practical way through taking vocabulary from others (transcription) and it can be mastered through creating the vocabulary for your self (creative innovation). It's to the latter that I create my own use of Super Chops. So I always create a set of the changes with a functional map and within those functions, I work out lines that are interesting in a linear sense but also new to me in a functional way. I NEED to do this in a slower pace because I'm training my ear as well as my fingers.
    Like I said, I don't know where you want to climb to on your own mountain, or the route you want to take, but that's for you to identify.
    Sounds like you're pretty advanced, so you might think my own "goals list" is beneath you, but that's good, because you can see how it might be beneficial to someone at a different skill level. Here's a little sampling of the topics I use during my 20 weeks with the program:
    Dominant phrase focus:
    Use of whole tone line.
    Use of tritone harmony.
    Use of superimpose secondary harmony when it's not actually written in the chart.
    Use of different modal scales (melodic minor derived mixolydian variants, harmonic minor derived mixo scales, harmonic major, synthetics)
    Use of intervalic ornamentation.
    Use of voice leading cycles in convergence with the I or the V chord.

    Diatonic phrase focus:
    Diatonic reharmonization.
    Use of voice leading cycles in originating a cycle.
    Use of voice leading cycles in ending a phrase.
    Use of non triadic harmony in similar voicings and in voice led lines. (I'm presently exploring 3 part 4ths cycle 6 and 3 on the Angel Eyes and Blues for Alice projects)
    4ths and leaps of more than an octave.
    Lines played on NON adjacent strings.
    Exploration to concept transition.
    Concept to development.
    Motific development.
    Conceptual continuity.

    Each of these things, I can work on (I must work on) separately, but it ain't soup until I can do it in real time on a moving sense of changes where I'm forced to anticipate shifting harmony and hand position changes.
    In short, I NEED the slower speeds and the challenge also gives my opportunity to find meaning and melody that exercises alone may be elusive by.
    The progression of tempi every week (starting from ballad tempo Monday and reaching my top speed by the end of the week) is great ear training and finger training. And honestly, I'm not this rigourous when I'm not immersed in the program.

    On my future list of topics to master:
    Triads over chromatic bass notes.
    Non functional harmony when I'm putting down the rhythmic tracks.
    Linear applications of chords based on voicings with internally moving roots.
    Breaking the direction of a linear phrase in new and unexpected place.
    Superimposing changing scales within a single line.
    Use of dyads to the end goal of playing full two voice lines in counterpoint.

    This is my list of things I want to master and I'm not good enough to even attempt any of this stuff at 90bpm, so the slow is how and why I use to lower speeds. Hopefully it all comes together in the end. I don't know, I'm still running the program, myself.

    Maybe this can give you some thoughts as far as your use of the projects. You'll notice that the projects differ from the standards they're derived from because they also incorporate and introduce some advanced harmonic areas; some substitutions and hip devices. Are they fluid in your playing? Personally, I think the use of Cherokee right at the starting gun is brilliant in throwing your ear into hearing mode.

    Not to insult you, but I assume you're off book when you're doing these projects?

    I do hope you find some way to use the HR program. If you've read the thread, you'll see that I do encourage some liberties, and I discourage others. It's boot camp but it can be an extremely effective way to make one a better linear player.
    Good luck with it if you choose to do it. What do you think?

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    An obvious addition would be playing sixteenth notes on Jazz standards using the HR SuperChops course format.

    I've worked on playing sixteenth notes on other tunes, but not Jazz Standards.

    So, after I've finished the current HR Superchops Group course, I might start a "HR SuperChops using sixteenth notes" on specific Jazz standards and see if any member is interested.

    (The semiquaver superchops workgroup.)

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by GuyBoden
    An obvious addition would be playing sixteenth notes on Jazz standards using the HR SuperChops course format.

    I've worked on playing sixteenth notes on other tunes, but not Jazz Standards.

    So, after I've finished the current HR Superchops Group course, I might start a "HR SuperChops using sixteenth notes" on specific Jazz standards and see if any member is interested.

    (The semiquaver superchops workgroup.)
    That's a great idea. The shift from eighth note groupings to sixteenth note groupings is not merely a matter of playing faster, but it necessitates internalizing micro phrases or "cells" in groups of notes, often 4 note mini melodic groupings so you can pull up a sound with one thought.
    It's a quantum leap of mental framing and among the best players, these cells involve a lifelong process of dexterity and ear training.
    It's not a simple transition from eight note groupings to sixteenth notes, but you can learn a ton.

  6. #5
    I’m ‘sort of’ doing 16th notes. After I do the standard 3x 10 minutes of 8th notes, I do an additional 10 minute chorus at the end where I play double time throughout. That has been super helpful because my 16ths and dbl time in general totally suck