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  1. #1

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    Hey all,

    I'm applying to jazz colleges this year, and one particular song I've been working on is Ladybird. I've been playing the guitar for years... but I've only been learning jazz for under a year and, as such, I'm still a little shaky on improvising through any song with complicated changes. I worked on Body and Soul extensively and because of my practicing and the slow tempo I have no trouble on that one, but Ladybird has proven itself difficult.

    It seems like a lot of the chord changes go by a bit too fast for me to hit the right chord tones, and I'm wondering if I should try to outline every chord change or separate it into digestible chunks (somehow )? I think with a lot more practice I could get up to speed, but I'm worried I don't have time.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can give me.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    They'll show you what to do when you go to college. Make them earn all that money.

  4. #3

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    Hi Brabs,
    Have you done any transcriptions of your favorite artists playing this tune?
    Hearing how experienced players handle a tune is a pretty good way to go.

  5. #4

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    Okay, it take some time before you can go through the changes at a confortable speed.
    The starting point for chords changes is to learn and play the arpeggios with a metronome,
    there are no easy way ... sorry

  6. #5
    I figured that was probably the case. To clarify, I'm not really looking for "the easy way", just for the best/most effective way to approach improvising over changes like these. I've done a lot of practicing with arpeggios already, so I'll definitely keep that up.

    Ron, I haven't done any written transcriptions, so I'll make that next on my to-do list. I can definitely see how that would be helpful.

    Thanks guys

  7. #6

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    Brabs,
    No problem. Just know that transcriptions don't need to be written. I guess if I used that term they would!!! Perhaps "lift" would be a better term. Figure out what they're playing and copy it.

    Cheers,
    Ron

  8. #7

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    You've already discovered the big answer yourself with your work with Body & Soul: being intimately familiar with the song itself. What I've found after trying every "trick" in the book for the past 18 months is that if I really know the song - if I've listened to it hundreds of times - then my ear can mostly guide me though the changes when improvising. Nothing else gets me to making melodic lines as fast as just listening to a tune I'm working on as the ONLY song I hear for a week or so. (I do this by just listening to a single cut on a CD in my car to and from work.) Of course, you do have to have some technical facility in order for your fingers to go where your ears are telling them to, but your years on the guitar should help you out there.

    You'll also want to try to do a Roman Numeral Analysis on the tune in question. Do you know how to do that? Ladybird has a lot of unusual modulations that keep things quite interesting. This song ain't no Autumn Leaves.

    Here is an excellent version to listen to. I learned this song from a Fats Navarro/Tad Dameron CD I have but Chet Baker is always a great way to go for standards. You might even want to transcribe his solo.


  9. #8

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    +1 on Chet! A constant source of inspiration when I get too busy!

  10. #9
    Wow, lots of great information. Thanks everyone.

    I have written up the changes in Roman Numerals, but haven't spent much time on the "analyzing" part. I'll take a look back at that. I definitely noticed the quirky chord changes... they were part of what made the song seem so damn intimidating at first.

  11. #10

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    I know that I have not always been the biggest fan of this method, but you may want to look into using the program Band In a Box. You can slow the tune down and loop it over and over again trying different things with it.
    I would suggest trying to play the changes as best you can in one or two positions, then move to playing it on a single string, different string sets, then combining these methods. This is what guys like Jim Hall, and Pat Metheny do (maybe not with band in the box though...). If yuo check out the book The Advancing Guitarist by Mick Goodrick he talks quite a lot about it.

  12. #11

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    until i manage to handle rapid chord changes more specifically, some of my cheats:

    1. break down the song into diatonic key centers. within a certain set of changes, the same scale works. then, rather than hitting chord tones on every chord, at least you can play melodically without hitting wrong notes.

    2. ii-V changes: i've worked up a bunch of minor 7 lines (with help from gary fewell's jazz improvisation for guitar: a melodic approach Berklee Press - Catalog - Jazz Improvisation for Guitar: A Melodic Approach). i often play those lines over the entire ii-V (ii7 arepggio provides the 5, 7,9, 11 chord tones and extensions of the V).

    3. work up 2-4 note groupings to play over particularly thorny patches.

    4. as you become more familiar with the tune, set up target notes - especially for resolve chords - 3 and 7 scale tones mostly, but 1, 5, 9 can also work. precede those chord tones by a half step or a fifth above (or fourth below).

    5. pick out a couple chords to frequently arpeggiate. you won't feel overwhelmed with just one here and there, you wont' feel as rushed cuz you'll know they're coming up, and you'll get comfortable playing an occasional arpeggio - so you can branch out from there.
    Last edited by MartinPiana; 08-24-2010 at 06:53 PM.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinPiana
    until i manage to handle rapid chord changes more specifically, some of my cheats:

    1. break down the song into diatonic key centers. within a certain set of changes, the same scale works. then, rather than hitting chord tones on every chord, at least you can play melodically without hitting wrong notes.

    2. ii-V changes: i've worked up a bunch of minor 7 lines (with help from gary fewell's jazz improvisation for guitar: a melodic approach Berklee Press - Catalog - Jazz Improvisation for Guitar: A Melodic Approach). i often play those lines over the entire ii-V (ii7 arepggio provides the 5, 7,9, 11 chord tones and extensions of the V).

    3. work up 2-4 note groupings to play over particularly thorny patches.

    4. as you become more familiar with the tune, set up target notes - especially for resolve chords - 3 and 7 scale tones mostly, but 1, 5, 9 can also work. precede those chord tones by a half step or a fifth above (or fourth below).

    5. pick out a couple chords to frequently arpeggiate. you won't feel overwhelmed with just one here and there, you wont' feel as rushed cuz you'll know they're coming up, and you'll get comfortable playing an occasional arpeggio - so you can branch out from there.
    All good points, and that's pretty much how I would approach it. The first two measures are obviously in C, followed by a ii-V7 a m3 up (Eb) for two measures, then back to C for 2 more measures, then ii-V7-I-I down a M3 (Ab) for four measures total, then a ii-V7 down a m2 (G) for two measures, then back once again to C for 3 measures, followed by a really weird final measure (how exactly does one analyze Abmaj7-Db7?).

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinPiana
    until i manage to handle rapid chord changes more specifically, some of my cheats:

    1. break down the song into diatonic key centers. within a certain set of changes, the same scale works. then, rather than hitting chord tones on every chord, at least you can play melodically without hitting wrong notes.

    2. ii-V changes: i've worked up a bunch of minor 7 lines (with help from gary fewell's jazz improvisation for guitar: a melodic approach Berklee Press - Catalog - Jazz Improvisation for Guitar: A Melodic Approach). i often play those lines over the entire ii-V (ii7 arepggio provides the 5, 7,9, 11 chord tones and extensions of the V).

    3. work up 2-4 note groupings to play over particularly thorny patches.

    4. as you become more familiar with the tune, set up target notes - especially for resolve chords - 3 and 7 scale tones mostly, but 1, 5, 9 can also work. precede those chord tones by a half step or a fifth above (or fourth below).

    5. pick out a couple chords to frequently arpeggiate. you won't feel overwhelmed with just one here and there, you wont' feel as rushed cuz you'll know they're coming up, and you'll get comfortable playing an occasional arpeggio - so you can branch out from there.
    great approach! really good points for getting used to playing a more complex song.

    then back once again to C for 3 measures, followed by a really weird final measure (how exactly does one analyze Abmaj7-Db7?).
    I'd look at the last measure as bVImaj7 - subV7. bVImaj7 is as far as I know a pretty common modal interchange coming from the 6th degree of your parallel minor key (c min. in this case). It has a somewhat lydian sound to me...
    The Db7 is just a tritone sub for g7alt I think.


    I can also only second that, what Jeff already said... listen to the song as often as you can. I am going for my auditions too next year and I made myself a CD with all my favourite versions of the 3 songs I chose to play for the tests and I'm hearing this CD everyday on my way to work and home.
    Last edited by shoome; 08-25-2010 at 03:43 AM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by shoome
    I'd look at the last measure as bVImaj7 - subV7. bVImaj7 is as far as I know a pretty common modal interchange coming from the 6th degree of your parallel minor key (c min. in this case). It has a somewhat lydian sound to me...
    The Db7 is just a tritone sub for g7alt I think.
    That makes a lot of sense - thanks.

  16. #15
    MartinPiana - exactly the kind of stuff I was looking for, thanks a bunch.

  17. #16

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    I transcribed the Chet Baker solo. Here is a quick recording of me playing it and a PDF of the transcription. Cool solo that lays out well on guitar.


    http://www.box.net/shared/ukuit15f85tlkuxyae6s


    ladybird.pdf - File Shared from Box.net - Free Online File Storage
    Last edited by Kman; 10-04-2011 at 08:54 AM.

  18. #17

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    Sounds great Kman!

  19. #18

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    Thanks Jeff. Chet plays it faster, but it's tough to get up to that speed. This is about the best I can do.

  20. #19

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    Very nice tone and feel Kman. You have my vote!!

    I had to turn it up quite a bit though.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff
    What I've found after trying every "trick" in the book for the past 18 months is that if I really know the song - if I've listened to it hundreds of times - then my ear can mostly guide me though the changes when improvising. Nothing else gets me to making melodic lines as fast as just listening to a tune I'm working on as the ONLY song I hear for a week or so. (I do this by just listening to a single cut on a CD in my car to and from work.
    How true. Thanks, FJ. Just want to revive this thread because I'm working on this great tune and have been listening to it so much--singing it, playing it, trying some improv. So far my favorite version is by Paul Bley from his Bebopbebopbebopbebopbebop ​album.

  22. #21

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    There is a nice version of this bebop tune on YT by The Miles Davis Project Band. As regards the original poster's intent to use this tune for an audition, I think he picked a real challenge. At the beginning of the video, a nice lead sheet with melody and chords is clearly visible. So I was writing out advice to check Sheet Music Plus, when I realized the post was years old. Bebop would not be my first choice for an audition, but....wonder how he did?

  23. #22

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    Brabs,

    Ladybird is a tune that changes tonal centers. You need to understand what key or tonal centers are being inferred by the harmony. Key of C going to the key of Ab. Playing major scales (c) going to (Ab) over the appropriate changes will give you the basic sound you need to cover the tonal centers. Too many jazz players think they need to play the chords vs the tonal or key centers. This is a big disconnection and fallacy. You need to play tonal centers so you can use all the color notes against the chords to get the sounds you like. Understanding key harmony is important. Knowing Bbm7 going to Eb7 are chords in the key of Ab help reduce the confusion over what tonal or key center Im in and allow me to play scales, arps, triads, etc instead of the mundane 'outline the chords' approach. Hard to create lineal expressions if your are thinking in stacks (chords). There is no substitute for knowing your major scales and harmonized scales in every key! Yes, this requires effort and 95% will not go there but the serious and 'need to know' guys will. good luck.

  24. #23

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    Hi

    does anyone has the pdf for Ladybird? I can not access the box...

    Best regards

    Vesa

  25. #24

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    It will only run on Babbage’s difference engine due to its great age

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by VesaW
    Hi

    does anyone has the pdf for Ladybird? I can not access the box...

    Best regards

    Vesa
    Do you mean the one in post 16? If so here it is.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  27. #26

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    Well, I hate to be over-simplistic although I don't think it is really. I hadn't seen this tune before. Looks like this to me:

    C - % - Bb7 - %
    C - % - Eb7 - %

    Ab - % - D7 - %
    G7 - % - C - G7+

    That's not difficult. You can play it straight, just over the chords, or you can introduce scales like the lyd dom over the dom chords (Bb7=F mel m). You might need Eb maj over the AbM7 as it's non-diatonic.

    Don't be afraid of it. Start slow till you're completely familiar with it without hesitation and work up from there. The difficulty is the speed, not the harmonies. And make it fairly melodic. You'll get there. Lots of practice :-)

    Just done this. First chorus is just the chords as above. Second is using the lyd doms. All take 1. I don't say it's good but it gets you through. It's basic, no b9's or alt sounds or even flowing lines.


  28. #27

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    Thank you very much!