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  1. #1

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    I've been listening to many of the showcase posts and somewhat in general... most don't develop melodic lines through changes... the organization of what your playing tends to be short phrases somewhat reflecting the changes. Nothing wrong... but sometimes to have your performance have a balanced result, you need to train yourself to have organization of your phrasing.

    This is a developed skill, just as most techniques for performance are. Sometimes you need to also train and teach your ears to be aware of this concept.

    I believe it begins with being aware of "Form". Like, AABA etc... but the same concept is involved with all aspects of your playing... how you organize your performance or improve... spatially.

    Generally your not born with this skill and even with lots of trial and error, listening, transcribing or how ever you believe in developing your musicianship skills.... there are reasons why some solos feel right, balanced etc... beyond just because you like it...

    So basically the concept is be aware of spatial relationships of what your playing, (length of phrases), with reference to,

    1) the form of the "tune" and the forms within the tune. (macro and micro relationships).

    2) the form of what your "improvising"... over, with or under... in relationship to the tune.

    I'm not getting into your harmonic/melodic approach, Simply the length of your phrases and the organization between phrases.

    Example... take an eight bar section, call it "A".

    break it into four two bar sections... so now you have four phrases which may have an organized approach,
    you have a few different methods of how you want to organize them... (not just the changes)

    -By theme and variation or development... any melodic concept.
    -You have rhythmic organization
    -Range, dynamics and articulations
    etc...

    Generally most have trouble just playing two bar phrases, now move up to 16 bar tune and longer four bar phrases.

    You'll now find you'll also need organization within each phrase... you have Macro and micro levels of organization.

    Obviously when your performing you don't really go through this process... because if you have already trained yourself to naturally play with these basic performance concepts... they're instinctive. At least to the level of what you've developed. It doesn't just happen. And you'll develop the ability to have relationships of your phrasing within the entire Tune... and your complete improve or solo.

    I'm deliberately not getting into the details of what you choose to play within this concept... that's a different subject.

    Something to think about...

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  3. #2

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    What are people's suggestions on how to practice to achieve this goal?

    Two things I've heard mentioned in past are:

    1. Learn/memorize more melodies knowing melodies will think in longer phrases.

    2. Write lots of solos, set some parameters to adhere to and write solos, then play them. As they say writing solo is slow speed improv it is way of practising the mental aspect separate from the physical. When the guitar is in your hand you will be drawn in to using familiar patterns.

    Both are things with many benefits that I think could help develop thinking/playing in longer phrases.

    What do you all think or suggest?
    Last edited by docbop; 06-18-2014 at 05:34 PM.
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by docbop View Post
    What are people's suggestions on how to practice to achieve this goal?

    Two things I've heard mentioned in past are:
    Uh, doc, you leave a little something out there? ;o)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  5. #4

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    This is something I work on but I have a long way to go. This hack's first thoughts are as follows:

    - if you're reading the tune then it's probably not going to happen unless you're a pro with all the skills and instincts that go along with being a pro. Big reason to memorize tunes...forces you to comprehend tunes in "chunks", rather than just chase chords.
    - call and response?

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes View Post
    Uh, doc, you leave a little something out there? ;o)
    It's all there you just have to breathe in the ether and become one with the fretboard.


    Thoughts on how to develop melodic phrases that have balance-zen-dawg-jpg
    No, I'm not going to give you the answer to your question. I don't want to deny you the pleasure you'll receive when you figure it out yourself. -- Bill Evans talking to his brother.

  7. #6

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    My thoughts are pretty basic... not memorize solos etc... simply be aware of methods of balancing length of phrases. I'm not even thinking about the organization of what your playing... that can get even more subjective.

    It would be great idea to take solos you like and dislike and basically graph out the length of phrases. And sure the content and organization of the content would obviously be great.

    I've just noticed that many players don't naturally have organization or balance, besides what happens when playing phrases or melodic lines.

    I know I performed some pretty lousy solos and they tend to work and not sound as bad as the really are... simply because the form and balance of phrases... length.... helps hold them together.

    I don't believe this will make or break you at your next gig. But good players tend to hear and think in longer phrases.

    That doesn't mean nonstop ... longer melodies. I try to basically play melodies and use extra garbage that I choose to help create different effects that will enhance what I'm performing for the gig or where ever or for whom I'm performing for.

    Doc's ideas of memorizing melodies... can never hurt in any context, just as taking the time to compose solos on paper. Not really playing jazz... but incredible educational process. I'm composing every time I perform... just at a little faster tempo.

    Even if you just hear or feel what you play... you still need to educate that skill.

  8. #7

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    here's my advice : know the effing tune inside out. Know as many tunes as you can inside out, they tend to repeat themselves...

    11 or so years into this jazz thing im finally realizing how important this is...once you don't have to worry--at all--about form--no doubts in mind--you can start to think about this advanced stuff...or rather than think....sense it and feel your way through it on the fly...

    Im reminded of when i was 17 and thought i was hot sh^t and "felt" a pentatonic scale on everything. ..
    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 06-19-2014 at 09:07 AM. Reason: langugae
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  9. #8

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    I don't know if this is what you're referring to, but there was a way of structuring and writing that I became aware of when I had to write things in the western classical tradition. Sonata form, subject/countersubject exposition, recapitulation and resolution. It made me feel that something was lacking in the soloing process if I didn't have a thematic tie that held it all together. When writing an invention or "composing" on paper, there's a certain feeling of purpose and completion and I want that ideal to be something to strive for in a solo.
    I had the same feeling actually.
    But now I just think that means are absolutely different, for classical music active use of motivic development actually led to decline and finally to paradoxal emancipation of intonation.
    But in jazz on the contrary it was just a beginning.

    Actually when I first tried to play jazz I went completely in comping and chord melodies, because when it came to solo I did not actually see too many means to develop - seemed very poor.
    But when I listend to jazz masters I did not find it poor and that kept me going on checking what is going.

    Frankly I still think that means of motivic development are very much limited, but with experience I felt that the main difference with classics is about time feel (time meaning not rythm, but general time).
    I classical music there are differnt time feels also - linear which realized in classical sonata, or parallel|stable like Schubert's, combinative (Bach's) - but they all in any moment keep in mind the time of integral piece.
    And in jazz the concept of 'now' is prevalent... only what just happend and what will happen right after is really important.
    This understanding releases somehow and makes motivic development means much wider, because it turns out that when you repeat you do not repeat.
    The problem also that motivic development is hard to teach, the parameters involved are very basic and their relationships are very subtle and practicallly imposible to classify... it is very individual, like feel for a melody.
    If we are after ceratain style - I think licks are best to learn from becasue they show all the parameters at a time.
    Last edited by Jonah; 06-19-2014 at 03:35 AM.

  10. #9

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    I have found Hal Crook's 'How to Improvise' to be a most helpful resource for these concepts, which, I agree are often overlooked.There is a lot of emphasis on 'How' and 'When' to play-not just 'What' to play- and everything is laid out in a logical, organised way with accompanying exercises.

    Here's a few things covered in the book related to this discussion

    The play-rest approach
    phrase/solo length and shape/arc/contour
    note density
    playing on/behind/ahead of the beat (time feel)
    dynamics
    syncopation
    articulation
    over the barline phrasing
    Rhythmic embellishment
    Motivic development


    There's also 'Ready, Aim, Improvise' by the same author but I've not checked it out yet.

  11. #10

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    Very interesting subject. I'm chiming in after spending a couple of hours revising and editing my transcriptions of certain standards I'm trying to record. When you actually create tracks with different instrumental parts with Sibelius or other notation software, you realize immediately that you are creating the music. Not originally, as the composer, but making the music happen as you wish to hear it. That means translating what you hear as rhythm, intervals, and voicing into actual notation. The software does not do the work for you, like BIAB. You must create what you want to hear. As someone recently quoted Van Gogh - paraphrasing - " I dream my painting, and I paint my dream."

    Creating a solo or orchestrating a quintet. It is still the same principles of intervals and voicings and rhythms and time. As I create tracks for a song like Stardust, I am reminded of the brilliance of the composer of this timeless melody and harmonies. When we play standards, we must play in homage to the composers of these tunes. Because it is the melody and harmonic context that determines the motivic development kernel that we "improvise" on. You didn't compose the song. You are appropriating someone else's creative genius as you "compose" your solo. As is said of improvisation, it is a kind of spontaneous composition in time, though we all start with the composer's melody and harmonic context.

    The point of this is that playing a solo should be something that makes sense as sheet music. As Reg pointed out, somehow classic song forms do rule. Eight bars including a turnaround, eight bars more or the verse, the bridge with a change of key, and back to the verse. Thirty two bar songs. For some reason (symmetry? convention?) these meta-structures just seem to work naturally. I find that playing piano and notating music have worked in synergy with my guitar playing to focus my attention on the importance of the melody, guide tones for improv, and what I would call "improvising in-between the guide tones", with great importance to rhythmic figures and time.

    Sometimes I wonder why I am trying to "improve" the composer's melody and harmonization. Yet the instinct to sing in your own voice is there. Sometimes just playing the melody, others playing variations on the " notes in-between". The rise and fall of a melody, the leaps and steps along the way. It is all about the intervals from the tonic, imo. And half steps, as well as the rhythmic statement and phrasing, can make a world of difference between a solo that 'works' and one that sounds just ok.

    Though this is a nebulous subject, what I am trying to say is that when you play a solo, it is not very different from composing with notation software. You have to play (notate) what you hear. In the end, it is just about notes organized as intervals in a harmonic context, but you determine the time, the inflection, the rise and the fall. And in a sense it is absolute. It is 'right' or it is 'wrong'. And the difference can be just a half step or a dotted quarter note.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    I've been listening to many of the showcase posts and somewhat in general... most don't develop melodic lines through changes... the organization of what your playing tends to be short phrases somewhat reflecting the changes. Nothing wrong... but sometimes to have your performance have a balanced result, you need to train yourself to have organization of your phrasing.

    This is a developed skill, just as most techniques for performance are. Sometimes you need to also train and teach your ears to be aware of this concept.

    I believe it begins with being aware of "Form". Like, AABA etc... but the same concept is involved with all aspects of your playing... how you organize your performance or improve... spatially.

    Generally your not born with this skill and even with lots of trial and error, listening, transcribing or how ever you believe in developing your musicianship skills.... there are reasons why some solos feel right, balanced etc... beyond just because you like it...

    So basically the concept is be aware of spatial relationships of what your playing, (length of phrases), with reference to,

    1) the form of the "tune" and the forms within the tune. (macro and micro relationships).

    2) the form of what your "improvising"... over, with or under... in relationship to the tune.

    I'm not getting into your harmonic/melodic approach, Simply the length of your phrases and the organization between phrases.

    Example... take an eight bar section, call it "A".

    break it into four two bar sections... so now you have four phrases which may have an organized approach,
    you have a few different methods of how you want to organize them... (not just the changes)

    -By theme and variation or development... any melodic concept.
    -You have rhythmic organization
    -Range, dynamics and articulations
    etc...

    Generally most have trouble just playing two bar phrases, now move up to 16 bar tune and longer four bar phrases.

    You'll now find you'll also need organization within each phrase... you have Macro and micro levels of organization.

    Obviously when your performing you don't really go through this process... because if you have already trained yourself to naturally play with these basic performance concepts... they're instinctive. At least to the level of what you've developed. It doesn't just happen. And you'll develop the ability to have relationships of your phrasing within the entire Tune... and your complete improve or solo.

    I'm deliberately not getting into the details of what you choose to play within this concept... that's a different subject.

    Something to think about...
    Good post Reg, good info, I like to practice consciously trying to hear my improv phrases over harmony without actually playing them, the mechanics of playing the phrases can be learned afterwards.
    “I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.”
    ― Mahatma Gandhi

  13. #12

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    Yea some interesting thoughts, Jonah that's basically what I'm trying to open eyes to. Jeffs point of memorizing melodies is the standard method of developing this skill. The melodies from tunes already have this spatial or length of time concept together.

    But developing this skill to naturally feel relationships of lengths of time.... the length of each phrase you play in relationship to the length of the Form and form of each section, ...... in my opinion, this skill develops and becomes more natural or balanced when you physically take the time to think about different applications.

    As compared to letting this skill, or lack of skill just develop within yourself. Somewhat as simple as being aware of chord tones from taking the time to understand what chord tones are... as compared to just playing and feeling what notes work better in different situations, and eventually from trial and error coming up with what you feel is cool.

    All the other points mentioned about how to organize what your hearing/playing within those lengths of time, the length of your phrases is obviously incredibly important and those contents also help determine and influence what we're discussing...but if you begin with the length of time... or phrase length basics, and then fill those slots of time. I believe you'll develop the skill we're talking about.

    I mean if your having trouble memorizing tunes, do you wonder why. Generally unless you have photographic memory or are a freak... it's difficult to memorize all the tunes, even when you play all the time. But when you use a method or some type of device to organize how you memorize tunes... it becomes somewhat easier. Most can easily remember blues tunes, basic bop AABA tunes etc...personal op. because you already have a understanding of the spatial form of what your trying to play. Your just filling in the pieced as compared to having the pieces related to each other as method of memorization.

    Anyway... maybe it's time for examples? This is very busy time of year... late nights and I'm lazy. But we can pick a few heads and discuss length of time of phrases and maybe see the relationships to soloing. Don't get hung up on what your playing... it's difficult to develop multiple skills at once. They tend to blend and become one general skill with no expertise of each individual skill. Which usually leads to misunderstandings and you hit walls with your playing.

  14. #13

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    Actually I had some practical problems with long lines and with their relation to form...

    to play long lines really helpful for me was an idea 'to freeze the time' - there are 16 bars in comping but when I play long line over it I think of it just as of 'right now' - it is like detalization of momentary feel... when I think so, I relax and do not have worris of being in time or in harmony correctly - because there is like no time going... and the idea is only to set correctly the limits of this 'frozen moment' and this is connested with changes and rythm of the song etc....
    this idea can work also more complex, when these 'moments' overlap... or I see another 'moment' within a bigger one etc.
    Maybe it's too vague - sorry...

    I also conciously developed ideas how to play longer lines not over but against the given form of song, like simply i-vi-ii-v/i and I want to start line from fror example last beat of vi and then not to play next changes like ii-v-i or a cadence but like going somewhere far behind this tonic chord, like overlapping... I could hear it in many records, but could not play like I wanted, so I kind of estimated notes 'where-what to play' to get this feeling... it also gives lots of opportunities if not to stop only on one simplest solution but to combine this line with the next one fluidely

    And also short almost unnoticeable motives played in double-time are very useful... even two-three notes played like this is very expressive moving

    But anyway - frankly it all begins in my head, so for me it has always been 'how to correspond what in my head to fingerboard'

  15. #14

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    Good topic, and not necessarily an advanced one, although you'd think so because only advanced players seem to phrase meaningfully, often. Me, I just make sure I listen to plenty Wes, Miles or Rollins. I'll never play like them but after a while, I hope their phrasing seeps into my musical consciousness, or something....

  16. #15

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    Yea... when singled out, very simple basic concept. Somewhat like when you walk... you take steps. You generally don't hop around on one leg.

    Ok lets be honest... how many have though about this very simple, basic concept of performance, to the point of trying to physically understand just what it is. Is it really even important.

  17. #16

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    I think it's important...I think its what separates the men from the boys, even...says this boy

    Again, its one of those things I get glimpses of...when im really locked in, and I can sense the form, and hear a solo that really fits...what I havent done enough of is practicing the concept...I think maybe ive thought of it too much as I practice all of these situations and internalize, internalize, internalize and THEN it can happen...so the end sum of many skills firing off at once as opposed to actually approaching it as a learnable skill.

    So this thread is very interesting to me.

    Here, let me put myself out there...I think this video is a picture perfect example of mediocre playing



    I post this because I think there's moments in the solo of several types of playing. There's some instances where im truly hearing a melody and following it...there's moments where im just making the changes...theres moments of "fishing," following an idea and starting to "think" too much and getting lost in yhe form...and some other odds and ends moments too...

    Anyway, lets continue this discussion...im positive I can get something from it.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  18. #17

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    Well, that's an interesting question Reg, and I can only speak for myself when I say that I tend not to single out specific exercises for rhythm or phrasing because I feel that the other stuff (note choices etc) is harder and demands more attention. However I do a fair bit of "finger drumming" soloing along with records, does that count as phrasing practice?

  19. #18

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    The groove is very important. If you start with the blues, the two or four bar call-and-response patterns can be set up by the number of measures and you pick a tempo. On the guitar or piano accompaniment, set up block chords as whole or half beat changes, with an occasional quarter beat measure, especially on the turns and intros. Then, improvise a sung vocal melody with attention to the rise and fall and the strong/weak beats and time values as you play against your accompaniment. The arrangement will force you to think rhythmically and delineate your phrasing. Use your guide tones.

    If your melody sounds good, refine the rhythm. Use the root tones of your chord progression as a walking bass and play the melody harmonizing in various positions. And you use the circle of fifths for refining your progression, adding b5ths, sevenths, and other extensions to "jazz" it up to taste. If you can sing, try writing some harmony to the melody in thirds or sixths on occasion for the guitar, as well as using the vocal whole and half notes for creating guitar fills. If you cannot sing well, use your melody as the basis of a lead guitar track if you like.

    If these suggestions are too rudimentary, of course, one can delve into melodic techniques in more sophistication. But this is one way to write an original song and distill your phrasing.

  20. #19

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    Really great thread with an abundance of very useful info. Reg . . . you're priceless in what you bring to this forum.

    In the context of "a picture is worth a thousand words" . . . if any of you care to hear a perfect example (IMO) of what Reg has been saying here . . Tal Farlow recorded a tune called "It's You or No One", which I've mentioned here before. It's on a CD titled "Tal Farlow . . Verve Jazz Masters 41". I tried desperately to include a link up to it from my computer files . . but, no luck . . . I'm truly a computer dummy. His improv builds beautifully along a well stated motivic approach. He sometimes quotes the melody/head and incorporates that into the context of the improv. His phrasing actually tell you a story. It's probably the best and most melodic improve I've ever heard, in terms of motif, melodic developement and embellishment of the actual melody/head.

    Tal Farlow - Verve Jazz Masters 41 CD Album
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  21. #20

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    Sounded pretty good to me, Jeff. Mild exception, the very beginning was a bit unsure. What are you using for your backing rhythm tracks? And what are your recording the video on? Pretty nice audio. Parenthesis - I have been hankering to pick up the new MacBook BIAB 2014 for the Real Tracks stuff. Don't have one now, but the wife would likely veto this verboten expense....(sigh)

  22. #21

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    Nice clam five notes in, right?

    This was recorded on my ipad, with my phone sitting next to it with an iReal book track playing...not a professional recording, by any stretch, but good enough to illustrate a point, I think.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  23. #22

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    I would imagine most don't think about or work at it intensely because it can be a little painful and really hard work at first (talking first hand experience here)....I mean try playing over an entire chorus or two or five with ONE general melodic and/or rhythmic idea....no deviations (and keep it interesting, at least in the practice sense)....all your pet licks go out the window....

    Last fall I spent a few solid months really trying to open some doors with this type of stuff..... working mostly with some of Jerry Bergonzi's material that is specifically focused on this concept....Don't know how much has really helped me, probably a little, but I still suck at it. Like Jeff said I get glimpses of it and then blow it by losing the form or where I'm at in the tune. Maybe some famous recorded examples for reference would help move this from just talk....

  24. #23

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    You get a percussion track with i real book? I don't have an i Pad, but I did get a 'smart' phone recently. Is the i-Real book for phones and i-Pads? That would be handy, except I probably couldn't 'read' it properly without my reading glasses. Hate that.

    Patrick - nice site link. I couldn't get that track to play, but I listened to Out Of Nowhere and a couple of others. One important thing is to limit one's playing so you play what is essential. Of course it does depend on the setting - solo, trio, quintet, etc. But honing the notes to the essential and 'exciting' or beautiful lines is key. Anyone playing more than a couple of choruses as a solo begins to bore me often.
    Even the greats.
    Last edited by targuit; 06-19-2014 at 12:52 PM.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    Yea... when singled out, very simple basic concept. Somewhat like when you walk... you take steps. You generally don't hop around on one leg.

    Ok lets be honest... how many have though about this very simple, basic concept of performance, to the point of trying to physically understand just what it is. Is it really even important.
    I think this idea of phrase length is an important idea. I think anything that brings structure to a solo, that allows a listener to recognize a pattern, is important. As previously mentioned we can often times ramble and say very little but by giving it phrase length structure it becomes somewhat recognizable as a statement. Add a specific motif to that phrase and carry it across harmonic changes and you've added further structure. This is very common in the B section of many standards.

    For me the hardest thing is maintaining the discipline and patience to really develop a melodic line/motif. It's so easy to just move on to something else but in doing so I think I lose that structure that the listener's ear needs. Lastly, tying all of it together to form a cohesive solo overall is probably the hardest thing to do but if done really leaves an impact.

    I can't recall if Hank Mobley had been mentioned previously as someone who develops a solo but below I think is a good example of it.


  26. #25

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    I agree that phrase length is a structural element that benefits from some limitation of the number of measures in the classic song forms. Really enjoyed that Hank Mobley cut. I also like to call that critical intentionality of the phrasing and the shaping of the lines. Hank clearly knew where he wanted his lines to go in the harmonic context. And the rhythmic element of his melodic phrases is so important. Noted the same thing in the pianist Wynton Kelly solo. And the walking bass of Paul Chambers is classic. So cool to hear something new to me. (I think...) I know I don't have this CD - yet.

  27. #26

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    Yea...I love HM.

    Here's something think about... lets talk about sight reading, most guitarist suck, that's just the way it is. So how do you expect to get better.
    Generally in real or live situations, gigs etc... your not going to really ever sight read any better than.....at any given time in your past, the best you ever did. I mean at the high point of your playing over the years, at some point you sight read at your highest level. And if you, as most do practice sight reading a little every day, you get a little better, maybe.

    My point, if you've never put in some serious time, (like 4 to 6 hours a day for months), getting that sight reading skill together, your not going to get to higher lever of being able to sight read. One hour a day for 50 years, ??? 18,250 hours,
    won't compare to 144 hours over a six month period. You'll reach higher levels of performance from the six months as compared to the 50 year method.

    Personally this same concept... or at least a way to verbally talk about learning, applies with many of the skills required to perform jazz... at least at the speed of jazz.

    Target... really, two choruses and you're bored... so why are you bored? What would not make you bored.

    Have you checked out great players in live situations... gettin after it. Good old days of M Brecker and Joey Calderazzo etc... nothing gets going for a couple of choruses. But I'm not talkin about pop jazz etc...

    Anyway... personally I believe you can only perform as well as you've trained your self. Yea... you can have magical moments etc... but generally live performances are down the middle of your skill set. Pretty much all believe you need to put in the time... but as I've said since I've joined this forum, The organization of that time is just as important... and really... I believe much more important.

  28. #27

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    Did I make my point clear.... Getting better at all the small elements of what ever skill your trying to improve will get you to overall higher levels of performance of that skill, as compared to working on the general skill.

    In my topic.... working on the individual elements of phrasing or playing lines, will develop the overall skill faster and to a much higher level of performance than just working on the skill of phrasing or playing as one element of practice.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    Yea...I love HM.

    Here's something think about... lets talk about sight reading, most guitarist suck, that's just the way it is. So how do you expect to get better.
    Generally in real or live situations, gigs etc... your not going to really ever sight read any better than.....at any given time in your past, the best you ever did. I mean at the high point of your playing over the years, at some point you sight read at your highest level. And if you, as most do practice sight reading a little every day, you get a little better, maybe.

    My point, if you've never put in some serious time, (like 4 to 6 hours a day for months), getting that sight reading skill together, your not going to get to higher lever of being able to sight read. One hour a day for 50 years, ??? 18,250 hours,
    won't compare to 144 hours over a six month period. You'll reach higher levels of performance from the six months as compared to the 50 year method.

    Personally this same concept... or at least a way to verbally talk about learning, applies with many of the skills required to perform jazz... at least at the speed of jazz.

    Target... really, two choruses and you're bored... so why are you bored? What would not make you bored.

    Have you checked out great players in live situations... gettin after it. Good old days of M Brecker and Joey Calderazzo etc... nothing gets going for a couple of choruses. But I'm not talkin about pop jazz etc...

    Anyway... personally I believe you can only perform as well as you've trained your self. Yea... you can have magical moments etc... but generally live performances are down the middle of your skill set. Pretty much all believe you need to put in the time... but as I've said since I've joined this forum, The organization of that time is just as important... and really... I believe much more important.
    I agree that with 4 to 6 hours a day continuously for months at a time will make almost anyone a great sight reader. extrapolated out, 10 to 12 hours a day would make for an even more proficient sight reader. But, other than kids sacrificng their after school play time . . . and serious giggin pros who gig during the evening with most of their day time freed up and able to be devoted to paratice . . . where does the non pro musician, working guy, corporate executive, business professional type person find that 4 to 6 hours a day?

    But, your point is well taken about organizing what time you do have to practice and study music. Lack of structured and organized practice time is probably my own biggest detriment to more rapid advancement. Probably the easiest to self correct as well. Discipline man, it's all about discipline. I've got to find more self discipline within myself.
    Patrick2 . . Heritage representative (now former)

  30. #29

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    Sight reading and reading notation are conditioned by pattern recognition. You see a typical guitar passage and you simply recognize where that pattern of black dots can be played comfortably on the neck. I studied classical guitar form the age of twelve or so. With the advantage of youth if you practice something daily, you get progressively better. When I got into Julian Bream, I focused a lot on his repertoire including his series of albums of Elizabethan era lute music and more Bach. Then, I worked pretty hard through my twenties on classical as well as approaching jazz more directly post college. So I just never stopped reading music daily from the age of twelve, though most of my jazz study initially was by ear and equally important.

    Many summers since then have come and gone. I still own only one jazz Fake or Real Book by Hal Leonard, which I bought spiral bound in the early Eighties. The hardest part of sight reading for me is the high notes on the high E string above the fifteenth fret or so. I prefer that octave notation thing, but it seems most publishers prefer not to use it.

    The advent of notation software was also very helpful generally, especially for reading the piano bass clef notation. For some reason (maybe because I'm a 'self-taught' pianist) reading the bass clef was harder for me. If you consider "sight reading" to be extemporaneous reading of music that you are not familiar with at performance level, I would not like to tackle an up tempo bebop chart under the gun. But it seems that unless it is a complex solo piece, much of jazz guitar parts in a band context are single note parts essentially where the most important thing is play the rhythmic notation properly. In effect reading a solo classical guitar piece is often easier because it provides the written out harmonic context. Chord study is also important.

    Reg, I know jazz cats love to play extended choruses. But I do prefer the more focused 'short but sweet' statements. Of course, I would rather listen to an extended solo by a jazz musician than rockers. Those endless jam solos of Eric Clapton in the Sixties used to annoy and bore the heck out of me.

    Jay

  31. #30

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    Hey Patrick2... I totally understand. But where I'm going is if one were to put in say... 20 hours into a three day period or even 12 hours over 2 days with an organized sight reading schedule, one would reach a higher level of sight reading, which will become a new basic reference or standard for the skill. Once your able to do something... the next time is generally easier.

    Short practice periods over a long period of time...... don't get you to higher levels of performance.... they usually only "get the time in", as compared to raising the skill level of what your trying to get better at. I know this somewhat goes against what's common practice... or one liners etc... but generally when pros say one liners... it's just entertainment BS, part of the show.

    Jay... yea, I understand. I was part of that 60's Filmore performance thing. But it was fun as a player, the extended modal like rock/R&B jam thing. Jazz on the other hand... well improve is part of what defines the music, taking the short and sweet approach is... on the edge of not really being Jazz... more of entertainment for more of a pop audience, I didn't say good or bad, just closer to musicians playing jazz tunes, as compared to....

  32. #31

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    That's good advice Reg about focusing on one thing and really working it. A bit tangential, but I was watching a documentary on George St. Pierre - the legendary MMA fighter - and he talked about how in the gym the main difference between him and other guys was that he would generally focus on one technique at a time and just learn the sh*t out of it, whereas other guys would go over say 20 techniques in a session.

  33. #32

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    Reg - when I speak of short and sweet, I mean like the classic recordings of Miles, Bill Evans, or a guy like Hank Mobley with Wynton Kelly, Paul Chambers, and Art Blakey. Of course, if you hear them as "pop jazz", well....

    Rome was not built in a day, and neither are sight reading skills. I think if one is not skilled, I would approach it like fifteen to twenty minutes a day from a Classical guitar text for students like those authored by Christopher Parkening.

  34. #33

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    Recording were limited because of space too...

    Things were different live.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  35. #34

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    This is a great thread, it's something that's often lacking in my solos. I feel I often connect individual ideas but am not conscious much of phrase length, development over several choruses, etc.

    I feel like Reg is making the point that it's not just about "just feel it" and "phrasing" doesn't mean "making it beautiful" or something, but we're talking about tangible objective elements of melodic improvisation. Skills we work on and then can execute said skill because it's something we've practiced, rather than leaving it all up to the Gods of Jazz.

    Reg, could you give some practical examples of activities that increase this awareness?

  36. #35

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    Hey Jake, thanks and Yes, very tangible. I just got back into town and have some BS to take care of today... gigs ... I'll try and come up with some examples, maybe just over a basic blues. Everyone understands the Form so the spatial aspect of the Form might be easy to hear and see with relationship to improve development being aware of length of phrases etc...

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    Hey Jake, thanks and Yes, very tangible. I just got back into town and have some BS to take care of today... gigs ... I'll try and come up with some examples, maybe just over a basic blues. Everyone understands the Form so the spatial aspect of the Form might be easy to hear and see with relationship to improve development being aware of length of phrases etc...
    I know this is a very old thread but its a very interesting theme. Could we do the "rebirth of the cool"?

  38. #37

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    I love this idea for a thread.

    So when Reg told me that he liked my lines, but that I had to practice at the speed of jazz--I ran with that idea. I'm still putting the metronome up everyday.

    Reg totally understood my excitement when I finally graduated into the land of phrasing and space--2 bar, 4 bar, and 8 bar phrases (and 16, jeez, Reg!)

    Macro--we don't think Macro enough! I'm talking strictly ear here, but being able to hear how the first note of your solo connects to the home key and where the tune finally ends up.

    Developing the ability to listen to yourself while you solo. I don't mean developing your cringe factor when you play a sour note or line. I mean the ability to remember the line you just played and find a way to answer it or continue it.

    Some of the stuff I've posted recently does this some of the time. Its really hard--but Reg is hinting at that concept that was hard to quantify before--how to tell a story with a beginning, middle, and end.

  39. #38

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    The biggest things for me in being able to think marco (and I'm not saying I'm great at it yet, but it sure has helped) is simplifying song forms and reducing melody.

    You can make almost everything look like a modal piece...not that you play on that way, of course! But function, function, function...
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  40. #39

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    How many times have you heard a line and thought you must transcribe it because it is so cool and you must have it, but then you discover it is just a simple series of notes (even something you might have played many times), the surprise that makes it special being the phrasing, timing, and placement of the line with respect to the song?

    Reg is right on about this - development of "balancing of melodic phrasing" is the most distinguishable missing aspect.

    I suggested in a recent thread that rhythm (the spectrum of which includes phrasing and form) is first played by ear, most played by ear, and ultimately must be played by ear. If this were true the consequence might be focusing attention to harmony, chord types and voicing, note selection and sequence of lines, etc., but tending to give "balancing of melodic phrasing" little deliberate focus or sense of composition, perhaps from a misconception that playing by ear is a mentally "passive" process. If that were true, this might be like dividing one's approach; controlling the choice of notes and chords but letting the phrasing fend for itself by ear. To mix metaphors - playing and improvising as if putting all one's eggs in one basket of functional relationships, but allowing phrasing to meander without adult supervision.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    allowing phrasing to meander without adult supervision.
    I think an immediate benefit to scat singing as you solo is that it improves the rhythmic content of the solo. It's easier, I think, to play something that doesn't make rhythmic sense than it is to sing something that doesn't make rhythmic sense.

    Every time I get bored with what I'm playing and think I need to delve into theory or recordings to find new sounds, I remind myself that I can't even play the stuff I can already hear as efficiently as I'd like to. So, the shortest path to improvement is by focusing on rhythm.

    When I listen to Reg, I am immediately struck by how strong his rhythmic feel is, and secondarily by his chops. Somebody said he could make random notes sound good -- and I suspect that's close to the truth. When I've talked to players with similarly great rhythmic feel (Mimi Fox is one), some of them point out that they started on, or played, drums.

  42. #41

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    Some useful stuff here:

    How to Improvise Longer Jazz Melodic Lines like Parker and Diz • Jazz Advice

    Also I think something mentioned by Chris in the ‘things I learned from Barry Harris’ channel is to try playing lines across the ‘natural breaks’ in the form. E.g. practise playing a line starting near the end of the A section and continuing into the B or bridge.

  43. #42

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    "The other part of your musical foundation are your ears. To play longer lines you must also be able to hear resolutions in chord changes over longer sections of a tune rather than just one progression at a time. Hearing guide tone lines and resolution points in the chord progressions of a tune are key to creating well crafted lines as you improvise. As your ears become more developed, you will naturally hear where your lines want to resolve or create tension as you solo."
    --Eric from Jazz Advice (bold is my own, for emphasis)

    That's a huge part of hearing the big picture.

    Another key to developing melodic phrases that have balance is to learn to hear the silence of sound as sound itself. I'm starting to work on hearing the pauses between the phrases and within the phrase. The spaces between the notes are more strategic than the notes themselves with a lot of the musicians that we envy. Even Pat Martino used space strategically in his own way.

  44. #43

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    I found that playing the Jimmy Raney solos in that Aebersold book he did helped me to get a better feel for constructing longer lines.