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  1. #1

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    Recently I have thought that more discussions should take place on the philosophy of music, in particular improvising. I am looking for answers to questions like 'what is improvising' (ie, beyond the dictionary definition), 'can improvising really be taught or learned? If so, how? If not, how do we know we have the inate ability to improvise?

    So many authors of musical theory introduce you to techniques and theories that are supposed to help you understand 'how' to improvise. After reading and learning these books I have found that I have just learned what and when to play things, and I end up just grasping at 'improvising' itself.

    I think these things instead of paying attention in summer school (urgh! but at least I get to graduate faster!) And I wonder if anyone else has stopped to think about improvising beyond the scales and chords, and think of it metaphysically, something that is certainly lacking in most modern texts.

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  3. #2

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    well, there's that line, that gets attributed to bird or whoever the quoter is talking about at the moment, which essentially is, "learn all the the theory you can, then forget that shit and play."

    which is fine to an extent, but i'd be hard pressed to find an example of a player who's playing jazz who isn't thinking at all. i think the key is to be able to make your thought and action happen as simultaneously as possible. let's face it, if you're racking your brain for the changes of a tune, or stopping to think "can i use lydian here?"--you're dead--the change is gone and you've floundered. so again, the mind must be concious of what is being played, but in tune with the physical action as much as possible, again, to the point of simultaneous thought and action. it's also a heck of a lot easier to do this if you are improvising a single note line--once you get into chordal improv, your mind needs to split--thinking melody and harmony...more on that in a minute.

    when i improvise a single note line, in the purest sense, there needs to be a couple of things that have happened beforehand...

    i need to know the tune well enough that the chord changes can play in my head whilst i improvise a new melody line over it,

    and, i need to be aware of the original melody as a touchstone. i'm not saying i can't ever go in cold and simply feel my way through the changes of a tune--because, let's face it, there's a lot of similar movements in jazz that happen in a lot of different songs.

    the point of where my brain has become familiar enough with the song that i can truly think "new melody" and not "what chord is next?" is when the most pure and real improvisation happens in my book.

    i am at the point on the instrument where i can grab a starting note, hear a moderately complex melody line in my head, and play it without floundering or hunting and pecking...this comes from a lot of practice--simply playing the guitar and hearing notes, but also in training my brain to recognize intervals. sometimes, the melody i hear may be three or four "touchstone" notes, but i might play 8 notes in the line, accenting the notes in my new "melody" while using the other notes to create tension or to build up to the notes i want to stress.

    this seems to come in two forms--firstly, times where muscle synapse takes over and i "connect the dots" with chromatic tones or fill in the scale tones/chord tones that lie between the notes i want to accent.

    but there's another option i've been digging lately, which throws things open a lot more. again, i can hear a melody line and play it for the most part--so sometimes i will simply take an interesting visual pattern, deliberately stepping outside of any scale box or arpeggio pattern i've familiarized myself with, to travel between the notes. while this occasionally gets pretty outside, i've found that knowing what i want to accent and where i want to resolve helps keep the line sounding "confident" and "true." it's an interesting way to improvise, because half is known and half is left open to chance.

    but again, there's also another situation i come across. being a player who does a lot of solo and small group stuff, i am often the sole polyphonic instrument in the setting. i fully believe in exploiting the guitar's polyphony, so that means i'm soloing in chords as well. this area gets dicey for me, because the at the level i am currently at, i cannot improvise quite as purely in this manner. i need to be much more aware of the chord of the moment, so that my melody line stays on top of the correct harmony...i'm still working thru this, but i have found that learning the chords to a tune in as many places as humanly possible really helps keep the creative doors open when playing in this style.

    i'd like to see other's comments on how they approach improvising as well--good thread sc06yl

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by sc06yl View Post
    Recently I have thought that more discussions should take place on the philosophy of music, in particular improvising. I am looking for answers to questions like 'what is improvising' (ie, beyond the dictionary definition), 'can improvising really be taught or learned? If so, how? If not, how do we know we have the inate ability to improvise?

    So many authors of musical theory introduce you to techniques and theories that are supposed to help you understand 'how' to improvise. After reading and learning these books I have found that I have just learned what and when to play things, and I end up just grasping at 'improvising' itself.

    I think these things instead of paying attention in summer school (urgh! but at least I get to graduate faster!) And I wonder if anyone else has stopped to think about improvising beyond the scales and chords, and think of it metaphysically, something that is certainly lacking in most modern texts.
    Let me start off by saying that single note playing is the weakest part of my current skill set. Because of this, I read and think alot about it, and ask questions of the pros I know and admire, along with practicing it. With regard to your first paragraph, there is probably more than one definition of improvisation. A more rudimentary level is to learn a bunch of material (scales, triads, licks, arps, etc) and then turn them loose over a tune in a creative way, reorganizing them every time. This follows the Play What You Hear = Play What You Know idea.

    We all have had experiences where we cut loose and just let it flow, without any regard for the above devices, and just listened and responded. I guess that is a different sort of level of improvisation. Riskier but probably more rewarding. I think that maybe speaks to your 2nd paragraph. I do think it can be taught, or at least you can be shown the door to walk thru.

    A few months back in GP, Carlos Santana did an extensive interview, and he is certainly someone who lives in the "music comes from a metaphysical/spiritual place." I happened to agree with much of what he said, and it was a refreshing viewpoint to the typical artist interview. Some of it was a bit over the top though.

    I would suggest Kenny Werner's Effortless Mastery if you haven't picked it up. Certainly addresses this sort of thing pretty well, and has exercises to foster this development.

  5. #4

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    It was either Dolphy or Shorter who said that "until the day we die, we ae searching for our voice, experimenting and changing our approach to improv. We never really reach a destination, improvisation is a never-ending road." I got that from a new documentary that's on the Ovation channel, entitled "Jazz in the Present Tense." I remember Eric Dolphy did go through a period where he abandoned everything he learned, except intervals and key families, he just played using intervallic patterns

  6. #5

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    IMHO improvising is just like talking or walking or writing or playing sports, or anything else. You might not be able to speak another language today, but if you learn the rules, learn the vocab, practice, practice, practice, eventually you'll move from stuttering from one word to the next to expressing your thoughts and ideas fluidly and without much thought. Why should music be any different?

    That's my whole philosophy.

    I guess at some point you hit a creative wall, because there aren't many people like Wes Montgomery, just like many (most!) people can express themselves verbally better than I can. To me it's just about finding that place where I hit that wall. Not in a bad way, but in the way that I've acheived all I can and can't get any better. I also believe that I won't reach that point within my lifetime, because there's always room for improvement, and with the right attitude, you can always improve...!

  7. #6

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    Uhm..
    It's just music, man

  8. #7

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    Actually.... It's also an art form. And being such it is subject to things like different 'Schools of thought" , philosophies, evolution, etc.

    It's the same with art and literature.

    If you want to say it's just music, then let's only say that about all the stuff that get's released that follows some predeterminedcorporate formula for success like all the Miley's , Jonas Brothers, Brittany's , etc out there. There's no philosophy there. Only dollar signs

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Luan View Post
    Uhm..
    It's just music, man
    yea i agree... simple.

  10. #9

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    Wait a second, Miley Cyrus and Jonas Bros are not music. It's entertainment, performers, NOT ARTISTS!!!! It's been said that mindless "music" which involves someone singing a song that someone else wrote, while dancing on stage is called pop, and you really don't have to think about it when you perform, perrformers are actually forgeting lyrics now. Meanwhile, the jazz musician, is an artists. Why? b/c he/she has to use the mind to create, and when so, the human soul is reflected, in the form of an intimate improvised piece of music

  11. #10

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    it's also been said that 50% of improv is rehearsed licks or patterns, just rearranged, and 50% is stuff we've never played before

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzyteach65 View Post
    Wait a second, Miley Cyrus and Jonas Bros are not music. It's entertainment, performers, NOT ARTISTS!!!! It's been said that mindless "music" which involves someone singing a song that someone else wrote, while dancing on stage is called pop, and you really don't have to think about it when you perform, perrformers are actually forgeting lyrics now. Meanwhile, the jazz musician, is an artists. Why? b/c he/she has to use the mind to create, and when so, the human soul is reflected, in the form of an intimate improvised piece of music

    I don't think you understand what I said in repsonse to Luan, who claims that improvisation is just music. Just music is what Miley, et al play. Theres no art there. But it is indeed music. Has notes, tertial harmony, etc. it is indded just music. no philosophy there.

  13. #12

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    Provided you have a reasonable natural ability to hear music, interpret it, and respond with a melodic statement of your own then...

    Practice improvisation and you will get good at it. It's the only way. I'm not talking about 15 minutes a day. I'm talking about hours upon hours upon hours.

    My philosophy about improvisation is just PRACTICE IMPROVISATION RELENTLESSLY!

    If you don't want to spend that much time improvising, then forget about improvising - it's not your bag, so find something else about music you like.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by derek View Post
    A more rudimentary level is to learn a bunch of material (scales, triads, licks, arps, etc) and then turn them loose over a tune in a creative way, reorganizing them every time. This follows the Play What You Hear = Play What You Know idea.


    Derek that really sums it up for me but I see it as two separate things…

    1) Play what you know. That’s where we apply the scales, triads, licks, arps, etc that we have practiced to a piece. This can overlap with the play what you hear as you will often hear the scales, triads, licks, arps, etc that you practice.

    2) Play what you hear. For this type of improvisation, to me the ideal is to hear original ideas, not the scales, triads, licks, arps, etc that you’ve been practicing. An easy way to test this, and something a guitar teacher tested me with is to find a song from a list like this http://www.beatleslyricsarchive.com/songs.php, find a tune that you know the melody well in your head (i.e. you can hum it) but you’ve never played on guitar. Then play the melody on your guitar, if you can do it effortlessly with no mistakes the first time through then you’ve got the ‘ears’ to improvise simple melodic lines under this second definition… and that is a beautiful thing. If you can do the same with say a Stravinsky tune, then you’ve got the ears to improvise complex lines. If not, and if this second type of improvisation is important to you, then I think the best way to practice is to practice playing by ear melodies of songs you’ve never played.

    The beauty of this exercise is you can’t fool yourself into thinking your creating you're own orginal lines by 'playing what you hear' when all your doing is improvising under the “Play what you know” definition. Otherwise, it's sometimes hard to know.
    Last edited by fep; 05-08-2009 at 05:22 PM.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW400 View Post
    Actually.... It's also an art form. And being such it is subject to things like different 'Schools of thought" , philosophies, evolution, etc.

    It's the same with art and literature.

    If you want to say it's just music, then let's only say that about all the stuff that get's released that follows some predeterminedcorporate formula for success like all the Miley's , Jonas Brothers, Brittany's , etc out there. There's no philosophy there. Only dollar signs
    John and all...

    Here is a great speach that makes the same point as John made, please read this it is quite good:

    Boston Conservatory - Karl Paulnack Address to Parents

  16. #15

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    Composition and improvisation are a continuum.
    I believe that musical improvisation is the act of creating a real time sound response to each moment and the possibility of transcending our skill sets and who we believe ourselves to be. It can be either profound or ordinary but it is always honest.

  17. #16

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    Is art a form of communication? I think it is.
    Charlie Parker 'invented" bebop as a reaction to the dance music of the day. He wanted to communicate to other artists not the general public. Since when are entertainers not artists? They have an art that is different than yours. You are not better because you think your art is more highbrow than theirs.
    I love Mylie Cyrus she is cute, a breath of fresh air, and I take her for what she is. She is good at what she does just like Bird was good at what he does.
    I bet Bird could not dance like Madonna.
    I would not expect him to. His art hits me on a different level. Not
    'better' just different.

  18. #17

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    i agree with the poster that related improvising to learning a new language, in this case it is the language of music.

    you want to get all that stuff you can learn (arpeggios, chords, scales/modes, licks, etc) and ingrain that in your mind, so that when you hear an specific sound you can answer to it like you answer "doing good" to "how you doing?".

    but, the same way you can teach a person how to write and they can make typos or have a very limited vocabulary, you can teach someone chords, scales, arpeggios/chords and they can still lack creativity and do it not quite good.

  19. #18

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    One thing about art is that it stands the test of time. Here it is 2009 and we're still talking about Charlie Parker and his music, Lets see ,when did his last LP come out?

    Does anybody think that People will be talking about all the nonsense groups that have come out with their bubblegum sound on a forum 40 years from now?

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW400 View Post
    Does anybody think that People will be talking about all the nonsense groups that have come out with their bubblegum sound on a forum 40 years from now?
    Talk about...what? Already forgot about all of those!

  21. #20

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    Some great artists drive the art form forward and open unseen avenues and ideas for others to develop and continue to expand. Charlie Parker was certainly one of those artists and that is one of the reasons he is still so famous. But that shouldn't belittle others who don't have such an impact.

    Miley Cyrus or whoever else may not have added much development to current music, and may well be forgotten in five years, but that should not denegrate what they produce as 'not art'.

    There have been countless artists who were shunned in their own time and only became famous and whose work only had an impact a long time after their death. There are also countless people who made a big impact when they were alive but who are now all but forgotten, especially jazz artists!

    Once we start saying something is not art or that one art form is better than another we are on very shaky ground. There is no proof for any of this and it is only a matter of opinion.

    There is no yardstick to measure it by. Not sales, not money, not fame, not longetivity, not critical acclaim. It is all a matter of personal taste.

    I seriously doubt that most of the current crop of pop stars will be remembered for long at all, and imho Charlie Parker was an extremely rare breed who far outweighs all but a tiny minority of people who followed him, but that is all just my personal opinion, and I don't think we should say that what others' produce is 'not art', regardless of how bad we think it is.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by Paul J Edwards View Post
    Is art a form of communication? I think it is.
    Charlie Parker 'invented" bebop as a reaction to the dance music of the day. He wanted to communicate to other artists not the general public. Since when are entertainers not artists? They have an art that is different than yours. You are not better because you think your art is more highbrow than theirs.
    I love Mylie Cyrus she is cute, a breath of fresh air, and I take her for what she is. She is good at what she does just like Bird was good at what he does.
    I bet Bird could not dance like Madonna.
    I would not expect him to. His art hits me on a different level. Not
    'better' just different.
    Can't let that comment escape without at least a token objection. You may as well be saying that the writings of Shakespeare are just "different" from Avril Lavigne's lyrics, not necessarily better.... yeah, right..... Jazz is art, Pop is craft, if you don't understand the difference then stick to craft and don't make ridiculous and deeply insulting comparisons. The ideals of Art are loftier than those of Craft (see Oscar Wilde), and as artists, we are allowed to say so. Elitist? You bet!!!

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW400 View Post
    One thing about art is that it stands the test of time. Here it is 2009 and we're still talking about Charlie Parker and his music, Lets see ,when did his last LP come out?

    Does anybody think that People will be talking about all the nonsense groups that have come out with their bubblegum sound on a forum 40 years from now?

    Well, essentially that's what I'm trying to say. There's music that is timeless, roots, jazz etc. Golden eras of these genres (ragtime, electric blues movement in Chicago, ect) stand out most, but the music always lives on. Jazz is over 100 years old, and even though all it's changes, it's really the only American music accepted in the academia as an institution that can be studied. Meanwhile nobody will remember pop music, and even some parts of rock, because it's not timeless.

  24. #23

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    But 100 years is nothing. And jazz is hardly a mainstream art form these days. I believe jazz is an extremely advanced musical art form and supercedes most others, but would never say that some other music is not art.

    Jazz may be considered high-brow now, but it certainly wasn't during it's infancy. Older generations always reject younger music, and we can't say for sure that Miley Cyrus or Avril Lavigne won't be seen as visionaries in the future, as ridiculous as that sounds at the present!

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by abracadabra View Post
    Once we start saying something is not art or that one art form is better than another we are on very shaky ground. There is no proof for any of this and it is only a matter of opinion.

    There is no yardstick to measure it by. Not sales, not money, not fame, not longetivity, not critical acclaim. It is all a matter of personal taste.
    i dont know about this
    Last edited by sfas; 02-21-2013 at 02:36 PM.

  26. #25

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    Abracadaba, I think history bears this out already. Just look at all the corporation marketed bands and singers that have come out in the last 30 years. The only history that most have made is to appear on VH1's 'Where are they now" type programs.

    As far as JAzz not being mainstream, perhaps not quite as mainstream as hip hop or even country but lets ask the educators here like Matt and Jake about how many applications their universities receive for new students every year.

    Listen, even the Beatles were on that same level up until they reached Sgt Pepper. They started to find their way on Revolver. And I'm a huge Beatles fan. Before Revolver, just an extremely successful band. I don't consider what they did before that to be art.

    Art is a funny thing. There's that old expression, "I don't anything about art but I know what I like". My seven year old nephew makes some intersting drawing in school. Is it art or is it just a drawing? I ask the same about all the Jseeica Simpsons, Hansons , etc. Is it art or is it just people singing

  27. #26

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    So when does one become an artist. John Lennon was just a pop singer till June 5th 1966 when he woke up and became an artist. What rubbish!

    Take a look in A Hard Days Night, the movie. John is in his hotel room and playing one of those mouth piano things. Well he is fooling with the chords to Strawberry Fields. Hm this was like 1965. Surely he could not have written that as a mere pop star.

    Is early blues like Son House and Robert Johnson art. This was music played at house parties for people to dance and drink to.

  28. #27

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    I just thought of something.

    Miles covered a tune by Cindy Lauper.
    "Time After Time"



    What a beautiful piece of music from just a pop star.

    I guess Miles found some value in it.

  29. #28

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    I don't recall mentioning Cindy Lauer in my list of pop people. By the way , did she write the song of just sing it? If Miley sings this song will she be an artist too?

    Yeah ok , In a hard days night Lennon may been fooling with Strawberry Fields but when did we finally see it? Lennon alway was into art but it was't until they stopped touring and sat down to really work at their craft did the make the transition. Is "She Loves" you real art? Ask Paul McCartney what he thinks about it. Then I guess we'll know.

    I guess I'll say it goes by what you put out on display. I can play the most intense stuff yet all I release is a song like "Insert song by Brittany here". I may be an artist but I'm certainly not making art.

    Let's look at Alanis Morrisette . She was the Nickalodean darling. One day she woke up and then we got Jagged Little Pill.

    Listen , I'm not being high brow. I certainly think there are tons of things out there that can be considered art like Bluegrass music, Classical, Hank Williams, Pink Floyd, and music of indigenous peoples.

    However let's not muddy the waters by saying that ANY ONE that sings, paints , dances , writes, or what have you is an artist. It just ain't so. And quite frankly not everyone that post here is an artist.

    Me? I'm certainly no artist. Just a guitar player.
    Last edited by JohnW400; 05-09-2009 at 10:46 PM.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW400 View Post
    i don't recall mentioning Cindy Lauer in my list of pop people. By the way , did she write the son of just sing it? Id Miley sings this song will she be an artist too?

    YOeah ok , In a hard days night Lennon may been fooling with Strawberry Fields but when did we finally see it? Lennon alway was into art but it was't until they stopped touring and sat down to really work at their craft did the make the transition. is She Loves you real art. Ask Paul McCartney what he thinks about it. Then I guess we'll know.

    Let's look at Alanis Morrisette . She was the Nickolodean darling. One day she woke up and then we got Jagged Little Pill.
    Cindy Lauper wrote the tune with another guy....
    Wikipedia.....
    Lauper co-wrote "Time After Time" with Rob Hyman when her producer, Rick Chertoff, suggested to the band that the album could use one more song. The record label did not have much faith in Lauper as a songwriter, but they gave her the chance to prove herself. "Time After Time" was one of the biggest hits of 1984. It has been covered by more than 100 artists

  31. #30

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    Joni Mitchell was "just" a folk singer yet her songs and ability blossomed.
    Again from Wikipedia...
    She worked closely with jazz greats including Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, Herbie Hancock, and on a 1979 record released after his death, Charles Mingus

    The point is don't judge and artist because you never know. Just say it's not your taste and be done with it.

    We are all artists and stars. I know because John Lennon told me so.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by JohnW400 View Post
    Is "She Loves" you real art? Ask Paul McCartney what he thinks about it. Then I guess we'll know. .
    I really dont mean to pick on you it's just that I disagree with almost everything you say.

    She Loves You is the highest form of art!!!

    It connected with a whole generation of people to actually change the world as we knew it.

    Fashion, music, art, politics, This song and the Beatles has changed society as we know it.

    Has Pat Martino even scratched that surface of influence through his art.

    I love Pat and Bird and all the others but it's not fair to say that they are high art because it is difficult to understand and relate to while the Beatles hit your soul right from the first listen.

    I guess we will have to agree to disagree here.

    Bottom line is what do you think is the ultimate purpose of art?

  33. #32

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    She Loves You was a pop song. Nothing more. Revolver through Abbey Road was art.

    She loves you was sceaming girls chasing after pop stars. The Beatle themselves grew tired of this and wanted to do more serious stuff. Hence.... Revolver.

    Listen man, I was 5 in 1963. I had every single and album they ever released. All I wanted for Christmas when I was 12 was All Things Must Pass. My sister has a picture of me holding this LP on xmas day. I, like 100.000 + others, play guitar because of them. My question is one of timing. To me they relly didn't make the jump until after they left the sceaming teeny boppers behind. And for years and years none of th ecorporate types could figure it out. A couple of bands came out and their PR peolle siad that here was the next beatles , but all that came out was some young, attractive musicians playing pop. The corporate types hadn't quite figured the formula out yet. They still haven't figured it out. There is no formula . when it happens....it happens and no amount of merchandised singers like the Brittany's , Miley's, Hansons or Jonas Brothers are going to make art out of what they're doing. It;s not being packaged to be art.

    But I think we digress. If you want to talk about world changing musicians we'll ned to stat with Louis Armstrong and move through the Duke and all those Swing cats.

    To me art is something that other people call something someone else is doing, that they really can't put their finger on....but they know that they like it.

  34. #33

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    So Rubber Soul was not art

    A sitar on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," Greek-like guitar lines on "Michelle" and "Girl," fuzz bass on "Think for Yourself," and a piano made to sound like a harpsichord on the instrumental break of "In My Life". Which was recently listed as the best song ever written in the rock era by Rolling Stone.

    Oh Ok this album qualifies but the one before does not?
    Andy Warhol was just a pop art guy right? No real art there.
    Sidney Pollack, Lou Reed, Sex Pistols, Talking Heads. Thats just pop and punk right?
    Most people would not know art if it bit them on the ass.

    Dig... Its all good. Just because it does not fit an individual preconcieved notion of art does not make it not art.

    Was Marilyn Monroe an artist? What about Marlin Brando or Elvis, Scotty Moore, Gene Vincent.
    The Andrew Sisters, The Marx Bros., Abbott and Costello?

    It's hard to draw a line.
    I remember listening to the B-52's and telling my friend that they remind me of Weather Report! The layers of sound and how the parts interacted with each other, He thought I was nuts. Years later he told me I was right that the B-52's did have some very interesting interplay with the vocals.

    It's all good.

    I hate rap but Eminem is very interesting.

  35. #34

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    art is a direct reflection of the human condition, and imitation of life. It is subjective, but I will say this, it's no secret that most Amrican roots music was, and has always been improvised, from the days of field hollers, to peidmont picking, bluegrass and Tex-Mex Tejano, it was at least a little to completely improvised. In fact, indigenous musics from all over the world are mostly improvised. From the Gnawa musicians to the East Indian classical, East European Klezmer music to Ud-based Egyptian melodies. It's all improv. The only thing Miley Cyrus improvises is a new dance move when she forgets the right one. I personally will always favor improvised art over premeditated, manufactured art any day!!!!!!!!!!!

  36. #35

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    Oh that postmodernist nonsense!! If I take a crap on a canvas and try to have it "installed" into a museum, it's not considered art but vandalism or something. If someone wealthy and backed by "art" patrons does the same thing, it is HIGH CULTURE.

    There is a guy in Rome who tosses red dye into the water at the famous Bernini sculpture (what the heck is the name of that place again?*) and throws a bunch of plastic balls down the stairs at the Piazza di Spagna.

    He calls himself a "neo-futurist" or something like that. I call him a jackass and a clown. Period.

    Oh no, singori!! The world has come to an end. Finis mundi.

    Edit---
    *The Trevi fountain, I just remembered.
    Last edited by franco6719; 05-10-2009 at 07:54 AM.

  37. #36

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    "It's hard to draw a line."

    Certainly it is very hard to draw a line, but that does not meant that such lines does not exist.


    "It's all good."

    Really? ALL good. Then what's the point of practicing, studying, and trying to become good if everything already sounds good?

  38. #37

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    Was Marilyn Monroe an artist? No.

    What about Marlin Brando--- Yes or Elvis (maybe) Scotty Moore (who is it?), Gene Vincent (yes)
    The Andrew Sisters (Maybe), The Marx Bros (Yes), Abbott and Costello (No)?

  39. #38

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    Bottom line is what do you think is the ultimate purpose of art?

    Hmm...now that I think about it, if I thought jazz were popular, entertainment music I probably would not have gotten interested in it in the first place. Same is true of my choices of literature (James Joyce, Proust), books, philosophy, etc.. I'm just not a "light-minded" person. "To each his own Number One." ...Captain Picard.

  40. #39

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    I think some peoples' definition of 'art' is far too selective and elitist. It really isn't that big of a deal.

    Some artists, like, say, Miles Davis, have a huge impact on their peers, have a long and productive career at the peak of their artistic field, receive great critical acclaim, and have university courses salivating over their work. Some other artists just play a beat-up guitar on the corner of a street and hope people will chuck them a few pennies.

    Why does the term 'art' have to be so set-in-stone? There are surely various levels of art, and Marilyn Monroe, Miley Cyrus, and the early Beatles' work would surely exist as art on some level or other, that level being ENTIRELY SUBJECTIVE!!!

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post

    Derek that really sums it up for me but I see it as two separate things…

    1) Play what you know. That’s where we apply the scales, triads, licks, arps, etc that we have practiced to a piece. This can overlap with the play what you hear as you will often hear the scales, triads, licks, arps, etc that you practice.

    2) Play what you hear. For this type of improvisation, to me the ideal is to hear original ideas, not the scales, triads, licks, arps, etc that you’ve been practicing. An easy way to test this, and something a guitar teacher tested me with is to find a song from a list like this http://www.beatleslyricsarchive.com/songs.php, find a tune that you know the melody well in your head (i.e. you can hum it) but you’ve never played on guitar. Then play the melody on your guitar, if you can do it effortlessly with no mistakes the first time through then you’ve got the ‘ears’ to improvise simple melodic lines under this second definition… and that is a beautiful thing. If you can do the same with say a Stravinsky tune, then you’ve got the ears to improvise complex lines. If not, and if this second type of improvisation is important to you, then I think the best way to practice is to practice playing by ear melodies of songs you’ve never played.

    The beauty of this exercise is you can’t fool yourself into thinking your creating you're own orginal lines by 'playing what you hear' when all your doing is improvising under the “Play what you know” definition. Otherwise, it's sometimes hard to know.

    I use this site for the sort of thing you are talking about. You should also be able to start on any note (any key in other words). I've gotten much better at this sort of thing over the last year or so, though I still struggle with more complex or long melodies and so on.
    http://http://www.iwasdoingallright.com/tools/v2_24/ear_training.aspx

  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by franco6719 View Post
    I use this site for the sort of thing you are talking about. You should also be able to start on any note (any key in other words). I've gotten much better at this sort of thing over the last year or so, though I still struggle with more complex or long melodies and so on.
    http://http://www.iwasdoingallright.com/tools/v2_24/ear_training.aspx
    Great tool. Thanks for the link!

  43. #42

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    Art is about making people feel something through an artistic media. Some artist have control over what they try to accomplish and others simply flail away and hope that the result resonates with someone. The worst kind of artist is one that creates a piece and then has to explain to the observer what it tries to convey. I call this art with a user-manual. Even worse, is the self-declared artist who expects some intellectually self-absorbed aficionados to declare their work as art, reducing it to some intellectual activity and destroying any remnant of feeling. They view other artists as their audience and are generally fascinated with themselves and identify with being unique and eccentric.

    Point is.. that if what is created makes people feel something then it could be considered art. If the creator has enough control over their media to actually transmit a specific feeling to someone else, then they can call themselves an artist. All others are practitioners and craftsmen on the journey to becoming artists.

    Pop music is a craft that transmits to a mass audience. The songs that endure usually have successfully transmitted a strong emotional trigger to a large number of people and in this sense it is pure art (whether the result was intended or not). Songs that die on the charts (but still make money) are usually ones where promoters try to instruct the masses about what they are suppose to like and how they are suppose to feel - unfortunately this works - very dangerous, but it works. However, its more manipulation than art.
    Last edited by Jazzaluk; 05-10-2009 at 09:30 AM.

  44. #43

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    Once again, can you really call a "singer" who probably lip-syncs on stage, has her voice digitally altered in the studio, doesn't relly write her own music and artist? I think just like Franco said Abbot and Costello weren't art, Miley and others are entertainment. Entertainment is were you really don't have to use your mind to appreciate it. Art makes you think, wonder about the shape, contour and texture. THINK ABOUT IT PPL!!!!!!!!!Art is by definition also 2 things:as Trane once said "Art is a reflection of the human condition, and also of the times. The social, political and emotional climate are often refleced in art." THAT'S B/C THEY'RE PRIMARY INFLUENCES!!!> When Trane did Alabama, he did so for the movement and MLK. When bluegrass was in its infancy, it was a direct reflection of the coal worker who barely made it by financially, even though the music stemed from Scottish melodies. It would be absurd to recreate certain arts during "revolutions" (psychadelia, old-school metal, ect) Because we don't live during those times.

  45. #44

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    Well well well, if we look at the opening post on this thread we'll realise we are off on some tangent! Guess that we all have strong opinions as to what constitutes Art and that we'd rather discuss this than the initial question. Suits me, happens to be one of my raw nerves too. "L'Art pour L'Art" ... art for art's sake....that helps us draw the line a little I reckon. Oscar Wilde once said "All art is quite useless, it has no use, except that it be admired". Now you cannot say that about Madonna! Someone mentioned post Revolver Beatles. Well, by then, they weren't so interested in money, and perhaps they were then mainly interested in their work being admired. Not that they be admired, because the greatest artists have been unselfconscious, right? That works for me anyway, and that is why the early unknown Lou Reed was indeed an artist, whilst the then already celebrated Andy Warhol to me seems to have been merely a (brilliant) "pop agitator".

    Yeah I know, one man's floor is another man's ceiling, but for chrissakes, this is a Jazz forum, JAZZ dammit, we're only talking about the highest art form known to man! And the aspiring Jazz guitarist knows only too well how incredibly difficult it is to improvise as well as Wes, Tal or George etc. So I beseech you all in honor of all the Jazz greats, please don't demean the legacy of their art by suggesting their thousands of hours of study honing their inspiring genius bears no more merit than the latest pop tart of the month! I hereby bestow all lovers of Jazz the right to feel snooty, highbrow, and yes, elitist! Most jazz folk are too humble while legions of untalented blowhards on lesser musical plateaus win most of the admiration from the mainly unsophisticated public. Some of you might be OK with that, but I most certainly am not.

    Sheesh! Next you be tellin' me Fiddy Cent and P Diddy are culturally more important than Bird, Miles or Trane!! Are we done?

  46. #45

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    [quote=Paul J Edwards;33353]So Rubber Soul was not art

    A sitar on "Norwegian Wood (This Bird Has Flown)," Greek-like guitar lines on "Michelle" and "Girl," fuzz bass on "Think for Yourself," and a piano made to sound like a harpsichord on the instrumental break of "In My Life". Which was recently listed as the best song ever written in the rock era by Rolling Stone.

    Hmmm, I thought Rubber Soul was after Revolver.

    I just checked the dates on ths Cd's. My mistake. Allow me to ammend my post "Everything before Rubber Soul"

    I don't know why I confused them. Must be age.

  47. #46

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    a lot of you are extremely confused about the nature of art. I suggest you all sit down some time and do some research on the history and application of art, and then you will have your definition. Once you have your definition you will be able to answer these questions about art.

    the definition of art is rigid and has to be. And for all of you proclaiming the subjectivity of art, that it is "all good" or that it is something that cant be pinned down or described; think again.

    what definition are you working from? or are you working from no definition?

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by mfarkas View Post
    a lot of you are extremely confused about the nature of art. I suggest you all sit down some time and do some research on the history and application of art, and then you will have your definition. Once you have your definition you will be able to answer these questions about art.

    the definition of art is rigid and has to be. And for all of you proclaiming the subjectivity of art, that it is "all good" or that it is something that cant be pinned down or described; think again.

    what definition are you working from? or are you working from no definition?
    I have... so what is your definition?

  49. #48

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    not to fuel a discussion that's strayed far from it's original ideas, but to me, a well crafted pop song is most definitely a work of art--and "She Loves You" falls into that category.

    to me, Art is the process of and or end result of creative actions. the idea of their being "levels" to it is subjective at best, elitist at worst.

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont View Post
    not to fuel a discussion that's strayed far from it's original ideas, but to me, a well crafted pop song is most definitely a work of art--and "She Loves You" falls into that category.

    to me, Art is the process of and or end result of creative actions. the idea of their being "levels" to it is subjective at best, elitist at worst.
    The idea of their being no levels to it is foolhardy.... I can dare to suggest that the art of Charlie Parker possesses more merit than the art of P Diddy. What, you wanna have a pissy pseudo-intellectual/philosophical debate about the meaning of the word "merit"? Undergraduate Philosophy and outright sophistry have a lot to answer for. I repeat, if warranted it is OK to feel elitist in defence of our much maligned and misunderstood as well as under-appreciated "super" art form. When did it suddenly become "wrong" to be elitist? After all, the "elite" in music and art does exist, you'd have to be a hippy not to acknowledge that.....

  51. #50

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    a hippy who likes diddy.

    what are you getting all angry with me for?--i didn't attack you personally.

    "elite" art and music exists only to those who think it is. my sister doesn't care about miles davis. so she's wrong?

    art isn't a competition, and there's not "levels." sorry, i'm standing by that. there's art i like more--but that doesn't make it better. the idea that the beatles suddenly became more important because they dropped acid and put a sitar on a song is bullshit. the idea that i'm somehow more important because i like miles davis instead of the jonas brothers is bullshit.

    elitism is what scares a lot of people away from jazz. it's communal music, and here we are, perpetuating attitudes that exclude people.

    i play jazz, almost exclusively. i paint large abstract canvases. i am nobody important. the world will continue to spin when i pluck my last note or mix my last color.