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  1. #426

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    Week 4 day 3. 60BPM. Used the modified BB&B in ireal pro as backing. Another long busy day. Starting to feel the staleness creep in so I focused on moving motifs through tonal centers, and larger jumps to change things up. I also worked on changing direction of the line at the bar lines.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #427

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    Week 4. Day 3 of BBB at 75 bpm. Another day functioning on a deficit of sleep and focus. I got through the exercises. I may try again later this evening. I'm confident tomorrow will be a better day!

  4. #428

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    First take was lame. No inspiration. Started clicking a bit during the second and thirds takes. I think 66-68 bpm is my limit for this tune at this point—I'm finding that I can't execute my ideas as quickly as I'd like at this tempo—lots of clams just trying to keep the endless stream of 8th notes flowing. Recovering from a one-note clam to make it sound intentional is cool, but when your clams are 4-5 random notes from 3 separate wrong keys, you've got your work cut out for you! I am actually going to dial back quite a bit tomorrow and see if I can't make less mistakes. Also starting to get somewhat obsessed with the recording itself, mic placement, trying to eliminate the honky, boxy quack that I keep capturing. I spent like 45 minutes messing with a compressor on comping track tonight

  5. #429
    I was attending a workshop on different kinds of teaching and learning approaches. We were handed a little card with an image of a shape in black and white. Kind of an abstract thing. "What do you see?" and for the first part of our talk discussion we had these pieces of paper. At various points, one person, and another would gasp audibly and say "I SEE IT" and smile. Not everyone got it. It seemed the harder people tried, the more they saw the same "shape". But when they seemed to take their mind off the task, maybe just see the shape out of the corner of their eye, something would become so obvious.
    We learn to approach notes the same way. Directly. Chord tones. Tonic. 7 notes make a melody. Scale. and the more we try, the more we slip into the things we see over and over and over again.
    II-7 V7 I... If that's the shape you see that's what you draw. Somebody told you what you can do and that's become the way.
    Learning to solo, to compose, to create for the ear means creating with the ear. That takes learning to hear indirectly.
    II-7 V7 I. Yeah that's the beginning of Autumn Leaves, right. I'll bet when you start soloing on Autumn Leaves, you solo differently than when you're playing project 2-B. There are many reasons for that, maybe you hear music in your ear already and that inspires you, maybe it's not intimidating, maybe it's not different, who knows? That's you with Autumn Leaves. How well does your ear hear the possibilities of what II V I can mean?
    At 2:50 Chet Baker starts his solo. You can skip to there if you know the tune. Play the 4 seconds it takes to play his first phrase, just the II V I. Then hit PAUSE.

    Now steal that phrase, and see if you can use it as a launching point to lead your ear in an unexpected direction.
    Just for fun...

  6. #430

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    It sort of raises the question about the difference between soloing over a harmonic sequence and soloing over a melody/theme....

  7. #431
    Quote Originally Posted by guido5
    It sort of raises the question about the difference between soloing over a harmonic sequence and soloing over a melody/theme....
    Exactly!
    You become aware of the question.
    You become aware of an answer.
    You find an answer that works and it becomes obvious.
    You do it.
    You can finally talk about it.
    Then you don't want to talk about it.
    And then you can't.
    Ha ha ha!

  8. #432

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    On the horn I always came from the Lee Konitz 10 step approach with the melody of the tune as the fundamental element of improvising. I'm getting to where I need to start getting back to that on the guitar, though this course is perhaps not the best context to be working on that... The old (and missed) tune a week line of investigation might be a better context for playing with those ideas...

  9. #433
    Quote Originally Posted by guido5
    On the horn I always came from the Lee Konitz 10 step approach with the melody of the tune as the fundamental element of improvising. I'm getting to where I need to start getting back to that on the guitar, though this course is perhaps not the best context to be working on that... The old (and missed) tune a week line of investigation might be a better context for playing with those ideas...
    Take a look at the post I wrote on composing a solo. If you write solos on paper, you can create memorable melodies. These can be the basis of variation.
    Get good at this and you can do it on the fly. You can see this in Paul Desmond's soloing, or Lee Konitz, so many really lyric soloists, Keith Jarrett... all can hear, set up and develop (theme variation/embellishment) original and composed songforms.
    It's absolutely a great place to work with this approach. First though, get your melodic and facile fundamentals down. Get to the point where you can hear, create and execute PHRASES in real time. Then we sculpt them.
    We're still in week 4 of 20. These things come with time, but knowing your long term goals informs the immediate actions.
    Why not?

  10. #434
    This is the previously referred to Lee Konitz approach to improvising over a tune. If you took the harmonic form of a piece, or project here, and wrote out your own melody, you could create what's known as a Contrafact, or new composition over existing chords. This is an excellent exercise that will make you a much stronger soloist. Combine a melody with this approach and you've got what you need to be improving every day for the rest of your life.

    In very brief, the 10 gradients are incrementally moving from simple (the tune's melody) to complicated (improvising from pure inspiration) all the while keeping the original melody as point of departure and reference for building new material. The steps rely less and less on the original melody as we progress, of course.
    All examples take place on the first 8 bars of All The Things You Are, a great jazz standard.What to Do with That ???

    Ok, you've read (or played) through the examples and... it doesn't really make any sense, yet? Same thing happened to me, so don't worry! Each of Konitz 10 gradients should be worked on individually for a while. Here's a concise yet detailed explanation of each step:- 1st Gradient -

    The tune's melody, as is. This one's a "no brainer" really. :-)- 2nd Gradient -

    Slight variation on the original: identify "target notes", the most important tones of the melody. Connect them together, when you can or wish, with simple musical devices, with passing tones for example. In this step, the focus is on the important tones. Remember that these can be shortened in duration to allow passing tones to happen.- 3rd Gradient -

    More notes added to the line. Using new devices such as neighbor tones (mostly diatonic), change of direction and skips. The "target notes" are still present on strong beats but there's more flourishes around them. Similar to second gradient, but with more ornaments.- 4th Gradient -

    While it may be hard to tell the difference between Step 2 and 3 ("What should I play now...?"), Step 4 is really straight forward: Imagine a stream of 8th-notes (and occasional triplets) that simply uses the melody notes as guide-tones. That's the "big picture" of step 4. Every improvised lines on guide tones before? Check this out.- 5th Gradient -

    Same as Step 4 (the line is a stream of 8ths and triplets with the melody note dictating the direction) but we're adding two new important devices:
    • Neighbor tones (now more chromatic) and arpeggiation of underlying chords.
    • Rhythmic displacement of "target notes" (they don't always fall on downbeats anymore.)

    That's where the line really starts to develop into "its own thing". Very cool!- 6th Gradient -

    According less importance to the melody again: target notes still appear in their respective bars but may become subsidiary to the other ones (rhythmically, melodically and in phrasing/emphasis). In other words: the ornaments can "take over" and get more attention now. The improvised line should also be built from higher and higher chord tones (extensions such as 9ths, 11ths and 13ths).- 7th Gradient -

    Same as sixth gradient but Lee Konitz is using even more "higher" extension and altered chord tones such as b9, #9 and others. This one is a bit more "out" and chromatic than step 6. It depends on the tune, the player and where the line wants to go.- 8th Gradient -

    Original melody or intervals may still be present but they're totally ingrained in the improvised melody (barely noticeable, or not very obvious). This is probably where most "classic solos" stand: a great improvised line that stems from the original melody but that is never too obviously quoted from the original. Listen to Jim Hall, he's a master at using the melody subtly like this.- 9th Gradient -

    Almost no reference to the original target tones anymore (but the improvised line is still very anchored in the harmony of the tune and has grown from the original melody.) Lee Konitz may well be the only one to fully grasp this "gradient" of improv. I must admit, I don't really get it ... yet! To me, this is mind over matter...- 10th Gradient -

    An act of pure inspiration.

  11. #435

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    Yes this is the 10 step methodology, but from the perspective of a guitar player where harmony is the guiding framework.

    But from a Tristano influenced horn players perspective the harmony only informs the melody. It is the melody that really is the core of the tune. That is why Lee played such a different solo on "All the things you are" than he did on his contrafact of it "Thingin'". Even though they use the same set of chords, the melodies are so different and that leads to different improvisations.

    Sure I could write a contrafact on the changes of the week, but given the universe of things I need to work on is that the best use of my time right now? Hmmm...

  12. #436

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    A guitarist I met who had done some studying with Lee shared an
    additional interesting idea:

    Every melody has an upper and lower harmony that was also a point of reference for these expansions.

  13. #437

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    Straight from the alto player...

    Unfortunately this thing is getting a bit hard to track down...

    Lee Konitz 10-Step Method

  14. #438

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    Wow. Those prior posts were some pretty intense stuff. I'm just writing to say that I completed day 4 of BBB in Bb at 80 bpm.

  15. #439

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    Week 4 day 4. 70BPM. Used the modified BB&B in ireal pro for background. First time through this seemed like the right tempo but then it became harder and harder to avoid the bad habits which came flooding back in. Out of stubbornness I pushed on, but it never really got beyond clumsy. I'll try again next year...

  16. #440
    I've been playing long enough to have been through periods where I can honestly say my progress was really really slow. Every time I've seriously delved into the HR Super Chops, I've sweated and then said to myself "I should've done this a long time ago." It's a fast moving train by the end, but challenging all along the way.
    I think I've taken this format in one form or another three times. Each time it took me to a new plateau.
    This week I'm working strictly with the fretless. That means a LOT of moving around. Each time I hear a new tonal area, I actively shift to a position that plays strong. You can't play weak positions on fretless; it sounds horrible.
    So a lot of shifting and moving, shifting lines on one string from one tonal area to another.
    It's been really good for the way this approach changes my fretted playing too.
    I can comment that if you get to a place where you're feeling stale, shift positions to one that really allows you to create a strong counter melody or favours different notes.
    It's a great way to explore the fingerboard!
    Happy New Year everyone!!!

  17. #441

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    Despite my intentions to slow down, I plowed ahead into 70 bpm territory tonight. Still some clams, but I manage to discover at least *some* interesting stuff most nights when I go back to listen. I'm going to keep moving forward with the tempos until I absolutely cannot keep up. Not everything I try works, but there are some nice surprises in the recordings that I apparently pulled out of my ass while playing because I remember virtually none of it. Wish I had more time to transcribe some of the better ideas, but I think at some level things are getting imprinted subconsciously.

  18. #442
    Quote Originally Posted by guido5

    Sure I could write a contrafact on the changes of the week, but given the universe of things I need to work on is that the best use of my time right now? Hmmm...
    Sometimes just writing out a solo on 8 bars of a set of changes can change the way you make choices, the techniques you dip from, the possibilities and options you may not be conscious of when you're so close to things you are actively practicing.
    Maybe you might not, for instance, practice repeating a 4 note line, but turning it into a three note line, or turning it upside down and giving your ear a fresh kick in the proverbial butt. It's not to "write a composition" as much as it is to take those overlooked seedlings of musical ideas, and shine a light on them so they can take on a life of their own, take you somewhere you never saw.
    You may have or have not considered starting your lines from an unusual note, the fingers tend to avoid notes the ear has marked as "ouch" notes, but when you can explore what can be done with taking those notes seriously by writing them out and the "Hmmm, two more of these notes and I don't know why, but it works." kind of thinking. Writing really slows down the observation and options process, but what you find might change the course of a solo in real time.

    Mainly I was just suggesting this as one possible tool to tuck into that big bag. When you're stuck and finding yourself going down the same road, that bag might contain a different set of search beams that opens up a different contour or even a new road for you.
    I might add that I have a terrible voice. I cannot sing along with my playing though I wish I could. Writing out allows me to "sing" a line, access the singer in me if I think to, and that makes my phrases breathe differently.
    It worked for me anyway. I took a class with Dave Samuels, the vibes player, and he had us write a solo each week. I was relieved that I wasn't actually asked to play it. Long afterwords I realized that wasn't the point. We did play in real time in his class and I remember thinking "Hey this is like I'm cheating. I'm using stuff I wrote out last week." and it sounded great! Yeah I was cheating alright. I was cheating predictability.

  19. #443

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    Writing out a solo is an important (maybe essential?) part of the pedagogy of many learning strands of the music. I'm not so objecting to it as an activity but the sequence of jumping to step "h" when I really am at step "c". I got a bit discouraged by how much further I have to go and not focusing on how far I have come.

  20. #444
    Quote Originally Posted by guido5
    Writing out a solo is an important (maybe essential?) part of the pedagogy of many learning strands of the music. I'm not so objecting to it as an activity but the sequence of jumping to step "h" when I really am at step "c". I got a bit discouraged by how much further I have to go and not focusing on how far I have come.
    Yeah, talking about essential part of the process, at this point I'd have pushed you out the door and said "Find a buddy you can play with!" You'll see in an instant all you know and how it serves you to actually create something joyful to your self and for others. Playing with others is a huge part of what ails you, but sadly, it's not going to happen now. We can, at best share notes and say "Believe it or not, amazing job!"
    Progress is undeniable. Nice job on step D

  21. #445

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    Week 4 Day 5. 70bpm. Modified BB&B ireal pro backup. 70 is the new 60 and the lines moved decently, nothing breathtaking, but glimpses of joy were spotted and appreciated. No trains were wrecked in the making of these choruses. Perhaps a bit dented and scratched...

  22. #446

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    Day 5 of BBB at 85 bpm. Things are moving by a bit more swiftly now. It's good that we slowly work our way up. Familiarizing ourselves with the tune obviously creates ideas, patterns and motifs that we've uncovered that come more naturally even as the tempos get faster. I continue to try and be more adventurous, too. Sometimes that creates cool ideas I otherwise maybe wouldn't have uncovered. Other times it sounds forced, like I'm trying too hard not to play the same ideas I've been playing that seem to come more musically and naturally.

  23. #447
    Quote Originally Posted by D'Aquisto Fan
    Day 5 of BBB at 85 bpm. Things are moving by a bit more swiftly now. It's good that we slowly work our way up. Familiarizing ourselves with the tune obviously creates ideas, patterns and motifs that we've uncovered that come more naturally even as the tempos get faster. I continue to try and be more adventurous, too. Sometimes that creates cool ideas I otherwise maybe wouldn't have uncovered. Other times it sounds forced, like I'm trying too hard not to play the same ideas I've been playing that seem to come more musically and naturally.
    This made me so happy to read. I sitting here and I'm reminded that I'm so lucky to be a part of the world of music that exists "behind the curtain".
    There's a world that sees the music from the tables and concert hall seats, that hears the sounds from recordings and elevates the ostensibly unattainable creations of the artists to the realm of mystique and myth. This is where adoration of solos becomes the thing that drives one and also intimidates; even scares one from achieving or doing. That's the world in front of the curtain.
    Then there's the world that lives the music as a temperamental partner, full of frustrations and full of rewards. The "solo" is not something to be "made" as a product, but rather, it's an honest slice of life lived, captured through hard earned mastery of craft. That's the world behind the curtain.

    I've known a guitarist for a long time now. I've watched him grow and we've known one another through a lot of changes and a lot of life. I met him when he had a trio with bassist Steve Swallow and drummer Adam Nussbaum in the early 80's, later he worked with a well known trumpeter and toured the world- and it's been a steady story of hard work and endless ups and downs. So I have enough familiarity with his feelings and moods that I can tell when I've witnessed a singularly exceptional moment...and by the same token when he's struggling for a moment of fresh air on an off night.
    One night I remember very well, he'd been having a night where the tunes were comfortable, they were solid, the audience was on their feet and the encores were being demanded over and over. Afterwords he came to my table and we were quiet. We knew he had had an off night. The ideas were things he'd certainly been comfortable with, but the struggle to find the opening to new territory had been a brutal one. I looked at him as if to say "Yeah, it's one of those times, but hey-it was solid and everyone out here had a good time."
    When we'd made some small talk, I said to him "Y'know, honestly, it's the struggle that I find most beautiful. It's always those nights when it just doesn't come but you keep at it but it comes down to one chorus that feels real. Really good. That one hard earned chorus is the triumph that embodies why we do this" and he nodded.
    Just then, an autograph seeker happened to have overheard our conversation and he enthusiatically chimed in "No! That was awesome! That was killing! There wasn't anything but amazing tonight, how can you say that wasn't simply amazing?" To that, John simply said "That's because I'm a professional." he smiled and signed the CD.

    This is the life on the other side of the curtain, it's a constant struggle for the one moment when it feels right. The rest is the getting there.
    Welcome to the world of the players.

  24. #448

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    Finished Day 6 of 2A at 70bpm. I've started using my Tele on the bridge pickup with the tone on full and the treble cranked on the amp when I do these exercises. Yes - the tone is horrible, or at least not the sort of tone I like for jazz. But... every mistake, flam, and missed note is clear and obvious and there's no hiding from them. It's forcing me to focus on being as precise and articulate as I can, and it's revealing a lot of sloppy picking habits I need to address. One thing I noticed is that way to much of the pick is hitting the string - sometimes to the point of connecting with the pickguard. This needs to be corrected. I'm going to try using a Jazz III pick on Monday to see if that helps - I'm pretty sure I have a few lying around somewhere. Using a new pick will probably necessitate going back down a dozen bpm or so as I acclimatize to it, but I suppose that this is what the programme is designed for - identify technical and harmonic deficits and slowly but steadily address them in a progressive manner. We'll see what the new week brings starting Monday. Tomorrow I'll be rewiring an old Stratocaster that my cat peed all over and ruined the electronics to, lol.

  25. #449
    Quote Originally Posted by Socraticaster
    Tomorrow I'll be rewiring an old Stratocaster that my cat peed all over and ruined the electronics to, lol.
    Everybody's a critic.
    Why????? How????
    I've heard of Fender P bass, but Pee Strat? I guess you know when urine the groove.

  26. #450

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    Week 4 day 6. The modified ireal pro BB&B for backing. The muse once again settled in gently and inspired some really nice flowy lines. At 70 bpm I was doing some question/answer and theme/variation things that I was stumbling on two days ago at 60. So I set it to 80bpm and it only got better. The whole form started to come together. No longer was it a series of disconnected sections but a whole single organic unit. Definitely a nice way to end my two week visit to BB&B. Time to work on something entirely different before switching tunes next week.