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  1. #1

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    Many many options open to how to structure your study, how to learn to improvise and learn the tools of jazz.
    One approach might be to take a song, or song form and use it as a base for study over the course of a week, beginning at a very slow speed, and increasing it to a target tempo by the end of the week.
    Howard Roberts published a (long out of print) book called Super Chops in 20 weeks that laid out a weekly program. It by no means says you can't study other things, or that this is a solution to magically learn the canon of the idiom, but it is a program to bring you to a good level of proficiency and provide a basis for steady progress for about an hour a day commitment.
    The idea is simple: Each day an exercise of chords based on common progressions that are really useful to master is recorded at a tempo. You work with this progression for a week. 6 days on, one off. An hour a day.
    Chords are recorded as whole notes. Exercises are played as eighth notes. You bring all you know in a controlled way. No fancy embellishments. Eighth note focus. Find your strengths, find your weaknesses, know your abilities through committed dedication to a song based regimen.

    The first week's study is based on a Cherokee progression. You can do all the peripheral research on this song and what it is, but once you sit down, it's you, the song, the instrument and doing it.

    Anybody interested in sharing your observations, problems, issues, questions or posting backing tracks in any form, please do.

    Be patient and let's see what happens. I'll attempt to keep up with posting the new chord charts on a weekly basis. I'll post again on the 23rd. Welcome aboard!
    David

    Howard Roberts Super Chops: study group for a tune based practice routine-img_5598-jpgHoward Roberts Super Chops: study group for a tune based practice routine-img_5599-jpg

    I don't have a rotating graphics program and the display options are strangely limited so if someone could rotate this or you can lean on your sides and here you go!

    Oh yeah, I don't like the voicings given by him; they're fine but not natural to me so I just use my own voicings of the basic 7th chords here, root in bass. It works fine.
    Last edited by TH; 04-13-2017 at 02:17 PM.

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I'm in!
    Howard Roberts Super Chops: study group for a tune based practice routine-week-one-jpg
    Howard Roberts Super Chops: study group for a tune based practice routine-week-one-2-jpg

  4. #3

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    One source for the out of print book on PDF

    Howard Roberts Super Chops - Documents

    I'll assume you'll work on this through the week after Easter. I'll just post relevant pages on a weekly basis. Remember, if you're not having fun, you're not going to do it. I hope you enjoy the weeks ahead and post anything relevant.

    David

  5. #4

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    And may I add that the "Pointers" section is solid gold.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by morroben

    I understand the connection to songforms.
    I guess my question is why couldn't I do this

    with Autumn Leaves or Blue Bossa (which I'm working on for my lessons) rather than Cherokee? The all seem like fairly common songforms.

    FWIW, I'm not against doing it straight out of the book. Certainly wouldn't hurt me to learn Cherokee. I was just wondering if it might be more effective to combine studies. Maybe not.


    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    After playing through the first exercise with chords one time - Actually only half I did five minutes I think - 60 BPM is INSANELY slow. Cherokee is perfect to start in my opinion. Notice that the later tunes with higher BPM are actually easier changes.
    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher

    I may have to do this. I found that I surprisingly enjoyed the routine. I like that it's something based around tunes. You can incorporate whatever your working on at the moment anyway. Could be pentatonic s , major scales, arpeggios , vocabulary.


    I may just have to form a live weekly gathering of people here in Boston to do this together in real time. Anybody in the area that'd want to make this a live hang and support each other as we have some fun becoming better guitarists? I'll also say it's never too late or too early to work on anything at any tempo. Slow tempos are not for babies; fast ones for killer veterans. On the contrary, whenever Ben Monder is asked what the key to playing fast is, he always says practice slow, learn control and to think clearly as fast as your hands can move.

    I'm hoping that if even a couple people find this useful, there'll be some happy players in our group.

    David

  7. #6

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    What do you think he means by playing eighth notes over the whole progression? Scales? Or just keep arpeggiating the block chords?

  8. #7
    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    What do you think he means by playing eighth notes over the whole progression? Scales? Or just keep arpeggiating the block chords?
    Pretty sure it suggests combination of approaches depending on the player..? Single note improv on 8ths: Arps, scales. The analysis above changes facilitates key center approach if needed, but I'm sure you could be as specific as you like.

    Just skimmed the intro though...

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    What do you think he means by playing eighth notes over the whole progression? Scales? Or just keep arpeggiating the block chords?
    It's all open. Check out the PDF (link above). The preparatory material in this book is a great concise inventory of line shaping, pointers, tips and options, all of which are elements of real time solo construction. These exercises are as much practice of awareness as anything.
    In the days of big bands, a player would be surrounded by options and listening training 6 days week. Same here. You may start by thinking you have command of your resources but through use and permutations, you'll come to get past the technical and develop an awareness of how and why they're used; much of which is up to you.
    Scales, arpeggios, direction changes, targeting a chord tone with a linear passage, beginning on roots, on thirds, etc, starting phrases on the 2nd note of the mode, arpeggios with tensions, all this and more. When you start playing them, and then are able to be comfortable with them, then you'll make sensual connections and you'll use them in forming a line. Motiv, dynamics, development of line, -they all come alive in the song form.
    ... and then you do it again tomorrow, a little faster.

    Check out the pages that come before the ones I posted.

    David

  10. #9

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    Okay, I haven't read the intro, just looked at the first post above. So, it's about learning various chords, then applying key-centred soloing? I'll have a proper look at it later. Looks interesting.

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rob MacKillop
    Okay, I haven't read the intro, just looked at the first post above. So, it's about learning various chords, then applying key-centred soloing? I'll have a proper look at it later. Looks interesting.
    More than that, look at page 11 to 16. Various scales (including penatonic, chromatic, whole tone, diminished, harmonic minor, melodic minor), common tones, arpeggios, and interval leaps. It seems to me anything is game as long as you keep up the consecutive eighth notes.

    In trying to discern the primary objective. From page 6:
    It must be remembered here that the main purpose of this book is to build up technical facility within the attitudinal sphere of improvisation and not give an additional load of theoretical data

  12. #11

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    In project 1 he uses some chords that I don't know grips for, so that will be my first hurdle.

  13. #12

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    How do we know what tunes these are? Am I missing something? I don't see the tunes named anywhere.

  14. #13

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    Suuuuuupeeeeeeerrrrchooopppsss!!!

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by rlrhett
    How do we know what tunes these are? Am I missing something? I don't see the tunes named anywhere.
    No song names in the book to avoid copyright infringement. In practice chord progressions (without melody, song names, lyrics) are okay to use without running afoul of copyrights.

    It's real handy to find out what tune/tunes the progressions are too. Folks will disclose that as this thread develops.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by morroben
    In project 1 he uses some chords that I don't know grips for, so that will be my first hurdle.
    Use your own voicings. I do that, nothing lost at all as long as the chord quality is clear and the root is in the bass. Seriously, I don't like those voicings. They're clear harmonically, but if I don't feel comfortable under my hand, it's an obstacle to getting them smooth on the recording. I don't see anything wrong at all with using better chords, but don't use voicings that add tensions unless qualified, and be aware of what you're doing (don't just grab your favourite hip 7#9 chord because it's a habit in your hand...)"
    The goal is to get the tracks down in time and with clarity. Save your real work for what you do in the solo arena. That's my thought anyway.
    David

  17. #16

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    Here is a lesson 1 backing track .mp3 and for those with BIAB I've put the BIAB file out there .sgu. I prefer that you download the file, click the "...". (Playing the file in Box.net uses up my monthly usage allotment.)

    Box | Simple Online Collaboration: Online File Storage, FTP Replacement, Team Workspaces
    Last edited by fep; 04-14-2017 at 05:25 PM.

  18. #17
    Holy cow. After re reading, the first day is 48bpm! That's with 60 being the ending goal for the week.

    Anyway, I recorded myself strumming whole notes at 48 and then did the rest of the routine for day one.

    My thoughts:

    1. I enjoy doing this, without respect to playing goals of any kind really.I'll take the improvements he claims will come, but I would almost do this simply for the relaxing meditative qualities of playing slowly.

    2. My ears are much better than I would have imagined, before actually taking the time to play slowly enough to let them just work. I've always heard that standardized tests measure two different things: speed ave knowledge. well, I am kind of shocked by how much more my ears/fingers "know" when I slow down. Wider intervals, for example are much easier.

    3. My internal critical/judgmental voice is basically shut down by playing slowly and limiting rhythmic content. It doesn't seem to have a context for really relating to this as normal music or music practice. I can almost relate to my own playing in third person.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 04-15-2017 at 03:58 PM.

  19. #18

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    .pdf chord chart print form here:https://app.box.com/s/83xkzr9p1gvxzbr46eu5t6w5fmx19doq
    Attached Images Attached Images Howard Roberts Super Chops: study group for a tune based practice routine-sc-1-1-jpg Howard Roberts Super Chops: study group for a tune based practice routine-sc-1-2-jpg 
    Last edited by fep; 04-15-2017 at 04:39 PM.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Holy cow. After re reading, the first day is 48bpm! That's with 60 being the ending goal for the week.

    Anyway, I recorded myself strumming whole notes at 48 and then did the rest of the routine for day one.

    My thoughts:

    1. I enjoy doing this, without respect to playing goals of any kind really.I'll take the improvements he claims will come, but I would almost do this simply for the relaxing meditative qualities of playing slowly.

    2. My ears are much better than I would have imagined, before actually taking the time to play slowly enough to let them just work. I've always heard that standardized tests measure two different things: speed ave knowledge. well, I am kind of shocked by how much more my ears/fingers "know" when I slow down. Wider intervals, for example are much easier.

    3. My internal critical/judgmental voice is basically shut down by playing slowly and limiting rhythmic content. It doesn't seem to have a context for really relating to this as normal music or music practice. I can almost relate to my own playing in third person.
    Bye-bye, cortisol!

  21. #20

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    How does that saying go? "If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together."

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by destinytot
    Bye-bye, cortisol!
    Seriously...

    I listen to a lot of Tim Ferris's podcasts , where he interviews leaders, innovators etc. of all types. Super successful people on many fronts. They basically approach things in numerous different ways, and there aren't many common denominator's between all these people and their different styles of approaching life, except for one: almost ALL meditate daily. This is actually a pretty extraordinary secret IMO.

    Most aren't religious at all, in fact - majority atheist probably, but as a class of individuals, most see meditation as being vital to their general health and creativity/productivity.

    Anyway, Howard Roberts was a groovy dude. The language in his introductory segment of this book certainly jobs with someone who would approach music in this way.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 04-15-2017 at 05:18 PM.

  23. #22
    Somehow this fourth one got deleted previously and magically showed back up in "insert previous?". :-)

    4. It breaks some fundamental thinking patterns. At this tempo, things are actually SO slow that you can't really process it by overly thinking about changes in visual symbolic way as much . Almost like playing music which is too FAST to really facilitate "thinking".

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Somehow this fourth one got deleted previously and magically showed back up in "insert previous?". :-)

    4. It breaks some fundamental thinking patterns. At this tempo, things are actually SO slow that you can't really process it by overly thinking about changes in visual symbolic way as much . Almost like playing music which is too FAST to really facilitate "thinking".
    It's a thing that comes with practice. That's kind of the genius of this, Matt. Yeah, there's something that you can do, you do it at speed and you're OK, and you do it really slowly and it's OK but boring. But out of boredom comes the necessity to desperately do something new. Those tiny AHA moments you deny yourself when you're "at speed" are now part of your radar.

    I was actually going to suggest that we all start at uber slow speed on Monday, and use the weekend to do this in the ways we usually play, a little faster, flirting with ho-hum boredom, finding the bored zone with our old vocabulary... then look at the introductary part of the book AFTER we've really seen the paper bag we find ourselves in when playing a solo.

    There's some pretty deep psychology going on here when Real time meets the Thinking process. There's more than a week to sit in the room and look at your playing, right in the eye. Strangely enough, some people, a lot of people can play years, trying to play at the top of their tempo range, looking to other people's transcribed phrases to keep from facing the deficit of NOT HAVING GUIDING AWARENESS at the core of their craft.
    If it seems slow, don't ask "When do we get to the good stuff?" but rather ask "What are my options and can I hear what I'm doing? Is there intention to my linear choices? Do I play the way I do to avoid that which I've never tried? Where is the door to the unexpected phrase?" If I can't find it at this speed, then how will I do it at speed?
    THEN look at the mini course on inprovisational ideas at the start of the book and get some ideas.

    It's not hard to play at this speed if it's about moving your fingers. But try to play thoughtfully, with awareness of where you can go, and how you make your choices, that's really hard.

    20 weeks. It's worth the fear of confronting your thinking process.

    David

    This is a youtube clip I play when I need reminding of the benefits of having your shit together.
    It's a solo of David Binney playing I Remember You. You don't play this way without being aware of what you're doing, and you don't get that way without starting slowly and mastering a large time space and then learning to compress it.

  25. #24

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    I'm also interested to try this method. I think I will choose some songs, which I'm working at the moment for this and I'm gonna use Ireal Pro backing tracks for this purpose. Very curious to see, if this method will help my playing.

  26. #25

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    Although I probably won't incorporate some of the stretchier voicings into my playing, I found they did open my ears a bit. For example, I usually use diminished chords as rootless 7b9 voicings. It dawned on me while trying out some of HW's dominant b9 voicings that I've never really listened to how the full chord relates back to the root.

    Good stuff already and I haven't even tackled the actual exercise yet.