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  1. #1

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    So I've been playing jazz on and off for about a year but this one I guess technique keeps holding me up. I put my metronome on 2 and 4 and attempt to improvise over a tune. I always get lost in the beats and either play a bar for too long or vice versa. Does anybody have any exercises or tips to help this? I prefer playing with just the metronome rather than accompaniment for now so i can improve on outlining chords in my improv.

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  3. #2
    Real players don't really count in that basic sense. They feel music in larger phrases. It's easy if you're playing the melody Or chord patterns with other players, because those patterns, whether you're consciously aware of them or not, provide STRUCTURE for hearing bigger chunks.

    When you're on your own, you might not be playing patterns that way. Most of us tend to stick "between bar lines" and play four beat patterns etc. while improvising. Beyond simply keeping your place, there's a lot of value in becoming aware of these otherwise "background" patterns and learning to use them in your own playing....on purpose.

    Look at the melodic rhythm of old swing tunes by Duke Ellington and co. They have strong–weak patterns, and other patterns, such as same–same–same-different. Anyway, you feel four or eight bars pretty easily because of the structure itself.

    Look for simple cross rhythms and Polymetric patterns in these tunes, such as three-beat patterns over 4/4 time - which basically can't be completed without going 3 or 4 measures. In addition to rhythmic patterns which cross bar lines, there are melodic and harmonic patterns as well which basically REQUIRE a longer phrase to fully resolve..

    There are other tricks, like humming the melody of whatever tune your soloing on, but you don't only need to be able to HEAR longer phrases . You also need to be able to IMPLY and actually PLAY longer phrases. A real, musical 4-measure phrase isn't simply four 1-measure phrases strung together without a break.

    Take some simple older tunes, and use the patterns in your own improvisation . But don't just copy them. Take note of what they're actually doing phrase-wise as well.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 04-19-2017 at 12:39 AM.

  4. #3

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    just chunk it down to smaller units. Like Stella by Starlight. Practice 4 bars at a time. No shame in taking it down to that. Then you can always mess around with playing 3 bars and having 1 rest bar during any of the 4 bars. And you can practice on which beat to start your phrases on.

  5. #4
    This is great information thanks so much Matt, I think my problems so far have been not listening to enough tunes and also trying to focus on one bar at a time. I'll definetely start listening and looking into these patterns and working on my phrasing. Do you have any good tunes to suggest that have nice examples of these patterns?

  6. #5
    In my experience, splitting the tune up is not a good way. Only good for figuring out specific licks or voicings. I'd suggest scatting along recordings of the tune or backing tracks before even going to solo+metronome. That way the emotional memory is ready and active beforehand. Passively listening is less effective. Then you'll have a solid "feeling" for all that happens, and that feeling triggers "oh yeah that was Fmaj7". Not the other way around - you play that Fmaj7 and think "oh right, that's how it feels". Imho. But no practice is never ever wasted. eh.

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by jazzytele View Post
    This is great information thanks so much Matt, I think my problems so far have been not listening to enough tunes and also trying to focus on one bar at a time. I'll definetely start listening and looking into these patterns and working on my phrasing. Do you have any good tunes to suggest that have nice examples of these patterns?
    All have them at certain levels. The trick is finding ones that are basic enough to your level, while being challenging. Check out opening rhythm on au privave.

    Three beat pattern which crosses bar lines for the first few measures.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    In my experience, splitting the tune up is not a good way. Only good for figuring out specific licks or voicings. I'd suggest scatting along recordings of the tune or backing tracks before even going to solo+metronome. That way the emotional memory is ready and active beforehand. Passively listening is less effective. Then you'll have a solid "feeling" for all that happens, and that feeling triggers "oh yeah that was Fmaj7". Not the other way around - you play that Fmaj7 and think "oh right, that's how it feels". Imho. But no practice is never ever wasted. eh.
    Could you please elaborate on that? On tunes I work on I often find the "difficult" places like Cm7 B¤ Bbm7 Eb7 on ATTYA and also on Coltrane changes and work on few bars extensively. Also pieces with many "A" sections and fewer "B" and "C" sections I divide up, so I can practice these bars more often than through playing the whole tune. Also if there's a specific part of the melody that's puzzleling I like to focus on that part. Sorry for being pedantic, would love to hear your thoughts!

  9. #8

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    Breaking up tunes into 4 bar phrases is NOT an option.

    Jazz melodies are written in 4 bar phrases. It's how master musicians phrase.

    Listen to the tune below.

    Start counting in four bar chunks at the beginning of the head.

    The head is written in four bar chunks. Mel Rhyne's solo is in four bar chunks. Peter Bernstein's solo is in four bar chunks. They even trade fours with the drummer.

    Hear the complete musical statements. It is THE secret to jazz improv.

    Say something in bar one, pitch shift and say it again higher or lower. Say it again with some variation then segue with some outside language into the next four bar chunk.

    Good notes are secondary to good ideas.






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    Last edited by Richard Luther; 04-19-2017 at 10:43 AM.
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  10. #9

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    P.S. Forgot to mention. Think in 8 bar chunks if up tempo and 2 bar chunks in ballads. Or not. Generally so. Hard to get lost in a tune when you're crafting a series of 4 bar musical statements. Telling your story on your terms. Changes be damned. Lol




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  11. #10

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    Some metronomes, like the free app Pro Metronome allow to adjust different sounds for different beats within
    the time signature. With the click on every quarter note, make the 2 and 4 a different sound.
    This is the training wheels version. Then try the same tempo without the 1 and 3 as comfort allows.

  12. #11

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    I only read a few replies, but I think the OP is saying he gets lost, which I believe is separate than what is being addressed in the replies. You are saying you do the metronome at 2 and 4, but forget if you are on the 2 or 4?

    Its my opinion, that you should, for now, start with a metronome that counts 1, 2, 3, 4, but one that gives a distinct tone at the 1. CLAP, CLICK CLICK CLICK, CLAP CLICK CLICK CLICK etc If you do that, you will know where you are at. Once you master that, then do the Emily Remler 2 and 4, or move on to more advanced concepts like those mentioned above

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by yaclaus View Post
    Could you please elaborate on that? On tunes I work on I often find the "difficult" places like Cm7 B¤ Bbm7 Eb7 on ATTYA and also on Coltrane changes and work on few bars extensively. Also pieces with many "A" sections and fewer "B" and "C" sections I divide up, so I can practice these bars more often than through playing the whole tune. Also if there's a specific part of the melody that's puzzleling I like to focus on that part. Sorry for being pedantic, would love to hear your thoughts!
    Yeah,
    sure. Nothing wrong to focus on technical, unique or just plain hard/fast bits. In my experience(which is not much and should add that to my sig btw...), I found out that when splitting a song up, then it actually doesn't help to remember it's big structure. One thing that splitting up may do wrong is to keep the phrases exactly as long as the split. But darn it, when actually doing it for real, I wanna GO from "A"section to "B". Not just stop and start B. This happened when I did the splitting. Super annoying sometimes. But that's imho and I should shut up - too green myself

  14. #13

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    Hi JazzyTele,

    I have also practise(d) very much with just a metronome rather than a backingtrack.
    A fun way to practise is to play solo for 2 bars, then play chords for 2 bars, then solo for 2 bars etc.
    Here is Autumn Leaves where I switch between solo and chords. (bit messy though).



    Hans

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hatim View Post
    Hi JazzyTele,

    I have also practise(d) very much with just a metronome rather than a backingtrack.
    A fun way to practise is to play solo for 2 bars, then play chords for 2 bars, then solo for 2 bars etc.
    Here is Autumn Leaves where I switch between solo and chords. (bit messy though).



    Hans
    That's really nice. I would like to make a suggestion for people who want to build their internal metronome. Once they master what you have mastered, turn the metronome speed down to 10 or 20. so each beat you hear will actually be the 1 of a bar, or every other bar, or third etc.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hatim View Post
    Hi JazzyTele,

    I have also practise(d) very much with just a metronome rather than a backingtrack.
    A fun way to practise is to play solo for 2 bars, then play chords for 2 bars, then solo for 2 bars etc.
    Here is Autumn Leaves where I switch between solo and chords. (bit messy though).



    Hans
    Going between rhythm and lead is a great way to learn improv when playing solo, in my experience. Good advice here.