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  1. #51
    One unique problem of playing by ear on guitar is when crossing the “g” string. For example a perfect 4th has a strongly recognizable sound for the ear. When played on adjacent strings, a 4th is fingered on a single fret except when going from the “g” string to the “b” string in which case it is fingered diagonally. Thus your ear must adjust to where you are starting from.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #52
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yes I have heard that... No what I specifically mean is that you have to learn actual graphical 2D chord grips. Within these chord grips the notes are not necessarily organised consecutively. For instance a basic 7th chord barre shape

    x 3 5 3 5 3

    You obviously have 1 5 7 3 (10) 5 (12). The notes are not the 1 3 5 1 3 5 pattern you find in piano arpeggios, and have a distinctive sound when arpeggiated. Not saying that piano chords & arps don't sometimes have similar voicings - but critically, the pianist is aware right away that the notes aren't laid out in this way.

    Of course many non-jazz guitarists would think 'C7' and bear it no more mind.... The task of bring the C7 into the orbit of a C7 scale and the full arpeggio is a step or two away from this basic guitaristic understanding.

    On a piano you will have shapes too, but you will know what those notes are - and critically the notes are laid out in 1D, left to right, musical objects are much more accessible conceptually.
    Great post. All very true and well-thought-out. They definitely have a tremendous advantage visually/conceptually. I'll say one thing about how I see things slightly differently than I did a few years ago , and more about how I'd hope to see things better in the future as I learn to actually play some of the stuff maybe . :-)...

    First, I think Reg's concept of viewing the fretboard is a lot closer to the left/right view that keyboardists probably have. If he's thinking about playing G major voicings in sixth position for example, he's mostly viewing absolute pitch "as if" those voicings were spelled as Bm7. It cuts a tremendous amount of mental noise , and you can actually see all of the pitches, even the ones you're dropping.

    Learning to visualize this way is probably more difficult , depending on how much experience you have . The more you already know and are able to play , the harder this is probably to do , because it requires you to quiet the old visualization techniques. For me personally, It's much easier to visualize these things in more DIFFICULT positions , because I can't otherwise visualize them very easily in the first place.

    So, it's probably easier for me to cleanly "see" something like D-flat major from seventh positions this way than F major. I just kind of see F by default the other way, and it's a little harder to quiet the mental noise, art least cold. Reading through material in different keys in a fixed position is a good approach . Anyway it's good work, feels very Zen. I really need to just spend about two hours a day reading for about a year using this process. I think it would open up a lot.

    For several years I read most of what Reg was talking about in terms of relationships and references between chords etc. as being mostly theoretical head knowledge. When you start approaching the fretboard the way he's talking about, you start to see that he's mostly talking about very PHYSICAL reference points that don't require a lot of thought. I think he's played this way for so long , at a pretty young age, pre-Berklee , that he doesn't even realize how much he takes for grantedthat other players don't even begin to see. I think he probably sees the guitar more pianistically than any player I'm aware of. Or at least he's arrived at it a different way. If you put in enough of the... thousands of hours, you get there in the end, either way I'd imagine, but he seems of gotten there earlier, by a different visualization process in the first place.

  4. #53

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    I often wonder if I am playing by ear, rote, recall (conscious or sub conscious), or stream of consciousness or a combination thereof.

    I sometimes wonder where my string of thought comes from. Was it from listening to Mantovani that my dad always had playing in the house, or the big band music that was always playing in the home, or Nelson Riddle, or other easy listening music. I once told my father that he should get a subscription to Muzak and have a system put in. It was very enjoyable music - I still listen to it - Julie London, Bobby Hackett, the Gleason productions, many, many artists.

    I don't really play jazzy lines although I have been listening to the vast cornocopea of jazz for probably over 60 years (including infancy).

    Charts aside, I have a good sense of the melodic, and not so much the bluesy or outside things, although I can play those they don't just seem to flow. I have to think about what I'm doing at that point.

    I don't mind playing melodically, I think Chet Baker used to call it lyrically. I find it quite pleasing to move around the neck and just play.
    Last edited by geogio; 08-04-2019 at 09:10 AM.

  5. #54
    Thats Giant Steps by ear. Didn't touch arpeggios or scales there beforehand, just went directly to soloing by ear for so many hours. Having no conscious thought about any keys/scales and whatnot, letting the fingers do the work.

    Can't do any better at the moment..
    gsear.mp3 - Google Drive

  6. #55
    Sometimes when playing a tune I let my mind wander... think about a meal I recently had or about my children... don’t think at all about the improvisation. And when I do that I often get great melodic results...I am playing on autopilot.

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    Thats Giant Steps by ear. Didn't touch arpeggios or scales there beforehand, just went directly to soloing by ear for so many hours. Having no conscious thought about any keys/scales and whatnot, letting the fingers do the work.

    Can't do any better at the moment..
    gsear.mp3 - Google Drive
    Nice!

    I notice a lot of doubled note and repeated micro-phrases. I find I do the same when soloing purely by ear...

  8. #57
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Nice!

    I notice a lot of doubled note and repeated micro-phrases. I find I do the same when soloing purely by ear...
    True. Also can't jump around much. I mean, the need to continue to next phrase from close-by-notes - that's gets quite annoying.

  9. #58

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    Per the "shapes" discussion... are some people maybe talking about the wrong shapes?

    I think the language of communication of musical ideas from me to my guitar is the feeling of hand positions, shapes, and movements, not visual finger board shapes.

    If I think about how I do it, I find my primary first source of playing music comes from an internal (mind's "ear") hearing of the harmony - it is from that all else flows, develops, and gets executed. When deciding or choosing what to play, my sense of what I'm sending from my mind's ear to my instrument are positions, shapes, and movements of my hands - a moving three dimensional feeling of the hands, not a two dimensional fret board image of the eye (or mind's eye).

    This feeling of communicating hand feelings of shape applies to chords, triads, rootless upper structures, double stops, arpeggios, lines and phrases of notes... everything. From the harmonies I hear in my mind's ear are formed "musical ideas" in my mind's ear, which are translated into hand feelings of positions, shapes, and movements of my hand and fingers. I suspect that most aspects of how my mind's ear hears harmony and its musical ideas may already comprise some form of internal representations of positions, shapes, and movements of my hands, because the "translation" is seemingly instantaneous and subconscious.

    If this distinction between hand shapes and finger board shapes is not clear, ask yourself what is your own primary first source of playing music, and what is the language with which you communicate your musical ideas to your instrument? In my case, finger board shapes seem to be incidental correlated artifacts. A "proof" of this is that I would need some considerable effort and time to correctly draw or describe the things I play with respect to the finger board, but my hands respond pretty much instantly, effortlessly, and accurately.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  10. #59
    Quote Originally Posted by Rsilver View Post
    I don’t see much discussion in this forum about the necessity to play by ear when improvising.

    I’m interested in this forum’s thoughts on the importance of playing by ear, as difficult as that can be.

    Yes absolutely key.

    Theory is also very important, but as music is primary an audible art form, the importance of using your ears when improvising is absolutely essential.
    Testing a Gibson ES335 vs Harley Benton HB 35 (very inexpensive semi hollow body guitar)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fGMIs1wNEA&t=185s

    I am playing a solo over my buddys song, Cookies and Cream

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJHqt_lpyKM

  11. #60
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Nice!

    I notice a lot of doubled note and repeated micro-phrases. I find I do the same when soloing purely by ear...
    Yes, one of the problems if playing completely by ear all the time, and no knowledge of theory, is, it is easy to play very repetitive.

    Theory is a great tool for enhancing and expanding the vocabulary, and having more control over the present.
    Testing a Gibson ES335 vs Harley Benton HB 35 (very inexpensive semi hollow body guitar)

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8fGMIs1wNEA&t=185s

    I am playing a solo over my buddys song, Cookies and Cream

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iJHqt_lpyKM

  12. #61

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    Alternatively you could try not to repeat the same notes.

    Btw Giant Steps is one of those tunes where it’s easy to feel obligated to play on every chord, which is of course not the case.

    I don’t see this as a theory thing so much - ideas drawn direct from theory - conceived purely intellectually - always sound crap because they are not properly audiated.

    So in practice you are always learning to audiate phrases - musical words and sentences - however you come up with them. So if you have a theoretical idea, you have to learn to audiate it as a phrase. That means - being able to sing it (at least internally) and so on.

    OTOH you could play lines drawn from records and so on. But it’s actually the same. Jazz obviously would never have advanced if people had just copied each other’s licks. There was always an element of inventing new stuff that hadn’t been played.

    Most probably do both. I personally find learning phrases from records teaches me how to put together ideas from theory....

    So, what appears at first be a dichotomy is nothing of the sort. All effective music is played by ear in this sense.

    But you hear the whole phrase. So how do you go beyond little canned phrases joined together?

    One skill is being able to modify and vary a phrase and still be able to hear it. This IMO is a good route into true improvisation away from just regurgitating licks.

    That’s developing audition beyond simple musical memory. Can you take a simple line and vary it in your minds ear? (Damn I should try that!)

    See Edwin Gordon’s book ‘Learning Sequences in Music’ for more info. What he expects of the student is pretty hardcore! Both inspiring and humbling. But I think he is right.

    I think it’s trying to hear each note isolation and play them in real time that leads to the repetitious thing... if navigating a tune like Giant Steps is like crossing a fast flowing river by stepping from rock to rock, it’s like thinking one rock at a time instead of looking up and planning a route in your mind’s eye BEFORE starting out.

    Obviously for most of us our musical imagination somewhat lags our visual imagination. It’s also customary for musical imagination to relate to a visual cue for many.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-19-2019 at 02:58 PM.

  13. #62
    I've spent way too much time on fast GS by ear and this really is nowhere near what I'd like it to be. Maybe not too much talent here but surely not enough general skills and knowledge. But it was a sporty benchmark to see if its doable without messing up.

    There are way better tunes for trying to play by ear. Angel Eyes for example plays almost itself. Bluesette also. Stella is really hard to make it sound fine. I mean.. right notes - yes. Quality - pff. But that's just me..

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    I've spent way too much time on fast GS by ear and this really is nowhere near what I'd like it to be. Maybe not too much talent here but surely not enough general skills and knowledge. But it was a sporty benchmark to see if its doable without messing up.

    There are way better tunes for trying to play by ear. Angel Eyes for example plays almost itself. Bluesette also. Stella is really hard to make it sound fine. I mean.. right notes - yes. Quality - pff. But that's just me..
    Which is of course exactly why it's good to do it.

    Please bear in mind that I say all of this theoretically from a Master's student in Music Ed lofty hoity toity idealised perspective, but I think you are doing a much better job of GS by ear than I would lol.

    Jordan Klemon's take on the tune might be worth digging up. I think he was using a more ear based approach.

  15. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher View Post
    Rhythm and phrasing are almost certainly more important than which notes to play...
    I see this mentioned a lot, have never agreed with it. My perspective from performing exclusively by ear is that one develops technique such that rhythm and phrasing are a given, a foundation; playing by ear is then most entirely about which notes to play via the methods within one's established technique.

    As rhythm and phrasing (technique) are a given, I can see how one might think that those are primary because they are fundamental... the fundamental technique needs to be learned and developed as the basis for playing notes, but what I find is that within the domain of playing by ear it is which notes to play that is primary, and that is incidentally dependent on the fundamental (technique)... that what is primary and most important in playing is certainly which notes to play, and this assumes that the foundation of technique is sufficient to support execution.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  16. #65

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    My view of improv is that you imagine (or pre-hear) a good line and you play it, as imagined, without mistakes.

    Part 1. Being able to imagine a good line.

    Part 2. Being able to play imagined line accurately, in time, at tempo.

    Taken together, you're playing by ear.

    What if you can't do Part 2 adequately?

    What will happen is that you don't play the right notes, you hit clams and/or you drag the tempo.

    One "solution" is to know enough theory and have enough fretboard knowledge that you can play something even though you aren't really doing Part 2. So instead of pre-hearing melody, you think about the chord names and the scale/mode/arp/lick options. I don't know if others do that, but I certainly do in situations where I can't feel all the changes well enough. I think of it as the safety net, not the goal.

    It may be that the scale/mode/arp/lick thing can become unconscious without really being the same thing as imagining a line and playing it.

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    My view of improv is that you imagine (or pre-hear) a good line and you play it, as imagined, without mistakes.

    Part 1. Being able to imagine a good line.

    Part 2. Being able to play imagined line accurately, in time, at tempo.

    Taken together, you're playing by ear.

    What if you can't do Part 2 adequately?

    What will happen is that you don't play the right notes, you hit clams and/or you drag the tempo.

    One "solution" is to know enough theory and have enough fretboard knowledge that you can play something even though you aren't really doing Part 2. So instead of pre-hearing melody, you think about the chord names and the scale/mode/arp/lick options. I don't know if others do that, but I certainly do in situations where I can't feel all the changes well enough. I think of it as the safety net, not the goal.

    It may be that the scale/mode/arp/lick thing can become unconscious without really being the same thing as imagining a line and playing it.
    Yeah, I think so.... I think Part 2 is far less of a big deal than people think. Often the problems are much more located in Part 1.

    That’s why guitarists noodle btw.

    Hal Galper points out that the intensity of audiation is key. It’s not enough simply to hear the line. You must work on hearing it really loud and strong in detail, and with clarity.

    If you don’t develop this, Part 2 is certainly a lot more difficult. Players get distracted and forget what they were trying to play. Clams become an issue, because a mistake will throw off the ear. Insufficiently strong brain signal.

    Beyond that basic level it shows up in the intensity of the playing. Intense players play intensely because they are hearing intensely.

    I really think people don’t respect the Part 1 bit enough. It can be humbling. It might mean listening to, singing or audiating a line over and over at first. That’s fine.

    Part 2 is not trivial, but there are clear road maps on how to develop it. Perhaps the least valued of these is simply time on the instrument when you have a strong enough sense of Part 1.

    Also playing by ear is not necessarily about new stuff being translated from your brain into guitar notes. It’s actually important to audiate strongly the stuff you already know. Get more into it.

    (This of course is why people often play rhythm parts better and with more groove than solos.)

    If you can hear it clearly and execute lines with a relaxed technique (which is not nothing), your body will do the necessary work to make the line come out. You mustn’t try and articulate the line too much, try to control it from the body.

    (If you find it hard to play with a metronome at a certain tempo, this is the reason why, btw, provided there are no obvious technical hang ups. Either you are putting too much into it physically so you rush, or you are not audiating the rhythm clearly. This may sound like some hippy shit, but the former can be seen on a DAW like night and day.)

    Also, people worry too much about clams. The whole thing about not playing clams is a beginners concern based on people not playing with any phrasing or time.

    If you are hearing music even if you hit the odd unintended note it will still sound a lot better than hitting a harmonically correct note without that intensity.

    There’s loads of arguable examples of this in the music.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-19-2019 at 05:51 PM.

  18. #67
    If anyone who reads this thread and decides to give it a shot.. a tedious long term shot that is.. I'd suggest along with single-note lines, start with playing intervals by ear also. And chords too. It's such a hard and unpleasant sounding workout for a long while but in a few months you should be able to see the potential in this.. that stays as "potential" for so damn long. At least, it will help to internalize the harmony.

    I saw it'd be possible to play comp freely by ear and started with the intervals. Simple chord movement later. After 2 years in, nothing presentable here.. still hopeful

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yeah, I think so.... I think Part 2 is far less of a big deal than people think. Often the problems are much more located in Part 1.

    That’s why guitarists noodle btw.

    Hal Galper points out that the intensity of audiation is key. It’s not enough simply to hear the line. You must work on hearing it really loud and strong in detail, and with clarity.

    If you don’t develop this, Part 2 is certainly a lot more difficult. Players get distracted and forget what they were trying to play. Clams become an issue, because a mistake will throw off the ear. Insufficiently strong brain signal.

    Beyond that basic level it shows up in the intensity of the playing. Intense players play intensely because they are hearing intensely.

    I really think people don’t respect the Part 1 bit enough. It can be humbling. It might mean listening to, singing or audiating a line over and over at first. That’s fine.

    Part 2 is not trivial, but there are clear road maps on how to develop it. Perhaps the least valued of these is simply time on the instrument when you have a strong enough sense of Part 1.

    Also playing by ear is not necessarily about new stuff being translated from your brain into guitar notes. It’s actually important to audiate strongly the stuff you already know. Get more into it.

    (This of course is why people often play rhythm parts better and with more groove than solos.)

    If you can hear it clearly and execute lines with a relaxed technique (which is not nothing), your body will do the necessary work to make the line come out. You mustn’t try and articulate the line too much, try to control it from the body.

    (If you find it hard to play with a metronome at a certain tempo, this is the reason why, btw, provided there are no obvious technical hang ups. Either you are putting too much into it physically so you rush, or you are not audiating the rhythm clearly. This may sound like some hippy shit, but the former can be seen on a DAW like night and day.)

    Also, people worry too much about clams. The whole thing about not playing clams is a beginners concern based on people not playing with any phrasing or time.

    If you are hearing music even if you hit the odd unintended note it will still sound a lot better than hitting a harmonically correct note without that intensity.

    There’s loads of arguable examples of this in the music.
    The intensity thing is interesting. I'm aware of Galper, but I hadn't heard that before.

    I see the two parts as intertwined. But I agree that, at a sufficiently advanced level, Part 1 may be more challenging. How do you get yourself to think of hipper lines to play? Or, hipper ways to comp? The traditional approach is through transcription. Also, I think it helps to learn chord melodies from recordings or lessons. Typically, a good chord melody will include interesting passing chords -- and you can use those sounds in solos and comping.

    But, if you can't execute the ideas in your mind, it's going to be frustrating. I've wondered whether the average, say, intermediate player can pass the Happy Birthday test (play it starting on a random finger/string/fret without error. Can most of us do that?

    Or, for more advanced players, say, Joy Spring. Assuming you can sing it, can you play it starting on a random note with any finger?

    A player who can pass those tests is very well connected to the instrument and is in a position to execute Part 1 ideas.

    And, to come back to the OP, that's playing by ear.

  20. #69
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    My view of improv is that you imagine (or pre-hear) a good line and you play it, as imagined, without mistakes.

    Part 1. Being able to imagine a good line.

    Part 2. Being able to play imagined line accurately, in time, at tempo.

    Taken together, you're playing by ear.

    What if you can't do Part 2?
    I think this is a valid way to look at it. And I think Part 1 is the harder of the two and is where “talent” lies, just as it would be if you imagined paintings or poems and worked in those media. And we have the harder problem of producing it in “real time.”

    You’re stuck having to imagine music when you improvise. You kind of don’t have a choice in my opinion. That’s what the form demands. That’s not to say that you won’t have your plug in licks or bits to get through a turnaround or other musical problem, but to contribute to the tune you must bring in your own musical ideas. And I think to do this, you just have to “go for it” and let your ear muscle get stronger by repeated use.

    I think the best way to develop imagination is just continually solo in your head, away from the instrument. I think that those solos are what you should strive to eventually play, using your ear connection and well-trained hands.

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    The intensity thing is interesting. I'm aware of Galper, but I hadn't heard that before.

    I see the two parts as intertwined. But I agree that, at a sufficiently advanced level, Part 1 may be more challenging.
    No, I think Part 1 is the fundamental challenge at all levels for almost every student I see. If they can't hear what they are trying to play, they can't hope to move onto Part 2, simple as that. Some students are of course naturally better than others. But it's very common.

    How do you get yourself to think of hipper lines to play?
    What is hip? (thanks Tower of Power)

    Well it's what you like. What makes your ears prick up.... So when you say transcription, I invoke another great bit of Hal Galper wisdom which is that transcription teaches us not about the musician we are transcribing, but helps us find our own style. And as we get deeper into what we like we become more ourselves.

    In this light the idea of a one size fits all theory of jazz harmony taught at jazz colleges is unutterably depressing and kind of tyrannical. I mean what if you like Monk? Ellington? Lester Young? Django? McCoy? Trane? or for that matter Mehldau?

    (Rhythm is for me the main thing that makes things hip anyway. What gives music its style and swag. So much of my practice is changing notes in a line so on to make a line sit perfectly rhythmically. If you can do that you can make the mixolydian sound like the hippest scale in the world.)

    As I mention above theory etc is not alien to this idea. You just have to hear what you are doing theoretically as a musical phrase.... that's kind of obvious?

    (Dominants are where the harmonic options are free-est. You can play interesting minor and major sounds, but the resources are pretty limited, a #5 or #11 here, a maj7 or 9th there. Warne Marsh might say you can sit on C# on a Cmaj7#11 chord (you can) but in practice I have yet to do it in the heat of moment... You can of course treat all chords as dominants, but ultimately you need a place to land, and that's usually something fairly obvious.)

    If I can't come up with anything, I usually find a few minutes working out some lines I like gets the juices flowing.

    Or, hipper ways to comp? The traditional approach is through transcription. Also, I think it helps to learn chord melodies from recordings or lessons. Typically, a good chord melody will include interesting passing chords -- and you can use those sounds in solos and comping.
    Again, and I'm preaching to the choir... Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm groove. I never cared much for the style of comping where someone plays Dmaj7#5add9 on beat one and it hangs around for a bar like a fart doing nothing for the groove and limiting the soloists harmonic options. It can be good for certain styles of contemporary music (non functional harmony etc), but for standards? Doesn't do it for me.

    But there's a feedback loop with voicings too. Ever notice how quickly you can recognise guitar voicings you play all the time?

    But, if you can't execute the ideas in your mind, it's going to be frustrating. I've wondered whether the average, say, intermediate player can pass the Happy Birthday test (play it starting on a random finger/string/fret without error. Can most of us do that?

    Or, for more advanced players, say, Joy Spring. Assuming you can sing it, can you play it starting on a random note with any finger?

    A player who can pass those tests is very well connected to the instrument and is in a position to execute Part 1 ideas.

    And, to come back to the OP, that's playing by ear.
    Sure. At no point did I say that this was a trivial thing.

    But it has to start from a point of view of audiation. Of course, what you said is a case in point. Why do we choose Happy Birthday? Well because everyone knows it really well. But do they know it starts on 5, not 1?

    Joy Spring, now can you sing it perfectly? and can you hear all the pretty ornaments. How about the bridge without going out of key? Do you return squarely in tthe key of F after all the modulations? It is singable, though. If the answer is yes you are going to find it a lot easier than if you can't. Tristano taught this.

    I think I was a lot worse at melodies but I'm still not great. That is one thing that took a lot of my practice. Play in a guitar trio!

    The most effective way I've seen to master this skill on piano is to work on functional, not intervallic ear training. But the guitar is.... different. Slippery. I think time on the instrument doing the exact things you describe is probably the best way, not that nore formal ear training isn't very useful.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-20-2019 at 03:48 PM.

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    No, I think Part 1 is the fundamental challenge at all levels for almost every student I see. If they can't hear what they are trying to play, they can't hope to move onto Part 2, simple as that. Some students are of course naturally better than others. But it's very common.



    What is hip? (thanks Tower of Power)

    Well it's what you like. What makes your ears prick up.... So when you say transcription, I invoke another great bit of Hal Galper wisdom which is that transcription teaches us not about the musician we are transcribing, but helps us find our own style. And as we get deeper into what we like we become more ourselves.

    In this light the idea of a one size fits all theory of jazz harmony is unutterably depressing and kind of tyrannical. I mean what if you like Monk? Ellington? Lester Young? Django? or for that matter Mehldau?

    Rhythm is obviously the main thing that makes things hip anyway. So much of my practice is changing notes in a line so on to make a line sit perfectly rhythmically. If you can do that you can make the mixolydian sound like the hippest scale in the world. But harmonically, sure...

    As I mention above theory etc is not alien to this idea. You just have to hear what you are doing theoretically as a musical phrase.... that's kind of obvious?

    (Dominants are where the harmonic options are free-est. You can play interesting minor and major sounds, but the resources are pretty limited, a #5 or #11 here, a maj7 or 9th there. Warne Marsh might say you can sit on C# on a Cmaj7#11 chord (you can) but in practice I have yet to do it in the heat of moment... You can of course treat all chords as dominants, but ultimately you need a place to land, and that's usually something fairly obvious.)

    If I can't come up with anything, I usually find a few minutes working out some lines I like gets the juices flowing.



    Again, and I'm preaching to the choir... Rhythm, rhythm, rhythm groove. I never cared much for the style of comping where someone plays Dmaj7#5add9 and it hangs around for a bar like a fart doing nothing for the groove and limiting the soloists harmonic options. It can be good for certain styles of contemporary music (non functional harmony etc), but for standards? Doesn't do it for me.

    But there's a feedback loop with voicings too. Ever notice how quickly you can recognise guitar voicings you play all the time?



    Sure. At no point did I say that this was a trivial thing.

    But it has to start from a point of view of audiation. Of course, what you said is a case in point. Why do we choose Happy Birthday? Well because everyone knows it really well. But do they know it starts on 5, not 1?

    Joy Spring, now can you sing it perfectly? and can you hear all the pretty ornaments. How about the bridge without going out of key? Do you return squarely in tthe key of F after all the modulations? It is singable, though. If the answer is yes you are going to find it a lot easier than if you can't. Tristano taught this.

    I think I was a lot worse at melodies but I'm still not great. That is one thing that took a lot of my practice. Play in a guitar trio!

    The most effective way I've seen to master this skill on piano is to work on functional, not intervallic ear training. But the guitar is.... different. Slippery. I think time on the instrument doing the exact things you describe is probably the best way, not that nore formal ear training isn't very useful.
    I'm not sure we actually see this any differently.

    I often think about, and have posted about, an experience where I was backing up a teacher playing 8 beats of Bbmaj7. He played and held a D note. Perfectly placed and clearly articulated. Sounded great.

    That's extreme, but I figure that anybody who can scat sing even the simplest line is ready for Part 2. And there's plenty of work to be done to get to the point where you can instantly play anything you can scat sing. The issue of time and rhythmic feel is interesting. Do people scat sing with bad time? My guess is well, maybe, but it's easier to have bad time when you're on the guitar.

    Eventually, and don't ask me how I know this, you get to a point where you can play your ideas, you listen to a recording and think, Geez, I need some new ideas. And, that's when Part 1 becomes the cutting edge.

    As with anything in jazz, whatever you think and however you approached it, there's a great player who did it some other way.

  23. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I'm not sure we actually see this any differently.

    I often think about, and have posted about, an experience where I was backing up a teacher playing 8 beats of Bbmaj7. He played and held a D note. Perfectly placed and clearly articulated. Sounded great.

    That's extreme, but I figure that anybody who can scat sing even the simplest line is ready for Part 2. And there's plenty of work to be done to get to the point where you can instantly play anything you can scat sing. The issue of time and rhythmic feel is interesting. Do people scat sing with bad time? My guess is well, maybe, but it's easier to have bad time when you're on the guitar.
    Oh yes, I think it's better to start with short little phrases. But a student has to be able to scat something the *same* a few times otherwise they just end up noodling. Lock it down. Then play it. Could be there own shit or someone else's. Doesn't matter so terribly.

    The more this is done, it becomes a virtuous circle.

    Not sure on the guitar/bad time thing... But you may be right... Try this. Put a metronome on 10 beats a minute. Now sing a really slow scale, one note a click. Now do it with the guitar. Harder, no?

    There's something about the guitar (at least for me) as opposed to simply singing that makes me put too much awareness into playing it. Or something. I sense a loss of relaxation when I start playing it.

    Eventually, and don't ask me how I know this, you get to a point where you can play your ideas, you listen to a recording and think, Geez, I need some new ideas. And, that's when Part 1 becomes the cutting edge.

    As with anything in jazz, whatever you think and however you approached it, there's a great player who did it some other way.
    Well I used to a militant transcription obsessive and then met musicians who I really admired who had learned very few solos. Now I realise they are different paths up the mountain, but the main thing they all share is the primacy of the inner ear.

  24. #73

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    O
    Well I used to a militant transcription obsessive and then met musicians who I really admired who had learned very few solos. Now I realise they are different paths up the mountain, but the main thing they all share is the primacy of he inner ear.
    Every great player has big ears and great time feel.

    There are exceptions to all the other "rules". Great players with absolutely no theory (e.g. Andres Varady). Great players who used three fingers for all their single note runs (eg Wes). Great player who used 2 fingers. Pick, no pick, thumb pick, soft pick, hard pick etc. Heavy strings, light strings. Archtop, flattop (Szabo), solid body, steel, nylon, tubes, solid state, flurries of notes, relatively few notes, big stretchy chords vs limited stretches, no open strings vs lots of open strings etc etc.

  25. #74

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    I think for me I started playing by ear when I started writing songs and the more songs I wrote the better I got at Improvising and playing by ear the more complicated the song the more challenging my ability to play other parts by ear or on the Fly with fresh ideas. But with songs that have more changes gives me wider possibilities for Improvising by ear like with walk ups or rundowns or turnarounds.

  26. #75

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    Actually with some experience I came to the point that I can play even pre-learnt music ''by ear'' (like complex classical pieces for example)...

    It is more difficult to sight-read 'by ear' but I seemed to have improved it a bit lately...

    I will explain what I mean... 'playing by ear' is not only actual and direct 'play what u hear' but it is also (or maybe even more) a specific percepction openness and freedom from conventional and supportive musical tools - like text and notation systems, theorectical and technical partterns and schemes - they are all great and helpful tools but their beneficial application is in their reasonable and concious limitation. When text or pattern begin to imply their own relations to the musical contents without control it causes a problem, a creative inertness, lack of contents and meaning in performance.

    I want just to share a personal experience... I noticed when I play classical piece by heart (on piano or lute, today I do not play classical guitar) I play it in a different way than I would if played sight-reading... I am not talking about technical issues of sight-reading... let's agree that it can be sight-read easily. It concerns some moments of form, phrasing and accents that when I read the text in some cases seem to be impplied by 'what is written' - I mean the text has also some visual structure etc. and it affects the performance.
    And when I play by hear t(I often - almost always - play with my eyes closed in this case) - I really hear only musical connections.. I do not even hear 'a sound' I hear some contents, meanings, images, drama, architecture... etc.
    I totally hear it. In some sense I create it right now as if I impriovized it.

    I tried to conciously imply it to sight-reading (as I am not Glenn Gould and I cannot learn everything I want to play))) and partly succeded - -- I managed to abstract myself to certain degree from textual conventions and take them only as signs and nothing more and then on the second level hear the sounds behind them (it may seem we all do that all the time but we don't).
    At least to control it.

    Now coming back to 'playing by ear'... . I found that when improvizing 'by ear' I do not actually have this hearing openess too.
    The fact is there can be some (half-consiously implied) imagenary text, pattern, concetption that I begin to follow...

    In that sense playing by ear is not just deliberate playing without score or theoretic reference.
    It is exactly 'hearing' contextual references or your playing and real or presumed acoompaniment if it is supposed to be there...
    It does not mean you are out of any language -- on the contrary you are deep INTO the language... the most important thing is that you ONLY trust what you hear and later maybe you can analyze and find familar idioms and structure but it will be the result of your true expression of contents from hearing realtions - not just medium or tool let in between to imply its organization from outside to your hearing.



    So true playing by ear is possible also when you play written text note for note....
    Last edited by Jonah; 08-21-2019 at 05:43 AM.

  27. #76

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    Yes. It’s interesting people make the equation between ear playing and improvisation.

    (But then improvisation is a fairly useless term in itself as it covers a broad spectrum of approaches.)

    You have to play all music by ear, even stuff that’s written down.

  28. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Yes. It’s interesting people make the equation between ear playing and improvisation.

    (But then improvisation is a fairly useless term in itself as it covers a broad spectrum of approaches.)

    You have to play all music by ear, even stuff that’s written down.
    To me improvization is what is percieved as 'improvized'. I admit it is very different approach to teh term than usual one. I personally do not care if the player has intention to improvize or not. I care only if I hear it improvized as a listner. At least it seems to me this is the aspect that deserves research. Why do we hear some things like improvized and some not? What 'kills' the improvizational character?
    Why sometimes people say about classical piece ''it has improvizational charachter'? What exactly brings in this character?
    Why when I heard Beson repeating solo note for note on another record I felt like I totally lost the feel of improvisation I had from it before but at the same time almost note-for-note repeated solo by Jim Hall did not change anything in my perception - it still seemed improvized?

    Maybe too many questions but analyzing from listner position is more important imho as it involves contextual cultural and stylistic background...

    I think it is much more important and interesting than usual argument if he 'really' improvized or only partly or he learnt it all and what he thought about... I do not care... presonal intention is personal thing...

    it is interesting only to find organizational tools for players and these tools often have no realtion to the music that sound at the outcome..

  29. #78

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    Not surprised about Benson - it’s pretty old school to refine a solo that you then perform. More of the greats did it than not.

    But I am surprised to hear that Jim Hall also did this.

    I like your definition. You can’t be a mind reader.

  30. #79

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    Not surprised about Benson - it’s pretty old school to refine a solo that you then perform. More of the greats did it than not.
    I actually knew that. But exactly in that case it was some kind of shock to me... I can't really explain why... maybe it was contrast between his appearance on stage at the moment... imho sometimes he overdoes with it... you can't satisfy everyone.
    In a word - in that particular case i suddenly felt - deceived -


    But I am surprised to hear that Jim Hall also did this.
    I came across it in some late club recording - I can't remember exactly from where.. I am not evn sure about the tune... it was one of his regulars like All the Things You Are or I Hear A Rapsody maybe...

    It was not exact repeat --- but very similar... and it sounded for me more like I heard a good classical peformer play a piece as oif it is new... even though the material was the same the attitude was real and up to the moment...

    I also heard it from my friend who lived in NY area and was a big fan of Jim and he attended most of his gigs in last years - and he used to say that Ron Carter (in their duo sets they almost always did the same tunes) was almost always with new stuff in impros and Jim often kept coming back to the same ideas...
    He even said that some sounded pre-composed - it is his words -- but considering Jim's approach to music in general I would not be surprised if he really composed some solos as some kind or orginal pieces... as an experiment maybe or out of compositional interest.

  31. #80

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    On the idea of thinking of the line and then playing it... how often do you guys, in playing with groups, find that your solo comes to you maybe as the guy ahead of you solos? In my limited experience, I have had the experience of "hearing" a great line in my head while someone else was soloing, but then when it became my turn I was not able to play it, or maybe just in fragments.

    This has made me think I should try that experiment of listening to a tune, and singing a solo, recording it, and the trying to transcribe it to the guitar.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    On the idea of thinking of the line and then playing it... how often do you guys, in playing with groups, find that your solo comes to you maybe as the guy ahead of you solos? In my limited experience, I have had the experience of "hearing" a great line in my head while someone else was soloing, but then when it became my turn I was not able to play it, or maybe just in fragments.

    This has made me think I should try that experiment of listening to a tune, and singing a solo, recording it, and the trying to transcribe it to the guitar.
    I did that too... singing and transcribing thing. Very inspiring and fruitful excersises.

    as for thinking about something while the other guy is soloing... when my turn comes I am already in a different mode usually... for me the funniest thing in jazz soloing is spontaneous decisions... I usually start carefully I feel like I am blind trying to figure out the enviroment by touch, trust only my touch... and then I get more and more into it until I at the edge of losing it... that's why probably I need more time usually...
    But also sometomes I feel frustrated... I mean I touch and do not feel
    .. probably I were a pro I would find the way to mimic it somehow. But as I do not play that often I usually stop and listen play one two note which is unfortunately annoying for bandmates...
    I tried to fill it in with what I learnt it does not work for me though seems like ok from outside

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah View Post
    I did that too... singing and transcribing thing. Very inspiring and fruitful excersises.

    as for thinking about something while the other guy is soloing... when my turn comes I am already in a different mode usually... for me the funniest thing in jazz soloing is spontaneous decisions... I usually start carefully I feel like I am blind trying to figure out the enviroment by touch, trust only my touch... and then I get more and more into it until I at the edge of losing it... that's why probably I need more time usually...
    But also sometomes I feel frustrated... I mean I touch and do not feel
    .. probably I were a pro I would find the way to mimic it somehow. But as I do not play that often I usually stop and listen play one two note which is unfortunately annoying for bandmates...
    I tried to fill it in with what I learnt it does not work for me though seems like ok from outside
    Sometimes I'll try to use an idea from the solo before mine. Sometimes it's an idea I've never heard, or, if somebody quotes a tune, I'll try to quote the same tune. Often, I work a quote in using the same or similar line. But it's also cool to quote a different part of the other tune.

    I don't find myself thinking of melody when I'm listening to the solo before, otherwise. But, I do think about how I want to begin my solo. A lot of that has to do with energy level. For example, if the solo before is absolutely burning with a lot of notes, I know I can't develop that any further. My approach is to enter really quietly, force the comping to come down, and play sparsely. But, if the soloist before me just did that, I have to do something else.

  34. #83

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    My beginner conclusion, at minimum the player should hear (inside) what her/his fingers are intend to play :-), even if he can not play yet what he hear inside. Unless the first requirement satisfied, it is russian roulette, I am experimenting it sometimes.

    I think the "play what you hear" is overrated itself, because the more important question what you hear? I mean do the player hear inside a meaningful impro? If not, then one problem less... I have an other doubt: You can not execute with your fingers what you've never practiced, (except very simple or slow things, what otherwise could be really cool). So it is impossible to play anything what pops into your head... unless it is correlated with what you've practiced before.

    I agree with all who emphasizes the importance of transcribing. I would like to add, that real listening (maybe without transcribing) is also one of the most important.

  35. #84
    I've had a different experience hearing Jim Hall. I'd guess I've caught 100+ gigs of his since the 80's, and don't recall him ever repeating a solo note for note. He's written some great contrafacts, (Walts New, Dream Steps), but never heard a worked out solo. In later years, especially after the back surgery, he really pared down his set list (Beja Flor, All The Things as a waltz, Funny Valentine in 2 keys), both sets the same, but I always felt he was in the moment on his solos.

    PK
    Last edited by paulkogut; 08-26-2019 at 05:06 PM.

  36. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor View Post
    My beginner conclusion, at minimum the player should hear (inside) what her/his fingers are intend to play :-), even if he can not play yet what he hear inside. Unless the first requirement satisfied, it is russian roulette, I am experimenting it sometimes.

    I think the "play what you hear" is overrated itself, because the more important question what you hear? I mean do the player hear inside a meaningful impro? If not, then one problem less... I have an other doubt: You can not execute with your fingers what you've never practiced, (except very simple or slow things, what otherwise could be really cool). So it is impossible to play anything what pops into your head... unless it is correlated with what you've practiced before.
    No,that's true... generally, the "play what you hear" idea seems to assume people hear note by note... Which as you say can be true of slow music, but when it comes to faster music, we become more interested in whole phrases.

    While it is not possible to improvise note-by-note by ear at fast tempos, we can improvise in heard chunked elements, maybe consisting of 2 beats or more for tempos of 240+... So it's not licks per se, but modules and things that can be chained together into larger structures. This is the way Barry Harris teaches.

    You are hearing those chunks of 4 notes (or whatever) as a musical word in itself... Being able to audiate and vary those chunks in separation is probably quite natural to most musicians as you tend to audiate things you play a lot, but I suspect many people hear complete licks rather than smaller chunks, which is one reason I like to get my students to run variations on material they've learned. Gets you a step closer to improvisation.

    Gordon talks about how to go beyond mere musical memory in audiation, towards being able to shape and change things in the inner ear. Imagine a fretboard and playing lines away fro the guitar, for instance....

    On the other, simple music is nice too :-)

    I agree with all who emphasizes the importance of transcribing. I would like to add, that real listening (maybe without transcribing) is also one of the most important.
    Yeah I 100% agree. The important thing is HEAR music. If you want to write it down, work it out, sing it, whatever floats your boat, that works. OTOH if you listen really closely, that works too. I do feel my listening is qualitatively different when I want to home in on a particular line or idea I want to lift, but maybe that moves one more into a reductionist mindset of note choices and rhythms and aware from a more holistic style of perception that might pick up more on phrasing, feel, architecture and so on...

    But listening is an art, needs to be refined for any serious musician.

  37. #86
    On the subject of Jim Hall, I asked him once if, during his soloing, he ever thought “theoretical” concepts (what key, what scale, what chord substitutions, etc) rather than imagined music in his head, and he said something along the lines of “No, if you’re thinking like that during a solo, you are dead in the water.” I think he meant that one should work to hear music and perform it by ear when performing.

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rsilver View Post
    On the subject of Jim Hall, I asked him once if, during his soloing, he ever thought “theoretical” concepts (what key, what scale, what chord substitutions, etc) rather than imagined music in his head, and he said something along the lines of “No, if you’re thinking like that during a solo, you are dead in the water.” I think he meant that one should work to hear music and perform it by ear when performing.
    I have heard most/all great players say this. It kind of accords with my own experience. I play much better when I forget all that stuff... forgetting that stuff is some ways much harder than learning it.

  39. #88
    I bet playing by ear and having a good meaningful run is connected to this fancy brain discovery:
    Brain makes decisions before you even know it : Nature News

    Even when something brilliant happens.. by "accident".. it never feels as a surprise when playing by ear and not trying to consciously control the solo too much. Feels good but not something unexpected.
    The surprises come when trying to disrupt and push it out of bounds deliberately.

  40. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu View Post
    I bet playing by ear and having a good meaningful run is connected to this fancy brain discovery:
    Brain makes decisions before you even know it : Nature News

    Even when something brilliant happens.. by "accident".. it never feels as a surprise when playing by ear and not trying to consciously control the solo too much. Feels good but not something unexpected.
    The surprises come when trying to disrupt and push it out of bounds deliberately.
    I believe that.

    Why it’s so important to get out of the way. The conscious brain is central to practice but a liability for actually making music.

  41. #90

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    Quote Originally Posted by Rsilver View Post
    On the subject of Jim Hall, I asked him once if, during his soloing, he ever thought “theoretical” concepts (what key, what scale, what chord substitutions, etc) rather than imagined music in his head, and he said something along the lines of “No, if you’re thinking like that during a solo, you are dead in the water.” I think he meant that one should work to hear music and perform it by ear when performing.
    It's pretty clear I believe... but in my opinion it does not exclude playing solo (almost) note for note or pre-composed... not even in reference to Jim Hall but whoever

  42. #91

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    Well, here’s what I think is an interesting thing.... doing a little work on acting and singing (back in my opera days)... the worse thing you can do is anticipate, right? Really you need to be saying or singing the words as if you are thinking of them in that moment. (Barry Harris says that.)

    I associate that more with Stanislavsky of course, the whole modern ‘method’ school - which stands in contrast to the older technical and very staged school of acting.

    Now actors are no strangers to improvisation.... but they know how to get the same quality from a script. The same words every night. Seems to me a musician could do the same.

    I’m a really terrible actor btw haha. (Barry would be a good one. He can’t sing but he knows how to put across a lyric.)

  43. #92

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Well, here’s what I think is an interesting thing.... doing a little work on acting and singing (back in my opera days)... the worse thing you can do is anticipate, right? Really you need to be saying or singing the words as if you are thinking of them in that moment. (Barry Harris says that.)

    I associate that more with Stanislavsky of course, the whole modern ‘method’ school - which stands in contrast to the older technical and very staged school of acting.

    Now actors are no strangers to improvisation.... but they know how to get the same quality from a script. The same words every night. Seems to me a musician could do the same.

    I’m a really terrible actor btw haha. (Barry would be a good one. He can’t sing but he knows how to put across a lyric.)
    It is very interesting.
    I often compare acting with musical performance - mostly because this analogy shows that musi also has meanings (no less or even more than verbal texts).

    But in this context it is very interesting...
    If I may I will try to develope it a bit.

    I think there are two illusive differences between musical performance and acting - and if we overcome these illusion we could be better musians

    Those illusive differences are

    1) actors use verbal language. We all know verbal language, we use it daily since early years. It is much easier to wor it out with words than with sounds in music. Especially for open public personalities which actors usually are.

    It seem correct more or less? But it is illusive. Trues actor has to be a charactor, true actor has to be a part of artistic reality duriong action. The text is part of its reality too. To really master the character and speech within particular artictic reality is not less difficult than mastering musical language, requires no less trraining, dedication and practice (I do not say 'talent').
    (The same thing about writer and composer by the way. Writing real literature is not easier or maybe even more challenging becasue language is 'a devil's trap' really).

    2) Time. Music cannot stop.But the actor can make a pause, can slowdown performance, or even freeze it, there is time too, but there is no consequent movement. Yes, musicians can also manipulate with it to some degree but at a rislk to los integrity and within very limited frames.

    True? Seems like yes. But I say it is illusive. Actually in both cases: good acting performance has complex dramatic rythm and actor cannot sacrifice it without breaking the character, and all these anecsotes about actors making pause thinking about the line are good stories but they have nothing to do with real acting.
    On the other side: if you really hear music and control instrument you actually can make fantastic things with time.. I guess you know that feeling when you kepp playing bu music seems to stop so you have enough time to analyze it and make decision. The perception of time is strange thing. I think at certain level every player knows that feeling when 'there is enough time for everything'.

    And one story - there was a great actor in Russia - Oleg Borisov - probably the greatest of the period... I can only really compare him with DeNiro in his best parts maybe... and a few more names...
    Once I saw a documentery about him made after his death and an actress who was often his partner in teh movies and theatre said very precise definition.
    She said: there are lots of average actors, and average actors are always flirting with audience in their roles, this is a part of this job unfortunately, people who go on stage often go there because they want to show themselves. But with real actors you are invoved in the character. That is why real actor can make a bad movie or script interesting becasue it can be interesting for the audience to watch a complex living character.
    (I have a thoery that great directors need not that great actors and vice versa. Bergman or Fellini would not work with DeNiro or Depardieu, the are too much on their own for them, and for example Scorsese in my opinion loses his power without strong actors like DeNiro or DiCaprio)

    I always thought that if someone asks me what Clooney or Brad Pitt or even to some degree Pacino are like in real life I can immidiately imagine something (maybe wrong - but there is some image that shows up through all their parts), becasue they build up their 'stardom' through their parts, they show themselves.
    They can be good of course too when they fit the part. When it coincides.

    And if someone asks about DeNiro - there is nothing, emptiness, he is like 'does not exist', only his characters and paradoxally he does not use any tricks mostly and I see it even in idiotic comedies... there is even no need for that but DeNiro's character is real personality there. (by the way I think it is not needed for comics - on the contrary they should keep the same character through all the parts)

    Meryl Streep seems to be the same kind of acting..
    They are the most emblematic actors for me probably.


    It concerns musicians too. It can be mistakenly understood taht one shoudl take away his personality, be abstract (I heard these theories about music performance). Not at all. On the contrary it requires even more true personality being involved.

  44. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    ...Now actors are no strangers to improvisation...
    Agree, and would like to add improvising is way more common what we are generally think about it, and this is the very first mistake when we approach it. Everybody is an improviser in everyday.

    In general when you are in talking to someone you are improvising in a particular language. You have a "theme", you have a "thought" in your mind, you carefully choose your "style", and you try to "express" yourself. (not always with success :-), maybe you picked not appropriate style, or your thoughts have flaws, or maybe everything is ready, but you have no success in expression, or you are drunk and your mouth and tongue muscles are out of control.

    ...or...

    you do not master the language, because it is just half year you started to learn your Italian as a second language..
    any component above is missing you will not have success.


    I think this is all above not a simile for improvising, it is the thing itself. If we try to reuse our experience in speech, then it seems that "play by ear" is not everything, it just a small part to render something. First of all you must have thoughts. But as in speech, thoughts are formulated in your mind in a language, not as random vowels and consonants. So you must master a language to have thoughts. It is a prerequisite, there a no thoughts without language. Then and only then it comes to express. (this would be the "play by ear" thing). However, you must physically execute the expression plan (with your mouth in case of words, and with your hands in case of music) If your mouth does not trained to a word you really will have difficulties to even say it. Similarly in your instrument.

    Currently as I see improvising is the most common and natural human thing. Then what is the trouble? The main trouble is thinking the "play by ear" is the thing itself. It is not.
    - first you must have a language, (well this is a cliche, sorry), but what is maybe not a cliche, that you must take this literally. Do not even hope to a have a musical thought without having a language, so you do not have to worry about "play by ear" this case.
    - then must have thoughts formulated with that language,
    - then must have a skill to convert your thought to express it (play by ear)
    - then you must capable to execute it (you never will be capable execute "anything", just your language's words and sentences, but luckily this is not a real limitation)

    About Jim Hall (or any great artist) never repeating himself. First of, yes they repeating them self a lot. Bach was repeating, himself, Mozart was repeating himself, Coltrane repeating himself (even within one solo, dozen times), Pat Martino even created a whole system how to play the very same phrase over different musical contexts, and he called this "reuse".

    The good news we (hopefully) can learn how to make the impression you never repeat yourself if you use "variations", there are endless combinations. Even rhythmic variation (what are not related to pitch "ear") can make hardly recognizable the very same phrase.

    I do not know if had success to express myself, I was improvising :-) and English is my second language, and also there maybe flaws in my thoughts too, and also there could be misleading typos :-)

  45. #94

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    The standard of debate is very high here !
    I'm coming round to your language metaphor Gabor
    i think you're right
    youve got to know a few words and phrases
    before you can speak meaningfully

    For me the implication of that is
    l e a r n t u n e s . . . .

    if I don't have any idea (sometimes all night long !)
    I admit I'll just noodle around the changes
    adding bits of the tune if I can grab them
    often I'll miss the notes but chance something else out of it
    if I'm hearing some clear ideas in my head ... then great
    i'll try to play them , simple stuff

    If I get it right ....
    It is down to to how well I know the tune and the changes
    thoroughly know it , not play it by rote

  46. #95

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor View Post
    It is a prerequisite, there a no thoughts without language.
    Language is a derivative of thought, not thought itself; thought comes before and ultimately manifests in many final interpretive forms, only one of which is language.

    In music, the grasp of primary elements (pitch, duration, loudness, tone, harmony, melody, rhythm) don't require any verbal methodology at all. It's possible to define verbal descriptions of these elements, construct a language extension, and call it music theory, but that theory language is not a prerequisite for grasping, composing, or performing music, certainly not for just enjoying music.

    Many of us that exclusively play by ear eschew verbal language altogether when playing because it interferes with our own type of musical thought process which is non-verbal and intrinsically does not use named things (no names of notes, intervals, scales, degrees, chords, etc.) ... when playing, there's no labeling of musical objects and no internal verbal conversation within oneself concerning these objects because verbal concepts would present a useless and unnecessary distraction from the fundamental process of grasping, selecting, and producing purely phenomenological musical flow.

    Sometimes people mistake this method of playing without language as some kind of disdain or contempt for music theory. It is not; I myself know and enjoy discussing music theory - it's just that verbal theory language concepts have no place in this kind of playing by ear. We still have a kind of music theory, but it is comprised and contained within internal abstract non-verbal mental aural representations that are best described as "how it sounds"... so there are no books, the recordings are our "books". We enjoy, learn, understand, recall, manipulate, compose, perform, and improvise music based on how it sounds.
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  47. #96

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    This rarely occurs, but it happened yesterday.

    At a workshop, the leader starts playing a tune which I vaguely remembered hearing. No chart. Very unconventional changes and a lot of them.

    He plays the head. A few people knew the tune. Somebody solos. Points to me to take a solo. I had no idea of the changes.

  48. #97

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    Language is a derivative of thought, not thought itself; thought comes before and ultimately manifests in many final interpretive forms, only one of which is language.

    In music, the grasp of primary elements (pitch, duration, loudness, tone, harmony, melody, rhythm) don't require any verbal methodology at all. It's possible to define verbal descriptions of these elements, construct a language extension, and call it music theory, but that theory language is not a prerequisite for grasping, composing, or performing music, certainly not for just enjoying music.

    Many of us that exclusively play by ear eschew verbal language altogether when playing because it interferes with our own type of musical thought process which is non-verbal and intrinsically does not use named things (no names of notes, intervals, scales, degrees, chords, etc.) ... when playing, there's no labeling of musical objects and no internal verbal conversation within oneself concerning these objects because verbal concepts would present a useless and unnecessary distraction from the fundamental process of grasping, selecting, and producing purely phenomenological musical flow.

    Sometimes people mistake this method of playing without language as some kind of disdain or contempt for music theory. It is not; I myself know and enjoy discussing music theory - it's just that verbal theory language concepts have no place in this kind of playing by ear. We still have a kind of music theory, but it is comprised and contained within internal abstract non-verbal mental aural representations that are best described as "how it sounds"... so there are no books, the recordings are our "books". We enjoy, learn, understand, recall, manipulate, compose, perform, and improvise music based on how it sounds.
    thats all true
    but I believe Gabor was talking about learning a verbal language
    can be seen as a metaphor for learning music/improvisation

    Govan said an interesting thing about this
    he said something like
    when I was a kid I just absorbed music
    (it was always being played in the house)
    same as I just absorbed my first verbal language
    ie I didn't think about it , I just did it

    when you learn a second verbal language
    you don't learn that way
    you learn lists of verbs , nouns , rules of grammar etc etc
    IOWs it's like like learning music .....by studying music theory

  49. #98

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    This rarely occurs, but it happened yesterday.

    At a workshop, the leader starts playing a tune which I vaguely remembered hearing. No chart. Very unconventional changes and a lot of them.

    He plays the head. A few people knew the tune. Somebody solos. Points to me to take a solo. I had no idea of the changes.
    What tune, what happened? Were you able to solo anyway?
    "Bent my ear to hear the tune and closed my eyes to see."

  50. #99

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    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor View Post
    Agree, and would like to add improvising is way more common what we are generally think about it, and this is the very first mistake when we approach it. Everybody is an improviser in everyday.

    In general when you are in talking to someone you are improvising in a particular language. You have a "theme", you have a "thought" in your mind, you carefully choose your "style", and you try to "express" yourself. (not always with success :-), maybe you picked not appropriate style, or your thoughts have flaws, or maybe everything is ready, but you have no success in expression, or you are drunk and your mouth and tongue muscles are out of control.

    ...or...

    you do not master the language, because it is just half year you started to learn your Italian as a second language..
    any component above is missing you will not have success.


    I think this is all above not a simile for improvising, it is the thing itself. If we try to reuse our experience in speech, then it seems that "play by ear" is not everything, it just a small part to render something. First of all you must have thoughts. But as in speech, thoughts are formulated in your mind in a language, not as random vowels and consonants. So you must master a language to have thoughts. It is a prerequisite, there a no thoughts without language. Then and only then it comes to express. (this would be the "play by ear" thing). However, you must physically execute the expression plan (with your mouth in case of words, and with your hands in case of music) If your mouth does not trained to a word you really will have difficulties to even say it. Similarly in your instrument.

    Currently as I see improvising is the most common and natural human thing. Then what is the trouble? The main trouble is thinking the "play by ear" is the thing itself. It is not.
    - first you must have a language, (well this is a cliche, sorry), but what is maybe not a cliche, that you must take this literally. Do not even hope to a have a musical thought without having a language, so you do not have to worry about "play by ear" this case.
    - then must have thoughts formulated with that language,
    - then must have a skill to convert your thought to express it (play by ear)
    - then you must capable to execute it (you never will be capable execute "anything", just your language's words and sentences, but luckily this is not a real limitation)

    About Jim Hall (or any great artist) never repeating himself. First of, yes they repeating them self a lot. Bach was repeating, himself, Mozart was repeating himself, Coltrane repeating himself (even within one solo, dozen times), Pat Martino even created a whole system how to play the very same phrase over different musical contexts, and he called this "reuse".

    The good news we (hopefully) can learn how to make the impression you never repeat yourself if you use "variations", there are endless combinations. Even rhythmic variation (what are not related to pitch "ear") can make hardly recognizable the very same phrase.

    I do not know if had success to express myself, I was improvising :-) and English is my second language, and also there maybe flaws in my thoughts too, and also there could be misleading typos :-)
    If you scroll up you may see the Edwin Gordon lecture I posted.

    His opening statement is 'music is not a language, but this is why I find it useful to think of it as one.' His thoughts are quite interesting. Not sure if I 100% agree with everything he says, but good food for thought.

    That's a great point about great musicians repeating themselves - that's very pertinent. I think we are in danger of taking to idealised an approach to art... Which to me is boring and arid.

    As a philosophical point the Sapir-Whorf hypothesis (Linguistic relativism) is always interesting. You seem to be espousing the strong position, although that is rejected by most modern linguists AFAIK. So space squids probably couldn't make us perceive time non linearly.

    The Homeric 'wine dark sea' is a classic example - while I don't think the ancient Greeks perceived the sea as dark red, their lack of a word for blue created this (to us) rather odd descriptive device, and categorised dark colours as the same sort of thing in a way that is strange to a modern English speaker.

    I sometimes wonder of the language we use to talk about musical analysis doesn't have similar aspects to it. Some of the arguments here seem to suggest that to me.

  51. #100

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    Language is a derivative of thought, not thought itself; thought comes before and ultimately manifests in many final interpretive forms, only one of which is language.
    Stating that does not make it so.