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  1. #1

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    This is a submission for an assignment set on my Music Education postgrad, thought I'd share

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    Needs Analysis - Jazz Rhythmic Phrases

    I’m interested in addressing a very specific issue with learning jazz improvisers. Most jazz students have a good grasp of music theory, scales, modes and so on, but lack the ability to construct musical lines that sound actually sound like jazz. Solos tend to be faltering, meandering and lacking in a sense of pulse - what jazz musicians term ‘noodling.’

    A fundamental part of moving beyond this is to be able to create convincing jazz rhythms which the student can then use to create melodic lines. To quote Dizzy Gillespie’s description of his process of improvisation, he said that he would ‘find a rhythm and throw some notes on it’, an idea shared by many great jazz musicians and educators, and certainly something that relates to my own experience as an improviser.

    However, I haven’t found many commercial learning resources focussed on helping students find these rhythms; certainly not compared to pitch-based resources. Obviously, one should always give the simple and vital advice to listen to lots and lots jazz (immersion), but I feel other resources would be helpful, and possibly enjoyable for the student. One way to avoid the ‘blank page problem’ would be to provide the student with rhythmic phrases to base their lines on.

    Most commercial materials that contain rhythmic material focus on reading, whereas I feel I require something more specific and applicable to improvisation, perhaps allowing the student some creative input.

    The use of the term language is common in jazz circles, and the theory set out in Edwin Gordon’s Learning Sequences in Music share the concept that music should be learned like a language. Gordon mirrors, explores in depth and ties into his theory some other exercises and ideas that are also found in the jazz tradition.

    Fundamentally Gordon's theory is a method of teaching geared first around oral/aural activities and only later introducing notation (Gordon, Learning Sequences in Music, Chapter 2) and is mirrored by many traditional jazz practice activities such as the type of imitation/ear learning practice described in Lucy Green's Hear Listen Play.

    Furthermore, it seems from experience that while it is possible (if not desirable) for students to read pitches on the guitar mechanically, it is in fact very difficult to read complex syncopated jazz and pop rhythms without what Gordon calls Type 2 audiation. In fact, as I plan on giving the student existing rhythms either as notation or heard phrases (Type 1 or 2 audiation) the resource would have applications in that area too, which is important, because guitarists are notoriously poor readers.

    I also want to root what I am doing in actual, classic, jazz language, so it is all directly relevant to the style of music I most commonly teach to advanced students.

    In Gordon’s terms (Gordon, Learning Sequences in Music - Chapter 8), what I require is a way of teaching rhythmic patterns sourced from actual jazz, such as the transcriptions found in the Charlie Parker Omnibook, perhaps by chaining a number of what Gordon calls macrobeats, which might also allow students the opportunity to combine macrobeats in different combinations to create different rhythmic patterns.

    Parker seems like an obvious place to start as he is the originator of bebop, remains source for most of the rhythmic phrases we use in jazz today, and was certainly one the music’s most rhythmically imaginative improvisers.

    Gordon does point out ‘…[rhythm patterns] are important to style and form in music. For example the same notation of syncopation is performed differently in the music Mozart than in Jazz.’ Because of this the material will focus squarely on raw musical materials, and the correct stylistic performance of rhythm (another neglected area) will have to handled with a different learning resource.

    I look forward to exploring Gordon’s ideas and seeing how I can use his understanding in combination with use in my teaching practice to try to create a helpful resource.

    Bibliography

    Aebersold, Jamie and Ken Stone. Charlie Parker Omnibook, Atlantic Music Corp, 1978.
    Bellson, Louis and Gil Brienes. Modern Reading Text in 4/4, Alfred Music, 1985
    Gordon, Edwin. Learning Sequences in Music: A Contemporary Music Learning Theory. GIA Publications, 2007.
    Green, Lucy. Hear, Listen, Play!: How to Free Your Students' Aural, Improvisation, and Performance Skills, Oxford University Press, 2014.

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    I will post the learning resource I came up with when I submit the rest of the assignment on Thursday, but interested to hear your thoughts in response to this post. Do you agree? Is there something you use in your own teaching or practice?

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I am not an educator, but as a new student of jazz and old guy with a degree from a classically oriented conservatory program, I do realize when my lines don't swing it's largely due to issues with rhythm and the effect of rhythm on melody: phrasing.

    Looking forward to the follow up posts!

  4. #3

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    Yes, also listening to good jazz so that the rhythms are absorbed into the psyche... like actually going to a country and hearing them speak.

  5. #4

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    From my own teaching practice, I had a sub lesson with 12 year old guitar student who was preparing to take jazz nysma test (ny state exam). We only had 30 min lesson. His dad said he's struggling with improvisation over backin track, which was mid tempo jazz blues.

    I asked the kid to demonstrate, and immediately it was obvious the regular teacher fed him bunch of scales and the kid was sounding very noodly indeed. But no sign of phrasing or swing. I showed him simple thing: take 2 or 3 notes and play them with focusing on rhythm variations. Forget about scales, use your imagination for rhythm. Hell, even one note can do! I played him examples. Immediately he sounded better.

    I met his dad later and he thanked me his son passed the exam with a great score! Then the other day i was thinking, if I can take my own advice and apply to my own playing, that would be great too haha! I always catch myself on the gigs playing too notey solos, and listening back it sure could be less.

  6. #5

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    Yeah, I honestly think it comes from not listening to jazz.

    I feel like there's a good deal of young players playing "jazz" who don't actually like it. Damn school.

  7. #6

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    I really think that learning to sing Lester Young and Charlie Christian solos was fundamental for me in developing this. I later learned to sing a bunch of Bird solos, but honestly I think Bird is the wrong place to start here; Lester is easier to hear and digest. Chet Baker is another person that is super easy to sing and hear, and is a great source of basic jazz phrasing for beginners.

    My earliest transcribing efforts were learning Clifford Brown solos (before all this singing), and I don't think it helped me that much because his level was too far above my head, it's not like I could start using some of his ideas in my own improvisations, his lines on "pent up house" and "what am I here for?" are incredibly long and detailed. I've read interviews with other musicians that say it took them a while to understand Bird, that initially it was over their head, so it's not just me.

    The only thing I'm aware of that does a detailed analysis of this is Hal Galper's "forward motion" articles, which I think are really right on in terms of creating rhythmic momentum.

  8. #7

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    I think people tend to sing a better solo, rhythmically, over a set of changes than they might play too. There's a disconnect there...

  9. #8

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    That's true. Singing comes straight from the brain, heart, or whatever, whereas playing a solo involves having to translate it to the instrument. There are lots of instructors that say 'Be able to play instantly what you hear in your head' but that's easier said than done.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald
    I really think that learning to sing Lester Young and Charlie Christian solos was fundamental for me in developing this. I later learned to sing a bunch of Bird solos, but honestly I think Bird is the wrong place to start here; Lester is easier to hear and digest. Chet Baker is another person that is super easy to sing and hear, and is a great source of basic jazz phrasing for beginners.
    Actually I just typed something like that into my notes in terms of my experience with using the resource and you just mentioned it here. (An important part of the assignment is self critique and reflection.)

    It depends on the student though.

    That said what I’ve come up with seems pretty good at spitting out funky little jazz phrases and might be flexible enough to be used to create simpler rhythms. It’s not Parker exactly.

    Anyway .... more anon. Probably sounds more mysterious than it is haha.

    My earliest transcribing efforts were learning Clifford Brown solos (before all this singing), and I don't think it helped me that much because his level was too far above my head, it's not like I could start using some of his ideas in my own improvisations, his lines on "pent up house" and "what am I here for?" are incredibly long and detailed. I've read interviews with other musicians that say it took them a while to understand Bird, that initially it was over their head, so it's not just me.

    The only thing I'm aware of that does a detailed analysis of this is Hal Galper's "forward motion" articles, which I think are really right on in terms of creating rhythmic momentum.
    Hal Galper is one of my - lodestones? Guiding stars? - on this.

  11. #10

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    It seems to me that the time feel is the thing that defines this music. Plenty of other music relies on improvisation, the elements that comprise 'jazz harmony' exist outside of Jazz, although they may not be used in the same way - the same goes for the instruments used, the tunes, I can turn a great Charlie Parker solo into non jazz just by playing it.

    Mike Longo's ideas are worth a look, (10 years as Dizzy's MD), everyone should read Victor Wooten's 'The Music Lesson'.

    The above to be taken with a pinch of salt cos I can't play...

    It don't mean a thing etc.

    +1 for more listening.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcsanwald
    I really think that learning to sing Lester Young and Charlie Christian solos was fundamental for me in developing this. I later learned to sing a bunch of Bird solos, but honestly I think Bird is the wrong place to start here; Lester is easier to hear and digest.
    A lot of Lester Young appears when you listen to Parker at half speed...

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    That's true. Singing comes straight from the brain, heart, or whatever, whereas playing a solo involves having to translate it to the instrument. There are lots of instructors that say 'Be able to play instantly what you hear in your head' but that's easier said than done.
    Indeed. There are I think two steps here, which relate to my replies to Jeff.

    1) The auditory imagination itself, which is most closely related to the voice, but not always perfectly (some students are not able to sing accurate pitches, that's another area.)
    2) The ability to translate to the instrument.

    I think a lot of people get hung up on 2), and it's not trivial. Guitarists in particular have a tendency to play without hearing, operating the instrument automatically, before they know what they are aiming to do musically.

    However, from my experience most of the work needs to done in area 1). Once area 1) is addressed properly, 2) tends to sort itself out much quicker. I believe this is why Tristano, for instance, was such a stickler for students getting the singing right first. If you think about it what we are interested in is mindful, connected playing, and focussing on hearing the music we want to play before we try to play it does encourage that automatically. Hal Galper is an influence on me in this way of thinking.

    That said, I am proceeding from the basis of not writing any students off. It would be easy to say students who can't accurately sing pitches or come up with rhythms lack musicality. I do not believe this is a legitimate stance for a teacher and says more about us - our own experiences, talents, weaknesses, and limits to our understanding, than it does about the student. there is much to be learned from probing these areas a bit deeper.

    If you check out (the late) Edwin Gordon's ideas, they maybe of interest. The book I cited is rather dense, but there's a fair amount of him on YouTube, and I find he communicates his ideas well verbally:



    Gordon's concepts of audiation (he invented the term) are pretty hardcore in what they are designed to build in the student, and start from birth, perhaps earlier.

    They relate strongly to ideas from Tristano (via Marsh/Klopotowski), and also brought up by Hal Galper in Forward Motion but Gordon is both a more rigorous theoretician in this area, and also not really a jazz musician per se, though has knowledge of it. His learning theory is really conceived to address all music.

    While his ideas would naturally find sympathy with jazz musicians, he had a rough ride in classical pedagogy.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    True, but I think Parker's rhythmic language is profoundly different in some ways. More syncopated for instance.
    yeah, agreed. There's double-time stuff that he consistently does at slower tempos that is very hard to hear and process, or, it was for me, anyways. Then there's the style that I think Miles in his autobiography calls "pecking", like the head to "Moose the mooche", where I can never imagine hearing Lester playing anything like "Moose The Mooche" rhythmically. And, Bird occasionally plays some truly strange clusters where he makes something fit through sheer force of will, there's some stuff on Massey Hall which is very odd to transcribe.

    I've heard people say they hear Sonny Stitt as kind of a "cleaned up" Bird, it's similar language but he doesn't have the kind of strange cramming notes into a phrase that Bird sometimes does.

    If I were teaching jazz to anyone, Lester Young would be "required reading" before moving to Parker.

  15. #14

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    Rock, Blues = Learn Scales

    Jazz = Learn Arpeggios

    Is this an overly simplistic approach?

    It seems to be working for me.

    If I play a G major scale, I don't hear any Jazz

    But then if I play a Gmaj7 arpeggio, I definitely hear Jazz.

  16. #15

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    I had a couple of thoughts in reading this thread.

    One is that great players sound great playing a string of eighth notes. I mention this to make the point that "time feel" is a foundational issue. Without it, nothing will sound great. Once a player has great feel, adding rhythmic variation will make the player even better.

    Another is that, speaking only for myself, the rhythmic content of my solos improves dramatically when I sing as I play. My voice doesn't always determine my note choice (too much muscle memory interferes with that) but it does change the rhythmic content.

    The important thing, though, is not to lose focus on time feel when you're thinking about all that other stuff.

    For more info on what time feel is supposed to be, check out any of Reg's videos on youtube. Listen especially to his comping.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I used to agree more firmly with this. I'm quite open now. The most important thing is that the student engages with the music they love.
    yeah, I mean, I don't teach, so I'm not like browbeating this into tons of impressionable youths. I'm all for people finding what they love and going deep. Just saying that my early experience, even though I came to the study of jazz loving Clifford Brown, that love would have been best served in the beginning by going back a bit more. But, who knows? I'm sure someone better than me could have dived right into Clifford and take a lot from it. So I agree it's gotta vary by individual and what is going to get them excited about study.

  18. #17

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    A possible area of study...

    Feeling rhythm instead of counting rhythm

    I came across this concept when I was studying with Bruce Arnold. The premise is that you first learn how a measure of space sounds in, say, 4/4 at 120bpm. You don't mark anything except the downbeat of the measure. You memorize the space... this is extremely hard to do if you've been trained to count (even on 2 and 4). No counting, at all--just space.

    Then, you start adding rhythms to this space. First, what does half note sound like against this temporal space. Then what about the 2nd quarter note? What about the last quarter note. All without counting.

    The concept is similar to how Charlie Banacos described contextual ear training as a note (or notes) reacting to a harmonic backdrop. With rhythm, you are thinking about how a rhythmic punctuation reacts to a temporal space. The first quarter note of a measure of 4 reacts differently than the last quarter note. The first quarter note of a measure of 3/4 reacts differently to the temporal space of that waltz time than it does to the temporal space of 4/4. There's a different "gravitational pull" of each rhythmic punctuation to each temporal space in the same way that Hal Galper describes notes in that seminal Forward Motion book.

    How about this concept:

    You know how we teach target notes? like targeting chord tones and such?

    What about targeting different parts of the measure or the phrase?

    What about targets with rhythmic inclination?

    When you introduce syncopation, it adds another layer.

    The principal is always sound--as in--how do you manipulate sound within space.

    It all sounds very philosophical, but I think it deserves a closer look.

    Let me know when the book comes out, Chris'77
    Last edited by Irez87; 04-22-2019 at 02:16 PM.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickbanks
    Rock, Blues = Learn Scales

    Jazz = Learn Arpeggios

    Is this an overly simplistic approach?

    It seems to be working for me.

    If I play a G major scale, I don't hear any Jazz

    But then if I play a Gmaj7 arpeggio, I definitely hear Jazz.
    That's a big MAYBE for me...

    I think to a lot of folks starting out, yeah, a 7th chords sounds different...play a 13th? It must be jazz...

    But it goes a lot deeper than that.

    A big thing that maybe gets missed is rhythm takes a back seat when a player is flying by the seat of their pants, just trying to hang on the changes. I think a lot of folks play songs before they really know them...I don't think players can really think interestingly rhythmically taking a jazz solo until they are comfortable melodically. Because, lets face it--who notices a rhythmically boring solo first? Other musicians. But who can hear a real clam? ANYBODY. I think this is why melodic content gets stressed so much...even if it's not the correct approach.

    And knowing a tune is a luxury we sometimes don't get, too.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I had a couple of thoughts in reading this thread.

    One is that great players sound great playing a string of eighth notes. I mention this to make the point that "time feel" is a foundational issue. Without it, nothing will sound great. Once a player has great feel, adding rhythmic variation will make the player even better.

    Another is that, speaking only for myself, the rhythmic content of my solos improves dramatically when I sing as I play. My voice doesn't always determine my note choice (too much muscle memory interferes with that) but it does change the rhythmic content.
    That's an interesting side point. I know what you mean... but... I think you might be using the voice as a crutch here and there might be some value in trying some different practice activities. Have you read Hal Galper's Forward Motion?

    Gordon would say that that does not constitute true improvisation (!) as if I understand correctly, you should be able to audiate whole improvisations without playing them and then execute them on your instrument. As I say, pretty uncompromising, and I think this represents an ideal more than day to day life and I suspect even super talented audiating improvisors would experience a more complex reality on the bandstand.

    The important thing, though, is not to lose focus on time feel when you're thinking about all that other stuff.

    For more info on what time feel is supposed to be, check out any of Reg's videos on youtube. Listen especially to his comping.
    If you refer to my OP I say I don't want to address time/feel in this case. However, it's perhaps foolhardy to separate rhythmic vocabulary out from time/feel as they are completely interlinked.

    Reg suggests Bellson as a good way of developing rhythm generally, which has influenced my thinking above.

    Rhythmic vocab is something we can quantify a lot better than time/feel and it also something that can lead to better feel generally as players start to perceive a clearer relationship between their lines and the beat. Also, I have found that teaching students to correctly audiate the phrasing of the rhythms is in fact a natural part of the lesson.

  21. #20

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    Interesting thread and these observations align well with my teaching experience. Many of my students let their fingers do the walking and what comes out are riffs they have played forever or endless scale-wise movements that sound like mindless noodling after 20 or so seconds. There are precious few melodic statements and little or no motivic development. I may sound harsh in these comments but I often find myself wondering who in their right mind would ever pay to hear this? I wouldn't.

    I think there are a few reasons behind this:

    1. Guitarists don't have to breath in between phrases so they can play forever without the pauses that punctuate a singer's lines. So guitarists can end up sounding like that guy that just talks endlessly leaving no room for dialogue with the listener. It can be exhausting to listen to although seemingly not exhausting to play.

    2. Less experienced guitarists (and musicians) seem to have anxiety about leaving space in their solos. On the bandstand (or when observed by their teachers) they may feel under the spotlight and if they are not actively playing during their solos then they get a bit freaked and start noodling. Another related dynamic is one where they play a line that is not that good or has a big clam in it so they immediately play something else to "fix" it or erase it from memory.

    3. They don't listen to jazz that much or that actively. So I have students coming from a rock background and they say they want to play "jazz" and in their mind that means Allen Holdsworth because that is who represents "jazz" in their iTunes collection.

    In order to deal with these issues I set up playing challenges for my students and these challenges always involve limitation. So we will take a song like All of Me and I ask they only play it is triads. It is often painful to watch how they suffer not being able to play their usual riffs. They have to hear the changes also. Secondly, I might ask them to establish a motif (short) before their solo and I ask them to only play lines based on the motif (allowing for slight variations). Then we combine the two approaches. In many instances the anxiety and frustration is palpable but after a few lessons things are starting to sound more musical. Then we might work with two motifs that are harmonically or rhythmically related. Eventually, they start to relax and let space form part of their solo statements.

    Finally, the listening side. I ask them to go back and listen to Louis Armstrong, Django, Chet and a few others that play in a melodic/lyrical vein. I don't ask them to like the music but to listen to it actively while paying attention to space, motifs, inner dialogue and dynamics. Most end up liking the music and even those that don't learn something. Personally, I think Parker would be a hard place to start because he can be a bit stream of consciousness player. Of course, he could be intensely lyrical but a safer start may be with the early players that had a more vocal approach and/or greater technical limitations.

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by dickbanks
    Rock, Blues = Learn Scales

    Jazz = Learn Arpeggios

    Is this an overly simplistic approach?


    It seems to be working for me.
    Yes, but all teaching - including self-teaching - is. You have to decide what to work on at any one point. This approach taught me to play changes. It was a great help. It didn't address the whole music. It didn't address time or rhythm.

    If I play a G major scale, I don't hear any Jazz
    When Parker plays a scale, I hear jazz. So what's going on?

    But then if I play a Gmaj7 arpeggio, I definitely hear Jazz.
    But what about a triad arp?

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberoo
    Interesting thread and these observations align well with my teaching experience. Many of my students let their fingers do the walking and what comes out are riffs they have played forever or endless scale-wise movements that sound like mindless noodling after 20 or so seconds. There are precious few melodic statements and little or no motivic development. I may sound harsh in these comments but I often find myself wondering who in their right mind would ever pay to hear this? I wouldn't.

    I think there are a few reasons behind this:

    1. Guitarists don't have to breath in between phrases so they can play forever without the pauses that punctuate a singer's lines. So guitarists can end up sounding like that guy that just talks endlessly leaving no room for dialogue with the listener. It can be exhausting to listen to although seemingly not exhausting to play.

    2. Less experienced guitarists (and musicians) seem to have anxiety about leaving space in their solos. On the bandstand (or when observed by their teachers) they may feel under the spotlight and if they are not actively playing during their solos then they get a bit freaked and start noodling. Another related dynamic is one where they play a line that is not that good or has a big clam in it so they immediately play something else to "fix" it or erase it from memory.

    3. They don't listen to jazz that much or that actively. So I have students coming from a rock background and they say they want to play "jazz" and in their mind that means Allen Holdsworth because that is who represents "jazz" in their iTunes collection.

    In order to deal with these issues I set up playing challenges for my students and these challenges always involve limitation. So we will take a song like All of Me and I ask they only play it is triads. It is often painful to watch how they suffer not being able to play their usual riffs. They have to hear the changes also. Secondly, I might ask them to establish a motif (short) before their solo and I ask them to only play lines based on the motif (allowing for slight variations). Then we combine the two approaches. In many instances the anxiety and frustration is palpable but after a few lessons things are starting to sound more musical. Then we might work with two motifs that are harmonically or rhythmically related. Eventually, they start to relax and let space form part of their solo statements.

    Finally, the listening side. I ask them to go back and listen to Louis Armstrong, Django, Chet and a few others that play in a melodic/lyrical vein. I don't ask them to like the music but to listen to it actively while paying attention to space, motifs, inner dialogue and dynamics. Most end up liking the music and even those that don't learn something. Personally, I think Parker would be a hard place to start because he can be a bit stream of consciousness player. Of course, he could be intensely lyrical but a safer start may be with the early players that had a more vocal approach and/or greater technical limitations.
    Great comments. All very close to my heart.

    Anyway I’ll post my resource and relevant bits of my essay when it’s done.

    The Parker thing is a perhaps a little less important than people seem to think. I’m making a needs analysis for a learning resource, not talking about transcribing him. In practical terms I needed a source of rhythm cells and the Omnibook was close to hand :-) it might make a little more sense when I show everyone what the learning resource actually is.

  24. #23

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    Audiation means hearing something, in advance of playing it, in your mind? Or is there another, or more detailed, definition?

    I don't understand the idea of audiating an entire solo. Does that mean I've heard, in my mind, three choruses of Stella before I start soloing? What about 4 bars?

    What happens to interaction between the musicians?

    I must be missing something.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    rhythmic vocabulary out from time/feel as they are completely interlinked.
    .
    My guess is that if you have great time feel, you'll be too busy gigging to worry about rhythmic vocabulary.
    And, you probably won't need to anyway.

  26. #25

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    Chris77,

    I think you know that I'm all about Audiation!

    So what books by, like, um, Edwin E. Gordon would you recommend?

    There's, like, many books, that like, look totally awesome.


  27. #26

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    I think it also comes from the idea of 'approximation' (as Bill Evans called it and demonstrated in interview)...
    students hear something and try to approximate it generally.
    And when they do so rythm usually just completely escapes their attention, because in approximation they try to reproduce the overall sound and rythm seems secondary.


  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87
    Chris77,

    I think you know that I'm all about Audiation!

    So what books by, like, um, Edwin E. Gordon would you recommend?

    There's, like, many books, that like, look totally awesome.

    Learning Sequences in Music I think is his best known work

    Gordon actually coined the term audiation.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Audiation means hearing something, in advance of playing it, in your mind? Or is there another, or more detailed, definition?

    I don't understand the idea of audiating an entire solo. Does that mean I've heard, in my mind, three choruses of Stella before I start soloing? What about 4 bars?

    What happens to interaction between the musicians?

    I must be missing something.
    Audiation is aural imagination, like visualisation but auditory.

    I think the idea is you work on audiation in isolation. Remember Gordon is primarily a classical musician. He’s thinking more compositionally.

    I don’t think it’s so cut and dried on the bandstand. However audiation is important to the process of improvisation. That’s why we transcribe.

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Irez87
    how about the triplet-itis that a lot of learning jazz players tend to use as a default? It manifests in a janky exaggerated triplet swing feel that I have consciously fought out of my own playing (it still creeps in if I'm not careful). That rhythmic disposition seems to be very much a plight of many an amateur guitar player at jam sessions I've frequented in my own circles. As in, guitarists often play a bunch of triplets instead of eighth note lines or double time lines. I wonder why it is so prevalent? Once again, I fall victim to that janky feel and rhythm in my own playing as well.
    Tell me about it.

    I think that’s one think this needs analysis tries to address. Players are often taught often that jazz lines are strings of notes rather than rhythmic phrases.

    Many players struggle with medium tempo single time.

    Feel wise as a soloist one has to get used to playing behind while catching the upbeats. It can feel very weird doing this at first, but I’ve got some great results from students. Feel the swing upbeats and play legato and even. You’ll feel like you are stretching it out like elastic. It’s a very relaxed feeling.

    Also 1/4 triplets are big and clever.

    Uptempo and double time is much easier if you have the chops because it’s much closer to straight 16ths. So you can fake it (hey that’s what Barry said Stitt did !)

    This is I think why a lot of modern jazz avoids medium tempo - it’s the absolute test of whether a player can really swing. Plus you don’t have the dancers to call you on it when it’s not good to dance too :-)

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77

    Parker seems like an obvious place to start as he is the originator of bebop, remains source for most of the rhythmic phrases we use in jazz today, and was certainly one the music’s most rhythmically imaginative improvisers.
    Or perhaps, at least for guitarists, Charlie Christian.

  32. #31

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    "'Now I'm at the point where I'm not happy with my time (I doubt I ever will be), but I can hear what the problems because - I knew what I meant to play."

    --Chris77


    I thought I was the only one that did that.

    I agree with RP and Chris77. Time feel and rhythm, are inseparable. When you are imagining what a great rhythm sounds like, you are also injecting the time feel of the player that you want to model.

    In my case, I use Cannonball and Billy Bean as my models. They both have infectious time feels. And Cannonball plays rhythm like no one else. I love Parker as well, but Cannonball pops in my opinion.

    Here's another question. When you are imagining sound in your head, do you hear just the rhythms and add notes or do you hear rhythm and notes simultaneously. The reason that I sing and train my ear contextually as much as I do is so I can move beyond hearing the notes and make the rhythms and time more clear.

  33. #32

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    I hear them at the same time. I can sing the phrase I want to play. I 'd have to think about it to extract the rhythm and tap it. I couldn't easily sing the notes out of time.

    Christian .. I don't know if this will make sense to others, but I was reacting to the part about beats and triplets. Speaking solely from my own journey, I didn't get much out of that kind of practice. I can already scat sing rhythms better than I can play them without scat singing. So, for me, it isn't working on this bit of vocabulary or that. It's imagining a good line and then getting it to pop and crackle - time-feel - when I play it.

  34. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I hear them at the same time. I can sing the phrase I want to play. I 'd have to think about it to extract the rhythm and tap it. I couldn't easily sing the notes out of time.

    Christian .. I don't know if this will make sense to others, but I was reacting to the part about beats and triplets. Speaking solely from my own journey, I didn't get much out of that kind of practice. I can already scat sing rhythms better than I can play them without scat singing. So, for me, it isn't working on this bit of vocabulary or that. It's imagining a good line and then getting it to pop and crackle - time-feel - when I play it.
    Beats and triplets - was that in my reply to Irez?

    A lot of people want to (or can only) discuss their own journey, while for me it’s about having a diverse tool kit that can help a student get better. It’s really no more complicated than that.

    There’s lots of great informal jazz advice about time/feel, including your own, but it has taken a long time for me to collate ideas and form a general framework in the commonalities of advice between different educators. There are disagreements, but there is more agreement when you dig right down. (The general framework allows me to understand better what each thing addresses and to come up with my own variations.)

    I see my job in relation to the intermediate jazz student as something of a language coach. The player has to be playing with other musicians, preferably ones better than them, to advance, but I can make suggestions to improve their accent and idiom, suggest listening material, reading material and of course tunes to learn.

    The advice on triplets etc as draws from classic jazz advice from musicians like Peter Bernstein, Charles MacPherson and so on.

    Which would mean nothing if it didn’t work. But it does work.

    Getting a student to do this immediately fixes the number one feel problem of learning jazzers - even some accomplished players who listen, transcribe and work with a metronome a lot - overdotting, while ensuring they are still catching the upbeat and swinging - rather than simply playing straight on swing (which is another colour we can use.)

    I can’t tell you how common this problem is even among some accomplished (uni level) players. I had it myself, of course. To the student it feels in a totally different zone, so there is some resistance to it at first. It might not stick without some teacherly nagging, but they can do it usually right away.

    I’ll take that to the bank.

    (I’m not claiming anything revolutionary here BTW. This exercise is not my idea)

    Of course, jazz musicians refer to this feeling as ‘the pocket’. A teacher that can help a student find this, is IMO, doing their job.

    You may well not have this issue (I haven’t heard you play) which would be why this advice seems superfluous to you.

    The job of the teacher when it comes to time/feel as I see it, is to encourage the student to explore the relationship between the external nature (for instance in recording) of their playing to the internal feelings and perceptions when they play. I’m sure you’ve had the same experience when critiquing your own playing - ‘hey that seemed in time when I played it, but actually it’s fractionally on top!’ or ‘I didn’t notice but I’m rushing that phrase there’ and so on.

    That said your ear needs to get used to looking out for these things.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-24-2019 at 04:52 AM.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Possibly... I would say this was true of me, for sure.

    However, some people just have trouble thinking of rhythmic phrases at all.

    I think this is right. People recognize the rhythm of musical phrase but most (at least, most beginners and many intermediate players) don't regard that rhythm as something in itself.

    One way to learn this is old fashioned: take a melody you know, then change the notes (pitches) of it. I think this is how early jazz players tended to start out as soloists. (Both in the sense of taking a chorus that "played off the melody," which is to say, kept the rhythm---at least in rough outline---but changed the pitches, and in terms of starting to learn to improvise. The template is the rhythm.)

    Frank Vignola stresses this in his teaching.


  36. #35

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    good ideas to think about

    im curious where and what are you all learning about groove, rhythm section roles , phrasing ?

    im getting a feeling the educational system doesnt address it.

    its kind of like sex education and sex, when it gets down to really doing it, you have to find out on your own then with a partner. you wont get what you really need from your parents or the educational system.

    classical notation cant even notate swing correctly, we all read the real book and make the adjustment to a swing feel in our minds.

    lets face it, after all the official education you have to start over in the real education...on the bandstand. the bandstand will tell you really quickly what will work and what wont and how much you have to discard of your formal education to adjust to the real life bandstand.

    i like what someone said dizzy said, get a rhythm and then you can throw any notes over it . this is what i mean by saying you can play a bell part from these ketu groove like bravum / jinka and you automaticly swing.

    i went in the studio with a horn player ( and just a guitar player also to do this) where , in this case, we did milestones as a duet and i told him he could only use the rhtyhm of the head ( which is actualy a speeded up opanije implication). we tried it , when he did it , he didn always do it, but when he did, it worked like a charm. he said he never played that fast before.

    i havent tried this yet ,im working it out in my head , but,i beleive i can take any reasonably competent jazz player , and play milestones, and on the a section, you can play any notes, but all the phrasing has to be various ketu bell parts either normal time or half time. in my head as i think about it, there will be 100 percent hook up and you will be able to go at tempos faster than you ever played before

    a very important overlooked point...monk said to steve lacey, "make the drummer look good"..think about it. i have another theory , if you are soloing out front , and you play to your drummer, you will automaticly start to be cliche free and in the moment and entering what jazz is all about. for those who have jazz gigs , try it sometime. play to your drummer, giving him phrases to catch , laying into his groove, less notes , more groove , more rhythmic exitement

  37. #36

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    the whole other part i cant see much of in the educational system is , in improvisation, how do you get intouch with your instinct , intuition and subconcious to harness it to your playing?

    this is a huge huge subject to address ,and so fundimental to jazz playing

  38. #37

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    My perspective, as an ear player, which I submit for inclusion in your analysis, is that this problem likely emerges from abstracting rhythm as a separate component from pitch and harmony.

    For a self taught ear player, the musical objects are phenomenological Gestalts - any pitches or harmonies are intrinsically and necessarily made manifest by rhythm. Even when rubatoing one's way through a new song to become familiar with how it goes, the pitches and chords have beginnings, duration, ends, and separation. The things are heard, grasped, internalized, played, and ultimately performed as wholes, from the beginning and throughout.

    In the canonical teaching of formal music, strangely enough, this same thing is true - a note in the score is always an indicated duration by virtue of the type of intrinsic mark (whole, half, quarter, etc.) and additional marks (dots, triplet numeral, ties, etc.).

    In the informal lesson environment it is irresitably common practice to separate rhythm as in independent component for examination, practice, and study. For the student, the pitch and harmony space is multidimensional and the attachment or dependence to the score prolongs the transition to grasping melody and chords by ear. However, the separated abstracted rhythm is fairly one dimensional (if you don't consider all the Italian words, marks, and symbols all over the score indicating phrasing, volume, style, etc.).

    So, I think in the lesson environment the student will come to hear and learn the rhythm component by ear long before the melody and chord components. (Think of the times you have seen a group playing where everyone has a book on a stand, except the drummer... why is that?) So thinking about how they might play, they might be reading or thinking of what to play, but the way that is played (rhythm) is done by ear (like the drummer)... like the wonderful quote about coming up with a rhythm and then putting some notes on it. The rhythm is first because it is by ear, but then one switches mode to figure out what notes to play in that rhythm.

    Now imagine four guitarists:

    1 - plays by reading/thinking both notes and rhythms (pure state)
    2 - plays by reading/thinking notes but plays rhythms by ear (mixed state)
    3 - plays notes by ear but reads/thinks rhythm (mixed state)
    4 - plays both notes and rhythms by ear (pure state)

    Type 1 and type 4 look coherent and I would expect that helps or even enables a high level of performance.
    Type 2, cross mixing in constant requirement of continuous conscious abstracted integration, represents maybe most out there.
    Type 3, rare (?), lucky studio work where one already knows the song, but artist adapting it to their own style?
    Last edited by pauln; 04-24-2019 at 03:07 PM.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonsritmos
    good ideas to think about

    im curious where and what are you all learning about groove, rhythm section roles , phrasing ?

    im getting a feeling the educational system doesnt address it.

    its kind of like sex education and sex, when it gets down to really doing it, you have to find out on your own then with a partner. you wont get what you really need from your parents or the educational system.
    t
    I think these are good points.

    The players I like all have great time-feel and melodic gifts. If you ask them how they developed these skills, some will mention metronome practice and some won't. Some who recommend it to their students don't actually do it themselves, and never have. I've never heard anybody attribute it specifically to exercises, although it may be that progress is so subtle that a player may not be fully aware of the nature of the acquisition of the skill. One thing they all seem to have in common is that they were very good even as teenagers.

    Since I've never taught intermediate jazz players, I'm relying on my own experience and my impressions from being around musicians for many years. I think that improving time feel is difficult. I know, very well, a player who practices regularly with a metronome with no apparent benefit. I've found the issue frustrating in my own playing, with just a few things producing some progress. The following occur to me as having helped.

    1. Playing percussion instruments. I had a lesson with a drummer some time ago who demonstrated a samba beat with a small shaker. None of the students could make it sound the same. I recorded it and listened to it quite a bit, trying to feel it the way he did. I actually think that helped. Understanding that the position of the "notes" must vary with tempo also helped. Now, I keep a shaker handy (and, often, some other hand percussion instruments) and I play them instead of comping, at times. It's easy to tell when I'm on the beat -- the drummer doesn't look angry.

    2. Recording rehearsals, jams and gigs and critiquing the time. I got better at hearing where I was in relation to other players (too often, a couple of nanoseconds behind) and worked at trying to feel where other musicians started the notes. For that matter, focusing on how different players release notes was also helpful.

    3. Playing with the very best players I could. It is very hard to have great time with a wobbly rhythm section. It holds you back. I am reminded of Gladwell's "Outliers" in which he described the path taken by Canadian Hockey players -- the issue being that the more talented kids got funneled into the better leagues. This afforded them the best opportunities for growth - for years.

    4. Recognizing the all-too-frequent error of making the notes more important than the time. I hear this all the time, even from pros (hopefully, on bad nights). No matter how great the melodic concept, it's no good if the time isn't right. Very easy mistake to make, and you have to listen for it on the recordings I mentioned above.

    5. Reminding myself to sing as I solo. That improves rhythmic vocabulary instantly, compared to not singing.

    6. This last one may sound strange. Giving up. A few years ago, in recognition of the reality that I didn't have all that many years left as a player, I stopped trying to do certain things that had eluded me for years. It turned out that my time was better when I was playing the sort of idea that occurs to me spontaneously, rather than chasing a sound that was a stretch.

    I'll try to think of more. Perhaps others can chime in on the topic of what actually improved their time feel.

    7. Here's another one. I'm less sure about this one. Playing without another chord instrument. I play a lot with piano. In that situation, the pianist really affects how the guitarist comps and solos. It can reduce freedom and increase opportunities for problems, depending on the pianist's skill and style. I think it may help a guitarist to express his/her time feel without a comping instrument influencing it, at least part of the time.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 04-24-2019 at 05:54 PM.

  40. #39

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    rpjazz guitar, i like all your points

    "playing percusion " ..absolutly, this is everything im aluding to about the ketu candomble percusion. im not expecting anyone to go as deep as ive gone. but even thinking about it, how profound these rhythm concepts are, how they are the the blueprints for so many jazz evolutions and phrasings and writings , will go a long way to working on how to get a philosophy on how to play jazz

    redording gigs and reherasals , absolutly , a very good idea, just to hear how we are. we dont know how we truley sound when we play, we have to hear a recording , or video , even then it can not be the best , but, it definitly helps to gouge your progress as a player

    playing with better players , definitly big deal ...i sought out older players , in the places this music was innovated. big thing . i went to live in new york to be closer to bebop, clave and hip hop, i lived in rio to really be close to samba, recife to learn maracatu and coco and salvador to learn ketu and bloco afro. it related to business , in some of the places and id extend longer to learn there

    yes , i heartily concur that time is more important than notes . i would even extend that to say that not just good time , but, being in and understanding groove. good time is one thing, you can have incredable time , but if the groove of a samba , for instance , comes in on the anticipation, and the guy is laying it down on the one, no matter how good the time, its clashing...maybe "good enough for jazz" hahahaha , a person could convince themselves its ok, but, if you really know, and you are laying it down anticipating the one, someone coming down on the one totaly throws the original groove off a little, enough to feel it if you know it. so its groove knowledge that even is more advanced. and it takes experiance, especialy bandstand experiance and playing with older guys or guys who really know that starts bringing these things home to understand

    i think one thing i can pass on to guitar players on this forum , as a drummer who catches ideas and as a person who hires guitar players in the studio and for gigs, what is most important to me is , deep time , more so deep groove knowledge, ability to hold the form, id prefer to not have paper on the bandstand , but sometimes its nescasary , i have my charts , but really simple. so , reading is a nescasary skill , but my gig will be simple, ability to hold hands with the group , especialy when the tempos get faster and more powerful, i need the solo to give up the one and not float linear, of course all the profesional demands of being on time and presentable condition to play are huge also for hiring someone and i cross people off my list if they mess up on those things fast.

    i hear you about the guitar with piano...what i think is, of course there are serious harmonic things to work out. great players seem to know. it relates to simplicity and listening as well as knowledge and experiance. i like guitarists who arnt afraid to do it with no bass or anyone but drums and percusion. lots of cats dont do that

    as a drummer, im grunting and singing also, its just not anything recognisable in the european tuning lexicon hahaha, but, by gosh, it is affective, breathing along with the soloists phrasing.

    one thing i do beleive from learning these ketu candomble beats and dances. you can learn groove , feel , rhythm section concept, how to trust intuition , how to recognise what it takes to make something groove even if it isnt exactly ketu, how to deal with simplicity and holding hands...

    it is cultural and quantifiable, its not such a mystery if we start to dig deeper into origins and roots of this music

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by bonsritmos
    rpjazz guitar, i like all your points

    "playing percusion " ..absolutly, this is everything im aluding to about the ketu candomble percusion. im not expecting anyone to go as deep as ive gone. but even thinking about it, how profound these rhythm concepts are, how they are the the blueprints for so many jazz evolutions and phrasings and writings , will go a long way to working on how to get a philosophy on how to play jazz
    I completely agree about groove. I used the term time-feel more generally, but it has to be applied to groove. I have spent years studying Brazilian music (samba and various northeast styles) and it is from Brazilian music that my appreciation for subtleties of time and groove emerged.

    I did not study bata ketu specifically, although I'm aware of it. I agree that it is the foundation. I began with samba bataria and tried to apply those rhythmic ideas to guitar -- as had been done before.

  42. #41

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    some great topic related exercises - his "fundamentals" seem wildly advanced That said quite a few of these less common variations sound like they would not be that difficult to incorporate into ones playing. Around 25 mins he starts showing mapping pitches to rhythms


    Will
    Last edited by WillMbCdn5; 04-24-2019 at 09:47 PM.

  43. #42

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    oh guitar jazz players , please indulge me here , and i apologise in advance for anyone who is tired of the "check the percusion out" on a guitar forum, but, after seeing the nice video above ,i feel compelled to share this with you. this is my "sequence", i practice pretty much every day on drums, right handed , left handed , throw back beats on it...all the ones im playing percusion , i have drum beats for. bear with me now, i know , "what is this doing on a guitar thread ?", but, key issues of improvisation in jazz and how to aproach it are stimulating me to participate .

    i like this guy above, the finger snap parts, some of those things are directly in some of these ketu beats. i like how he is playing his thing on guitar, a simple thing that doesnt go into complexities of scales and harmony, to show his rhythmic aproaches. so i want you to imagine a guitar player playing that simple aproach to each change of the rhythm above in the youtube im bringing in.

    and remember , ive linked many of these grooves directly to armstrong, miles ,ellington etc the masters of jazz. i say , take this guys guitar aproach and aply it to these rhythms and you are going closer to the source.

    there is a point he starts to mentaly fatigue me, following the ketu grooves, i dont think you would fatigue mentaliy like that. i think it puts you directly into phrasing awareness, groove awareness , energy awareness. swing awareness especialy on some of the bouncy ones...

    the dance is in there too, so very important. jack joao goes back and forth from the accompanying "pi" , to the solo "rum". i could bring in the pure terreiro examples, but, im doing all the talking , better to see my referance first

    also, i want to make clear, im never saying dont learn the histroy of jazz songbook and go off to do anything, im saying this is all added on to the knowledge you already are exploring

    and, this guy starts going off into the deeper sub divisions, and, here is where he is going past the african rooted ketu and into the india related odd times and here is where it can go down the rabbit hole and i dont know if i want to do that now, but, i can say this, these ketu concepts are about the deep ancient african concepts and how they informed what jazz is all about , especialy groove and improvisation ,from joplin , jelly roll , armstrong, ellington, miles , bird, coltrane, wayne, hard bop , modal bop that still was 12 bar and aaba....when brubeck and ornette coleman brought their concepts on the scene, there is a severly sharp change away from these concepts , and , since then, there are huge variations and new definitions of jazz, i call it the de africanisation of jazz

    so its the rabbit hole , and its only personal opinion at that point , and i can only say, i have played free music with high leval players, complicated odd times with fusion groups in the spell of mcclauglin and that is a high point in odd times, he has sat with the masters. i can say i listened to allah rakah and then zakir hussein , which i listen to often ,i respect all high leval discipline and cultures , but, my heart is in afro diasporic grooves, in jazz that is those names i keep saying and of course brazilian music , i started on bongos and congas so cuban music is dear to my heart. and these ketu rhythms have so many secrets that answers a lot of questions for those things i love so much to play, for various reasons. that is why im so deep into them now and i am trying to share it

    but, i guess that is what jazz is all aboutm, a lot of differant opinions of how to play it ,and, its good to know what you really love and make that choice in the most committed way

  44. #43

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    isnt it better to practice with a groove than a metranome?...i dont know , just asking

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    1. Playing percussion instruments.
    Mimi Fox plays drums and keeps a kit in her garage. Being a percussionist has a big impact on how she plays (and teaches) guitar

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Mimi Fox plays drums and keeps a kit in her garage. Being a percussionist has a big impact on how she plays (and teaches) guitar
    Mimi's time-feel is superb and she attributes it to starting out as a drummer. If you ever have a chance to listen to her play a bass line with chord stabs on guitar --- the bass line is as deep in the pocket as anybody's.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Mimi's time-feel is superb and she attributes it to starting out as a drummer. If you ever have a chance to listen to her play a bass line with chord stabs on guitar --- the bass line is as deep in the pocket as anybody's.
    I contend that learning jazz drumming basics should be required for any jazz university program.

    When I was at the new school, we had to learn jazz piano basics which is I guess somewhat useful (I didn't personally find it useful at all) but it really grinds my gears that jazz drumming was not required for everyone.

  48. #47

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    Miles Okazaki again( yes I'm a fan) Drumuitaring!



    Will

  49. #48

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    If anyone's interested here's my resource.

    Should be good for any instrument...

    My Resource for Working on Rhythmic Vocabulary

  50. #49

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    miles okazaki has the right idea for sure...gees his 3/4 near the end is sato from ketu

    if you want to do paradidles , a neat trick i used to do is start the paradidle on the anticapation so it comes in before the one, it gets really syncopated and interesting..on the one almost sounds like a march, anticipated it really gets groovy style, "latinish" (im not a fan of saying "latin rhythms", there are too many variable but sometimes it gets the idea over)

    i like he is saying you can practice out of any drum book...

    but, ill tell you, i used to have these tricks with rudiments, all my limbs playing 16 notes at the same time and accent the rudiment but keep all limbs playing 16 notes...

    i dont do rudiments any more. these ketu codes cover everything. flams and ruffs are ingrained and the grooves are so powerful when i start "rum" ing , soloing over it but coming back to the groove, im doing lots of rolls .playing them left handed and right totaly strengthens the opisite hand, but, guitar players dont have to do this , miles shows well how a guitar player can aproach this

    how miles is explaining playing guitar to these drum rhythms , if you just aplied that to these ketu beats, you are playing the actual origins and roots of what is in jazz . its one of the most direct pracitce routines i can do to take right to the bandstand

    miles has the right idea , its good to see players coming up with their ways to deal with rhythms .i can see his exercises are going to give him a sharp attack

    same with your game technique , christian

    its not abandoning the educational system, its adding on to it

  51. #50

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    It's been interesting to see this thread evolve into general 'advice for working on your time' thread having started with something rather specific.

    Good and great advice generally, though.

    I used to feel the only way to learn this music was to try anad walk the path the greats did. I'm more open these days. The music changes, the way in which it performs changes and I think that's a good think as long as we don't abandon the groove and improvisation (which I feel are both essential to this music.) Change is life. Life is change.

    And while the time honoured stuff - learning from the records, playing with the best musicians we can find, immersing ourselves in the culture and finding the pocket within ourselves is always the emphasis for me, I also think we should be open to new information as it comes along, and as teachers and self-educators use it to inform our work. Also other cultures and artforms ... the arts are the same really. I get the feeling this is understood in Japan...

    One thing that hasn't been mentioned here (AFAIK) is playing along with the records. There's a lot of players who learned doing that.