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  1. #51

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Someone posted a podcast interview with Bruce Forman yesterday. Bruce is talking about 10 tunes it is great for jazz guitarists to learn because they teach things that occur in many other standards.

    (The list---which varies from time to time--runs: Summertime, Honeysuckle Rose, A-Train, Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, TWNBAY, Green Dolphin Street, EITHER Ain't Misbhavin' OR It Could Happen To You and, finally, Stella By Starlight.)

    The main point he wanted to get across is that the melody is the "hanger". (As in clothes in your closet are kept from falling into an unwearable heap on the floor by being placed upon a clothes hanger.) He thinks melodies imply harmonies and that melodies are easier to remember than a list of chord changes. (It's hard to forget the melody of "Summertime" but the progression is harder to recall. Same with any standard, really. Remembering the changes is like memorizing a list---which can be done but it is much harder than memorizing a melody, which we don't even think of as memorizing at all, just remembering.)
    Hey Mark... sure, the problem is most don't know the changes either. It's not like it's either or... a Tune is a Tune... you need all of it. You can't pick what you think is most important or the secret sauce...melody, harmony, rhythm, articulations etc... they're all going on all the time, and they all fit and are organized around the Form.

    I agree with your memorizing 10 basic tunes... why, because the things that occur in other standards are the Forms and Harmonic patterns within those Forms.

    I think I've posted some standards with great melodies...and reharmonized or changed the chords and tonal implications... most don't even recognize the melodies... So while melodies imply harmony, harmony can also imply a melody.... they're both going on.
    At some point... we need to get past the what's most important part of etc... most instructions are just someones beliefs of how to get past the learning stages of developing musicianship. Start playing standards in different keys, different times and feels. You'll see what you need work on as far as memorizing tunes.... or taking that perfect solo, or is it the instrument taking that perfect solo.

    This was Princes thread... I think.

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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Hey Mark... sure, the problem is most don't know the changes either. It's not like it's either or... a Tune is a Tune... you need all of it. You can't pick what you think is most important or the secret sauce...melody, harmony, rhythm, articulations etc... they're all going on all the time, and they all fit and are organized around the Form.

    I agree with your memorizing 10 basic tunes... why, because the things that occur in other standards are the Forms and Harmonic patterns within those Forms.
    Well, not all instruments play chords. I don't think drummers recite the changes to keep their place in a tune when someone is soloing... There's a reason we call them "tunes" rather than "changes". (Some guitar players just learn the changes, not the heads, and nothing from the head----the rhythms, the intervals, the mood, the nuance---informs their improv. Horn players start from the melody becuase that's the part they HAVE to know; for them, harmony is always background.)

    I'm not AGAINST learning chords. Duh. But I think a chords-first approach (and lots of guitar teachers do it that way) is one reason so many soloists sound like they're "playing the changes"--because that's all they are doing--rather than improvising on the tune. Armstrong and Miles were great at the latter. (I think Miles grew bored with the former and that's why he moved away from bebop; Armstrong never embraced bebop yet was a great soloist.)

    The melody of a standard is the only part that is exclusive to it. That's the only thing you can play that shows you are playing THAT tune and not some other one. That's the only thing you can play by itself and people can know you are playing THAT tune. Thousands of tunes have blues changes, and hundreds (if not thousands) have rhythm changes, but you only know "Oleo" or "Lester Leaps In" if you know the head, and if you'd solo the same way over both, you're not doing it right. ;o)

    No big dispute. Everybody tracks music the way that suits them. The longer you play a tune, the more things you can do with it. (If nothing else, you get bored doing it the same old way and try something else.)

    The only time I'm thinking about what the chord changes are (-or what the next chord is) is when I *don't* have a tune down.

  4. #53

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes

    No big dispute. Everybody tracks music the way that suits them. The longer you play a tune, the more things you can do with it. (If nothing else, you get bored doing it the same old way and try something else.)
    Greatest quote ever: I asked a friend "why do you watch pool on TV fgs?", answer: "I like it"
    Those "like/dislike" matters are so obvious that we don't even think about it. So it evades the reasoning sometimes even when a "like/dislike" issue would be the main thing in a topic. Took me 15 years of teaching to really start respecting people's likes and dislikes.

  5. #54

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    LOL did I say chords are the tune. I thought I said you need all of the Tune.

    What do you when someone else is soloing or playing the head.

    Rhythm changes are different for oleo and lester leaps in, right. Don't changes, rhythm and melodies all get developed... or is improve just for the melody.

    So I'm trying to go with you mark... so I can easily play all of Bruce's podcast list, hell probably in all keys... so now I should be able to play any melody someone calls. Or is there something about those melodies that will help me remember other melodies. Standard patterns... kind of like when I sight read... I recognize melodic patterns, just like I recognize rhythmic patterns which lets me see ahead of what I'm actually playing. So all melodies should somehow be able to come from the basic or standard 10. Maybe.

    And yea... guitar players generally don't know or play melodies that well... but I would say the same for changes, hell I would even go further.... most guitarist suck at comping. I'm going nowhere...

    When someone throws new tune or arrangement to perform... how long does it take to memorize... or be able to play.

    Personally usually one time through... if they have chart, 1st time. So I can usually get away from the chart after that 1st time through... if the head is tricky, may still have to read head out... So am I not playing the tune or the melody, or changes if I need to check out chart... but what if I need to stare at the guitar while playing. Is it like starring at the fretboard is OK but starring at a Chart isn't... what is memorization.
    Last edited by Reg; 12-13-2019 at 12:51 AM.

  6. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by vintagelove
    Listen to Eric Dolphy. At first listen, it’s like nothing you’ve heard before. Listen to him for a month, and you practically know what his first line will be.
    Watch it you!

  7. #56
    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Dolphy
    Watch it you!
    Ah... we keep forgetting, you're still with us! ....

  8. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    LOL did I say chords are the tune. I thought I said you need all of the Tune.

    What do you when someone else is soloing or playing the head.

    Rhythm changes are different for oleo and lester leaps in, right. Don't changes, rhythm and melodies all get developed... or is improve just for the melody.

    So I'm trying to go with you mark... so I can easily play all of Bruce's podcast list, hell probably in all keys... so now I should be able to play any melody someone calls. Or is there something about those melodies that will help me remember other melodies. Standard patterns... kind of like when I sight read... I recognize melodic patterns, just like I recognize rhythmic patterns which lets me see ahead of what I'm actually playing. So all melodies should somehow be able to come from the basic or standard 10. Maybe.

    And yea... guitar players generally don't know or play melodies that well... but I would say the same for changes, hell I would even go further.... most guitarist suck at comping. I'm going nowhere...

    When someone throws new tune or arrangement to perform... how long does it take to memorize... or be able to play.

    Personally usually one time through... if they have chart, 1st time. So I can usually get away from the chart after that 1st time through... if the head is tricky, may still have to read head out... So am I not playing the tune or the melody, or changes if I need to check out chart... but what if I need to stare at the guitar while playing. Is it like starring at the fretboard is OK but starring at a Chart isn't... what is memorization.
    Yep, sounds like memory and pattern recognition. Pattern recognition occurs with material/stimuli large and small.

    Your description of tune learning on the spot reminds me of this artist learning a tune in real time, one that is not in his typical wheelhouse, yet he adapts and thrives.


  9. #58

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    LOL yea... not a bad rhythm section... They're all amazing musicians. Chick was an amazing standard player in his early days, Lenny and Victor... can just play anything anytime, and at the highest level. JM is always just JM, can't help but love him, even if you don't like his music. thanks for post.

    Victor's eyes must be going ... that stand is way up.

  10. #59

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    LOL did I say chords are the tune. I thought I said you need all of the Tune.....
    Reg, I think you're doing what you always do, which is fine, you're Reg and we love and admire you. But the theme of this thread is musical MEMORY and the tune is the easist thing to remember. It's what we actually DO remember because it's what we actually hear.


    Memorizing the changes to "I Got Rhythm" (or "Stella" whatever) is just that, memorizing, not remembering. You have to know those things to play a tune but it's not really musical memory. Though this develops---one can hear a turnaround or a modulation or a descending bass line even if one doesn't know the names for those things. As one improves (IF one improves, one can hear larger chunks and know recall them later by simply hearing them in one's head.)


    I think this is why Barney Kessel wanted beginning students to pick out folk songs in single notes. What he called "tunes you've known all your life." (Not the same for everyone but everyone has some.) We all remember these tunes with no effort at all. For me, "I've Been Working On The Railroad" (-which I always recall when playing Horace Silver's "The Preacher"), "Frosty the Snowman", "When the Saints Go Marching In", "Jesus Loves Me", "Summertime", etc. We just hear them in our heads. That's the best place to start, with things you already know. Build out from there.

    When I was in seminary, we sang the "Salve Regina" acapella. I have no idea what the chords to that are. I didn't learn it from a lead sheet. I learned it from hearing other people sing it. (I wasn't raised Catholic, either, so it's not something I heard as a kid.) I've sung it in public many times and I couldn't tell you what key we were in. I never thought about it that way. I couldn't "comp" for that at all. ;o)

    For that mater, I don't know all the chords to some songs I have written! I know what I play but I don't know the names of everything, and a lot of two-note things could be conceived several ways, depending on one's POV. My POV was always "yeah, I like that sound, that stays."

    This thread isn't about performance or improv or analysis. It's about memory. The tune is what everyone remembers about a tune. Duh!

  11. #60

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    One thing that still bugs me. The like/dislike comment earlier there.
    I played Stella for ages without actually liking the piece. And was in trouble all the time. Although my memory now works better with chords, I've never grown to like it. And are never been able
    to produce a nice solo on it. It's doesn't have anything to do with the memory there. I have it memorized but I believe deep down that the tune sucks. For soloing, not that it's a bad piece by itself. I don't like the chords for soloing, hence my solos on top of it suck. I mean, there is no way to convince anybody (myself this time) that I like something if it's not the truth.

    And why it bugs me - those people there with rapid development in a very young age. There is some comments about their skills, some astonishment etc. But only a couple of times they actually cared to quote the parents how they got so far. Turns out, they had been extremely engaged with the subject. One 3-year-old sneaked out at nights to play piano. Another parent told me that his son risked his life and climbed up the shelves to grab some CDs at 5. Anyway - being engaged is the key. Talent is one thing, engagement boosts it tenfold. When we get older, we take it like work. Too serious, too systematic. Never happy enough.

    Ok, have fun there

  12. #61
    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    ...One 3-year-old sneaked out at nights to play piano.....

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Reg, I think you're doing what you always do, which is fine, you're Reg and we love and admire you. But the theme of this thread is musical MEMORY and the tune is the easist thing to remember. It's what we actually DO remember because it's what we actually hear.


    Memorizing the changes to "I Got Rhythm" (or "Stella" whatever) is just that, memorizing, not remembering. You have to know those things to play a tune but it's not really musical memory. Though this develops---one can hear a turnaround or a modulation or a descending bass line even if one doesn't know the names for those things. As one improves (IF one improves, one can hear larger chunks and know recall them later by simply hearing them in one's head.)


    I think this is why Barney Kessel wanted beginning students to pick out folk songs in single notes. What he called "tunes you've known all your life." (Not the same for everyone but everyone has some.) We all remember these tunes with no effort at all. For me, "I've Been Working On The Railroad" (-which I always recall when playing Horace Silver's "The Preacher"), "Frosty the Snowman", "When the Saints Go Marching In", "Jesus Loves Me", "Summertime", etc. We just hear them in our heads. That's the best place to start, with things you already know. Build out from there.

    When I was in seminary, we sang the "Salve Regina" acapella. I have no idea what the chords to that are. I didn't learn it from a lead sheet. I learned it from hearing other people sing it. (I wasn't raised Catholic, either, so it's not something I heard as a kid.) I've sung it in public many times and I couldn't tell you what key we were in. I never thought about it that way. I couldn't "comp" for that at all. ;o)

    For that mater, I don't know all the chords to some songs I have written! I know what I play but I don't know the names of everything, and a lot of two-note things could be conceived several ways, depending on one's POV. My POV was always "yeah, I like that sound, that stays."

    This thread isn't about performance or improv or analysis. It's about memory. The tune is what everyone remembers about a tune. Duh!
    From your perspective that is true.

    Some hear, remember, memorize, at very different levels. Like Beethoven and Mozart who were said to hear it all in their head, melody, harmony, intrumentation. The way they would memorize is very different than the way I would memorize.

    I have a friend who I am going to send one of my native american flutes to. I played over the phone the open note of each and he said that ones an F# and the other ones an E. I checked, he was right. I've been in the car when a tune was playing on the radio and I said nice chord progression right there, he said Gm6 to Dmaj. He remembers and recognizes chord progression the way I remember melodies, probably better though. Ask him to play the chords to any familar popular tune (last one was "Frosty the Snowman") and he does it on piano, guitar, mandolin... just about as fluently as he can sing a melody. For that matter he doesn't have to play it he can just recite the chords by remembering the tune. Same with melodies, he can sing it or he can just recite the notes without singing it. I'm convinced he remembers chords the same way I remember melodies. And he says he doesn't have perfect pitch which is something that I can't make sense of.

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    This thread isn't about performance or improv or analysis. It's about memory. The tune is what everyone remembers about a tune. Duh!
    You may want to reread the OP (which is under the category of Improvisation, BTW). It is about improvisation first, middle, and last.

    Unfortunately it's questions and wonderings - while probably sincere and well intended - are quite sophomoric. (sorry Princeplanet).

    And of course memory, conditioning, knowledge, constant practice etc. are all involved in jazz improvisation just as they are in any other challenging, skill-based endeavor.

    If one thinks it's all about memory, then perform a double-blind study to prove it. Take musicians of average and good memory in addition to those with exceptional memory. Is the second group almost always better at playing improvised jazz solos? How do we explain great historical jazzers who were dropouts, struggled with language and writing, knew next to nothing about science and math, yet blew everyone else away? They had great memory huh? That would not seem likely.

    So what else could be going on? I think some answers lie in the OP's first paragraph. If I remember correctly.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 12-13-2019 at 11:09 PM.

  15. #64

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    The greats we celebrate here possess and express what I think of as 'ineffable musicality.'

    I can not productively go beyond that, 'cept maybe to listen some more.

    Thanks, nice thread.

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    If one thinks it's all about memory, then perform a double-blind study to prove it. Take musicians of average and good memory in addition to those with exceptional memory. Is the second group almost always better at playing improvised jazz solos? How do we explain great historical jazzers who were dropouts, struggled with language and writing, knew next to nothing about science and math, yet blew everyone else away? They had great memory huh? That would not seem likely.

    So what else could be going on? I think some answers lie in the OP's first paragraph. If I remember correctly.
    I'm not a brain scientist but luckily probably no one here is
    Memory in the brain.. say we have a billion cells of memory in the brain (there is more of course but whatever). I believe that would mean we have 1 billion multicore processors instead. The memory cells are like CPUs themselves. That's far from a science but think about it: in the morning, when we get rapid flood of "things to do" - this has to mean that those memories are fighting for attention. We dont have a central CPU in the brain that calls for a memory. All the memories are ACTIVE, with some "emotional" charge. Well, doesn't have to be even in quotes.

    So, if some memory unit has more charge, it can propose itself (and will do so) when there is a need.. when it feels it is needed. And if too much, bubbles up when it is not needed even. If it doesn't have much of that, it would feel like mere suggestion. Therefore, we must pack a say, a C9 chord with all kinds of positive musical emotions and it will jump up whenever such is needed.

    Yeah, that's hippie science!

  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    Yeah, that's hippie science!
    Okay, I'll allow it this time, but once you start preaching Aura Buffing (so it picks up Omega Waves from Guardian Archtops) or dancing around Cthonic Laminate Spirit Trees (nude, at midnight), I'm off!

  18. #67
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    You may want to reread the OP (which is under the category of Improvisation, BTW). It is about improvisation first, middle, and last.

    Unfortunately it's questions and wonderings - while probably sincere and well intended - are quite sophomoric. (sorry Princeplanet).

    And of course memory, conditioning, knowledge, constant practice etc. are all involved in jazz improvisation just as they are in any other challenging, skill-based endeavor.

    If one thinks it's all about memory, then perform a double-blind study to prove it. Take musicians of average and good memory in addition to those with exceptional memory. Is the second group almost always better at playing improvised jazz solos? How do we explain great historical jazzers who were dropouts, struggled with language and writing, knew next to nothing about science and math, yet blew everyone else away? They had great memory huh? That would not seem likely.

    So what else could be going on? I think some answers lie in the OP's first paragraph. If I remember correctly.
    I can tell by your confident tone here, and on other threads, that you are a pro jazz guitarist, so I'm quite interested to read your thoughts about all this. Mind you, many of my friends are pro Jazz musicians who play with the very best internationally, yet I've never encountered a player who was so certain of how others improvise (or not), and yeah, it's a question I do bring up often with them (mostly horn and piano players). Which is why I ask these questions here thinking that perhaps seasoned jazz guitar pros like yourself may provide a different (guitaristic?) perspective. Or do you think an elite player on any instrument can instantly tell if a player (on any instrument) is "faking" it, or relying heavily on memorized chunks?

    But I like your idea to do a double-blind study, perhaps we can offer some examples (they don't have to be our own) where you can tell us which soloists are relying on memory for the greater part of their "improvisations", and which ones aren't. I'd find that pretty interesting. Thanks for offering to instruct us!

  19. #68
    Quote Originally Posted by Zina
    Okay, I'll allow it this time, but once you start preaching Aura Buffing (so it picks up Omega Waves from Guardian Archtops) or dancing around Cthonic Laminate Spirit Trees (nude, at midnight), I'm off!
    Sounds like someone has spent a little too much time in those Hollywood hills?

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I'm not a brain scientist but luckily probably no one here is
    Memory in the brain.. say we have a billion cells of memory in the brain (there is more of course but whatever). I believe that would mean we have 1 billion multicore processors instead. The memory cells are like CPUs themselves. That's far from a science but think about it: in the morning, when we get rapid flood of "things to do" - this has to mean that those memories are fighting for attention. We dont have a central CPU in the brain that calls for a memory. All the memories are ACTIVE, with some "emotional" charge. Well, doesn't have to be even in quotes.

    So, if some memory unit has more charge, it can propose itself (and will do so) when there is a need.. when it feels it is needed. And if too much, bubbles up when it is not needed even. If it doesn't have much of that, it would feel like mere suggestion. Therefore, we must pack a say, a C9 chord with all kinds of positive musical emotions and it will jump up whenever such is needed.

    Yeah, that's hippie science!
    Uh yeah, memory, like all cognition, is engaged when one improvises. How could it not be?

    And so what?

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    I can tell by your confident tone here, and on other threads, that you are a pro jazz guitarist, so I'm quite interested to read your thoughts about all this. Mind you, many of my friends are pro Jazz musicians who play with the very best internationally, yet I've never encountered a player who was so certain of how others improvise (or not), and yeah, it's a question I do bring up often with them (mostly horn and piano players). Which is why I ask these questions here thinking that perhaps seasoned jazz guitar pros like yourself may provide a different (guitaristic?) perspective. Or do you think an elite player on any instrument can instantly tell if a player (on any instrument) is "faking" it, or relying heavily on memorized chunks?

    But I like your idea to do a double-blind study, perhaps we can offer some examples (they don't have to be our own) where you can tell us which soloists are relying on memory for the greater part of their "improvisations", and which ones aren't. I'd find that pretty interesting. Thanks for offering to instruct us!
    Nah, but we could dissect your "hypothesis" (being kind here) if you'd like. It might be an interesting discussion, at least for those who are interested in improvisation. (one would hope that would be a lot, around here anyway).

    As for me, I think that you're putting too many eggs in one basket, that's all. (Meaning, assigning excessive importance to a single enabler - memory).

  22. #71

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Uh yeah, memory, like all cognition, is engaged when one improvises. How could it not be?

    And so what?
    The engagement level is the "what". And as I said earlier - this is so obvious that we don't even think about it. Your "Uh yeah" helps making my point btw . That's why I was commenting about it so much.
    I sometimes watch with amusement how it drops after a while. If its maxed all the time with every person, this thread would not exist - then there would not be any elephants. People would do&play what they want because there would be no "memory issues".
    That's of course only my opinion, as anything I've posted here.

  23. #72

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    OK. Well I guess I would sum up my thoughts on the topic as follows. Cheers.


    Baseline factors.
    1. A solid facility on one’s instrument – capable, but not necessarily virtuosic
    2. Basic musical talent – a decent ear and modest creative ability
    3. Effective facility with the jazz improvisation language in context of its common “formulae” (II-Vs, major and minor, turnarounds, rhythm changes, blues, modal vamps, cycles, Coltrane changes, etc.)
    4. Keeping one’s practicing and rehearsal routines in shape (i.e. frequent and focused)
    5. Experience playing a lot of songs at “the performance level”
    6. A simple compositional form (i.e. less than or equal to 32 bars, repeated over and over)
    7. Average to above average intelligence (yes, including a good memory)
    8. A healthy lifestyle – sleep, exercise, diet – WHICH IMPLIES - a minimization of health and cognition reducing habits (i.e. use of like alcohol, marijuana, opioids/heroin)



    Differentiators
    Very high levels of physical talent, capability, activity and repetition - relative to items 1-5 above.


    Summary:
    We’ve all read and heard the anecdotal testimony and legendary tales of “jazz icon X” who practiced “double shifts” daily, perhaps for years, and who maintained a high level of practice (which is to say – a high level of conditioning).
    And we easily observe that the more we practice the better we get, the easier our performance gets, and the better we memorize material.

    So, when a jazz master knocks one out of the park, should we say – “gee what a great memory he has!”???

    Not in my opinion. I think we would more reasonably say;

    “you possess exceptional talent, you’ve mastered the fundamentals and repertoire, and YOU PRACTICE AND DRILL LIKE YOUR LIFE AND LIVELIHOOD DEPEND ON IT”.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 12-14-2019 at 03:06 PM.

  24. #73
    Musical memory is super important. Improv isn’t always totally new stuff. It’s more taking parts of lines memorized and reconnecting them in unique ways rhythmically, dynamically and time wise in real time. Hopefully with feeling.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  25. #74

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    Yes of course. But invoking memory, like one does in a spelling bee or playing jeopardy or taking a multiple choice test - ain't it. There's no time.

    It has to be closer to a reflex or impulse, and humans don't perform long, complex, mult-step actions reflexively without a lot of pre-drilling.

  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Yes of course. But invoking memory, like one does in a spelling bee or playing jeopardy or taking a multiple choice test - ain't it. There's no time.

    It has to be closer to a reflex or impulse, and humans don't perform long, complex, mult-step actions reflexively without a lot of pre-drilling.
    Yes! There is no better way to remind oneself what is required to play jazz on the guitar than to switch hands (if you play right handed flip it over and play it left handed)... in doing this, none of your knowledge, concepts, memory, or theory have vanished.

    All guitarists might try this occasionally to humble any lofty ideas that their playing is "cerebral" (or that all their shortcomings are due to it not being sufficiently so).

  27. #76
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Yes of course. But invoking memory, like one does in a spelling bee or playing jeopardy or taking a multiple choice test - ain't it. There's no time.

    It has to be closer to a reflex or impulse, and humans don't perform long, complex, mult-step actions reflexively without a lot of pre-drilling.
    Of course. That’s what practice is for. Getting it down then allow your deeper mind to express it in real time playing situations.


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  28. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Sounds like someone has spent a little too much time in those Hollywood hills?
    Not me! Haven't been to the States yet. But I know what you mean; was laughing my head off recently over an article that described all those places. Thought it was a joke ("Aura Cleansings"?!), but nope.

  29. #78
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Nah, but we could dissect your "hypothesis" (being kind here) if you'd like. It might be an interesting discussion, at least for those who are interested in improvisation. (one would hope that would be a lot, around here anyway).

    As for me, I think that you're putting too many eggs in one basket, that's all. (Meaning, assigning excessive importance to a single enabler - memory).
    Haha, I didn't realise I was hypothesising anything, but if I wanted to reduce the questions posed in this thread into a single sentence, it might be something like;

    "Would a player like Sonny Stitt have been able to play the way he did, with a 'bad' memory?"

  30. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    What separates the great improvisors from the rest of us? Setting aside the prerequisite years of study, practice etc, why do some players seem far more advanced when compared to those that have been practicing just as hard for the same amount of time?

    Is it down to how musically gifted one is (perfect pitch etc)? Or how intelligent? Or is it down to how well one can remember what they've learned?

    When you first hear a player playing Jazz involving functional or non functional chord changes (as opposed to modal vamps) that astounds you, you're amazed at the endless invention, the seemingly impossible perfection when spinning perfect lines that meet every change, not with plain arps, scales or patterns, but with melody making at any tempo. The solos can be analysed to reveal true mastery, achieving the holy grail in Jazz improvisation, perfect composition in real time, a masterpiece of invention every time, whether for one chorus or a hundred. Must be genius, right ?

    Well, sometimes it obviously is. Just like there are born mathematical geniuses (people who can solve incredibly difficult equations effortlessly), at any one time there will always be a very small percentage of people alive that are bona fide musical geniuses. But there are also a greater number of people who can appear to be musical geniuses only because they can recall a great deal of pre learned material giving the impression that those 100 choruses you just witnessed must have been freshly minted and unrepeatable. Until you've been to a hundred gigs, or listened to a hundred different recordings where you start to notice large repeated chunks which make you realise that these players are mortals after all!

    Of course, it's no mean feat to have that kind of recall, indeed it's a different kind of gift. So I'm just putting it out there and looking for your own thoughts about this, particularly as it relates to your own aspirations- Are you trying to increase your store of prefab "material" to draw from? Or are you trying to avoid that approach and aim instead for true improvisation? Do you feel that the prefab brigade - that go close to impersonating true genius - are offering the listener better quality music? (because of it being largely precomposed?). Do you think the average listener cares how much is pre learned and recalled? (not just licks or lines, but maybe up to entire choruses).

    Or are you more focused on the enjoyment your improvisation brings you? Is making the changes with less interesting but truly improvised playing more satisfying for the performer if not for the listener? If you play for your own enjoyment, is there any point rehashing words, sentences or even paragraphs of music note for note? Even if you could?

    Finally, do you agree that many players feel the need to impersonate true musical genius and achieve that - to an extent - by committing a lot of material to memory and having it recallable? Are they trying to "fool" the listener? Or even other musicians?? (much harder I expect) ...
    I've used that phrase myself many times, but in a different sense: with students (ESPECIALLY beginners) I try to point out that 'you KNOW that song. It's in your memory---now let's get it under your fingers'. And, know what? it WORKS!

    Thanks for letting me go a bit off-topic, but I DO consider what I wrote of value to those here who teach.

    Now to your intriguing topic:

    Don't know, at first blush, about the 'genius' thing: I've known (or known of---not counting prior history here) only 3 musicians that I consider musical geniuses in all my years playing and listening: Jaki Byard; Tom Harrell; and Joe Cohn. I myself have the misfortune of being intellectually (mostly verbally---my math sucks big time) but not musically at a pretty high IQ level. I can only say this: it's more trouble than blessing in one way, and that's that it's difficult sometimes to keep up with one's own thoughts. I say this not to stroke myself---though I'm sure it will look that way to some---but to try to shed some light on why some actual musical geniuses may seem difficult or distant. There's a LOT going on in those noggins, and they really need to be off by themselves a lot b/c they are, and more quotidian thoughts and conversations can slow them down or, worse, distract them from the high level thinking the creative process requires. I believe that true geniuses intuit this. I also believe that they tamp it down and listen at an incredibly high level when making music---and not only to themselves. But the downside: they often---gifted, special people---burn themselves out with 'habits' to take the edge off that incessant brilliance.

    Speaking for my own little musical baubles: I care about reaching listeners---or why do it or do anything in public? I'd rather be remembered for uniting, uplifting, and bringing joy (or sadness sometimes) to people than some unique contribution that I'm certain I'd have made long ago if it was in my power or talent to make.The jazz artists who most did achieve this IMO were those who somehow played something that had something to do with the universal: brilliant and 'everyday' at once. To me the names that jump off were swinging melody masters: Pops; Pres; Billie; CC; Wes (and Buddy and Monk); Stan; Chet; and, I'd have to say, Art Farmer and Jim Hall in a more subtle but equally valid way. An absolute genius who IMO didn't reach people but still had brilliant concepts and started his own school, like it or not: Lennie Tristano.

    I yield my time to others, Mr. Chairman/Madam Chairwoman...
    Last edited by joelf; 12-14-2019 at 10:18 PM.

  31. #80
    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    I can tell by your confident tone here, and on other threads, that you are a pro jazz guitarist, so I'm quite interested to read your thoughts about all this.
    Mmmkayyyy...

    You know, I think I could probably b.s. well enough to give that impression as well, ..... IF only I hadn't ever posted my playing.... Kind of gave it away. Oh well...

    Maybe that's a thing though. Create a new username and speak with a lot of authority about what others should do and just remain anonymous.

    Maybe in my next iteration... Think I'll call myself fumbles....

  32. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Haha, I didn't realise I was hypothesising anything, but if I wanted to reduce the questions posed in this thread into a single sentence, it might be something like;

    "Would a player like Sonny Stitt have been able to play the way he did, with a 'bad' memory?"
    The answer is no. Nor, if he had a bad anything else that was needed, for that matter.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 12-15-2019 at 03:40 AM.

  33. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by matt.guitarteacher
    Mmmkayyyy...

    You know, I think I could probably b.s. well enough to give that impression as well, ..... IF only I hadn't ever posted my playing.... Kind of gave it away. Oh well...

    Maybe that's a thing though. Create a new username and speak with a lot of authority about what others should do and just remain anonymous.

    Maybe in my next iteration... Think I'll call myself fumbles....
    OK son. So you're not taking a position on the points posed of course, just getting personal again.

    And I've posted a bit of my playing here and with links to Souncloud, where you could listen to more if you cared to - but it wasn't called for in the context of why I was posting here, so I didn't presume.

    Now, you're a "guitar teacher" right? At what prestigious graduate jazz program again? I don't recall.

    And I haven't heard your "playing" here either. I have heard your "practicing on the internet" though, in the Jerry Coker studies. You get that's what that is, right? Practicing on the internet. And with an incorrect pick grip and about 10-20% of the notes missed. That's you, right?

    Just checkin'.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 12-15-2019 at 03:56 AM.

  34. #83

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    Musical Memory - The elephant in the room...-e31-jpg

  35. #84

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    There is no 'correct' pick grip.

    Back on topic: in my experience the memory that matters most in group improvisation is the ability to recognize what happened 2 or 32 bars ago, and to be able to refer back to and build on that.

    Long term memory gets in the way of creativity. That's where all the 'unhealthy' behavior comes from: trying to get free of it. Along with all the rote crap that's been learned and repeated by all the other students thru the decades.

  36. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    Musical Memory - The elephant in the room...-e31-jpg

    Lol, nice. But in truth, maybe not as "quickly" as it may seem.

  37. #86

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    There is no 'correct' pick grip.
    Uh yeah, there really is.

    Although one can spend an inordinate amount of time and herculean effort attempting to overcome the suboptimal choice that they've made.

    Vertabrates are capable of impressive adaptation. Lots of choices in life.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 12-15-2019 at 04:02 AM.

  38. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Haha, I didn't realise I was hypothesising anything, but if I wanted to reduce the questions posed in this thread into a single sentence, it might be something like;

    "Would a player like Sonny Stitt have been able to play the way he did, with a 'bad' memory?"
    To be fair to Sonny Stitt, he could also come up with great solos that are much more than a sequence of ‘licks’, this is one of my favourites:


  39. #88
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    And I've posted a bit of my playing here and with links to Souncloud, where you could listen to more if you cared to - but it wasn't called for in the context of why I was posting here, so I didn't presume.
    Cool. My bad. Where was that again?

  40. #89

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    ...in my experience the memory that matters most in group improvisation is the ability to recognize what happened 2 or 32 bars ago, and to be able to refer back to and build on that.

    Long term memory gets in the way of creativity. That's where all the 'unhealthy' behavior comes from: trying to get free of it. Along with all the rote crap that's been learned and repeated by all the other students thru the decades.
    Agree with the 1st statement: Me, I eschew playing the 1st solo, even on my own gigs. For one thing, if I've already stated the melody it's gonna wear out the listener with too much of the same thing. I also consider it self-absorbed. OK, maybe yiz think that's going too far, but that's just me. The main reason: I want to hear the prior soloist's last phrase and play off that. Then it's a conversation, ne c'est pas? I always preferred jazz as a we, rather than a me music, plus that last phrase will take me in a fresh direction rather than what Lee Konitz has called 'prepared playing' (speaking of 'memory').

    As to your 2nd statement: Sorry, but, respectfully, no cigar. The rote, cliched stuff is only 'glue' that can carry one to the next actual idea. It's when it takes on a life of it's own that it's boring.

    Analogy: depression has a use, believe it or not. Since we're talking brilliance here, a mention of depression is germane. Depression can slow a fast brain down---a good thing when one is burning one's jets too fast and bright and heading for a crash. It's a failsafe mechanism, like the brain saying 'buddy, I'm worried, so you're grounded. Taking you out of action to recoup and slow down'. But if/when depression turns into its own debilitating thing that's equally time to worry.

    Same thing with those irksome 'rote' and cliched phrases. They can help get through an uninspired night, are familiar to the listener---and as I stated above, and that helps get one's point across. We're not up there in a bubble.

    I'm not endorsing boilerplate here. I am saying that many players are not as 'deep' or original as they take themselves to be. The old test of time will bear that out: only a scant few true innovators every generation. Innovation and originality are not one and the same: innovation connotes use by others b/c it's an improvement over what existed before. Originality can be 'bubble wrap'. There's a guy in NY I know. I'll leave his name out. It's not important. This guy is original, but in his own world and nobody wants or cares about what he does for themselves, because it's not useful. It doesn't move the art ahead, it's merely for that originator, and, sadly, will probably die with him. Some 'original' players are creating, but in a vacuum: 'It's me against the world'. That can be an awfully lonely place and may even be self-deluding.

    You need that 'glue' sometimes to make it 'understandable'. No less a musical thinker than Bill Evans stated in print (paraphrasing here): 'I don't want to be strange and new just to be strange and new...I'd rather work with a tradition that's been tested and used for hundreds of years across many cultures...'. There's no limit to what can be done with what's already here. It's what you do with it. A true original, by my lights, builds on tradition yet breaks that mold by seeing/hearing what truly new. Bird with McShann or especially on Slim's Jam (Slim Gaillard). You can hear the blues and the swing era as he links to it while double-timing and taking the harmony in fresh directions. From one decade to the next in one solo!

    Dizzy called this 'evolution'. I like that...

  41. #90
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    The answer is no. Nor, if he had a bad anything else that was needed, for that matter.
    Then who decides what's needed?

    If you get to decide, then apparently it's:

    Baseline factors.

    1. A solid facility on one’s instrument – capable, but not necessarily virtuosic
    2. Basic musical talent – a decent ear and modest creative ability
    3. Effective facility with the jazz improvisation language in context of its common “formulae” (II-Vs, major and minor, turnarounds, rhythm changes, blues, modal vamps, cycles, Coltrane changes, etc.)
    4. Keeping one’s practicing and rehearsal routines in shape (i.e. frequent and focused)
    5. Experience playing a lot of songs at “the performance level”
    6. A simple compositional form (i.e. less than or equal to 32 bars, repeated over and over)
    7. Average to above average intelligence (yes, including a good memory)
    8. A healthy lifestyle – sleep, exercise, diet – WHICH IMPLIES - a minimization of health and cognition reducing habits (i.e. use of like alcohol, marijuana, opioids/heroin

    Differentiators
    Very high levels of physical talent, capability, activity and repetition - relative to items 1-5 above.


    ... tellingly, you left out things like "taste", "originality", "risk taking , or most importantly perhaps, the ability to react and respond spontaneously to other players on the bandstand ...

  42. #91

    User Info Menu

    We're talking around each other---a 'guy' thing.

    How's about we try talking to each other? (like on the stand, ideally)...

  43. #92
    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    ...I always preferred jazz as a we, rather than a me music, plus that last phrase will take me in a fresh direction rather than what Lee Konitz has called 'prepared playing' (speaking of 'memory').

    ...Originality can be 'bubble wrap'. There's a guy in NY I know. I'll leave his name out. It's not important. This guy is original, but in his own world and nobody wants or cares about what he does for themselves, because it's not useful....

    You need that 'glue' sometimes to make it 'understandable'. .... A true original, by my lights, builds on tradition yet breaks that mold by seeing/hearing what truly new. Bird with McShann .... Dizzy called this 'evolution'. I like that...
    I think we all kinda agree that it's desirable to have some prepared learning (the glue) along with some originality (preferably spontaneous). Too much of the former, or of the latter can lead a player to fail to connect to the listener. I think your points about this were well made, cheers.

    But the casual listener doesn't always care if a solo is composed or not. Even in Rock, I always got the impression than fans of bands that featured guitar solos didn't care if the solo was pre composed, and sometimes complained if the live improvisation was unlike the recorded version!

  44. #93

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    To be fair to Sonny Stitt, he could also come up with great solos that are much more than a sequence of ‘licks’, this is one of my favourites:

    LOVE Topsy! I played with the composer, Eddie Durham, in attendance at the old West End, opposite Columbia U., ca 1983-4. Play it every chance I get, but forget about any young, 'hip' player bothering to learn it, or other important older tunes in the lexicon.

    Always dug Sonny. He was so strong, and always delivered. I remember that 'other' Sonny, Rollins, saying that 'proficiency is important'. People aren't mind readers. Clarity and not stumbling over every other phrase will go a long way toward getting one's point across. Stitt may have had his repetitious elements (like Grant Green or Pat Martino), but all three were crystal clear at all times---and, when inspired, look out! Home run time...

  45. #94
    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    To be fair to Sonny Stitt, he could also come up with great solos that are much more than a sequence of ‘licks’, this is one of my favourites:

    Yeah, fair call... Let's face it, if it wasn't for Parker, Rollins, Getz, Trane etc , then Stitt would be right up there on a pedestal. I always thought Johnny Griffin was harshly judged by his contemporaries as well ...

  46. #95

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    I saw Sonny Stitt only a year before he died, he must have been ill by then but it didn’t show, he was like an unstoppable force of nature. Here’s a photo I took:

    Musical Memory - The elephant in the room...-492b9c50-f34f-4656-b715-70ab4df54fc8-jpg

  47. #96
    Quote Originally Posted by joelf
    ...I remember that 'other' Sonny, Rollins, saying that 'proficiency is important'. People aren't mind readers. Clarity and not stumbling over every other phrase will go a long way toward getting one's point across. Stitt may have had his repetitious elements (like Grant Green or Pat Martino), but all three were crystal clear at all times---and, when inspired, look out! Home run time...
    Interestingly, in that battle of the Sonnys (Oleo), I found that jazz players preferred Rollins, discerning casual listeners preferred Stitt, and the non discerning listeners couldn't tell the difference!

    (Yup, I really did run this " listening test" a while back ) ...

  48. #97
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Uh yeah, there really is.

    Although one can spend an inordinate amount of time and herculean effort attempting to overcome the suboptimal choice that they've made.

    Vertabrates are capable of impressive adaptation. Lots of choices in life.
    Ha! Tell that to Metheny, Benson, Martino.......


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

  49. #98

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    Quote Originally Posted by paul.trapanese
    Ha! Tell that to Metheny, Benson, Martino.......


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
    Well my last sentence already addressed that. Was thinking of Metheny specifically when I wrote it. Maybe I'm mis-remembering, but I seem to recall that he admitted it was "wrong" but he didn't have a teacher around when he was starting, or something like that. I don't know that the other two hold a pick incorrectly, or as you might prefer "in unorthodox fashion". Do they?

    Dizzy Gillespie admitted to incorrect technique. Arnold Palmer had a goofy swing.

    Adaptation.

  50. #99

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    Then who decides what's needed?

    If you get to decide, then apparently it's:

    Baseline factors.

    1. A solid facility on one’s instrument – capable, but not necessarily virtuosic
    2. Basic musical talent – a decent ear and modest creative ability
    3. Effective facility with the jazz improvisation language in context of its common “formulae” (II-Vs, major and minor, turnarounds, rhythm changes, blues, modal vamps, cycles, Coltrane changes, etc.)
    4. Keeping one’s practicing and rehearsal routines in shape (i.e. frequent and focused)
    5. Experience playing a lot of songs at “the performance level”
    6. A simple compositional form (i.e. less than or equal to 32 bars, repeated over and over)
    7. Average to above average intelligence (yes, including a good memory)
    8. A healthy lifestyle – sleep, exercise, diet – WHICH IMPLIES - a minimization of health and cognition reducing habits (i.e. use of like alcohol, marijuana, opioids/heroin

    Differentiators
    Very high levels of physical talent, capability, activity and repetition - relative to items 1-5 above.


    ... tellingly, you left out things like "taste", "originality", "risk taking , or most importantly perhaps, the ability to react and respond spontaneously to other players on the bandstand ...

    No I don't get to decide. It was just my POV, stated as succintly as I could manage. My point is that any complex task requires sound mental faculties, and memory is certainly a part of that. You added some other useful factors as well.

  51. #100
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt
    Well my last sentence already addressed that. Was thinking of Metheny specifically when I wrote it. Maybe I'm mis-remembering, but I seem to recall that he admitted it was "wrong" but he didn't have a teacher around when he was starting, or something like that. I don't know that the other two hold a pick incorrectly, or as you might prefer "in unorthodox fashion". Do they?

    Dizzy Gillespie admitted to incorrect technique. Arnold Palmer had a goofy swing.

    Adaptation.
    Yeah Martino held the pick in an unusual way. Like he was drinking tea with the queen! Benson rotates it in a weird way. It is adaptation but in the process it adds to the uniqueness of the individual.


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