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  1. #1

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    Working on "Donna Lee" got me interested in Charlie Parker's 2 choruses of improvisation on that tune. I have decided to learn that solo and thought I'd invite anyone who wants to joint me. I'm not the most advanced, so I doubt I can go really quickly. I was thinking maybe 8 measures per week?

    At any rate, I'll be doing this and if anyone wants to learn this with me, just post a reply.

    If you have already learned it and just want to post to show off and make all us beginners feel bad, go ahead, have at it. Can't stop you. But I'm especially interested in forum members who are wanting to engage some challenging project that will teach a lot of good bebop vocabulary and phrasing.

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  3. #2

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    As you know I’m also working on Donna Lee. I can’t play the solo nearly as fast as bird but here’s how I finger it. I don’t want to show off, only perhaps save you or someone else some time.


  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterson
    As you know I’m also working on Donna Lee. I can’t play the solo nearly as fast as bird but here’s how I finger it. I don’t want to show off, only perhaps save you or someone else some time.

    Thanks! This is really helpful. Getting these things up to the tempo is not as vital to me as learning the vocabulary and how it lays on the fingerboard. I have set 200 bpm as my nominal goal tempo. Not as fast as any of the recordings, but quite challenging for me.

    I'll post my fingerings on mm. 1-16 shortly.

  5. #4

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    Here is my attempt to do the first 16 measures of the Charlie Parker Omnibook transcription of Bird's solo on "Donna Lee." Not the most exciting thing you'll read today. Not nearly as exciting as outing banned folks or departing dramatically from the forum... not even as exciting as watching paint dry. But if anyone watching this catches a mistaken note, please let me know.

    On time, this is only approximately in correct time. I'm mainly here working on the right notes and fingerings, so if there are errors please by all means say so!

    For fun: guitar is a 1999 Gibson ES165 Herb Ellis, played into a Fender Tone Master Twin Reverb, recorded via direct line to an A/D box and then to the computer.


  6. #5

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    And why not try it with the record? Here's the first half-chorus with the record, slowed way down to 135 bpm.

    There is something really magical about Bird's articulation, phrasing, his execution that is hard to describe. I hope I can absorb a little of it.

  7. #6

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    Getting there!

    To me, one of the hardest things in this solo is to not let several notes ring at once on the 16th notes Cm9 arpeggios. Try to find a fingering that helps you separate the notes.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peterson
    Getting there!

    To me, one of the hardest things in this solo is to not let several notes ring at once on the 16th notes Cm9 arpeggios. Try to find a fingering that helps you separate the notes.
    Yes that has actually been a recurring challenge for me in playing bop tunes.

  9. #8

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    This solo is an amazing example of treating say 2 choruses as if it were one large musical statement. Really, his "lead in" is not just a lick to get to his solo, but actually launches the solo in mm. 31. The usual places for breaking a phrase, the A, B, and C sections, are just ignored, as is the end of the first chorus and the start of the second. And yet, there are GIANT rests in this solo. Several places where for 4-6 beats he's just letting the space happen, though not in the places normally one expects.

    I am confident I will be able to learn this solo. I am also confident I will never be able to play like Bird did. Wow. My respect for his musicianship was already high, but now it's over the top.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    And why not try it with the record? Here's the first half-chorus with the record, slowed way down to 135 bpm.

    There is something really magical about Bird's articulation, phrasing, his execution that is hard to describe. I hope I can absorb a little of it.
    Great to witness your tenacity, Lawson! Getting deep with one tune will pay off enormously. Your fingering on the whole is getting much more logical and in synch with the nature of each phrase. Regarding the arpeggios, no need to find an alternative - just be careful to lift each finger progressively as you sweep across the strings. Pitchwise, the only error that immediately stood out to me was the Eb rather than E natural lower approach note to the Fm7 arpeggio in bar 9 of the solo.

    As suggested in your posts, it's in the areas of rhythm and articulation that Parker really shines. I'll leave aside for the moment his incredible ability to vary the length of phrases, drop in and come out at any chosen point of the bar and float across the time while still laying down an impeccable groove. That's another whole discussion. Instead, let's concentrate on both rhythm and articulation at a more micro-level.

    The essence of bop phrasing as laid down by CP is accenting and slurring weak to strong beats. At the micro-level, we're talking about a stress on the second eighth note of each beat that connects to the following downbeat and creates a sense of forward motion. The first step in gaining control over that type of phrasing is ensuring that upbeats (generally upstrokes for alternate pickers) are accented just as strongly as downbeats. If you practise scales as part of your daily regime, try playing them in that manner. This may feel counterintuitive at first for all sorts of cultural, stylistic and physical reasons but it's very important.

    Next, introduce slurs wherever possible from weak to strong. Here's an example of a descending Ab major scale (from the 9th degree) with those principles applied:

    Learning Charlie Parker "Donna Lee" Solo?-ab_scale-jpeg

    Note the change of position to facilitate slurring. This may not always be practical when dealing with longer phrases but it's worth keeping it in mind.

    Let's now transfer these moves to an actual Parker line. Here's the phrase that sets up his 1st chorus:

    Learning Charlie Parker "Donna Lee" Solo?-dl_phrase-jpeg

    I've pretty much stayed with your fingering except for the shift to enable an extended slur across the triplet. Another option might be to play that whole last section at the 5th position on the 3rd string. Weak-strong accented slurs occur throughout with the exception of the G-F in bar 2.

    Lawson, I guarantee that if you spend as much quality time on these aspects as you have already on getting the pitches down, your playing will be transformed!
    Last edited by PMB; 01-25-2020 at 09:33 AM.

  11. #10

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    Here's a clip (I hope it inspires rather than intimidates) that clearly demonstrates what I've been rabbiting on about:

    Last edited by PMB; 01-25-2020 at 05:07 PM.

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    Great to witness your tenacity, Lawson! Getting deep with one tune will pay off enormously. Your fingering on the whole is getting much more logical and in synch with the nature of each phrase. Regarding the arpeggios, no need to find an alternative - just be careful to lift each finger progressively as you sweep across the strings. Pitchwise, the only error that immediately stood out to me was the Eb rather than E natural lower approach note to the Fm7 arpeggio in bar 9 of the solo.

    As suggested in your posts, it's in the areas of rhythm and articulation that Parker really shines. I'll leave aside for the moment his incredible ability to vary the length of phrases, drop in and come out at any chosen point of the bar and float across the time while still laying down an impeccable groove. That's another whole discussion. Instead, let's concentrate on both rhythm and articulation at a more micro-level.

    The essence of bop phrasing as laid down by CP is accenting and slurring weak to strong beats. At the micro-level, we're talking about a stress on the second eighth note of each beat that connects to the following downbeat and creates a sense of forward motion. The first step in gaining control over that type of phrasing is ensuring that upbeats (generally upstrokes for alternate pickers) are accented just as strongly as downbeats. If you practise scales as part of your daily regime, try playing them in that manner. This may feel counterintuitive at first for all sorts of cultural, stylistic and physical reasons but it's very important.

    Next, introduce slurs wherever possible from weak to strong. Here's an example of a descending Ab major scale (from the 9th degree) with those principles applied:

    Learning Charlie Parker "Donna Lee" Solo?-ab_scale-jpeg

    Note the change of position to facilitate slurring. This may not always be practical when dealing with longer phrases but it's worth keeping it in mind.

    Let's now transfer these moves to an actual Parker line. Here's the phrase that sets up his 1st chorus:

    Learning Charlie Parker "Donna Lee" Solo?-dl_phrase-jpeg

    I've pretty much stayed with your fingering except for the shift to enable an extended slur across the triplet. Another option might be to play that whole last section at the 5th position on the 3rd string. Weak-strong accented slurs occur throughout with the exception of the G-F in bar 2.

    Lawson, I guarantee that if you spend as much quality time on these aspects as you have already on getting the pitches down, your playing will be transformed!
    Many thanks. I feel like I've gotten a solid lesson.

    On the Eb, I'm playing from the Omnibook, which has an Eb there. I need to pay more attention to the recording.

    I'll play with the slurring idea. Good concrete stuff to try out.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    Here's a clip (I hope it inspires rather than intimidates) that clearly demonstrates what I've rabbiting on about:

    That's really nice! Intimidating in the right way, challenging but also inspiring. Other than the tempo, I can see that the actual changes to the tune are not as conceptually hard to get as some others might be. So I can understand improvisors liking to stretch out on it. Hope I get there one day!

    Thanks for the time and insight you've contributed. I am going to work with the ideas a bit and see what happens.

    ALSO: really, is the Epiphone Elitist Broadway not the most dynamite for the dollar you ever saw in a fine archtop? I had one in sunburst that was simply without any shortcoming, stock.

  14. #13
    Great thread. Thanks!

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    Pitchwise, the only error that immediately stood out to me was the Eb rather than E natural lower approach note to the Fm7 arpeggio in bar 9 of the solo.
    I'm trying to track this down while I'm still working out my approach. I was mistaken about which Eb/E natural you were talking about. I miscounted the measures since I tend to think the solo starts back in m. 31. I see now you're counting properly from 33 and wow, I did miss that one. I find I keep forgetting that the Omnibook doesn't notate these solos "in key" but as if they're all in C, with all the accidentals noted. I keep thinking "Key of Ab... every E is an Eb..."

    Thanks for catching that, I'll work on re-training the muscle memory!

  16. #15

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    I have the first chorus (more or less!) at about 160 bpm. The best thing I have done on this is to play with the original recording. I find the comping on that really hard to sync with for some reason, but since it's a classic I assume the pianist is great and I need to figure it out.

    The last line of the chorus is just a repeated figure, but it has been the hardest part to get right. I get it maybe 75% on this. It's typical Bird, a figure that sounds easy until you try to play it, and it starts on a different beat every time it repeats.

    So for all of you breathlessly wondering how I'm doing on this (HA!) here is me doubling Bird at about 2/3 tempo.

  17. #16

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    So this is chorus 1, played at 160 bpm, using the Hal Leonard Real Book backing track. There are still places where the "note-beat relationship" is less than perfect, shall we say? Down right messed up time in a few spots. Bird's phrasing with the beat is really, really slippery.

    I almost did not post this because it has some errors, but I don't believe in waiting for perfection. I learn more when my mistakes are identified, and often forum members provide excellent advice.

    Plus you can have fun listening for my mistakes! How many can you find? Maybe I should offer a prize. Maybe not.

  18. #17

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    Learning this piece is quite an impressive technical exercise. I worked on it a long time ago, maybe I got the head to about 180bpm, that's were my technique starts to fall apart.

    How do you go from memorizing this written music to actually acquiring some vocabulary that you are able to use in improvisation. Is there a plan and procedure that you have to accomplish that?

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep
    Learning this piece is quite an impressive technical exercise. I worked on it a long time ago, maybe I got the head to about 180bpm, that's were my technique starts to fall apart.

    How do you go from memorizing this written music to actually acquiring some vocabulary that you are able to use in improvisation. Is there a plan and procedure that you have to accomplish that?
    Good question. I don't know. Right now I'm putting my hope in the absorptive powers of the unconscious mind. Like so much other music I know, most of it was caught or absorbed from repeated playing and some "aha!" moments. I think I have less ability to incorporate stuff like this into my own playing than some. I have to immerse myself in a ton of stuff before anything starts to stick.

    that could be a good thread all its own.

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    that could be a good thread all its own.
    Yes.

    I'm curious because I don't seem to absorb vocabulary that way. Charlie Parker, genius imo, and his playing is so choke full of good licks/phrases/vocab (it's just semantics use the term you prefer), it's just overwhelming.to me.

  21. #20

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    I am posting another clip of this same chorus for 2 reasons. First, I was experimenting with a Boss Fender Deluxe Reverb pedal, running straight into the A/D box for recording. Second, for some reason I played better this time. Maybe because I was thinking about the pedal!

    This pedal is interesting. It's hard to get "clean" from it. You have to turn the gain nearly off and the level way up. There's too much break up in this clip, to my ear, but others might like it. Second, the reverb not only emulates a spring reverb, it emulates the periodic odd artifact noise of a spring reverb. That occasional pop or stray sound. Authentic, yes; but desirable, no.

    On balance, I likely would not recommend this pedal if someone wants the "clean" Deluxe Reverb sound because you don't have a lot of range that's clean. Also, that reverb artifact noise is just plain odd. Almost like if they also programmed into it the sounds of clinking glasses and crowd conversation?

    Otherwise, I actually enjoy the pedal. It kind of works with you as you play, which is interesting.


  22. #21

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    Maybe some were afraid I'd given up. Maybe others where HOPING I'd given up. But no, "negative persistence" is one of my traits.

    So now I have the first chorus of the Bird solo on "Donna Lee" up to 170 bpm. At the faster tempos, I find that smaller increments come at a greater price. Going from 160 to 170 is way harder than going from 140 to 150. Also, there are fingerings that are fine at slower tempos but simply won't work at faster ones.

    I also continue to be amazed at how Bird can just drop things into the tempo at any point and it fits. The guy has an astonishing sense of where he is in the form. Sometimes I"m actually not sure his rhythm section always knew... but anyhow, here is my effort at 170 with the Hal Leonard Real Book backing track. No doubt errors abound! Constructive advice is always welcome.


  23. #22

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    Wow. It gets harder and harder to bump up just 10 bpm! But here is 180, or 182 to be precise.

    I have struggled with the section of mm. 21-27, esp. the figure with the 8th note triplet and the next measure's 16th note triplet. It's hard to feel the beat playing those 7 measures but I'm making progress. I'm finding that, the way I finger it, the Bb note in the 8th note triplet is crucial. I have to nail it with my index finger, which is a slight shift, for the rest of the line to go right. Once I realized my finger-wrecks were because of not shifting smoothly there, it began to clear up.

    The phrases in this solo are such classic bop. Unlike some other solos I've learned, these phrases are getting into my other player rather quickly.

    It's done twice here: once on the L5ces, once on the ES175 VOS1959.

    Any constructive observations or advice is appreciated.


  24. #23

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    I hope this thread is helpful or at least interesting, at least you're thinking, "Wow I could play way better than that..." Tonight I managed to get through the head and the first chorus at a pretty nice tempo of 185 bpm and actually enjoyed it, didn't have the grim "Gotta survive this.." mindset.

    Recorded with the Princeton Reverb Re-Issue and an SM57 microphone. I need to learn more about mic placement, this is a little darkish, but I still like the sound.

    As I work on playing these cleaner and quicker I'm working out the next chorus.

    Whoever is watching out there and following this, thanks!


  25. #24

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    I find the best way to improve on something I"m working on is... move on to the next section, so this is working out the fingering for the first statement of the 2nd chorus of "Donna Lee," Bird uses the repeated and rhythmically offsetting phrase of the last line of the first chorus to move seamlessly into the second chorus. It's hard to realize you've gone to the top of the form here, so amazing. Then he uses the same figure over Bbm7 that he used in the same spot in the first chorus, but here he resolves it differently. Again, brilliant.

    So I play through mm. 29-41 3 times with a metronome at 130 bpm just to get the fingering and relative rhythm in my head. If anyone is working on this, I hope it helps. For me it's just keeping myself accountable for making progress by posting here.

    Recording note: I stumbled onto a used Quilter Tone Block 202 and have been having a lot of fun with it. It will replace my DVMark heads which aren't very rugged and it has more power. I like the features of this little head a lot. I' recording via the XLR out, which profits from having a speaker attached because somehow it incorporates the impulse from the speaker into the signal going outbound.


  26. #25

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    Progress is progress! You got it.

    TB 202 is a great amp. I've been really happy with mine for over a year. Nice to hear a fine archtop recorded direct through that. I haven't recorded anything since I picked up guitar again, but I've been hoping this would be a nice easy way to approach it. Now I know! Thanks for mentioning that.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    ...
    I'll allow myself a few remarks, since you're asking for constructive criticism, and no one dares to make them

    I think you could improve the phrasing by working more the slurs (hammer on, pull off), especially if you like Jimmy Raney, to get closer to the fluidity of the saxophone. You would also win with fingers of the left hand more in small hammers, which facilitate the slurs

    it is possible, I'm not sure, that there is a problem of rhythmic precision on the triplets, a little haste or nervous, and there I think it comes from the right hand. Maybe you should try a pick technique less with the wrist and more with the flexibility between thumb and index, changing the angle of strings attack on the arpeggios

    I have the impression that you press the wrist on the table and at the same time the pinky on the pickguard, which does not allow some flexibility, neither with the wrist nor with the phalanx. Perhaps one or the other should be abandoned, or if possible, both

    there is a general problem of tension, not enough relaxation of the body, maybe nervousness in front of the camera

    finally, if you have the ability to listen to Parker's solo by decreasing the speed without changing the pitch, it may be better to transplant it to the ear rather than read the transcript, now that you know the notes

    no doubt authorized Jazz Guitar Teachers would make a better diagnosis and better recommendations than me, no one is perfect

    hoping not to offend you, in any case, good luck, I see you are persevering
    Last edited by Patlotch; 02-14-2020 at 05:42 AM.

  28. #27

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patlotch
    I'll allow myself a few remarks, since you're asking for constructive criticism, and no one dares to make them

    I think you could improve the phrasing by working more the slurs (hammer on, pull off), especially if you like Jimmy Raney, to get closer to the fluidity of the saxophone. You would also win with fingers of the left hand more in small hammers, which facilitate the slurs

    it is possible, I'm not sure, that there is a problem of rhythmic precision on the triplets, a little haste or nervous, and there I think it comes from the right hand. Maybe you should try a pick technique less with the wrist and more with the flexibility between thumb and index, changing the angle of strings attack on the arpeggios

    I have the impression that you press the wrist on the table and at the same time the pinky on the pickguard, which does not allow some flexibility, neither with the wrist nor with the phalanx. Perhaps one or the other should be abandoned, or if possible, both

    there is a general problem of tension, not enough relaxation of the body, maybe nervousness in front of the camera

    finally, if you have the ability to listen to Parker's solo by decreasing the speed without changing the pitch, it may be better to transplant it to the ear rather than read the transcript, now that you know the notes

    no doubt authorized Jazz Guitar Teachers would make a better diagnosis and better recommendations than me, no one is perfect

    hoping not to offend you, in any case, good luck, I see you are persevering
    No offense at all. Thank you for the very substantive advice, which I do not consider "criticism" but observations and advice. That's why I posted the clip. I find that line of triplets very hard to play correctly. I'm actually pausing for a while to work on that section.

    Thank you for watching.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    ...
    thank you for your state of mind. I think it would be better if others, more competent than me, confirmed or not what I noticed. This is the first time in my life that I give advice to a particular guitarist, and it is not without risk of being wrong

  30. #29

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    You have to use legato in the right way though Patloch

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patlotch
    thank you for your state of mind. I think it would be better if others, more competent than me, confirmed or not what I noticed. This is the first time in my life that I give advice to a particular guitarist, and it is not without risk of being wrong
    Your advice, even if it were in error, is still an expression of interest in me and my music. You took time to watch, you pondered things, and you made suggestions. Those are all very valuable to me. I've been very aware of Bird's triplets on that 3-times repeated phrase being very different from mine, mainly in his emphasis. I plan to work on those for a couple of days.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    You have to use legato in the right way though Patloch
    The legato feel is what drives me crazy trying to play this solo. If you have any particulars, I'm all ears!

  33. #32

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    So here's the part I'm working on, but I decided to back up to measure 21 and play through into the 9th measure of the second chorus for continuity. Slowed the recording down to 150 bpm. This is 3 takes from about a dozen, all pretty much alike. Each one has a flaw, but overall I feel like I'm getting it.


  34. #33

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    there's a topic with these questions of eight triplet notes here, and several suggestions for fingerings and pick
    HAMMERING ON/PULLING OFF ONTO THE DOWN BEAT

    it all depends if you finger the arpeggios on 2 or 3 strings. In my opinion you have to work both, otherwise for the impro you are stuck. The less choice you have, the more you fall into clichés

    It should be noted that often, the first note before the triplet is a half-tone below, which on three strings invites you to play the line: ^ ham vv
    it also works very well with only down stroke: v ham vv pick thumb like Wes. Christian gives other solutions

    in general, make the slur where the fingering allows, even if it is not on the same part of the beat, on the contrary. Jimmy Raney used to do that

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    The legato feel is what drives me crazy trying to play this solo. If you have any particulars, I'm all ears!
    One think to watch for is that slurs occur in the right place. As I've mentioned earlier, Parker invariably places them from weak to strong beats. Often when fingering a passage, we go for the easiest option (i.e. the least hand movement) without thinking how it might affect the phrasing.

    For instance, in bar 3 of Chorus 1 you played the following:

    Learning Charlie Parker "Donna Lee" Solo?-dl1-jpeg

    Granted, the line sits easily upon the fretboard in that position yet the only available place to slur notes is at the beginning of the bar from strong to weak beats. I'd either forgo the slur entirely or search for another option that allows more idiomatic phrasing:

    Learning Charlie Parker "Donna Lee" Solo?-dl2-jpeg

  36. #35

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    if the ternary notation of the eigth notes has always been a simplification, there is the simple fact that the "ternary" eight notes are neither equal nor really triplets, it depends on the tempo, musicians, and Bands. The bebop retains something of the pre-war swing, which most jazz students don't hear, because they don't know the old style, they want to play directly "modern" jazz without knowing where it comes from
    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    One think to watch for is that slurs occur in the right place. As I've mentioned earlier, Parker invariably places them from weak to strong beats.

    personally, if I hear accents in Parker, it is very difficult for me to compare the slurs of a saxophone with those of a guitar, unless we talk about legato and staccato. But there is not much staccato in Donna Lee...*
    *
    if I remember a little of my beginnings on the clarinet, the staccato on reeds instruents is played either with the tongue or with a particular breath technique, neither is possible at high tempo

    if it's about imitating Charlie Parker's phrasing, I'd avoid starting with such a speed and difficult tune as Donna Lee. I would choose a medium or medium slow, Parker's Mood or something like that

    in some cases, to give thickness to the guitar notes, it is not bad to introduce double-stroke in intervals. It's less close to a written statement than a feeling that listens to Parker

    I would go so far as to say that as long as we didn't have recordings, we had to refer to the score of the composers, but since we recorded, why rely on a poor written reduction of what is perfectly clear to listen to the records? Except for the height of the notes, the most difficult to ear when it goes fast. Rhythm and phrasing, you take them by ear, it's much better. To imitate the saxophone, you have to find on the guitar subjective equivalencies
    Last edited by Patlotch; 02-15-2020 at 02:04 AM.

  37. #36

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    I don't plan on changing my tune, guys. I have a lot of effort and time invested in Donna Lee and so I'm staying with this tune until I feel like I've gotten all I can from it.

    PMB thank you for your advice, and for the clip you posted earlier which I've returned to several times.

    I weary of hearing theoretical ideas and appreciate very much advice from people who actually play bebop well.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Patlotch
    if the ternary notation of the eigth notes has always been a simplification, there is the simple fact that the "ternary" eight notes are neither equal nor really triplets, it depends on the tempo, musicians, and Bands. The bebop retains something of the pre-war swing, which most jazz students don't hear, because they don't know the old style, they want to play directly "modern" jazz without knowing where it comes from

    personally, if I hear accents in Parker, it is very difficult for me to compare the slurs of a saxophone with those of a guitar, unless we talk about legato and staccato. But there is not much staccato in Donna Lee...*
    *
    if I remember a little of my beginnings on the clarinet, the staccato on reeds instruents is played either with the tongue or with a particular breath technique, neither is possible at high tempo

    if it's about imitating Charlie Parker's phrasing, I'd avoid starting with such a speed and difficult tune as Donna Lee. I would choose a medium or medium slow, Parker's Mood or something like that

    in some cases, to give thickness to the guitar notes, it is not bad to introduce double-stroke in intervals. It's less close to a written statement than a feeling that listens to Parker

    I would go so far as to say that as long as we didn't have recordings, we had to refer to the score of the composers, but since we recorded, why rely on a poor written reduction of what is perfectly clear to listen to the records? Except for the height of the notes, the most difficult to ear when it goes fast. Rhythm and phrasing, you take them by ear, it's much better. To imitate the saxophone, you have to find on the guitar subjective equivalencies
    I have a lot of trouble trying to understand your points here.

    Could you post a clip playing this portion of the solo and demonstrating what you are talking about? Bebop was always a "player to player" idiom and one clip is better than 1000 words. I look forward to hearing actually play bebop.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by PMB
    One think to watch for is that slurs occur in the right place. As I've mentioned earlier, Parker invariably places them from weak to strong beats. Often when fingering a passage, we go for the easiest option (i.e. the least hand movement) without thinking how it might affect the phrasing.

    For instance, in bar 3 of Chorus 1 you played the following:

    Learning Charlie Parker "Donna Lee" Solo?-dl1-jpeg

    Granted, the line sits easily upon the fretboard in that position yet the only available place to slur notes is at the beginning of the bar from strong to weak beats. I'd either forgo the slur entirely or search for another option that allows more idiomatic phrasing:

    Learning Charlie Parker "Donna Lee" Solo?-dl2-jpeg
    Thanks for this suggestion. I will see if I can shift my fingering. This stays pretty close to where I already play it, and has the advantage of being more in the center of the neck, which I think produces a nicer tone.

    I do appreciate your taking time to actually look at my fingerings. That's very generous, thank you.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft
    I'm actually quite happy with my ability to play the head at this point. I'm trying to make myself get more into blowing on it, but I've worked on it so much over the last couple months that I need to go back to some other things that I've been neglecting.

    I really must get over my shyness and force myself to post a clip...

    Just want to say that I've really liked PMB's contributions. Very helpful.
    Yes, his advice has been helpful and in the end, I have tried to use everything he's suggested. His clip is also impressive. I am still waffling on fingerings and also I'm just enthralled with the melodic and rhythmic creativity in Bird's solo. I find it sets up very nicely on the guitar and in some ways is easier to play than the head. It's almost like he counters the busy-ness of the head with a very spacious and off-center solo that is more like a 64 bar composition than a 32x2 blowing session.

    Don't be shy about posting. I wish more would feel free to post admitted imperfect examples. I don't see this as only a showcase for my best playing, but also (mainly) a safe place to put up things I'm still working to get right. Then people like PMB, Christian77, Greentone, those guys, all start commenting and pretty soon its better than lessons. When I go back and listen to my first clips in the Jimmy Raney study group, which was back in 2015, I am amazed at my own progress. I'm surely not as good as I could be, but I'm much better than I used to be. Gosh that sounds like a country song...

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Roberoo
    There is no right time to learn Donna Lee - just dig in and get what you can out of it. You won't hurt anyone.
    That's basically it. Listen, I'm not going to do a theoretical lecture on how to play Donna Lee with slurs and hammer ons etc. because that is useless.

    Years ago I did a few Bird solos and I was amazed at how shitty his stuff often lies on guitar and how unguitaristic it really is. It's very hard therefore. And humbling. Years later I realized that there were no guitarists that could really approach his way of playing. It is popular myth that guitarist x plays like Bird. He doesn't and he won't. Not Wes, not the Raneys, not Farlow, not Benson, not Kessel, not Holdsworth, not Gambale, not van Ruller etc. etc. Not even Grasso (though he is the closest a guitarist has ever come in the bebop idiom of Bud Powell). Same for Coltrane and so many other horn players.

    Is that bad? No, it is not. Guitarists play bebop differently because they are well, guitarists. The limitations (or are they possibilities?) of the instrument etc. Guys like Raney or Tal or Wes play their own style and they sound nothing like Bird. Heck, of course not. You might as well try to sound like Buddy Rich on guitar. Or Keith Jarrett. Ain't gonna happen.

    Just have fun playing Donna Lee and take whatever you can use or like.

    DB


  42. #41

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog
    That's basically it. Listen, I'm not going to do a theoretical lecture on how to play Donna Lee with slurs and hammer ons etc. because that is useless.

    Years ago I did a few Bird solos and I was amazed at how shitty his stuff often lies on guitar and how unguitaristic it really is. It's very hard therefore. And humbling. Years later I realized that there were no guitarists that could really approach his way of playing. It is popular myth that guitarist x plays like Bird. He doesn't and he won't. Not Wes, not the Raneys, not Farlow, not Benson, not Kessel, not Holdsworth, not Gambale, not van Ruller etc. etc. Not even Grasso (though he is the closest a guitarist has ever come in the bebop idiom of Bud Powell). Same for Coltrane and so many other horn players.

    Is that bad? No, it is not. Guitarists play bebop differently because they are well, guitarists. The limitations (or are they possibilities?) of the instrument etc. Guys like Raney or Tal or Wes play their own style and they sound nothing like Bird. Heck, of course not. You might as well try to sound like Buddy Rich on guitar. Or Keith Jarrett. Ain't gonna happen.

    Just have fun playing Donna Lee and take whatever you can use or like.

    DB

    That's what I'm talkin' about! Can't sound like Bird... from a guy who... sounds like Bird...

    I'm doing this to "up my game" and have fun with a challenging tune. Slurs and stuff, yes, it helps me realize why mine sounds "square" sometimes but I agree, the attempt to sound like Bird is doomed. I do think it's a good way to exercise the chops and learn.

  43. #42

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    That's what I'm talkin' about! Can't sound like Bird... from a guy who... sounds like Bird...
    Ha ... I wish!

    I'm doing this to "up my game" and have fun with a challenging tune. Slurs and stuff, yes, it helps me realize why mine sounds "square" sometimes but I agree, the attempt to sound like Bird is doomed. I do think it's a good way to exercise the chops and learn.
    Nothing wrong with learning slurs and dynamics etc. but don't let people fool you into thinking that you should sound like Bird on that guitar and that it's wrong if you fail to duplicate his execution or delivery. Playing that shit with a correct time feel is already hard enough.

    DB

  44. #43

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog
    Ha ... I wish!



    Nothing wrong with learning slurs and dynamics etc. but don't let people fool you into thinking that you should sound like Bird on that guitar and that it's wrong if you fail to duplicate his execution or delivery. Playing that shit with a correct time feel is already hard enough.

    DB
    I definitely am not trying to sound like a horn. If that were the case, i'd be playing a horn. But Bird's emphasis, his way of mixing loud and soft, some of the notes almost seeming afterthoughts, the way he can drop into a measure on an odd beat and play a phrase, those things are just marvelous and I would love to have some of that sense of control and awareness of the music. I feel like I'm slowly getting a sense of it, and meanwhile, I'm enjoying what I'm playing. As you said it's all about having fun.

    I have my academic job for complicated stuff. Music is for fun.

  45. #44

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    Nice posts by all. Just wanted to add that for me, the idea behind working on this stuff is to get a handle on those kind of shapely lines; the phrasing. Up until recently I've been a pick-every-note kind of player. I deff can feel that just learning a little bit of Bird has started to percolate down into my other types of playing. A whole 'nother vocabulary to work with. So, Lawson, what you've said earlier about this appears to be true in my experience.

    Personally I've never really been all that interested in playing BeBop per se. I've always liked it well enough, but in truth I don't often put it on the player. I kind of see it as the primordial ooze that so much of the music that I do put on the player has evolved out of. I've always felt I would benefit by getting into it, and I feel it's underway even at this late stage. And it is fun to play.

    Great playing DB! You are deff a Bob playing Dutch man.
    Last edited by ccroft; 02-16-2020 at 02:32 PM.

  46. #45

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    Thanks for this suggestion. I will see if I can shift my fingering. This stays pretty close to where I already play it, and has the advantage of being more in the center of the neck, which I think produces a nicer tone.
    That's another issue with translating Parker onto the fretboard. Bird played alto sax and that instrument sits in a higher register than guitar. Tenor sax, on the hand has a closer overall range to our instrument and that's no doubt part of the reason that classic organ quartets paired tenor and guitar. Many of Parker's lines sit more readily in the upper reaches of the guitar neck, particularly if played in the correct octave but it's not an optimum register tonally, particularly on the lower strings.

    In the final analysis, there's always some kind of trade-off. Yes, as DB states, you'll never sound just like Parker but the process of learning the vocabulary, along with making decisions regarding where to place and how to articulate phrases will provide some of the best lessons you can give yourself. By the way, none of Parker's highly rated contemporaries were simply clones of Parker (including Bud Powell, who as it happens played piano on the studio version of "Donna Lee").

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog
    That's basically it. Listen, I'm not going to do a theoretical lecture on how to play Donna Lee with slurs and hammer ons etc. because that is useless.

    Years ago I did a few Bird solos and I was amazed at how shitty his stuff often lies on guitar and how unguitaristic it really is. It's very hard therefore. And humbling. Years later I realized that there were no guitarists that could really approach his way of playing. It is popular myth that guitarist x plays like Bird. He doesn't and he won't. Not Wes, not the Raneys, not Farlow, not Benson, not Kessel, not Holdsworth, not Gambale, not van Ruller etc. etc. Not even Grasso (though he is the closest a guitarist has ever come in the bebop idiom of Bud Powell). Same for Coltrane and so many other horn players.

    Is that bad? No, it is not. Guitarists play bebop differently because they are well, guitarists. The limitations (or are they possibilities?) of the instrument etc. Guys like Raney or Tal or Wes play their own style and they sound nothing like Bird. Heck, of course not. You might as well try to sound like Buddy Rich on guitar. Or Keith Jarrett. Ain't gonna happen.

    Just have fun playing Donna Lee and take whatever you can use or like.

    DB
    grant green plays bebop *exactly* like a hornplayer influenced by bird.

    sonny greenwich expanded on that and brought coltrane's language to the guitar. followed by cats like roland prince, munoz, rodney jones. admittedly not the most popular branch of jazz guitar...

    this is bird on guitar, and not only because of the country gardes quote.


  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by djg
    grant green plays bebop *exactly* like a hornplayer influenced by bird.

    sonny greenwich expanded on that and brought coltrane's language to the guitar. followed by cats like roland prince, munoz, rodney jones. admittedly not the most popular branch of jazz guitar...

    this is bird on guitar, and not only because of the country gardes quote.

    Listening right now. You know I highly respect your opinion but could you elaborate why you think Grant plays like a horn player? Is it the melodic content or the form? He does not strike me as a player who sounds like Bird at all. Any other horn players he sounds like?

    DB

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by DB's Jazz Guitar Blog
    Listening right now. You know I highly respect your opinion but could you elaborate why you think Grant plays like a horn player? Is it the melodic content or the form? He does not strike me as a player who sounds like Bird at all. Any other horn players he sounds like?

    DB
    i think at times he sounds so much like lou donaldson it's uncanny. check out "here tis" (foggy day) and "good gracious" (caracas). good solos to learn too.

    same with stan turrentine. the way you look tonight is worth investigating. turrentine's solo could verbatim be from grant and vice versa. or broadway from the live recording.

    listen to the brazil solo from 1:15 to 1:30. if that's not pure bird i do not know what is. i hear more bird in those 15 seconds than from any other guitarist (maybe except eddie mcfadden).

    it's the phrasing, the little baroque embellishments, the quotes. the rhythms of course. but most importantly it's that in-your-face quality, that is a vital part of bop but is mostly overlooked these days. this is why to my ears grasso's low-key approach sounds not really like bud powell or bird. i hear no sense of urgency. it's all well rehearsed and impressive. but all bop styles need to kick ass to an extend imo. like bird playing white christmas with an almost punk rock attitude.

  50. #49

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    So, my take on slurring lines. With the difficulty of putting sax lines on guitar, something is always changed. Jimmy Raney's feel is not like Parker's - it's straighter, more behind, for instance, but I love it. One player I feel has really nice articulation is Mike Moreno, a real bop guy but with a modern twist... And I've basically stolen his rules, which are similar to PMBs, except not so strict, in that I will pick two notes in a row if they are on adjacent strings (Moreno uses economy/sweep picking) so Moreno's/my fingerings end up being a bit more standard/traditional.

    That said practicing the stricter version of slurring is probably a very good idea.

    Also, simply playing a scale or other phrase but accenting all the upbeats. Of course, jazz musicians do not in fact accent all the upbeats, but it is often a necessary corrective to the tendency for many people to accent the downbeats. It also helps draw attention to their rhythmic placement.

    Beyond that, I also practice stuff with a metronome click on the 'ands' - maybe the '+' of 2 and 4. Given that's where you will be picking, these exercises work hand in glove.

    Again, this is not the end of the road, but it's a very useful stepping stone on it. Upbeats are a problem for most students. Playing with records won't help unless you are able to perceive where Bird is placing his notes. Some people are just really good at this, and find breaking stuff down in this way tiresome or pointless. Others less so...

    I think playing with a click can help with that, if only in that it gets you used to synchronising exactly with another sound. Some might dispute the value of using a metronome, but I think the thing is not the click, or the regularity of it, but being able to lock in with something. That's the thing to learn.

    (The next step is being able to project your time feel, of course.)

    It's complicated. Guitarists (like me) are quite stupid about this stuff, so don't listen too much to them. They get distracted by having to know the chords to things and so on.

    Instead, talk to drummers. If they aren't just able to do it because they were playing Samba or Gospel at 7 years old or something, they have to be able to break down this stuff and get good at it because they can't simply lock into the pocket - they are the pocket!

    Exercises develop perception and flexibility. They are not holy writ. And they shouldn't form too much of your practice. In the end, your ears are the ultimate judge, and the thing that needs work, all the time.
    Last edited by christianm77; 02-16-2020 at 10:13 AM.

  51. #50

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    Lawson may not be interested, but if I may:

    Slurring from upbeat into downbeat is the conventional wisdom for learning to accent and feel the upbeats. That worked for me, but what really helped also was adopting the gypsy jazz style of picking (even though I play archtop bebop)

    Just as the slurring, the picking accents are based on the fingering of the passage you are playing. In this way, you are playing guitaristically.

    Between these two things I get the “right” amount of slurs in the “right” places, some of which surprise even myself.

    I don’t try to match slurs of the horns I transcribe, I slur and accent where my guitar basically does it by itself.