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  1. #1

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    Last edited by rintincop; 04-06-2020 at 05:21 PM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    OTOH


  4. #3

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    I think many think this music is more improvised than it is. the power of the PR is strong!

    jazz is more like - communal refined composition.

  5. #4

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    Pretty much apples and oranges...

    I dig composed or arranged music, it works.... but I love real improvised live gigs with great musicians. Hell i even dig performing with groups that are basically rehearsed bands.

    I can't imagine not taking chances when soloing, having an idea or hearing something and not trying to pull it off. I crash and burn all the time. But being a professional... I can generally turn a crash and burn into a thrilling ride. I mean what's the point.

    In the 70's it was hip to have arranged supper sax like interludes in some of the tunes. Even just a chorus or a blast off section for a soloist. I still have 100's of arrangements in that style. The majority of my Big band charts use that style of composition or arranging.

    I mean when you play old bebop tunes... do you just play the melody? Gotta have at least a counter line... even just an improvised harmony part.

    If you sight read well... pretty easy to just play the 3rd or 6th thing. And use the standard Blues harmony's to keep lines from getting to mechanical sounding.

  6. #5

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    I think there's a lot of attention paid to a great many aspects of technique, all of which imply a search for perfection.

    And, all of which have the potential for reducing spontaneity and emotional expression.

    One thing that separates the great players from the aspirants is the ability to be creative, interactive and emotionally expressive in the moment.

  7. #6

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    I have absolutely no idea what 'perfection' is, or means.

  8. #7

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    I think a lot---maybe most---players don't really improvise b/c of fear of 'failure'---especially now in the age of technology---and, moreover, a fear of bucking and rejection from the herd. The human race is basically a herd with many sub-herds. Uniformity is the rule, and mavericks or anyone going their own way scares people so they are spurned. To think 'creative artists' are different is folly. If anything they're worse b/c they should know better. Most play it safe.

    I admire proficient players b/c that's hard, and you have to give it up for anyone good. Good is good. But the 'perfect' ones are too often the most predictable and boring. It takes a lot of not only imagination but courage to build an improvisation from the ground up.

    I think listening to the group can liberate one from planned playing. I myself don't like to play the 1st solo. If I play off the previous soloist's last phrase, that will take me somewhere maybe uncharted. The rest is on me. Also, I like the conversation more than a string of long solos. So I think duo playing is really special, with the right partner. It's an intimate way to work out and maybe come up with new ideas, b/c you're listening and responding. My most cherished duo partners don't sit and comp like swabbing a deck. They push. They challenge.

    I do think listening is where it's at, not things like pentagrams or writing your name on the fingerboard. Gimmicky IMO, but what the hell---any path to discovery is better than none. I also am a big believer in composition for developing new material. But one has to be careful, too, or cliches and contrivance can also occur. You can turn your own ideas into cliches if you repeat them often enough, without mixing it up. At least it'd be original, but is it improvising?

    I think being loose, responsive, alert, and listening can lead to real improvising with the existing materials. No need to re-invent the wheel. That just adds pressure, and you can lose the relaxation and flow aspect...
    Last edited by joelf; 04-06-2020 at 06:13 PM.

  9. #8

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    Recording dates are different than playing live too.

    Listen to the outtakes on Blue Note reissues. Most players had a shape in mind...

    I like improvising, I think I'll keep doing it.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Most players had a shape in mind...
    Of course they did, which is why different takes on the same tune sound similar but not the same. Improvisation isn't pulling magic rabbits out of nothing, it's based on what has been before in different combinations.

    Because a player has a basic overview of what they're playing doesn't mean they're imitating, copying, or not being creative in their soloing - quite the contrary, in fact.


    (I'm just using your quote to make the general statement, Jeff, it's not directed at you personally)

  11. #10

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    Jazz is safe in my hands given the title of this thread.

  12. #11

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    improvisation fundamentalism.... certainly not helpful to the student jazz musician, and not great for the pro either. people get sucked into a narrow definition of improv which is that it has to be in the moment, unpremeditated or it’s cheating. However, in reality, it has a much more organic relationship with composition.

    Ok so I’ll repost this interview with Steve Swallow



    (this is obviously quite funny as Miles famously fired George Coleman for practicing his solos.)

    there have been true, spontaneous improvisers in the history. Sonny Rollins would be a good example. He was celebrated for being inconsistent...

    however, I feel the idea of pure adventurous improvisation in the moment has become an article of faith that’s messing up jazz and jazz education, and that actually disparages players like Miles Davis, Joe Henderson, Louis Armstrong and Oscar Peterson who refined their solo statements in a much more compositional way. Even Chick Corea advises writing the first chorus of your solo...

    So. It’s obviously not black and white... for instance, having a battle plan does not mean you have to stick with it, but having a plan and then improvising around it or ignoring it is not the same process as not having a plan at all.

    Or what about lick oriented players who combine and recombine modules of composed stuff?

    Or (and I think this is the most common approach) the ideal performance might crystallise after a run of shows with small tweaks and improvised variations with responses from the audience and band mates being a vital part of the compositional process.

    that last idea is kind of cool - the audience (yes remember them?) becomes part of the creative process. I really like that.

    And I wonder if the jazz educators who cite the story of Miles firing George Coleman are missing the point a little ... maybe it’s more that GC was developing his solo in his hotel room, rather than allowing the audience their role in its development. OTOH maybe he was just being Miles.

    its a strikingly different perspective to the one I grew up with as a musician, people are still super sniffy about players who do the same show every night - how dare they be in cheap show business! - rather than seeing it as a legitimate approach used by many of the exalted Greats we like to blather about in these forums.

    but I would break with Bill Evans in saying the ‘what’ is really rather important to the listener, and to much meditation on the ‘how’ produces, in the hands of artists lesser than Evans, introspective, disengaged and probably quite bad music.

    It’s OK to aim to play good music. No one gives a shit about your creative process. There’s no such thing as cheating. Play your best chorus. I won’t ask how.

  13. #12

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    If you're not making some mistakes when you solo, you're playing it too safe. Of course, you turn those "mistakes" into something interesting. Nobody knows but you.

  14. #13

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    I like this idea that even the greats composed, outlined, or sketched some of their solos very appealing, as it makes my methodology (eighth note by eighth note on a piece of manuscript paper) seem like it's at least in the same country, albeit I'm many thousands of miles away from the ballpark.

  15. #14

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    I honestly think educators get massively hung on the jazz = improvisation thing because of the history. Back when jazz was being established in the conservatoires, the only other game in town was classical music, and obviously you have fierce division of labour, so to speak, in that tradition. The composer/instrumentalist was a thing of the past, let alone the composer/improviser/instrumentalist.

    So improvisation seemed like a defining feature of jazz in that social context. So improvisation become the absolute focus, and a Big Deal. (It's also a big reason why people get into jazz - I know it was the spark for me. So people get attached to this idea.)

    However, these days, a music student can reasonably expect to come in to contact with many traditions - rock, blues, country, various Latin American traditions, Indian classical traditions, Middle Eastern music, Gamelan ensembles, Free or non idiomatic improvisation - you name it. In all of these traditions, improvisation and various forms of non scored musical activity is basically the rule rather than the exception.

    When I started playing guitar, I was playing rock. I'd improvise ideas in band rehearsals and stick to the ones that I thought sounded good and then that would become part of the song... It was no big deal. No one had to teach me how to improvise, but I didn't place the expectation on myself that everything I came out had to both sound good and be spontaneous. I think this is normal for most rock guitar players?

    We might call it the 'writing process' as normal in popular music now, as opposed to the idea of one person originating all the parts (which can also happen.)

    Over time, I've got better at being spontaneous. So I'd guess that left to mature, this process becomes natural and doesn't in fact need to be taught at all - except in that a teacher can offer strategies and ideas to help students break out of creative ruts. It also doesn't mean that 'spontaneous' always produces the best music... the difference between a jam session or pick up gig and a working band? And even in the former, the leader will have their tunes, their show to some extent.

    In fact, spontaneous music creation is very much something I am interested in, in all my groups, despite what I've said.

    In my mind there is no contradiction - we just shouldn't be placing all this pressure on student players to be spontaneous right away. Permitting yourself to make mistakes is the luxury of the accomplished, able improviser at risk of sounding a little too smooth...

    And many students - such as classically trained players - can tell when it sounds bad, and it's OK for them to prioritise playing something that sounds good over something spontaneous. Of course adventurous souls will happily take your paint box and go for it right away; and they need more attention to detail... Anyway...

  16. #15

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    On one hand I am with Christian... on the other...

    I always said that in talking jazz people use the term improvization from point of view of the player - even listners.
    They ask (often themselves): Is it (should it be) really improvized? And there for what is 'improvized' and what not? To which extent it can be considered improvized etc.
    The problem of this approach is that it leads to the notion and - most important - to the intention of every particular performer. In a word we either try to guess what he means under improvization or what he intended to do in playing.
    Both are in my opinion meaningless.
    Because it actually does not matter at all what he/she thinks or intends.

    Much more importan is what SOUNDS as improvization within PARTUCULAR STYLE OFMUSIC (or musical language).

    To illustrate it I will take classical music. Classical music has strong written tradition and though in different period improvization was also an important skill - the written piece of music has long been the most authoritive compositional document. (I know that all the great composers were improvizers. I know that Mozart came to teh opera rehearsals eoth the sketches and drafts but Mozart's orchestrations are one of the most exquisite and elaborated ones in the history of European music.. whatever they did they still had the idea and realized the importance of 'opus perfectuls' - work completed and perfected)
    the written tradition implies some kind of ''perfection'' - the piece should look finished, worked out, thought through, reviewed, completed - to certain degree of course (it should not become academically dead form).

    What hapens if it does not seem that polished... the classical tradition refers to it as 'having improvizational spirit or character'.
    There were even lefitimate forms that were expected to have that spirit like Toccatas, Fantasias, Preludes , Exprompts etc. in different epochs they could have been a bit dfferent.. what was important that it was part of aesthetics to keep improvization spirit in the written piece of music.
    And the more important thing is that it had special meaning in the language... often composers used it without formal indication in teh bigger forms like symphonies to express some meaning with improvizational character (freedom, independence, unpredicatability, passion - it all depends much on context... but genre is powerful tool of expressing meaning in classical tradition).

    How can one hear this improvizational character? For example, will the unprepared listner understand that Schuberts Impromptu's (expromtps) have very strong improvizational feel? Those who classical music well will hear it even without knowing the title but I am not sure that the unprepared listner will....
    On the other hand some baroque preludes or toccatas have such strong feel of spontaneousness that even non-prepared listner can feel it...

    In both cases the cultural reference is important... the listner should understand the language.. in case of toccata it could much more general understanding, in case of Schubert much more specific and cultivater.
    But in any case it is needed.

    Back to jazz.. on one hand the mechanism of semantics is the same... one should know the language well to hear that something sounds improvized.
    On the other hand --- in jazz everything is supposed to be improvized.
    this is where the questions about player's intentions come from... in jazz there is no clear reference to 'opus perfectus' like in classical music.
    Yes there are arrangements, styles, charts etc. but still aesthetically there is not such notion as in classical music.

    What actully sounds improvized to the listner in jazz? It is hard to say becasue jazz is much more a PERFORMER'S MUSIC. Mostly only musicians who can play the style can get if the player really take chances and go beyond his limits or not.

    One extremely important point is that when jazz came to life and was in its prime... it was living musical enviroment... THIS IS THE MOST IMPORTANT CONSTITION FOR NATURAL IMPROVIZATIONAL PERFORMANCE.
    And it is teh same thing with classical music... they all improvized mostly in contemporary styles.


    Why I agree with Christian ... today if a player wants to improvize in jazz style he should first learn the language of jazz... which is today already a bit artificial process (though jazz is still more or less living tradition - earlier styles are already historical).

    On the other hand no-one forbids to start to play improvizations straight way - there is only a big possibility that then the one would play not in jazz style..

    I myself would raise the question of 'to improvize or not' at all...

    Because: yes - if you play jazz you MUST impsovize... but what is the improvization?

    After all... when I play classical music I play differently every time.... INTERPRETATION already has strong IMPROVIZATIONAL spirit.

    My opinion is not to realte the idea of improvization should be there all the time but it should not be striclty connected with particular practical notions (this is improvizaed and this is not). Everything is improvized.

    Improvization is after all a spontaneous expreinece: risk, reaction, challenge, joy, fear because you discover new meanings right on the spot... but note that you dicover NEW MEANINGS, you tell A NEW STORY, you pick up A PLOT and DEVELOPE IT in an UNPREDICTABLE and CPATIVATING WAY FOR YOUSELF

    But it DOES NOT MEAN YOU USE OR INVENT NEW WORDS OR GRAMMAR... your tools are tools...
    learn to IMPROVIZE THE CONTENTS



    sorry for capitals

  17. #16

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    Any philosophical position taken very inflexibly is unhelpful. I feel there is an extreme philosophical position that’s implicit in and to be questioned in much pedagogy, not that i feel a more composed approach is always the way forward for everyone.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-07-2020 at 08:13 AM.

  18. #17

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    lots to decipher here , lots of angles

    as far as perfection , i leave little mistakes in recordings now, that i might have tried to cover before, because the computor age can clean anything so these little errors are the truly human part for me , but not train wrecks haha

    i look to ketu candomble concepts to tell me all i need to know about what i want out of jazz, i do say that is what i want out of jazz, not someone else.

    the history of jazz is afro diasporic foundation , using harmonies of European classical musics and various ethnic influences that would be absorbed on top of this afro diasporic foundation.

    now, the way i see it, jazz can either lean more to the pure concepts of the afro diaspora, or it leans more towards and takes on more aspects of the European traditon , like anything with charts is using european tradition, chord changes and the tuning is european but blues uses very african inflections but its got to be in european tuning and harmonic paramaters.

    certain kinds of kicks and arranging is european influenced but the whole miles / trane modal thing while they still used aaba and 12 bar blues , is leaning more to afro diasporic foundation

    intellectualising jazz is more european or india -mideast linear odd times .

    turning off the thinking brain with the groove in tact is afro diasporic, free music concepts started in europe , take the groove away and you are in european modern concepts but crunched through the blues if its avant guarde jazz, but avant free jazz abandoned the groove.

    but the bebop cats were building their whole thing around what had went down before, song styles and forms they all knew so they wrote more sophisticated things on top but they all were extra familiar with how to negociete the forms. they were thinking less about that and more about the new harmonies they were exploring. but that comfort zone of not thinking so much and feeling is very important to jazz

    improvisation ? maybe only a certain kind of free jazz just sais its ok to play anything.
    in ketu candomble, the soloist , called rum, is actualy playing set phrases , but dropped where it wants or with the dancers .

    that is where i part from ketu in the solo, in other african styles the solo is not based on set phrases , but more free expressed but of course based on phrases built up over a period of time , a diolougue like what christian sais , something a person can call to the front to fit the groove , but anyway and anywhere they want to.of course there are unison phrases, and certain kinds of kicks, as a matter of fact africa is a huge continent and has huge amounts of differant styles so im reffering to a certain kind of style , most found in west africa

    in classical music you play what is written. yes , interpretation is gigantic , and can change night to night. but you cant take a peice of the music and drop it where you want to or skip over it and that makes it linear , jazz is polyrhythmic not linear in its history , but that has changed , i just like pollyrhythmic more

    then you have to take in consideration is it your kind of jazz you get to play or are you working for a leader who will tell you what to play ? the very best jazz leaders i played for , wanted freedom and didnt spend a lot of time telling you what to play unless it was essential. a lot of other leaders spend a lot of time telling you what to play or have complicated arrangements that require a lot of thinking

    i used to do a lot of sideman work , but now im a micro lable and i only do gigs i book so i play what i want, but, working for other people is not always my concepts. my concepts have the 10 songs for the set , stripped down with no kicks and no over arrangements , basicly what is the groove and the key in the A and key in the B , so there is as little as posable to disturb the waters of subconcoius and can let the intuition come to the front. that is only how i do it and anyone else can do it the way they think is best for them and their vision

  19. #18

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    I think it's a point I didn't cover, which is the role that rhythm, both static and repetitive (as in spangalang ride cymbal, rhythm guitar, walking bass in 1/4s, backing riff figures), and more improvised and conversational (such as Second Line drumming, or soloing) plays in jazz...

    Learning to improvise in convincing and 'authentic' rhythmic phrases is probably the single biggest neglected aspect of improvisation within jazz education (at least from my experience) and yet, despite the omnipresent commentary of the 'rhythm is totally intuitive don't break it down maaaaan' brigade, there is a lot that can be said and unpacked about it, as bons has shown... Or Mike Longo, or Hal Galper and so on... This requires at first an assimilation of traditional rhythmic material before we can start to think about variation (improvisation) of those materials... just as you would find in a drum ensemble...

    And you can improvise pretty freely with pitch choices if your rhythmic foundations are solid... Jordan has made this point explicitly. But simple things - do you play a chord tone on the beat or an upbeat? Don't often hear people talking about it that way... They worry about intuition and pure improvisation. That's a blind alley in my view. Intuition needs to be honed, needs to be in a two way dialogue with cognition. Improvisation needs composition to inform it, and vice versa. Barry Harris's approach is super compositional in the short term, but produces incredibly fluent bop improvisers...

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I think it's a point I didn't cover, which is the role that rhythm, both static and repetitive (as in spangalang ride cymbal, rhythm guitar, walking bass in 1/4s, backing riff figures), and more improvised and conversational (such as Second Line drumming, or soloing) plays in jazz...

    Learning to improvise in convincing and 'authentic' rhythmic phrases is probably the single biggest neglected aspect of improvisation within jazz education (at least from my experience) and yet, despite the omnipresent commentary of the 'rhythm is totally intuitive don't break it down maaaaan' brigade, there is a lot that can be said and unpacked about it, as bons has shown... Or Mike Longo, or Hal Galper and so on... This requires at first an assimilation of traditional rhythmic material before we can start to think about variation (improvisation) of those materials... just as you would find in a drum ensemble...

    And you can improvise pretty freely with pitch choices if your rhythmic foundations are solid... Jordan has made this point explicitly. But simple things - do you play a chord tone on the beat or an upbeat? Don't often hear people talking about it that way... They worry about intuition and pure improvisation. That's a blind alley in my view. Intuition needs to be honed, needs to be in a two way dialogue with cognition. Improvisation needs composition to inform it, and vice versa. Barry Harris's approach is super compositional in the short term, but produces incredibly fluent bop improvisers...

    That's true. And I especially agree about the jazz education.

    But all that sounds a bit like the jazz is already a historical style.

  21. #20

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    I just don't think it's that complicated.

    You hear stories about guys back in the day in big bands being told to play the same solo as on the record.

    It was popular music. People wanted to hear what they knew.

    Then, really not at that different of a time you hear those Charlie Christian jam session things, where he takes like 20 choruses on Topsy. Clearly, he didn't plan that out.

    Its clam and cod chowder (Moby Dick fans) I'll have a little of both.

    Re: rhythm, I'm one of those guys who probably gets under Christian's skin, but it's not "you gotta feel it maaaaan" for me, its "you gotta fucking listen to it." I don't care how many books you own or seminars you go to, you flat out cannot play jazz if you don't listen to jazz.

    It sounds ridiculous, but I can't tell you how many people I've met who are trying to play jazz who don't even really like it!

  22. #21

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    So many words for a practical subject...

    Actually, anyone who doesn't figure out some sort of basis for their improvs is a fool. Imagine launching into Naima unprepared!

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont

    It sounds ridiculous, but I can't tell you how many people I've met who are trying to play jazz who don't even really like it!
    Oh, not ridiculous at all.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    That's true. And I especially agree about the jazz education.

    But all that sounds a bit like the jazz is already a historical style.
    Ah - but the interesting thing is that the rhythmic side of it still totally current.... because those rhythms pervade everything.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I just don't think it's that complicated.

    You hear stories about guys back in the day in big bands being told to play the same solo as on the record.

    It was popular music. People wanted to hear what they knew.

    Then, really not at that different of a time you hear those Charlie Christian jam session things, where he takes like 20 choruses on Topsy. Clearly, he didn't plan that out.
    Well yeah, think of Wes’s apprenticeship. and he got a pro gig doing that.

    CC has about four or five devices that he uses 90% of the time right? He’s not worrying about being a free jazz improviser or what ever BS - he’s applying what he knows to devastating musical effect. And he’s the master of the riff A section, developing repeated rhythmic material with simple note choices - as Topsy is the perfect example.

    Anyway it goes back to the rock thing. I think jazz has got a bit precious about it all...

    Its clam and cod chowder (Moby Dick fans) I'll have a little of both.

    Re: rhythm, I'm one of those guys who probably gets under Christian's skin, but it's not "you gotta feel it maaaaan" for me, its "you gotta fucking listen to it." I don't care how many books you own or seminars you go to, you flat out cannot play jazz if you don't listen to jazz.
    well yeah! It’s not either/or....

    And no you are not. there are people who come out with this stuff who do not groove or play any interesting or compelling rhythm and it’s frustrating because their playing could be so much better if they directed their attention to the rhythms.

    You don’t need to be a nerd about it, just be interested in rhythms and grooves and getting them right, that’ll be a strong start! Approach soloing with a rhythm player’s mindset.... Don’t just assume you’ll get it by osmosis cos it’s not that passive...

    because you need to be attuned to it to hear it when you listen to the music.

    You know I used to not get hiphop, right? Just couldn’t understand why people like it.

    It sounds ridiculous, but I can't tell you how many people I've met who are trying to play jazz who don't even really like it!
    Tell me about it!

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    So many words for a practical subject...

    Actually, anyone who doesn't figure out some sort of basis for their improvs is a fool. Imagine launching into Naima unprepared!
    OK how about this for a TL;DR

    Its OK to work shit out.