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  1. #1

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    Nice little summary of the 'key centric' horizontal approach used by Lester Young, Miles and many others

    Lester Young Plays “Lester Leaps In” | Adam Roberts Music

    I'd like to add that bop playing is not 'following the changes' necessarily but adding foreground harmony into this generalised approach...

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  3. #2

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    Can you expand on adding foreground harmony vs playing the changes?

    One of the challenges in my changes playing is to be able to create more flowing lines rather than sounding too much like I'm playing the changes. I feel like I just need to shred more playing changes with as many different approaches as I can come up with until I can hear lines more abstractly over the chords.

    When I check out the lines of the masters, I'm under the impression that they are doing just that. They can hear lines over a chord so many different ways and can create variations so easily that playing the harmony isn't limiting their melodic freedom. Is adding foreground harmony a different way of viewing this?
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-02-2020 at 09:18 AM.

  4. #3

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    It's a fine line innit? People who overdo it can come off sounding lame, kinda like a rock guy "skating" over the changes...

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Can you expand on adding foreground harmony vs playing the changes?

    One of the challenges in my changes playing is to be able to create more flowing lines rather than sounding too much like I'm playing the changes. I feel like I just need to shred more playing changes with as many different approaches as I can come up with until I can hear lines more abstractly over the chords.

    When I check out the lines of masters, I'm under the impression that they are doing just that. They can hear lines over a chord so many different ways and can create variation so easily that playing the harmony isn't limiting their melodic freedom. Is adding foreground harmony a different way of viewing this?
    Or his solo on Lady Be Good. For instance, he plays in the second bar, B over what would normally be a C7 chord. He doesn't seem to care, so he's obviously to interested in playing the changes per se. 'Never tell me the changes' he used to say - but he also introduces movement like the E-Eb-D line cliche and so on. Foreground motion. A vertical thinker would say Am7 D7b9 G - but that would be misinterpreting what's going on.

    So take Moose the Mooch for instance. Quite Lester-ish in its use of the blue notes... Also plays the V into I here... In the second A he arpeggiates Cm7 Cm7b5 (or Eb6 Ebm6) - A IV-IVm-I type cadence which creates a sense of movement, very similar to Lester but more arpeggio-y..

    Parker would often play diatonic/blues in rhythm changes like Lester and land on the b6 to create movement and suspense. Again and again. Obviously a trick he learned and made his own. Anthropology is another example.

    And once you can outline turnarounds and cadences, you can play one against the other. Play IIIm-bIIIm-II-V on I VI II V, that sort of stuff. Or just play on the V chord, whatever...

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    It's a fine line innit? People who overdo it can come off sounding lame, kinda like a rock guy "skating" over the changes...
    So you might have to do a bit more changes playing here, so play the D7, G7, C7 and F7 in the bridge, and that's a little unusual for rock players, but Jimi could have done that.

    We don't call Gilmour a jazz guitarist for consistently nailing chord tones in his solos, do we? Paul Gilbert can play friggin changes and he doesn't sound like a jazz guitarist.

    It's called being a musician, I think?

    It's more that there's a lot of bad rock players who think the minor pentatonic is the solution to everything and can't use their ears.
    You know if you looked at Lester's phrases from Lady be Good some of them look very similar to the kinds of things Clapton might play.

    Remember Lester --> Charlie Christian --> BB King & Chuck Berry --> Clapton, Page etc --> EVH etc

    The difference is articulation, ornamentation, swing, phrasing. (Maybe not even that much in Clapton case, I hear a lot of sax in his playing, but few rock players play like that really.)

    People think the difference is harmony, because that is what they are conditioned to think.

    If you sound like a rock player it's because of the way you play, not what you play. See Grant Green for details.

  7. #6

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    As pp said, overdone it can sound repetitive. It may be fine over fast swing numbers like that but I doubt it would wash with many other tunes. It's a fairly outdated style anyway. Here's music and notes together:



    Probably we all know we shouldn't play 'one chord at a time', and not only because it's impractical. But one can't just ignore the changes either.

    With some tunes, especially modal ones like Naima or Iris, you really do have to play one chord at a time (pretty well more or less), because they're so disconnected, and yet keep a coherent flow going as well. Also some bossa tunes are tricky too.

    But, with standards, it probably boils down to key centres most of the time. That would include spotting the subs (tritones, backdoors, sec doms, etc) because often it's easier to let the background do the work.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Nice little summary of the 'key centric' horizontal approach used by Lester Young, Miles and many others
    Thanks, Christian.
    I like that approach.
    All my favorite players kept a good bit of blues in their playing and played phrase-to-phrase rather than chord-to-chord---Charlie, Bird, Wes, Herb Ellis, the rock guys I still listen to...

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    As pp said, overdone it can sound repetitive. It may be fine over fast swing numbers like that but I doubt it would wash with many other tunes. It's a fairly outdated style anyway. Here's music and notes together:



    Probably we all know we shouldn't play 'one chord at a time', and not only because it's impractical. But one can't just ignore the changes either.

    With some tunes, especially modal ones like Naima or Iris, you really do have to play one chord at a time (pretty well more or less), because they're so disconnected, and yet keep a coherent flow going as well. Also some bossa tunes are tricky too.

    But, with standards, it probably boils down to key centres most of the time. That would include spotting the subs (tritones, backdoors, sec doms, etc) because often it's easier to let the background do the work.
    Lester Young never gets boring. Many jazz undergraduates who know all the scales do.

    So - why?

    Another name mentioned is Bill Frisell. Does he sound outdated?

    Holy shit, sometimes this forum drives me up the wall.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Lester Young never gets boring. Many jazz undergraduates who know all the scales do.
    But we're not talking about interesting/boring, it's a question of technique over changes. Of course Lester Young sounds better than today's jazz students, that's why he's Lester Young. Different generation apart from anything else.

    And what's scales got to do with it? If the u/grads are playing 'scales' they ought to know better anyway :-)

  11. #10

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    Talking about key centres and subs, I just did this. It's the end of the B section on a familiar standard. I played over the original as near to the chords as I could, then subbed it as under.

    FM7 - Cm7/F7 - BbM7 - Bbm6
    Am7/Ab7 - Gm7/C7b9 - F6/Eb7 - F6

    FM7 - Ebm7/Ab7 - BbM7 - Abm7/Db7
    CM7/D7#9 - Gm7/F#7b5 - FM7/F#M7 - F6

    (Ab7 is BbM7 backdoor), (Bbm6 = Db9 = Abm7/Db7), (Am7=CM7, chromatic from Db7), (D7 is tritone of Ab7), (F#7b5 is tritone of C7)

    Point is that, were the original the second version, it would be quite hard to know what to do, the solo might be all over the place. But if it were interpreted as the first one, which is a very usual progression, it's not a problem. It's sort of reverse-engineering.

    Also, no 'scales' involved. It could technically all be played with F major, and it works, but... yuk.


  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    ... Bbm6 = Db9 ...
    I get Bbm6 = Eb7 or A7alt, but not Db9. Explain please.

  13. #12

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    Chord/scale theory has it's place, hitting chord tones with each chord change, but it's difficult to solo smoothly when doing that. For example, when encountering a diminished chord it isn't necessary play something within that diminished scale. Just keeping the melody in one's head while soloing rather than all the chord changes allows more freedom.

    If it's a new song to my ears, following the chord changes is usually what I have to do until I get the melody in my head. It also depends on how complex the chord changes are of course.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by bobby d
    Chord/scale theory has it's place, hitting chord tones with each chord change, but it's difficult to solo smoothly when doing that. For example, when encountering a diminished chord it isn't necessary play something within that diminished scale. Just keeping the melody in one's head while soloing rather than all the chord changes allows more freedom.
    Indeed. For example, the diminished scale is a very powerful, pungent sound that might be what you want - or it might not be.

    If it's a new song to my ears, following the chord changes is usually what I have to do until I get the melody in my head. It also depends on how complex the chord changes are of course.
    OK, so reading what others have written on the subject of chord scale theory in the scholarship has helped me formulate what makes me uneasy about it.

    1) Once upon a time chord scales were a resource, a tool in the bag for musicians with gigging experience, ears and vocabulary looking for new things to write and play.

    2) But CST was very systematic and self contained. It became very useful as a type of music educational technology, if you like.

    Its concern with things that can be easily quantified - pitch sets over chord symbols - made it useful to those looking to assess student qualitatively, those writing syllabuses, and in Jamie Aebersold's case as a product that could be packaged and sold (with the new tehchnology of the play along tape or CD._ Jazz education is big business, and big business likes stuff it can sell.

    3) Thus it became a teaching method and now people look to it for rules on what to play. They no longer trust their ears. The internet has increased this - everyone looks for jazz info they are going to run into CST.

    4) Seemingly all jazz educators realise this and deal with it in various ways. Even Jamie Aebersold.

    5) Younger people increasingly see jazz as musical technology - scales, chords and clever rhythms. Even someone like Adam Neely kind of falls into this trap a bit.

    6) All Blues for instance, sounds bad using the standard chord scale choices. Or at least it sounds wrong to use altered on D7#9 and Eb7#9 to me.

    Actually a lot of the standard choices actually sound quite bad sometimes, even on modal tunes where you think they'd sound good. So you always have to use your ears.

  15. #14

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    One of the things I do to practice thinking horizontally while playing the changes is, I pick an octave in the instrument, say from A to A. I play the tune while staying within that octave but changing the qualities of the notes to accommodate the current chord. For example the note D over EbMaj7, becomes D# over B7 and Db over Gmin7b5 etc.

    Variations on this practice is to keep the range even smaller than an octave or to pick, say, 5 letters inside an octave (for example A, C, D, E, G) and play while changing qualities of these notes to accommodate the chords (chord-scales to be precise).

    Of course this is still vertical thinking, But it helps with finding continuous melodic ideas while observing the changes (and practicing pivoting ).
    Last edited by Tal_175; 06-02-2020 at 01:07 PM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Nice little summary of the 'key centric' horizontal approach used by Lester Young, Miles and many others

    Lester Young Plays “Lester Leaps In” | Adam Roberts Music

    I'd like to add that bop playing is not 'following the changes' necessarily but adding foreground harmony into this generalised approach...
    I think it is very natural approach. Isnt it?

    Most people who would hum something over familiar tune would follow the form how the hear it: cadences, general resolutions, key changes and space... it is very natural.

    Musical searches are not necessarly very natural -- I can dig and understand the idea of focusing on the moment and very particlur sound/chord...

    even more I notice that eventually: I mostly focus on momentary feeling (just what's going right now) but it truly compliments the genral form (the whole picture)....
    Maybe it should be like that? What can we do better more honest in music than react to the momnet? But probably experience guides us and helps to guess the bid thing in the moment correctly? To risk and survive?
    I do not know

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    I get Bbm6 = Eb7 or A7alt, but not Db9. Explain please.
    Can't explain it, it's WRONG :-)

    I was thinking of Bbm7b5. So now the question is why did Db7 work? Possibly because it ended up on a G which is b5 of Db7. Had it been more outside than that I expect I'd have spotted it. And if it had been A7alt I'd have had to change back the CM7 to Am7 because CM7 doesn't work there.

    But thanks, these things happen.

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    I think it is very natural approach. Isnt it?

    Most people who would hum something over familiar tune would follow the form how the hear it: cadences, general resolutions, key changes and space... it is very natural.

    Musical searches are not necessarly very natural -- I can dig and understand the idea of focusing on the moment and very particlur sound/chord...

    even more I notice that eventually: I mostly focus on momentary feeling (just what's going right now) but it truly compliments the genral form (the whole picture)....
    Maybe it should be like that? What can we do better more honest in music than react to the momnet? But probably experience guides us and helps to guess the bid thing in the moment correctly? To risk and survive?
    I do not know
    Yeah. I think so.

    When people start talking about tunes like Naima etc...it's more complicated obviously. But, OTOH, the melody exists as a guide, and that's a very useful base when striking out for new ground. Wayne shows us that as much as Lester, not that people are interested in this it seems - there's a lot to learn from the history of jazz.

    Even when using CST - CST is like a box of paints. You won't be painter unless you have some sense of composition. The melody is - extremely useful - for this.

  19. #18

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    But back to horizontal playing...

    I think it's a nice idea. At least as a concept. It would be brilliant if everything one played over one chord simply transitioned beautifully into the next. And even more brilliant if the whole solo simply drifted 'as one' through the whole progression.

    That may be possible if one is very, very familiar with the tune, the changes, and what one is playing over them.

    I've seen instruction videos where 'vertical playing' is ridiculed, with the instructor deliberately playing one little phrase which 'suits that chord', then another one, and so on, making the whole solo jerky and disconnected.

    But no decent player would actually do that. It's generally a combination of vertical and horizontal together - if one chooses to analyse it like that at all. What they play over a chord does suit the chord but it also transitions into the next chord because they know where they're going.

    But 'suiting the chord' also sounds a bit like isolationist thinking. It ought to be 'suiting the sound of the moment'. That would be better because the harmonies may not exactly suit every chord but they're in accordance with the tune and, as such, work.

    That actually may well be what Christian is talking about, I don't know. And is possibly what players like Lester Young were doing - although some of his stuff can be pretty harmonically vague if one examines it closely.

  20. #19

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    When I scat sing, the results seem a lot more horizontal than vertical. Mostly, I try to play lines I can sing. But, to do that, I have to know the tune really well.

    When I have to play unfamiliar sequences of chords, I pay more attention to vertical issues, not to create art, but to avoid clams.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    When I scat sing, the results seem a lot more horizontal than vertical. Mostly, I try to play lines I can sing. But, to do that, I have to know the tune really well.

    When I have to play unfamiliar sequences of chords, I pay more attention to vertical issues, not to create art, but to avoid clams.
    Most people would scat song horizontal lines because that’s the way people generally hear melodies.

    Also, people do not play their best sight reading chord symbols of course. I think that’s ok. A pro player has enough canned vocab that they can make that sound good right away.

    OTOH experience obviously exposes you to repeated situations.

    I’m with Peter Bernstein when he objects to thoughtless ‘throwing notes on chords’ - you develop that skill ig you are a gigging player because it gets you out of trouble (and also it’s what is generally taught) and it’s a basic level of competence, but if that’s all you do... everything sounds the same

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    But back to horizontal playing...

    I think it's a nice idea. At least as a concept. It would be brilliant if everything one played over one chord simply transitioned beautifully into the next. And even more brilliant if the whole solo simply drifted 'as one' through the whole progression.

    That may be possible if one is very, very familiar with the tune, the changes, and what one is playing over them.

    I've seen instruction videos where 'vertical playing' is ridiculed, with the instructor deliberately playing one little phrase which 'suits that chord', then another one, and so on, making the whole solo jerky and disconnected.

    But no decent player would actually do that. It's generally a combination of vertical and horizontal together - if one chooses to analyse it like that at all. What they play over a chord does suit the chord but it also transitions into the next chord because they know where they're going.

    But 'suiting the chord' also sounds a bit like isolationist thinking. It ought to be 'suiting the sound of the moment'. That would be better because the harmonies may not exactly suit every chord but they're in accordance with the tune and, as such, work.

    That actually may well be what Christian is talking about, I don't know. And is possibly what players like Lester Young were doing - although some of his stuff can be pretty harmonically vague if one examines it closely.
    ”never tell me the changes” - Lester Young

    - Bop is about playing changes, not playing the changes.

    - we play changes, not chords. Change is dynamic, chords are static.

    Coleman Hawkins - ’there are no chords, only movement’

    - Modern jazz theory is about playing changes that relate to the changes, or more often - chords that relate to chords. which is why everyone thinks jazz is maths.

    - Dynamism within the key centre (the energy of the 4th or 7th for instance) from which functional harmony derived is sidelined in favour of static scalar relationships over isolated harmonies.

    -Whats really interesting to me is those situations when ‘correctly’ playing the changes actually sounds bad.

  23. #22

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    Just my fifty cents here. What Rpjazzguitar says and the others too... this is such a wonderful topic

    If you listen to the great players, like George Benson, Hancock, Rollins, they move from point A to point B in unexpected ways. I once saw a Kenny Werner video where he used a piece of rope as a metaphor.

    The first chord is Cmaj and on the 4th bar there is a Bb7, for instance. You could follow the chords, the rope is straight. Or you could go in all kinds of directions working towards that Bb7 (using turnarounds, cycle of 5ths, Coltrane changes, chromatic downward 2-5’s). The rope is all curly, but still lands on the Bb7.

    much as I believe the metaphor is right and this discussion is really nailing it, I find myself in the Rpjazzguitar situation. On modal tunes I can walk out of the harmony and come back at it (bending the rope) but on standards and modern jazz tunes, I follow chords to avoid sounding bad. Rp nails it: only if you can really sing it, you will be able to play it. If anyone followed Matt Otto in the past, he stresses singing too. And that cat goes far...

    I recently saw Solar on the y-tube with Hancock and Metheny, Dejohnette and Holland: these guys... I can’t hear the changes. It’s really exciting, but they just take some chords out of the bag and work away from and towards them. It’s really exciting.

    There is one tune where I can do this, and want to share it.
    Dolphin Dance. In the last four bars almost every musician struggles and there has been a lot of debate over which chords go where, even suggesting harmonic major harmony being used by Herbie. I invariably play Abdiminished or G13b9 for the whole four bars and it sounds great. If you play it with confidence and insert some diminished licks, great stuff. Your fellow musicians will look at you as if they suddenly saw The Light. if it don’t work, either you’re doing it wrong or I ‘ll give you your money back. Guarantee. (Works with Ab/G, Gphrygian, too, guaranteed)

    If you hear Hancock, the Master, he plays all kinds of stuff: diminished, wholetone, chromatic descending stuff on those four bars.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    I'd like to add that bop playing is not 'following the changes' necessarily but adding foreground harmony into this generalised approach...
    What makes you come to that conclusion after mentioning a swing player like Pres? Bebop tunes ended up being as much or more about the changes than the melody. That was the impetus for Miles to get past it. He saw it as a dead end. Faster tempos and more complex changes were turning it into a soulless technical exercise without much feeling, just like what happened to lots of shredding fusion music later in it's era.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    ”never tell me the changes” - Lester Young
    Not very clever, in my opinion! Say everybody said that?

    What's really interesting to me is those situations when ‘correctly’ playing the changes actually sounds bad.
    Ah, exactly. But what is 'correct'? CST? Joined-up chord tones? Key centres?

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo
    What makes you come to that conclusion after mentioning a swing player like Pres? Bebop tunes ended up being as much or more about the changes than the melody. That was the impetus for Miles to get past it. He saw it as a dead end. Faster tempos and more complex changes were turning it into a soulless technical exercise without much feeling, just like what happened to lots of shredding fusion music later in it's era.
    Lester young isn’t bop. Lester is generalised harmony. He decorated a little. Check his solos.

    Bebop is about changes, not the changes. The basic technique of bop is generalised harmony with added movement. The movement isn’t necessarily the same or anything to do as the original chords or the comping for that matter.

    in this sense it’s actually more like playing on vamps.

    If you want to see the demonstration of the technique, Kind of Blue is actually not a bad place to go, because then we are not confused by context, which might lead us to make conceptual mistakes like thinking the written chords of rhythm changes are important. Obviously Cannonball plays changes. But there are no ‘the’ changes.

    Miles plays it different. Also I don’t think Miles could do bop very well. If anything he was too eighth notey. Couldn’t find the freedom in it .

    if course anyone who says Cannonball lacks soul ... do those people exist? Bop can be soulless - but so can modal jazz.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-03-2020 at 06:18 AM.

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Not very clever, in my opinion! Say everybody said that?
    Maybe we’d have musicians more willing to trust their ears and didn’t rely on real books and theories to tell them what notes to play.

    Ah, exactly. But what is 'correct'? CST? Joined-up chord tones? Key centres?
    As in playing on the chords and using the textbook scale choices.

  28. #27

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    That said Miles’s solo on Nows the Time is a fantastic example of generalised harmony/not playing the changes



    Very horizontal... sign of things to come?

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    in this sense it’s actually more like playing on vamps.
    THIS is why I liked the first Mickey Baker book (which, IIRC, came out in 1955). He talks about playing 'hot' guitar and rubbing 'against' the changes----it's vamp playing. Good vamp playing. Which is what I've always liked. I still like that. (It's why I still listen to good jump blues.)

    Here's Mickey with Coleman Hawkins. I like this sort of guitar playing.


  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    I think it is very natural approach. Isnt it?

    Most people who would hum something over familiar tune would follow the form how the hear it: cadences, general resolutions, key changes and space... it is very natural.
    For all his teaching about scales and chords, Jamie Aebersold encourages students to sing (hum) over play-along recordings. His idea is that people doing this rarely sing wrong notes. They're not thinking in terms of scales, either. They're just doing what sounds right to them (and that which they CAN do). If people do this, and then learn to play on their instruments what they naturally sing, they can make music. Over time they get better at it but that's really the germ----that's the music you (or I) have within us. (This is why Herb Ellis was such a fanatic about saying 'play what you sing'. Even if it's a pattern you learn from a book, sing it as you play it and it will come to sound less rote, more natural, more 'you'.)

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Maybe we’d have musicians more willing to trust their ears and didn’t rely on real books and theories to tell them what notes to play.
    Which is the obvious answer. But newbies and intermediates probably don't have those ears (yet, maybe). They need a practical kick-off, not just 'use your ears'. That's why so many players copy others.

    I think most of our discussions here are about 'How to do it'. But knowledge and technique only take us so far. After that it's in the heart. Without the heart it may as well be computerised.

    As in playing on the chords and using the textbook scale choices.
    Yes, I know, but that was never completely wrong. The clever stuff needs a bit more on top of that. First the 'rules' then bend 'em. And a lot of the talk here is about how to bend them effectively, not how to invent something completely different.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by Djang
    Just my fifty cents here. What Rpjazzguitar says and the others too... this is such a wonderful topic

    If you listen to the great players, like George Benson, Hancock, Rollins, they move from point A to point B in unexpected ways. I once saw a Kenny Werner video where he used a piece of rope as a metaphor.

    The first chord is Cmaj and on the 4th bar there is a Bb7, for instance. You could follow the chords, the rope is straight. Or you could go in all kinds of directions working towards that Bb7 (using turnarounds, cycle of 5ths, Coltrane changes, chromatic downward 2-5’s). The rope is all curly, but still lands on the Bb7.

    much as I believe the metaphor is right and this discussion is really nailing it, I find myself in the Rpjazzguitar situation. On modal tunes I can walk out of the harmony and come back at it (bending the rope) but on standards and modern jazz tunes, I follow chords to avoid sounding bad. Rp nails it: only if you can really sing it, you will be able to play it. If anyone followed Matt Otto in the past, he stresses singing too. And that cat goes far...

    I recently saw Solar on the y-tube with Hancock and Metheny, Dejohnette and Holland: these guys... I can’t hear the changes. It’s really exciting, but they just take some chords out of the bag and work away from and towards them. It’s really exciting.

    There is one tune where I can do this, and want to share it.
    Dolphin Dance. In the last four bars almost every musician struggles and there has been a lot of debate over which chords go where, even suggesting harmonic major harmony being used by Herbie. I invariably play Abdiminished or G13b9 for the whole four bars and it sounds great. If you play it with confidence and insert some diminished licks, great stuff. Your fellow musicians will look at you as if they suddenly saw The Light. if it don’t work, either you’re doing it wrong or I ‘ll give you your money back. Guarantee. (Works with Ab/G, Gphrygian, too, guaranteed)

    If you hear Hancock, the Master, he plays all kinds of stuff: diminished, wholetone, chromatic descending stuff on those four bars.
    So I figure the best way to answer these questions is to listen to what’s on the record and go from there. Anything I say here by the way is based on that.

    Players of that era really like diminished from the listening I’ve done. It’s a pretty handy all purpose sound tbh. It’s great on the 7#11 chord... I’ve known that you can do that out of a book for 20 years, but it really takes listening for it to be more than Dungeons and Dragons.

    So needless to say there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since Lester Young’s era. Most of those tunes could be more or less busked if you knew the melody and had a good ear (more so for a horn player obviously.)

    But with Wayne and so it’s still the case that tunes can often be played with much more of that Lester spirit then you might think if you are conditioned as most of us are to thinking of tunes as how they are laid out on a lead sheet.

    And I think it was you who pointed out how often modern players take a generalised view of the harmony and use some exotic scale to play over the more harmonically stable sections.

    hell, there are recordings of Prez using Phrygian sounds on rhythm changes in this way in the late 40s.

    Conrad Corks thesis is jazz has always been modal - he says ‘song as raga’ but a raga is not just a scale of course - it’s melodic turns and vocab too.

    TBH that’s what I mean when I say ‘don’t think melodic minor’; which is to say the harmonic CST analysis misses what’s going on outside its lens. Play lines, not random selections from pitch sets.

  33. #32

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    It’s also things like

    - using the melody as a guide through tough sections (even Brecker did this!)
    - don’t be afraid to compose solutions (Joe Henderson)
    - pick your battles with the changes, pick what chords are important to you (everyone?

    its all confused by the profound misunderstanding of bebop technique. Which is again - bop players play changes, not the changes.

    There’s actually evidence that Bird wasn’t that strong at playing ‘the’ changes. His repertoire of chord progressions certainly reflects that of Lester Young’s era, tunes that are reducible to simple chunks such as Rhythm, Honeysuckle, Lady be Good and of course Blues.

    Good jazz instructors know all of this. You will learn this street knowledge if you go to the right colleges (but not the wrong ones.)

    It’s just the drive to put products out there - these products give the illusion of a method, and that illusion has a life of its own.

  34. #33

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    The Miles Davis transcription video in #27 is 'unavailable'.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    The Miles Davis transcription video in #27 is 'unavailable'.
    you'll need to scroll down a bit.

    Red’s Bells | DO THE M@TH

    good article btw

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Which is the obvious answer. But newbies and intermediates probably don't have those ears (yet, maybe). They need a practical kick-off, not just 'use your ears'. That's why so many players copy others.
    That’s the best way.

    Dont aim to improvise, aim to play the music. Also learn melodies and learn how to play around the melody.

    BY EAR

    if you don’t kick that development off right away, when exactly?

    otherwise I teach students to do this who have been avoiding it for 20 years. Start simple. Let them know sucking is OK and it will get easier.

    Can you learn this riff? That kind of thing.

    I think most of our discussions here are about 'How to do it'. But knowledge and technique only take us so far. After that it's in the heart. Without the heart it may as well be computerised.



    Yes, I know, but that was never completely wrong. The clever stuff needs a bit more on top of that. First the 'rules' then bend 'em. And a lot of the talk here is about how to bend them effectively, not how to invent something completely different.
    the clever stuff was only ever meant to be a suggestion, resources you can use if you want .

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    For all his teaching about scales and chords, Jamie Aebersold encourages students to sing (hum) over play-along recordings. His idea is that people doing this rarely sing wrong notes. They're not thinking in terms of scales, either. They're just doing what sounds right to them (and that which they CAN do). If people do this, and then learn to play on their instruments what they naturally sing, they can make music. Over time they get better at it but that's really the germ----that's the music you (or I) have within us. (This is why Herb Ellis was such a fanatic about saying 'play what you sing'. Even if it's a pattern you learn from a book, sing it as you play it and it will come to sound less rote, more natural, more 'you'.)
    JA is a case in point. His teaching materials have an existence of their own.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    That’s the best way.
    Which?

    I've met so many people who have no idea. If you said 'Okay, improvise something' they go completely blank. They've absolutely no idea what to do. Eventually they sort of try going over where the chords are... you know the kind of thing.

    I don't think I ever said' Play the music'. I suspect that's the same as 'improvise something'. It would probably be interpreted as playing the tune.

    I think it's something one has to work out for oneself, basically. They've got to listen to records and figure out how to play something meaningful with it. Too many are hypnotised by the symbols. Very scary.

    I usually started by saying play the tune but add embellishments, fills, different resolutions, etc - i.e. expand on the tune till you're independent of it.

  39. #38

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    When playing horizontally (in functional music) one is still playing changes because melody notes have function. If you just sing a melody then you're very likely implying one of the common progressions (I vi ii V etc). That's because these progressions sound pleasing to us (the ones that come up again and again). The question is what actual progression are you imposing your implied changes over when playing horizontally. If there is a mismatch and it's unintentional it'll sound like scale noodling. But if one is familiar with the tune and aurally aware of the harmony, then they have a lot of freedom as the what melodic devices to employ and sound coherent over the changes. Targeting primary chord tones is just one device not the only one.

    The other extreme is if you just pedal on the tonic note over the entire changes. It won't sound like you are functionally clashing with the harmony. It'll sound like you're deliberately bringing out different colors of the chords. You can also do that not just with a single note but with phrases and motifs. I hear a lot of coloristic, motivic playing in Miles's playing.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    For all his teaching about scales and chords, Jamie Aebersold encourages students to sing (hum) over play-along recordings. His idea is that people doing this rarely sing wrong notes. They're not thinking in terms of scales, either. They're just doing what sounds right to them (and that which they CAN do). If people do this, and then learn to play on their instruments what they naturally sing, they can make music. Over time they get better at it but that's really the germ----that's the music you (or I) have within us. (This is why Herb Ellis was such a fanatic about saying 'play what you sing'. Even if it's a pattern you learn from a book, sing it as you play it and it will come to sound less rote, more natural, more 'you'.)
    Horowitz was asked what influenced him most.. he said that as a kid he loved listning to the opera mostly and how people sang... and just tried to repeat it.


    But as a direct practical guide (as you mention in you post) 'play what you can sing' - there can be some problem to... instrument often gives us more (or different) possibilities than our voices have... this kind of natural limitation with 'singing' is good to cultivate some kind of 'melodic musiculity', 'trust for your own sense and ear'... but eventually one should learn to sing with an instrument beyond own voice limitations - instrument becomes a voice, and expantion of it...

  41. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Which?

    I've met so many people who have no idea. If you said 'Okay, improvise something' they go completely blank. They've absolutely no idea what to do. Eventually they sort of try going over where the chords are... you know the kind of thing.

    I don't think I ever said' Play the music'. I suspect that's the same as 'improvise something'. It would probably be interpreted as playing the tune.
    Not sure if I parsed that right. So playing the tune as in playing the melody?

    OK, so we have the Duke Ellington Orchestra.
    - This music would be considered jazz - I presume we all agree
    - There are no charts on stage
    - The band play prearranged parts that swing, are soaked in mood, and atmosphere and are absolutely not improvised, unfolding in delicious harmonies and colours according to the Duke's design.
    - Johnny Hodges* plays a soaring solo that's a paraphrase of the song's melody

    Right? That's an example the music. It's not the only way to go about it, but it's not the same thing at all as 'improvise something'

    And that's the distinction we are not terribly good at making as educators it seems to me. Most school level jazz ensembles use written charts and demand the musicians make 'something up' using chord scales in the solos. It seems democratic and open, but I would argue that it isn't.

    Thing is you are asking the student to do not one but two unfamilalir things a lot of the time
    - play jazz with all the inflection and swing that requires
    - make up music on the spot

    It's the equivalent of asking someone to converse in Cantonese without learning any stock vocabulary or phrases, or having worked on spree, inflection and pronunciation.

    You need to at least prepare them with a couple of set things they can do in situations, and work on making them sound intelligible.

    In the Duke example much of the music is orally communicated and played by ear. That doesn't mean it's improvised, but when we don't have notation it's much more organic to go from strict parts into improvisation... A score basically creates a dichotomy between, for instance - playing a set part and playing a solo on written changes.

    Notation is a problem in this music. But I think with imagination it could be used better.

    I think it's something one has to work out for oneself, basically. They've got to listen to records and figure out how to play something meaningful with it. Too many are hypnotised by the symbols. Very scary.
    Yes - but you have to ease some people into it. If their first experience of jazz is that it is some nerdy branch of maths, that's going to attract certain people and repel others. So you get a music scene that's dominated by people who view music a certain way. I'd like more diversity in ways of approaching music.

    I usually started by saying play the tune but add embellishments, fills, different resolutions, etc - i.e. expand on the tune till you're independent of it.
    Right? So why don't people teach it that way?

    *Interesting thing about Hodges is I know classical sax players who have him down but they would not regard themselves as jazz players.

  42. #41

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    LINEAR...

    I think I do not like the term... becasue the time is not mentioned with it.
    when I first hear it I thought it described some kind of modal playing rather than on harmonic melodism... when you have to focus on liniear movement to build up something because there is not much of vertical harmony.. but Lester playing is not like that...

    The biggest differnce betwe Hawk and Prez that strikes immidiately is the difference in TIME feel...

    For Hawk time moves in circular cycle (and one circle maybe small, big - whatever - it can one within another and exand over the whole tune)... but still he has a sense of the form - famous Body and Soul shows it very well:
    - it seems he can play endlessly - the time almost stops because he weaves through every moment of a tune as if he forgets what he just played one moment before (no past no future - just now)
    - but still in the second half the intensity increases, he knows that he is getting to the end and we can hear it.
    (In classical it is very close to Schubertian time feeling)

    With Prez the time is linear, I can clearly hear immidiately that he is heading somewhere and for him it is important what was going on before and what will go on after (Beethoven time really).
    But at the same time if we take some moments of hos solos they can sound sometime quite in the moment

    I think in some very general sense
    - Hawk was an inspiration for modal harmony of the future
    - Prez was inspiration for modal melodism of the future

  43. #42

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    Charlie Parker represents a synthesis of Prez and Hawk to me. Hawk loved to play with boppers, of course...

  44. #43

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    Christian -

    And that's the distinction we are not terribly good at making as educators it seems to me. Most school level jazz ensembles use written charts and demand the musicians make 'something up' using chord scales in the solos. It seems democratic and open, but I would argue that it isn't.

    Thing is you are asking the student to do not one but two unfamiliar things a lot of the time
    - play jazz with all the inflection and swing that requires
    - make up music on the spot

    It's the equivalent of asking someone to converse in Cantonese without learning any stock vocabulary or phrases, or having worked on spree, inflection and pronunciation.

    You need to at least prepare them with a couple of set things they can do in situations, and work on making them sound intelligible.
    Quite, that's what I'm saying, you can't just go 'make something up'. They don't know how.

    So why don't people teach it that way?
    Search me. Perhaps because they don't care enough to be practically helpful.

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Christian -



    Quite, that's what I'm saying, you can't just go 'make something up'. They don't know how.



    Search me. Perhaps because they don't care enough to be practically helpful.
    They do care, they just don’t have another roadmap.

    in the case of school bands, teachers are often non specialists.

  46. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonah
    But as a direct practical guide (as you mention in you post) 'play what you can sing' - there can be some problem to... instrument often gives us more (or different) possibilities than our voices have... this kind of natural limitation with 'singing' is good to cultivate some kind of 'melodic musiculity', 'trust for your own sense and ear'... but eventually one should learn to sing with an instrument beyond own voice limitations - instrument becomes a voice, and expantion of it...
    Yes, there can be some problems. Herb would always say, 'sing what you play or play what you sing, whichever way you want to put it.' Our instrument can do things our voices cannot. But building that connection between ear and fingers is helped by adding the voice. (Even if it's just a hum---it will be rhythmic, it will have accents, it will be in time, and there will be a sense of where the end points are. The phrasing seems more natural.) Eventually one can do things one cannot sing, though many players continue to 'sing what they play' even though this wouldn't be thought of as singing in the professional sense.

    Oscar Peterson can be heard doing it on many of his records. Herb did it on his, though you can't always hear it because the mic would be facing his amp, not his face. ;o) He can be seen doing it in live footage. He said Wes did it too, and so did Joe Pass.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Charlie Parker represents a synthesis of Prez and Hawk to me. Hawk loved to play with boppers, of course...
    I remember Trane said that everyone was about Prez and he was more into Hawk and that he did not pick up his solos or licks but he just listned a lot, he said that he listned that Body and Soul record many times... and when Trane says 'listen' I can imagine it was very intensive and structural listening

    If you speed up Body and Soul a bit it sounds much like mature Trane solos

  48. #47

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    They do care, they just don’t have another roadmap.
    But they're not stupid. If we can think of ways and means, so can they.

    in the case of school bands, teachers are often non specialists.
    Same answer. It's a good job the teachers of academic subjects are so-called specialists!

    Sorry if I'm dismissive but it all sounds a bit lame and excusatory. Not from you, naturally.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by MarkRhodes
    Yes, there can be some problems. Herb would always say, 'sing what you play or play what you sing, whichever way you want to put it.' Our instrument can do things our voices cannot. But building that connection between ear and fingers is helped by adding the voice. (Even if it's just a hum---it will be rhythmic, it will have accents, it will be in time, and there will be a sense of where the end points are. The phrasing seems more natural.) Eventually one can do things one cannot sing, though many players continue to 'sing what they play' even though this wouldn't be thought of as singing in the professional sense.

    Oscar Peterson can be heard doing it on many of his records. Herb did it on his, though you can't always hear it because the mic would be facing his amp, not his face. ;o) He can be seen doing it in live footage. He said Wes did it too, and so did Joe Pass.
    I don't know of an example of Joe Pass doing this. He did talk about singing, but I don't recall seeing or hearing any example. Can you point me?

  50. #49

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    There was a chord, then we realized there were chord tones, wait there are also extensions. My point... that is an analogy for what most think of CST. They don't get past the first few levels of understandings of examples... they don't understand the Concept. Who cares... maybe try and think of CST as just suggestions for helping to organize what you hear.

    A musical system for helping you have an..... organized method of coordinating musical elements into Harmonious efficient relationships with References. There are many choices of any situation and context.

    When you eventually get your sound... you don't need the help. (but you can still be aware of others)

    The other point which has been brought up before.... Changes just like Melodies can have different musical understandings which create different results.

    Like I've said for years.... you have Tonal Targets.... which shape and control what and how you play.

    Any melody usually has a few different possible harmonic or tonal possibilities for analysis or Improv. Just like Chords also have possibilities for analysis.

    A simple chord progression...I VI II V, can be or have different tonal references... You can call each chord an element by it's self... or call them all a Chord Pattern... which means they're all functioning a s ONE Chord. One Tonal reference, one Tonal Target... or how ever you choose or are told they are going to function.

    It's all going on all the time... we just decide or are told....what and how...we want to hear.

  51. #50

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    This is my horizontal approach...