Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Page 1 of 7 123 ... LastLast
Posts 1 to 25 of 160
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    About 10 years ago I took some jazz lessons. I learned "in theory" how to build lines over chord changes. Ultimately I concluded that, to master this, I'd need to devote a lifetime to studying chords and their alternations and practicing every scale known to man to the point that it's so intuitive that I can "forget" about it and just spontaneously play melodies with that adhere to these principles. But I was already 20 at the time and decided to stick to classical and blues and rock (guitar).

    Since then, once every year or two I figure something out and think "ah, this is the key, I'll able to think about it this way and be able to freely play over chord changes." But inevitably I throw on a good 2-5-1 backing track and find it just doesn't work. It always sounds and feels like I'm thinking too much about it, which is very frustrating because in my head I feel I can construct great lines effortlessly.

    Recently I stumbled across a video of a Barry Harris lesson where he criticizes so-called "jazz theory," as a way for universities to make money, saying something to the effect of "when I came up I never heard of no 'mixolydian' scale."

    This struck a chord with me because I always felt that there was a disconnect between what I was being taught and what I heard on jazz records. Apart from the fact that it seems impossible to think about jumping from scale to scale as chords fly by, it really never sounded to me like this is what jazz musicians were doing (at least not on the classic records).

    After hearing Barry Harris say he'd never of no mixolydian scale, and finding that anytime I forget about theory and just play what I feel over a jazz track that it actually kind of works (at least better than any academic approach), I can't help but wonder if there's a better approach to building jazz solo's. I mean, if none of these guys had what we know as 'jazz theory,' what did they have? How did they think of it?

    For example, I find I can solo over something like Impressions with a Dorian mode/blues scale, because there's no changes. When I try the same thing over a 2-5-1, it works, but I definitely feel I could be bringing out the changes more, so I consult some jazz theory and next thing I know I'm right back to trying to play mixolydian scales/arpeggios/intervals into minor/major scales/arpeggios/intervals. I know about voice leadings, I know about "target notes," superimposing, diminished scales/sounds, but I always find that trying to incorporate these things makes it impossible to just relax and play something that actually sounds musical.

    I'm not actually all that intent on playing jazz to be honest, I just feel I'm SO close to being able to that it frustrating to not be able to. And it really feels like anyone I've heard explain how to build lines is not being totally honest about how it's done.

    So, that's mostly where I'm coming from with this. I know this is a huge topic/question, really just curious what folks think about all this...

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Evml
    Recently I stumbled across a video of a Barry Harris lesson where he criticizes so-called "jazz theory," as a way for universities to make money, saying something to the effect of "when I came up I never heard of no 'mixolydian' scale."

    This struck a chord with me because I always felt that there was a disconnect between what I was being taught and what I heard on jazz records. Apart from the fact that it seems impossible to think about jumping from scale to scale as chords fly by, it really never sounded to me like this is what jazz musicians were doing (at least not on the classic records).

    After hearing Barry Harris say he'd never of no mixolydian scale, and finding that anytime I forget about theory and just play what I feel over a jazz track that it actually kind of works (at least better than any academic approach), I can't help but wonder if there's a better approach to building jazz solo's. I mean, if none of these guys had what we know as 'jazz theory,' what did they have? How did they think of it?
    When Barry Harris said he never heard of the Mixolydian scale, he was referring to the name of the scale, not the scale itself. He calls the same scale the "dominant scale" and it plays a very central role in his teachings.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evml
    For example, I find I can solo over something like Impressions with a Dorian mode/blues scale, because there's no changes. When I try the same thing over a 2-5-1, it works, but I definitely feel I could be bringing out the changes more, so I consult some jazz theory and next thing I know I'm right back to trying to play mixolydian scales/arpeggios/intervals into minor/major scales/arpeggios/intervals. I know about voice leadings, I know about "target notes," superimposing, diminished scales/sounds, but I always find that trying to incorporate these things makes it impossible to just relax and play something that actually sounds musical.
    Transcribe some bebop lines, you'll see that playing the changes can be done musically. Charlie Parker spend 10+ years practicing that for many hours a day. It's takes a long time to become conversant with the musical building blocks. You'll find that there are arpeggios, "mixolydian" scale runs, chromatic notes, enclosures, diminished scale/arpeggio sounds, voice leading, target notes etc in Charlie Parker's solos.

    Of course if you just make a list of these elements and try to mechanically insert them into your lines, it's not gonna sound like Charlie Parker right off the bat. Is that unexpected?

    On the other hand if you just put a 2 5 1 backing track and play "freely" over the changes, do you find that these bebop vocabulary emerge in your lines? Chances are they won't.

    So how do you make that happen?

    If you follow the Barry Harris approach, you'll spend years working on coming up with lines using these basic building blocks over the changes until you can become musically expressive with them. That's one approach.

    Quote Originally Posted by Evml
    I'm not actually all that intent on playing jazz to be honest, I just feel I'm SO close to being able to that it frustrating to not be able to. And it really feels like anyone I've heard explain how to build lines is not being totally honest about how it's done.

    So, that's mostly where I'm coming from with this. I know this is a huge topic/question, really just curious what folks think about all this...

    If there is a way for someone who is not that interested in jazz and not willing to put in many years into it, to learn jazz improvisation and do it justice, I think we would know it already. The feeling of being so close is always there in one's development, from the very beginning.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 04-28-2021 at 03:54 PM.

  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    Maybe you'll find some inspiration and answers here:

    www.jazzadvice.com

    Also some articles by Antonio García I found really helpful:

    ARTICLES
    Last edited by DonEsteban; 04-28-2021 at 08:53 AM.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Evml
    About 10 years ago I took some jazz lessons. I learned "in theory" how to build lines over chord changes. Ultimately I concluded that, to master this, I'd need to devote a lifetime to studying chords and their alternations and practicing every scale known to man to the point that it's so intuitive that I can "forget" about it and just spontaneously play melodies with that adhere to these principles. But I was already 20 at the time and decided to stick to classical and blues and rock (guitar).
    I don’t know how you learned to play blues and rock guitar, but I did it by copying solos and phrases from records. I didn’t study much theory or practise loads of scales.

    Guess how I learned to play jazz guitar? Exactly the same way.

    Of course some theory is useful and I have studied it at those points where I thought it was useful. But it was never my primary approach.

    My opinion is that until you absorb enough ideas from great jazz players, and get them under your fingers, you are unlikely to be able to play anything worthwhile.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    here's your pre-theory approach. our study tune is "tune up". our study material is this recording:



    we study the two licks from 0:39 to 0:42. buy the track, loop and slow down this section, and play along until you can play these two licks as close to the original as possible. tempo is not important, they sound good at any speed. play only those two licks wherever possible. the whole tune can be realized with those two licks but you'll have to transpose them. maybe find new fingerings. note that wes' progression offers an extra ii-V, namely:

    Em7 / A7 /Dmaj7 / Ebm7 Ab7 /

    record yourself. post here for advice.
    Attached Images Attached Images

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    The other point I would make is that stealing stuff from great players like Wes, Joe Pass etc. and fooling around with it is actually FUN.

    Which scales and theory are not, so people who only do that tend to get fed up, and give up.

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    You may have heard the maxim "Imitate-Assimilate-Innovate", or if one prefers: "Imitate-Assimilate-Improvise".

    And you may wonder, should those be executed in a linear fashion? The answer is yes - as in every practice session, not year 1/2/3 or some such.


    Imitation refers to copying master soloist's lines. That can be accomplished by learning some lines, etudes, solos or pieces of solos from say... Joe Pass and Wes Montgomery, just for two great examples. Just playing these correctly, with the right feel, articulation, rhythm, expression, tone, and up to tempo is work unto itself. (same as with blues/rock/classical, whatever).

    Assimilation - refers to getting this material into your own playing and mode of expression. That involves (1) maintaining and building upon the Imitation part, (2) analysis - so that you understand just what the hell it is that you're playing/what they played, and (3) using practice routines that burn so-called "jazz patterns" into your brain and body so that you can begin to freely express these types of musical ideas outwardly - on impulse.

    Improvisation: you know what this one means.


    So, for one simple example you could begin with some jazz blues.

    1. You could begin to learn Sundown by Wes, (15 minutes of practice)
    2. Play the blues etudes in Joe Pass Guitar Style, (15 mins)
    3. Play the chord family etudes in Joe Pass on Guitar (major, minor, dominant, altered dominant) (15 mins)
    4. Play some long II-V-I patterns in major, in 12 keys (be choosy with these**) (10 mins)
    5. Play some short II-V-I patterns in major, in 12 keys (be choosy with these) (10 mins)
    6. Play some "turnaound" patterns, in 12 keys, be choosy with these also (10 mins)

    Conduct enough analysis of the above so that you know what you're doing (not necessary to do that during practice time, if time is short)

    Then play a slow backing track of blues or record your own. Three chords at first if necessary. Improvise and just keep at it. Then add the Mi7 and turnaounds in the usual places with the 12-bar form and improvise on those too.

    If you have more time to practice than mentioned above, do it! Get items 1-6 to the point that you can play them without looking at the guitar or music. Make it automatic. Then keep going with your improv and tune studies.

    ** this is a larger topic, and has to do with the musical make-up/content of the patterns, whether it be chromatics, neighbors, approach notes, enclosures, superimpositions, substitutions, rhythmic variation, etc. There are a lot of vanilla/crap jazz patterns out there in the published jazz ed. market. (sorry)
    Last edited by Donplaysguitar; 04-28-2021 at 11:35 AM.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Evml
    About 10 years ago I took some jazz lessons. I learned "in theory" how to build lines over chord changes. Ultimately I concluded that, to master this, I'd need to devote a lifetime to studying chords and their alternations and practicing every scale known to man to the point that it's so intuitive that I can "forget" about it and just spontaneously play melodies with that adhere to these principles. But I was already 20 at the time and decided to stick to classical and blues and rock (guitar).

    Since then, once every year or two I figure something out and think "ah, this is the key, I'll able to think about it this way and be able to freely play over chord changes." But inevitably I throw on a good 2-5-1 backing track and find it just doesn't work. It always sounds and feels like I'm thinking too much about it, which is very frustrating because in my head I feel I can construct great lines effortlessly.

    Recently I stumbled across a video of a Barry Harris lesson where he criticizes so-called "jazz theory," as a way for universities to make money, saying something to the effect of "when I came up I never heard of no 'mixolydian' scale."

    This struck a chord with me because I always felt that there was a disconnect between what I was being taught and what I heard on jazz records. Apart from the fact that it seems impossible to think about jumping from scale to scale as chords fly by, it really never sounded to me like this is what jazz musicians were doing (at least not on the classic records).

    After hearing Barry Harris say he'd never of no mixolydian scale, and finding that anytime I forget about theory and just play what I feel over a jazz track that it actually kind of works (at least better than any academic approach), I can't help but wonder if there's a better approach to building jazz solo's. I mean, if none of these guys had what we know as 'jazz theory,' what did they have? How did they think of it?

    For example, I find I can solo over something like Impressions with a Dorian mode/blues scale, because there's no changes. When I try the same thing over a 2-5-1, it works, but I definitely feel I could be bringing out the changes more, so I consult some jazz theory and next thing I know I'm right back to trying to play mixolydian scales/arpeggios/intervals into minor/major scales/arpeggios/intervals. I know about voice leadings, I know about "target notes," superimposing, diminished scales/sounds, but I always find that trying to incorporate these things makes it impossible to just relax and play something that actually sounds musical.

    I'm not actually all that intent on playing jazz to be honest, I just feel I'm SO close to being able to that it frustrating to not be able to. And it really feels like anyone I've heard explain how to build lines is not being totally honest about how it's done.

    So, that's mostly where I'm coming from with this. I know this is a huge topic/question, really just curious what folks think about all this...

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    The whole reason we like jazz is that it's NOT some guy playing random stuff. The musicians all studied hard for years building their musical vocabulary. I don't get why anyone wouldn't want to study, whether it's breaking down Joe Pass's playing or going over how to work out the changes to Ruby my dear on the fret board.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Evml

    I'm not actually all that intent on playing jazz to be honest, I just feel I'm SO close to being able to that it frustrating to not be able to.
    So, serious questions...Do you like jazz, and do you listen to it?

    If the answer is no, you'll never play it. It's just not possible.

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    If you're able to play nice within a key without looking at the fretboard, freely over the neck, then it's quite possible to learn to react to key changes (even anticipate) and instantly continue in the correct key without worries. It just takes a loo..oo..ng time. But is possible. Totally possible.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Evml
    About 10 years ago I took some jazz lessons. I learned "in theory" how to build lines over chord changes. Ultimately I concluded that, to master this, I'd need to devote a lifetime to studying chords and their alternations and practicing every scale known to man to the point that it's so intuitive that I can "forget" about it and just spontaneously play melodies with that adhere to these principles. But I was already 20 at the time and decided to stick to classical and blues and rock (guitar).
    ...
    Ah, you want the shortcut, the hack, the secret that was right under your nose the whole time... It's so close, maybe you'll find it. It can't be much harder that just blowing pentatonics over E right?

    Take a simple tune like Just Friends, create a backing track using the chords. If you can just blow over that and sound good (no clams), then congratulations! You jumped the queue. If you can't, and still want to, well then better find a spare 10,000 hours of meaningful practice, preferably with a good teacher that can play in the style you admire. There's your shortcut, and no it's actually not an exaggeration. If it took you only 100 hours to sound "OK" noodling around with rock scales, it should only take you a hundred times longer (100 x 100) to get "OK" at jazz improv with a good regimen.

    Yeah, I know, you think people like me have done it the hard or wrong way, and you're right, It's taken me 30 years instead of 10. 10 years is the shortcut, ask anyone on this forum how many players got good at Jazz improv in only 10 years! I mean pro level good, BTW...

    Not to be a smartass... it's just tough love

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Can you scat sing a good solo? If you can, play that.

    If you can't, play the chords of a tune repeatedly while scatting until you get something you like.

    If you still can't, the issue is musical imagination, not guitar technique, or so it seems to me.

    I do it more or less this way (even though I know some theory, arps, scales and substitutions). If I had the opportunity to do it over again from the beginning, and the ability, I'd do it Graham's way.

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    Noone can scat sing a good solo.

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Evml
    I'm not actually all that intent on playing jazz to be honest, I just feel I'm SO close to being able to that it frustrating to not be able to. And it really feels like anyone I've heard explain how to build lines is not being totally honest about how it's done.
    Building jazz lines is stringing together smaller ideas so it builds into a larger line and has momentum. The trick though, is they have to be from different harmonic concepts for it to sound like authentic jazz. That's why it takes study and is more involved than saying I can solo over this key center with this scale and make something up.

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55
    Noone can scat sing a good solo.
    No? Check out this video.


  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    This was fun, especially AJ. I like John Hendricks' singing the least (is that OK to say?) And memorized not improvised, obviously.

    Anyway.



  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    Easy for me to get into the woods here.

    People get really invested in theory; they seem to think it’s the answer. If you can play jazz phrases, it’s a resource. If you can’t, it won’t help.

    if the answer is ‘no’ you need to go steal some from some jazz musicians. Guess how?

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    That isn't true. You can theoretically tell someone how to build jazz lines. Embellish the melody, transcribe some of Dex's licks, use 8th notes, sequence this part to build it, find harmonic ideas you like, resolve here, play some arps, build tension here, resolve to notes other than the root, this and that..

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55
    That isn't true. You can theoretically tell someone how to build jazz lines. Embellish the melody, transcribe some of Dex's licks, use 8th notes, sequence this part to build it, find harmonic ideas you like, resolve here, build tension here, resolve to notes other than the root, this and that..
    Aaaaaand in the process of transcribing Dexter Gordon you have to listen closely to jazz phrases... and that’s the really important bit.

    Some might mistake the really important bit for the analysis, but we tend to undervalue intuitive knowledge. But I think that’s a good practice activity.

    this sort of thing, which I have done a lot is infinitely preferable to someone trying to use theory to play. It doesn’t work.

    people can get a bit obsessed with creativity and trying to ‘improvise purely’; it’s not helpful if you want to actually play jazz. Puzzling out Dexter solos is pretty far from that and I’m all for it.

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    Yeah you have to be able to string together phrases. And some of them must be derived from authentic playing that you get from transcribing, listening, and reading. Other phrases can be made up from your intuition and knowledge or theory.

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55
    Other phrases can be made up from your intuition and knowledge or theory.
    But can that happen convincingly if you haven't done the listening, is the question...

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    Amazing. A person with zero prior posts and a claimed lack of interest in playing jazz dismisses "theory" (in a way that makes it clear he hasn't actually delved into it in any meaningful way), and you guys are off the races. Fool me once ...

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    No, you'd wanna have knowledge of the idiom and what styles you like from listening.

  26. #25

    User Info Menu

    As if there's only one way that works.

    I've met great players who, in private moments, will admit not transcribing much, if at all, and never practicing with a metronome -- then recommend both to their students. One teacher explained it, saying, "why should I have them make all the mistakes I made?".

    There are recorded examples of great scat solos and, for that matter, I've heard great jazz whistling.

    Of course it's possible to scat a good solo. That isn't the same thing as saying every great solo must have or could have emerged from scatting.
    I don't think George Benson could have scatted one of his burning solos.

    Why did Herb Ellis scat as he soloed? Oscar too, I think.

    Some players string together vocabulary and get a classic jazz sensibility that way. Others don't. I like both.