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  1. #51

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    In jams with friends, sometimes someone will start playing the head to Donna Lee. At that point, everybody, including the bassist, joins in, playing the melody. Nobody does anything else. Tight, it's not. When the head is finished, nobody wants to solo.

    One of the guys is a bop-o-phile altoist. That's a loud instrument in his hands and he plays it aggressively. So, to the detriment of all, he sets the tempo. My guess is that he goes well north of 220 bpm (which is about where Parker played it, I think).

    With years of practice, I've got it to 200 or so on my best day -- and that's after working out the obvious fingering/picking bottlenecks.

    At some point, the issue is your nervous system, not your technique.

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  3. #52

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    Quote Originally Posted by wzpgsr View Post
    Yes, to that point, I am not too worried about playing it at tempo this time around. This is more about bebop language acquisition than performance for me at the moment. If I can internalize one or two bebop phrases, it will have been worth my time.
    What I found is if you can get the head up to about 160 bpm, playing it fluently and cleanly, and just keep playing it and developing a smoother articulation, the tempo will naturally pick up, I hit a wall about 200-210, but I suspect if I'd been patient and stuck with it the tempo could have come up more. Now I'm back down at 130-140 just trying to remember how I fingered the thing.

  4. #53

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    Why is everyone so worried about the head? You don't need to play the head.

  5. #54

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    What I found is if you can get the head up to about 160 bpm, playing it fluently and cleanly, and just keep playing it and developing a smoother articulation, the tempo will naturally pick up, I hit a wall about 200-210, but I suspect if I'd been patient and stuck with it the tempo could have come up more. Now I'm back down at 130-140 just trying to remember how I fingered the thing.
    I can do it, give or take a few poorly timed notes, at 190, but not at 210. The bottleneck is picking a lot of chromatic notes on one string in the last A section, 8 bars from the end. I don't know how to fix that. Heavier strings? Different pick? A Youth Elixir? If practice was enough, I'd already be able to do it.

  6. #55

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    In jams with friends, sometimes someone will start playing the head to Donna Lee. At that point, everybody, including the bassist, joins in, playing the melody. Nobody does anything else. Tight, it's not. When the head is finished, nobody wants to solo.

    One of the guys is a bop-o-phile altoist. That's a loud instrument in his hands and he plays it aggressively. So, to the detriment of all, he sets the tempo. My guess is that he goes well north of 220 bpm (which is about where Parker played it, I think).

    With years of practice, I've got it to 200 or so on my best day -- and that's after working out the obvious fingering/picking bottlenecks.

    At some point, the issue is your nervous system, not your technique.
    I can only add that playing the guitar is much more difficult than the saxophone.
    The guitar is a very difficult instrument to master. At first, playing simple chords - everyone can do it.
    Problems begin with further guitar learning.
    I think one of the most important is playing with loose hands.
    With fast tempos, we forget about controlling our hands or we cannot control it.
    I am learning to play with loose hands all the time.
    For me personally, the most important thing is the right hand and picking technique with loose hand.

  7. #56

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Why is everyone so worried about the head? You don't need to play the head.
    The answer is very simple:
    If someone is seriously interested in jazz, he has to fight the monster.
    More seriously: Donna Lee is one of the staple tunes of the be-bop era. The genius of Charlie Parker.
    It is like the essence of be-bop in a nutshell.

  8. #57

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    This is another take, different guitar, done at 190bpm. I tried it faster, to no avail.

    Doing this on a different guitar, maybe slightly better (?), is an attempt to prove that buying another guitar is a viable alternative to practicing.



    I also took the liberty of doing a video which explains my fingering. Judging by others' submissions, there are better fingerings than mine, and I'm hoping to steal some if people post videos of their fingerings.

    This is not a criticism ...
    I think I noticed a bug in your Donna Lee playing. At the beginning / the second phrase from the note E / is too late.
    I might be wrong? but check it out.I suggest to play with chord changes-this will help.

    Best
    Kris

  9. #58

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    I can do it, give or take a few poorly timed notes, at 190, but not at 210. The bottleneck is picking a lot of chromatic notes on one string in the last A section, 8 bars from the end. I don't know how to fix that. Heavier strings? Different pick? A Youth Elixir? If practice was enough, I'd already be able to do it.
    I find this part most easy to play as if it came from some noodling guitarist doing chromatic exercises - I felt some relief when I reached it.
    I wondered why the difficulty and I looked at your video again.
    if I may, I would suggest another fingering. Up to the second half of C7, just play it in one position: index finger on B-nat, one finger per fret. First 4 notes of C7 (and the last one of preceding Fm7 -- Eb) are being played on the 2nd string. For a descending part of C7 reach for Eb on the 3rd with pinky and all 4 notes are again a chromatic run. There is hardly any left hand movement at all and picking motion is very streamlined.

  10. #59

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    Don’t have time to record it, but I did a breakdown of this one ages ago if anyone’s interested? Plenty of good bop language in this tune that you can use in your improvisation….


  11. #60

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    This is not a criticism ...
    I think I noticed a bug in your Donna Lee playing. At the beginning / the second phrase from the note E / is too late.
    I might be wrong? but check it out.I suggest to play with chord changes-this will help.

    Best
    Kris
    Thanks. I think I played part of the second phrase with imprecise time.

  12. #61

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    Quote Originally Posted by Danil View Post
    I find this part most easy to play as if it came from some noodling guitarist doing chromatic exercises - I felt some relief when I reached it.
    I wondered why the difficulty and I looked at your video again.
    if I may, I would suggest another fingering. Up to the second half of C7, just play it in one position: index finger on B-nat, one finger per fret. First 4 notes of C7 (and the last one of preceding Fm7 -- Eb) are being played on the 2nd string. For a descending part of C7 reach for Eb on the 3rd with pinky and all 4 notes are again a chromatic run. There is hardly any left hand movement at all and picking motion is very streamlined.
    Great idea! Thanks.

  13. #62

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    The answer is very simple:
    If someone is seriously interested in jazz, he has to fight the monster.
    More seriously: Donna Lee is one of the staple tunes of the be-bop era. The genius of Charlie Parker.
    It is like the essence of be-bop in a nutshell.
    I know all about Donna Lee. I meant we don't have to do it here, on this thread.

    If people were so interested in jazz/bebop, as you suggest, they would already be able to play it. But the thread appears as a challenge - which it is not, it's really an improv thread - so they suddenly wake up and try to do it in a week, which is silly. If they can't do it already they won't master it in a week. The tune changes on Thursday/Friday and then they'll forget it. Ridiculous.

    So let those who can play the melody and think what you're going to do when someone says 'Solo!'. This isn't a 'Learn Donna Lee In A Week!' class, it's a virtual jam and they're missing the point.

    Of course, you're extremely happy because you already know it... so we won't talk about that

  14. #63

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    I know all about Donna Lee. I meant we don't have to do it here, on this thread.

    If people were so interested in jazz/bebop, as you suggest, they would already be able to play it. But the thread appears as a challenge - which it is not, it's really an improv thread - so they suddenly wake up and try to do it in a week, which is silly. If they can't do it already they won't master it in a week. The tune changes on Thursday/Friday and then they'll forget it. Ridiculous.

    So let others play the melody and think what you're going to do when someone says 'Solo!'. This isn't a 'Learn Donna Lee In A Week!' class, it's a virtual jam and they're missing the point.

    Of course, you're extremely happy because you already know it... so we won't talk about that
    Ragman 1,
    You can thank Petersen and Jeff who accepted Donna Lee's choice, I have already written what I think.
    What is this?:
    The jam is learning about Donna Lee head.
    Is it jam?
    Best
    kris
    ps.
    Just because I played Donna Lee 40 or 30 years ago doesn't mean I didn't have to remember the fingering to defeat "the beast".It is very difficult to play the guitar-embellishments of Parker 16ths in tempo.

  15. #64

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    Don’t have time to record it, but I did a breakdown of this one ages ago if anyone’s interested? Plenty of good bop language in this tune that you can use in your improvisation….

    Great lesson.
    Time to record your version of Donna Lee.
    You have a 3 or for days for it...long time.
    Good Luck
    Best
    Kris

  16. #65

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    Great lesson.
    Time to record your version of Donna Lee.
    You have a 3 or for days for it...long time.
    Good Luck
    Best
    Kris
    Maybe I’ll get a chance tomorrow. Meanwhile here’s me playing the head on a Maccaferri because Instagram

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  17. #66

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    Maybe I’ll get a chance tomorrow. Meanwhile here’s me playing the head on a Maccaferri because Instagram

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    Very nice playing Christian...head and fragment of solo was great.
    Good Luck tomorrow.

  18. #67

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    Ragman 1,
    You can thank Petersen and Jeff who accepted Donna Lee's choice, I have already written what I think.
    What is this?:
    The jam is learning about Donna Lee head.
    Is it jam?
    Best
    kris
    ps.
    Just because I played Donna Lee 40 or 30 years ago doesn't mean I didn't have to remember the fingering to defeat "the beast".It is very difficult to play the guitar-embellishments of Parker 16ths in tempo.
    On the other hand, not mastering Donna Lee is as if you would like to study at a university without having completed elementary school.

  19. #68

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    Very nice playing Christian...head and fragment of solo was great.
    Good Luck tomorrow.
    Thanks dude.

    I’m finding these gig things are getting in the way of my Instagram shred career. It’s a bind. Maybe I should refuse to leave my bedroom.

  20. #69

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    Thanks dude.

    I’m finding these gig things are getting in the way of my Instagram shred career. It’s a bind. Maybe I should refuse to leave my bedroom.

  21. #70

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris View Post
    I believe Donna is the wrong choice to jam here.Will anyone play the theme of this tune at the right tempo?
    In one week it is impossible.Someone who approaches it for the first time will not be able to do it. Even those who think they know it make mistakes. Donna is a piece that needs to be practiced for several years and constantly remembered.
    Sorry, I just remembered you said this! Absolutely, this is my whole point.

    Really, Indiana is a completely different kind of tune. It was one of the tunes on the PS thread and I did that one.

    I think some people can do this kind of thing and others can't. I'll never do it fast like this, it's against my temperament, pick or no pick. Like some people can play the guitar and others can't.


  22. #71

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    Yes, it is different - you can play Indiana much faster than DL


    (Well most people can’t play DL as fast, but there’s always one innit
    )

    Always remember: jazz is a competition.

  23. #72

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Sorry, I just remembered you said this! Absolutely, this is my whole point.

    Really, Indiana is a completely different kind of tune. It was one of the tunes on the PS thread and I did that one.

    I think some people can do this kind of thing and others can't. I'll never do it fast like this, it's against my temperament, pick or no pick. Like some people can play the guitar and others can't.

    Im rather taken with how relaxed this head feels. If you listen to the Bud track I posted he always feels relaxed at the fastest tempos. Hard to do on guitar.

  24. #73

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    The clock is a funny touch btw haha. Just noticed that.

  25. #74

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1 View Post
    Sorry, I just remembered you said this! Absolutely, this is my whole point.

    Really, Indiana is a completely different kind of tune. It was one of the tunes on the PS thread and I did that one.

    I think some people can do this kind of thing and others can't. I'll never do it fast like this, it's against my temperament, pick or no pick. Like some people can play the guitar and others can't.

    I know this guitarist.
    But Donna doesn't have to be played that fast. Parker's version is slower - recorded it in the '40s.
    Jazz education has developed a lot and the young musicians are very perfect and fast, but they learn from good role models - Charlie Parker.
    Ben Enunson plays very modern musical phrases that he thinks of himself, but Donna Lee is composed by Charlie Parker.
    Playing Donna Lee is a kind of tribute to Parker / a genius who died too early /.

  26. #75

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    The clock is a funny touch btw haha. Just noticed that.
    Oh gosh, it's probably 7 in the morning.