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  1. #76

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175

    (snip)
    Of course the attitude of "Thank God the head is over, now I'm gonna blow over the changes and show off my altered lines" exists. But mostly in jam sessions. I don't think you'll find very many examples of that attitude in the recorded jazz history.

    (snip)
    This seems to me to be a false dichotomy. Maybe a lot of players say "Wow, the head was fun, I love that tune, and I love these changes and hope I can play something fresh and exciting for the audience." I suspect that's the more common attitude.

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  3. #77

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    This seems to me to be a false dichotomy. Maybe a lot of players say "Wow, the head was fun, I love that tune, and I love these changes and hope I can play something fresh and exciting for the audience." I suspect that's the more common attitude.
    When you say fresh and exciting, do you mean a solo that has no bearing on the head that was just played? Like the tune could've been a different head over the same changes, they would've potentially played the same solo? Also remember the context is when the standard is recorded in an album, not in a more casual setting.

  4. #78

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    There is a huge stylistic range under the name jazz.
    e.g. free jazz - I don't know if the melody has any meaning there.
    I heard tunes that were without melodies ... just free improvisation.

  5. #79

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    When you say fresh and exciting, do you mean a solo that has no bearing on the head that was just played? Like the tune could've been a different head over the same changes, they would've potentially played the same solo? Also remember the context is when the standard is recorded in an album, not in a more casual setting.
    If I had to function with all your rules and judgments, I'd leave the guitar in the stand or just play memorized arrangements. I do not think "the melody" is like some God-ordained bar of judgment to which we must bow. You can love tunes, love playing them, and also love them as launching pads into the most far-out imaginable explorations or the most simple embellishments. I'm more the latter, but I love the former too.

    Why does it have to be either-or? That's too much of a burden to bear when improvising is already challenging.

  6. #80

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    Vocalists sing beautiful melodies in a creative way and are usually not improvisers.
    The instrumentalists create improvisation.

  7. #81

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    If I had to function with all your rules and judgments, I'd leave the guitar in the stand or just play memorized arrangements. I do not think "the melody" is like some God-ordained bar of judgment to which we must bow. You can love tunes, love playing them, and also love them as launching pads into the most far-out imaginable explorations or the most simple embellishments. I'm more the latter, but I love the former too.

    Why does it have to be either-or? That's too much of a burden to bear when improvising is already challenging.
    Taking about false dichotomies, I didn't state any rules (feel free to quote me and my rules if you can).

    I just asked because I want to understand your point, let me ask again as it's very important to the discussion. Can you please clarify:

    "When you say fresh and exciting, do you mean a solo that has no bearing on the head that was just played? "

    Also I wouldn't consider memorized arrangements improvisation. I don't know how we got there.

  8. #82

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I like both approaches and use both.

    A couple of observations, though.

    I have been scolded, inappropriately I think, for interpreting a melody while playing the head. That person said that respecting the composer required playing the melody strictly as originally written. Of course, there are countless examples of the most highly regarded players interpreting melody. One example: when I heard Robert Glasper at the Blue Note pre Covid, he played something that was only identifiable as Stella for moments here and there -- and then took a long solo on a loop of the last 8 bars. To RG, the tune was raw material for something else and I'm sure it was not disrespect for the composer
    Context is important. What was the tune? Interpretation within performance of the melody is not equally appropriate for all repertoire.

    OTOH it also depends on the nature of the embellishment; for instance if you don’t add in a little syncopation in a performance of a GASB standard melody it will sound very stiff to people.

  9. #83

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    Context is important. What was the tune? Interpretation within performance of the melody is not equally appropriate for all repertoire.

    OTOH it also depends on the nature of the embellishment; for instance if you don’t add in a little syncopation in a performance of a GASB standard melody it will sound very stiff to people.
    Which songs do you think it's less appropriate for? And why?

  10. #84

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    You can love tunes, love playing them, and also love them as launching pads into the most far-out imaginable explorations or the most simple embellishments. I'm more the latter, but I love the former too.
    That's what I think also.

  11. #85

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Taking about false dichotomies, I didn't state any rules (feel free to quote me and my rules if you can).

    I just asked because I want to understand your point, let me ask again as it's very important to the discussion. Can you please clarify:

    "When you say fresh and exciting, do you mean a solo that has no bearing on the head that was just played? "

    Also I wouldn't consider memorized arrangements improvisation. I don't know how we got there.
    You're not listening. I am leaving this discussion. If you don't know what "fresh and exciting" means, we have nothing to talk about,.

    I do not measure how good an improvisation is by its connection to the melody of the head. Period. You can follow the melody and be boring and awful. You can depart entirely and be interesting and fun. You can play close and well, or far and poorly.

    your "rule" is that somehow the melody has to be the "rule" for the solo, the point of evaluation. I don't think that.

  12. #86

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    I simplify it all a bit more.
    Jazz pieces, standards are those where harmony and melody are closely related.
    It's just that when I improvise I hear a melody internally and harmony helps me with that.
    I can use different ideas in improvisation, but the melody somehow dictates the direction of the phrasing.
    I don't have to play a melody during improvisation, I have it in my head.

  13. #87

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    your "rule" is that somehow the melody has to be the "rule" for the solo, the point of evaluation. I don't think that.
    My rule?
    I was pretty careful not wording anything I say as a rule. Who am I to dictate rules. I said several times there are no rules and people can do whatever they want and can still sound great (see post #21 and #24).
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    I do not measure how good an improvisation is by its connection to the melody of the head. Period. You can follow the melody and be boring and awful. You can depart entirely and be interesting and fun. You can play close and well, or far and poorly.

    That is of course true and I said nothing contrary to that. I never said good improvisation must follow the melody (or even implied it as any nuanced reader might attest, because I don't believe it to be true.)

    That's what happens in the forum. People read posts with all kinds of filters and projections then respond to something that had nothing to do with the original post. Then when you ask them to provide a quote of what they believe the posters said (me), they dodge the question. (You can still provide a quote where I was stating rules, or saying that a good improvisation must follow the head. I can point you to many of my posts in this thread where I was very clearly saying the opposite. )

    I said there probably aren't very many examples where a musician make a point of selecting a standard for their album and completely ignore the head in their solos.
    Because you quoted that in your response, so I was under the impression that you were disagreeing with that statement. Which is fine, it may or may not be true. Then you got all combative and said I was handing out all these rules lol.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 11-26-2021 at 06:32 PM.

  14. #88

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    Imo most solos in jazz are players having at the changes. I don't think occasional tiny hints at the melody means jazz's studio history is mostly guys playing off the melody or whatever you're saying.

  15. #89

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55
    Imo most solos in jazz are players having at the changes. I don't think occasional tiny hints at the melody means jazz's studio history is mostly guys playing off the melody or whatever you're saying.
    You're still implying that playing the changes and taking the melody as the general theme of a solo are different things. They are not. It can be both.

    I suspect most greats when they solo over a standard, they have the melody of the tune naturally run through in their head. You can often hear evidences of that in their solos if you know the head well. It may not be a literal reference or embellishment. It can be the melodic shape, mood, highlighting interesting ideas of the composition, or sometimes even lines that work as a counter melody against the melody in their head. That establishes a thematic continuity between the head and the solos and solos taken by other members of the band. They are playing the tune.

    Of course you can just play the head and then play a solo that's completely uninfluenced by the head by only working with the chords. I think that's more demanding of the listener. The head gives the listener something to latch on to, at least impressionistically. It probably takes even more skill to break the connection with the head and still engage the audience. Of course some can pull it off and sound great doing just that. So, I'm not saying good improvising must always take the head into account. It doesn't have to. But in that case, if you're not that inspired by the head, I honestly do not see a compelling reason to play it in the first place. Why not treat it as an original theme over the same set of changes because that's what it is.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 11-26-2021 at 11:51 PM.

  16. #90

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    Sometimes it turns to be a reverse effect, when I really like the standard, and quite disturbing, when the performer seems to be impatient to wait to the second chorus to start throw his brilliant ideas, and after a few bars we hear a completly rewritten tune or impro instead of the melody. Regardless how great is the musician, if I love the tune, and was going to hear the great melody and feeling, this cause disappointment.

  17. #91

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    You're still implying that playing the changes and taking the melody as the general theme of a solo are different things. They are not. It can be both.

    I suspect most greats when they solo over a standard, they have the melody of the tune naturally run through in their head. You can often hear evidences of that in their solos if you know the head well. It may not be a literal reference or embellishment. It can be the melodic shape, mood, highlighting interesting ideas of the composition, or sometimes even lines that work as a counter melody against the melody in their head. That establishes a thematic continuity between the head and the solos and solos taken by other members of the band. They are playing the tune.

    Of course you can just play the head and then play a solo that's completely uninfluenced by the head by only working with the chords. I think that's more demanding of the listener. The head gives the listener something to latch on to, at least impressionistically. It probably takes even more skill to break the connection with the head and still engage the audience. Of course some can pull it off and sound great doing just that. So, I'm not saying good improvising must always take the head into account. It doesn't have to. But in that case, if you're not that inspired by the head, I honestly do not see a compelling reason to play it in the first place. Why not treat it as an original theme over the same set of changes because that's what it is.
    I have similar thoughts on this.
    It is a rational and open mind at the same time.

  18. #92

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    Notice how many standards-based jazz compositions there are. There are new melodies but old harmonic chords progressions.
    does the jazz musician improvise with new or old melodies in mind?

  19. #93

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    You're still implying that playing the changes and taking the melody as the general theme of a solo are different things. They are not. It can be both.
    Well they're surely different things if there's no evidence whatsoever in the solo that the melody is used.

    I suspect most greats when they solo over a standard, they have the melody of the tune naturally run through in their head. You can often hear evidences of that in their solos if you know the head well. It may not be a literal reference or embellishment. It can be the melodic shape, mood, highlighting interesting ideas of the composition, or sometimes even lines that work as a counter melody against the melody in their head. That establishes a thematic continuity between the head and the solos and solos taken by other members of the band.
    I see what you're saying and think this is common, but there's no way this makes up the majority of solos in jazz.

    They are playing the tune.
    They are not playing the tune. They're making up their own melodies. That is the point of jazz. Let's listen to Bill. At 13 minutes he demonstrates "improvising on the framework." He doesn't say improvising with care for the melody. He doesn't say play an impressionistic solo about the melody. He doesn't say play to the mood of the song. He says improvise on this framework, meaning the changes. Then when he demonstrates it, he makes up his own melodies! He's not playing to the head. The solo suits the song, but that is it!



    Of course you can just play the head and then play a solo that's completely uninfluenced by the head by only working with the chords. I think that's more demanding of the listener. The head gives the listener something to latch on to, at least impressionistically. It probably takes even more skill to break the connection with the head and still engage the audience. Of course some can pull it off and sound great doing just that.
    It does take skill to play memorable melodies that are your own and only influenced by the changes. That's why they're the greats. They have developed the skill of making up their own melodies over the changes. This is an essential skill for a competent jazz musician and it takes work!

    So, I'm not saying good improvising must always take the head into account. It doesn't have to. But in that case, if you're not that inspired by the head, I honestly do not see a compelling reason to play it in the first place. Why not treat it as an original theme over the same set of changes because that's what it is.
    Because it's possible to play different sections of any type of song where the parts aren't related. Is that so weird of a concept? Music does that all the time. There's 1 part. Then the next part is different. Not really that complex of a concept. However, the head and a changes solo aren't completely unrelated. Playing over the changes is part of the tune because the changes and the tune are related.

  20. #94

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    Blues...easy 12 bars form.
    There are thousands of melodies-themes.
    are you able to say after listening to the solo what is the name of the head?
    Besides, there may be quotes in the solo ...

  21. #95

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Which songs do you think it's less appropriate for? And why?
    I think I have to almost go on a tune by tune basis.

    Some things just - NO! Something - Sure, why not?

    I don't think I'd embellish some Monk melodies for instance; maybe punctuate, but not change the melody. But I totally would a standard I knew really well.

    Jobim tunes, sometimes it feels tasteless to add anything. Depends on the tune.

    In practical terms, anything in unison with sax etc, obviously asking for trouble.

    It's not just a jazz thing, ornamentation is a concern of many traditions. I mean classical/gallant music (Mozart's era) is meant to be heavily embellished but you have to know how to do it and our ears aren't so used to it today.... Tasteful embellishments are a key part of Middle Eastern Music, Hindustani Music etc - but again there's a specificity about it.

    Jazz is no different. It has to sound right.

  22. #96

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    I do think you spend a lot less time worrying about the harmony when you solo on a tune on the basis the melody and that's a good thing.

    The result may not sound anything like the melody at all, but it doesn't mean it's not in the improviser's mind. (Lee Konitz had a detailed system worked out for doing this BTW.)

    People would rather overthink an approach before even giving it a go than simply give it a try lol. OTOH you don't have find everything you try works for you. It's OK not to do everything. But if you don't try something you might be missing out...

    No one thing is the answer, it's all potentially helpful.

    Also: sometimes people think there's a great correlation between intention/causation and musical effect? I'm not so sure. Analysis is fine and dandy but it has strong limits.

    I also think the words 'own' and 'yours' are massively overrated in music. It's hard to not want to put your own stamp on things, but the paradox is that you often gain more individuality by looking out than in - and seeing what elements you have to work with in a tune is one way to do that. Creativity is something that is based on inevitability, in my experience, not choice.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 11-27-2021 at 06:08 PM.

  23. #97

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    So, Jazz Music has room for everyone . . . good, bad, and ugly. However, When we look at Pictorial Art, Drama, Novels/Short Stories, Poems, and Classical Music we soon learn that theme is everything. When it is ignored or poorly stated the Art looses meaning. When we look at a painting by Caravaggio, say "Narcissus," how would the painting have meaning without an understanding of the Greek Myth/theme where a young man falls in love with his own image? Or, Thomas Mann's "Tonio Krueger" that details the life of a burgeoning artist who finally understands the loneliness and existential awareness of the artistic experience or the opening measures of Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata" that set the tone and theme for one of the world's great musical treasures? So, for me, melody is everything. It is the nucleus for which the music is centered and when we loose the melody, we loose the meaning. How boring would it be to listen to a concert of music that focuses entirely on the changes where the musician's aim is to impress the audience with an endless improvisation of chord progressions. What is he/she saying? For me, nothing.
    Here's "The Jug"--one of the great melodic players in Jazz in an Ellington Classic.
    Play live . . . Marinero


  24. #98

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    haha...
    How boring a concert would be if only melodies were played over and over again...?
    Fear to think.

  25. #99

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    Lee Konitz plays a great solo version of Stella by Starlight on this NPR 'Piano Jazz' interview. He keeps the melody implied, but gradually adds more and more improvisation to it.

    The solo starts at about 13:30 in the interview (you can slide the time forward in the player):

    https://www.npr.org/2013/08/16/21266...-on-piano-jazz

  26. #100

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    Quote Originally Posted by kris
    haha...
    How boring a concert would be if only melodies were played over and over again...?
    Fear to think.
    Hi, K,
    That's not what I said. Please reread my post. More simply: melody must be stated as a theme for the song to have MEANING but along with the chord progression-- may or may not(at the artist's discretion) be used as a basis for improvisation. Without the melody, the piece becomes an indistinguishable progression of chord changes. I hope this is clear to you. Here's Wes as an example. Would this song have meaning to you without the melody?
    Play live . . . Marinero