Reply to Thread Bookmark Thread
Page 1 of 21 12311 ... LastLast
Posts 1 to 25 of 511
  1. #1

    User Info Menu

    Simple idea. Serious commitment. Less than an hour a day. For a year.
    It was an idea bassist Mike Richmond had when, even as a recognized talent on the instrument, he wanted to make a serious improvement in his own knowledge and abilities as a musician. He decided on a tune a week and for a year he had a routine.
    Start the week slow, below ballad speed. Wind up at the end of the week fast. Up-tempo range.

    So what could a serious student hope to learn?
    I'm not going to even attempt to answer that. I'm just going to begin a thread for positive thinking, committed guitar players who have the self initiative to find out what the music can teach you.

    Here's the plan:
    Each week I'll introduce a piece, and if it's in the old (illegal) Real Book, I'll use that version (unless it's one of their total car wrecks) because they're the ones I and many of my peers learned on.
    Each piece, I'll give some summary of my version of a harmonic analysis. Let's debate this is you see the piece differently. It's just there so we can get a "big picture" of what the piece does, where areas of contrast are, how a theme sets up an arc, where the dramatic peak might be, that kind of thing. These things really help ME internalize a piece.
    Yes. Internalize. Through all this, I DO NOT believe you know what potential a piece holds for you as a jazz improvisor unless you learn these pieces OFF BOOK.
    Each piece, I'll try to give handy study tips/strategies on how to break down and build the piece; to get it off book and in your ears. Ear training will come with time. I believe it'll come faster when you're off book and thinking harmonic function.
    Each week I'll have an idea to think about. Maybe it'll be a handy tip like placement of the first note in a measure. Maybe it'll be something philosophical like How important is it to have some kind of idea or thought when soloing and where does this come from? To this end, I'd like to collect mini interviews with working professional musicians and throughout this process, share their insights.

    So the format is simple and I thank Howard Roberts for his tried and tested template.
    1. Warm up each day and find the comfort zone of your guitar.
    2. Record a 10 minute backing track. From a bass line, to a simple (don't make it too rhythmically complicated-it's for you to solo on) chordal approach. This will also improve as you go through the year so just do it.
    3. Rest for 5 minutes. Clear your head.
    4. Solo for 10 minutes. How you solo is up to you.
    5. Rest for 5 minutes. Clear your head. What do you think of what you played? What did you miss? What do you need to address? Make and take notes on areas of improvement if you want.
    6. Solo for 10 minutes.
    7. Rest for 5 minutes.
    8. Solo for 10 minutes.
    9. Think back and make notes on what you liked and what you wish you could've done.

    START THE WEEK AS A BALLAD, END THE WEEK AS AN UP-TEMPO.

    I'll start each month with a basic tune, easy to approach and good to try ideas on.
    Second week I'll chose an interesting standard we should know and has some interesting form twists.
    Third week will be a challenging tune in some way, maybe a key change, maybe unusual progressions.
    Fourth week will be a tune that you might not know, but that I've found to be a beautiful addition to the canon.
    I'll arrange these to provide some continuity, variety of keys, variety of song forms (latin, swing, etc) and some topical associations (Christmas songs in December and guess what tune for February 14th?...)

    That's the plan. Again this is for those of us in the sub group of players of any level who'd like to find the real key to learning: You are your best teacher.

    I hope there are some of us here who'd have fun doing this! Welcome aboard.

    David

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

    User Info Menu

    Appropriate tune!
    Let's kick things off with Autumn Leaves. I'm going to be adding a pretty detailed commentary on this piece, but I want to get some reaction from you guys first, on the thread, on the song, on your own take and experience of this tune.
    Then I'll post study tips and a structural analysis.

    David

    Commit to a song a week. What could a serious student hope to learn?-fullsizerender-49-jpg


  4. #3

    User Info Menu

    Wonderful David.

    One a week and and hour a day probably too much of a strech for me but I will be hangin here for sure.

    Interesting start. Autumn Leaves. I can't make it come out. Summertime a bit the same. I hear Burrell, Benson and Turrentine and play these tunes and make them so bluesy and Evans it sounds like well Evans.

    Me it sounds like some high school beginner, really cheesy but I guess that is where I am at.

  5. #4

    User Info Menu

    Here's my idea of "knowing" a tune.

    You can play it in any key, comping, melody and soloing.

    Depending on the tune, maybe a chord melody and/or some reharmonization.

    If there's a lyric, you can sing it.

    The wedding musicians of my New York youth could do all of that without any change in their bored expressions.

    I can't do it for more than a few simple tunes, but that's the goal, at least for some.

    That said, I think the single most important aspect of this may be the groove of the backing track you make. Nothing will sound as good as it should if the backing track doesn't have a good feel.

  6. #5

    User Info Menu

    My objective to know is to be able to play it in one key, most likely Bb.

    - understand its origins
    - play the melody;
    - know the chords and how the melody relates to those chords;
    - being able to improvise without looking at a lead sheet and keep my place in the form with out getting lost, being able to play beautiful melodies and highlight the tension chords.

  7. #6

    User Info Menu

    Hey David -- I'd like to tag along on this and try to keep up.

    Good tune to start with: Although it has a bit of a 'safety net', you really need to put effort into hitting the changes in order for it not to sound floaty which makes it a bit of a surprise challenge.

    It's often thought of as a beginners' tune, to which I say, listen again to Cannonball Adderley and McCoy Tyner!


    Great carry-on from the Howard Roberts thread. Maybe we can include the Practical Standards tune of the month as one of the weekly selections?

  8. #7

    User Info Menu

    I'll play along. Sounds like a really good way to really dig into tunes.

  9. #8

    User Info Menu

    Autumn Leaves is one of those tunes that players of all levels can play and too, one that can continue to challenge even the most advanced seasoned players. So the idea this week is stategy and looking at the template of the piece to create your own composition.
    When I solo, I never see a flat expanse. That's why I discourage the use of a lead sheet. If I'm landscaping a piece of land, I wouldn't just take a bunch of seeds, walk from point A to point Z merely to cover the real estate; strategy comes from awareness.

    The piece is in the key of G for this version. It's still the same piece if you play it in Eb, or any key so structure is really helpful if you see the form in chord function. Remember, I'm not telling you what to do here, if it serves you well just to take the piece and play it as you always have, you'll still get a huge amount from looking at it for an hour a day for this week.

    G is your I chord. E minor is your VI- chord. There are 7 diatonic chords and each of those can have its own little traveling entourage of support chords made up around its own dominant chord. This is called the secondary dominant. This much you need to know. Cold.

    Write out a lead sheet with roman numerals instead of chord letters. Write the diatonic target chords in one colour. Write the dominant chords in the key in another colour and finally write secondary dominant chords in another colour. This will create a kind of universal language of function that we'll be building upon for all subsequent tunes. This is the way a versatile soloist sees the landscape.

    So the strategy of this piece is alternating families of support chords leading to the major and the minor.
    The first four bars are lines or ideas going to G
    The next four bars are lines or ideas leading to E which is the darker, minor counterpart to the major.
    on the second time through we again lead to G
    and then again we have thoughts that lead us to E (minor).
    Then is the B section
    Here we have two full systems (lines on the page) that let us play with the journey to E minor
    and one system that brightens us by setting us on the journey to G.
    And now the final two lines are a long tour of the full family of chords in descending order down to the final resting place at E minor. Like the fall of leaves tumbling through all the branches of the tree to settle on the ground.

    That's one way you can break up the piece and within each section, develop some sense of idea.
    I often hear people say "The piece is simple enough but I can't make it interesting." Yes! This is the responsibility of you and the duet you have with the piece. You must always bring all you have to the duet so you can make your partner, in this case, the structure of the piece, stand out. Do this by phrasing and creating within the smaller blocks before you.

    You might start with simpler ideas, more space, more impact. You might start by creating a motif and developing it with each succeeding section. You might take a look at just how you begin your phrases, and how you end them. All these things I'll look at closely in future installments.

    This week the thought I put out there is "Be aware of the geography and chose your plantings wisely and simply. Beautiful things will grow from that."

    Feel free to open the discussions to related issues, problems, questions and triumphs.

    Have fun.
    David
    Last edited by TH; 10-01-2017 at 09:32 AM.

  10. #9

    User Info Menu

    David,

    Thanks for kicking this off. I spent the weekend considering how to rise above a plateau I have been unable break out of. Count me in.

  11. #10

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by Alder Statesman
    David,

    Thanks for kicking this off. I spent the weekend considering how to rise above a plateau I have been unable break out of. Count me in.
    Welcome! I should mention that if you find a like minded player in your area that you can do this with, the benefits unfold even moreso.

    Let's have fun playing

    David

  12. #11

    User Info Menu

    I was doing a tune in a week until 80 hour work weeks got in the way. Now I’m working less so count me in on this I’ll do it. May we can post a video at the end of the week.

    Seems to be the obvious tune to pick, basically in major and relative minor.

    Thanks for your work on this idea.

  13. #12

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by NSJ
    I was doing a tune in a week until 80 hour work weeks got in the way. Now I’m working less so count me in on this I’ll do it. May we can post a video at the end of the week.

    Seems to be the obvious tune to pick, basically in major and relative minor.

    Thanks for your work on this idea.
    The first week of the month will always be a relatively easy tune with lots of things to try. Next week's post will be more involved structurally, but maybe a simpler idea to try... etc.
    Yeah, as far as the true value of this concept goes, that's totally up to those who are looking at their guitars with their hands in front of them, if you get my drift. Immersion. And a continuing dialogue about what it really takes to be a natural improvisor. It's our community effort and for you to find the time is a major investment; I know that. To make it a steady, progressive and interesting arc, that'll be my part.
    Glad you're doing it!

    David

  14. #13

    User Info Menu

    Great idea David!

    I'll probable go every other month as I'm working on too many other things here in the forums.

    I like everything you say so far specially about functional harmonics and I see this tune as completely circular in G6 ie II , V , I , IV , VII , III 7 , I?6.

    Perhaps the best (for me) "tenant" I ever picked up was from Frank Potenza and that was to "own the tune"; I took that to mean know the melody in every mode which would then be transcribable.

    Hope this produces more "practicals" then some other threads.

    AUTUMN LEAVES written by a Frenchman Joseph Kosma with Jacques Prevert as "The Dead Leaves" (for a '46 film) later changed to Autumn Leaves by Johnny Mercer. (As of 2012 Sir Paul McCartney controls the publishing rights.)

  15. #14

    User Info Menu

    My main weakness in music has been memorizing tunes so will find a way to work this into my things to do.

  16. #15

    User Info Menu

    Here are partials I use.

    Commit to a song a week. What could a serious student hope to learn?-al-partials-png

  17. #16

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by docbop
    My main weakness in music has been memorizing tunes so will find a way to work this into my things to do.
    Functional harmonics...you've come to the right place.

  18. #17

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by WILSON 1
    Great idea David!

    I'll probable go every other month as I'm working on too many other things here in the forums.

    I like everything you say so far specially about functional harmonics and I see this tune as completely circular in G6 ie II , V , I , IV , VII , III 7 , I?6.
    Yup. You're right on. Each person can interpret a tune in different ways. The smaller the "chunk", the less time you have to create a coherent thought, find a context for your statement and create a phrase. It's all about the phrase, the statement.
    Think of what you play as the breath that contains an idea. When you have your breath broken down by each change, that's a LOT of small ideas. That's a smaller space in which to use space. So as you go from ballad tempo to uptempo during the week, our journey from largo to presto, bear in mind the value of the phrase.

    Example: If you look at the piece as II, V, I, IV in a span of 4 measures, you've got four breaths to contain ideas. But as a melodic composer, you might chose a line that breathes over two chords. The melody of the piece itself starts a phrase before the first measure (via pickup) and goes to a long note. There's your breath, your idea. Your I chord is actually played as a long note with a pickup.

    So go in there, make phrases that take up different amounts of bar lines. Short phrases with lots of rest, long notes or rests. Use short notes to shade or highlight the longer notes. The melody of this tune is a great example of that. You can even look at the changes as [... something that's not identifyable heading towards...] I, then [something that's going to ...] VI-. When you get this, then you have much more to work with in creating meaningful use of notes.

    This "chunking" out of the piece helps you use space too, and later on it may give us a way of thinking so that those [something else leading to...] sections can hold outside sounds that lead us back to a meaningful arrival.

    Does this make sense?

    Good analysis, Wilson 1, now make it into music! Have fun.

    David

  19. #18

    User Info Menu

    I'm gonna use this as a way to put into practice all the Barry Harris Science I've been absorbing of late since I bought and started going through his 8 DVDs of material, recently.

    Practically speaking, for example, this is a way to, as he (or Alan Kingstone) says, "play with the family members-brothers and sisters".

    So, no ii-Vs, but the unifying factor between the major (G) and the relative minor (E minor) is that the V chords of the these two are, in fact, "brothers and sisters" D7 and B7. (They have two other brothers and sisters, F7 and Ab7)l.

  20. #19

    User Info Menu

    Thank you, David. I am in. It will be refreshing after Superchops’ rigidity to loosen up a bit within a similar structure.

  21. #20

    User Info Menu

    I did a tune a week a few years back...only made it half a year before life got in the way, but I learned a lot.

    Now I do the "Jam of the Week" on facebook. I don't retain every song I learn--but if I want to learn a song quickly and retain it--I can. The process of learning tune after tune is VERY helpful in that regard. I'd love to talk about the process, if anybody's interested.

  22. #21

    User Info Menu

    I hear what you're saying, and would only add: Make sure you KNOW the songs you THINK you know, i.e. the correct melody, changes, composer intent and I like to learn the lyrics. And know them in ALL the keys they might be called in. Transposing is easy on guitar---unless it's like Lush Life.

    I played a wrong note in Lush Life on my own gig, b/c I was relying on my memory. It's on the archive at the club's website for all the world to hear. I thought also I knew You Must Believe in Spring until I heard Barbra Streisand sing the correct melody and form.

    We have to put our best foot forward. People are listening...

  23. #22

    User Info Menu

    One other point: Yes, it's good to know as many songs as possible---but if you are a featured performer on gigs it's good to pick tunes that go with the way you play, and the way you feel. People can hear the difference between a respectful student rendition and something that's deeply felt. Unless it's deeply felt by us it won't be by them.

    One time in the Hague I was amused to hear a 20-year-old singer sing Blame it on my Youth. What? Your youth is NOW at 20. We all have to think things through before presenting songs before the public.

    In my case, FWIW, I seem to be attracted to songs about lost youth. I like Young and Foolish, While We're Young, have recorded and start many gigs with Once Upon a Time---and even wrote a lyric to Waltz For Debby. I'm getting older, and it fits.

    Know what I mean?

  24. #23

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fasstrack
    I hear what you're saying, and would only add: Make sure you KNOW the songs you THINK you know, i.e. the correct melody, changes, composer intent and I like to learn the lyrics. And know them in ALL the keys they might be called in. Transposing is easy on guitar---unless it's like Lush Life.

    I played a wrong note in Lush Life on my own gig, b/c I was relying on my memory. It's on the archive at the club's website for all the world to hear. I thought also I knew You Must Believe in Spring until I heard Barbra Streisand sing the correct melody and form.

    We have to put our best foot forward. People are listening...
    Great point to address here, fasstrack. There are different levels of knowing any piece of music. There are classical performers who spend their entire lives on a particular piece: Gould's early Columbia Goldbergs vs his second version decades later.
    I should be clear that a level of subtlety and knowledge is NOT my goal in this particular journey. In the analogy of the forest and the trees, I'm not in any way attempting or claiming to make anyone on this thread into a P.H.D. Arborist. This is more a topographer's or cartographer's study, meaning that in a tune a week, I will attempt to instill a very fine tuned working knowledge of ear, hand and theory in the commonalities of improvisational form and vehicles.

    I see a lot of people who know a piece by transcribing someone else's solo(s). I'm not after that.
    I see a lot of people who work with a finite repertoire of a working tunes they can perform regularly. I'm not after that.
    I see a lot of people who learn enormously useful tools for improvisation and never connect them with tunes they can swing on. I'm not after that.
    I see people who get stuck in their fingers, trapped in habits formed for security and unable to see the forest from the trees, one step above being lost in a solo who's goal is to get to the end of a piece without a train wreck. THAT is what this thread is about. At one tune a week, there's no time for polishing, but there IS a daily chance to increase your awareness of structure, hone your abilities to hear and confront changes, build a working vocabulary of melodic language, see the ways these things can be used and develop the confidence to bring yourself to EVERY playing situation as a strong and expressive composer. THAT's the goal of these weekly exercises.

    I just want to be clear that in no way does this exclude any study of other solos, or the subtleties of the liberties or accuracies of a reading, or the lyric practice of a very specific skillset that makes you your own stylist.

    We're here to DO, and the net is open to what you find, and what you can get out of this. It's based on my philosophical contention that the old school musicians learned what they did by being immersed in the music every night, and becoming great musicians by swimming... and sinking.

    I might open another thread based on etudes and embellishments in phrasing. And I think working with any of these tunes for as long as you want will be enormously beneficial, but a tune a week is a lively pace and at the end of a year, you'll have a whole lot more than just a big fake book in your head, you can have the working knowledge of a seasoned player. It's up to you. That's my goal here.

    GREAT point about knowing in all keys, fasstrack! I worked with a vocalist. I didn't even write down the keys we'd do a tune in. She'd hum a bar or two and count it off. I learned more than I can describe.

    I will address the mechanisms of transcriptions in future weeks. I've set the groundwork by strongly suggesting that you learn the tunes by Roman Numeral harmonic structure. Start now while the tune is straight forward.
    I have a list of 52 topics I'll introduce weekly.
    Good time to ask all of you:
    What are some really important questions, mysteries, stumbling blocks, guiding ideas or requests for weekly topics? This is our playground after all.

    David

  25. #24

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    Great point to address here, fasstrack. There are different levels of knowing any piece of music. There are classical performers who spend their entire lives on a particular piece: Gould's early Columbia Goldbergs vs his second version decades later.
    I should be clear that a level of subtlety and knowledge is NOT my goal in this particular journey. In the analogy of the forest and the trees, I'm not in any way attempting or claiming to make anyone on this thread into a P.H.D. Arborist. This is more a topographer's or cartographer's study, meaning that in a tune a week, I will attempt to instill a very fine tuned working knowledge of ear, hand and theory in the commonalities of improvisational form and vehicles.

    I see a lot of people who know a piece by transcribing someone else's solo(s). I'm not after that.
    I see a lot of people who work with a finite repertoire of a working tunes they can perform regularly. I'm not after that.
    I see a lot of people who learn enormously useful tools for improvisation and never connect them with tunes they can swing on. I'm not after that.
    I see people who get stuck in their fingers, trapped in habits formed for security and unable to see the forest from the trees, one step above being lost in a solo who's goal is to get to the end of a piece without a train wreck. THAT is what this thread is about. At one tune a week, there's no time for polishing, but there IS a daily chance to increase your awareness of structure, hone your abilities to hear and confront changes, build a working vocabulary of melodic language, see the ways these things can be used and develop the confidence to bring yourself to EVERY playing situation as a strong and expressive composer. THAT's the goal of these weekly exercises.

    I just want to be clear that in no way does this exclude any study of other solos, or the subtleties of the liberties or accuracies of a reading, or the lyric practice of a very specific skillset that makes you your own stylist.

    We're here to DO, and the net is open to what you find, and what you can get out of this. It's based on my philosophical contention that the old school musicians learned what they did by being immersed in the music every night, and becoming great musicians by swimming... and sinking.

    I might open another thread based on etudes and embellishments in phrasing. And I think working with any of these tunes for as long as you want will be enormously beneficial, but a tune a week is a lively pace and at the end of a year, you'll have a whole lot more than just a big fake book in your head, you can have the working knowledge of a seasoned player. It's up to you. That's my goal here.

    GREAT point about knowing in all keys, fasstrack! I worked with a vocalist. I didn't even write down the keys we'd do a tune in. She'd hum a bar or two and count it off. I learned more than I can describe.

    I will address the mechanisms of transcriptions in future weeks. I've set the groundwork by strongly suggesting that you learn the tunes by Roman Numeral harmonic structure. Start now while the tune is straight forward.
    I have a list of 52 topics I'll introduce weekly.
    Good time to ask all of you:
    What are some really important questions, mysteries, stumbling blocks, guiding ideas or requests for weekly topics? This is our playground after all.

    David
    Thanks. It's good you don't want to learn a song transcribing someone else's solo or rendition. You'll never get out of the gate as an artist doing that, just be another copycat. It's good to learn it that way, if they're doing it right, but the person playing it may NOT be playing it right. Seek and ye shall find, or something. Wes Montgomery did a great, bluesy version of Round Midnight, with a great solo---but it wasn't Monk's changes (he later did it again and it was way closer). It's a mistake IMO to take an interpretation at face value, even one by a hero. 'Just the facts, ma'am'.

    Always go to the source, then you can proceed as an informed interpreter, creator or whatever...

  26. #25

    User Info Menu

    Quote Originally Posted by fasstrack
    Thanks. It's good you don't want to learn a song transcribing someone else's solo or rendition. You'll never get out of the gate as an artist doing that, just be another copycat. It's good to learn it that way, if they're doing it right, but the person playing it may NOT be playing it right. Seek and ye shall find, or something. Wes Montgomery did a great, bluesy version of Round Midnight, with a great solo---but it wasn't Monk's changes (he later did it again and it was way closer). It's a mistake IMO to take an interpretation at face value, even one by a hero. 'Just the facts, ma'am'.

    Always go to the source, then you can proceed as an informed interpreter, creator or whatever...
    I'm already beginning to see this could be a very insightful and multi dimensional journey on this thread. I hope you'll continue to give your perspective fasstrack.
    I love the incident Miles had telling Monk that he was playing Round Midnight wrong. So wrong. So right.
    People I've known who've really dug into a piece have brought so much more to the sharing table. Even Autumn leaves. I don't know how many years I played it by just "making the changes". Then I began to hear it by motific suggestion, by really listening to what the composer was saying by those ascending and descending figures. Always something to learn. Yes.

    ' attended a master class with pianist Fred Hersch. Someone played a Monk piece. Afterwords Fred said "How many of you are pianists?" Nearly every hand went up. "How many of you know this piece?" About 3/4 hands went up.
    "There was a note missing in the statement of the head. How many of you caught it?" Blank silence.
    He then went on for the next 15 minutes talking about that note, the displacement of a previously stated motific statement it created, the set up of contrasting rhythmic phrases that can be heard throughout IF you knew it was there... and ways a solo could be structured around those parameters. Gosh.

    I love how deep this music can go. That's why I wanted to address the shortcomings of soloing without awareness and intention.
    So here we are.

    David