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  1. #1

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    I was working with a song I wrote and I have a m7b5 - V7#9 progression in it. I went to my trusty books and chose to try a Locrian (natural 6) over the m7b5 and Phrygian Dominant over the V7#9.

    I was able to get some nice lines (at least to my ears) and I was kind of proud that I was make some nice "chord-appropriate" music out of 7 notes. I think this is an important part of learning to play Jazz. That's being able to take a given scale and turn it into "good" music.

    I could not do this when I first started trying to play Jazz.

    How much and how soon does a Jazz instructor stress this skill/ability.

    Hope I am clear.

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  3. #2

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    I'm not totally sure what you mean...7 notes, as opposed to a smaller pool (like strictly arpeggios?)

    Or do you mean, just sitting down with a scale and creating melody?

  4. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    I was working with a song I wrote and I have a m7b5 - V7#9 progression in it. I went to my trusty books and chose to try a Locrian (natural 6) over the m7b5 and Phrygian Dominant over the V7#9.
    Durn chord scale theory! That sounded complicated until I figgered out it means sticking to the harmonic minor.

  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I'm not totally sure what you mean...7 notes, as opposed to a smaller pool (like strictly arpeggios?)

    Or do you mean, just sitting down with a scale and creating melody?
    I mean creating a melody.

    Like many, I spent a lot of time improperly trying to make music out of scales.

    So I was just wondering if many of the teachers here aim to teach utilization of scales or even value the ability to utilize scales (and dare I say it, their modes) to create different sounds and melodies.

    I would have never thought of using Phrygian Dominant as a basis for creating music with a V7b9 chord.

    Now, I am marveling at the doors that get opened when someone suggests a particular scale (or mode), since I am learning to turn it into music.

    There has been so much debate about CST. I am thinking that it is working for me.

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    I was able to get some nice lines (at least to my ears) and I was kind of proud that I was make some nice "chord-appropriate" music out of 7 notes....

    How much and how soon does a Jazz instructor stress this skill/ability.
    The ability to hear and create lines from what you hear? Maybe it's not a matter of how soon an instructor stresses it but how soon a student can learn to creatively have fun in the process.
    You've begun to understand that on your own: making something that sounds good. It will only get stronger from there.
    I think teachers can give you a lot of tools and guidance, but the process of making music is something you teach yourself. Every student does it on their own once they start to "hear" and congrats that you are starting there now.

    My opinion, a jazz instructor makes it clear that learning to hear (not the same as play), and learning to create (not the same as proficiently play), is a big key to making music.
    An instructor can put out the parts. The student stumbles into how it goes together. This is from the beginning, and it goes on maybe for as long as you play. My opinion anyway.

    David

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    The ability to hear and create lines from what you hear? Maybe it's not a matter of how soon an instructor stresses it but how soon a student can learn to creatively have fun in the process.
    You've begun to understand that on your own: making something that sounds good. It will only get stronger from there.
    I think teachers can give you a lot of tools and guidance, but the process of making music is something you teach yourself. Every student does it on their own once they start to "hear" and congrats that you are starting there now.

    My opinion, a jazz instructor makes it clear that learning to hear (not the same as play), and learning to create (not the same as proficiently play), is a big key to making music.
    An instructor can put out the parts. The student stumbles into how it goes together. This is from the beginning, and it goes on maybe for as long as you play. My opinion anyway.

    David
    Dave,
    You have helped me clarify what I am trying to discuss (seems I need help from time to time, these days).

    I am referring to having a student create from a limited pool of notes and from those only. And, you don't allow them to use any other notes (except maybe a passing tone here or there) because you are trying to teach them to be creative with only what they have.

    Kind of like giving them only a few colors to work with and having them be able to create some nice art.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by AlsoRan
    Dave,
    You have helped me clarify what I am trying to discuss (seems I need help from time to time, these days).

    I am referring to having a student create from a limited pool of notes and from those only. And, you don't allow them to use any other notes (except maybe a passing tone here or there) because you are trying to teach them to be creative with only what they have.

    Kind of like giving them only a few colors to work with and having them be able to create some nice art.
    Oh yeah. That's a great exercise. Really learning to master your toolset by limiting the options/distractions. Good point.

    Yeah, there's a big difference between using your practice time to blindly run the "lesson", or getting caught up in noodling without a path to progress and having it connect. Heh, ain't that the big balancing act?
    As far as getting music out of the notes, yes that's a huge leap to make. One thing that helped me was Less is More. I like to have students try to find some important essential phrase with less notes. That will lead to exploring the sound and personality of intervals, using more space, creating motivic things you can respond to and finding breath in a phrase.
    There's a whole lot more that goes into a musical line than the notes in the scale!
    Just takes time and trust to find it. ...and a whole lotta love-
    David

  9. #8

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    Absolutely. I love "limitation excercises."

    I injured two fingers (index and middle) on my fretting hand last month--small burn and a small cut, nothing big but enough to where those fingers needed a few days off strings...I practiced playing lines with just my ring finger...and you know what? I got a lot out of that!

    Limiting notes...strings...playing long tones only...all great stuff. I mean, the trick is to hear all possibilities on a tune, or I should say, as many as possible, right? And be able to go after them...these exercises make you hear new possibilities.

  10. #9

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    Jeff,

    I was hesitant to say this, but that ring finger clip brought forth some of the clearest melodic lines I've heard you improvise to date. I was impressed also by how smoothly you shifted, the fact that you were using only one finger
    was largely not noticeable.

  11. #10

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    Thanks.

    I was surprised how well it worked...it really forced me to think melodically, because all the "brain disengages fingers take over" crap I often play was out the window. I need to explore it further, if just in spirit, as opposed to actually taping up fingers or something...

  12. #11

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    Starting out with chord tones on ii-V's is easier since it's a smaller pool of notes and the voice leading is simple.

    But eventually, you should be able to play through a ii-V (major or minor) and voice lead any note, chord tone or not, smoothly through the changes. Takes a bit more work, but I think it's necessary to gain real fluency with playing changes.

    And there are multiple "systems" you could use to arrive at the same result, whether it's Chord Scales or Barry Harris material.

  13. #12

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    One of the better things a teacher said to me back in the day is, "Scales are not music in the same way that the alphabet is not literature."

  14. #13

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    Practice cells, just three or four notes and embellish them just like arpeggios.
    Jon Damian in one of his books speaks about a really good concept: triad seeds.
    Play three notes from a scale (any intervals) and think in a consequent melody. It acts like the Rorschard test.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boston Joe
    One of the better things a teacher said to me back in the day is, "Scales are not music in the same way that the alphabet is not literature."
    That's true -- what I'd add is that the same is true for chord tones, approach notes, tensions, licks, and all our other favorite devices. Time, tone, phrasing, melodic sensibilities, rhythmic ingenuity, touch, emotion, creativity, an understanding of form, a sense of drama... countless other things have to be in place to make music out of any sort of raw material.

    Scales aren't music in and of itself, and giving a beginning improviser a list of scales to play over chords isn't a great way to teach people how to play jazz in a satisfying way. I don't think anyone would disagree with that.

    But if the question is whether scales are useful at all for "thinking in jazz," that's a different question and depends on the player, where they're at, and what their goals are.

    When playing over a ii-V, I think it's really essential to be able to voice-lead your lines through the changes regardless of whether you're on a chord tone or not. You can think of those note collections as chords:

    | Dm7 | G7alt | Cmaj7 |

    You can think of them as chord scales:

    | D dorian | G altered scale | C major (ionian) |

    You can think of them in "Barry Harris-ese"

    | G dominant scale | Db dominant scale | C major |

    There's more than one road to Rome, as long as it works for you.

  16. #15

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    I try and get my students to noodle with everything I give them. Most don't, but that's the lesson. Most are lost with the concept of noodle. It was always easy for me. Take a scale you're learning. Practice it, meaning play it up and down or with exercises. NEXT play with it. Just play. Don't concern yourself that it doesn't sound good. Don't play it over a chord or backing tracks. Just noodle. Meander in a decidedly meaningless way. No judgement or taste necessary.

    NEXT learn an arpeggio -- TRIAD arpeggio. Practice it up and down and with exercises. NEXT noodle with it. Just noodle.

    NEXT put the scale and the triad arpeggio together. NOODLE. Anyway you want.

    NEXT play them both with simple progressions. NOODLE.

    For me noodling is the key to creative application.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett
    I try and get my students to noodle with everything I give them. Most don't, but that's the lesson. Most are lost with the concept of noodle. It was always easy for me. Take a scale you're learning. Practice it, meaning play it up and down or with exercises. NEXT play with it. Just play. Don't concern yourself that it doesn't sound good. Don't play it over a chord or backing tracks. Just noodle. Meander in a decidedly meaningless way. No judgement or taste necessary.

    NEXT learn an arpeggio -- TRIAD arpeggio. Practice it up and down and with exercises. NEXT noodle with it. Just noodle.

    NEXT put the scale and the triad arpeggio together. NOODLE. Anyway you want.

    NEXT play them both with simple progressions. NOODLE.

    For me noodling is the key to creative application.
    OK Henry. When my students are creating sound chaos and they show up with really sloppy time quoting you, "Henry says I'm not spending enough time noodling..." I'm blaming you. ;-)
    Seriously though, good point and a dangerous one. But if someone needs to be told by a teacher or a forum member to pick up the guitar and find your way by putting in the time... maybe an adjustment of self motivated priorities is in order.

    Time to make myself some Ramen.
    David

  18. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasein
    That's true -- what I'd add is [...snip...]
    I agree completely. I know that for my own part, I kind of had to go through scales and come out the other side, if you know what I mean.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett
    I try and get my students to noodle with everything I give them. Most don't, but that's the lesson. Most are lost with the concept of noodle. It was always easy for me. Take a scale you're learning. Practice it, meaning play it up and down or with exercises. NEXT play with it. Just play. Don't concern yourself that it doesn't sound good. Don't play it over a chord or backing tracks. Just noodle. Meander in a decidedly meaningless way. No judgement or taste necessary.

    NEXT learn an arpeggio -- TRIAD arpeggio. Practice it up and down and with exercises. NEXT noodle with it. Just noodle.

    NEXT put the scale and the triad arpeggio together. NOODLE. Anyway you want.

    NEXT play them both with simple progressions. NOODLE.

    For me noodling is the key to creative application.
    A couple of years ago, I remember you mentioning the term "finger skating over the fretboard." Is this similar to the "noodling" that you are referring to?

    If so, then I see that it does have a purpose after all, in the early stages of learning to improvise.

    If not, please elaborate when you get a moment.

  20. #19

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    I also noodled or attempted to create profound melodies derived from scales/modes perhaps similar to Henry, but I would often do so against a drone or a pedal tone ostinato. As I gained skill, I also incorporated double stops and scale derived chords. I approached each mode as if it was a raga, the Ravi Shankar influence. This was not exactly true, but it served a purpose in my development. Playing with a tonal reference taught me to hear the intervals in each singular harmonic context. These sounds then could be used in a shifting chord changes environment.

  21. #20

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    I don't recall finger skating but I really like it!

    Creativity is all about just jumping off the cliff and having faith in yourself. You can only do that by allowing yourself a LOT of noodling time. Nobody, especially not yourself, standing in judgement of your excessive or meaningless meandering bullshit should invalidate or attempt to stop this. I think creativity comes from a well of unconscious knowing. And you can't access that well if you don't allow your fingers to live a life unencumbered by opinions.

    Hence learn to noodle. Accept the noodle. One of the reasons I'm such a stickler when people start criticizing. YOU DO IT!! Its not easy. It's about trust. It's about accessing that well. And the sooner you learn to let go and trust the better an improviser you will be.

    Embrace the noodle. .


    All the best,
    www.henryrobinett.com
    Check out my latest CD on iTunes.
    I Have Known Mountains by Henry Robinett
    https://itun.es/us/pi6C_
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 04-11-2016 at 11:39 PM.

  22. #21

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    It's always been my view that you have to OWN that which you practice. So if you're practicing arpeggios, scales, lines, patterns you should practice playing with those things to the point where you can make them your own. I don't know another way of doing that beyond noodling with it.

    But then again I've never spent five minutes trying to play like someone else. So that might be something else or different. It depends on what you want and what your goal is. For me it was ALWAYS being able to access the unconscious and improvise cool stuff. But if your goal is to play like Wes or someone else, ignore everything I say.


    All the best,
    www.henryrobinett.com
    Check out my latest CD on iTunes.
    I Have Known Mountains by Henry Robinett
    https://itun.es/us/pi6C_
    Last edited by henryrobinett; 04-11-2016 at 11:35 PM.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett
    But if your goal is to play like Wes or someone else, ignore everything I say.


    _
    If your goal is to play like someone else, ignore everyone else. Put yourself on hold too, your own voice can be very distracting. :-)

    David

  24. #23

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    Lol. True kind of. Not really. Listen to everybody. Listening is where it all comes together. But you're always cultivating your inner voice. For me it was always the voice not so much the instrument. Hearing miles, Dexter, Corea, Herbie or aesthetic lines similar. Internalizing them. But also silencing inner opinions. There's no time for that. You've got to let the moments come and go.


    All the best,
    www.henryrobinett.com
    Check out my latest CD on iTunes.
    I Have Known Mountains by Henry Robinett
    https://itun.es/us/pi6C_

  25. #24

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    When I noodle with scales I always have harmony in my head whether I hear it playing in the background or not. The two are inseparable. Hearing and understanding harmony has unlocked the door to understanding scales for me.

  26. #25

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    I remember when I use to do an exercise where I played for ten minutes at the same major scale octave. At first was the most boring thing but at the third time I began to play some melodies, then I realized that I was making the scale dominant to the next phrase and then again. A saxophone can play the changes and it is not capable to play a chord.

  27. #26

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    If it works for you that's the main thing.

    The thing I always found a bit limited about CST as it presented in the books and courses I checked out was paradoxically that very looseness and freedom beyond the note palette was a bit of a problem for me, perhaps because I hadn't developed the ears to be able to come up with compelling language.

    Another big problem with CST is how unrhythmic it is. Your rhythmic sensibility has to be developed in separation from your note choices, which is not how jazz language (1920-1960 say) behaves to my ear. Again, there's absolutely no reason why you can't work within CST and get that side of it together but it's not built into the system. Making it swing is harder IMO than if you study a more language or even lick based approach.

    Anyway, one of the thigns I like about Barry Harris's system is that it tells you how to build phrases from scales. It has this in common with a few methods BTW, but Barry's is the most comprehensive system I have seen. The phrases that you build come out to be bop phrases mostly, so it depends what kind of language you'd like to develop. In terms of BH's actual scales, they are completely compatible with the CST scales, although Barry talks about them differently, and they are used in a rather different way.

    In the past couple of years I've come back to CST and what I get out of it most is the capacity to play interesting intervallic stuff and non-tertial voicings in a very free and creative way. I like the Gary Burton exercise (given in a Julian Lage workshop) of playing chord scales totally at random. The interesting thing is you ear makes aesthetic decisions intuitively, so it's never actually random. I also like the kind of opposite approach of playing through chord scales in very intervallic patterns - 2nd on top of a 4th, for example. The possibilities are limitless....

    I kind of see it as separate completely from my more traditional jazz playing, like an extra layer I can use if I feel like it. But not everyone sees it this way.

    What I would like to do is a video on how scale use changed over the history of jazz... Maybe I'll see if I can do one this week.
    Last edited by christianm77; 04-12-2016 at 08:25 AM.

  28. #27

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    I never done anything with CST, not as a system. I don't play scales per se. What I play is derived from scales. But jazz is too much about the chord to be to scalar for too long.

    Still you have to own what you know.


    All the best,
    www.henryrobinett.com
    Check out my latest CD on iTunes.
    I Have Known Mountains by Henry Robinett
    https://itun.es/us/pi6C_

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by dasein
    That's true -- what I'd add is that the same is true for chord tones, approach notes, tensions, licks, and all our other favorite devices. Time, tone, phrasing, melodic sensibilities, rhythmic ingenuity, touch, emotion, creativity, an understanding of form, a sense of drama... countless other things have to be in place to make music out of any sort of raw material.

    Scales aren't music in and of itself, and giving a beginning improviser a list of scales to play over chords isn't a great way to teach people how to play jazz in a satisfying way. I don't think anyone would disagree with that.

    But if the question is whether scales are useful at all for "thinking in jazz," that's a different question and depends on the player, where they're at, and what their goals are.

    When playing over a ii-V, I think it's really essential to be able to voice-lead your lines through the changes regardless of whether you're on a chord tone or not. You can think of those note collections as chords:

    | Dm7 | G7alt | Cmaj7 |

    You can think of them as chord scales:

    | D dorian | G altered scale | C major (ionian) |

    You can think of them in "Barry Harris-ese"

    | G dominant scale | Db dominant scale | C major |

    There's more than one road to Rome, as long as it works for you.
    Sorry to be an uber pedant (wot me???) but I would kinda think that G altered would be Ab minor in BH language although, I could be totally wrong...

    Anyway, I do think of the CST bag as being a bit different from the BH bag not so much in what the scales are but how they are used. David Baker kind of represents a middle ground - CST terminology applied to bop, although not as exhaustive as Barry's stuff IMO.

  30. #29

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    The best practice for me is to invert the system.
    Play a progression and sing on top of it. Analyze the result after.
    You will obtain great surprises, may be you know how to sing over altered dominants and you did not know it!
    Last edited by sjl; 04-13-2016 at 08:27 AM.

  31. #30

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    Hi,

    I would say : from the beginning... It encourages the student to create music, even if it's the most basic melody like Au clair de la Lune or "J'ai du bon tabac dans ma tabatière"...

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by henryrobinett
    I try and get my students to noodle with everything I give them.
    For me noodling is the key to creative application.

    I use the term experiment..I find much of the struggle in learning "music" (or any discipline) is the concept of fear of making a mistake..being wrong etc. It holds us back from taking a chance--getting someone to go "outside the lines" is a challenge and can be overwhelming to some..a phrase I like to use is " if you want the pearls you have to dive deep..they don't come to the shore.." go to uncharted territory see whats there..play with it..the more you do this type of experiment the more confident you become in a strange territory..if you have learned a new scale..play it over every chord you know-in as many ways as you can-in as many keys..see what happens..

    in the book "chord chemistry" there are several times that Greene says.."..the next chord in this progression came about by experimentation.." its a nice way of saying..hey I don't know what Im doing but lets see if this works.."

    I have found some nice lines by this method..suddenly I will hit a note by "mistake" and...AHHHH...a new road to travel .. and then as henry says "make it yours"

    It is a tool..that should be used with no expectations..you may not find the next "midnight sonata" in your journeys..but you may discover a nice lick or two..or a way to connect some chords..

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by wolflen
    I use the term experiment..I find much of the struggle in learning "music" (or any discipline) is the concept of fear of making a mistake..being wrong etc. It holds us back from taking a chance--getting someone to go "outside the lines" is a challenge and can be overwhelming to some..a phrase I like to use is " if you want the pearls you have to dive deep..they don't come to the shore.." go to uncharted territory see whats there..play with it..the more you do this type of experiment the more confident you become in a strange territory..if you have learned a new scale..play it over every chord you know-in as many ways as you can-in as many keys..see what happens..

    in the book "chord chemistry" there are several times that Greene says.."..the next chord in this progression came about by experimentation.." its a nice way of saying..hey I don't know what Im doing but lets see if this works.."

    I have found some nice lines by this method..suddenly I will hit a note by "mistake" and...AHHHH...a new road to travel .. and then as henry says "make it yours"

    It is a tool..that should be used with no expectations..you may not find the next "midnight sonata" in your journeys..but you may discover a nice lick or two..or a way to connect some chords..

    Totally agree.
    " if you want the pearls you have to dive deep..they don't come to the shore.." --> lot of musical and life wisdom packed in this sentence. Bravo