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  1. #1

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    I have bits and pieces of improv theory kicking around in my brain. My only formal instruction was a bit of chord scale. But, over the years I’ve seen references to bebop scales (eg David Baker and Barry Harris).

    Do these relate to one another? Do they overlap?

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  3. #2

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    yes and no... if you consider melodic improvization in David Baker as well as in Barry Harris approach scales are more like really scales... they contain melodic information and they are not necessarily related to particular chords... but to changes, functions, melodic logics, rythm, harmonic movements etc.
    To me they are more related to real practice of playing...

    In CST they are more like scope of notes/pitches which are theretically ( and often quite arbitrarily) related to particular chords .. much more abstract.


    To relaly feel that stuff - take more time... forum explanation can give an idea but only real preactice will relaly show what is what

  4. #3

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    They are different things.

    A chord-scale is a linear expression of a chord. That means primary chord tones and extensions arranged as a scale (ie in pitch order and within a single octave). You can play the notes of a chord-scale vertically as a chord or as linearly in a solo.

    Bebop scales are scales + chromatic passing tones. They are strictly linear concepts. 12 note chromatic scale can be played as a major bebop scale with 5 passing notes. You wouldn't put these half notes in the chord. If you put these (altered) notes in the chord, you're not playing the major chord implied by the major bebop scale.

    You can play, say, David Baker's dominant bebop scale for dominant chords. But according to the "common CST undestanding" the chord scale would still be considered the Mixolydian. You are just adding a half note to that mixolydian scale as a melodic/rhythmic device. That extra half note is a passing note that is not intended to exist in the vertical (harmonic) chord. At least not implied by the half notes in the bebop scale.

    Also note Barry Harris's extra half notes should not be confused with his 6th dim scales. The former is like bebop scales but the latter is a different notion all together despite the extra chromatic note.

  5. #4

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    From reading Hal Galper's book "Forward Motion", the reason for inserting the chromatic note is so a phrase can land with a chord tone on a strong beat of the bar. One and three if 4/4 time. Basically making a seven note odd number length scale an even number 8 note scale. This would allow a clearer definition of the harmony to the listener. The stronge chord tones being the third and seventh. However, looking at Charlie Parker solos theres plenty of landing on a flat 9 or flat 5 on the one of a bar followed with a resolution.

  6. #5

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    The idea behind the "bebop scale" (which doesn't really exist, nor did it ever) is just the start of what constitutes the major part of what sets Jazz apart from most other music. Remember that line from the film " Inside Llewyn Davis", where the Jazz impressario explains to the young folkster how that "In Jazz we use all 12 notes!"

    So sticking a chromatic passing tone so that the rest of the scale lands chord tones on "every other" note is a good way to start hearing a very rudimentary way of landing chord tones on beats. But that's gonna get old real quick. If you wanna Bop, you need to find dozens of ways (if not more) to embellish chord tones against the chord of the moment. You can do this with a number of diatonic devices, or chromatic devices, or preferably both. If you like players that use a lot of chromaticism, you may want to investigate other places to insert chromatic notes (passing, enclosures etc).

    It can take years to just get jiggy with the above approach before you get confident enough to start ignoring certain chord changes by "horizontally generalising" some of the time, but you can't just play horizontally (CST etc) from the get go and sound like you know what you're doing. You will sound way more legit if you put on those Bop training wheels for a few years and drill the shit out of your chord tone embellishment devices.

    Of course, if you don't care to sound "legit" or you don't wanna learn some Bop rules, then make up your own, Heck you can even call what you eventually come up with "Jazz". You wouldn't be the first...

  7. #6

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    I look at 8-note Bebop scales as just three more chord scales. If I recall, there are other 8-note scales in Barry Nettles' CST as well. Bebop scales have a distinctive sound. They're just a choice.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by princeplanet
    The idea behind the "bebop scale" (which doesn't really exist, nor did it ever) is just the start of what constitutes the major part of

    Of course, if you don't care to sound "legit" or you don't wanna learn some Bop rules, then make up your own, Heck you can even call what you eventually come up with "Jazz". You wouldn't be the first...
    I have never understood the need for another note to land on the right beat. Who runs a scale like that when improvising? If you want to land on the right beat, you can add any note, or play any note in the 7 note scale twice. Or, you can play a melodic idea in something other than straight 8ths and land whereever you want.

    Not a troll ... real question. Can someone explain why there is so much focus on this that "bebop scales" are a thing?

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I have never understood the need for another note to land on the right beat. Who runs a scale like that when improvising? If you want to land on the right beat, you can add any note, or play any note in the 7 note scale twice. Or, you can play a melodic idea in something other than straight 8ths and land whereever you want.

    Not a troll ... real question. Can someone explain why there is so much focus on this that "bebop scales" are a thing?
    I'm guessing it's because "bebob scale" is a very catchy name. Whoever came up with that name (David Baker?) is a marketing genius.

  10. #9

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    8 notes is for n00bs

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I have never understood the need for another note to land on the right beat. Who runs a scale like that when improvising? If you want to land on the right beat, you can add any note, or play any note in the 7 note scale twice. Or, you can play a melodic idea in something other than straight 8ths and land whereever you want.

    Not a troll ... real question. Can someone explain why there is so much focus on this that "bebop scales" are a thing?
    David Baker explained it pretty well in his first of three books on "How To Play Bebop". Preface and Page 1. William Leavitt also introduced 8 note scales for every mode of the major scale in Book 1, page 61, including the three so-called Bebop Scales. Baker claimed that while chromaticism was certainly present in jazz solos predating bebop, Bird and Diz started to go for a more specific approach in their solos, and that their followers continued it. Then Baker introduced tons of phrases, patterns, and chord oulines to illustrate his points.

    He also made the point that modern players may decide to go for something more, well, modern, but that learning bebop is like learning "the common practice period stye" in classical music - and - that jazzers should ground their improvisational capability on it.

    So in the end, I suppose one could say that chromatics can be appplied at will (and are), so it's a matter of playing in a way that is intentionally idiomatic to bebop.

    And one needn't play the entire scale to make the point. For example, over a Dom 7 chord you can play "bluesy and boppish" ideas that are shorter than a scale, utilizing any chromatic note. For example, with Mixolydian as the baseline reference: add b3, #4, #5, #7 to form shorter little ideas.


    The Bebop Scale

  12. #11

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    What's all this about "eight note scales"? A note is defined as the letter name of a line or space of the staff, and there are only seven names of them A through G, and each note may indicate different pitches depending on key signature or accidentals. No scale may have more than seven different notes, but it may have more pitches indicated by duplicating a note or notes and the addition or removal of accidentals. Eight pitch scales, yes; eight note scales, no.

  13. #12

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    Well that's getting kind of picky.

    Generally speaking, if one plays a C# by mistake when attempting to play a C, one would say "wrong note", or "false note" as opposed to "wrong pitch".

    Would you prefer the term "tone"?

    Barry Nettles describes the Diminished Scale as having 8 pitches and also 8 notes.
    Daniel Ricigliano - tones
    Dan Haerle - tones
    Paul Schmeling - notes
    Dick Grove - notes
    Mark Levine - notes
    Bruce Benward and Marilyn Saker - notes

    Close enough for me.
    Last edited by GTRMan; 08-13-2020 at 11:29 PM.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Well that's getting kind of picky.

    Generally speaking, if one plays a C# by mistake when attempting to play a C, one would say "wrong note", or "false note" as opposed to "wrong pitch".

    Would you prefer the term "tone"?
    "Clam" usually gets the idea across. If I'm the one who played it, I prefer, "Don't interpret during this chorus, please".

    More seriously, I thought it was this, from Wiki:


    Types of scale

    Scales may be described according to the number of different pitch classes they contain:

    Chromatic, or dodecatonic (12 notes per octave)
    Octatonic (8 notes per octave): used in jazz and modern classical music
    Heptatonic (7 notes per octave): the most common modern Western scale
    Hexatonic (6 notes per octave): common in Western folk music
    Pentatonic (5 notes per octave): the anhemitonic form (lacking semitones) is common in folk music, especially in Asian music; also known as the "black note" scale
    Tetratonic (4 notes), tritonic (3 notes), and ditonic (2 notes): generally limited to prehistoric ("primitive") music

  15. #14

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    Typical theory thread, lol.

  16. #15

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    I perfected this scale but now I learn it has too many notes and doesn’t exist.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Litterick
    I perfected this scale but now I learn it has too many notes and doesn’t exist.
    ”Too many notes”, from Amadeus, the movie. Funny stuff.

  18. #17

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    I know that the common term for sounds emitted by instruments and voices is "notes".

    Musical questions often lead to confusion and frustration because the questions are posed in common language but the answers emerge from the hierarchy of musical definitions. This is not just the case of using the "right word"; the definition of the meaning of "note" needs to be correct before the definition of interval (distance between notes - in units of lines and spaces), etc.

    I'm not just poking fun. Even a mathematical approach will soon encounter inconsistencies if one has lost the distinction between ordinal and cardinal numbers, causing much confusion about intervals, scale degrees, and identifying frets and fret spans.

    This distinction between notes and pitches is not really trivial.

    If requested to play a C major scale ascending, what do you play?
    - C D E F G A B C (7 notes, 8 pitches)?
    - C D E F G A B (7 notes, 7 pitches, ending on B)?

    If requested to play a C major scale descending, what do you play?
    - C B A G F E D C (7 notes, 8 pitches)?
    - C B A G F E D (7 notes, 7 pitches ending on D)?
    - B A G F E D C (7 notes, 7 pitches, starting on B)?
    Last edited by pauln; 08-14-2020 at 12:14 AM.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Well that's getting kind of picky.

    Generally speaking, if one plays a C# by mistake when attempting to play a C, one would say "wrong note", or "false note" as opposed to "wrong pitch".

    Would you prefer the term "tone"?

    Barry Nettles describes the Diminished Scale as having 8 pitches and also 8 notes.
    Daniel Ricigliano - tones
    Dan Haerle - tones
    Paul Schmeling - notes
    Dick Grove - notes
    Mark Levine - notes
    Bruce Benward and Marilyn Saker - notes

    Close enough for me.
    Barry Harris also says ‘notes’

    OTOH ‘tone’ is more correct in the same way it is more ‘correct’ to say ‘minor seventh’ or ‘diminished fifth’ than ‘flatted’

    Jazz musicians in general also aren’t really theorists per se, and I think this is a good thing. It’s more important in classical theory to establish basic terms and build up and understanding. So terminology is more important... (BH is a stickler though.)

  20. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Barry Harris also says ‘notes’

    OTOH ‘tone’ is more correct in the same way it is more ‘correct’ to say ‘minor seventh’ or ‘diminished fifth’ than ‘flatted’

    Jazz musicians in general also aren’t really theorists per se, and I think this is a good thing. It’s more important in classical theory to establish basic terms and build up and understanding. So terminology is more important... (BH is a stickler though.)
    Tone seems more descriptive. But then one definition of the word "note" is "tone".

  21. #20

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    Chord/Scale vs. Bebop Scales-jpg

    next

  22. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Tone seems more descriptive. But then one definition of the word "note" is "tone".
    OK, this is super dry...

    But tone refers to the identity of that pitch - so the tone 'Eb' is one specific thing.
    But a note may or may not be the tone 'Eb'. So, three notes might all be the tone 'Eb'

    So, a diatonic melody that uses every diatonic note can be said to use 'seven tones' but it can at least that number of notes.
    A chord scale can be said to have seven or eight tones, but a player is obviously not limited to playing exactly that number of notes.

    These distinctions are particularly important to pitch class theory I expect.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    OK, this is super dry...

    But tone refers to the identity of that pitch - so the tone 'Eb' is one specific thing.
    But a note may or may not be the tone 'Eb'. So, three notes might all be the tone 'Eb'

    So, a diatonic melody that uses every diatonic note can be said to use 'seven tones' but it can at least that number of notes.
    A chord scale can be said to have seven or eight tones, but a player is obviously not limited to playing exactly that number of notes.

    These distinctions are particularly important to pitch class theory I expect.
    Now this is just the kind of conceptual mischief I'm talking about and you have stuck your finger right in it raising the multifaceted term "tone". Tone is defined variously (inconsistently) as color, interval, note, and pitch. All of these definitions come out of the same manual of musical terms, original 1905, fifth ed. 1975.

    In music, the term tone may refer to sound quality, acoustic color, timbre, or character.
    Tone is also used as an indication of the little intervals - whole tone and half-tone (semi-tone). Here, tone means neither single notes nor pitches, but a relationship between the two. You can't play just "a whole tone" or a "half/semi-tone" without making two sounds, one with respect to the other.
    There is the tone cluster, which is notes, consecutive diatonic, pentatonic, or chromatic.
    There is tone color, which is sound quality.
    There is the tone poem, which is pitches or notes.
    There is the tone row, which is pitches (all 12 of them), self called "12 tone".


    I've decided to now refer to the Bop-tone scales from now on.

  24. #23

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    When quizzed about the harmonic analysis of bebop etc., Diz said something to the effect of "we fill up our measures with rhythm".

    So perhaps it's not just about chromaticism, but chromaticism with jazz rhythmic motivations.

    Some might say that the so-called bebop scales are just a primer for getting used to introducing chromatics in a rhythmically and harmonically logical manner. Then one keeps going...

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    When quizzed about the harmonic analysis of bebop etc., Diz said something to the effect of "we fill up our measures with rhythm".

    So perhaps it's not just about chromaticism, but chromaticism with jazz rhythmic motivations.

    Some might say that the so-called bebop scales are just a primer for getting used to introducing chromatics in a rhythmically and harmonically logical manner. Then you keep going...
    Well, yes, that's exactly it.

    Bebop scales in the David Baker sense are like the 'babba's first bebop' it's true. But still remarkably widely used. Anyone who has spent time transcribing will have spotted them in the wild all the time. So that's why they are still very much a thing.

    However, unless you've actually spent time with the Barry Harris added note scale stuff and really shedded it and worked through it, it might not be immediately obvious how far that stuff works into bop lines. It's really a way of going from scales into music. You aren't thinking in chord tones, but you are playing harmony. That's hard to understand unless you've done it, a lot. A lot of more chordal or harmony based approaches to jazz improv feel clunky, obvious and overly prescriptive by comparison.

    When playing changes, I no longer think about vertical harmony. I think about threading melodic lines through different generalised (usually dominant areas) and resolving to target chords. The harmony is emergent from the melody.

    But there's other ways to think about it. You can think about chord tones as accents in the line, and everything else as connecting material.

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Well, yes, that's exactly it.

    Bebop scales in the David Baker sense are like the 'babba's first bebop' it's true. But still remarkably widely used. Anyone who has spent time transcribing will have spotted them in the wild all the time. So that's why they are still very much a thing.

    However, unless you've actually spent time with the Barry Harris added note scale stuff and really shedded it and worked through it, it might not be immediately obvious how far that stuff works into bop lines. It's really a way of going from scales into music. You aren't thinking in chord tones, but you are playing harmony. That's hard to understand unless you've done it, a lot. A lot of more chordal or harmony based approaches to jazz improv feel clunky, obvious and overly prescriptive by comparison.

    When playing changes, I no longer think about vertical harmony. I think about threading melodic lines through different generalised (usually dominant areas) and resolving to target chords. The harmony is emergent from the melody.

    But there's other ways to think about it. You can think about chord tones as accents in the line, and everything else as connecting material.
    Thread hijack:

    If you approach it that way you can get great results, referring to " threading melodic lines through different generalised (usually dominant areas) and resolving to target chords."

    But, suppose you approach a song by familiarizing yourself with the harmony and then scat singing a solo. Are you going to sing the same sort of solo that you got the first way?

    Or perhaps , it's the same thing expressed with different words?

    For myself, I know that what I scat sing and what my fingers find on their own are different. But, I'm not a great player with huge ears

  27. #26

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    I think there are a lot of people who try to play music without internalising how it sounds? That doesn’t work. Doesn’t matter what you play.

    OTOH I can say from experience that if you ask someone to scat a solo and all they can come out with is square rhythms and dreary stepwise melodies, it’s not going to help them how good they get at playing what they hear, because - frankly - they can’t yet hear anything worth playing.

    The student who has jazz coming out of their ears and just needs to be taught the instrument is not very common in my experience (but that’s not to say nonexistent.)

    There’s plenty of time honoured approaches to get you better at these things, which mostly focus outwards, not inwards (that comes later). Singing lines and solos from records and so on. In any case many experienced jazz educators sing lines as much as they play them. And then there’s things like the Tristano school which make it a bit stricter and more pedagogical, but it’s the same stuff.

    I got interested in bop scales because I sang them after hearing them in a solo I was working on. singing things back is presumably a part of most people’s transcription process (at least at first?)

    A while later that led to Barry Harris, whose lessons are like 2 hour transcription sessions. He sings everything.

    The idea that you don’t work on hearing the musical ideas you are learning is perhaps a product of people using books and getting too interested in theory as a panacea? Or bad teaching? Or feeling that they can somehow shortcut the process and become creative idiomatic improvisers right away?

    Dunno really. Ear learning is a weakness for a lot of people. It can be intimidating. As with sight reading and rhythm stuff you have to get into the mindset that it is fun and a form of play.

    OTOH I think it’s good to be skeptical of the audiation fundamentalists (like Edwin Gordon) who talk about improvisation as some idealised process that doesn’t seem to represent any real life jazz improvisers. It’s not in fact necessary to hear every note.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-15-2020 at 05:31 AM.

  28. #27

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    Are there great soloists who can't scat a good solo?

    Chuck Wayne, I was told, worked up chord melodies for tunes, harmonizing every note of the melody. Then, he tried to solo on every one of those chords. Great soloist. Could he scat that? My guess is that he could , but maybe not as fast as he could find the notes based on patterns.

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Are there great soloists who can't scat a good solo?

    Chuck Wayne, I was told, worked up chord melodies for tunes, harmonizing every note of the melody. Then, he tried to solo on every one of those chords. Great soloist. Could he scat that? My guess is that he could , but maybe not as fast as he could find the notes based on patterns.
    remember the voice is also an instrument. People ‘play’ it at different levels. As it’s one we are attached to, in general, for life, and have to learn to play (to some extent) in early childhood in order to master language, it’s easy to overlook that. But most people are not virtuosi especially in the less speech related registers.

    In most, you will get flat notes and approximations. (Although some struggle to match a pitch, and that’s when you have to ask - is it the inner ear or the command of the vocal folds? Often the latter AFAIK) Few have Bobby McFerrin style inner ear to sung pitch accuracy. And that’s stuff you have to work on just as much as a player. If you want to be a singer.

    So obvious point; The singing’s not really the end in this case. It’s a tool. It only needs to be good enough to give the shape sometimes. Pitch often less important than phrasing and rhythm.

    and that’s where bop scales come in...

    but anyway this is just music stuff, not ‘jazz’ stuff. You get them singing stuff early and you keep them doing it. It shouldn’t even be noteworthy.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-15-2020 at 06:35 AM.

  30. #29

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    My current path is to work on being able to play what I'm scat-singing, in real time. My scat-sung lines are better, IMO, than the lines I play if I do it any other way. At some point, I might decide to work on being able to imagine more sophisticated lines. But, I can already imagine lines I like that I may not be able to play instantly. So, I've decided to work on that.

    I still work on other techniques, because I often have to solo on unfamiliar changes. I can't read a unfamiliar chord sequence and scat over it. So, it's the usual mix of scales, arps, triads, tonal centers etc. But, the best stuff, to me, is the stuff I can sing. To be clear, the singing would not sound accurate in pitch to somebody else -- but that doesn't seem to be necessary. My voice may not actually be accurately reflecting what I'm thinking and trying to play. But, somehow, the singing organizes the effort.

    My favorite jazz tends to be lines that sound like singable melodies. Desmond and Getz come to mind as players who strike me like that. Was it Slam Stewart who sang along with his bass solos? I always liked that.

  31. #30

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    My current path is to work on being able to play what I'm scat-singing, in real time. My scat-sung lines are better, IMO, than the lines I play if I do it any other way. At some point, I might decide to work on being able to imagine more sophisticated lines. But, I can already imagine lines I like that I may not be able to play instantly. So, I've decided to work on that.

    I still work on other techniques, because I often have to solo on unfamiliar changes. I can't read a unfamiliar chord sequence and scat over it. So, it's the usual mix of scales, arps, triads, tonal centers etc. But, the best stuff, to me, is the stuff I can sing. To be clear, the singing would not sound accurate in pitch to somebody else -- but that doesn't seem to be necessary. My voice may not actually be accurately reflecting what I'm thinking and trying to play. But, somehow, the singing organizes the effort.

    My favorite jazz tends to be lines that sound like singable melodies. Desmond and Getz come to mind as players who strike me like that. Was it Slam Stewart who sang along with his bass solos? I always liked that.
    So why not just pop one of those on and play it back phrase by phrase at tempo? Move on when you get the phrase right. If something’s too fast to get, just bluff it if you want or get the shape. Don’t feel you have to learn it, just practice the process.

    you can always go back and puzzle out
    knotty bits if you feel inclined. Or not.

    but by doing this it focuses both your ability to play phrases on your instrument (which is rarely that hard if you can really hear it) and your ability to hear music in detail.

    And it also works the ‘inner ear’ including the clarity, sophistication and detail of the stuff you hear in your mind’s ear.

    (Particularly in terms of rhythm and phrasing. That’s a big weak point for many players. And you can’t fake it like you can note choices by using a scale or whatever.)

    I also find it very enjoyable, and find it a great warm up for improvising.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-15-2020 at 08:46 AM.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    remember the voice is also an instrument. People ‘play’ it at different levels. As it’s one we are attached to, in general, for life, and have to learn to play (to some extent) in early childhood in order to master language, it’s easy to overlook that. But most people are not virtuosi especially in the less speech related registers.

    In most, you will get flat notes and approximations. (Although some struggle to match a pitch, and that’s when you have to ask - is it the inner ear or the command of the vocal folds? Often the latter AFAIK) Few have Bobby McFerrin style inner ear to sung pitch accuracy. And that’s stuff you have to work on just as much as a player. If you want to be a singer.

    So obvious point; The singing’s not really the end in this case. It’s a tool. It only needs to be good enough to give the shape sometimes. Pitch often less important than phrasing and rhythm.

    and that’s where bop scales come in...

    but anyway this is just music stuff, not ‘jazz’ stuff. You get them singing stuff early and you keep them doing it. It shouldn’t even be noteworthy.
    Great discussion (although we moved from Theory to Improv like we always do. But maybe that's the point.).

    I agree with everything you've said with only one counter point. I think this is "jazz stuff" and not just music stuff, because I think jazzers need it more. Classical composers and orchestrators should also benefit from it, relative to the average classical instrumentalist, but EVERY developing jazzer has the responsibility to become a skilled improvisor, and effective ear training can really help.

    Despite that of course, I avoid it like the plague and just want to take things to the instrument, which I believe is another point you made.

  33. #32

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Great discussion (although we moved from Theory to Improv like we always do. But maybe that's the point.).

    I agree with everything you've said with only one counter point. I think this is "jazz stuff" and not just music stuff, because I think jazzers need it more. Classical composers and orchestrators should also benefit from it, relative to the average classical instrumentalist, but EVERY developing jazzer has the responsibility to become a skilled improvisor, and effective ear training can really help.

    Despite that of course, I avoid it like the plague and just want to take things to the instrument, which I believe is another point you made.
    Classical musicians vary widely, some are extraordinary audiators, others less so. There is understood to be a general shortchanging of aural skills in classical pedagogy, but it’s generally held that more of this would make for better classical music performers.

    Classical music is built around notation as a definitive text obviously and this makes it unusual.

    (Theres an idea that I think is easily debunked that classical musicians mechanically and accurately play the notes on the page - they really don’t, good players always interpret what they have on the page through their own cultural sensibility. Good players are hearing the music, experienced readers often anticipate it or even correct typos as they play.)

    i believe improv to be a natural outgrowth of oral music traditions. I think it’s really the centrality of the score that makes it a distinct thing to composition or interpretation. we don’t even have much vocabulary for discussing different flavours or improvisation, ranging from set piece but unscored statements devised or refined by the performer (or ‘inhereted’ in the case of the Picout High Society line) through to spontaneous inventions that are never repeated.

    Obviously if you don’t have a definitive version of the music written down, natural variations will creep in. But I think it goes further than that; it encourages performers to do ‘their take’ on a song, tune or piece, once the idiom is mastered, perhaps heavily ornamented or recomposed. And in jazz of course we add in our own melodies into the mix.

    So that composer/performer dichotomy is classical music’s issue really, we don’t need to worry about their hang ups when playing jazz.

    (Besides most composers are good improvisers; composition and improv is an area of overlap.)

    and obviously most global and historical cultures transmit music orally. Indian and Middle Eastern music, Northern European folk music, and so on, are all primarily oral traditions.

    and you get specific; so hearing quarter tones for ME musicians is a very detailed thing. Intonation is dependent on context and culture. Other ME musicians often say Egyptians temper their quarter tones very oddly for instance; it’s like an accents or dialect. Obviously this stuff would slip the average western musician by because we haven’t refined our perceptions to be able to appreciate these things. But they can be learned.

    Or swing in jazz, rubato in classical and so on. Or interpretation in Schubert songs (these songs need details that aren’t in the score.) These all have to be audiated by the performer. You can’t learn that stuff other than through the oral tradition....
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-15-2020 at 11:53 AM.

  34. #33

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    In fact you could argue it’s exactly the idea of aural skills being developed by aural tests and ear training which is the problem; if you organically learn music by ear from day one, the only purpose these exercises could serve are to develop your ability to assign names to sounds as you hear them. Not without its uses, but not the core of what it is to play music.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-15-2020 at 12:12 PM.

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    In fact you could argue it’s exactly the idea of aural skills being developed by aural tests and ear training which is the problem; if you organically learn music by ear from day one, the only purpose these exercises could serve are to develop your ability to assign names to sounds as you hear them. Not without its uses, but not the core of what it is to play music.
    Agreed with Basic Ear Training. But then there is "Performance Ear Training". A quick Google brought the following up, among other links.


    Performance Ear Training for Guitar
    PFET-367
    1 credit(s)
    Course Chair: Allan Chase
    Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
    Required of: None; Approved specified elective for guitar principal PERF majors
    Electable by: Guitar principals
    Prerequisites: Overall ensemble rating of 2 and ET-112
    Department: EAR
    Location: Boston Campus
    Ear training with an emphasis on practical performance experience. Recognizing pitch, rhythm, harmony, and timbre by ear and responding on the student's instrument in class. Some dictation. Some nonsyllabic sight-singing.

  36. #35

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    nonsyllabic sight-singing
    So, like "one hand clapping"?

  37. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Agreed with Basic Ear Training. But then there is "Performance Ear Training". A quick Google brought the following up, among other links.


    Performance Ear Training for Guitar
    PFET-367
    1 credit(s)
    Course Chair: Allan Chase
    Semesters Offered: Fall, Spring, Summer
    Required of: None; Approved specified elective for guitar principal PERF majors
    Electable by: Guitar principals
    Prerequisites: Overall ensemble rating of 2 and ET-112
    Department: EAR
    Location: Boston Campus
    Ear training with an emphasis on practical performance experience. Recognizing pitch, rhythm, harmony, and timbre by ear and responding on the student's instrument in class. Some dictation. Some nonsyllabic sight-singing.
    And how many sessions do you think they do a week? Maybe one? Maybe two? Over a semester to two? A formal course might be necessary for students who haven’t had a background in this sort of thing, but its not going to get you there. The best the teachers can hope to do is to give you a tool kit and good habits for the future.

    Now imagine yourself learning music only by ear. For fun. Because you want to learn the music and love it. And you do it every minute you can because you are really into music and want to figure it out. (And you are maybe 17 and have enough time to do it lol)*

    (thats also a different skill set. You might be a machine at naming intervals but crap at learning songs.)

    (and then you get the tabs off a website lol.)

    Anyway, pedagogy is a poor relation to passion and experiential ‘in at the deep end’ learning; however in combination, hard to beat. Ultimately as a teacher you just want to be handing out hints and tips. If you need to do more than that, you need to get the student to that point somehow.

    * BTW this was NOT my experience lol
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-15-2020 at 03:20 PM.

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    And how many sessions do you think they do a week? Maybe one? Maybe two? Over a semester to two? A formal course might be necessary for students who haven’t had a background in this sort of thing, but its not going to get you there. The best the teachers can hope to do is to give you a tool kit and good habits for the future.

    Now imagine yourself learning music only by ear. For fun. Because you want to learn the music and love it. And you do it every minute you can because you are really into music and want to figure it out. (And you are maybe 17 and have enough time to do it lol)*

    (thats also a different skill set. You might be a machine at naming intervals but crap at learning songs.)

    (and then you get the tabs off a website lol.)

    Anyway, pedagogy is a poor relation to passion and experiential ‘in at the deep end’ learning; however in combination, hard to beat. Ultimately as a teacher you just want to be handing out hints and tips. If you need to do more than that, you need to get the student to that point somehow.

    * BTW this was NOT my experience lol
    Every ear training course shows students how to do it - and keep doing it. Whether a person maintains those skills or simply checks off the box for that class and moves on is a personal decision, as is the case for any other discipline.

    Again, only speaking for myself I don't keep up the ear training stuff. It's work. But then, I'm an amatuer.

  39. #38

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Every ear training course shows students how to do it - and keep doing it. Whether a person maintains those skills or simply checks off the box for that class and moves on is a personal decision, as is the case for any other discipline.

    Again, only speaking for myself I don't keep up the ear training stuff. It's work. But then, I'm an amatuer.
    I think that's the only point I'm trying to make here. Learning music by ear should really be the air one breathes, not some added extra you have to go to college for. This is the way everyone used to learn, and its still the way professional musicians learn music (when they are not sight reading fly shit, of course :-)) You don't have to be Jacob Collier - just being comfortable with doing it is a great start.

    There's no reason NOT to learn everything by ear - except of course that it's difficult when you start and it takes time to get good enough at it that it starts to be fun, so there's a temptation to seek out a short cut. But the same is true of many things. Everyone can do this to some extent - amateur, pro, doesn't matter. 'Hey - sing this melody 'Mary Had a Little Lamb' , now play it... or *sings bop line*, now play it...

    Thing is - if you want to play music, sooner or later you are going to have to go and deal with music.

    (People who check boxes will never play anything worth a damn. Harsh, but true.)

    OTOH, it's also easy to be too hardcore with this stuff. But it is important, and I don't think nagging people will change much.

    It has to come from within. The best thing I can say is it gets to be fun. And it is empowering.

  40. #39

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Are there great soloists who can't scat a good solo?
    there is a really great bay area alto player, I believe he teaches and has been on the scene for forever, he plays great cannnonball style bebop alto sax. super great. Once, I was at a session and he was singing and scatting solos: some of the worst scatting I've ever heard. Just really really bad.

    I think most players can vocalize their ideas and lines they'd play but quality and pitch accuracy is gonna vary wildly, and probably isn't a good indicator.

  41. #40

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    Yeah. He probably hears it? As I say, not everyone is a good singer.

    Vocalisation can still be helpful though. No one would accuse Barry of being a good singer but vocalisation is terribly important in his music and teaching. And he is a great coach of singers in interpretation.

    Despite seriously considering being a classical bass baritone at one point, my voice can often be flat as a pancake when not singing with operatic technique. My hope is it makes people feel more relaxed to sing badly themselves haha

  42. #41

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    I think the whole "sing and play" thing really ends up being an example of diminishing returns. In the beginning, when one's craft on the instrument is nil the voice no matter how poor is yet well ahead of what one can produce from the instrument, and so the voice serves fine to help lead, conceptualize, organize, or otherwise help provide a guide to teaching, learning, and playing.

    As one learns to play faster and more complex lines and phrases, the voice reaches relative limits of range, speed, and complexity. One eventually learns to routinely play faster than one can sing out loud, so hopefully by this time the function of the voice is becoming internalized to singing faster in the mind"s ear, even capable of polyphonic singing, its limits exceeding those on the instrument, and continuing to do so as one's technique and execution advance.

    I guess what I'm suggesting is that singing out loud as a method of teaching, learning, and playing, if successful, holds the seeds of its own obsolescence, replaced by the mind's ear's superiority... something to look forward to in many musical ways.

  43. #42

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    Yeah I’d basically agree with that - it’s a gateway. solfege is similar.

    But you know, there’s a reason Lennie got his students to sing solos. And that has to with training musical memory and recall as well. If you find yourself struggling to retain long phrases, that’s a great exercise.

    I can certainly play faster than I can sing (although I used to shred on baroque arias which are as notey as any bebop solo) but actually one thing that’s super helpful about the voice is that you don’t lend equal weight to everything. You perceive accents and sing those. So in some ways that can be very helpful for phrasing.

    Also by singing lines you also - guess what - get better at singing lines. Not sure where that gets you but, hey.

    but ultimately the singing is for YOU, and it doesn’t have to be good. As long as you know what’s happening vocalisation seems useful in exercising the musical imagination.

  44. #43

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    Bass Baritone Baroque Bebop... would look good on your business card.

  45. #44

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    The process of singing is thinking of a note to vocalize and then vocalizing it. The important part is that you're thinking of a note to sing and play It doesn't matter much whether you sing it well. Which is why some of this sounds like grunting. It does matter that you play it.

    So, sure, the process eventually should get faster than your ability to sing the lines, although some of my favorite players don't seem to ever go that fast (the stuff I like from Desmond and Getz comes to mind). At that point, hopefully, you're still executing what you sing in you mind.

    But, I think it's very easy to fall into the trap of losing control of that process, at which point, it seems like your left hand, not your mind's ear, is in charge. Then you find yourself licking noodles on autopilot.

    Whichever approach you take, I have recently learned once again, some people will like it and some will criticize it. I have recently taken several group lessons with a master drummer -- one of his comments was to remind me of the importance of playing fast in jazz. So, I've been working on that. The picking is the bottleneck, so I've basically been practicing for speed - just to be able to play any line in time. It would be great if I could progress on that, but, meanwhile, it's taking time away from my usual practice of singing lines and playing them.

  46. #45

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    It’s my sincere belief that one could spend several lifetimes attempting to assimilate the language of the greats. What makes them great is that they assimilated all these things on a bandstand, not by attempting to study it, or analyze it many, many decades after the music is long gone. It was a period in time whereby the music was perfect, in a way, and it’s perfection can’t be analyzed by educators. You need time travel back to that period in time to truly get this stuff. But if you disagree, I’m okay with that.

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by 2bornot2bop
    It’s my sincere belief that one could spend several lifetimes attempting to assimilate the language of the greats. What makes them great is that they assimilated all these things on a bandstand, not by attempting to study it, or analyze it many, many decades after the music is long gone. It was a period in time whereby the music was perfect, in a way, and it’s perfection can’t be analyzed by educators. You need time travel back to that period in time to truly get this stuff. But if you disagree, I’m okay with that.
    If you haven't, you should read Paul Berliner. Reality was more complicated. But the bandstand always remained the primary focus. Today jazz education has eaten jazz to a large extent. (Although those kids do love a bit of jazz/funk it seems.)

    The point of educators btw is not actually to analyse music, but to teach it (or, pace Paul Desmond, facilitate its learning.) I think we often forget that...

  48. #47

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    Ok fair enough, I think there are two fallacies there.

    1. All learned on the bandstand. Nope, Charlie Parker practiced hard in the shed. Experimented with a lot of things before trying them on the bandstand. I do believe that he may have studied some Bach as well, who was obviously long dead by then. The list of masters who spent some period of their lives shedding like mad is too long to place here, but certainly includes Bird, Trane, and Wes. Sonny Rollins famously quit working for a while just to practice like a fiend under "The Bridge". He had already made a name for himself but specifically did NOT like what was happening on the bandstand, so backed up some steps in order to focus/study/analyze/practice - by himself. It worked.

    2. Evidence is everywhere that musicians can emulate and learn music from past periods and learn/master it convincingly, even adding their own "voice" to it. This is repeatable through the ages and applies to all styles. Music is only mysterious to those who don't study it, same as with any other field/topic.

    So what sets the most revered jazz masters apart? Virtuosity? Yes, but there's something else - Innovation.
    Last edited by GTRMan; 08-19-2020 at 12:53 AM.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    ... Sonny Rollins famously quit working for a while just to practice like a fiend under "The Bridge". He had already made a name for himself but specifically did NOT like what was happening on the bandstand, so backed up some steps in order to focus/study/analyze/practice - by himself. It worked....
    Well, that's a matter of opinion! Pre Bridge Rollins is perfection personified (Sonnyfied?). However, I find fault in everything he did (does) since. My personal taste, obviously and YMMV and all that, but for me, he lost his quintessential voice (he'd never agree!) once he tried to catch up to Coltrane, who he admired so much. The pressure everyone felt to be avant-gard in the 60's caused most players to lose their way a bit, I think...

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by GTRMan
    Ok fair enough, I think there are two fallacies there.

    1. All learned on the bandstand. Nope, Charlie Parker practiced hard in the shed. Experimented with a lot of things before trying them on the bandstand. I do believe that he may have studied some Bach as well, who was obviously long dead by then. The list of masters who spent some period of their lives shedding like mad is too long to place here, but certainly includes Bird, Trane, and Wes. Sonny Rollins famously quit working for a while just to practice like a fiend under "The Bridge". He had already made a name for himself but specifically did NOT like what was happening on the bandstand, so backed up some steps in order to focus/study/analyze/practice - by himself. It worked.

    2. Evidence is everywhere that musicians can emulate and learn music from past periods and learn/master it convincingly, even adding their own "voice" to it. This is repeatable through the ages and applies to all styles. Music is only mysterious to those who don't study it, same as with any other field/topic.

    So what sets the most revered jazz masters apart? Virtuosity? Yes, but there's something else - Innovation.
    Music (like most things) is complex and multifaceted. It resists being boiled down to neat criteria. Reality is more complicated.

    Parker was undoubtedly an unprecedented innovator; the Monteverdi, Beethoven or Wagner of this music.

    However; the generation who followed him? Dexter? Stitt? Clifford? Barry Harris? Cannonball? Not so much. Jazz entered a period of 'common practice' in the 50s. If you spend time transcribing that music, you'll find a fairly consistent and 'classical' approach to pitch choice. The same scales, figures and so on, all originating from Bird.

    The thing that distinguishes these musicians is primarily the stuff you can't write down - feel, tone, touch, phrasing and so on. And they all sound like themselves, not mere copies of Bird. IMO you'd be missing the point of jazz not to call these musicians masters.

    Barry, with due respect, is not an innovator and never has been. But he is a master jazz musician. And he is instantly recognisable (at least to me.) But it was precisely those imported concepts of 'innovation' (taken from the Modernist ideas in vogue in Western music at the time) which meant that critics of the time tended to overlook these classical masters in favour of stuff like Gunther Schuller's Third Stream 'squeaky bonk' music (which no-one listens to much these days) while today if you hear jazz of that era, it is the classic Lee Morgan records and so on that still get played.

    Bird himself was building on a thorough knowledge of the past. If he hadn't been playing on Honeysuckle, Lady be Good, Rhythm Changes, Blues, no-one would have given him a second thought, he wouldn't have had any gigs. His music existed within a clear bandstand context. During the 40s it was popular music; economically viable in a way today's jazz is really not (jazz education is where the money is), so organically had a community of professional practice. This is equally true, BTW, of the baroque and classical composers we put in the gilded frame of Art today.

    And that's not to dismiss Ornette, Trane and so on, who also truly changed the common practice in the 1960s, because jazz was taken more seriously as an art music, it gave them the opportunity to do more than simply refine the language of the bop and swing eras. (But 'art' music requires historically private patronage, or later on, state funding.)

    Anyway, aside from narratives about the history, the fairly obvious point here is that if you only ever practice on your own, you won't be able to play jazz; conversely if you only play on the bandstand and never practice, you won't be able to play jazz.

    One aspect that is important - and in Berliner's book - is the fact that musicians often got together and traded ideas, sometimes worked on stuff together. That's something you don't see so much today, which is a shame.

    So; these things reflect the nature of jazz exists as a synthesis - and individualist music that values the personal voice, that harnesses the power of competition to evolve and develop, that also exists within a community and prizes the importance of collective cooperation the sum being greater than the parts; 'social music' as Miles called it. Rooted in tradition and also looking to reflect the present. This differentiates it, I think, from music such as classical, which tends to subjugate the individual voice in favour of collective action and unity, and tends to be dominated (at least today) by its own history.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-19-2020 at 05:38 AM.

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    ........classical, which tends to subjugate the individual voice in favour of collective action and unity, and tends to be dominated (at least today) by its own history.
    You were doing really well up to that point, lol.

    It sounds like you're thinking of compositions that don't include a lot of solo performance (like Symphonies for example. And it s not about subjugation by the way, it's unity, like you said).

    You may counter by saying that even with solo sections classical compositions still don't allow much individual expression. So, is that true? Relative to folk music do they "keep it within the lines?" Sure, but one can still hear the individual.

    Excellence in precision, tone, articulation, and period-correct expression are all part of the entry criteria. But even with all of that firmly in place, the individual still comes through. It's impossible for it to be otherwise. Humans aren't clones.


    A case in point - if one loves the Concierto De Aranjuez, they can probably think of 1-3 performances/recordings that they prefer to all others, all things being relatively equal (like recording technology/period).