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  1. #1

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    When improvising do you think of an interval as two things as once? Say your jamming on a 1 4 5 in D and you hit the B of the G chord, do you think simultaneously that the B is 3rd of the 4 chord but it's also the 6th if the D scale, the parent scale, the tonal center?

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  3. #2

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    Quote Originally Posted by mysticguitar
    When improvising do you think of an interval as two things as once? Say your jamming on a 1 4 5 in D and you hit the B of the G chord, do you think simultaneously that the B is 3rd of the 4 chord but it's also the 6th if the D scale, the parent scale, the tonal center?
    No.

  4. #3
    Absolutely. You develop an awareness of what each note means, the context within the chord you're in and the context of the key. It's one of the dualities of playing. People like Lester Young had great lyrical lines because his ideas made a melody within a larger tonal centre. Coleman Hawkins, on the other hand has a place within each chord where a particular note has meaning for a chord at play at the moment. Both of these guys, and all players after them tend to have a leaning one way or the other but all great players operate with an awareness of both contexts.
    How do you practice a balance of the two? Listening. Singing tends to develop a linear sensibility. If sing on a set of changes without focusing on root movement but rather colours within the key area, you tend to develop an awareness of movement in a key area. Root awareness on the other hand is a different skill and will really help you find strength in chordal harmonic highlights.
    Practice with multiple awarenesses and you will be able to play with both harmonic chordal accuracy and a meaningful line within the form of the piece.

  5. #4

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    Unfortunately I can not think.
    When I improvising, it is bad enough, and anytime I try to think it makes even worst.

  6. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Gabor
    Unfortunately I can not think.
    When I improvising, it is bad enough, and anytime I try to think it makes even worst.
    Thinking and hearing are two sides of improvisation that are necessary to be a creative composer, and that's what improvisation is: composition in real time. Each of these aspects needs to be practiced. It takes a lot of practice to bring them together. That's what practice is for, to make you proficient in something that may not be natural at first. It's also why people who haven't gotten there are so in awe of players who can think, hear, feel and play as if you were born doing it. But it's within everyone's ability to master; you just have to want to do it...and practice.
    Here's a question for those who don't think this is within their abilities: How much time do you spend with ear training? Can you listen to a recording, and identify the notes being played while it's being played in real time? Can you identify the chord structure and hear and know the chord tones in real time? Can you identify the sounds in intervallic melodies relative to the key centre at the time? Can you reference the head and create a solo based on the head, and then from the changes? Combine them and you're hearing chord tone and melody.
    This is an ability that comes from practice and it's a knowledge that informs where you are, where you were and what your options are for where you'll go. If you don't have this, you're playing from the hand. Ear training.

  7. #6

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    I don’t micromanage pitch choices when improvising. Generally I think in larger objects such as phrases, voice leading combinations and so on.

  8. #7

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    There’s also a debate about what exactly constitutes ‘thinking’; but one key thing for any student to understand is the distinction between the practicing and playing mindset.

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Can you listen to a recording, and identify the notes being played while it's being played in real time?
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Can you identify the sounds in intervallic melodies relative to the key centre at the time? C
    In the first quote what you're referring to is having absolute pitch (identifying notes being played). Something like 1 in 10.000 have this ability and it cannot be developed with ear training. It's highly debatable whether not having it is a disadvantage at all in ones musicianship.

    In the second quote you're referring to relative pitch. That I agree that it is important to develop. Also as you said hearing chord tones and extensions/alterations as well as overall chord quality are also useful. But I don't think identifying notes is as important as identifying function.

  10. #9

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    Identify pitches by ear?

    Yeah OK, so what we are talking about is basically musical dictation. So you can learn to do that. You need a reference pitch if you don’t have perfect pitch, but you can do it without.

    I was interested in this for a while. With all due respect to Banacos etc over time I’ve become less interested for two reasons:

    - people hear comprehensible input better and music is - to some extent - like a language. You understand words and sentences. You probably notice yourself hearing voicings and phrases you play frequently right away.

    And yet most formal ear training focuses on individual pitches and combinations. I wonder is this as useful as just diving in and listening to and repeating phrases and voicings as you hear them. What jazz education insists on calling transcription, but without the scription part.

    In the end I feel like that ability is ultimately measured not in solos transcribed but the speed and efficiency with which you turn heard music into playing.

    And this is much easier for comprehensible input - bop lines for me - than it is for very intervallic modern playing, say. So you just get more experience with whatever.

    - Second, I realised that my ability to repeat phrases on the guitar has nothing to do with my ability to categorise pitches. one is a more conscious process (still) while the other is much more automatic and intuitive.

    So I could get the categorisation thing more intuitive, but I figured it was more directly important to me to get good at playing the guitar.

    It’s less linear and absolute than that; one definitely has an influence on the other, but with time to work on music somewhat limited I feel it’s best for me if I basically dive into the music and let it teach me, and I feel that represents the informal learning of most of the masters.

    Anyway what Richie said haha....
    This may save time and verbiage
    Last edited by christianm77; 10-25-2020 at 07:55 AM.

  11. #10

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    Btw I’m not saying this is the best way for everyone.... I think if you are a very good reader, writing stuff down may be a lot more related to your instrument. It’s also a good way to work on your reading.

    But for both reading and hearing, he tend to work in shapes and objects.

  12. #11
    That's very helpful. Thank you. This way if playing is all new to me.

  13. #12
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Absolutely. You develop an awareness of what each note means, the context within the chord you're in and the context of the key. It's one of the dualities of playing. People like Lester Young had great lyrical lines because his ideas made a melody within a larger tonal centre. Coleman Hawkins, on the other hand has a place within each chord where a particular note has meaning for a chord at play at the moment. Both of these guys, and all players after them tend to have a leaning one way or the other but all great players operate with an awareness of both contexts.
    How do you practice a balance of the two? Listening. Singing tends to develop a linear sensibility. If sing on a set of changes without focusing on root movement but rather colours within the key area, you tend to develop an awareness of movement in a key area. Root awareness on the other hand is a different skill and will really help you find strength in chordal harmonic highlights.
    Practice with multiple awarenesses and you will be able to play with both harmonic chordal accuracy and a meaningful line within the form of the piece.
    Thanks JB. I learned to change scales, arpeggios, pentatonics, modes, with each chords change, but now since I'm trying to use the tonal center scale, say a major pentatonic, thru the changes but targeting chord toned, altering the scale if it does not contain the appropriate notes, acknowledging how the interval relates to the tonal center and the chord I'm on, allows for smoother lines and some how makes my knowledge of the notes more connected.

  14. #13

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    I think it is most important to check out real music.

    Or

    What Richie said


    This may save time and verbiage

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by mysticguitar
    When improvising do you think of an interval as two things as once? Say your jamming on a 1 4 5 in D and you hit the B of the G chord, do you think simultaneously that the B is 3rd of the 4 chord but it's also the 6th if the D scale, the parent scale, the tonal center?
    Funny but never like that.
    Only when I hit and stay 4th degree at the wrong time because of laziness or ignorance.. then I know
    The other times, when happen to play on the triad or 1 3 7 degrees of the same that comes from the comp, I know what those are. Other times, not so well. It's all chaos! Sometimes a good chaos

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    In the first quote what you're referring to is having absolute pitch (identifying notes being played). Something like 1 in 10.000 have this ability and it cannot be developed with ear training. It's highly debatable whether not having it is a disadvantage at all in ones musicianship.

    In the second quote you're referring to relative pitch. That I agree that it is important to develop. Also as you said hearing chord tones and extensions/alterations as well as overall chord quality are also useful. But I don't think identifying notes is as important as identifying function.
    Not at all what I meant. Take the tune But Not For Me. I don't have perfect pitch, but I know that in the key of the tune, the notes are 2,3,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,3.
    In terms of the chord progression going from II- to I, it would be 1,2,1,2,1 in the II chord, sus 4 in V chord and a 3 in the final I chord.
    I don't need perfect pitch to have that awareness.
    Now I'm not thinking numbers while I'm playing...and as Christian alludes, thinking is not saying "Oh I'm playing this..." but it certainly is a thought process that gives each note a distinct identity in the string of notes.
    Thinking is not merely imparting an intellectual identity-far from that. Thinking means do you know the implicit musical meaning and significance of a particular sound, and be able to intelligently make a choice of what you're playing next so you can create phrasing, motif, tension and resolution, contour and gravity.
    Now granted, you don't need to think this way. But I find that this knowledge is key to my avoiding cliche, habitual and senseless playing on my part. It's a choice of options based on awareness of sensual value. But it doesn't come out of perfect pitch. Quite the opposite. It's all relative.

  17. #16

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    Btw. I have a cool demonstration about the magic of music.. and harmony for the students.
    I ask them to play one single note. Then I ask them to listen only their own note.
    Then I play slowly all the 7 triads of the scale while they keep focusing on their own note. I ask them to describe each change - how their note feels now.
    Pretty much always they are keen to test out other notes like that. I mean, you know how rare is to hear "lets do that again" from kids with any other types of exercises?
    Thats why I call it magic.

    Anyway, there is one single easy exercise (cant call it that really) for getting a bit more life into the notes that I can 100% vouch for.
    Just pull a chord, then play all the 12 notes against it - but slooooowly. Listen each one for 10 secs and just focus on how it feels, where it wants to go.. One side effect is that it can cause some forgotten awe about how insanely different each note is.
    The other side effect is that when improvising just after finishing this 3 minute "trip", it will be... it has more spark. Please try it out.
    Helps if feeli good, calm, patient and focused while doing it.

  18. #17

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    great exercise

    Yeah that’s a bit like Banacos (via Bruce Arnold for me.) He says it has to be an intuitive connection from day 1.

    So you can train your ears to hear pitches and make them this way.... 4th feels a certain way, 7th another and so on.

    Kodaly touches on this with the hand gestures thing.

  19. #18
    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    Btw. I have a cool demonstration about the magic of music.. and harmony for the students.
    I ask them to play one single note. Then I ask them to listen only their own note.
    Then I play slowly all the 7 triads of the scale while they keep focusing on their own note. I ask them to describe each change - how their note feels now.
    Pretty much always they are keen to test out other notes like that. I mean, you know how rare is to hear "lets do that again" from kids with any other types of exercises?
    Thats why I call it magic.

    Anyway, there is one single easy exercise (cant call it that really) for getting a bit more life into the notes that I can 100% vouch for.
    Just pull a chord, then play all the 12 notes against it - but slooooowly. Listen each one for 10 secs and just focus on how it feels, where it wants to go.. One side effect is that it can cause some forgotten awe about how insanely different each note is.
    The other side effect is that when improvising just after finishing this 3 minute "trip", it will be... it has more spark. Please try it out.
    Helps if feeli good, calm, patient and focused while doing it.
    Yes! One thing that's a great exercise for me is to learn triads over bass notes chromatically, like what you do for your students, but learn each chromatic TBN as a textural chord in of itself. Third in bass with a doubled note is very strong, very inside. b2 in the bass, very dissonant, very sharp textures. Then with these 12 chords, they can be used sequentially to create a non diatonic line with shifting feelings of dissonance and consonance.
    It really is magic!
    As it relates to the OP, unless you're playing over the I chord, that note is going to have two "feelings" depending on how you hear it. I'm always amazed at how differently two different audience members can feel a solo. A fascinating unexpected and surprising journey for one person is a pointless jumble of noise for another.
    Magic of music indeed!

  20. #19

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    TBH one thing I notice a lot here (JGO) and generally is it seems like people are trying to avoid wrong notes rather than simply get a better connection with the right notes.

    (The right notes being the ones you hear of course.)

    CST gets abused to that end, whereas it was always intended to be a way of broadening the selection of right notes in the ears of musicians (although according to Richie Hart this was mostly needed for those who didn’t play chordal instrument.)

    Truth of the matter? Even if you can’t hear anything, Pitch choice on the guitar is trivial.

    Whatever chord you hold down has pitch choices you can use right away, and expanding that selection around the shape can be done easily by ear. And by learning more chords and voice leading.

    The difficult bit is putting the pitches into some sort of musical phrase and that really does require deep listening. But presumably you like listening to jazz?

  21. #20

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    To answer the question about the 1 4 5 in D. That's a familiar enough progression that I'd be thinking about melody, not the names of the notes.

    If I played a B over the G chord, and I wanted to think about why, I'd know instantly that it was the 3rd of the chord. I would be less likely to name the interval in terms of the tonal center. I could do it if someone asked, but I wouldn't ordinarily think that way.

    Caveat: there is a whole approach to jazz guitar improv that eludes me. I'm basically trying to scat sing and play that -- if I can feel the harmony. If I can't feel the harmony, then I'm trying to avoid clams while making what melody I can muster. I do that by focusing on tonal center and chord tones. I'm aware of other theoretical devices, but, when I have to resort to them, something is going more wrong than right.

  22. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    Funny but never like that.
    Only when I hit and stay 4th degree at the wrong time because of laziness or ignorance.. then I know
    The other times, when happen to play on the triad or 1 3 7 degrees of the same that comes from the comp, I know what those are. Other times, not so well. It's all chaos! Sometimes a good chaos
    I I spend all my practice time on reducing chaos.

  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note
    Not at all what I meant. Take the tune But Not For Me. I don't have perfect pitch, but I know that in the key of the tune, the notes are 2,3,2,3,2,1,2,3,2,3.
    In terms of the chord progression going from II- to I, it would be 1,2,1,2,1 in the II chord, sus 4 in V chord and a 3 in the final I chord.
    I don't need perfect pitch to have that awareness.
    Now I'm not thinking numbers while I'm playing...and as Christian alludes, thinking is not saying "Oh I'm playing this..." but it certainly is a thought process that gives each note a distinct identity in the string of notes.
    Thinking is not merely imparting an intellectual identity-far from that. Thinking means do you know the implicit musical meaning and significance of a particular sound, and be able to intelligently make a choice of what you're playing next so you can create phrasing, motif, tension and resolution, contour and gravity.
    Now granted, you don't need to think this way. But I find that this knowledge is key to my avoiding cliche, habitual and senseless playing on my part. It's a choice of options based on awareness of sensual value. But it doesn't come out of perfect pitch. Quite the opposite. It's all relative.
    Yes, if one knows the key one can functionally identify pitches especially for more vocal style melodies. I thought you meant identifying the pitches by ear alone (without a reference).

    I worked on solfege. I can get better for sure, but I'm convinced that working on singing pitches I hear exactly, say in a solo line or inner chord voices in comping, is what helps me develop strong aural awareness. Especially singing the interval with the implied root.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by mysticguitar
    I I spend all my practice time on reducing chaos.
    I'm rather tickled by the idea of increasing the chaos.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Yes, if one knows the key one can functionally identify pitches especially for more vocal style melodies. I thought you meant identifying the pitches by ear alone (without a reference).
    Well for that I can put you in touch with a guy who is doing a PhD on it. Beato is talking out his arse apparently.

    But I have no desire to develop perfect pitch personally. Seems like a pain in the bum.

    I worked on solfege. I can get better for sure, but I'm convinced that working on singing pitches I hear exactly, say in a solo line or inner chord voices in comping, is what helps me develop strong aural awareness. Especially singing the interval with the implied root.
    Singing is the thing.

    Solfege itself... hmmm.. I think the jury's out for me. Not sure. I think its good at first?

  26. #25

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Well for that I can put you in touch with a guy who is doing a PhD on it. Beato is talking out his arse apparently.
    Wait, someone is actually working on proving that perfect pitch can be acquired by adults?

  27. #26

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    Yes (or at least, the jury is out.)


  28. #27

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    BTW, Bruce Arnold, a student of Charles Banacos (and a teacher of Sheryl Bailey IIRC), appears to believe it possible to develop perfect pitch because he sells courses on it.

    I can't really comment any more than this; I think there are some students of Banacos and Arnold floating around who might have more of an idea.

    Myself; my wife has some absolute pitch sense without having perfect pitch. I can tell when a guitar is out of tune with concert without a reference, and can sing melodies in the right key (as can many people, it's not unusual at all); it's clearly a spectrum.

  29. #28
    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    To answer the question about the 1 4 5 in D. That's a familiar enough progression that I'd be thinking about melody, not the names of the notes.

    If I played a B over the G chord, and I wanted to think about why, I'd know instantly that it was the 3rd of the chord. I would be less likely to name the interval in terms of the tonal center. I could do it if someone asked, but I wouldn't ordinarily think that way.

    Caveat: there is a whole approach to jazz guitar improv that eludes me. I'm basically trying to scat sing and play that -- if I can feel the harmony. If I can't feel the harmony, then I'm trying to avoid clams while making what melody I can muster. I do that by focusing on tonal center and chord tones. I'm aware of other theoretical devices, but, when I have to resort to them, something is going more wrong than right.
    Usually if I'm playing the B over a G chord I know it's a chord tone, I'm also going to use a G arp or G pentatonic or Lydian and will play a bunch of other notes but before the G chord is done I'm going to resolve go the B. What I'm experimenting with now is to stay in the D pentatonic and when I go for the B Iknow it's the 6th of the D pentatonic. This way it sounds smoother and I play different ideas. I did it today while playing in a duo, I liked how it sounded.

  30. #29
    I also understand some Rock players will take the tonal center pentatonic and play over the changes, 1 4 5 and just rip, without targeting chord tones or altering the root pentatonic when the chord they are on does not contain the appropriate notes, say the 4th of the 4 chord.