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  1. #26

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    "What thought processes do you use for how to frame what notes to hit? ... My main question was I was curious if people use devices other than outlining the changes or using key centers to think of what notes to draw on."

    There are 31 note names in an octave if you limit to double accidentals, but only 12 pitches. I only play pitches because those are what I hear and want to hear; their multiple note names are unwanted verbal noise.
    My process is all about the sound (how the song goes). I don't think about any named things. Soloing*, in my mind's ear I hear the sounds of musical ideas contending to be expressed. I select ones that suit my musical judgement at that moment and sing them with my hands.

    *In my jazz trio (bass, drums, guitar) I am soloing almost all the time (heads, chord melody, solos proper) for three hours. Virtually all my thinking is focusing my musical judgement for the best audience enjoyment.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #27

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    I learn the tune, chords and melody. That's essential because my ear is not good enough to hear the changes as they unfold in an unfamiliar tune. Real (good) jazz musicians often can do that- there is a great video of Joe Pass demonstrating that with a classical guitarist.

    From there it's basically scatting and playing what I scat. Badop be beep bop beeeeeebadoo. Beedley bop bop bip-bop-boop BEEE ba doo. Badoo be babadoo be ba ba baaaa.

    One thing I tend not to like is hearing jazz musicians playing 14 bars of eighth notes in a row. Group the notes into phrases. Leave a little space between the phrases. Lead the phrases from one into the next so that there's a logical progression. Add long and short notes, staccato and legato notes, dynamics of loud and soft, etc., to keep it interesting. Every so often your lines should tie into the cords and/or the melody so that you, the audience and the other musicians know where the hell you are.

    Also I give myself a break. I'm an amateur. Sure, I played in a quintet that gigged several times a month for seven years, but I'm still an amateur. When I watch Joe Pass or Jim Hall or Scofield or Bickert videos, I am seeing someone who played the instrument at a high level with other superb musicians for a half a century or more. There's almost no way that somebody with a full-time day job and family/other commitments/interests outside of music can ever develop that far.

  4. #28

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    Truth is there’s not much to tell; just work to be getting on with. I don’t think in terms of ‘over changes’ when I practice I aim to practice changes in my line. I honestly think this change in framing is quite a deep thing.

    When people ask ‘what do I play over this chord progression?’ I always feel that it comes from a place of not being able to outline the chord progression. If you can outline the chord progression (or a related one) in your soloing the question becomes a moot point. I’m not talking about anything fancy; it can just be triads or something. listen to solos and you’ll hear how often complex changes are handled simply.

    in this sense there’s no theory to basic changes playing at all; just knowing where the chord tones are for a given tune or progression, which can even be done out of the shapes. This requires practice though. There’s no ‘hack’ you can use to speed it up, you just need to do it. once I can do this I can play the changes. It’s not the endpoint, but it’s the foundation. As you do more of this you’ll start to categorise familiar progressions.

    Everything else is then embellishing the basic chords if necessary, or if there’s time (as in, I have to solo on this weird chart on Tuesday); there are of course all sorts of ways you can do this; most jazz theory is concerned with these embellishments. And there’s stuff I just do, of course, from my experience as a player that I don’t even think about.

    When I am soloing over a chart sight unseen hopefully my experience has prepared me to spot what’s going on. This is not 100% the case, but the more tunes you’ve gone through this process with, the more stuff is going to be familiar.

    (You can also simplify some progressions down as well, btw. For example, rhythm changes can be very simple or complex depending on ones taste.)

    it’s not rocket science as much as there’s an industry with a vested interest in selling you the icing on the cake and telling you it’s the cake.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 08-15-2021 at 05:37 AM.

  5. #29

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    Oh the melody is also a resource for improvisation that often gets overlooked. It can also tell you interesting things about the harmony.

  6. #30

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    I think the word "thinking" may not be the right way to describe the mental process when performing. It's more "being aware" or "conscious" of the musical context or the notes that are available to you, how they lay out on your instrument etc. Thinking in a literal sense is what you do when you're practicing. There is only room for thinking if it's something you're extremely familiar with like choosing to employ a harmonic device you've been drilling on the next chord or chorus.

    Here is what tenor saxophonist Rich Perry says about this subject:
    www.jazzadvice.com | 520: Web server is returning an unknown error

  7. #31
    I'd include practicing in the op. I would assume most people's goal would be to get to intuitive level when performing.


    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    Oh the melody is also a resource for improvisation that often gets overlooked. It can also tell you interesting things about the harmony.
    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    I aim to practice changes in my line.
    Agreed.

  8. #32
    I guess my question has been answered. Some people try to integrate all the concepts of chords, melody, and all their devices, get them intuitive, and have them available when playing, which is the way I like to work; and some people prefer to try to be more aural. It seems nothing's going on in other people's playing/practicing that I wasn't already working on. Carry on.

  9. #33

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    I think the word "thinking" may not be the right way to describe the mental process when performing. It's more "being aware" or "conscious" of the musical context or the notes that are available to you, how they lay out on your instrument etc. Thinking in a literal sense is what you do when you're practicing. There is only room for thinking if it's something you're extremely familiar with like choosing to employ a harmonic device you've been drilling on the next chord or chorus.

    Here is what tenor saxophonist Rich Perry says about this subject:
    www.jazzadvice.com | 520: Web server is returning an unknown error
    Agree, once one takes the stage the thought process must become "soft" - concerned with being aware and conscious, and some others things, all of which I roll up and call musical judgement. It is not really thinking because it's quite diffuse, fuzzy, affect sensitive, with taste and style factors... it's musical aspects mostly emotionally strategic.

  10. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55 View Post
    I guess my question has been answered. Some people try to integrate all the concepts of chords, melody, and all their devices, get them intuitive, and have them available when playing, which is the way I like to work; and some people prefer to try to be more aural. It seems nothing's going on in other people's playing/practicing that I wasn't already working on. Carry on.
    Its really not an either/or. Chord tones and the melody of the song are the obvious aural go tos but obviously you also need to know where they are on the guitar.

  11. #35
    The people who champion the aural only approach make it seem like an either or.

  12. #36

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55 View Post
    The people who champion the aural only approach make it seem like an either or.
    I'm one of those people but I don't think I make it like an either or for others; maybe it's not clear to me what you mean by "like an either or".

    In a rehearsal if I want to describe to the pianist a particular instance of a maj9 I might just play it so they can hear that sound (my first choice), but if that is not understood and we are in the key of E minor I might describe it as A#/D#, or I might say the notes D# A# D F, or if in the key of F major the notes Eb Bb D F or Bb/Eb, or I might mark up his score, or just play it on the piano for him to see which keys.

    I use the aural approach exclusively when practicing, rehearsing, composing, and performing, the other ways for communicating as needed - I don't demand others speak "play by ear"; I'm happy to speak a familiar language.

  13. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by Clint 55 View Post
    The people who champion the aural only approach make it seem like an either or.
    To be frank I don’t take this purist viewpoint enormously seriously because it seems to me like they are setting up a strawman of ‘theory players.’

    Actually if anything there seems to be a misapprehension that there is any other way to do it than by ear; that professional jazz musicians don’t all have good ears whether or not they know the names of the scales and value ear learning very highly via transcription etc. That’s how you get good. Take a lesson with Jonathan Kreisberg for example and you can expect to sing everything.

    Anyone who can play plays by ear. However I think a lot of people seem have an unrealistic idea of how exactly this is achieved. It’s not a matter of hearing single pitches and translating onto the instrument like some sort of machine.

    It’s actually about hearing for instance, phrases, chord progressions, rhythmic patterns etc. A lot of these things will be to some extent composed or learned, licks and so on. Common chord progressions. Routes through a tune that can be embellished into melodies and so on. You wouldn’t learn a language word by word either; you’d start by learning useful cliches, mastering pronunciation and intonation as best as you could.

    You map these on the guitar. If you use the same names as everyone else people say that you know theory.

    (Which is not to say there aren’t those that try to play by theory alone, but by and large, they find they can’t actually play.)

    See also, Schema theory.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 08-15-2021 at 12:14 PM.

  14. #38
    I agree. I'm more of a theoretical guy. Bass was my 1st instrument so I would make stuff up from theory since bass isn't dependent on melody. It took me a long time to be able to play melodically because my ear wasn't developed. Now that my ear has improved, I still use theory to help make things up but I'm able to check if my ideas sound good and also hear music better how the melodies I like are made up.

  15. #39

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    Theory helps you to find where the good notes are. Also helps you to understand how other's find their good notes (analysis). Sure, I know there are players on all instruments that can sound bad-ass without any theory at all, but that was never gonna be me, and I highly doubt that more than a handful on this forum have reached a point where they sound legit without any theory...

    Personally, I love how theory opens many doors for exploration, this whole caper would be boring to me without that approach. There's things I'd never encounter if I only ever followed my ear. My ear needs to be educated, and thankfully, one of the rewards of this approach is that you do reach various points along the journey where you absolutely do turn off all the learning and thinking and just let your ear guide you. If you've done your homework, then it should come as no surprise that you end up hitting the right notes without even trying, with the bonus of hitting some "wrong" notes that end up being wonderful surprises that you embrace, leading you to ever more surprises...

    TBH I think the OP's question is why I joined this forum many years ago - to see how others do it, so I feel these discussions always warrant a considered response, however, it's actually quite difficult to explain how/why/what we do when the process becomes somewhat intuitive. FWIW, I can at least share how I got to be able to "make the changes" (for tunes that I know). I took the approach that if you learn enough varied material derived from devices associated with each chord type, then applying said devices to a progression need be no different to fingering the chords for each chord change. At first, like with comping, you're just trying to "make" the changes, just get the idea in the right place at the right time, but after a long while a little thing called "taste" begins to creep in and you choose to link your devices tastefully within an over-arching melodic framework - the same way your comping gets better the more you do it, right? It starts out basic and clunky, but gets more sophisticated and smooth over time...

    So that's one way, and maybe others think along the same lines, dunno, but I will say I can't really recommend it as a method because it took a very long time to get this shit together (and of course, there's still a long way to go). All the same, I wouldn't have had it any other way, I love how it's a long and challenging road, I ain't in no hurry!

  16. #40

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller;[URL="[URL
    tel:1140622[/URL]"]1140622[/URL]]
    It’s actually about hearing for instance, phrases, chord progressions, rhythmic patterns etc. A lot of these things will be to some extent composed or learned, licks and so on. Common chord progressions. Routes through a tune that can be embellished into melodies and so on. You wouldn’t learn a language word by word either; you’d start by learning useful cliches, mastering pronunciation and intonation as best as you could.
    .
    thats very good
    i think that describes my process about right ....

    i do analyse the process using ‘theory’ stuff in shed ....

  17. #41

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    So, interesting discussion from a generational perspective. Jazz improvisation began in New Orleans, St. Louis, and other cities in the early Teens/Twenties by musicians who added interest to their music by improvising melodically. They didn't think about modes, chord progressions, or scales. And, their ideas may or may have not changed nightly. But improvisation was based on how their "ears" shaped the melody(Louis Armstrong, King Oliver, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, Kid Ory). Juxtapose this to later generations who delved deeply into melody and theory and its methodology(Miles, Coltrane, Lester Young, Dizzy, Dexter). Today, as a fair generalization, the under 50 crowd, with few exceptions, use a "formulaic approach" as we see in the numerous discussions on JGF and talk about which scales to match to which chords as if playing Jazz was solving a math equation. And, for me, their "music" reflects this approach--predictable, uninteresting, and for me . . . boring. And, I believe this is one of many reasons why Jazz is the least popular music form in America today.
    Jazz is dying. And, for me, it makes sense. Music was never meant to be formulaic in melody/harmony only in its physical structure. Boring generations produce boring musicians. Did I mention serious 21st Century literature/poetry?????
    Play live . . . Marinero

    P.S. Geez, I wonder what formula Zoot is using here????


  18. #42

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    I'll take a stab at why jazz isn't more popular.

    1. It's defined too narrowly. Soloing over adventurous harmony in an odd meter ought to be included under the heading jazz, one would think. But the Grateful Dead, who did that a lot, weren't considered jazz. Smooth jazz? Rejected by purists. Country music with improv, well, that's country except for maybe Western Swing big band. Eddie Van Halen -- wild groundbreaking improv, but not jazz.

    2. It's not played well. It's a different experience, usually, hearing local bands vs what I hear in NYC. In NYC, I hear energetic music being created on the fly. Locally, not so much.

    3. Back in the heyday, the tunes were popular dance tunes, arranged for jazz. So, people knew the tunes. In the swing era they could dance to jazz.
    Now, rarely

    4. The music is intellectually challenging. Emotional content often seems unsettling. Harmony doesn't necessarily have a flow that you can catch onto easily.

    5. When a non-musician tells me that they like jazz, I have come to expect that they're talking about a tiny corner of the jazz world. I'm not even sure what it means to "like jazz".

    All that said, the better players I know gig regularly. Not standards gigs very much, although they exist. Some play funk, Brazilian styles, smooth jazz, pop tunes in a jazz way etc.

  19. #43

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    I am a pianist and I think about my left hand mostly. I only think about my right hand when I’m practicing things, I’m theoretical when I practice. When I’m playing for real I am in the flow and it’s as if I am mindless.

  20. #44

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    Probably already mentioned. You need to know it slowly and practices it a lot, either at home or by gigging. Best to not think and just flow the best you can!

  21. #45

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    One thing I tend not to like is hearing jazz musicians playing 14 bars of eighth notes in a row.
    No? People go crazy for that stuff!!! ;-)

    In practice I think some players have trouble separating the practice room from the stage. Being able to play continuous 8th notes through a progression is not a bad thing to work on, but it is not something you want to do in public.

  22. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by Marinero View Post
    Today, as a fair generalization, the under 50 crowd, with few exceptions, use a "formulaic approach" as we see in the numerous discussions on JGF and talk about which scales to match to which chords as if playing Jazz was solving a math equation. And, for me, their "music" reflects this approach--predictable, uninteresting, and for me . . . boring.
    Formal education has a lot to answer for. I recall going to a gig at which five of the country's top jazz men came together as a group for the first time...and they all played the same. It is not just jazz. Everything in the contemporary arts now seems to approached as a solution to a problem. Life imitates art; art imitates office life.

  23. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Cunamara View Post
    One thing I tend not to like is hearing jazz musicians playing 14 bars of eighth notes in a row.
    Yeah, sure way to tip your hand that you don't practice. Steady 16ths or you're just a dabbler.
    I might add though, if you can use electronic effects, you can use them to make up for any WOW factor that your hands can't manage alone.

  24. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    No? People go crazy for that stuff!!! ;-)

    In practice I think some players have trouble separating the practice room from the stage. Being able to play continuous 8th notes through a progression is not a bad thing to work on, but it is not something you want to do in public.
    I suspect its more than only "some"... this continuous practicing mode kinda shows itself often with younger players with overall good skills.
    Hard to make each and every piece special in a long gig anyway. And even harder if the mindset comes directly from the practice room.

  25. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by Jimmy blue note View Post
    Steady 16ths or you're just a dabbler.
    32nds mofo.


    1:45

  26. #50

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    There’s a lot to be said for applied stupidity when it comes to changes playing

    By which I mean; obvious resources the ‘educated’ (conditioned) musician might overlook. Time and again I’ve made the mistake of overestimating things

    Intelligent people tend to problematise music. The literature doesn’t help.

    Music is not a problem. Music is a creative art.
    (Stupidity is probably the wrong word.)

    Bottom line is you need to be good at music to make compelling music. If you can do this, you can music out of most things. How do you get there? Listening for starters.