The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #101

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKong View Post
    But at any point in time, any note you play is always in one of the positions for the key, so they still serve as the reference map.
    ?? The position you're in corresponds to the fret number that falls under your index, it's got nothing to do with the key a piece is in?!

    As an aside, is there any other instrument where there are so many different ways to play the same notes? Violin style instruments maybe but any others?
    The violin family has only 4 strings which means there's always only 3 potential candidates that can have the same note. However, the fingerboard is proportionally longer (I think, on a modern instrument) so that may compensate. Either way, any instrument that has multiple strings (or equivalent) that have to be stopped in order to produce different notes will have the same richness.
    I fully expect that a trombone can produce the same note with different positions of its tube, and any programmable keyboard can too. In a comparable but different vein, complex church organs with multiple keyboards will probably map parts of those keyboards to different octaves depending on which voice you select on which keyboard.

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  3. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
    ?? The position you're in corresponds to the fret number that falls under your index, it's got nothing to do with the key a piece is in?!
    .
    So consider u are playing a D, 5th fret on a string.

    Key of A, you're in one of two positions.
    Key of D, you're in one of 2 different positions. That was what I meant if it wasn't clear.

  4. #103

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKong View Post
    So consider u are playing a D, 5th fret on a string.

    Key of A, you're in one of two positions.
    Key of D, you're in one of 2 different positions. That was what I meant if it wasn't clear.
    Not my (classical) definition of position.

    D with 1st finger at 5th fret on A string: 5th position
    D with 4th finger at 5th fret on A string: 2nd position


    (5th fret on a string, which one? )

  5. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
    Convince me - why?



    That 2nd part is certainly true. For left-hand fingering I'd say that "all" you need is sufficient context, i.e. which notes come before, which ones after, so you can chose the most appropriate position from which those notes are accessible the easiest way.
    It's been absent from the discussion until now, but that context also helps to understand what's better for the right hand. And IMHO you can still do all that without understanding the musical idea, and thus give a technically perfect but utterly dead interpretation (if one can call it an interpretation). Understanding of the musical idea helps determining what picking fingers should be used, or whether up or down picking strokes are called for.
    YMMV but for me understanding the musical idea is a lot easier when I sing the score (in my head, my actual singing capabilities would make it a lot more difficult ). That's maybe because it's the approach taught in the classical approach (violin & guitar). But just experimenting with different RH techniques can also help understand the idea (I just experienced that again with 2 Sor Op. 35 études where -shock, horror - in 2 occasions a note with an upward stave turns out best played with the thumb).
    Well the most extreme example is bop lines. People often say they are not guitarist. This is untrue, but it’s easy to see why people think they are. I couldn’t play Donna Lee at tempo till I understood the flow of the phrases and then the fingerings from that.

    i had to learn it by ear, I couldn’t play it from a score, but that was me reading notes rather than phrases. Of course, good readers can hear the music (if they are familiar with the style, that is; a classical player can’t read bop convincingly for example. Otoh most jazzers suck at Mozart.)

    So yeah your point about singing it, exactly. The very good readers I know do this as (or rather ahead of time as) they read.

    Classical guitar scores come with so many little numbers and shit I don’t think they really count as reading.

    (I half jest, but if what I said wasn’t true why would that be necessary and why would there be such a massive preface on fingering with reference to harmony, accent and so on in my edition of the Bach lute suites? Tbf the fingerings are very very good and musical and absolutely not what if call positional at all)
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 05-19-2022 at 02:17 PM.

  6. #105

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    Alternatively, say you are an experienced session guitarist and you come across a pentatonic/blues melody with a little note above saying ‘with distortion’

    Are you going to use ‘legit’ Segovia left hand technique?

    No of course you’re not.

    (Otoh you can hardly expect the composer who wants a rock guitar lead line to be intimately familiar with guitar playing that they have specified the technical details….)

    in any case, if you are experienced, you are going to stomp on the drive and use three fingers, bends and vibrato.

    Later, you see a melody in octaves in a jazz/funk chart. Are you going to play that in position using legit classical octave technique? No, of course not. You are going to lock your left hand and Wes it up.

    There’s a right answer here in both cases. An idiomatic answer, beyond simply playing the right notes, based on reading between the lines to what the composer wants to hear, if not at sight then quickly. The sort of thing that means the difference between getting called again, or not. Experience is key.

    So you have to perceive the idiom and alter your technique accordingly. It’s one of the fun challenges.

    It also strikes me that there’s a disconnect between how many guitarists read (often quite properly in position) and how they normally play when improvising or playing music by ear. In the case of the non classical guitarist this may be less pronounced (although from my limited knowledge it still seems to be there) but in general the journey must be towards a greater union of the two.

    At least that’s how I see it.

  7. #106

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    Of course, good readers can hear the music (if they are familiar with the style, that is; a classical player can’t read bop convincingly for example. Otoh most jazzers suck at Mozart.)
    Well, I still don't see why this explains why position playing is often the weakest way to finger a music idea, unless you too are using a different definition for position. I wouldn't claim that position has anything to do with musical ideas. Not beyond the fact that chosing the wrong positions often means you end up shifting in awkward locations which usually means you can't get the phrase to come out right; that a position change can also underline a musical idea; that it's usually a musically good idea to avoid open (treble) strings which implies playing in a higher rather than a lower position and the aforementioned implications left-hand fingering have on what the right hand has to do.

    "reading convingly" is what I referred to as doing more than just playing the notes

    Classical guitar scores come with so many little numbers and shit I don’t think they really count as reading.

    (I half jest, but if what I said wasn’t true why would that be necessary and why would there be such a massive preface on fingering with reference to harmony, accent and so on in my edition of the Bach lute suites? Tbf the fingerings are very very good and musical and absolutely not what if call positional at all)
    I've often heard my teacher say that those "little numbers and shit" are there to make the reading easier but yeah, many of the other indications will be ignored when sight-reading a piece unless you're really familiar with the style. NB: dynamics, phrasing and ornamentation indications were very largely absent from earlier music because the interpreters were supposed to be familiar with the style, and apply them automatically. Later composers have left less and less leeway to the interpreter in this domain, and for an instrument like guitar where so many of the (supposed O:-) ) repertoire has been arranged from music for other instruments you also get the indications of the arranger.

    I don't know your Bach lute suites edition, but I can imagine whomever wrote the preface felt it necessary to point out the different approach to music in this period so long before the (late) Romantic era which is still the basis for so much classical teaching (and the guitar in particular, probably). A long explanation on how to execute ornaments (trills and the like) would concern itself with fingering, and many of the notes in those suites are written-out ornamentations (and arpeggios) so that could be part of the explanation. Is the focus only on LH fingering?
    Another possibility: AFAIK these suites are written for baroque lute, which in a sense is further away from the guitar than the renaissance lute. Many strings, partly doubled, meaning the LH fingerings will be very different from what they (would normally) look like on guitar. But I suppose you could finger the score in a way would feel more familiar to a lute player; that would give a lot of material for prefacial discussion

  8. #107

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    Well using classical to talk about reading music is my opinion a red herring. You could read Sor etudes all day and not be able to play a note of jazz, of course. But jazz is often notated and it is part of my job to read it.

    I’m not really a classical player so I’m reluctant to get into the woods on this. I play a little, I’m not very good. It gives me pleasure and as weird as it sounds one of things I most enjoy about it is the fingerings, which teach me a lot about the instrument. (Like position shifting for classical guitar is refreshingly businesslike. rock and jazz students get so intimidated by it haha.)

    And of course the music is wonderfully satisfying to play, even badly.

    That said, I don’t really see reading through Bach etc as being very relevant reading practice for what I do; the challenges are very different. I’d rather dig out the real book for that.

    Anyway my main focus is of course jazz. In this case as a working player, I find position playing sounds worse in many cases. A highly mobile left hand is very often the best choice for bop lines, melodies and so on. It may be necessary to read in positions if I don’t know the music; but that’s more a reflection on room to grow as a player than what I think is the preferred approach. It works well enough to get you through it, and day to day, that’s worthwhile.

    (Really I wish I had the guts and time to be a mostly three fingered pronated left hand player, because that’s such a great way to play.)

    As far as classical goes (and things like the Leavitt books), the pedagogy is obviously oriented around strict positions (and this is no bad thing btw, I teach strict positions), but as far as I can see the left hand ends up being very mobile in any case with more advanced players, as they accommodate the needs of the music. This is obviously somewhat removed from discussions of reading studies in position.

    Not that I even think this is a bad thing to practice positional reading, because it’s all useful. in beginners it gets you out of having to look at the neck, for example. It’s just that musical choices often in my experience take you away from that, and the better a reader you get, the more you do that.

    There is a bad side to it, in that players can neglect ‘along the string playing’ get stuck into dogmatic fingerings and avoid some the effective solutions that are employed by less ‘schooled’ players. Most teachers, myself included, would see this as a necessary evil and try and introduce some of these other things as players develop a basic grasp of their instrument.

    But however you do it - I think spending too much time rationalising this or that school is a bit of a red herring. CAGED is good for jazz I would say.

  9. #108

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    Tl;dr

    It often sounds gooder to move your left hand around when playing music.

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
    Not my (classical) definition of position.

    D with 1st finger at 5th fret on A string: 5th position
    D with 4th finger at 5th fret on A string: 2nd position
    Is this how people play classical? Blimey that sounds completely restricting.

    The two of you are arguing about completely different things, if u don't mind me saying RJVB, if that is your approach to the fretboard then I question how you can improvise or transpose with that approach. Maybe you can but the CAGED kind of position concept that me and Christian Miller mean is far more suited to a jazz or blues or rock player.

    Christian Miller, am with you 100% on the moving the left hand more thing making music sound gooder. But id still call it a positional approach, as you are always in one of the positions no matter what you are doing.

    I would say though that to be able to move the left hand more you need to spend time nailing down ur chops in each position. As I always say on here, I'm not anywhere near being able to call myself a proficient jazz player, so left hand movement is to come for me down the road. Now heres one example of how I am making progress:

    -Take a position and nail down the scale and arpeggios that are in it.

    -then pick a standard and get to the point of fluid improv in that position.

    - repeat process for the next one.

    I've currently got maybe 3 of them sorted out, 2 to go!

    After I've got all 5 then I plan to start moving the left hand more as you say, but for now I'm more than happy playing away in my own little world.

    But yeh ill give you your dues, having read your posts I might try to bring the left hand movement in a bit sooner.

  11. #110

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    Well I suppose by that definition it’s impossible to play un-positionally

    Anyway this is all sort of splitting hairs and my main point was pretty much, one should aim to read music the same way that you would play in general, which for jazz or rock would the same way that you would if you were playing by ear or improvising. (Which is to say not like a massive NERD and like a musician with a bit of, you know, mojo and swag and so forth, breathing life into the notes etc etc.)

    This is hard as reading is pretty alien for most guitarists, but can only be achieved through experience and exposure and a modicum of intelligence.

    Reading exercises that stay strictly in position have their place… but I’ve drifted away from that stuff over the years. It probably did me good but that Leavitt stuff does my head in for all the wrong reasons. It’s the musical equivalent of mild supermarket cheddar, which is a barbarism I will not detail in depth as I do not wish to horrify Frenchmen.

  12. #111

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKong View Post
    Is this how people play classical? Blimey that sounds completely restricting.
    Reread this:

    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
    ?? The position you're in corresponds to the fret number that falls under your index, it's got nothing to do with the key a piece is in?!
    That is, position is a notational device in classical guitar sheet music. If your first finger is on fret N you are in position N. And the full chromatic scale is available to you no matter where your left hand is placed, so you can play in any key anywhere on the neck just by knowing what notes to choose.

    In the JK video I posted earlier in this thread, he plays the exact same five-note chromatic phrase in sixteen different ways, covering 12 frets. His hand does not jump all over the neck - it shifts gradually. Its a straightforward demonstration of both of the concepts above: each version starts with the index finger in a different location, but each position change does not affect his ability to play the exact same phrase each time. Admittedly, it is a simple phrase and you might not be able to play EVERY musical phrase sixteen ways... but it is an effective demonstration.

    +1 on Christian's observation that you can't go from rock bottom to fluid jazz pro in four years. I did not mean to imply that. But you can learn a lot in four years: you can build the mental model that links your hands, your ears, and your brain. Then you keep refining that skill set; lifelong, really.

  13. #112

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    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine View Post
    Reread this:



    That is, position is a notational device in classical guitar sheet music. If your first finger is on fret N you are in position N. And the full chromatic scale is available to you no matter where your left hand is placed, so you can play in any key anywhere on the neck just by knowing what notes to choose.
    Yeh so to play the same thing in 12 different keys you need 12 different finger movements. Much much harder than what I'm saying where you just move your hand to a different place on the fretboard and use the same fingerings but inna different place. Sounds like a nightmare, f@@k doing that lol!

  14. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    There is a bad side to it, in that players can neglect ‘along the string playing’ get stuck into dogmatic fingerings and avoid some the effective solutions that are employed by less ‘schooled’ players.
    You really are not selling it to me.

    Quote Originally Posted by KingKong View Post
    But id still call it a positional approach, as you are always in one of the positions no matter what you are doing.
    For we who have avoided learning the positions, they do not exist on the fretboard.
    Last edited by Litterick; 05-19-2022 at 11:37 PM.

  15. #114
    Welcome to the club. Guitarist are notorious for being bad sight readers. It’s probably got something to do with the way most of us learn as beginners. It’s easy to create basic music on a guitar so we ignore the complex stuff. A qualified music teacher would go a long way in getting over the hump. It’ll take all the anguish out of it.

  16. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKong View Post
    Yeh so to play the same thing in 12 different keys you need 12 different finger movements. Much much harder than what I'm saying where you just move your hand to a different place on the fretboard and use the same fingerings but inna different place. Sounds like a nightmare, f@@k doing that lol!
    Well it’s good practice. It’s worthwhile to do that with any bit of musical material your working on. Not every way of playing something is practical but by going through them you’ll learn something for sure.

  17. #116

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    Just did it with twinkle twinkle little star, the thing I learnt was that I can't do it.

  18. #117

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKong View Post
    Just did it with twinkle twinkle little star, the thing I learnt was that I can't do it.
    and that’s what I call a growth mindset haha

    maybe I’m weird but I enjoy failure (at least private failure). It means there’s something I can learn to do and that’s a win. You can say after a week ‘I couldn’t do this at all last week, and now I can do it a bit.’

    Because otherwise as a player who’s been playing for a long time it can become very hard to measure progress. I see the secret as finding things you absolutely suck at because that’s when you can enjoy the N00B gainz.

    luckily for me, this isn’t hard.

  19. #118

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    and that’s what I call a growth mindset haha

    maybe I’m weird but I enjoy failure (at least private failure). It means there’s something I can learn to do and that’s a win. You can say after a week ‘I couldn’t do this at all last week, and now I can do it a bit.’

    Because otherwise as a player who’s been playing for a long time it can become very hard to measure progress. I see the secret as finding things you absolutely suck at because that’s when you can enjoy the N00B gainz.

    luckily for me, this isn’t hard.
    Haha, its completely different to anything I have ever done. I will post when I get it, stand by for further info!

  20. #119

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    Learning to read music is like asking you to pat your head and rub your belly at the same time. You are trying to make sense of at least two bits of information at the same time: note value and rhythm value. No wonder the brain gets overwhelmed.

    Looking back, I would start with rhythmic values first, forget notes. With a metronome, practise rhythmic values, picking up-down on the open strings until it becomes second-nature. Learning where the notes are on the fretboard is not that difficult. It is sounding the notes and rhythmic values to make music that is the difficult part. The greatest difficulty is the rhythmic i.e. time aspect of it. Playing in time is the most difficult part of reading music. When you get the rhythmic values down pat, it becomes much easier for the brain to read chiefly the notes.

    I'd start with rhythmic values first until I get them right. Most teachers teach you to read notes and rhythmic values at the same time. I think this overwhelms the brain and that is why most people give up because it is very tiring.

    Rhythm is the foundation and soul of music. Rhythm is what makes music music. Rhythm should be the first thing that is taught, not notes.

  21. #120

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  22. #121

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    OK - I confess. Learnt to read over a three year period learning clarinet 5O years ago. Held on to the rythym stuff. returned to guitar 25 years ago and work between ear, tab and rythym stuff on treble clef. What's not to like? Rythym rules - for me

    David

  23. #122

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackcat View Post
    OK - I confess. Learnt to read over a three year period learning clarinet 5O years ago. Held on to the rythym stuff. returned to guitar 25 years ago and work between ear, tab and rythym stuff on treble clef. What's not to like? Rythym rules - for me

    David
    Was it something I said?!!

  24. #123

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    Quote Originally Posted by blackcat View Post
    Was it something I said?!!
    Maybe we're all off trying to figure out where to get "rythym" to discover what that tastes like

    Or everything has been said and people have moved on, the way it usually goes with threads and discussions...

  25. #124

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    Quote Originally Posted by RJVB View Post
    Maybe we're all off trying to figure out where to get "rythym" to discover what that tastes like

    Or everything has been said and people have moved on, the way it usually goes with threads and discussions...
    As you say, everything has been said - at some length. I think most were clear about the distinction twixt rythym and pitch issues at the point of the first (?) post by our very own Mr Beaumont early in this thread. After that it seemed to go pretty wild!

  26. #125

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    Quote Originally Posted by KingKong View Post
    As an aside, is there any other instrument where there are so many different ways to play the same notes? Violin style instruments maybe but any others? Trumpet , sax , piano all only have one instance of a given note available no? Those guys have it easy!

    The violin is learned as a position instrument; uses fifth intervals between the strings and the scale length is quite short compared to a guitar. This allows scales to be played in one position using just two strings and allows a two and a half octave span of pitches to be played from just first position, and very often that covers everything needed. Moving to higher positions offers more ways to finger the same pitch (scales that include G, D, A, or E already offer multiple fingering for those notes as first position open strings).

    The saxophone has multiple fingerings for the same pitch. Some pitches' fingerings are formed and released more smoothly depending on the previous or subsequent adjacent pitch fingerings (chromatic, diatonic, other, and vary for different keys signatures).
    Higher up, there are many more possible fingerings; the altissimo register has pitches that may be figured by up to two dozen different fingerings. Some of those are chosen by dexterity of formation within the line being played, but many are chosen for "special" qualities: some are slightly flat and allow good intonation when blowing hard, others are used for soft playing, some have deviations in intonation that sweeten line in particular keys, some can be bent and others will "break" if forced to bend, some have purer sounds, others are rough.
    The sax player learns which ones to use for expressing his musical requirements... a little bit like the guitar player choosing to finger a phrase peaking on the B string rather than the E string so as not to lose its tone feel.