The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
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  1. #376

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft View Post
    I just have to slide this in before we hear the "But..but...Bireli is a savant!" excuse.

    I think Bireli is someone who came into this world with a proclivity towards sound (musical talent), landed a very fortunate birth for a musician, and most importantly, did a ton of work starting at an early age. Like Mozart. Or Julian Lage.

    These guys aren't Rain-Men who can look at a pile of matchsticks and pull the correct count out of the air. They earned their abilities and honed them in countless hours of playing with others in basements and performing on stage.

    I think the savant thing is a put-down and a cop-out. Like it's magic or something. We're looking at talent, hard work, and a huge amount of experience that very few are able to achieve.

    (actually... I wouldn't be surprised if these guys can do the matchstick trick... :-)
    Bireli represents quite a substantial community of players for whom learning like this is the standard way. If you aren’t familiar with the wider Manouche/Sinti guitar tradition in France and the Low Countries you not might quite realise this. Even players from outside the ethnic group often learn in the same way.

    Bireli himself is obviously a musical savant which is why I avoid using him as an example. But the way he learned is actually not unusual in that world.

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  3. #377

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    Quote Originally Posted by ccroft View Post
    I just have to slide this in before we hear the "But..but...Bireli is a savant!" excuse.

    I think Bireli is someone who came into this world with a proclivity towards sound (musical talent), landed a very fortunate birth for a musician, and most importantly, did a ton of work starting at an early age. Like Mozart. Or Julian Lage.

    These guys aren't Rain-Men who can look at a pile of matchsticks and pull the correct count out of the air. They earned their abilities and honed them in countless hours of playing with others in basements and performing on stage.

    I think the savant thing is a put-down and a cop-out. Like it's magic or something. We're looking at talent, hard work, and a huge amount of experience that very few are able to achieve.

    (actually... I wouldn't be surprised if these guys can do the matchstick trick... :-)
    Savant does carry the connotation of "autistic savant" or extraordinary ability in an otherwise cognitively impaired person. Typically such people don’t really know what they’re doing in a conscious, cerebral cortex kind of way. They can just do it instantly.

    As with many other terms describing mental illness or developmental disorder, it gets misapplied as an insult. So, yeah, referring to a musical prodigy who is otherwise developmentally normal as a "savant” is problematic.

  4. #378

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    If, in some bizarre art-nazi experiment you were to raise an infant to be a great musician, you'd hope for some inborn gifts and then you'd start with exposure to music immediately. You'd make sure the child heard music of increasing complexity (melody, harmony and rhythm)
    and reward the child for every musical accomplishment. And so forth.

    That child would have an advantage over a child whose exposure to music was the usual stuff played for children and who didn't get rewarded for any musical accomplishment until, say, age 10 or 12.

    Which culture comes closest to that "ideal"?

  5. #379

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    If, in some bizarre art-nazi experiment you were to raise an infant to be a great musician, you'd hope for some inborn gifts and then you'd start with exposure to music immediately. You'd make sure the child heard music of increasing complexity (melody, harmony and rhythm) and reward the child for every musical accomplishment. And so forth.

    That child would have an advantage over a child whose exposure to music was the usual stuff played for children and who didn't get rewarded for any musical accomplishment until, say, age 10 or 12.

    Which culture comes closest to that "ideal"?
    So you’d be Rick Beato? He literally did this with his son.

    Last i hear Dylan wasn’t doing much music lol.

  6. #380

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    If, in some bizarre art-nazi experiment you were to raise an infant to be a great musician, you'd hope for some inborn gifts and then you'd start with exposure to music immediately. You'd make sure the child heard music of increasing complexity (melody, harmony and rhythm)
    and reward the child for every musical accomplishment. And so forth.

    That child would have an advantage over a child whose exposure to music was the usual stuff played for children and who didn't get rewarded for any musical accomplishment until, say, age 10 or 12.

    Which culture comes closest to that "ideal"?
    You forget that imprinting / conditioning (not sure what is the correct term in English) starts already in the womb at a prenatal stage. I once heard a story about a conductor who could conduct by rote without music all the pieces his mother had practiced on cello when she was pregnant. And someone I know told me that the first time he heard Miles’ Sketches of Spain it felt strangely familiar to him. Later his mother told him that his parents had heard the record a lot when she was pregnant. My mother told me she listened to a lot of music (Mozart, Bach etc.) when she was pregnant so I must be a lucky guy.

    EDIT: Unfortunately my parents did not like jazz at all LOL

  7. #381

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar View Post
    If, in some bizarre art-nazi experiment you were to raise an infant to be a great musician, you'd hope for some inborn gifts and then you'd start with exposure to music immediately. You'd make sure the child heard music of increasing complexity (melody, harmony and rhythm)
    and reward the child for every musical accomplishment. And so forth.

    That child would have an advantage over a child whose exposure to music was the usual stuff played for children and who didn't get rewarded for any musical accomplishment until, say, age 10 or 12.

    Which culture comes closest to that "ideal"?
    That sounds a lot like the Suzuki method, coupled with parents who superglue a radio tuned to WQXR to mom's belly during pregnancy anticipation of the earliest possible Suzuki enrollment. This culture is known as The Upper West Side of Manhattan (as documented in Napoleon Chagnon's famous participant-observer studies).

  8. #382

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    Emmet Cohen started Suzuki piano lessons at the age of three. From what I see in his videos he seems to be a very happy untraumatized guy.


  9. #383

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    Well my wife played Turangalila symphony to my unborn daughter, so I’m not sure what that counts as. Also she seemed to like Joao Gilberto.

    Now she will only tolerate Frozen.

    Mind you I played Wes to her in the car the other day and she said ‘oh I like this music, it’s very soothing.’

    I have my concerns.

  10. #384

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    Well my wife played Turangalila symphony to my unborn daughter, so I’m not sure what that counts as. Also she seemed to like Joao Gilberto.

    Now she will only tolerate Frozen.

    Mind you I played Wes to her in the car the other day and she said ‘oh I like this music, it’s very soothing.’

    I have my concerns.
    I had to look up Frozen LOL: Do you mean the soundtrack to that Disney Snow Queen movie? When I was working in a day-care centre all the toddler girls were totally crazy about that movie. (BTW those kids are the best audience you can ever get. I have played in front of a few thousand people but nothing comes near big smiling eyes when you play your version of Kraftwerk’s Autobahn on a ukelele for toddlers LOL.)

    Regarding Wes: Maybe he gave her a “back-in-the-womb” feeling. I am serious about this.

  11. #385

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    True improvisation IS "playing by ear" to the n'th degree.

    You don't often see it described like that, but that's exactly what it is, if you're doing it right.

    When we are truly improvising, sure we all have licks that we use from time to time, however you should also be totally improvising, much of the time, playing EXACTLY what you hear and feel, that you have never played before. That IS totally playing by ear and true improvisation, too. Total freedom on the instrument. You're creating lines, at the spur of the moment, that are EXACTLY what you're hearing and feeling at that moment. The scales, arpeggios, intervals, chromatics, chords, subs, slurs, slides etc, are the alphabet, the vocab that you have to work with. You should become good enough to say whatever it is you're hearing and feeling at the moment.
    That's improv in it's purest, most elegant form. Creating improv on the spot, that is creative, technically proficient, and exciting/interesting to listen to, that's jazz.

    So in a sense, learning theory helps you "play by ear"
    much better, because you understand all of the options available to you, when you know music theory well. Therefore your playing by ear also naturally improves when you know your theory.

  12. #386

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller View Post
    Well my wife played Turangalila symphony to my unborn daughter, so I’m not sure what that counts as. Also she seemed to like Joao Gilberto.

    Now she will only tolerate Frozen.

    Mind you I played Wes to her in the car the other day and she said ‘oh I like this music, it’s very soothing.’

    I have my concerns.
    Let it go.

  13. #387

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    Quote Originally Posted by James Haze View Post
    True improvisation IS "playing by ear" to the n'th degree.

    You don't often see it described like that, but that's exactly what it is, if you're doing it right.

    When we are truly improvising, sure we all have licks that we use from time to time, however you should also be totally improvising, much of the time, playing EXACTLY what you hear and feel, that you have never played before. That IS totally playing by ear and true improvisation, too. Total freedom on the instrument. You're creating lines, at the spur of the moment, that are EXACTLY what you're hearing and feeling at that moment. The scales, arpeggios, intervals, chromatics, chords, subs, slurs, slides etc, are the alphabet, the vocab that you have to work with. You should become good enough to say whatever it is you're hearing and feeling at the moment.
    That's improv in it's purest, most elegant form. Creating improv on the spot, that is creative, technically proficient, and exciting/interesting to listen to, that's jazz.

    So in a sense, learning theory helps you "play by ear"
    much better, because you understand all of the options available to you, when you know music theory well. Therefore your playing by ear also naturally improves when you know your theory.
    Your definition of the nth degree implies both chops and theory
    Three other possibilities might be considered for completeness:

    True improvisation IS "playing by ear" with chops but no theory
    e.g., the experienced guitarist tries random tuning on the guitar

    True improvisation IS "playing by ear" with theory but no chops
    e.g., experienced musician not the string section tries the guitar

    True improvisation IS "playing by ear" without chops nor theory
    e.g., you hand a guitar to a non-musician and ask them to play

  14. #388

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln View Post
    Your definition of the nth degree implies both chops and theory
    Three other possibilities might be considered for completeness:

    True improvisation IS "playing by ear" with chops but no theory
    e.g., the experienced guitarist tries random tuning on the guitar

    True improvisation IS "playing by ear" with theory but no chops
    e.g., experienced musician not the string section tries the guitar

    True improvisation IS "playing by ear" without chops nor theory
    e.g., you hand a guitar to a non-musician and ask them to play
    Okay, I was talking about good improvisation, though.

  15. #389

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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    So you’d be Rick Beato? He literally did this with his son.

    Last i hear Dylan wasn’t doing much music lol.
    I draw the line at bizarre-nazi-art-experiment. But, I did make sure my young son heard a lot of different styles of music.

  16. #390

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    Quote Originally Posted by John A. View Post
    Savant does carry the connotation of "autistic savant" or extraordinary ability in an otherwise cognitively impaired person. Typically such people don’t really know what they’re doing in a conscious, cerebral cortex kind of way. They can just do it instantly.

    As with many other terms describing mental illness or developmental disorder, it gets misapplied as an insult. So, yeah, referring to a musical prodigy who is otherwise developmentally normal as a "savant” is problematic.
    Thanks John. That's what I was trying to get at. The other main definition I keep running into is along these lines:

    : a person of learning
    especially : one with detailed knowledge in some specialized field (as of science or literature)

    So it seems that when folks are talking about Bireli as a savant, they're likely to be leaning to the other kind, the 'magic' kind.


  17. #391

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    Quote Originally Posted by m_d
    Yeah, like Parker would have been able to sit dutifully through 8 semesters at music college. Are you guys for real? It's like saying Arthur Rimbaud had to get his neat little degree from the Sorbonne before he could write poetry. They're quite similar figures. To me it's more like those guys change the face of art, and 100 academics make their careers commenting their work for the next 50 years . Of course Parker absorbed every bit of information from every source he could get and understood what he was doing. But he did it organically by all accounts, it wasn't from "studying theory" like a curriculum, where for some it's become like an end in itself. As I remember from Stanley Crouch's book he received formal classes from a white school teacher (classical); spent hours listening to bands backstage while underaged; then performing; learned from sitting with other musicians. Crouch mentions a guitarist in New York who had him learn the sound/function of each note in a new chord/scale/arpeggio before incorporating it in his playing, who was important in his development. Which qualifies as studying theory.

    At the risk of sounding provocative I find understanding theory to be pretty trivial. How many functioning adults, doing complex jobs, do you see complaining about how hard music theory is? It's 1/10th at most in the difficulty of learning jazz. I'm not anti-theory. I just find it's the easiest part, and that there more rewarding approaches to it than the CST cannon. I don't think it's really theory that's confounding learners. By the way, Biréli Lagrène doesn't know any theory (or worship the metronome, or tap his foot on two and four - two more heresies). Hardly a noodler from a rock background. It's hard not to mention that how he learned was very much by oral transmission - same or similar process as in the original American jazz community. It's probably not a recommended exclusive approach for those of us who didn't grow up with such a background, but neglect that and you neglect a very large aspect of how jazz came about, IMO. Hal Galper does say "all music is played by ear".


    Boy, you really misread what I wrote and the minions who applauded you.
    Marinero

  18. #392

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    If your playing solo... you can do whatever you want and then label it anyway you want...

    When you work with good musicians... you need to get over yourself or your personal views of what playing jazz is.

    You... as a group need to be on the same page, or at least what that page can be.

    Someone said above ... theory is easy, I agree. It's stop time organization. But as I think I said earlier, the theory in motion trick... isn't so easy.

    Try hearing where your going when your playing in context with where the other musicians may be going.

    Example... last week I performed with a few different horn players. One of musicians, a sax player, your normal working player... anyway, his soloing was difficult to follow and hear where he was going. By that I mean harmonically as well as melodically his ideas were misleading, he hinted at a standard harmonic approach but went in different directions... same with melodic development approach... but he sounded great.... so I keep it vanilla and just help raise the level of performance with rhythmic organization and other simple techniques etc.

    Then later at different gig and different sax player... during solos... he would start developing what he was playing with standard musical organization. Basically ideas that have theoretical references and also lots of oral history.... so I could easily hear and understand where he was trying to go... and he would finish the developmental process and get there. Much more fun and audience was into it. Obviously not the theory or the use of our ears... the actual music LOL.

  19. #393

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg View Post
    Example... last week I performed with a few different horn players. One of musicians, a sax player, your normal working player... anyway, his soloing was difficult to follow and hear where he was going. By that I mean harmonically as well as melodically his ideas were misleading, he hinted at a standard harmonic approach but went in different directions... same with melodic development approach... but he sounded great.... so I keep it vanilla and just help raise the level of performance with rhythmic organization and other simple techniques etc.

    Then later at different gig and different sax player... during solos... he would start developing what he was playing with standard musical organization. Basically ideas that have theoretical references and also lots of oral history.... so I could easily hear and understand where he was trying to go... and he would finish the developmental process and get there. Much more fun and audience was into it. Obviously not the theory or the use of our ears... the actual music LOL.
    Yes, the majority of how a mature musician "plays by ear" focuses on hearing, grasping, predicting, and supporting the rest of the band.
    Combinations of soloing (simple / complex) and accompaniment (simple / complex) - great examples showing performance judgement.

  20. #394

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    funny bireli interview

    at10:48: if someone asked you to play a G13 chord:


  21. #395

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    So he can read charts but he doesn't know how to play a G13 chord. What does it mean to know how to read charts then? Charts do occasionally call for specific extensions/alterations.

    If you're reading charts that means you don't know the tune and you're not playing by ear. So I guess if you don't know what is a G13 chord but the chart calls it, you play some random version of the G dominant and hope not to clash with the melody? Or maybe be extra conservative and stick with the shell voicings?

  22. #396

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175 View Post
    So he can read charts but he doesn't know how to play a G13 chord. What does it mean to know how to read charts then? Charts do occasionally call for specific extensions/alterations.

    If you're reading charts that means you don't know the tune and you're not playing by ear. So I guess if you don't know what is a G13 chord but the chart calls it, you play some random version of the G dominant and hope not to clash with the melody? Or maybe be extra conservative and stick with the shell voicings?
    With theory and the concept of a mode per scale, people tend to be too radical. A dominant chord is very open, an extension is just a colour, you can play all tensions you want when you're soloing, it's true when you are the only one who is playing chords or kind of during the solo. A soloist can add tensions, the one who is comping can add them too. It is not so static.
    The other day I made a silly thing here, a kind of "play with me", except ragman1, nobody dared to play. One said "be careful with your dominants they are not the good extensions" certainly without trying anything. It made me smile, like if it were something written in the stone, like a dogme, a sect, whatever you want... It was about playing... for real.
    About crashing with the melody...
    YOU have been playing for decades an extension in Autumn Leaves that normally crashes with the melody, on the 6th bar.
    Does it sound bad ? No ! It should sound bad, it's not the right scale, it's not the right extension (bla bla bla...)...
    The chord plays an augmented 9th or a minor 9th, the melody plays a major 9th ?
    Nobody's crying ? Nobody's complaining ?

    A friend of mine told me one day he disliked Joe Pass because he didn't play the right extensions, random extensions...

    It sounds like it sounds, it's a surprise, it's a tension, that's good, it's a colour.

  23. #397

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    I’d suggest transcribing some comping by players you like, and see what they do.

    If one has trouble hearing voicings, this may tell you something about your use of chords in improvisation.

    My advice would be to concentrate particularly on the lead voice/top voice. In conventional jazz guitar this is usually the extension note anyway.

    or you could argue with people about how your comping is like Joe Pass’s, actually. Each to their own. I’m not sure if that’s the best way to develop your skills though.

  24. #398

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax View Post
    With theory and the concept of a mode per scale, people tend to be too radical. A dominant chord is very open, an extension is just a colour, you can play all tensions you want when you're soloing, it's true when you are the only one who is playing chords or kind of during the solo. A soloist can add tensions, the one who is comping can add them too. It is not so static.
    The other day I made a silly thing here, a kind of "play with me", except ragman1, nobody dared to play. One said "be careful with your dominants they are not the good extensions" certainly without trying anything. It made me smile, like if it were something written in the stone, like a dogme, a sect, whatever you want... It was about playing... for real.
    About crashing with the melody...
    YOU have been playing for decades an extension in Autumn Leaves that normally crashes with the melody, on the 6th bar.
    Does it sound bad ? No ! It should sound bad, it's not the right scale, it's not the right extension (bla bla bla...)...
    The chord plays an augmented 9th or a minor 9th, the melody plays a major 9th ?
    Nobody's crying ? Nobody's complaining ?

    A friend of mine told me one day he disliked Joe Pass because he didn't play the right extensions, random extensions...

    It sounds like it sounds, it's a surprise, it's a tension, that's good, it's a colour.
    Not quite sure if I understand what you are saying. Perhaps with "theory", people might make a decision or judgement based too much on trusting theory rather than checking how it sounds, whereas those playing by ear necessarily test everything by how it will sound. Is that what you mean by "With theory... too radical"?

  25. #399

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    I believe that playing tunes is more constructive than talking about theory especially in jazz, it's all about tension and release.
    If it's not the "right" extension and the soloist is playing what it's written in the stone, it's just a substitute or understood like this except if you are a radical and nothing can't change.
    It's live music, you're not playing a record.

    Just think of how a Rhythm Changes is played, no matter what you play, it remains a Rhythm Changes, they are extensions, substitutions, inversions (call them however you want, it doesn't matter, it matters to the one who wants it does) but it's still a Rhythm Changes, same thing with blues.

  26. #400

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lionelsax View Post
    I believe that playing tunes is more constructive than talking about theory especially in jazz, it's all about tension and release.
    If it's not the "right" extension and the soloist is playing what it's written in the stone, it's just a substitute or understood like this except if you are a radical and nothing can't change.
    It's live music, you're not playing a record.

    Just think of how a Rhythm Changes is played, no matter what you play, it remains a Rhythm Changes, they are extensions, substitutions, inversions (call them however you want, it doesn't matter, it matters to the one who want it does) but it's still a Rhythm Changes, same thing with blues.
    All theoretically true, but this tells you nothing about the difference between good and bad comping.

    i tell you what will - listening.