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best way to practise the linear approach?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by 33degrees, Jun 21, 2005.

  1. 33degrees


    Jun 4, 2005
    is there some good exercises or concepts to get a more linear approach into your playing?
    for example i take autumn leaves first 4 chords and start on say the lowest chord tone (G, the 5th of CM7) and then use the strong / weak beat concept to go up to say the octave G harmonic and back down to low E on the E string. (if possible) using chromatrcs on the weak beat and at least one chord extension on every other chord, also trying to avoid the 1 interval on the first beat.
  2. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    Sorry I missed this one for so long....

    The best way to get linear ideas into your playing is to practice linear ideas. I don't mean that to sound flippant.

    First thing I would do is to work on this without the 1/4 note contraints. To make a good melodic statement can be challenging, especially when you're working from the beginning and trying to work under such heavy restrictions. Work instead on melodic, linear lines from the other end -- the 'horn' end of the pie.

    This is something that I show students pretty early on when working on getting bass lines from 'functional' to 'musical': What I will do is improvise a melodic horn-type of line (hopefully one that I can remember two seconds later) over the target set of changes. I then teach them this line verbatim. The next step is to take that line and pare it down to a quarter note line. After I do that, I might make some alterations by inverting and idea, moving the shape of an idea (i.e., a 1, 2, 3, 5 type pattern) to another part of the root-scale to make the line more appropriate for supporting the harmonic structure of the tune, etc.

    The actual minutia as to how I make my choices when paring down the ideas are discussed as we work out the line, and are not very systematic on my part -- just years of experience, trial, error, etc. So I can't be more explicit for you here. Maybe CF will chime in and help a bit here...
  3. Savino


    Jun 2, 2004
    Ray's got a nice point. What I used to do is practice scalar fragments over chords. Take a progression like Autumn leaves and play 1 2 3 over every chord. C Eb G, F A C, Bb D F, etc. It sounds easy but its not if you keep strict. Use a rythmic motif and see if you can run them in time. Make up more fragments like 345, 321, 1765, 12345, and so on. When you can do them quick you will start to connect them in different ways and thats where the fun begins. go slow and sing. la la la la la la laaaaaah!
  4. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    I assume he meant building a solo line not a walking line.

    The problem with practicing exclusively scale or arpeggio exercises is that they don't really come out when you're in a live playing situation - they are often inferior melodic constructions. The extent to which you succeed and feel good about soloing has do with how well you thought you had established a successful connection with the ideas you have floating around in your head-which are usually made of other "stuff". That's a matter of technique, ear and having a vocabulary that you find satisfying to yourself. Challenging your ear and improving your technique is always good. But line construction and vocabulary--when you're in the shed--that's difficult. The 2 poles can often be--working out a line that sounds forced or not being able to grab the spontaneous idea and note you're looking for. Is there a way around this?

    There are a few things that I think might be helpful that I use.

    Breaking down the elements
    Using the combined elements and variations as a practice method.
    Try to focus on practicing ideas that cover a discernable harmonic progression or harmony that lasts 2-4 bars.
    Using theme and variations as a practice method.

    For me I define the elements as scalar, arpeggio or auxialiary tones.
    SF =Scale fragment, AP=arpeggios, AT=auxilliary tone, *down= ^=up, I only notate the change in direction

    Take a 2 measure II-V I in F in eighth notes

    G-A-Bb-C (SF) D-F*E D(ATs)/C *A E C^D(AP)

    Variation1 with same start
    G-A-Bb-C (SF) D F A * E(APor SF) ^G *E F A(ATs or SF)

    Make sure to transpose to other keys and experiment with inverted intervals of the lines you contruct. for example : E-G-A-B-D-C inverted= E (down a 6th)G-A-B-D-C sounds better to me. Also you can change the order of some notes of the group: F G A C= C G A F

    Some of this is just practicality and similar to a live playing situation. Your confronted with a group of changes, you need to start somewhere and you need to have different avenues to turn once your hand goes to a particular position. On bass this may involve change of finger position on the same note to get the variation out--because you need to go up where you had previously gone down.

    The more you have to say, the more you have to say. But at least you have a structure to add things to. Rather than searching for good notes at random.

    It's also helpful to be able to sing each of these ideas accurately prior to picking up the instrument. Because solo is this constant forward looking chain of ideas that occur to you in your head and you have to be able to translate that natural dialogue to feel connected. Singing is verification of that and you feel the resonance within.
    So you start with diatonic oriented ideas then move to more difficult notes on the dominant chord as a variation. For example this:

    G A Bb C/ Db *Bb Gb E/ F A C E G. Concentrating on that Gb it's a particular tension that you should verify that you are truly singing it.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    I think he meant walking lines by the way he described 'strong' and 'weak' beats above. But what you said certainly applies and is another (and a bit more complete) way of saying what I was trying to say.

    In addition to scale and arpeggio fragments and the like, I like to take melody fragments that I like and practice them through the keys and parts of the scale. Once these things are in your ears and under your fingers they start to come out. A good example would be the first half of the first phrase (the first four notes) of 'But Beautiful'.
  6. Just a note that Hap Galper's Forward Motion encourages you to practice soloing by putting the chord tones on strong beats much as 33 describes it. 33 will have to tell us if he's read this stuff.
  7. appler

    appler Guest

    I'm not sure if the original question was about soloing or not, but I was in a theory class this year and we did a lot of exercises like this: write an all eighth-note line using only seconds as intervals and placing only chord tones on the downbeats. The goal is to be able to do that spontaneously. Then, as that gets easier, more musical, more fluid, and comes out better, add in phrasing, triplets, arpeggios, whatever you like. As a beginner, writing and playing these kinds of lines over blues and standards improved my soloing (and my walking lines too, for that matter) a lot.



    Kinda like that.
  8. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    I should've read more carefully. Sorry. It seems he was talking about doing a walking line all the way up to bass and all the way down uniformly throwing in the necessary changes, chromatics and other chord requirements along the way (?)I suppose the useful part of that would be the "forced" aspect of playing something "relevant" at any point during a line. Like many scale methods I'm sort of on the fence about such things. You could probably get just as much out of crafting the best possible lines from different notes-which again is the theme and variations concept. You start with the same quarter line in the first bar starting from G but go up in one follow up and go down in the next follow-up

    Also I think there is different momentum created depending on what intervals you play and whether you leap at key points. Some times you can "cook the energy" up by playing small intervals then releasing it by leaping up at key points. Everybody hears these type of things leaping through the bassists line for ex:G-7 =G ^D^ G^A^Bb *A G. Or another type of line that creates energy when you toggle at the octave and 5th on a long change. I find somewhat less energy created when I hear constant arpeggio outlines from bassists. Although it sometimes depending on the bassist's attack and feel. I've see them a lot in school big band charts (are they written by pianists?? :eyebrow: )

    In other words there would be just as much to be gained if you labeled little linear creations by type (close intervals, followed by leap, with tritone subs, etc) and probably a lot more practical use. The main thing is focusing on a specific area and doing variations that can leave you bustling with ideas. That's the optimum state.

    I agree with this. Melodies are really important. They permeate our consciousness and it's important to be able to nail them when they occur to us. I often do a lot of warm up playing improv off the melody. Starting conservative and then gradually adding more. I spoke with mR. fUQUA about this at length. It makes me feel like music because I'm setting little boundaries and inventing within that. Like Cheek to Cheek for example

    orig= AG---/--EF/AG
    embellished = efed#e(pickup)//AG---/--DEFG/AG

    Don't you feel like finding a cool follow-up after this? :hyper:
  9. TJC


    Jun 28, 2002
    Los Angeles

    Would you mind elaborating just a bit more on how one might practice this...
  10. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    I dropped you a line in your mailbox

    basically you practice it chorus by chorus.
    1st chorus: melody with strict melody and rhythm
    2nd chorus: strict melody with looser rhythm (like Sinatra or Ella)
    3rd chorus: like prev 2 with fills in spaces or long melody tones
    4th chorus like prev 3 with slight alterations to melody
    5 on--just keep adding more but try to come back to the melody at key points.

    The hard part is to do jazzier, harmonically informed fills or substitutions over the melody. You should freeze frame those bars and sing the key pitches of the harmony after you have sung the melody. It helps if you have some sense of the bebop language incorporated in your vocabulary ofcourse. But really the key is just to relax and try it. You probably will surprise yourself

    For example on the melody " And I seem to find the happiness I seek"(on E) then sing this eighth note phrase. E D C# E G Bb that details the E-7b5 A7b9 thrust of those measures
  11. VTDB


    Oct 19, 2004
  12. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    There are some similarities there yes. Maybe I should have a blogging page somewhere-lest someone thinks the ideas presented here are someone else's :smug:

    Konitz from my understand was into line writing. He would have lots of notebooks with phrases in odd signatures that he would memorize. Later in life he would say to my Dad (Jimmy Raney)he was trying to simplify his vocabulary and to get rid of a lot of his more complicated lines. My Dad would say jokingly "Could I have some of them?". The tune "Lee" although attributed to my mom, I'm almost certain is a tribute to Lee Konitz's more technical type of writing. You can tell that a bit from the tone of the article-how he has come full circle.

    One of things that drove a wedge between them (later repaired) was a gig at the Vanguard where Lee and he disputed about playing the somewhat rustic Pennie's from Heaven and then later on just standing up there during a solo- not playing--waiting for the inspired moment. My father thought it was unconscionable to do that at a major venue and he went off a bit.
  13. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Once again, only cause some of you guys are new around here AND with the caveat that yer gonna have to put up with my sorry ass, you can hear Jon play here.
  14. Jeeze, who could blame him?
    Was this just the two of them or a whole band?
  15. VTDB


    Oct 19, 2004
    Those clips sound really great. I guess the proverbial apple doesn't fall too far from the tree.
  16. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    It sure doesn't. Ed's dad, Jimmy Fuqua, was a mother******, wasn't he? No wonder Ed plays so good.
  17. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    It's a good thing, too. Otherwise where would I be?
  18. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY

    Ooh, nice catch! Not quite what I meant, but I gotta admit I've been trumped on this one...
  19. nypiano


    Feb 10, 2003
    And I thought I was derailer.. :eyebrow:

    The Konitz thing..

    Well, Paul. Based on what I was told, I think Mr. Raney was a bit over the top. The way he told it he said he had a few choice words and walked off the gig. Which hurt Lee's feelings a lot for a long time. Konitz I think had the reputation of being a little quirky. I think my father should've rolled with it. I think Pennie's is kind of a Tristano legacy anthem. It was their theme. Like Cherokee was Parker's.

    Oh never mind. I guess Pennie's From Heaven is a stupid tune :help:

    Back to the original topic :confused:
    In terms of scales for walking lines. This topic has been covered in many different incarnations at talkbass. I think the general consensus is that hashing through scales endlessly-even if you try to do tricks to make them more musical or dovetail them will not achieve as good a result as working on your sense of melody and harmony, thinking in more compositional terms and larger sections, and tempering it all with the accompanist's principle--to be felt not heard.

    A couple of other points worth repeating is Ray's comment about the hazy process of how a student goes from "functional" walking to "creative". It's really a fact of life. A beginning bassist has a big job--he has to keep playing despite his lack of knowledge! He's the backbone, so he has to be content with doubling and connecting roots, playing 1-5 and ofcourse-screwing up. On the job training. Eventually the functional will germinate into something more satisifying but it can be daunting all that goes into it.

    Re: improv on melody. I enjoy melodies a lot more now that I have worked out way I can mess around with them and I find it a good way to rev the improvisatory engines. Eventually I want it to be my absolute conception-both live and on recordings.

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