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Could you please critique my Bird/bebop heads?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by blah148, May 1, 2010.

  1. I just recorded myself playing 5 bebop heads and I was wondering what you thought of them. Particularly Donna Lee, as that one kicked me :crying: . Thanks guys!!

    1. Confirmation:
  2. By the way, as a pseudo Youtuber, I'd really appreciate it if you'd subscribe/comment/rate :smug:
  3. TomSauter


    Dec 22, 2004
    Kennesaw, GA
    Sounds good, I wish I knew all those heads. One thing I noticed is that you're starting a lot of phrases too soon and not resting for the full duration. It's most noticeable on Confirmation but I think it happened in every tune
  4. thanks Tom

    yea I watched Confirmation and I really saw how rushed it was. Funny how you don't notice the most obvious weird things about your own playing
  5. I've been working on these things for quite a long time, it's really fun and can be very rewarding in the long run. The challenge is to make them sound as easy as possible. If it sounds hard, it probably is.

    I'd say, good starting point for detail work. You tend to be a little nonchalant (aka sloppy) about the phrases and notes, sometimes "wiping over it" instead of really nailing the notes. Some rests are too long, some too short. And, while this is a matter of personal taste do some degree, your 8th-note time on Donna Lee could be a li'l less downbeaty and jumpy.

    What to do IMO: metronome, slow (!) speed, straight 8ths first (especially on Donna Lee). Try to get ALL of it, all the little details in the lines, even though some might be hard once you crank up the tempo. Get the Omnibook (if you haven't) and check all phrases and rests meticulously. Also good- play the melodies in ballad-tempo. Just to get a feel for the actual melodic content.

    Good luck, never stop.


  6. Nice, man.
    The first thing that jumped out for me was that there seems to be an overabundance of string noise, so much so that I couldn't actually hear the tone at times.
    Some possibilities.....maybe try plucking a bit down more towards the end of the fingerboard (towards the bridge). This accomplishes more of a clear attack (point) to the tone with out so much string wobble. It also helps the "after-blossom" of the tone after the point of the tone.
    You might have your luthier check your fingerboard, as well. It may be time for a dressing.
    Nice to hear the line on Joy Spring on bass.
    Keep up the good work.
  7. MrSideCar, that's awesome advice. actually to be honest I think that's really the thing - the consistency in the playing and the details in time. I'll be whipping out the metronome for sure (I often get lazy when practising with the metronome!)

    And thanks Paul a lot - I appreciate hearing from you. I guess playing the fast bebop heads one can often get sucked into making those weird percussive sounds just trying to make it through the melody.
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Rather than the Omnibook, I'd highly recommend using some sort of device or program (like AUDACITY) to slow the heads to half speed and start singing them. You want to hit all the nuances - attack, decay, legato, staccato, vibrato, crescendo, decrescendo etc etc etc - get the head so that it sounds like Bird coming out of YOUR mouth. Then do the same thing at full speed.

    Then when you pick up your bass, you're not just trying to grab a fingering or a pattern or anything physical, not even pitch/notes. You'll be going for the sound that you've internalized.
  9. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    Good start.

    Just to add to what's been said, all the physical pieces are there, you just have to make it sound good and musical and not rushed. Metronome is one thing, but it was a revelation to me to hear what Hal Galper had to say about time.... also posted elsewhere.

    Also, his comments on note durations really made me think about my sound and tone quality, rather than just banging it out and attacking every note with gusto.

    I've been working on Joy Spring for a couple months now as well and the bridge was kicking my ass to get it into time. I had to really slow down and get the durations right to make it swing properly.
  10. Ed, I'm with you on that. That's of course true- being your own omnibook, or more generally, extracting the info yourself is always better than a second hand resource. A record tells tons more than a sheet, at least in any jazz context.


  11. Good work! Those heads aren't easy on double bass!

    I'd humbly add this extra thing, to the advice already given: in songs like Donna Lee, where some phrases start and/or end in more unusual places within the harmonic rythm, it's easier to get confused about rests and phrase 'placement'. So, once I got the melody, even if I barely can play it, or I have problems with particular phrases, I play it over the chord changes at a tempo that suits me at that stage, using Transcribe! software to slow down some Aebersold track, or even use Band in a Box. That puts the melody within its harmonic context, helps me to remember it the better, etc.

    My 0,02$
  12. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsed by D'Addario
    I played Donna Lee on my jury at school, and one thing that Bill Dobbins said is that I have to make sure it's NOT swingy. Donna Lee is not a swingy head- the eights are not as swung as you may thing. It's hard because our natural tendency when playing eighth notes is to swing them. One thing I'd suggest is buddy up with a sax player who knows the head, and have them play it slow so you can figure out where to articulate slurs and all that. Try and phrase it like a sax player.
  13. :help:
  14. MR PC

    MR PC Banned

    Dec 1, 2007
    Somebody throw a life preserver........
  15. Ed -

    When you get to the point where you can sing it perfectly, do you then go to the bass and transcribe it without using the record for reference anymore? Do you want to be able to sing the melody so confidently that you can hit every nuance without the recording playing?

    I've been doing this with a Miles solo. I singing the solo a while ago, thought I could sing it well enough, started to transcribe it a little, but found I couldn't hear the chromatic lines that were being played without checking the record. I decided I should go back and sing some more - so that's what I've been doing. Slowing things down and getting all the details. Thoughts?

  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Yeah, you have to internalize it to the point that you don't need the outside reference. Keep working!
  17. Very nice playing. It sounds like your tone production is well on its way. You could try to make dynamic changes within each line, so you are not using the same volume to play every note. Really aim for the accented notes in the phrase. That will tend to loosen up alot of stiffness in the swing. More slurs may help too.
    Joe Porter
  18. Pat Harris

    Pat Harris Supporting Member

    Nov 17, 2006
    Austin, TX
    Regarding the "non-swing:"

    I think what's being talked or hinted at is the "bell curve" that happens with the swing feel in relation to the tempo. As the tempo increases the feel of the eighth notes straightens out. It still needs to groove no matter what the tempo, though.
  19. dkziemann

    dkziemann Supporting Member

    Dec 13, 2007
    Rochester, NY
    Endorsed by D'Addario
  20. ding_man


    Dec 24, 2006
    Celina, OH
    Sounds good man. Keep sheddin.

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