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fearing the solo...

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by twiz, Mar 23, 2004.


  1. twiz

    twiz

    Jun 4, 2003
    Los Angeles
    i know the topic of jazz soloing with the DB or any instrument for that matter, is massively complicated. coming from a rock/blues background i'm used to the whole "play an a minor scale over a song in a minor" which clearly doesnt work for most jazz standards because of shifting keys. a lot of bassists will stress that you should forget about scales and focus on playing the chords and chordal substitutes, so in autumn leaves, focus on playing the notes forming the Am7 chord, D7 chord, G7 chord, etc etc. I guess my massive problem with this (at least as a beginner soloist), is that 1 measure per chord seems incredibly fast to develop anything meaningful solo wise, it's almost like i can play a few notes, like walk into the 3rd or 5th and then poof another chord and whatever i was developing i need to shift somewhere else. i must be going about this the wrong way. can anyone please give me some guidance on developing fine jazz soloing for the 1-chord-per-measure standards? thanks!
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Check out that idiot Peter Dalla's recommended approach for learning standards/practicing in the thread WALKING AND SOLOING AND PRACTICING, as well as any number of threads available in the locked threads at the beginning of the THEORY forum.

    Lots of good stuff, there's a variety of approach that has served any number of good players well. Check out what's already available at the site and if it raises a question or questions, post them in the thread that seems most relevant and it will become "live" again and we can take it from the top of the chorus.
    And not have to retype some stuff ad infinitum.
     
  3. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    If it will fit the chord progression, you can start with restating the melody line as you begin your solo.

    Another trick: wiggle your fingers around like a maniac and afterwards drop hints about the "secret message" buried under all the dissonance and passing tones.
     
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    I'm sure your mother finds you charming...
     
  5. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Well, my mother would quickly recommend the first option before punishing me, if you mean to assume anything of her.
     
  6. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I'm not sure that approach works anywhere - even the Blues changes key and just because a note is in a particular key doesn't mean it will sound good against any chord in that key and it certaily may not be the best choice!!
    I don't think this is "forgetting about scales" - but rather concentrating on chords. So if you add all the possible extensions to a chord, it is functionally identical to a scale - the important thing is knowing what scales are available to you over any combination of chords!

    See Ed's advice and practice, practice, practice!!
     
  7. twiz

    twiz

    Jun 4, 2003
    Los Angeles
    "the important thing is knowing what scales are available to you over any combination of chords!"

    ok here we go! this is exactly what i need to hear. for example, I have been told that from a ii to a V (like the am7 to d7 in autumn leaves), you can play the notes that comprise the ii throughout both measures. first off, is this correct? secondly, could someone explain some of the logic behind this? and finally, is there some simple formula for knowing what these magic chords are available when playing over a combination of chords (book? chart? anything?)

    Thanks!
     
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.

    JUST ... SAY....NO to chord scales. No there is not a simple formula, if it were easy everybody would do it. Look at the function of what you are talking about
    ii chord - C Eb G Bb
    V chord - F A C Eb
    I chord - Bb D F A

    every one of those chords is built diatonically off of the major tonic so, if all you are doing is plugging in notes from the scale, you can play the Bb major scale all day long, right? But you do hear enough to understand that that's NOT what Cannonball is doing on SOMETHIN ELSE, right?

    Stop, just stop right NOW. And read through the threads, I swear to gawd every single concern you have brought up has been addressed in there. You will be able to ask more focused questions and we will be able to better advise you ONCE YOU DO THAT.


    ROGER THE BRUCE - I'm surprised at you. After all we been through....
     
  9. Johnny L

    Johnny L

    Feb 14, 2002
    Victoria, TX
    Wait a sec, I thought this thread was about beginning jazz soloing. For a beginner motivated to learn jazz after getting bored with a ripe pile of rock and roll root/5 chords and minor pentatonic solos, going after all those 7th chord scales and memorizing the sound of the intervals isn't a bad place to start at all.

    I'd leave the harmonic analysis homework on the carrot stick for a little while longer.
     
  10. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Feel free to.
     
  11. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member


    So - what was wrong with what I actually said - not being sarcastic or anything I want to know!! ?? :confused:

    So - a major part of my regular Jazz classes, has been going through tunes and seeing what scales you could use over which chords in particular situations - it may only be for one bar, but it is worth knowing that a diminished scale will work here or a harmonic minor there etc. etc .

    This was a major revelation for me, as my teacher suggested scale choices that I would never have thought of, from just listening to the tune - for me it was how to get solos sounding "Jazzy" rather than just a random collection of improvised notes.
     
  12. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    This comment really bears a detailed response, because there are a lot of dangerous seeds planted inside.

    It is easy for someone to tell you what notes to play over particular chords. It's quite cost-effective. Students leave satisfied, describing their solos as "sounding jazzy" instead of "random."

    But there is a fundamental distinction between playing jazz and sounding as if you're playing jazz. Jazz is about listening, taking risks and bringing passion to the moment. It's about that for beginners and for masters alike. Having someone tell you what notes to put where is a shortcut for listening to the music, to your mentors and to your colleagues and actually hearing what notes call to you.

    To cite an example you allude to: Perhaps your teacher told you how to use a diminished scale over a dominant seventh change. It's cool; you try it; it works; you've now got a deeper box of licks with which to ambush the next unsuspecting dominant chord that happens into your path. Five years from now you're listening to Bird fly off down that path, or Joe Pass work a chord solo, and the actual sound makes intuitive sense. You've been "sounding jazzy" instead of playing jazz.

    There's nothing wrong with taking a shortcut. If your playing was truly "random" then it's probably a big help. But if you don't go back and do the work, you will always be thinking about what piece of noise you should paste into a point in time, instead of listening to find a musical response to that moment's environment.

    And yes, I've got a long way to go before I get there, too.
     
  13. Well,
    me, myself and I think that analyzing different scale choices over the changes is best applied when you learn a new tune.
    THERE you can try different scales to sound more "jazzy" or whatever.
    Without knowing the tune, there´s no story to tell. Without a story the solo will be a random collection of improvised notes anyhow.
    Knowing the scales will help to invent something to say, but
    your story has to be already lurking inside your head, waiting for it´s chance to flow out.

    R2
     
  14. Sam, seems we were typing at the same moment, the same thing.
    :D
    R2
     
  15. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well - that's exactly what I was talking about and what I do - at Jazz classes and working on stuff at home.

    For me - I would have never discovered - to take Sam's example - using a diminished scale over certain dominant sevenths - on my own - never!! No matter how long I had been listening to Jazz records!

    I would be thinking - well it sounds good when "xxxxxxx" does it but I have no idea where he got those notes from or how he chose them!!?? :confused:

    So - my regular Jazz teacher (an alto player influenced by Lee Konitz) picks tunes, goes through and analyses them with us and explains his thinking about a solo, what scales he sees as open to him to use over each chord in constructing a solo...

    Now what's wrong with that!!?? :confused:
     
  16. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    S'MUEL - I'm getting all teary here...
    That's what I been trying to say. Although there is a wide range of opinion here and I think everbody's points hav ebeen pretty well covered, anyone interested should take a cruise through the locked thread with the links at the top.

    BRUISED - as far as why your teacher (who is an ensemble teacher and not a private teacher?) uses the approach he uses I couldn't tell you without talking to them. I can tell you- as a result of talking with people who know Lee Konitz, who have played with Lee Konitz, who studied with Lennie concurrently with Lee Konitz - that this approach is in many ways antithetical to the Tristano approach. And that's not the appraoch that Lee studied.For precisely the same reasons I (and S'MUEL so eloquently) have put forth.

    This is the approach that I learned at Berklee (ie chord/scale) and got me to a point where I "sounded" like I could play and could make it through a tune. But it is also the apporach that led me to the dead end/brick wall I experienced within a year of moving to NYC. Much like MIKE DA MOOK's related experience, I was hearing people here making so much sense - solos full of ideas, intent and meaning - not just making it through the tune, but MAKING the tune happen. Believe me (and I'm not sure why you can't really seem to), the reason you don't sound like Sonny Rollins isn't because he knows some chord scales you don't.

    As far as "I would have never discovered ...using a diminished scale over certain dominant sevenths - on my own" - well depending on the work you are doing, yes you would. The first time it happened for me was a few years back. I was working on playing the 4 part chords in all inversions among other stuff) so I'm playing diminished (along with others) every day, every key center, getting up and down the instrument. So I'm sitting outside my teacher's studio, waiting for the cat before me to get finished and Joe has his "real" bass in so he's playing his bass and the other student is playing the "teaching" bass and they're playing a blues. student will solo a chorus while Joe walks, Joe will solo a chorus while the student walks. And Joe is in the middle of a phrase and suddenly "damn, that's a diminished". And it's everywhere, in some Lester solos I'm working on, in sh*t I hear listening to records, when I'm in clubs. And now that I am hearing it, it's coming out in my palying. not becasue somebody told me it would and I'm plugging in notes from the scale, but becasue I CAN HEAR IT and where I hear it is a true and natural response to my aural environment.
    To get back to your teacher, one of the reasons I am studying with Joe is because his methodology is getting me to the point where I make sense when I play. There are plenty of other teachers (and schools) out there who just work on vocabulary (chord scales, licks etc.) and seem to be more concerned with churning out players that can make it through a clubdate than with encouraging students to find their own voice. But personally, I'm tired of listening to cats whop are on the stand not playing any wrong notes, but not playing any right ones either.
    Plug and play may sound like playing, but it's devoid of any meaning.

    Here's an fun game - I just made 5 columns ( A, B, C, D and E) and 6 rows (1,2,3,4,5,6). Column A is ARTICLES, column B is ADJECTIVES column C is NOUNS column D is VERBS and column E is ADVERBS. Each number is a choice in that column. There's your chord scale, your note choices that will work over the chord change. Now write me a sentence that means something.
     
  17. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Well in these (ensemble) classes, out teacher has encouraged us to do other things - like free playing in duos and trios. But I was just saying that for me, the part I was describing was what helped me most in term of expanding my vocabulary and understanding what made a solo sound Jazzy.

    So - I've played in rock groups for decades and have improvised bass solos and made up whole songs in a few minutes with guitarists - I have no problem hearing stuff and playing hours of music - but it never sounded like Jazz....

    So - one of the teachers I have met, who teaches on eth Aebersold classes in the UK, does come out with sheets of Jazz licks to play and practice and he says that it is all about learning the vernacular...:meh:

    But the regular teacher I was talking about has never done that and just suggest we listen to the CDs and get a feel for it.

    I tend to think that if I had unlimited time to practice and was doing a full-time Jazz course, I might well take the way you describe....but I don't and I would be happy to play a solo that was fluid, had no wrong notes and sounded Jazzy - at the moment that's the summit of my aspirations - although I am also an avid listener and want to understand this stuff more - but I don't see it as almost a kind of "Religion" !! ;)

    If I like some music that I hear, then why should I care whether the person playing it , went to college and studied for 3-4 years, rather than spending 20 years in sweaty clubs listening and playing? :meh:
     
  18. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    Ok - this may be true about me ;) - but I don't see how you can know this is the case with anybody else?

    So, I played in rock/pop bands for many years and did meet some good musicians occasionally and saw lots of great rock musicians in the 70s.

    So I can imagine that the exact reason some of these great players don't sound like Sonny Rollins is because he/she doesn't know some of the chord/scale relationships that Sonny does!

    So, I can imagine somebody like Jimmy Page deciding that he wanted to take up Jazz in his late middle-age..... :meh:

    So, one of the groups that I liked best at my local Jazz club was called "Acoustic Ladyland" - a sax,piano,DB and drums quartet led a great Sax player called Pete Wareham, who has adapted Hendrix tunes to a Jazz idiom - this really spoke to me as an old rocker!! ;)

    So, the spirit or motivation is the energy and great melodies of Hendrix - but the difference is the chords/scales that the musicians apply - I have the first bit already ....I just need the second part to help me do something like this!!
     
  19. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    one of the teachers I have met, who teaches on eth Aebersold classes in the UK, does come out with sheets of Jazz licks to play and practice and he says that it is all about learning the vernacular... And I'm saying that it does about as much good approaching it this way as it would copying all of Shakespeare's plays if you wanted to be a playwright. Sam Shepard is not a contemproary version of Shakespeare, Sam Shepard understdands some of the same things that Will did about people and about language. Talk to Chris about Aebersold, he works with him alla time.

    I would be happy to play a solo that was fluid, had no wrong notes and sounded Jazzy As I am very careful to always say here, Bruce, you don't have to want what I want. You have at many times in the past intimated that you DID want to play this music at a higher level. But do what you want. You just can't have it both ways - I want THIS result, but I only want to do THAT work - it's like a lot of other things garbage in, garbage out.

    tend to think that if I had unlimited time to practice and was doing a full-time Jazz course As I said, do what you want. But I work a full time 40 hour week, have a girlfriend I been co habiting with for 25 years, cats, a mortgage, a life - but this is what I want to do so I study with a teacher, practice my little hour a day, session as often as I can and gig. Oh, and type here. again, it just depends on what you want. But if that's what you want, the work that needs to be done doesn't go away. You don't have to do it now, but you DO have to do it. Personally, my recommendation is to do it as early as you possibly can. That way you are making more music in the long run.

    If I like some music that I hear, then why should I care whether the person playing it , went to college and studied for 3-4 years, rather than spending 20 years in sweaty clubs listening and playing? ***? Who are you talking to here, Bruce? This doesn't seem to be in response to anything I've said. Most of the musicians I enjoy listening to didn't go to college. But they did put a lot of time and study into this music. With the idea that what they wanted was to make a personal statement, not just "sound jazzy". You can like anything you want, listen to anything you want, I don't recall anyone saying anything different.
    But if you say "I want to be a jazz musician" and not " I want to sound like a jazz musician to anybody who doesn't listen to this music much", then that's what you gotta work on.

    Wanting to be a jazz musician isn't some moral high ground. If it IS what you want, then you need to work and I'm saying that the things you are typing about aren't, in my own bitter personal experience, going to get you to that goal.

    You still owe me a sentence, young man.
     
  20. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    That last point you didn't get was in reply to this - above!

    So - I have heard 21 - year old players out of college, at my local Jazz club who have impressed me and interested me with the music they made - should I not like them because they have been to college? ;)