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Following changes in our mind while playing

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by toch, Oct 28, 2016.


  1. toch

    toch

    Oct 28, 2016
    Hi everyone,

    not that long ago, I (really) discovered Jazz and started playing the double bass. I have a musical background but this is the first time I am into improv. And like many (as I heard) improv can stress me out at times. While I can memorise tunes and walk them, I often get lost while improvising. I am having the impression that if I want to play what I feel (rather than recalling licks that I previously practiced), i loose time as well as the changes. Because I am bad at multitasking improv and keeping up with the song? While this does not happen with Songs I have internalised (e.g., Autumn Leaves), more harmonically complex tunes (e.g., Stella by Starlight) seem impossible to me. I asked two teachers on this, but both could not really understand my problem and just gave me the advice that I simply have to internalise all tunes. Is this really the only way? Do you have any experience or suggestions on this? I am eager to improve my multitasking, so I am particularly grateful for practicing ideas.

    Thanks. :thumbsup:
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Well a couple of things. First I'd consider the word hear as opposed to memorize and/or internalize. Because at its base, all improvisation is just playing what you hear, in your imagination, in response to your conception of what the composition sounds like and what's happening in your immediate aural environment. If you're losing the time, you're no longer hearing the original time stream. If you're losing the changes, you're no longer hearing the compositional framework you're improvising around. ASIDE: I would even say that it's not only changes, those are pretty malleable. You're no longer hearing the MELODY.

    So the question comes up, what are you doing to work on ear training? As far as an exercise, this really helped me get to a point where I could better hear my way through not only the tunes I was working on, but also with songs I was seeing for the first time.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  3. toch

    toch

    Oct 28, 2016
    Hi there,
    thanks for the input. Much appreciated.
    Cheers, Christian
     
  4. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You bet.

    So, what work are you doing on ear training?
     
    Sam Sherry likes this.
  5. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    I don't follow the harmony in my mind while I play. It's too complex. I focus my internal playback on the melody. Here's an exercise Ben Wolfe had me do:
    On any tune, play the bass part in 2 for a chorus or two while singing the melody out loud.
    Make sure you are doing it at a tempo with which you can perform the operation above without stopping. Yes, that means you might be playing Giant Steps at 45 bpm, but you gradually speed it up.
    No need to try and be Sinatra. Just sing the melody as in tune as possible.
    Bonus if you do it with the lyrics.

    Hope this helps! It did for me!
     
  6. toch

    toch

    Oct 28, 2016
    Mostly transcription. I checked out your exercise and it sounds great. Tried the first part of it with Oleo yesterday.

    Thanks. I will try that as well some time soon. It is amazing how many different approaches there are...
     
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    There's lots of good things about transcription, but you don't become a better basketball player by just running through plays from old games. A lot of what you have to do is practicing making left handed hook shots from just inside the foul line. Etc.
    I'm a firm believer that unless you can sing it, you're not really hearing it. That includes the harmony as well as the melody. Intervals in the first octave, intervals in the second octave, triads in all inversions and in open and closed positions, 4 part chords in all inversions and in open and closed positions, 4 parts with one tension, 4 parts with 2 tensions.

    There are as many different approaches as there are musicians, but they are all trying to get to the same place. I think there are some methodologies that do a better job of addressing how to practice the skill sets involved in learning to improvise in your own voice.
     
    hdiddy and Adam Booker like this.
  8. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    You're a much better player than I will ever be but: I try to focus on the people around me. That way I get to play with the people around me instead of the band in my head.

    If you were talking about how you practice, I withdraw the point entirely.
     
  9. MrLenny1

    MrLenny1

    Jan 17, 2009
    New England
    One of my Jazz teacherrs told me if you really know the tune you should
    be able to call out every chord change going by in the tune. Jeez.
     
    Groove Doctor and Don Kasper like this.
  10. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Of course, I always strive to pay attention to my comerades on the bandstand first. Great point. I was referring more to practice and learning.
    Even on the bandstand, trying to juggle harmony, melody, rhythm, and bandmates creates a latency issue. We only have enough RAM. The more experuence we gain, the faster the reflexes. Goes back to Chris and what he was saying about ear training. The less "nuts and bolts" I have to turn my attention to, the more I get to participate in the creation of music.

    Thank you for the wonderful complement!
     
  11. That's a VERY handy skill to develop. Any chordal instrument will hone this skill. I also play jazz guitar which really helps this.
     
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Chris?
     
  13. Adam Booker

    Adam Booker Supporting Member

    May 3, 2007
    Boone, NC
    Endorsing Artist: D'Addario Strings, Remic Microphones
    Ed. Dang. Sorry. You and Chris Fitzgerald always say the most spot-on stuff. It's hard to keep all the smart guys straight some times!
     
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  14. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    It's DURRRLL 1 and DURRRLL 2...
     
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I have to go agree with FUQHORN EDHORN on this one. It's not about thinking about the changes or being able to recite the chord names of the changes, but rather about hearing the changes as a sound without all of the messy language in the way. If we were actors, it would be like the difference between an actor playing a part where they have worked out not only the words themselves, but the intent, sound, and meaning of the words as they are spoken; this will always be more convincing than trying to recall the font on the script or teleprompter.

    I also agree that the ability to sing what you are trying to play is the ultimate acid test of what you are actually hearing. Students try to argue this point with me all the time: "I'm hearing it in tune in my head... I just can't sing it in tune". Sorry, I don't buy it. When they finally stop arguing this point and buckle down to the point where they can sing a part in tune at a really slow tempo, the intonation and memory issues almost always magically disappear. And transposition becomes much easier in the process, since there is no reliance on specific nomenclature that pertains only to a single key.

    Now there's a compliment I'll take every time. Not sure how smart either one of us actually is, but we both mean well!
     
  16. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    Actually, it's not that difficult - one still has a smattering of hair on his head; the other...not so much.
     
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  17. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator Gold Supporting Member

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Sort of... he's got way more than just a smattering of hair on his head:

    IMG_0302.jpg

    And not just his head, either...

    IMG_0303.jpg
     
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  18. Memorizing and hearing changes on their own is a pretty tall order. Check out Ed's great thread on really learning a tune.
    It more work to learn but way easier to hear things if you learn the whole tune, melody, lyrics, arpeggios, etc.

    Still, the one trick I use for changes is bowing the roots so you can hear the "melody" the root movement creates.
     
  19. Don Kasper

    Don Kasper Supporting Member

    And/But/So* - Is it worth mentioning here that, (in my experience), most/all(?) serious musicians, (and even some drummists!), "know" both the (aural & written) names and sounds of the functional/structural harmony to tunes that they have "internalized"?
    I can't imagine learning, for example, "In Your Own Sweet Way", without, at some point, being able to "talk through" the changes off of the bandstand, (and maybe even on the bandstand), in the very early stages of the internalization processes, ESPECIALLY if you keep getting bucked off of the bronco, and find yourself on Your Own Sweet Ass. Pure Osmosis can be a painstakingly slow process - I'd advocate for an Enhanced Osmosis, and explore and utilize any/all strategies that get me OFF of the written page.
    Thanks.

    *stolen from David Foster Wallace, RIP.
     
    Last edited: Oct 31, 2016
    Jason Hollar, damonsmith and Tom Lane like this.

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