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How did you learn to bebop solo?

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Tom Lane, May 9, 2017.

  1. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    I've been working on this for the past couple of months and it's coming along. These days I'm mostly working on building vocabulary in 12 keys - licks - over common chord progressions, and, of course, a lot of listening. It made me wonder, how did you learn to play a good bop solo?
  2. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    The 12 key thing is important and gets pushed hard, but I think it is best to focus on really working out a tune in the most common key, work out plenty of material there, then move it to all 12.
  3. TroyK

    TroyK Moderator Staff Member

    Mar 14, 2003
    Seattle, WA
    I'll get back to you in another decade or so...
  4. jordan2


    Apr 2, 2011
    Charlie Parker Omni Book has been helpful for me lately in terms of building language (I've been using mostly as sight reading practice). Probably the best thing though would be listening to players you like and playing with other people.
    Lionel Albert, seang15 and Tom Lane like this.
  5. Carl Hillman

    Carl Hillman

    Jan 1, 2010
    If that ever happens, I'll let you know. ;)

    Seriously though, I think you're doing the right stuff, working on vocabulary.

    You might want to check out Jerry Bergonzi's take on the various bebop scales and how to integrate them into your playing. One of his Inside Improvisation books is about that. (vol. 3, I think)

    He's also done some vids about that. Found the trailers for them:

    Last edited: May 9, 2017
    Kimseonggyun and Tom Lane like this.
  6. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The short answer is that I learned a lot of what I know about bop soloing by listening to a ton of Kenny Barron.

    The long answer is too long to type. :help:
  7. hhalt


    Nov 26, 2010
    Reno, Nv
    I learned Donna Lee on the electric bass-took me forever. Then started working different phrases of the tune in different keys.
    cpas, SLO Surfer, seang15 and 3 others like this.
  8. I agree, esp for more complex things. Concentrate your efforts until you get a breakthrough.

    12-Keys is really helpful for transposing instruments (sax, trumpet, etc) as they're often forced to play in some mongrel keys.
    Chris Fitzgerald likes this.
  9. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Quincy, MA
    A super basic break down of Be Bop: using the cycle of fifths and chromatic playing to make it sound like you are not doing either! Kind of a joke, but there is truth in it.
    One thing that is heard a lot is a circumscribing chromatic line in 8th notes that connects upper chord tones.
    You have to understand how ornamental material works, in this case, the chromatic line is the ornamental material and the chord tones are primary, so, you have make the chord tones stand out from the chromatic line. The little tricks that help that, dynamics, note length, accents, placement in time are where the art lives. These pages from Paul Klee's Pedagogical Sketchbook, which he used to teach drawing at the Bauhaus help explain a bit. They were not meant to be musical, but Klee was an accomplished violinist as well.
    klee1. 140628131-paulkleepedagogicalsketchbookpdf-9-638.
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
  10. Seanto


    Dec 29, 2005
    Learn as many bebop heads as possible. The vocabulary is built into those melody lines which you can carry over to your soloing.

    I'm not the greatest bebop player myself, but can get by when the tempo is reasonable. I do alot of chord tone connections, frequently in a chromatic way.

    Also, setup a backing track and experiment on a tune you know the harmony to. Maybe just a blues progression. Work on connecting the chord tones until you can get a nice flow going in 8th notes.
    tmntfan, 1smileymn and dkziemann like this.
  11. Jason Hollar

    Jason Hollar Supporting Member

    Apr 17, 2005
    Pittsburgh area
    I'm still working on it too - and I agree with the previous posts about studying the Omnibook and learning bop heads. It's fun to walk the bass line then jump in and out of the melody at key spots.
    blen dem and ejnachtrab like this.
  12. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    A couple of days ago I came across this book I've owned for a very long time but never went through.

    David Baker's How to Play Bebop. I don't think you can learn a musical genre from a book but I have to admit Baker's analysis is interesting, making me more aware of more of the elements of the style. His example lines tend to "sound" more bop-like than mine so there's that.
    Steve Boisen likes this.
  13. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    Richmond, CA
    +1. There's so much baked into Bird's heads. Take a handful of them, play them every day, memorize them, play them in other keys, break them down into smaller bits, focus on the parts that are difficult.
  14. hhalt


    Nov 26, 2010
    Reno, Nv
  15. skwee


    Apr 2, 2010
    Pretend you are a different instrument for awhile. I'm not at a bop soloing level on the bass, but I am as a singer. One of the best exercises when I practice or perform a scat solo is to just take on the mantle of another instrument, whether woodwind, string, drum, horn, whatever--and try to speak in their language. Also, I encourage you to scat sing some ideas before you pick up your bass, and see what you can get to translate, melodically--since in this context, you need to transition into being a largely melodic instrument rather than rhythm section.
  16. Michael Karn

    Michael Karn

    Apr 16, 2014
    I've never read that but he's 100% right. All you have to do is listen to Coleman Hawkins and especially Don Byas and then listen to Sonny Rollins just for one to hear that the melodic/harmonic information is similar. But the way it's delivered, that's a different story, and the differences, in terms of rhythm and most importantly in phrasing were pioneered by Bird
    Last edited: May 10, 2017
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  17. statsc


    Apr 23, 2010
    Burlington, VT
    +1, but learn it on upright!
    Jason Hollar likes this.
  18. lurk


    Dec 2, 2009
    I agree with several previous posters that you can't really learn from books alone, but that said, Mike Longo's The Improvised Melodic Line is awfully good and will give you solid methods to develop your own sound. For those who don't know him, he was Dizzy's pianist and music director and close friend for decades, so he is coming from bebop.
    Tom Lane likes this.
  19. I learned to jazz solo, then did it much faster.
    tmntfan and Groove Doctor like this.
  20. Tom Lane

    Tom Lane Gold Supporting Member Supporting Member

    Thanks everyone for your advice. I'll keep plugging away, keeping your advice in my mind as I do. I seem to be headed in the right direction - my lines are starting to sound more like Parker and I most definitely appreciate bebop an order of magnitude more now than a few months ago, so I find that encouraging.

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