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Jazz Theory

Discussion in 'General Instruction [BG]' started by Mudbass714, May 10, 2002.


  1. Mudbass714

    Mudbass714

    Jun 19, 2001
    Hi everyone. I am a bassist who would like to learn more about the theory behind jazz (solo bass to be more specific), but for now all that I need are just some of the more commonly used jazz scales. Any other tips/advice you may like to offer is also appreciated. Thanks everyone!
     
  2. Mudbass714

    Mudbass714

    Jun 19, 2001
    Thanks dude, that helped me out a ton.
     
  3. Bruce Lindfield

    Bruce Lindfield Unprofessional TalkBass Contributor Gold Supporting Member

    I would recommend getting "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine published by Sher - this made a huge difference to my understanding and explains everything with exampels that actually make sense in the context of real tunes!

    So - it's OK knowing scales, but you need to really know how they are applied and fit with chords/functional harmony or the knowledge is wasted really.
     
  4. chrisbs

    chrisbs

    Jan 12, 2002
  5. Mudbass714

    Mudbass714

    Jun 19, 2001
    Thank you everyone for the book suggestions, I'm already looking at them at the local music and book stores. I really appreciate all your help.
     
  6. cassanova

    cassanova

    Sep 4, 2000
    Florida
    Would you please mind giving a more detailed answer as to how thats not playing music? Im not disputing it, but Im just really curious, cos you can play music from one scale or mode. Or at least I thought you can.
     
  7. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Well you can play notes from one scale or mode and play music, there are some melodies that are comprised totally of notes from the scale and no notes outside of it. Things get more interesting when you drop out of the "diatonic" way of thinking. For example, take a I IV V blues if say F:

    \ F7 \ Bb7 \ F7 \ F7 \
    \ Bb7 \ Bb7 \ etc....

    There's a number of different ways to walk the the first two bars. You could play F G A C Bb C D Eb. You could also play F G Ab A Bb C D E. Play them and check out how they sound along with other variations. The first group is within the scale of the chords, the second group has notes that are outside of it. What you choose is based on what is going on around you and what you hear or what you want others to hear. There's theory and then there's what sounds good, right, whatever you want to call it. Sometimes they match up, sometimes they don't.
     
  8. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire
  9. Mudbass714

    Mudbass714

    Jun 19, 2001
    Thanks "James S" for the book suggestion. That looks like it's exactly what I'm going to need next. Thanks again
     
  10. cassanova

    cassanova

    Sep 4, 2000
    Florida
    I'll try that tomorrow when I practice. Id have today, but I didnt get back to this thread until now. Thanks for the insight Spilled Fish ;)
     
  11. Pacman

    Pacman Layin' Down Time Staff Member Gold Supporting Member

    Apr 1, 2000
    Omaha, Nebraska
    Endorsing Artist: Roscoe Guitars, DR Strings, Aguilar Amplification
    I think what Ed's saying is that you've got to feel and hear something in your head before you play it. Once you've heard it in your head, and then played it on your axe, then you've made music. Otherwise you've just connected the dots....
     
  12. BassFelt

    BassFelt

    Mar 26, 2002


    Also recommended: all bass books published by Chuck Sher Pub.: there is an excellent book by Chuck Sher himself :The Improvors' Bass Method or something along that line, and there is a book on soloing ideas by Marc Johnson (advanced).

    Btw for those interested: the books by Oscar Stagnaro and Carlos del Puerto are the best for learning latin bass.

    Here's the link:
    http://www.shermusic.com/

    (no, I have no business interest with them - just a big fan)
     
  13. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire
    Most students who take the chord-scale approach to learning to improvise never achieve that ability "play what is in their heads". Few get past the stage of running scales (modes) which does not quite engage the listener.

    However that said, learning to play your modes is a way of ear training and technique building. It has been my experience in teaching that if a student cannot play a phrase he most often cannot hear the phrase. I realize this is opposite of most conventional jazz teaching. i.e. "You gotta hear it before you can play it". The disapointment is that there is no seniority when it comes to your ears telling your hands what to play. Just because one listens to Be-bop 10 hours a day for 20 years does not mean one can play Be-bop.

    Develpoing that ability to "play what you hear" as Ed has stated, can be an elusive skill. Imagining a musical line is quite an advanced skill which comes more natural for some. Ear training without your instrument in hand repeating what you are hearing is just listening. A good thing to do but only step one.

    Modes are good things to learn but they are not the vocabular of music.


    Last week at school in an Arranging 1 class a young girl played her final project for the class to hear and for me to critique. Her original composition, arranged for three vocals, 2 cellos, guitar , keys, bass, and Drums was an absolute KNOCK OUT! We were all just dumbfounded by the quality of the composition / arrangement / and the performance. (Sort of an easy acoustic rock style)

    When I asked her a few questions like: "Where did you come up with those beautiful string background lines?" she paused .... and said, "They were already there" "In my head."

    I am telling all of you that I taught this girl everything she knows. :) NOT! She is an exception and most of us have to work very hard and long to "hear good lines" in our heads. (BTW she played all of the instruments on the recording.)

    To quote my friend John LaPorta when being interviewed during the recording session, a couple of years ago, for his quartet recording of all original compositions. (Which I was fortunate enough to be a part of.) The interviewer asked, "John, now that you have been playing music for over 60 years, what is different about your playing today?"

    "I'm finally starting to play what I hear", said John.
     
  14. cassanova

    cassanova

    Sep 4, 2000
    Florida
     
  15. You guys don't happen to keep a copy of the recordings? I'd really like to hear that song.
     
  16. James S

    James S

    Apr 17, 2002
    New Hampshire
    Yes Gunnar, I have the recording of the student's project. I do not know the process which would allow you to hear it.
     
  17. Phil Smith

    Phil Smith Mr Sumisu 2 U

    May 30, 2000
    Peoples Republic of Brooklyn
    Creator of: iGigBook for Android/iOS
    Okay KEFQesque, taking a look at the conversational analogy for a moment:

    Sure you have a sentence - The brown orange swam destructively into the happy forest - but you have not conveyed meaning.

    Depending on how you articulated the above sentence i.e. rhythm, dynamics, and all of the other things that capture attention, you could very well convey meaning even if the words themselves are incomphrehensible. This I think is exactly what happens when someone listens to a piece of music. They may not get what's going on harmonically in the same way that a Jazz player steeped in the harmonic sub-culture would, but they will still come away with a meaning which may or may not jive with what was intended.

    Your thoughts...
     
  18. Oh well. My loss.

    :)
     
  19. JimK

    JimK

    Dec 12, 1999