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Practise, gigs, and guitar palyers

Discussion in 'Jazz Technique [DB]' started by Michael Case, Jan 5, 2003.

  1. I'm not sure if this is in the right forum but here it goes. I do this weekly gig in a guitar trio and the guitarist keeps getting on my case constantly telling me how to play, pointing out my intnation problems and things in this vain. Just for the record, it's not his gig, the drummer got it and he's a close friend of mine. On top of all this he will sit there looking bored while we are playing. Now the thing is he hits some points from time to time and I respsct the input on certain subjects, but it has gone way out of hand now. It's to the point where I'm affraid to play ANYTHING. Well my first question is what do I do? The drummer is willing to toss him, but I believe whatever doesn't kill me makes me stronger, but I'm starting to feel like I should rethink my life over this.
    Secondly, I just want to know about practise, how do I a. work on tunes b. fix my intonation and c. further build my musical vocabulary without each thing over comming the other. For example, I can't even learn a tune without it becoming three hours of trying to play every note perfectly in tune, the same goes for vocabulary. I'm starting to get crazy, I can't deal with this.
    Please help, and thanks,
  2. Mookie Wilson--

    If I understand you, you're becoming obsessed about your intonation. That's a good thing! But what you have to do is practice playing in tune in isolation from other problems. The way to do that is scales and arpeggios, arco, starting very, very slow (like whole notes at quarternote= 30). Play against a droning pitch, either the root or the dominant. I also highly recommend the Don Hermann's Accompanied Rudiments Course available from Lemur.

    The key to practicing anything is to do it in isolation. If you have trouble playing a certain lick in tune isolate it from the rest of the music, isolate the specific shifts, string crossings, rythms, then put it together again.
  3. Is there a point where isolating something becomes too much? As in "I've spent 3/4's of my practice time on playing this one lick in tune and I still have to work on these 2 tunes."
    I do the arco scale thing, sometimes though it doesn't seem to show on the gig. I know I have gotten better, but is there such a thing as being to hung up on intonation?
  4. It's good to be criticised, but if it gets out of hand it makes life miserable, and music should be about fun. While I agree that it has brought your attention to the need for more precise intonation etc, you should dump the jerk with the attitude, and get someone who's more pleasant to be around. Remember, jazz guitarists are a dime a dozen, so he's not indispensable.
    I've been doing some gigs with a guitarist who suggested I try substituting this for that etc, and proceeded to show me mid-song what the difference was, and it was a pleasant experience. I learned, and I was grateful for the free music lesson. There is no room for a jerk in any band.
  5. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The first thing to do is to play what you do with all the conviction in the world. Timidity will cause you and your co-conspirators more grief than anything else.

    Next -- have you a teacher?
  6. Sam Sherry

    Sam Sherry Inadvertent Microtonalist Supporting Member

    Sep 26, 2001
    Portland, ME
    Euphonic Audio "Player"
    What they said -- all good advice. But don't stay down -- you're at a place most of us will never be. Shucks, you've got a regular gig in NYC! Most of us have never played in NYC. You can't buy a steady weekly gig around here, either.

    If you're inclined to try something different:

    Approach #1 -- Embrace the Antagonist: Ask the guitarist when can he get together for duo rehearsals.

    Approach #2 -- Wake-Up Call: Think of the most smokin' players you work with. See if they will come by the gig and maybe sit in. Introduce them to Yon Guitarist.

    Approach #3 -- Get Busy: Make things exciting. Call burning tempos. Call hard tunes. Call different keys, or modulations.

    Fundamentally, there are people who will not take "yes" for an answer. Your guitarist may be one.
  7. sleazylenny


    Jun 20, 2002
    Mpls, MN
    Hmmmmm...criticism is a good thing, provided that it is CONSTRUCTIVE criticism. You have to determine a couple of things.

    1. Is this guitarist that much better a musician than you that he is truely qualified to make such judgements about your playing? If he is it may be worth it to keep taking the hits and grow as a musician.

    2. What about your perception? Is this guy really being a jerk, or perhaps are you a little sensitive to his comments? If he IS being rude about it, sit him down and say, " Listen, I appreciate the energy you're spending to help me improve, but your delivery sucks. You need to speak to me in a respectful fashion or not at all." It's possible that he ( like many others, myself included) doesn't realize how he's coming across.

    3. No amount of benefit you get from this guy is worth it if it causes you too much emotional grief. I mean, when it all stops being fun, what the point?

    Either he changes his delivery, you change your perception, or you go your separate ways. Your comment that you're getting to the point where you're afraid to play anything is the most telling of all. That's just plain unhealthy. I was in that position once and I spoke up, but it was in the midst of a bit of a fight. Nip it before it gets there.

    Good luck, Sleazy
  8. Thanks you all, It's nice to see others understand. As for the question of having a teacher of course I do, we work on intonation with the bow, simandl, and scales. I am also looking to study with another teacher for more jazz improv concepts too.
    I have been working really hard to improve bassed on alot of the things said by this guitarist, but like I said it's out of hand now. The last gig we start a blues and I play the head in a two feel (one of the things he suggested to help the bands dynamic). As he goes into his solo he tells me to keep playing in two. So needless to say I played the entire tune in two (with the hopes of derailing things a bit). And when asked why I didn't go into walking I answered "you didn't tell me to walk." At this point I figure when I'm in the right mood I will take what he says to the point of overkill, and if I'm not in the right mood I will just play what I am feeling and hearing regardless of what I'm ordered to play.
    Thanks all,
  9. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    From your earlier post, I think my premonition was on. The real problem that you're having with the guitarist is your asssertiveness. I think all of us old timers can remember going through this.

    Feel free to give me a call and I'll hash it out over with you in person. In short, though, what you need to do is to stick your bass up the guitarist's ass (figuratively). He has you bullied into a corner and really only wants some conviction from you. The more you shrink, the more angry he's gonna get. You're on the 'old school' plan. Kind warms the cockles of my heart.

    (wiping a little mist from my eye)

    Get in there and kick ass. Try it for a tune. First tune next time. You'll get a positive response. I guarantee it.
  10. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001
    The way I was raised, musically, a glare or talk-down on the break would have been nice. I was under the pressure of yelling and screaming, pounding on the piano, etc. Glares were just normal. One guy had me so bullied that I couldn't even play open strings. My dad set me straight with similar advice that I gave above. It worked.
  11. I get what you're saying, and thanks. Ed, I will be taking a lesson with Joe on Saturday, I was studying with him but felt I needed to get my s**t together before I could really get the most from studying with him, I'm really looking forward.
    As for cats coming down to the gig, if you all want to travel to the ass end of Brooklyn, you're more than welcome. Email or PM me I'll give ya directions. One more thing, do you post your gigs on the gig calender here? I would like to meet up with you guys at some point.
  12. anonymous0726

    anonymous0726 Guest

    Nov 4, 2001

    Put me on your list. I have a gig-spam list as well. Shoot me some email if you'd like to be on it.
  13. Cool, thanks.
  14. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Jazz humor at it's best hehehe
  15. Don Higdon

    Don Higdon In Memoriam

    Dec 11, 1999
    Princeton Junction, NJ
    Duke Ellington had his own method of dealing with a guy whose head was getting too big.
    Duke would stand him up to solo, and keep him soloing until he ran out of ideas. And Duke would make him play another chorus, all the while cheering him on, making body gestures like this was the greatest solo ever played. The audience would pick up on it, and they'd all be staring, and Duke would make the guy play another chorus, and another and another till the big headed guy just wanted to die. It was torture. It was wonderful.
  16. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
    Hahaa... that's pretty nasty ...

  17. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    In my life it was a drummer that had me steaming for years. I'm probably still steaming, and it was at least 15 years ago.

    We were doing kind of a Dwight Yoakam country thing, except a little more hard country and rockabilly, with old tunes. We went through half a dozen drummers with this band, including many of this town's best players. One of these so-called best players was an aggressive, mouthy and very short straight ahead rock player whose idea of making these tunes sound good was to make them all sound like The Eagles (not that I have anything against The Eagles, those guys sang great.)

    Anyway, this guy engaged in the old talk-behind-the-back method of delivering criticism. Basically he didn't think I was loud enough or simple enough and worked to turn others against me. Forget music, in any context this kind of thing will drive you nuts if you let it.

    And, like you mentioned mook, to his criticism there was a technical component that had some validity. Looking back on it (and maybe even knowing at the time), my parts could have been simpler and louder and it probably would have been better. We were a loud band (especially with that little thrasher behind the kit) and I had too much stringband concept in my head.

    Thing is, that element comes with an artistic and personal side to it. That's the bad medicine that needs to cast aside here. Like the others have said: confidence, faith in what you hear, etc. That's the ticket. Has to be. Keep it separate from the technical.

    It's like being the new guy in prison, mook! Maybe the guy needs a dinner fork in the eye before he'll show a little respect. A musical fork in the eye, of course. He could just be a guitar player who needs a b*tch. (About that fork image: happened to a guy I worked with who had to do a year. He was the forker, not the forkee.)

    I don't have the URL for you, but check out sax-player Dave Liebman's site. He's written a bunch of pieces on all kinds of musical topics, but I read one on the topic of how to hear yourself, how to deal with the opinions of others who hear you, etc. It's a good piece.

    But, if confident assertiveness doesn't work, get rid of him. Life's too short.
  18. Lovebown


    Jan 6, 2001
  19. Damon Rondeau

    Damon Rondeau Journeyman Clam Artist Supporting Member

    Nov 19, 2002
    Winnipeg, baby
    You know, I just had another thought. I'll make it short.

    I don't paint myself as anything other than a hack technician as a bass player. But, after being at this a long time, I find myself oriented much more to the music and less to the technique. I'm in this for the music these days, nothing else.

    That confidence we're talking about relates to knowing the music, knowing the musical idiom/genre down in your bones, and knowing what you want to say.

    Once I really got into that zone, musical life was much better. It all boils down simply to the challenge of getting out of the axe (and your co-players) what you're hearing in your head.

    And I'll leave the bebop to the rest of you guys.
  20. Thanks all, this chance to vent and learn that I'm not the only one going through this stuff. I have been working alot harder lately commiting tunes to memory and getting out of the book as well as intonation and the like. Needless to say this has lead to a natural sense of confidence and an ability to play with conviction, now the guitar player and I talk about stuff and I can actually LEARN things I didn't know.

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