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Thread: What does a jazz musician need to master?

  1. #1
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    What does a jazz musician need to master?

    Hello!

    I was just working out my practice schedule, and I found myself a bit confused.
    And when I asked myself the question "What does a jazz musician need to master?", I couldn't answer it.
    In my recent schedule the categories are roughly: Arpeggios, Chords and their inversions, soloing with arpeggios, harmonic ear training both chords and progressions, polyrythems, sight reading, transcribing and composition.
    Could you recommend more?
    I should probably say, that I'm a guitar player - a rather serious one.

  2. #2
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Beyond 25 to 30 jazz standards down pat. You pretty well named all the "stuff" you need to know, IMHO. You covered sight reading............

    And that is very important. Only other thing I could add -- be comfortable with another instrument, keyboard, sax, stand up bass, etc.

    Good luck.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 08-16-2008 at 11:22 PM.

  3. #3
    Registered User ernzzz's Avatar
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    why not add the modes of major scale, melodic minor, and harmonic minor onto it?

    also understanding how all you listed relates to harmony and scales/modes is important..

    whole tone, and diminished scales are useful too..

    then you can grasp more individual concepts, like chord substitution..
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    Thanks guys!
    I already have some experience on the piano, but definitely something I will work more on.
    What about reharmonization?
    Also can you recommend any books on chord melody?

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by ernzzz
    why not add the modes of major scale, melodic minor, and harmonic minor onto it?

    also understanding how all you listed relates to harmony and scales/modes is important..

    whole tone, and diminished scales are useful too..

    then you can grasp more individual concepts, like chord substitution..
    Hey Ernzzz!

    I already know all these scales. But I was wondering, if I should practice soloing with scales instead of just arpeggios?

  6. #6
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    Hopefully chord melody will be a topic of a post. One of the new members mentioned chord melody and I ask him to go into detail.

    Chord melody to me is harmonizing each melody note and then using two chords for each bar. That is also why I asked for help from the new member.

    Guitar and jazz IMHO. First, we are not the prime instrument, so we may or may not get a lead. We are part of the rhythm section so we do a lot of comping. Comping is chord work and less is more - don't step on the bass' toes - leave the low notes to him and don't get in the way of the solo instruments.

    If we do get a lead remember there is a tune that should be recognized. Modal improvisation sure, but, don't cover up the standard's tune.

  7. #7
    ClashlandHands ClashlandHands's Avatar
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    Master yourself

    Quote Originally Posted by Steinberg
    Hello!

    I was just working out my practice schedule, and I found myself a bit confused.
    And when I asked myself the question "What does a jazz musician need to master?", I couldn't answer it.
    In my recent schedule the categories are roughly: Arpeggios, Chords and their inversions, soloing with arpeggios, harmonic ear training both chords and progressions, polyrythems, sight reading, transcribing and composition.
    Could you recommend more?
    I should probably say, that I'm a guitar player - a rather serious one.
    I recently made the same kind of practice chart for myself, so it's cool that you're getting yourself organized. I'm a keyboardist, so I will undoubtedly miss things crucial to guitar playing like hammers on and neck jumping, types of distortion & harmonics but for what it's worth, my list would be:

    Time- playing w/ good time and a nice swing feeling.

    Tempos/Technique- constantly working w/ metronome to be able to play anywhere on the clock from 42bpm to 376 bpm fluidly.

    Voicings- maybe less important for a guitarist than a pianist.

    Licks- your trademark signature things that you do when all else fails.

    Shapes- A smaller, more manageable chunk of a scale.

    Scales- Maj, the 3 minors, all modes, 1 chromatic, 2 whole tones, 3 diminished, 4 augmented, Altered, so called "ethnic" scales (or make up your own scale!)

    Pentatonics- this to me is a whole different world than just scales. There are 792 different possibilities if you really get into that!

    Comping- a whole world in itself, largely overlooked.

    Weird time signatures- 5,7,10,11,13,17

    Blues & I Got Rhythm Changes in all 12 keys. There are other tunes out there which are sort of "master tunes" that have many contrafacts with the same changes. Getting a good helping of tunes under your belt can be simplified when you know what other tune's changes you just learned when you learned Indiana or I'll Remember April or Bird blues.

    Styles & Traditions- Who are your heroes? What do you like about their playing and is there something specific that you want to incorporate into your sound? For example, I really like the way Teddy Wilson played, and in listening to him and emulating things he did, I appreciate Bill Evans' contributions even more.

    That's about it for me. You mentioned a bunch, like I never practice poly-rhythms. Will have to start shedding those! Anybody else think of what I forgot?

    Above all, practice the things that will enable you to sound the way you want to sound. No point in wasting a bunch of time on playing diminished scales in 11/8 if you don't like that sound.

  8. #8
    Registered User Malcolm's Avatar
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    This is an old post that has been resurected. My first thought when I read the OP today was......

    What do you need for jazz? Everything.

    I've since found out more on chord melody. Chord melody is a combination of chords and melody notes in the same measure. Or what could be used when playing by yourself - no other band members present.

    So again with jazz --- everything --- the list just goes on and on.
    Last edited by Malcolm; 10-25-2008 at 12:40 PM.

  9. #9
    bitter old fool Jed's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ClashlandHands
    . . . for what it's worth, my list would be:

    <snip>

    Voicings- maybe less important for a guitarist than a pianist.
    Guitarists only think voicings are less important. I envision that my hero's think in a much more pianist-ic way about voicings and comp'ing than the typical guitarist.

    Pentatonics- this to me is a whole different world than just scales. There are 792 different possibilities if you really get into that!
    I come up with a much smaller number:
    Major - F# through Cb (all major triads diatonic to the 12 common keys) = 14
    Minor - D# through Ab (all minor triads diatonic to the 12 common keys) = 14
    Diminished - A# through F (all diminished triads diatonic to the 12 common keys) = 12
    Dominant - D# to Db (all V7 of the 12 common keys + their relative minors) = 15

    cheers,

  10. #10
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    maybe he's talking about the allan holdsworth way of finding every 5 note scale that can be made from the 12 notes in western music. Man, He'd have a lot of work to do if he played byzantine music with it's 72 tone scale!

  11. #11
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Holdsworth

    Quote Originally Posted by CC323
    maybe he's talking about the allan holdsworth way of finding every 5 note scale that can be made from the 12 notes in western music. Man, He'd have a lot of work to do if he played byzantine music with it's 72 tone scale!
    I watched an Allan Holdsworth instructional video some years back and in the beginning he talked a little about his system for mastering the fingerboard. In jest, he commented that when asked what scales and modes he uses he said "I use the Rictor scale in the attack mode".

  12. #12
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Thinking in theory and learning the bass line

    One has to learn to "think" in theory to some degree in terms of locating altered notes in relation to the current key and possible chord and/or melody subs. Just getting to the point where you can freely improvise but still be aware of all your musical surrondings based on the key or arrangement.

    Ted Greene has a video on youtube where he takes the jazz standard "Autumn leaves" and plays it in the form as if Bach had arranged it. Point being that much music is the same stuff in a different package.

    I noticed that when he improvized his intended "bach" version of Autumn leaves, it was clear he was 100 percent aware of exactly where he was at any given moment by simply following the bass line.

    My second point, if you know the bass line inside and out it is much easier to think your way around an instrument...in theory....

  13. #13
    ClashlandHands ClashlandHands's Avatar
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    Talking Weird Pentatonics

    Quote Originally Posted by CC323
    maybe he's talking about the allan holdsworth way of finding every 5 note scale that can be made from the 12 notes in western music. Man, He'd have a lot of work to do if he played byzantine music with it's 72 tone scale!
    Yeah, as much as I like other microtonal scales, I stuck to boring old equal temperament for this admittedly geeky and non-musical exploration. I even thought 12!/(5!(12-5)!) or 792 combinations was still a very daunting list to go through to find the 16 good sounding ones, so I made up some rules to get at the gold such as 1) no consecutive semi-tones. All of them would have at least one semitone (except for the three anhemitonic pents), but I didn't want, for example a pent with d, d# and e in it because I'd probably use a different scale to get that effect. 2) The largest interval limit I chose to allow was a perfect fourth. My goal was nice balanced, patchy sounding pentatonic scales that sound different than the regular generic pentatonic. Attached is what I got.

    Note that these are copyrighted, so if you use one of these, let me know in advance and I'll let you use it for a nominal fee. Some of these sound like ballz, but some are pretty good. I've started naming them.

    If anyone knows what the official names are for some of these, or have a good idea of what to call it, I'm all ears.
    Attached Files Attached Files

  14. #14
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    You've gotta start making chords now too. You should see some of the stuff that holdsworth voices. I don't know how he does it sometimes. If he could do Joe Pass-style bass and melody simultaneously, but with his chords and melodies, I'd be able to die happy right there.

  15. #15
    ClashlandHands ClashlandHands's Avatar
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    Block chording with unusual pentatonics

    Quote Originally Posted by CC323
    You've gotta start making chords now too.
    Holy Cribbage, that sounds AMAZING! I did not think of that. Someone posted over on the pentatonics page, "Are there pentatonic voicings?" And, someone threw in the word "quartal" so I left it at that. So, here's what I've been doing:

    Take 5 (or 4 to simplify) stacked fourths, and walk it though all 5 of its inversions, so keep throwing the bottom note on top:

    R 1st 2nd 3rd 4th inversion
    Eb F G Bb C
    Bb C Eb F G
    F G Bb C Eb
    C Eb F G Bb
    G Bb C Eb F

    Welcome to China! You get a bunch of quartal voicings for Cm11 or Eb69 or Abma13 etc. However you want to look at it.

    Now, do what you said and do the same thing with one of my bizarro pentatonics, or just change one note in the above example, and you get an interesting effect. Some interesting voicings, but some that are absolutely horrible. But, when you treat the voicings as merely passing chords, because of the parallelism, and the limited 5-tone palette, it sounds amazing going into a target of some sort.

    Try the above example with B or A instead of Bb.

    I feel like there's an Allan Holdsworth, Yes, King Crimson connection that I'm not making. Oh, duh... 1/2 of U.K. were Crim members!

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