Following on from yesterday's post Too Much Harmony?, a good approach to learning to solo on a standard would be to have in your mind a version for soloing that weeds out as many chords as possible, leaving only the most important. So taking the first 8 bars of I Thought About You as an … Continue reading You Can Constructively Ignore Harmony
When I was at best an improver at jazz, a tutor who I very much respected told me that he was hearing too much harmony in my solo playing. My first reaction was surprise – how could you possibly have too much harmony? Wasn't that what we'd been taught to do? Play through the changes … Continue reading Too Much Harmony?
Play any popular number on a gig and you'll get applause as soon as the audience recognises it. Some artists thrive on this, notably James Taylor, who has sung the same old stuff for 45 years and still smiles and makes it fresh. People respond to memories evoked by the music rather than the music in … Continue reading Listen to music that you don’t understand
Here's a post that got lost when I moved my website. Waiting on Maidenhead Station I saw this wall. It made me think about 5-time and how, if you want to split the bar into two, you have to play on 1 and the + of 3. That doesn't seem to be half-way through the bar. … Continue reading Station walls and musical time
Studying jazz is hard. We all know that. Sometimes we make it harder for ourselves than it needs to be. I see a lot of horn players struggling with chord symbols and trying to generate some kind of line that matches them. I suspect that in some cases the learning style is not matched to … Continue reading Play it by ear
There's a quote that's popular at the moment: If you always sound good in the practice room, you’re probably not doing it right. I kind of agree, but the converse is true for sure: If you always sound bad in the practice room, you’re probably not doing it right. The first quote is getting at … Continue reading Play it slow
The benefits of memory When playing music, reading it can really get in the way of freedom of interpretation. And the need to read means you haven’t internalized the structure. How can you possibly get inside it to improvise with meaning if you haven’t internalized it? Also it’s often my experience that players who are … Continue reading How to develop memory for musical structures
Piano players use rootless voicings a lot of the time. Guitarists tend to learn chords with the roots in. Possibly it’s easier for piano players, who can add the bass in the left hand, when there is no bass player. You can get a lot more colour out of four note chords if you leave … Continue reading Rootless Voicings