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thedeathmetalleopard

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Posts: 29
Reply with quote  #1 
I know many guitar players experience a massive surge of inspiration and progression, followed by a flat shelf of consistency. Unfortunately, I have been sat on a shelf for quite some time!

My technique is of a fairly good standard, I can run up and down scales as I please and deal with chords and basslines when playing pick-less, but I have no idea what to practice.

I've only been trying to play Jazz since the start of the year, having been too intimidated to study. I wondered if anyone had any tips as far as direction goes? I want to improve my improvisational abilities, single note and get a grasp of playing through changes. Should I be practicing tunes, just 2-5-1's, certain scales, positions or across the neck, triads or buy a saxophone?

There are no Jazz teachers in my area, so I felt this was a good place to start.

Tom

wkriski

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Posts: 117
Reply with quote  #2 
For me studying scales, modes, etc didn't work but it may work for you. I need to work on real tunes with real music so if you want to do that then I suggest checking out Robert Conti's Ticket to Improv vol. 1 and 2. He gives you full solos to work on over standards, then you can take parts of the solos and use them over the fourth tune or other tunes of your choosing. His mantra is that you need to get it under YOUR fingers not read about it, theorize about it, etc. From that point, when you can actually play a jazz solo, you will be able to twist, combine and alter them to suit your tastes and you can delve deeper into his other material at that point.

After being a rock/metal player for 25+ years and going back to college for jazz, I saw so many of us flubbing around scales trying to improvise jazz solos - struggling with what to play, like making up our own music when we need to be speaking the jazz language which was played by the people that came before us, before we can hope to innovate our own style. Just my opinion of course

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thedeathmetalleopard

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Reply with quote  #3 
Thanks for that, I'm hitting up amazon as we speak! I'm from a prog-rock background, so it sounds like I'm coming from a similar standpoint. I have a ton of instructional books, always looking for some good ones so thanks for these.

Edit: I've actually been thinking if this was the best way to go, I even considered transcribing and learning some great solos note for note. Seems like these books are right on the money, Thanks again!

Edit 2: I meant DVD, not book!
aussieninja

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Reply with quote  #4 
At this point, If you are used to playing guitar, and have a fairly good hand, I'd also recommend Mickey Baker book 1. My teacher got me to run through this before I got onto teds books. Just remember...practice the technique, then find a song where you can use that technique. Learn the concept...then put the concept into practice.

You also say you are from prog rock. How are your reading skills? Jazz never made sense to me until i started reading music...i could never quite memorize the licks, and there was so much to remember. After i started reading i found i learned the concepts much quicker...just like Ted says in Single Note Soloing(i think its that one) that its much easier to learn the concepts to reproduce the sound every time, then just learning a lick that works everytime, and not knowing why it works, or how to reproduce that sound.

Id also get a program like Band in a Box, or some jazz backings. I like band in a box as i can slow/speed it up, add more or less chords, and u can see the changed. I use this to practice everything with..so if you want any of Ted's Exercise already in band in a box, you only have to ask. I used to slow it down to try so i have plenty of time to play whatever pattern im using over the change, then as you get better just speed it up. This really helped me with learning to think through the changes.
PaulV

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Reply with quote  #5 
Hi Chris,
If you have any of Ted's material for Band in the Box, that would be a wonderful thing to share on this website.  I for one would like copies of those files, and maybe Barbara and Dan can set up a section for those files to be posted. 
Great idea for hearing and working with Ted's examples.
Thanks!
--Paul


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--Paul
thedeathmetalleopard

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Posts: 29
Reply with quote  #6 
This is all great advice. I think the note reading route is definitely a smart move. I can read a write music, I just have no experience reading for guitar. I completely forgot about Single Note Soloing Vol. 1 & 2! These books have a wealth of improvisational based material that I've been a little shy to approach due to the wealth of standard notation. I have much fewer students due to summer holidays, so I'm going to spend some time on my score reading. This way I can read sax lines and solos from a wealth of other sources. That book is really cheap on amazon, I'd be foolish not to pick it up! I don't have band in a box software, is it similar to Sibelius or Finale, or does it deal with midi files?
aussieninja

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Reply with quote  #7 
Its somewhat similar to sibelius, instead of using standard notation, you just put in chord changes, pick a style , and it creates a decent sounding backing to play with.

Personally, I'm not a great reader, and this year I've had to read for several hours every day, and its made an amazing improvement in my general understanding of the guitar and music itself.

Ted's books do look intimidating, but if you take it slowly, you will pick it up quickly, and the more you do it, the quicker you pick things up. They are really amazing books, and very very thorough.

wkriski

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Posts: 117
Reply with quote  #8 
There are some great lines in Ted's books especially using melodic minor and seeing how they fit over an arpeggio/chord shape can help you to make them movable to other chords. Each line is basically for one type of chord, so I think the hardest part is connecting them together over a series of chords in coherent manner. I would pick a few and try to use them/connect them in a tune because I found just practicing them all without application doesn't get you anywhere.
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LeonWhite

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Reply with quote  #9 
If asked, Ted would often quote Joe Pass on the subject of learning jazz:
"Tunes, man, learn tunes." When I heard it from Joe, I felt like I was in 1955. Only years later did it hit me so hard that the songs were always the heart of it all, not the improvisation.  One thing I might add is that if you look for tunes to learn, learn ones that appeal to you. Like every other genre, you'll come across lots of tunes that don't 'hit you' at any particular time.  Just human nature.  The tunes Ted has selected (that are posted here) are good examples of places to start.
Good luck. I envy you being at the start of the journey today.
-Leon
thedeathmetalleopard

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Posts: 29
Reply with quote  #10 
Practicing tunes over the last week has helped my ear considerably, I'm starting to hear lines and getting them under my fingers. Ted's books are firmly planted on my desk for reference! I recieved Robert Conti's Ticket to Improv 1 yesterday, and managed to watch about half of it. The guy is a great player, and clearly has a well developed ear, but I found his complete dismissal of theory really limiting. I've learned a few cool licks, but have ultimately found it fairly lacking in learning to actually improvise (rather than recycling licks). I've been studying music for the last 5 years in a full time academic context, so it's impossible for me not to question 'Hey, what mode is that?' or 'What's the theory behind that'. Thanks for all these great suggestions, I'll try and post something audio/video wise to show how I've been getting on.
wkriski

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Posts: 117
Reply with quote  #11 
Sorry you were disappointed. But the 1st goal is to be able to play lines and you can pick lines from each of the 3 tunes and use them in other tunes (ie over ii-V-I's). Then you see how they work and can twist them for you own, not just play licks. But the key concept is that Conti's lines fit around major arpeggios (just like Ted's do). So for I chord use lines that fit around the I chord/arpeggio. But for ii-V's Conti uses the IV chord (ie. F major for key of C) over both the ii and V chords. 

For more in-depth explanation Conti has other DVDs such as The Formula, but his concept is always 'the line is based on a major arpeggio shape'. And it's actually similar to Pat Martino who visualizes things in terms of the minor7 chord. Good luck!

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thedeathmetalleopard

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Posts: 29
Reply with quote  #12 
Maybe I didn't give it a fair study, it sounds like 'The Formula' is exactly the way I conceive soloing already, in a round about way. I often reduce scales to their major equivalent, G major over A minor to make A dorian etc. Martino's Minorising is something that fascinated me so I should probably check out that Conti DVD. I have to say though, four hours of footage was a treat, I'm used to the super short hot-licks DVDs! 
wolflen

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Posts: 16
Reply with quote  #13 

i have been working with teds material since the 70's...so i have a firm backround in jazz theory and harmony..
 
here is how i am studying/working on improvisation now

coltranes giant steps...the first three bars..five chords and five notes..

BMA7-D7-GMA7-Bb7-EbMA7 / F#-D-B-G-Bb - 7-5-3-1-b3-(GMA7 then a b3rd note .. Bb)

three major 7th chords ..two dominate 7th chords

play the five notes...then play the five notes in each form of each chord 

ex: for the D7 the notes would be C-A-F#-D-F /  7-5-3-1-b3

do this for each chord...then the inversions of the chords and as many fingerings as you can figure out...and of course...in as many keys as you can play

you will begin to see how close the chords are to each other how they connect/flow into each other...just with the above formula...

if you do this for a month..you will see the fretboard in a new way and if you apply this type of approach to other tunes using only the first part of a tune

and turning it inside out and know it..really know it...the remainder of the tune will be much easier to get into this type of breakdown...melodically it will make stating the melody or any part of it during a solo much easier because you really know it in every chord...and their inversions...

from there it is not a far reach to extend this type of approach into substitute chords..and all the other harmonic devices...

I hope you try any of the above and it gives you insight into what im saying

play well

wolf


shawnjulie

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Posts: 7
Reply with quote  #14 
hi there
here is what i do- learn songs!!!!!! I transcribe every day(great for your ears) and learn songs and solos. It is a bit old school but if it worked for all my heros so i am thinking I should doing the same lol!!! The melody and chord structure is the most important part of the song the solos are the icing on the cake. I would start with some easy solos(no charlie parker or coltrane) and stick to guitar players(for now) check out kenny burrel herb ellis etc.... and start with the blues. there are many ways to practice but this works for me so see if it works for you. When learning a new style of music is kinda like learning a new language so it does take time and there is a learning curve i hope that helps
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