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  1. #141
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by paulwl View Post
    But they're not anything that a lot of jazz programs like to teach. There's an idea that jazz before Bird is NOT the foundation of jazz practice, but a dead style - a historical footnote, like opera before Mozart. You read a little, you listen a little, you understand that "this is where jazz came from." But you do NOT bring it into the practice room.
    I realize this is a bit off-topic, but man I hope this isn't true of our music educational system! The fact is, bebop is a direct descendant of swing and blues. You can't even begin to understand bebop, musically, without a firm grasp and understanding of 'swing,' blues, and those styles that directly preceeded bebop. I'm talking about the chord progressions, structure of the music, feel and rhythm, the whole package. To teach as though jazz all started with bebop is the antithesis of the term "education." And I don't think it's a very good way to learn bebop or any form of jazz.

  2. #142
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMusicMan View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    I have a few favourite Bird licks which I practise in all keys, I'd very rarely need one say over a G#m7/ C#7 (ouch), but I still learn it, because I know it so well in Gm7/C7, this is the knind of thing that goes on in my mind while learning it in another key: " OK, enclose the root on the IIm7 from below then chromatically up the arpeggio to the 7th, then 5th chromatically up to the 3rd of the V7 chord, root chromatically up to 9th then down diatonic scale of key centre to b13 and down augmented triad to resolve to 3rd of I and then scoop up to the root like Prez"

    I learn from that, although I may never actually play that lick in a solo in that key..., and if I did I would know it well enough under my fingers to not have to think most of those things.
    What you're actually thinking while playing over Gm7/C7 on the bandstand: - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -
    On a bandstand I would be thinking about melodic or rhythmic development of maybe some phrases I'd played earlier, or if my brain was hurting from doing a lot of that I'd just bung in one of my stock phrases, or I might just play some melodic thing that occurs to me irrespective of the chords or I might be thinking about sex or food.

  3. #143
    Infamous member Casa Valdez's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    This thread has really taken off. Back to my original post that sparked this whole thing if I could. I think one of the points I made was that it can be highly productive to figure out all the different types of chords that any single given pattern/lick will fit over. This way each thing you learn can be applied to several different chordal contexts, and this is especially true for melodic minor patterns (and diminished patterns to a lesser degree).

    For example, a pattern/phrase that uses the D melodic minor scale can be used over the following chords, each of which will sound totally different when played with the same D melodic minor pattern/phrase:

    D-Maj7
    C#7alt
    Esus7(b9)
    G7(#11)
    B-7(b5)
    F Maj7(#5)
    B7(#9,b13)
    E7(b9,#9)
    A7(b13)

    This is an example of practicing smarter rather than harder. If you explore all the possible chords that any given pattern will fit over then even if you repeat yourself by playing the same same pattern over two or three different chords each one will sound different. Say I learn just three different melodic minor patterns and also take the time to learn all of the possible chords these three patterns will fit over....IT'S AS IF I'VE LEARNED 27 (3x9) DIFFERENT PATTERNS!!! Not too bad for a day's work I'd say.

    I think Otto makes an important point. It's all about just being able to play what you hear, and this certainly does not happen all at once. Learning licks is just what you do until you can actually play what you hear, at which point the training wheels can come off.

  4. #144
    Distinguished SOTW Member rleitch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by Casa Valdez View Post
    This thread has really taken off. Back to my original post that sparked this whole thing if I could. I think one of the points I made was that it can be highly productive to figure out all the different types of chords that any single given pattern/lick will fit over. This way each thing you learn can be applied to several different chordal contexts, and this is especially true for melodic minor patterns (and diminished patterns to a lesser degree).

    For example, a pattern/phrase that uses the D melodic minor scale can be used over the following chords, each of which will sound totally different when played with the same D melodic minor pattern/phrase:

    D-Maj7
    C#7alt
    Esus7(b9)
    G7(#11)
    B-7(b5)
    F Maj7(#5)
    B7(#9,b13)
    E7(b9,#9)
    A7(b13)

    This is an example of practicing smarter rather than harder. If you explore all the possible chords that any given pattern will fit over then even if you repeat yourself by playing the same same pattern over two or three different chords each one will sound different. Say I learn just three different melodic minor patterns and also take the time to learn all of the possible chords these three patterns will fit over....IT'S AS IF I'VE LEARNED 27 (3x9) DIFFERENT PATTERNS!!! Not too bad for a day's work I'd say.

    I think Otto makes an important point. It's all about just being able to play what you hear, and this certainly does not happen all at once. Learning licks is just what you do until you can actually play what you hear, at which point the training wheels can come off.
    Thanks again David!

    I think one thing this explanation illustrates (again) is how an approach which might represent a false shortcut for a less advanced student is actually a powerful way of condensing for a highly skilled pro. I think in this case less really can be more...if you are operating at a certain level of mastery.

    FWIW: I think it's also useful (at least for me) to note that for some players (note to self) there are levels of competence/skill/mastery that are just never going to be reached. For me, it's going to be training wheels right to the grave, I'm afraid. Consequently, with questions like this, the really important consideration is: do I find such heavy lifting fun, enjoyable, and motivating? If not, then it's probably not worth doing.
    Martin "Dick Stabile" Tenor: Barone Jazz 7*/GW7

    "The spiritual life is built upon a commitment to truth telling and truth living. As master jazz musicians, [John Coltrane and Miles Davis] presented their spirituality within the reality of cool." --Farah Jasmine Griffen and Salim Washington

  5. #145
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post

    "...What I was discussing in my post though was not that canon, but the "canon" that Lamplight was referring to in the post I quoted, ie the more modern academic "canon" that you find in many universities whereby you are encouraged to improvise by fitting scales or modes to chords without any relation to creativity or context, and no melodic consideration.

    Ummm... I understood what was stated, but I misunderstood your use of the word "canon".
    The absolute real reason I continue is the free shrimp at the cocktail hour. It's the little things.--- Rich Maraday

  6. #146
    Forum Contributor 2014 Pete Thomas's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bloo Dog View Post
    Ummm... I understood what was stated, but I misunderstood your use of the word "canon".
    Which was actually Lamplight's use of the word "canon".

  7. #147

    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by piwikiwi View Post
    Errr i'm 24 and I'm preparing myself for my audition for my music major and jazz for me is what I hear on cd's. I have more than 300 jazz cd's so it's not really limited. i think you underestimate students.
    When I was in college (I was not really a music or art major, even though at times I was officially an art major), I spent more time in the practice rooms than in the library. I also made a deal with myself when I entered college, so that I could endure the insanity that is academia--that I would spend as much time and energy assuaging my music interests as I would invest in doing "homework" and other activities related to pursuing degrees.

    Well, this was probably not a good idea: since I lack discipline in the first place, giving myself permission to indulge my whimsy simply led to obtaining some degrees that I never really used, along with some 3K CDs -- during my years in college in Colorado, I made weekly trips to Twist and Shout and Barts Cellar--scouring the used bins. I amassed an awesome jazz collection, and read liner notes all the time--rationalizing it all by thinking of it as "research." This was not too far off--as I did stuff like take a VHS of "Elvin Jones: Different Drummer" into art theory/criticism classes and turn on the instructors (the students were into beastie boys). So, you might say that I majored in ethnomusicology and jazz studies--since I probably know more about this than the stuff I obtained degrees in..

    I'm just wondering what to do with my library when I die. It's been recommended that I donate it to some university. Maybe I should give it to my alma mater.

  8. #148
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Thomas View Post
    Which was actually Lamplight's use of the word "canon".
    LampLight? Who listens to him?

    You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.

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  9. #149
    Infamous member Casa Valdez's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    My practicing strategies are always dictated by my extreme laziness. Guys like Otto and Charles McNeal are not limited by this factor, so for them more traditional approaches may be more viable. If I can sit and shed for a solid hour I feel like I've done a hard day's work. Sad I know, but that is the way my undisciplined mind works and I just have to work around this limitation. It is quite possible the reason that I hate hearing other players play patterns is that I hate practicing them, and thus I've developed a style that takes this in to account. We do need to understand what our personal learning style is in order to create effective practice strategies.

  10. #150
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by Casa Valdez View Post
    My practicing strategies are always dictated by my extreme laziness. Guys like Otto and Charles McNeal are not limited by this factor, so for them more traditional approaches may be more viable. If I can sit and shed for a solid hour I feel like I've done a hard day's work. Sad I know, but that is the way my undisciplined mind works and I just have to work around this limitation. It is quite possible the reason that I hate hearing other players play patterns is that I hate practicing them, and thus I've developed a style that takes this in to account. We do need to understand what our personal learning style is in order to create effective practice strategies.
    David, .."extreme laziness" lol.. ha... I remember you shedding all the time back at Berklee in the 80's - down in those spaghetti walled rooms at the Hemingway dorms.. BTW, you sound great on this sextet stuff w Kenny Brooks... really burning - you obviously do the right thing... maybe if I took your approach I'd be further along by now...lol

  11. #151
    Infamous member Casa Valdez's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    It's all about coasting now brother! :-)

  12. #152

    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    There is a thread "Why dont tenores sound like this anymore" (or close)

    do you think thos e guys like Illinois Jacquet, Ben Webster, Arnett Cobb, Rusty Bryant, Wilis Jackson, etc. studied this way?

  13. #153
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by alljoe View Post
    There is a thread "Why dont tenores sound like this anymore" (or close)

    do you think thos e guys like Illinois Jacquet, Ben Webster, Arnett Cobb, Rusty Bryant, Wilis Jackson, etc. studied this way?
    They all studied at the best school there is.
    The Martin "Official Music Man" tenor, Barone black tenor, The Martin baritone, Richards Martin Indiana alto, cheap Chinese soprano, Metalite mouthpieces, Plasticover reeds, Nord Electro 2, bunch of other instruments
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  14. #154
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Saxophonist Extraordinaire chayjazz's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    I think all the cats have been into learning ideas, expanding on them, playing scales and scale studies (for technical issues not so much for improvisation), long tones, learning tunes, etc.... I don't think much has changed for saxophonist as far as becoming a proficient player. None of the greats got to that level without putting some serious time in on their ax. Now-a-days students and professionals seem to put a lot more emphasis on the technical and theoretical side of playing but we're all just trying to deal with the horn in a manner that works for us. I've had the pleasure of studying with some of the earlier bebop and swing cats and trust me they had some "stuff" that I had to work on if I wanted to continue studying with them! That's part of becoming a good player is finding what path works for you. Listen to what others have to say, but none of this stuff is written in stone. Spend some time by yourself and find what will make you a better player, and that's something that's gonna come from inside you and there's a good chance that a large majority of fellow musicians won't dig what you do or how you do it. But who and why are you playing music, to satisfy them or to satisfy yourself?

    ...David Valdez and Matt Otto are both BAAAD Cats!!! I wish I knew as much music as those guys.... I also wish I could just practice for an hour or so and gain benefit from it. I gotta put in several hours a day just because I'm a slow learner and I tend forget something in a heartbeat if I don't reinforce it very day...smile...

    ...Nice informative thread here... Thanx for starting an intelligent discussion...

  15. #155
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by chayjazz View Post
    I think all the cats have been into learning ideas, expanding on them, playing scales and scale studies (for technical issues not so much for improvisation), long tones, learning tunes, etc.... I don't think much has changed for saxophonist as far as becoming a proficient player. None of the greats got to that level without putting some serious time in on their ax. Now-a-days students and professionals seem to put a lot more emphasis on the technical and theoretical side of playing but we're all just trying to deal with the horn in a manner that works for us. I've had the pleasure of studying with some of the earlier bebop and swing cats and trust me they had some "stuff" that I had to work on if I wanted to continue studying with them! That's part of becoming a good player is finding what path works for you. Listen to what others have to say, but none of this stuff is written in stone. Spend some time by yourself and find what will make you a better player, and that's something that's gonna come from inside you and there's a good chance that a large majority of fellow musicians won't dig what you do or how you do it. But who and why are you playing music, to satisfy them or to satisfy yourself?

    ...David Valdez and Matt Otto are both BAAAD Cats!!! I wish I knew as much music as those guys.... I also wish I could just practice for an hour or so and gain benefit from it. I gotta put in several hours a day just because I'm a slow learner and I tend forget something in a heartbeat if I don't reinforce it very day...smile...

    ...Nice informative thread here... Thanx for starting an intelligent discussion...
    When I first got a serious gig some fifty years ago, one of my bandmates used to have a phrase that went "If you want to play you gotta pay your dies." It took me some time to "het it." He wasn't just talking about forking out part of the paycheck to the AFM Local. Paying your dues means investing yourself to your art and to your fellow musicians to whom you OWE the respect of not stinking up the place by not being prepared.

    As a young person I often had suggestions for improvement that I heard but did not follow up on... Well maybe I shouldn't say often, but let's just say suggestions from superior players, or even peers are often ultimatums stated overly politely.

    If Matt or David or Charles were to play with me or hear me play and offer a suggestion for improvement, I would certainly do it or accept the fact that if I didn't they would have every reason to categorize me as a non-player. That's just part of paying your dues.

    Great post Dr. Chay.
    "Zoot" would a good name for a kid...

  16. #156
    Distinguished SOTW Member Fader's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    This thread has been a good read. At first I thought that it's a bit over the top to learn every lick in all 12 keys but then I started doing it in the rare times I practice alone. Even though I've only invested a few hours at it, I can see the benefit. It's all down to muscle memory. I came up with a pretty cool blues phrase. I tried to execute it in a different song / key at a gig and just couldn't pull it off. The next day I put in about an hour learning it in all 12. It wasn't as easy as I thought it would be but I felt like I learned something new. Anything that gives me that feeling of accomplishment gets a gold star in my book. I'm not saying I'll actually do it with everything I learn because I simply don't have that kind of dedication, but over time I'll give it a go on the "must have" licks in my vocabulary. I've already applied it on a couple of things and felt the results were worth the effort.

  17. #157
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by chayjazz View Post
    .... I also wish I could just practice for an hour or so and gain benefit from it. I gotta put in several hours a day just because I'm a slow learner and I tend forget something in a heartbeat if I don't reinforce it very day...smile...
    Boy, can I identify with this. Try returning to playing after a twenty-year hiatus. The frustration is enormous. Practicing in an attempt to play at the level at which I played waaaay back when is killing me. It isn't as if I don't have the time to practice.

    I do.

    And I practice only three hours per day. I still practice scales, modes, and arpeggios. I record my practices and play back the last twenty minutes. To my ears, I hear only miniscule progress.

    Is there something to be gained by practicing only "licks" and short passages in all keys? Sure, but that's only a small part of the tune. Were I a younger player, I'd revert to my original aspiration of mastery. Now, I'm shooting for competence.
    The absolute real reason I continue is the free shrimp at the cocktail hour. It's the little things.--- Rich Maraday

  18. #158
    Distinguished SOTW Member rleitch's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by MartinMusicMan View Post
    They all studied at the best school there is.
    Does that mean they all sound the same?
    Martin "Dick Stabile" Tenor: Barone Jazz 7*/GW7

    "The spiritual life is built upon a commitment to truth telling and truth living. As master jazz musicians, [John Coltrane and Miles Davis] presented their spirituality within the reality of cool." --Farah Jasmine Griffen and Salim Washington

  19. #159
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    There's a youtube clip of Michael Brecker saying that he practices everything in every key. He say's it's probably a waste of time but that's just the way I do things.

    Food for thought.
    You've got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail. (Bird)
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  20. #160
    Distinguished SOTW Member/Sax Historian paulwl's Avatar
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    Default Re: Learning vocabulary in all 12 keys: a waste of time?! (Casa Valdez blog)

    Quote Originally Posted by Bloo Dog View Post
    Boy, can I identify with this. Try returning to playing after a twenty-year hiatus. The frustration is enormous. Practicing in an attempt to play at the level at which I played waaaay back when is killing me.
    This is one situation - maybe the only one? - in which learning by ear is clearly the winner if you have that gift. Because once it's in there, it's in there.
    Jazz = a man with a $5,000 horn driving a $500 car to a $50 gig.
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