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I'm sure this has been asked a lot though I'm having lots of trouble. I've transcribed several solos as well as taking what I liked from them and putting things in all twelve keys. Whenever I have someone explain things to me about chord changes I just don't understand. I can read the notation and spell out the corresponding chords though when it comes time to play something over them I just don't know what to do. What should I be working on to get better at this?
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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Have you written out any of the solos you've learned by ear and analyzed them paying attention to how the soloist moved through the changes underneath?
Being able to read music and rip through programmed patterns is cool stuff and lots of players, even several that seem pretty darn good play all the right notes and say nothing worth listening to. Patterns are best when used as filler between your own ideas and tend to be rather boring when they're used to turn the meat of a solo into an academic exercise. Ripping nothing but arpeggios and method book 2-5 licks at 200+ bpm is awesome stuff, but robots rarely play pleasing melodic solos. You have to get out of the practice room and play with other people...It's like reading all the books but never learning to converse with others.
Learn to play the blues...like REALLY learn to play the REAL blues, all three chords of it, inside and out, all the keys. Then add all the typical "jazz" subs.
Record yourself blowing a bunch of choruses on something you feel like you have a good handle on and transcribe your own solo. Analyze a chorus or two and see what you're actually playing.
Make up a couple easy rhythmic ideas and play just the 3rds and 7ths through whatever tune you're working up. You'll find they're not only the most important notes in the chord of the moment, but that they lead into each other on pretty much any of the standard progressions we run into...almost like this whole music thing is based on a mathematical system.
Sing, Sing, Sing.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Thank you so much, I've been working on it all day and it's gotten a little easier knowing how to learn.
 

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Put on some music you like. Tune your horn to it. Figure out the melody. Play along. Embellish it a bit. Add harmonies. Make something up that fits. Have fun. When you get that down, put on some more music and keep playing.

All the notes. All the chords. All the scales.
Ain't gonna do you no good until you train your ears.
Only then can you truly improvise.
 

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Put on some music you like. Tune your horn to it. Figure out the melody. Play along. Embellish it a bit. Add harmonies. Make something up that fits. Have fun. When you get that down, put on some more music and keep playing.

All the notes. All the chords. All the scales.
Ain't gonna do you no good until you train your ears.
Only then can you truly improvise.
Great Post Grumps..!!
 

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Have you written out any of the solos you've learned by ear and analyzed them paying attention to how the soloist moved through the changes underneath?
Being able to read music and rip through programmed patterns is cool stuff and lots of players, even several that seem pretty darn good play all the right notes and say nothing worth listening to. Patterns are best when used as filler between your own ideas and tend to be rather boring when they're used to turn the meat of a solo into an academic exercise. Ripping nothing but arpeggios and method book 2-5 licks at 200+ bpm is awesome stuff, but robots rarely play pleasing melodic solos. You have to get out of the practice room and play with other people...It's like reading all the books but never learning to converse with others.
Learn to play the blues...like REALLY learn to play the REAL blues, all three chords of it, inside and out, all the keys. Then add all the typical "jazz" subs.
Record yourself blowing a bunch of choruses on something you feel like you have a good handle on and transcribe your own solo. Analyze a chorus or two and see what you're actually playing.
Make up a couple easy rhythmic ideas and play just the 3rds and 7ths through whatever tune you're working up. You'll find they're not only the most important notes in the chord of the moment, but that they lead into each other on pretty much any of the standard progressions we run into...almost like this whole music thing is based on a mathematical system.
Sing, Sing, Sing.
The Blues are the keys to the highway. Hey swperry! Did you see Chris Potter Circuits Trio @ the Shedd institute? Cool place. Chris was on fire as usual. I saw them in Portland @ Revolution Hall but they only played one set. So Eugene was like the second set I really wanted to hear. James Francis, what can I say? I don't know about you, but hearing stuff like that is what motivates me want to keep learning and trying to work on it.

For years back in the '90s I lived close enough to ride my bike over to Stanford, and do some of the Jazz Workshop stuff. In the evenings they had world class teaching artists play in Dinkelspiel Recital Hall. Incredible opportunity to audit some of the day classes too. There was an introduction to improv class by a cat we all know and love.

He talked about feeling time and playing time. Then forms of tunes, blues, AABA, one chord funk grooves or Latin Montuno, 16 bars with 1st & 2nd endings, etc. Then he talked about phrasing, like 3 x 4 bar phrases, in 12 bar blues... and phrasing in general... how the last 4 bars of a tune probably function harmonically to set up the Top of the tune, a "turn around".

Next he put on put on some recorded versions of the same tune, but stylistically ranging from traditional to contemporary gospel, to all out flaming fusion. Shut the light off and had us count mentally... 1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4... through each cut, to hear phrases work on the changes and form, in time.

Next he had a drummer play a simple groove then had us pat our feet on 1 and 3, clapping different exercises.

First off we counted out loud and clapped 1 2 3 4... then, 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & ... in four bar phrases.

Next various combinations and variations... and saying "Rest" whenever there was a down beat not clapped. So 1 2 3 Rest or 1 Rest Rest 4.

The group was grooving away so far. Then we started counting Rests and clapping the Ands... Rest & Rest & Rest & Rest &... To 1 Rest Rest Rest &... so on.

To make us internalize the feeling of phrasing, he picked a part of the beat and a bar... like clap on the & of 3, every third bar. R R R R, R R R R, R R R &... or on the the ands of 1 and 3 in the first bar... all kinds of variations clapping on and off the beat keeping the verbal counting going. Around and around... 1 2 3 4 hahaha

We were all Badd-azzed by then, until he said OK, now shut up AND COUNT to yourselves with out drums. 1 2 3 4?? It was brutal. People were getting so lost, clapping in the wrong places and then messing up others, who though they were right but, whoops!

So, that made me consciously count through tunes now. I need to know, that I know where I am... each part of each beat of each phrase through each chorus... whether I'm playing or not.

Another part of that class was figuring out what key signature each chord or sets of chords were in... and basically come up with a short hand way to play on tunes. Like on All the Thing You Are (concert) 1st phrase; 4 flats for 4 beats... 2 flats for 4 beats... 3 sharps for 4 beats (tt-sub), 2 flats for 4 beats. Also he first phrase could be 4 Flats for 4 beats and 2 flat for 12 beats for the II/V/I in Bb.

A student ask about playing "outside". He said; playing outside is more like being inside. You may find that the best sounding lines you play outline the chord tones, and have good voice leading 7ths to the 3rds. How does the listener decide if out is just wrong, or if out side defines the inside?

Then he set about doing a spot on imitation of every Tenor player to come along chronologically in "Jazz". Brilliant comedic impersonations of every famous cat. He spent years in L.A. studios recording commercials we have all heard, pop and rock solo sessions, TeeVee and movie sound tracks. He never really thought twice about it, because the producers said things like, you need to sound like Lester Young on our Cosmetics line jingle. Totally nailed Stan Getz, Trane, Dexter, Sonny... after a while it how few notes could he play and we would still get who it was. Totally dope versions of... Wayne, Joe Henderson... Boots Randolph and Bobby Keys!
 

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Just a guy who plays saxophone.
Joined
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3,567 Posts
The Blues are the keys to the highway. Hey swperry! Did you see Chris Potter Circuits Trio @ the Shedd institute? Cool place. Chris was on fire as usual. I saw them in Portland @ Revolution Hall but they only played one set. So Eugene was like the second set I really wanted to hear. James Francis, what can I say? I don't know about you, but hearing stuff like that is what motivates me want to keep learning and trying to work on it.

For years back in the '90s I lived close enough to ride my bike over to Stanford, and do some of the Jazz Workshop stuff. In the evenings they had world class teaching artists play in Dinkelspiel Recital Hall. Incredible opportunity to audit some of the day classes too. There was an introduction to improv class by a cat we all know and love.

He talked about feeling time and playing time. Then forms of tunes, blues, AABA, one chord funk grooves or Latin Montuno, 16 bars with 1st & 2nd endings, etc. Then he talked about phrasing, like 3 x 4 bar phrases, in 12 bar blues... and phrasing in general... how the last 4 bars of a tune probably function harmonically to set up the Top of the tune, a "turn around".

Next he put on put on some recorded versions of the same tune, but stylistically ranging from traditional to contemporary gospel, to all out flaming fusion. Shut the light off and had us count mentally... 1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4... through each cut, to hear phrases work on the changes and form, in time.

Next he had a drummer play a simple groove then had us pat our feet on 1 and 3, clapping different exercises.

First off we counted out loud and clapped 1 2 3 4... then, 1 & 2 & 3 & 4 & ... in four bar phrases.

Next various combinations and variations... and saying "Rest" whenever there was a down beat not clapped. So 1 2 3 Rest or 1 Rest Rest 4.

The group was grooving away so far. Then we started counting Rests and clapping the Ands... Rest & Rest & Rest & Rest &... To 1 Rest Rest Rest &... so on.

To make us internalize the feeling of phrasing, he picked a part of the beat and a bar... like clap on the & of 3, every third bar. R R R R, R R R R, R R R &... or on the the ands of 1 and 3 in the first bar... all kinds of variations clapping on and off the beat keeping the verbal counting going. Around and around... 1 2 3 4 hahaha

We were all Badd-azzed by then, until he said OK, now shut up AND COUNT to yourselves with out drums. 1 2 3 4?? It was brutal. People were getting so lost, clapping in the wrong places and then messing up others, who though they were right but, whoops!

So, that made me consciously count through tunes now. I need to know, that I know where I am... each part of each beat of each phrase through each chorus... whether I'm playing or not.

Another part of that class was figuring out what key signature each chord or sets of chords were in... and basically come up with a short hand way to play on tunes. Like on All the Thing You Are (concert) 1st phrase; 4 flats for 4 beats... 2 flats for 4 beats... 3 sharps for 4 beats (tt-sub), 2 flats for 4 beats. Also he first phrase could be 4 Flats for 4 beats and 2 flat for 12 beats for the II/V/I in Bb.

A student ask about playing "outside". He said; playing outside is more like being inside. You may find that the best sounding lines you play outline the chord tones, and have good voice leading 7ths to the 3rds. How does the listener decide if out is just wrong, or if out side defines the inside?

Then he set about doing a spot on imitation of every Tenor player to come along chronologically in "Jazz". Brilliant comedic impersonations of every famous cat. He spent years in L.A. studios recording commercials we have all heard, pop and rock solo sessions, TeeVee and movie sound tracks. He never really thought twice about it, because the producers said things like, you need to sound like Lester Young on our Cosmetics line jingle. Totally nailed Stan Getz, Trane, Dexter, Sonny... after a while it how few notes could he play and we would still get who it was. Totally dope versions of... Wayne, Joe Henderson... Boots Randolph and Bobby Keys!
That's awesome! I'm not in Eugene anymore, love the Shedd though, good program and always great shows! Chris is definitely on my list of cats I need to see before too long...now I want to make sure it's a clinic thing too!
 
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