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Discussion Starter #1
Hi,
ive just wondered if there are any tipps/tricks to make it more easier to follow the chord progression on fast tunes. I allways find it real hard to count bars while playing a chorus; i mean theres no problem with slow tunes, neither fast ones that have like 3-4 different chords, but when it comes to bebop its really hard to go with the chords.
Anyone has any suggestions? :)
 

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When it comes to bebop you need to think more in term of 4 bar phrases.
If you're counting individual bars, especially in fast bop tunes, your lines won't have any flow.

Practise blowing over the tunes very slowly at first with a metronome on 2 and 4 (if you can tap your foot on 2 and 4, even better).
Play in 8th notes and try to outline the chords in your lines, increase the tempo as you feel more comfortable. If you do this eventually you will start "feeling" and hearing phrases instead of bars and you won't think so much in terms of individual chords but, again, in phrases.

Again try to feel phrase lenghts ( 4 bars, 8 bars etc...) instead of counting one bar at a time.
 

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I would definitely agree with daigle65 about keeping the four bar phrase in mind. Practice trading twos, fours and eights with a drummer (if you can). I did that with a friend over the summer, and we both really got a much better feel for keeping track of bars.

If you're drummer is good (and cool), get him to learn to play standards, so that you can help each other keep track of these things.

Also, start playing a lot of blues changes with a combo or an aebersold or the like. These are simple and pretty easy to hear and keep track of. Once you can follow blues changes by ear (if you walked into a jam session, you could know where you were in the form within a couple of bars), then try some more ambitious changes.
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Ok, thanks so far... I´ll try this four bar method for awhile and will maybe post my results. If someone has another idea/advice, let me/us know^^
 

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If you got two chords (ii-Vs) to a measure at any fast tempo then just pick one of the chords and go with that.... ii chord sounds a bit funkier, V chord sounds a bit jazzier.

But the four bar or two bar phrase thing is a good idea.
 

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You'll probably also find that after a while you won't NEED to count; you'll have an intuitive understanding of where you are in the form at any given time.

One of those things that comes with practise.

-Dan
 

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Definitely get the 4-bar phrasing. It's not that you have to play through the entire 4 bars (although it's good practice to play 4-bar phrases in eighth notes), but you need to be able to "feel" those 4 bars. I actually find it easier to do this when the chords change at least every 2 to 4 bars (like a blues) than in a modal tune where you might vamp on a single chord. When playing a vamp like that you really have to tune into the rhythmic aspect and feel 2 or 4 bar phrases rhythmically. That's also good practice.

Sometimes I'll count a few beats in my head ("3-4"), to come in at a certain place, but I rarely "count" the bars as I play. I do tap my foot to the beat.
 

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JL said:
Definitely get the 4-bar phrasing. It's not that you have to play through the entire 4 bars (although it's good practice to play 4-bar phrases in eighth notes), but you need to be able to "feel" those 4 bars. I actually find it easier to do this when the chords change at least every 2 to 4 bars (like a blues) than in a modal tune where you might vamp on a single chord. When playing a vamp like that you really have to tune into the rhythmic aspect and feel 2 or 4 bar phrases rhythmically. That's also good practice.

Sometimes I'll count a few beats in my head ("3-4"), to come in at a certain place, but I rarely "count" the bars as I play. I do tap my foot to the beat.
I agree with JL, except for the foot tapping. Some guys can't get away from it in performances and it always stuck me as amateurish to continually tap your foot while playing.
If you can turn it off and on, fine. But I think its better to practice with a metronome and develop an inner sense of timing.
 

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Billt4mn said:
I agree with JL, except for the foot tapping. Some guys can't get away from it in performances and it always stuck me as amateurish to continually tap your foot while playing.
If you can turn it off and on, fine. But I think its better to practice with a metronome and develop an inner sense of timing.
Yes, I'll agree about the inner sense of timing. Still I like to tap my foot or move my body to the beat. If I was playing in an orchestra or a classical quartet, probably not. But I play the blues mostly, in clubs where no one is going to notice or care whether your foot is tapping or not. I guess I do turn it on & off though, because sometimes I don't tap; it's just a feel thing. I've also been to many, many jazz performances by great players over the years and in almost every case, they tap their feet, stomp their feet, move their bodies, etc, all to the beat. Have you seen any footage of Thelonius Monk, for example?
 

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Discussion Starter #10
and it always stuck me as amateurish to continually tap your foot while playing.
hehe, i tried tapping with my foot once in a while... everytime with the same conclusion: tapping with feet confuses me/ goes in my way while improvising.. so no, i wont actually do that ;-)
 

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On the subject of tapping... I don't see that anyone would care with me... I'm usually shaking all over my body :D because I feel the music. But that is also how you should solo. You can learn scales and chords all day (and I don't think that is bad), but there is a limit to where that will help your solos. You mostly gotta feel and here them.
 

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Here's a take on foot tapping from Kenny Werner's book, Effortless Mastery (p 111): The important thing is not to edit ourselves when we play. Tap or dance if that is what comes naturally in the moment; otherwise don't.
 

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I'd say Kenny has it right. Do what works and helps you get the music out there. Actually, I tend to tap with my heel more than my toe. I'll tap my toe to count a tune in, then when playing tap with my heel (can't say why the heel instead, who knows?). And on some tunes I don't tap at all. So I guess I'm doing it the "effortless" way??
 

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You can also tap your toe inside your shoe. That is usually what I do.
 

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4 bar-phrase is really an interesting and improving method... But, if he can't play for 4 bars? I believe his problem will appear again (This happened to me!)... Some authors (Hal Crook, Brian Kane) aim for that approach, but they start with a simpler method to improve the "count" feeling: Play 1 bar, rest 1 bar... Play 2 bars, rest 1 bar, play 2 bars, rest 2 and stuff like that, step by step, until you reach the 4-bar phrase... Maybe, it'll help...
Good luck!
 

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Discussion Starter #18
@claudio
i tried your advice. I dont know if it will help over the time, but to me, it feels like it will. Lets just see... Maybe my sense of timing will be a better one in just a week? ;)
 

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Psycodelic said:
@claudio
i tried your advice. I dont know if it will help over the time, but to me, it feels like it will. Lets just see... Maybe my sense of timing will be a better one in just a week? ;)
It might get a little better in just a week, but it will almost certainly take a lot longer for it to become totally ingrained. This stuff takes time. I understand wanting it overnight, but patience is essential or you'll tend to give up.

Claudio is right on. Spend some time learning to play a 1 bar phrase, then 2 bar phrase, etc. And yes it really helps a lot to rest an equal amount between phrases. I think playing a 2 bar phrase, then resting for 2 bars, then repeating is an excellent exercise. It gets the 4 bar timing going (2 + 2), and is also practical. Some horn lines and riffs work exactly this way.

Another thing that helped me was to listen closely to a recording and count out each 4 bars (or 2 bars, or whatever). Try a blues, counting each 4-bar phrase, while listening for the chord changes. This will help get you hearing it. But it won't happen overnight. You'll really make some progress if you can find a band to play with.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Yo Jl,
do u know why i wrote a smiley behind that sentence? :D Of course im aware, that this wont come "overnight". I have a lot of time and patience, so i dont see a problem in doin this stuff for houuuuuuurs ;) (joke... ok, now u should get it :D )
 
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