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I don't know if this topic was already here, but how do you prevent from getting lost in time while playing songs like modal jazz, for example Miles Davis' So What. 2 x 8 bars Dm(concert tones), 1 x 8 bars Ebm, 1 x 8 bars Dm
Normally the drums and bass should help you, but if they don't want to be "baby sitters" it can be a challenge
 

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You need to practice playing in 2 and 4 bar phrases. The more you practice this the more you can feel where the 2 and 4 bar points are. It's similar to feeling where beats 1,2,3 and 4 are. Then if you can feel it you practice making your improv more complex without losing that feel of where the 2 and 4 bar point are. If you play something that makes you lose your view of where you are then you go back and play something less complex. The trick is getting more complex a little at a time without ever losing the feel of where you are in those 2 and 4 bar phrases.
 

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You need to practice playing in 2 and 4 bar phrases. The more you practice this the more you can feel where the 2 and 4 bar points are. It's similar to feeling where beats 1,2,3 and 4 are. Then if you can feel it you practice making your improv more complex without losing that feel of where the 2 and 4 bar point are. If you play something that makes you lose your view of where you are then you go back and play something less complex. The trick is getting more complex a little at a time without ever losing the feel of where you are in those 2 and 4 bar phrases.
That nails it. Also going more deep, you could play your phrases adding tension, outness or sense of harmony progression and resolving in the last bars of a section. A section could be 4 bars or even 8 bars.
There's a good exercise which involves playing two bars and resting two, so you develop a 4 bar phrase feel in your head/body. You can also play one bar and rest three, or play three and rest one.
 

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Yes the 2, 4 8 bar phrase thing can help a lot, the problem comes when you decided to be a littel more adventorous rhythmically. I know the problem - it can be quite a real one, especially when the rhythm section aren't helping.

e.g. ideally you mwant the drummer to clearly build into each 8 bar and the piano/gtr/bass not be too up themselves playing what they think are clever extansions or alterations of the chords.

There's no shame in asking them to keep it basic and helpful. If you are having these problems it's better to admit it to them and ask them to help, otherwise it's worse when you just fall apsrt and look bad anyway.

Howeverv there are some players that juts want to mess you up anyway, they are not good people or good musicians however clever they think they are.
 

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You need to practice playing in 2 and 4 bar phrases. The more you practice this the more you can feel where the 2 and 4 bar points are. It's similar to feeling where beats 1,2,3 and 4 are. Then if you can feel it you practice making your improv more complex without losing that feel of where the 2 and 4 bar point are. If you play something that makes you lose your view of where you are then you go back and play something less complex. The trick is getting more complex a little at a time without ever losing the feel of where you are in those 2 and 4 bar phrases.
This is great advice and a most excellent approach!

Tunes like So What/ Impressions are super fun, but often someone gets lost in the moment and misses the change, or shortens it to AAB. Communication is key. Not everyone is listening all the time, as we’re all on different levels, but hopefully eye communication can draw everyone back together.
 

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Hold a long note just long enough to hear where the band is and you can easily raise it or lower it a 1/2 step if necessary and be where you need to be. That's how Miles did it. Or you can just listen for a few beats. As Neff said get better at counting and you'll be fine.
 

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Try a rhythmic scat (pitch irrelevant) over a backing track.
You can base it around the melody.
That way you can hear the changes and rhythmic pulse.
Create coherent phrases like poetry.
If you have the ear use pitches.
 

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Yes the 2, 4 8 bar phrase thing can help a lot, the problem comes when you decided to be a littel more adventorous rhythmically. I know the problem - it can be quite a real one, especially when the rhythm section aren't helping.

e.g. ideally you mwant the drummer to clearly build into each 8 bar and the piano/gtr/bass not be too up themselves playing what they think are clever extansions or alterations of the chords.

There's no shame in asking them to keep it basic and helpful. If you are having these problems it's better to admit it to them and ask them to help, otherwise it's worse when you just fall apsrt and look bad anyway.

Howeverv there are some players that juts want to mess you up anyway, they are not good people or good musicians however clever they think they are.
I can´t really agree with that. Asking the rythm section to play more simple if they can´t stay straight on a ballad (like Body and Soul), or a song type standard (like My Ideal) is fine and often helps the music. But on a modal song it is a little ridicoulus. Rather than seeing the rythm section as your enemy or as people who want to confuse you, you should listen to them. They have to keep the form and no matter what they play, 8 bar phrases will be implied. B-sections will be prepared with a pickup from the piano and bass player, and with some kind of fill from the drummer. The drummer will maybe switch to a different part of the drum kit in the b-section .

If you ignore the rythm section and use them as your human backing track, they may ignore you back and just improvise among themselves as a rythm section. You get confused and feel like they turned on you, but you turned on them.

Listen to the rythm section!!!!
 

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They have to keep the form and no matter what they play, 8 bar phrases will be implied. B-sections will be prepared with a pickup from the piano and bass player, and with some kind of fill from the drummer. The drummer will maybe switch to a different part of the drum kit in the b-section .
Yes, assuming they actually do that! I think you missed Pete's point which was dealing with the case where the rhythm section does NOT do what you are saying they should do. Ideally we should all be able to keep track of where we are no matter what else is happening, but it can be very difficult it the rhythm section is all over the place, or giving no clues whatsoever. A band needs to work together and listen to each other, as you say.
 

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This problem is not accidental: the modal framework separates the harmonic rhythm from the basic walking . This is felt even in Adderley's solo - he feels not very comfortable in the absence of 2-5 , and fragments of the bebop scale break through. Miles apparently felt it intuitively - and rhythm section played very transparently; not like, for example, in the Apollo Theater in 1960 . In other words: this music appeared earlier than the rhythm to it. It is enough to change the shape of 32 bars to 16, the counting of the rhythm two times slower ( eighths equates to the sixteenths. ) , and the rhythm itself transfer to two bars groove; then the problems of transitions between parts practically disappear.

My idea: to train on this groove, while maintaining a sense of swing.
 

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I don't know if this topic was already here, but how do you prevent from getting lost in time while playing songs like modal jazz, for example Miles Davis' So What. 2 x 8 bars Dm(concert tones), 1 x 8 bars Ebm, 1 x 8 bars Dm
Normally the drums and bass should help you, but if they don't want to be "baby sitters" it can be a challenge
A couple of weeks ago "So What" was called at the local jam session that I attend. For whatever reason, when it got to the solo section, the piano and bass player ended up playing 8 bars Dm, 8 bars Ebm, 8 bars Dm. If they were sticking to the form it should have been 16 bars Dm, 8 bars Ebm, 8 Bars Dm as you pointed out. How did I know that was happening? I HEARD what they were playing! (I adjusted my solo to THEIR form. If I were stubborn I might have played the form as it was intended to be to see if they listened to me. If so, great. If not, well, back to playing with the rhythm section.)

So, there are a couple of lessons in that experience. 1) You're obviously not alone as the rhythm section can even "get lost" while playing modal jazz, 2) You have to adapt to the situation at hand which means listening and adjusting as necessary and 3) you are playing with other (flawed/awesome/unique/whatever) people. :D

With this in mind, my best advice is to listen to several recordings of "So What" and "Impressions" over and over again. Perhaps find one that you really like and that could be your favorite (for now). I wouldn't count the bars, initially. Instead, I would try to notice when the chord changes. Just relax and enjoy the music and notice when the chord changes. If you can't hear the difference, then count the bars and start paying attention to the difference when the chord changes until you can hear it. This could be a short time like in one session of listening/counting or it could be several weeks or months. We all go at our own pace.

Next, I would test the change by playing the root of the chord. When you think the chord changes, play the root of the change and see if it sounds good or not. If it does, congrats, you nailed it. If not, then keep listening and testing.

Once you can HEAR the change, I would start playing along with the recording(s). (I'm talking about actual recordings, not a play-a-long.) Start with something simple like playing the root of the chord. Play whole notes at the beginning or play a half note at the beginning of each bar. Make sure you change chords when the band does. If not, keep practicing on this part.

Next, improvise with the recording. (If the solos of the other musicians are too distracting, switch to a play-a-long. Go back one step and make sure you change chords when the band does.) Don't count bars. Just listen and feel.

If you do this, then at this point you've listened to this tune/form hundreds of times and it's starting to become a part of you. You can intuitively feel when the chord change is coming and when the end of the form is. (And if you're playing with a good drummer, he'll make a "note" at the top of the form, but don't count on it.)

If you end up playing "So What' tomorrow and haven't had a chance to do all this practice, then count the measures. Do what you need to do. :) But long term, hopefully you can hear and feel where you need to be on modal tunes.

I'm sure there are those who disagree with me, but it's my perspective. Hopefully you can take at least one small idea and improve your playing. If not, that's fine too!

All the best!
 

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I have no problem asking a drummer to play a cue on the change. He / she should do this anyway. Whoever is leading will invariably give cues as well. This doesn’t just help the soloist, it helps the music.

When the drummer is not playing them, it’s because they’re following someone else and they’re not sure about the change either. Usually you can feel the change. If not - Figure out who’s leading. Watch them.
 

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I have no problem asking a drummer to play a cue on the change. He / she should do this anyway. Whoever is leading will invariably give cues as well. This doesn’t just help the soloist, it helps the music.

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This is correct at the student level, but not for experienced musicians. Mark by emphasis every 4 and eight bars on drums refers to the period of dixieland - swing. The drummer must be inside the soloist's phrasing, without imposing too much his own phrasing. This is the reason for preference, also in jams, of a particular drummer. Responsibility for a clear structure of improvisation lies primarily on the shoulders of the soloist. If it's hard for him to build solos in real time, this is a sign that he should train this at home.On the other hand, the drummer's instrumentation must also reflect the structure of chorus and the transition to another soloist. I haven't come across drummers for a long time in the role of rhythm box ...
 

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This is correct at the student level, but not for experienced musicians. Mark by emphasis every 4 and eight bars on drums refers to the period of dixieland - swing. The drummer must be inside the soloist's phrasing, without imposing too much his own phrasing. This is the reason for preference, also in jams, of a particular drummer. Responsibility for a clear structure of improvisation lies primarily on the shoulders of the soloist. If it's hard for him to build solos in real time, this is a sign that he should train this at home.On the other hand, the drummer's instrumentation must also reflect the structure of chorus and the transition to another soloist. I haven't come across drummers for a long time in the role of rhythm box ...
I don’t view cues as amateur or “student” behaviors, but rather professional courtesies... Yes - The soloist should always know where he’s going. So should the drummer etc., but we’re all going together. If we communicate on stage with the music, it’s better music all around because listeners hear the music progressing. (It also limits the possibility of a train wreck) :)

It’s easy as a soloist to communicate that I’m not finished and am going around another eight bars - it’s also just as easy for the drummer or guitarist to telegraph that this is the last pass. We also use things like a nod to cue the band that a change is coming...and sometimes (pro or not) we just get lost. The longer you play - the less it happens, but no one is immune...
 

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My teachers made me count. It's the only way I can be sure where I am. If I don't know where I am, I don't know where I'm going either.

This "feeling it" method of keeping time seems sketchy to me. How does that work? If the rhythm section drops out or there is no rhythm section, what are you feeling?

The stuff I feel when I'm soloing is; how much or little do I fill the time rhythmically, and what part of the beat I place accents to establish a sense of cadence/phrasing. How am I going to create a groove or feel first, before adding rhythmical complexity?

Consciously counting is not easy at first. But it's one of those basic musicianship skills that everything is organized around. A simple system that offers an unlimited platform for creativity.

1 2 3 4

1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &

1 pulet, 2 pulet, 3 pulet, 4 pulet

1 e & a, two e & a, 3 e & a, 4 e & a


1 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4 = 1st A section

2 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4 = 2st A section

3 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4 = bridge

4 2 3 4, 2 2 3 4, 3 2 3 4, 4 2 3 4 = last time A section... here comes the top...



Then the fun begins, where to place accents. Pat your feet in time. Saw a Brecker masterclass he tapped left foot on 1 & 3, right foot on 2 & 4... or left/right, 1/2, in cut time feel. Then clap the rhythm of the melody as you count it... & 1 e & a 2 rest So What.

Close your eyes, count through the record... standing on the band stand waiting to jam, count through the form. A combo class I took, we played Impressions/So What kind of tunes where we had to play half notes through A, quarter notes through 2nd A, straight eights on the bridge, sixteenths on the las A. It's crazy how many ways you can organize solos without even playing lots of scale/chord notes. Had us play good bass lines basically, then embellish them.

Then we had to play 2 bar phrases, where the game was to play either on the beat or off the beat for 8 beats, then reverse the figure. So, 1234, 2234, Rest &, Rest &, Rest &, Rest &... Rest &, Rest &, Rest &, Rest &

The next game was to play straight eighth note lines, 1 &, 2 &, 3 & 4 &. Place an accent on the beat... 1 2 3 4... then flip the accent off the beat to the Ands... & & & &

If I don't play time right at the drummer and bass player... giving them something to react to, play off of... they tend to go off and play their own little games. Nice to KNOW where I am and where I'm going, so if guys are recalcitrant and start to drop the last A section... I can keep them honest! haha
 

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This is correct at the student level, but not for experienced musicians. Mark by emphasis every 4 and eight bars on drums refers to the period of dixieland - swing.
I think the concept of a drummer marking crucial points such as end/beginning of A or B section has continued into some later genres than swing. However even then most genres you hear at jam sessions are old anyway, we are talking here about modal jazz which was happening what 50 or 60 years ago?

Plus if the music is in 8 bar sections, why shouldn't the drummer be aware and help everyone else. The soloist is often concentrating on other things, e.g. melodic ideas so may not be quite so aware of the 8 bars going past - although I was taught it's a good thing not to have to count those 8 bars but "feel it"

I don’t view cues as amateur or “student” behaviors, but rather professional courtesies...
Nor me, sometimes simplicity is a good thing but it's all down to genre. When I'm doing something mainstream I like it to be mainstream, if I am doing something free or avant grade that's when it can out there.
 

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Plus if the music is in 8 bar sections, why shouldn't the drummer be aware and help everyone else. The soloist is often concentrating on other things, e.g. melodic ideas so may not be quite so aware of the 8 bars going past - although I was taught it's a good thing not to have to count those 8 bars but "feel it"
+1 and not so much just to 'help' the soloist; if to some extent the drummer outlines the structure of the tune (within reason), the end result is more musical.
 
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