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Stumbled across this series of workshops with great pianist Hal Galper

part 1 here - www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDw1igyuvxk

Interesting how he doesnt subscribe to the scale theory thing and concentrates on developing your ear and learning phrases.
Tried applying this to my own playing and its certainly opened my up getting away from applying scales to improvisation.
Anyway just thought id share it and hope i dont get shot down in flames for 'dissing' scales!!
 

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It had to happen sooner or later. Too many change-ringers in jazz, players with 100 fingers and no ears.
 

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Hal Galper is a great player and dedicated teacher. I think he has lots of great things to teach us, but I'm sure he spent LOTS of time learning and practicing scales. I agree that we shouldn't try to construct jazz solos by playing scales, but we shouldn't take that as an excuse to give short shrift to a very important part of building musical technique on our instrument.
 

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I dig that guy. His bass player Jeff Johnson is fantastic as well. B
 

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Yeah, those Galper videos are great! I watched them endlessly whenI first discovered them a few months ago.

I agree with Hal in that at some point you have to abandon scale exercises and start practicing musical ideas and phrases. Learning scales is mandatory study in the sense that you can put a single label on collections of notes, but to practice the scales beyond the cognitive level is a waste of time. I think the time is better spent practicing musical phrases that actually emote. However being able to relate the musical phrase to a scale (fragment) is critical in the learning (memorization and recall) process.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Yeah i kinda stumbled across these but it all makes perfect sense and this guy is from the era i guess most of us are trying to emulate i.e 60's and earlier (well i am anyway).
I first heard of not using scales in improv from a great jazz guitarist in new york called robert conti who after talking with him explained that in his day (50s/60s) no theory was talked about, and that it was all based on passing phrases on and working on them to get them into your own vocabulary. He said he still knows no scales except his majors and minors. I know its on guitar but hey musics music aint it?
Im certainly not saying to abandon scales but so much of the tradition is lost by jazz education 'business' ideas.
 

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Yeah i remember this. Hal speaks the truth.

I always found it funny that scales were the norm for improvising. The scales will never help you GENERATE what Cannonball plays *below*. Maybe the idea is to use what Cannonball played (as example) to generate your own phrases.

It's phrases man. It's the tiny little melodies. *Exploding* a phrase. Singing a phrase through a set of changes. Punctuation.

Here's a great example. This solo is so freaking heavy. I barely make it past the 1st chorus before rewind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdMptqTm4hc

54 - 1:07

That right there tells you all you need to know.

THAT is going somewhere
 

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Yeah i remember this. Hal speaks the truth.

I always found it funny that scales were the norm for improvising. The scales will never help you GENERATE what Cannonball plays *below*. Maybe the idea is to use what Cannonball played (as example) to generate your own phrases.

It's phrases man. It's the tiny little melodies. *Exploding* a phrase. Singing a phrase through a set of changes. Punctuation.

Here's a great example. This solo is so freaking heavy. I barely make it past the 1st chorus before rewind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdMptqTm4hc

54 - 1:07

That right there tells you all you need to know.

THAT is going somewhere
That's a great album. When I was in college, we did a big band version of that tune which is basically Cannon's solo voiced out for 5 saxes. I got to know that solo very well.
 

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That's a great album. When I was in college, we did a big band version of that tune which is basically Cannon's solo voiced out for 5 saxes. I got to know that solo very well.
wooow, now that is neat. This solo's been daily listening since I heard it 3 days ago. It's a marvelous work.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Yeah i remember this. Hal speaks the truth.

I always found it funny that scales were the norm for improvising. The scales will never help you GENERATE what Cannonball plays *below*. Maybe the idea is to use what Cannonball played (as example) to generate your own phrases.

It's phrases man. It's the tiny little melodies. *Exploding* a phrase. Singing a phrase through a set of changes. Punctuation.

Here's a great example. This solo is so freaking heavy. I barely make it past the 1st chorus before rewind.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wdMptqTm4hc

54 - 1:07

That right there tells you all you need to know.

THAT is going somewhere

Now THATS what i'm talking about!!! Thanks so much for posting
 

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The scales will never help you GENERATE what Cannonball plays *below*.
Would you say the same about Coltrane, for example?

I agree with you to a point, but I think scales do have their place. They are a lot like the alphabet of music. You could learn to talk without learning the alphabet, but don't you think that would be limiting in certain aspects?

Scales wont help you to generate that type of playing, but I think they will help you get closer to it if you have some passion and musicality.

Also, if you look at the last few examples halper gives in the part 2 video, he's playing pentatonic patterns based on rhythm changes. Although he uses "chord tone" terminology to explain what he's playing, the same musical example could have been accompanied by an explanation about chord scales. In both cases, the student trying to learn this stuff would need to bring his own musicality to the theory in order to "generate" a similar idea, or it would sound like crap.
 

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We still don't teach phrasing. We don't even teach how to acquire it, really. We have the student do a lot of transcribing and take it for granted that they will come away with a sense of musical statements and of how to make their own.

In contrast, we teach the living heck out of scales. The result is players who don't make musical statements nearly as well as they run scales.

Robert Conti was probably right in that the tools are only an aid to the creativity, not a requirement for it. But you can't teach limited knowledge in school - you have to teach comprehensive knowledge. And that's scale-based improvisation.

The jazz education "business" is here to stay, and that's why we have players who burn more often than they cook. bitch bitch bitch
 

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The jazz education "business" is here to stay, and that's why we have players who burn more often than they cook.
I'm gonna steal that one from you Paul. A real gem there.
 

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We still don't teach phrasing. We don't even teach how to acquire it, really. We have the student do a lot of transcribing and take it for granted that they will come away with a sense of musical statements and of how to make their own.

In contrast, we teach the living heck out of scales. The result is players who don't make musical statements nearly as well as they run scales.

Robert Conti was probably right in that the tools are only an aid to the creativity, not a requirement for it. But you can't teach limited knowledge in school - you have to teach comprehensive knowledge. And that's scale-based improvisation.

The jazz education "business" is here to stay, and that's why we have players who burn more often than they cook. bitch bitch bitch
I'm gonna steal that one from you Paul. A real gem there.
Me 2...
 

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Learning scales is mandatory study in the sense that you can put a single label on collections of notes, but to practice the scales beyond the cognitive level is a waste of time.
Let's not forget this. ^

If you think the great jazz players of yesterday did not practice their scales, think again.
 

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When I teach phrasing, I just point to the great jazz singers. Billie, Ella, Sarah, Anita, Frank, Mel, Bobby, Tony....
 

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Joe Henderson told me he practiced the &*%t out of scales. I like his playing better than Galper's. Being a contrarian & saying things against the jazz ed "norm" apparently is his shtick, every teacher like him needs one, it gives him a mystique and makes people think he's "deep"....he ain't.
 
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