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So much emphasis is put on learning and memorizing scales and using them in solos, I wonder how much of jazz soloing is mostly random running of licks and scales over chord changes without any real feeling or thought. Every note should mean something? I get a lot more out of a solo with fewer well placed notes with feeling than one with hundreds played at astounding speed.
 

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Mope said:
So much emphasis is put on learning and memorizing scales and using them in solos, I wonder how much of jazz soloing is mostly random running of licks and scales over chord changes without any real feeling or thought. Every note should mean something? I get a lot more out of a solo with fewer well placed notes with feeling than one with hundreds played at astounding speed.
Cool, that's your particular taste in the craft of improvisation. Others are drawn to more ornamental or virtuosic playing. One pair of critics thought Cannonball Adderley too verbose, but a lot of people really dig him. That's one of the great things about jazz, the wide range of music embraced under its roof. Great, that is, except for the stuff I don't like. :twisted:
 

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The goal of jazz players should be to be able to execute anything that they can conceive, at any tempo, without an error. We practice scales, arpeggios, and patterns in order to be able to do that.

The quality of what you can execute is based on the quality of what you pre-hear. Whether that takes many notes to create a texture, or one note played rhythmically doesn't matter.

A few well-placed notes can be great, but so can a flurry of well-placed notes.
 

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I agree....but....but learning all the scales and patterns and licks....you have a large reserve of sounds on hand. Not that I will ever use some of them exactly as I practiced them. But i've definitely noticed that certain ideas come through my playing from time to time that I learned from some patterns.

I think learning patterns also has alot to do with learning to conceptualize the music and what you're playing. You see how other sax players lead to certain chord (or non-chord) tones, and how they organize their ideas over any specific tune or set of changes. I think learning patterns in all keys in different variations definitely has helped my playing.
 

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Being one of the new burgeoning young saxophonists of today, I find the emphasis put on learning scales and such can be somewhat overbearing. When I'm soloing it's just two much for me to think about so if I try to play what I learn it sounds somewhat mechanical. On the other hand if I just play by ear it sounds more like it has more soul... but also sounds like jibberish. So I guess it means that the sax greats were able to have allthese scales and stuff in memory and be able to call upon them without thinking.
 

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I also used to think the same way about scales. At first it helped, but then after a while I felt restricted by them. Then I started to use my ear and try to play melodically. My playing became more about note placement and space.

However with my current teacher who is in the Coltrane, Hank Mobley, Joe Henderson style, he has been giving me patterns/licks to shed resulting in my playing being more like a stream of notes and also dominated by these same patterns. Now he has me working on my own ideas over chord progressions and tunes. I also asked him how I could free my playing from patterns and guess what he said. Practise your scales. That's what all the greats told him.

So that's what I'm doing. Shedding patterns, trying to play my ideas over chord progressions and tunes, and practising scales.
 

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chords/scales are only one way to approach jazz. Plenty of great cats did it by ear without any regard for the western classical underpinnings of jazz theory. Me, personally, I never practice jazz licks and never have. I can play a couple of the famous diminished ones, just because they are fun, but otherwise, any solo I play is made up completely on the spot with perhaps some patterns that I gravitate to just because they are familiar. We all have nouns and verbs to some degree. The question is did you get them from Rollins, Coltrane, Parker, Cannonball, or yourself?

When I practice, I work almost exclusively on dexterity and pure saxophone technique like multiphonics, altissimo, circular breathing, digital patterns, articulation, etc. I also like to practice swing chromaticism like in Steve Neff's books.

Jazz can easily become very clinical if you're not careful. For me, I've always had the opposite problem... and that has gotten me in trouble with the Jazz Police on many occasions. Ah well.
 

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I play with a lot of Bebop, and Change Running, and Scale Progressions, and I mean it when I play it. It isn't randomness, (but there is a thread on here that is). I do that, only hwen I have gotten to a very important part, and I really have to let everything out. I then, really have to be feeling the music to be able to do that, and boy does it feel and sound good!
 

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Scales, intervals, ornaments, patterns... it's all an attempt to build technique, so one doesn't need to THINK about what their fingers are doing but rather to transcend it. At least, that's what I think. Personally, I like to take small nuggets; like a simple interval or set of intervals and drill them so can feel/hear and play them anywhere and anytime on my horn.
 

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I'm coming very late to scales and patterns after 25+ years of relying on a good natural ear. I found myself getting bored with playing chord-and-root-bound harmony all the time, so I couldn't rely on my ear anymore.

Now begins the very slow process of internalizing the sound of a scale - you can't hear it all at once, and the notes not in the related chord have to be memorized almost physically, as fingering shapes. As part of this process I discovered that I can't run arpeggios (or often even identify them) without the root note, so progress is going to be slow.

It amounts to a whole new way of learning harmony - systematically, the way most people have to do it. My new teacher is at a bit of a loss just yet as to how to teach all this to an old dog. But he told me something nice last week: "I learn something new every time I teach you."
 

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paulwl said:
I'm coming very late to scales and patterns after 25+ years of relying on a good natural ear. I found myself getting bored with playing chord-and-root-bound harmony all the time, so I couldn't rely on my ear anymore.

Now begins the very slow process of internalizing the sound of a scale - you can't hear it all at once, and the notes not in the related chord have to be memorized almost physically, as fingering shapes. As part of this process I discovered that I can't run arpeggios (or often even identify them) without the root note, so progress is going to be slow.

It amounts to a whole new way of learning harmony - systematically, the way most people have to do it. My new teacher is at a bit of a loss just yet as to how to teach all this to an old dog. But he told me something nice last week: "I learn something new every time I teach you."
Hey guy, welcome back, and right back in the swing of your erudite postings. How's about starting a thread to let us know how you've been?
 

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The thing is...

Learning licks and scales spawns independent creativity, it gives you a base to draw from.

Once learned, you don't have to stick with it - but it's a solid foundation to leaping off and doing your own thing.

It's been my experience that the more licks I learn and the better I know my scales, I have a lot more freedom and creativity in my playing, because it has a snowball effect and things start popping up in my improv, and I don't even know where they came from.

Without any formal understanding, you're just like a ship without a rudder, all over the place but not really going anywhere.
 

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The goal of jazz players should be to be able to execute anything that they can conceive, at any tempo, without an error. We practice scales, arpeggios, and patterns in order to be able to do that.

The quality of what you can execute is based on the quality of what you pre-hear. Whether that takes many notes to create a texture, or one note played rhythmically doesn't matter.

A few well-placed notes can be great, but so can a flurry of well-placed notes.
BINGO!!!! great description of why we have to practice our arrses off to get this stuff together!!
 
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