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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Part of my practice over the years has been to move motives, licks, patterns, etc. through all 12 keys. Even after all these years, it still takes a LONG time. I can say it has been a very useful in my improvisation and I wish I had started doing this back in a 'salad' days.

Please let me know if you're with me. If you're some sort of prodigy then no comment needed. :)
 

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It should over time develop the brain - ear - hands neural network and result in better ear/hand coordination ("developing your ear"). That's what it's done for me.
Try using iRealB... (I hate the cheesy sound of the backing tracks - just get used to it)... Pick a tune (maybe an easier one at first, or a blues, etc.) and use the setting for transposition... say up a half step each repetition, or through the cycle of 5ths, etc. Set it for twelve repetitions. Start at a tempo slow enough for you to put ideas over the changes. Then just improvise over the changes. Maybe that will "develop your ear" better than repeated patterns, motifs, etc.
 

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There are only 12 notes leave a few out.
 

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well, in the very old days clarinetists showed up with a range of clarinets allowing them to switch clarinet as they needed to switch from one piece to the other and keep playing in easier keys.

But of course this, in woodwinds is a problem because by changing to a longer or shorter instrument you also change the timbre .

The only real answer to this is to adopt the Jim Schmidt linear fingering system.

With this system by lifting or closing each finger you get half tone increments or decrements with each finger moving






Yet, as opposed to the piano (that only produce a sound when you depress a key), one of the problems will always be the inability to shift the hand on a keyboard using the hand at his best in movement.

Being the position of the hand fixed in wind instruments you need to deal with the fact that not all the fingers can be articulated the same way.

The worst of which are the ring fingers which share a tendon with the pinky and are very much less agile then the rest.

I’d love to own a Jim Schmidt saxophone and flute and if one is a very serious player ( as OP is) this expense and the need to relearn playing saxophone ( not unlike people whom have learned to play on French and German bassoon systems or different clarinets) would greatly facilitate playing in different keys.

From Jim Schmidt's site


“....The Schmidt chromatic fingering makes perfect sense and is a pleasure to play. Since the tone holes are generally located directly underneath the fingers being applied, the player understands that he/she is making the sax longer and dropping the pitch by applying more fingers, making it shorter and raising the pitch by lifting fingers, or venting it for altissimo by lifting some fingers and closing others. This direct link of fingers over tone holes enables players to visualize what they are doing to the sax. It encourages them to use more creativity and intelligence in their playing. For example: it is easy to transpose down a third by simply pressing down 4 more fingers on their keys.

When you look at a conventional sax you see a lot of complicated interconnecting linkages, unnecessary weight and redundant keys (side keys, bis key, F#, Bb. G# etc.). In the new system, scales and tones are cleaner and quicker because each key is independent (except the low note keys) and is not loaded down by interlinkage mechanisms as are, for instance, mid Bb and F# in the conventional Boehm method. Tones are also clearer because you have the choice of closing only those holes which produce the best sound. This is especially true when playing altissimo (the conventional sax locks you out of some of the best altissimo fingerings). This fingering system allows you to do much more. For example, low note trills and interval tremolos are now available – a big advantantage over conventional horns. A unique technique is employed to achieve this which allows two fingers to operate the low note touchpieces instead of just the pinky. For example – you can hold down low B with the ring finger while trilling low Bb with the pinky. This is easy because spring pressures are about 1/3 as heavy as found on conventional horns...."
 

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well, in the very old days clarinetists showed up with a range of clarinets allowing them to switch clarinet as they needed to switch from one piece to the other and keep playing in easier keys.

The only real answer to this is to adopt the Jim Schmidt linear fingering system.

I’d love to own a Jim Schmidt saxophone and flute and if one is a very serious player ( as OP is) this expense and the need to relearn playing saxophone ( not unlike people whom have learned to play on French and German bassoon systems or different clarinets) would greatly facilitate playing in different keys.
No.
I also thought that the reason for clarinets in A, Eb, etc. was "to facilitate playing in easier keys". I've been told that there is a lot more to it than that.
No.
Adopting, and adapting to, this engineering marvel is not "the only real answer".
If making saxes in a lot of new keys, or buying an expensive weird one and learning a whole new system were the only real answer, every top-notch pro player would be doing it, and Coltrane nor anyone else would never have been able to play crazy fast stuff on Giant Steps and other difficult tunes.

The real answer can also be, and usually is, a lot of practicing, of scales, etc., in all keys.
When I do technical studies, patterns, etc., over half my time is spent in the keys of Gb, Db, and B. By doing this, they begin to feel as normal and natural as any other key, and the other keys become much easier to master.
 

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To the OP:
It occurred to me that I was assuming that, by "learning in all keys", you meant mastering a pattern, etc. by means of playing it by ear in all keys.
But if by chance you mean that you are reading a pattern that is written out in all keys (e.g. I have pages and pages of ii-V patterns written that way), this process of reading is actually an impediment to development of the ability to play fluently in all keys.
 

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Ok, you have been told that but I have been told the opposite (obviously from some “ lesser source”?) :twisted:.

...and is that all you have been told on this matter? Please share what else “ they” told you.

I can understand, as per my comment, that changing a clarinet changes also the timbre and that’s why it is not all, but the practice of changing instruments to adapt to the key one is playing in is common in non chromatic instruments such as harmonicas and flageolets.

I am happy that you gave us the real answer. OP is a VERY competent musician , do you think that he doesn’t know about practice?
 

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Part of my practice over the years has been to move motives, licks, patterns, etc. through all 12 keys. Even after all these years, its take a long time it still takes a LONG time. I can say it has been a very useful in my improvisation and I wish I had started doing this back in a 'salad' days.

Please let me know if you're with me. If you're some sort of prodigy then no comment needed. :)
I'm with you 100% and no, I'm no prodigy! Far from it.

But yeah, anytime I want to master a lick, phrase, ii-V-I pattern, diminished pattern, motif, or any other melodic fragment, I run it through all 12 keys. Around the cycle of 4ths, by whole step, chromatically, sometimes in minor 3rds, etc. Always by ear/memory. And yes, depending on how complex the pattern is, it can take a long time. But it's totally worth it because eventually it becomes internalized and you can actually use it in an improvisation as well as alter it in various ways.

However, I don't think it is as important to learn tunes in all 12 keys. Sure, simple head arrangements or tunes like "Summertime" are worth running through different key centers. And it's often necessary to learn a given tune in a different key (say, to accommodate a singer), but for the most part there is some agreement on playing a given tune in a given key.
 

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I used to learn all the licks in all 12 keys, but then I decided I'd rather make a living.

So I learned scales and arpeggios in all 12 keys, starting with pentatonic and blues because for improvisation you get the most mileage out of those, and then good ol' minor and major and then moving on to more exotic.

But I must admit, to this day I'm more comfortable in the common keys that guitarists and pop bands like to play in.

I've made a living playing music since 1964 and not being able to play as well in concert Ab as I can in concert F# (easy guitar key) has never hurt me at all, as long as I can hold my own in Ab.

The answer, it depends on what your career options are. My goal was to make a living doing music and nothing but music. That required some compromises.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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I used to learn all the licks in all 12 keys, but then I decided I'd rather make a living.

I've made a living playing music since 1964 and not being able to play as well in concert Ab as I can in concert F# (easy guitar key) has never hurt me at all, as long as I can hold my own in Ab.

The answer, it depends on what your career options are. My goal was to make a living doing music and nothing but music. That required some compromises.
Yeah, I hear you, notes. I sure didn't (and haven't) mastered everything in all 12 keys at the expense of getting out there and playing. First things first. The 12 maj & min scales, maj, min, dom chords, and pentatonic & blues scales in 12 keys. That right there will go a long ways. But if you practice on a regular basis (I find I have to do that) and want to work on a ii-V or other lick, you might as well work it through the 12 keys.

And sure, whatever keys you play in most is where you'll be most comfortable. Regarding concert Ab, I really like that key on tenor. It's Bb on tenor and falls nicely under the fingers; it's essential for a tune like 'Night Train', so you can honk that low Bb.

I think you mean concert E (F# on tenor) for the easy guitar key, right?
 

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<...snip...)And sure, whatever keys you play in most is where you'll be most comfortable. Regarding concert Ab, I really like that key on tenor. It's Bb on tenor and falls nicely under the fingers; it's essential for a tune like 'Night Train', so you can honk that low Bb.

I think you mean concert E (F# on tenor) for the easy guitar key, right?
Playing with guitarists most of my career, Ab (Bb tenor) isn't as comfortable.

Yes I meant E (F# Tenor) is an easy key for me. Other comfortable keys thanks to guitarists are A, G, and D (concert). I know a lot of tenor players like Bb, and I do fine in Bb (C tenor) but it's really not one of my favorites. Although it's not an easy guitar key, I like F concert a lot on my tenor, mostly because I like the way it fits in the natural range of the horn.

I'll probably never be comfortable in F# concert because nobody ever calls a song in that key. On the other hand C# concert is fine, as I've played enough C tunes that modulated up a half step at the end.

I don't practice sax at home much anymore. Between sax, flute, wind synth, guitar, bass, drums, and keys, plus making my own backing tracks for my duo, and keeping up and making new products for my Band-in-a-Box aftermarket business, there just isn't the time I want to pay attention to all. Right now the Guitar gets most of the practice time because lead guitar is my newest venture.

But then: "If you can't practice on stage, where can you practice?" :)

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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But then: "If you can't practice on stage, where can you practice?" :)
LOL. Yeah, I practice on stage, especially when at a jam. But it's a different type of 'practice' (don't want to get into all that here right now).

It's a funny thing, I've played with a lot of guitarists and sure, they play a lot in concert E, A, G, & D. But the better ones also play in (concert) F, Bb, Ab, C, etc. Maybe because a lot of the old school jump blues tunes are in those flat keys, but so are some funk & R&B tunes. The only keys hardly anyone seems to play in are (concert) F# & C#.
 

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I used to learn all the licks in all 12 keys, but then I decided I'd rather make a living.

So I learned scales and arpeggios in all 12 keys, starting with pentatonic and blues because for improvisation you get the most mileage out of those, and then good ol' minor and major and then moving on to more exotic.

But I must admit, to this day I'm more comfortable in the common keys that guitarists and pop bands like to play in.

I've made a living playing music since 1964 and not being able to play as well in concert Ab as I can in concert F# (easy guitar key) has never hurt me at all, as long as I can hold my own in Ab.

The answer, it depends on what your career options are. My goal was to make a living doing music and nothing but music. That required some compromises.

Insights and incites by Notes
The guys playing for a living that I like to listen to can all play pretty much anything in all of the keys at any time. You’ll get way more mileage and return running melodies, patterns, and lines you hear through all the keys at various tempos than rote scale patterns. If you want to be a boring player practice boring stuff.
 

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Learning stuff in all keys takes forever because learning music takes forever. Just ask Sonny Rollins, Wayne Shorter... They're getting old but keep on practicing. ;)

What you say is also valid for time signatures. Learn how to play in 4/4, 3/4, 5/4, 7/4, 5/8, 7/8 etc... takes forever.

That's the fun of it. It's never over. What if if one day you tell yourself "Well, I'm done, what's next? ***! Nothing??...".
 

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<...> If you want to be a boring player practice boring stuff.
Quite a statement from one who has never heard me play.

I was first tenor in the all-state band and section leader (taking it away from the first alto) every year I was in school, and I've made a living playing music and entertaining audiences since 1964. I gotta be doing something right.

And I've heard other players with better technical chops than me that were boring to the audiences ears.

A pen and ink artist with only two colors can make some great art. It's not what you have, but what you do with it.

Insights and incites by Notes
 

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Part of my practice over the years has been to move motives, licks, patterns, etc. through all 12 keys. Even after all these years, it still takes a LONG time. I can say it has been a very useful in my improvisation and I wish I had started doing this back in a 'salad' days.

Please let me know if you're with me. If you're some sort of prodigy then no comment needed. :)
The good news is that the more you do it the easier it gets. It always takes time though........
 
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