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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
How do you approach this? I'm trying out some ii-V-i licks, but its so frusterating!!!

Do you write them all out on a piece of paper and memorize them that way or do it by ear (what I've been trying to do)/ intervals
 

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Don't write them out, it's as much an ear training exercise as anything else.
Go by intervals and analyse patterns (arpeggios, scales...).
It gets easier as you go.
 

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I don't write them down, and I don't do it solely by ear. I just think through it. On what note does the lick start in relation to the chord? 3rd, 5th, 7th, #11? Where is it scalar? Where does it arpreggiate? Does it substitute chords or scales (like using the altered scale over the dominant chord?

On any given note I know where I am in relation to the chord. And if I know a lick in one key, I can easily apply it to other keys simply by keeping the same relationships.
 

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I used to write them down. After I stopped that and did it by ear my vocabulary grew faster and my speed at picking up things picked way up. Get the Oliver Nelson book, great licks in one key then figure it out, it's like a puzzle!
 

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Maybe just write it out in 1 key to start out and start a notebook of your different ideas to keep track of what you've been shedding. Use it as an ear training exercise though!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Right now, I'm just going down chromatically and I'm not really thinking in terms of "Oh, I go from the flatted 5th down to the third etc etc."

I'm more just thinking "every note half step down"

Is this a bad idea?
 

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Right now, I'm just going down chromatically and I'm not really thinking in terms of "Oh, I go from the flatted 5th down to the third etc etc."

I'm more just thinking "every note half step down"

Is this a bad idea?
I think it's important to relate the lick to the underlying harmony.

Let's say it's something simple like playing 1235 over a major chord. It's quicker to say that 1235 in Ab is Ab, Bb, C, Eb than it is to say "well this lick in C is CDEG and Ab is 4 half steps below C so 4 half steps below C is Ab and 4 half steps below D is Bb and 4 half steps below E is C etc, etc, etc.

This of course means having a thorough knowledge of scales and chords. But in the end, this will be faster. When, you're improvising, you don't have time to think to much. You just have to know. When you see or think of a chord, you have to know what you can play over it and you don't have time to associate it with a different chord or a lick in a different key.
 

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Perhaps you need to back up a bit and get the basic chords and scales under your fingers? Are you comfortable playing, say, the 1-2-3-5 pattern through the ii-V-I progression in all keys? Or at a more basic level, playing chords and scales in all keys?
 

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adding to Chitownjazz's point a bit:

If you're anything like me, you might also benefit from approaching the iim7-V7-I patterns via a shorter harmonic sequence.

Check out the book of Dominant 7th resolutions Charles McNeal has compiled and offers for free on his (fantastic) site.

http://charlesmcneal.com/index.html

Rory
 

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I agree that doing it by ear is the way to go. One thing, though. Be sure to learn any given lick very well in one or two keys first. Then start moving it through the other keys.

And of course you need to know the 12 keys (12 MAJOR SCALES) cold. Do that first or you will experience no end of frustration.
 

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Do it by ear. It may seem slower, but in the end you'll be faster in doing these things.
When you can play it in all 12, THEN write them down, just to practise your handwriting. :D
 

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I agree with Agent27, relating it back to the harmonic structure is the way to go. In addition to burning it into your mental (and muscle) memory, it will give you a clue on how it fits into the changes when you first start using it.

As far as how to practice it going up or down chromatically is ok, but try doing it through the cycle of fourths: play it in C, then in F, then Bb, etc. until you come back around to C.

The idea of writing your licks and patterns down in a book (in one key) is also a good one. Over the years you'll build up quite a collection, maybe even publish a book of your own.
 

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And of course you need to know the 12 keys (12 MAJOR SCALES) cold. Do that first or you will experience no end of frustration.
Just to emphasize JL's point, knowing your scales and arpeggios "cold" means that you know them so well you can play them backwards and forwards without ever thinking about which key to press. I find with my student that he thinks he knows something cold when he can play the standard scale starting on the tonic without error............ WRONG!! It may take you a year or more to really have them under your fingers so that you can easily "switch gears" as the chords change........... if someone yells "G#" you should be able to run up and down the scale, starting with any scale tone, without thinking about it. Ask yourself whether on the G# major scale you can run up and down the scale starting on the third (C) without thinking about it.....................
 

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Just to emphasize JL's point, knowing your scales and arpeggios "cold" means that you know them so well you can play them backwards and forwards without ever thinking about which key to press. I find with my student that he thinks he knows something cold when he can play the standard scale starting on the tonic without error............ WRONG!! It may take you a year or more to really have them under your fingers so that you can easily "switch gears" as the chords change........... if someone yells "G#" you should be able to run up and down the scale, starting with any scale tone, without thinking about it. Ask yourself whether on the G# major scale you can run up and down the scale starting on the third (C) without thinking about it.....................
Yeah, that's what I meant. And there is a mental side to it that you do without "thinking" (as strange as that sounds). You need to know automatically that the third in the key of G# is a C, and the fifth is D# (and damn I had to think for a second on that one!), the sixth is an F (technically an E# but I still think "F"), and so on. That way when someone says something about the "5" or "#5" or VI chord or V chord, you'll know instantly what it is.

All of this helps immensely with transposing.

edit: actually the 3rd of G# is technically B# (enharmonic to C).... Generally I prefer to use Ab as the tonic (instead of G#) to avoid those issues. In Ab, the 3rd is indeed C, the 6th is F, 5th is Eb, and so on...
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
I know the scales pretty well, i can arpeggiate, go up thirds, backwards, full range (sometimes 4ths), but its a lot harder to think "oh 3rd of chord etc" especially when u hav a lick that's like all 8th notes. As soon as i figure the flat 6 of a chord and get it, i've forgotten the note i figured out 2 measures ago.

Another thing i often do is, i think of the notes in relation to each other. Like i'll know the first 4 notes, and to find the 5th, I'll look back to the original lick in a key I know very well and see taht the next note is 1 step down from the 4th and figure it out that way.
 

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Learning patterns by scale degree, (1-2-3-5, etc), is a great way to get going with learning licks through all twelve keys and the book "Patterns for Jazz" is a great place start with this approach. This book could help you a lot.
It's also important to listen carefully as you play the patterns---sing along in your head---to avoid being overly mechanical.
It's just absolutely necessary to study material in all the keys and by various intervals, (by P4's, by M2's, by m3's, etc.)............Daryl
 

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How do I approach practicing licks in all 12 keys? I don't. My approach is more...organic. Now of course it's important to know theory, so that if you're learning a new tune that has an unfamiliar harmonic progression, you're able to think your way through and find something that works. My view, however, is that that's only acceptable until you get the sound of the harmonies in your ears and that it should never be used on a regular basis. A well-developed pair of ears is one of the most important assets a musician can have, ranking far above an extensive knowledge of theory. You can hear when someone's thinking and, at least to me, it doesn't sound good. It often sounds right, but it seldom feels right. But then, I'm different.
 
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How do I approach practicing licks in all 12 keys? I don't. My approach is more...organic. Now of course it's important to know theory, so that if you're learning a new tune that has an unfamiliar harmonic progression, you're able to think your way through and find something that works. My view, however, is that that's only acceptable until you get the sound of the harmonies in your ears and that it should never be used on a regular basis. A well-developed pair of ears is one of the most important assets a musician can have, ranking far above an extensive knowledge of theory. You can hear when someone's thinking and, at least to me, it doesn't sound good. It often sounds right, but it seldom feels right. But then, I'm different.
You're being ridiculous.
Practicing is not about style; it is a means to an end. The question is: what are your goals?
If you, (meaning anyone, plural you), plan on stepping outside of your home to play music, more than occasionally, and with a degree of success, you must practice material in all 12 keys. If you're playing for your own enjoyment exclusively, please disregard this post.
BTW, ignorance of music theory is not a requisite for "well-developed" ears. Well-developed ears better, (for their own good), understand that the terminology of music theory simply consists of terms that best describe what the ears already hear.....intervals, rhythms, chords, etc.....it is a matter of becoming familiar with the terms that describe what you hear. Exactly how does ignorance of music theory help you to hear better? Care to explain?
Your post reeks of the dubious yet often stated position that knowledge somehow contradicts or inhibits creativity: it's BS........Daryl
 

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I haven't been on SOTW in about a month and I just saw this post, although I wish I hadn't. I was actually tempted not to even dignify such a preposterous attack with a rebuttal. However, since I was asked a direct question, I'll respond, but first with a deep, heavy sigh.

(SIGH)

I suppose that the least painful way to go about this would be to address each argument that you made in order. So first, I never said that one - and, for future reference, if you say "one" instead of "you", you avoid confusion and become more objective - shouldn't practice technical exercises in all 12 keys. On the contrary, I believe that's essential to being equally fluid in all keys. I, however, don't refer to technical exercises as "licks", though. Do you? When I hear someone speak of practicing licks, I think of improvisational patterns, such as for ii-V-I progressions and the like, and that's typically what is meant. This is not necessary and, in some cases, is even detrimental to creativity. The key to complete freedom and flexibility in improvisation is three-fold: 1) Listen to and transcribe as much as you possibly can and, if you can, compose (to expand your ears and develop ideas); 2) Play changes by ear as much as possible and, when practicing, sing pitches, arpeggios, and the like aloud and then try to be as precise as you can in finding them on your instrument (to really connect your ear to your instrument, such that you can find anything you hear in your mind's ear on your instrument); and 3) Develop your technique as much as you can (to allow your fingers to be able to keep up with what you're hearing).

Second, I'm not sure which renaissance_man you think you're addressing or which post you were reading, because I have never advocated an "ignorance of music theory". I have never said that "ignorance of music theory will help you to hear better". I did say that strong ears are more important, and I stand by that, but that doesn't mean that one should do without theory in favor of good ears. That is ridiculous, which is exactly why I didn't say it. In fact, if you were paying attention, I specifically said that "it's important to know theory," so where are you getting this? The point I was trying to make regarding theory is that one can always tell when a player is going through a solo relying completely on theory and what they know works, rather than what they hear. What's bad about that is not that they know theory, but rather that they've chosen thinking as a replacement for hearing in what is an aural tradition. Between the two, it's certainly better to just be able to hear what's happening in the music and say something musical than to be relying solely on the brain, thinking through the changes and playing notes that work.

(Where did the comment about theoretical terminology come from? We weren't even talking about that...)

Lastly, I'm afraid that, once again, you're sorely mistaken. The only thing my post "reeks" of is confidence in and strong conviction about the personal philosophy of someone who feels that music should be more about hearing than thinking - or even speaking, for that matter - and who has a more personal and singular style and approach for it. Perhaps you would be better served by actually paying attention to what someone is saying before you respond. I'm saying that not to be mean, but because you claimed that I said or implied several things of which there is no evidence in my original statements, and I personally find that disturbing. Now, I understand that my concepts and views are quite unorthodox and maybe even heretical in their defiant nonconformity to many tenets of what has become "conventional wisdom", and that's fine. I'm not like other players, and I don't expect you to understand. Just pay attention.
 

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Do whatever it takes to do it. Everyone is going to be different as to what method works the best because we all have a different knowledge base.

Anything new you learn try to relate it to something else you already know. If you know all your scales and chords then you should hae some way to relate it to the licks you want to learn.

I'd even say don't worry about learning it in all keys. Learn it in a the key that you need it in. Get comfortable using it in that tune.
 
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