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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).
I have to agree with this as far as my personal experience goes. Whenever I tried thinking "licks", it always seemed detrimental for my practicing/learning, but it seems to be helpful for others.

Without pushing anyone into agreeing with this (but I'm sure many do), I would really advice the topic's starter to try seeing it in a "systemic" manner: Because, learning to relate different notes in different contexts (for example, keys, chord changes, styles of music, etc.), and being fluent at this, helps improvising in a free, intuitive, may I say playful way, and most importantly: not get 'stuck' repeting licks "where it fits".

Of course, practice many times should differ from "actual playing", BUT excercising your ears in this systemic (or organic) way of playing with relationships between notes WILL transfer to your improvised playing and I specially agree with renassaince_man here: it WILL show!

In a systemic approach to playing you take each note not separate but as a part of an intricate web of relations. So, you learn to understand that the note C can adopt so many different shapes wether the context it's being played on changes. It's never the same C. And you must get comfortable with the different relations the note C has and how they sound. It's not that you just comprehend that the 4th note is a half step from the 3th note in the lick, you need to comprehend what the relationships between the notes in this structure "means"=sounds like. If the lick you like to understand seems hard, break it down into subsystems to comprehend the relationships.

Now, rather than practicing 'licks', try practicing different intervals in different keys and contexts, try mixing them, try making varied structures of intervals (this is what a 'lick' tends to be, anyway) and varying the context, etc.

Keys are also structures of intervals, so you can play around with this idea a lot. The sound is always in the relationship between elements of the system.

Lastly, I don't believe thinking while playing is entirely wrong, sometimes thinking about trying something different than what first comes to your fingers actually has some very good results, and it can be the step towards innovation in that particular time. To example this: I was once improvising on a "modal" reggae tune, my ear was feeling a little too "conventional" as far as my ideas, so for a second I thought about varying certain elements to give me a new direction (just as a fist step) and it brought me fun results :)

In this example, thinking was used to get out of "what works" instead of looking for it to be safe. I believe in learning to not be safe! :D

--I'm sorry for the long post! Good luck!

nico
 

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I'm pretty sure I don't have a clue but hum a few bars and I'll play something that won't get us fired... :)
 

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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.
Read my post. It's a response to your post. We disagree.
You said: "How do I approach practicing licks in all 12 keys? I don't. My approach is more...organic"
I think this is ridiculous. Still.
Peace.......Daryl
 

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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.....................
Why would you ever think of G# major?
8 sharps is a lot, and F double# ! ...
II V I = A#-7 D#7 G#∆. (You might find this one in a real book, charts are often written by some guitarist LOL)
I mean in that case, there is really 21 keys... !?
Like A# major with 10 sharps, B#∆ with 12 sharps, Cb∆=7 flats, Fb∆=8flats etc. ...
My personal idea is to keep things simple, 12 major keys is enough for most jazz musicians...
C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, F#, B, E, A, D, G.
 
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