Sax on the Web Forum banner
1 - 15 of 15 Posts

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,870 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I used to have a lot of trouble with memorizing licks, until I found out I should not expect it to "stick" by playing it a lot but I should to try to actively learn stuff.

It's going a lot better now but I'm not sure if I'm doing enough.

For example: I'm currently practicing 2 of greg fishman's etudes (elston avenue and stony island avenue form jazz etudes part 3), Elston avenue is particularly hard(208 bpm) so I'm playing it a lot anyway.

Should I try to memorize all of it? I want to "train" my memory to memorize stuff more easily

How long does it take you to learn a lick in twelve keys?

Thank you!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,256 Posts
everybody has a different learning curve.....have you memorized your scales yet??i mean do you really know all keys?? then how can you play a lick in all 12 keys??? i get more mileage out of certain solos and tunes ive learned than everything else...so i guess id say if it really speaks to you,,then learn it...memorize EVERYTHING?? thats a tall order

funny,when i was 12 i went to the KOOL jazz festival...it was my first time seeing many greats...and i still remember that as i watched Art Farmer,Paquito....I couldnt just enjoy the music...I was trying to memorize every lick as they played it...of course I didnt

my playing always seems to go back to my top "pet" licks

while studying at Eastman it was said MANY times...if you want to be a Jazz legend ,develop 10 original 2-5-1s of your own
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,870 Posts
Discussion Starter · #3 ·
everybody has a different learning curve.....have you memorized your scales yet??i mean do you really know all keys?? then how can you play a lick in all 12 keys??? i get more mileage out of certain solos and tunes ive learned than everything else...so i guess id say if it really speaks to you,,then learn it...memorize EVERYTHING?? thats a tall order

funny,when i was 12 i went to the KOOL jazz festival...it was my first time seeing many greats...and i still remember that as i watched Art Farmer,Paquito....I couldnt just enjoy the music...I was trying to memorize every lick as they played it...of course I didnt

my playing always seems to go back to my top "pet" licks

while studying at Eastman it was said MANY times...if you want to be a Jazz legend ,develop 10 original 2-5-1s of your own
Depends on what you call really memorize but I can play all major and minor keys up down across the range and in 3rds and fourths (5ths 6ths and 7ths is harder but possible). I know my dim and whole tone scales. But for me scales are just technical exercises.
 

·
Out of Office
Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
Joined
·
30,105 Posts
Yes, it can be good to memorise as much as possible, as long as you are doing it efficiently.

Or are you just trying to memorise by remembering the notes while repeating over and over?

If so this is a poor method IMO.

For short licks it's better to analyse and remember intervals between notes and/or their relation to the root. For longer pieces you need to analyse the form or structure, look out for repeated melodic motifs, developed motifs (developed either melodically or rhythmically), melodic contours and melodic sequences. This way you remember a motif, then just recall that and add the development to it.

An example of a sequence:

C E F E | D F G F

Different intervals, but the sequence uses the same melodic contour and transposes diatonically, ie within the C scale rather than being a direct transposition up a tone, which would be:

C E F E | D F# G F#

That's an example of the way my mind is working when I memorise.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,870 Posts
Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Yes, it can be good to memorise as much as possible, as long as you are doing it efficiently.

Or are you just trying to memorise by remembering the notes while repeating over and over?

If so this is a poor method IMO.

For short licks it's better to analyse and remember intervals between notes and/or their relation to the root. For longer pieces you need to analyse the form or structure, look out for repeated melodic motifs, developed motifs (developed either melodically or rhythmically), melodic contours and melodic sequences. This way you remember a motif, then just recall that and add the development to it.

An example of a sequence:

C E F E | D F G F

Different intervals, but the sequence uses the same melodic contour and transposes diatonically, ie within the C scale rather than being a direct transposition up a tone, which would be:

C E F E | D F# G F#

That's an example of the way my mind is working when I memorise.
It's hard to explain, I just play it once(or twice if it's harder) from paper en then I look away and play it about 5 times without looking at the paper. I think i remember it by the overall feel of the pattern. I think I do single out the starting note of each chord(in II-v-I's) and figure out if it's a third of fifth etc. Your advice sounds like a good idea thank you^^
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,772 Posts
To answer the question: YES.

But there is a lot of knowledge that will help. Pete's method works for me also:

An example of a sequence:

C E F E | D F G F

Different intervals, but the sequence uses the same melodic contour and transposes diatonically, ie within the C scale rather than being a direct transposition up a tone, which would be:

C E F E | D F# G F#

That's an example of the way my mind is working when I memorise.
I tend to think in numbers when transposing, so the second sequence (direct transposition) in Pete's quote above, to my mind would be:

1 3 4 3

Once I memorize that, I can play it in all 12 keys, and I only had to remember '1 3 4 3.' Of course this assumes you have already fully memorized all 12 major scales (in this example).
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,870 Posts
Discussion Starter · #7 ·
To answer the question: YES.

But there is a lot of knowledge that will help. Pete's method works for me also:

I tend to think in numbers when transposing, so the second sequence (direct transposition) in Pete's quote above, to my mind would be:

1 3 4 3

Once I memorize that, I can play it in all 12 keys, and I only had to remember '1 3 4 3.' Of course this assumes you have already fully memorized all 12 major scales (in this example).
Yes I memorized them, The problem for me with the nr thing is that it doesn't work when you have a lick with a lot of chromatics.
 

·
Out of Office
Grafton + TH & C alto || Naked Lady 10M || TT soprano || Martin Comm III
Joined
·
30,105 Posts
Yes I memorized them, The problem for me with the nr thing is that it doesn't work when you have a lick with a lot of chromatics.
Good point, it gets harder the more chromatic notes, but the better you get your theory knowledge and are able to analyse extensions and alterations, the easier it is to memorise the more complex stuff.

However along with the numbers you may need to think the alterations, b13 etc or remember snatches of scales. So on a G7, I would think of G F# F E D Db as part of a a descending bebop scale ending on b5.

The problem comes when something is completely atonal.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
I used to have a lot of trouble with memorizing licks, until I found out I should not expect it to "stick" by playing it a lot but I should to try to actively learn stuff.

It's going a lot better now but I'm not sure if I'm doing enough.

For example: I'm currently practicing 2 of greg fishman's etudes (elston avenue and stony island avenue form jazz etudes part 3), Elston avenue is particularly hard(208 bpm) so I'm playing it a lot anyway.

Should I try to memorize all of it? I want to "train" my memory to memorize stuff more easily

How long does it take you to learn a lick in twelve keys?

Thank you!
It depends. One lick one chord? Most of the time I can smoothly play it around the cycle in about 5 minutes or less. Unless it is has a lot of accidentals, then it might take me 7. If it's a 4 bar phrase I can get there in about 10 minutes. Technical exercises (and transposition) like this are pretty easy for me and I think it's one of my strong suits. My trouble is using it spontaneously in a musical (not contrived way).

I have been practicing this kind of thing for years and make it part of my daily warm up routine. Most of the time it's just licks, I have taken bebop heads around the cycle too. I put the lick in the context of the key or the chord and understand the numbers. I, IV, Vs...and 1, 2, 3s. Once I have this understanding, putting it in another key is actually easy.

How simple is "Mary had a Little Lamb?" I bet you could do that in all keys once you realized it's just Mi Re Do Re Mi Mi Mi; 3212333. So, my suggestion is to start short, start small, start simple, but start.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
Depends on what you call really memorize but I can play all major and minor keys up down across the range and in 3rds and fourths (5ths 6ths and 7ths is harder but possible). I know my dim and whole tone scales. But for me scales are just technical exercises.
Yes, playing scales is a technical exercise. But musical ideas (licks) are often based on scales. If you know (cold) the intervallic structure of the common scales (which it sounds like you do) then you will be able to relate it to a musical passage.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2016
Joined
·
4,881 Posts
Yes I memorized them, The problem for me with the nr thing is that it doesn't work when you have a lick with a lot of chromatics.
Yes, accidentals/chromatics are tougher, but the chromatic note is either just above or just below the chord tone or diatonic note. Remembering one of two things can't be that difficult can it?

Start simpler if it seems like too much. Try the first four bars of "Take the A Train". Then the second four.... Invest small, then you will start seeing the benefits of compound interest.
 

·
Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
2,870 Posts
Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Wow thanks that's great advice! I used to play simple songs by ear through all 12 keys but i got a bit lazy. My ability to transpose is not that great, so maybe that's why it's taking me longer because I have to learn 12 separate things.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,772 Posts
The problem for me with the nr thing is that it doesn't work when you have a lick with a lot of chromatics.
Sure it does. As hgiles pointed out, the chromatic tones are either a half step above (sharped) or half step below (flatted) those numbered tones. So, you have a b2, b3 (#2), #4 (b5), b6 (#5), b7. That's all of them. If you're talking about chord extensions, then of course the b2 will be a b9, #4 is #11, etc.

None of this will work until you know the diatonic tones COLD. In any given key, you need to be able to instantly identify every scale degree. So, for example, in the key of F# major, you need to know that the 3 is A#, the 4 is B, the 5 is C#, and so on. In that case, obviously the b3 will be an A, the b5 is C, etc.

I'm not saying this is the end of the process, or the only way to go about it. But it will help you to 'memorize' in a systematic fashion. Eventually, you just do it without a lot of thinking getting in your way.

p.s. I should also add that the goal is to be able to "hear" all those tones. You're actually hearing the intervals, but you'll hear a b5 or the 3, etc, in relation to the tonal center. All of which will help you pick out the right tones to a melody and help you remember that melody or phrase.
 

·
SOTW Columnist, Distinguished SOTW Member
Joined
·
23,772 Posts
My ability to transpose is not that great, so maybe that's why it's taking me longer because I have to learn 12 separate things.
Try working with that number system and you won't need to learn 12 separate things. Of course, on the sax each key has a different feel, in part due to the different fingerings, so that will always be an adjustment. But mentally and from an auditory standpoint, the same phrase is the same in every key. If you can hear it and identify it mentally, you can find it on your horn more easily.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
33 Posts
Yes I memorized them, The problem for me with the nr thing is that it doesn't work when you have a lick with a lot of chromatics.
I usually tend to use a combination of scale degree/number and intervals, as well as any possible scale patterns or arpeggios. I.E., when I learned (ii-V-I in C) AFDCBDFAbG, I thought of it as starting on the 5th of the ii chord and just being a minor triad down, then down the scale two notes, and then a fully diminished arpeggio that resolves down a half step. I know that kind of seems complicated, but it's what works for me. After learning the first four or five, the rest of them seem much easier. I also think of any repeated patterns that occur on different tones (someone said this earlier but I can't find the post); this really helps me with the more chromatic licks. I'm actually having trouble adding ii chords to V7s in my head (I can do the other way around pretty well) when sight-reading; if I see a G7 it takes me a little too long to think Dmin.
 
1 - 15 of 15 Posts
Top