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Hi everyone !
I play saxofone for over 8 years and I have the basic and the "hard" of musical theory such as chords, its functions and some modes.
But the question here is: How I start with jazz??
I know many jazz artists and themes and I play them, but I just cant Improvise when soloing, can't play jazz.
Someone can hepl me ?
Regards
Pedro

P.S. sorry for my english:)
 

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Here's a good way to get you improvising:
1. Learn a blues scale: in the key of G that would be G Bb C C# D F G
2. Run the blues scale all around your horn, and try to hear in advance what you are playing. Try to think of it more like singing than playing a saxophone.
3. Get a blues play along CD. Jamey Aebersold makes very nice play along CDs with a full rhythm section for you to play along to. Volume 42 is a 12 bar blues in every key. You can play along to the CD and it will get you more comfortable with the idea of improvising.

Hopefully this is enough to get you started. This definitely is not all you need to do to be a decent improviser, but it will make you understand better what improvising is like. Good luck!
 

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Hi Pedro,
Get yourself the video and book of Barry Harris ( he is a master who played on thousand records and give thousands of musicians inspiration to play and practice).
Also try to find people with who you can play and practice with and do jamsessions.
What i want to say also is i totally disagree with the macintrasher.
Hope you get there
 

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Wow, such an important question and it has so many answers. I guess let me start by saying that the first and foremost thing you must do to start is the same thing you must do to continue.

1.) Listen to music

No matter what you do, you can't play without ideas. This is basicly your version of studying. You can listen to anything and pick something up from it. I do mean anything. Luckily, as long as the world goes on there is more music, so you have an endless supply of material to study. Learn to pay attention to the details of the sounds you are hearing and try to mimic them. This is mainly for facility. When you want to learn a tune, don't just settle for one version. At least listen to three. Youtube is your friend. You really can't utilize your background in theory until you learn to draw correlation between tunes and chord structures. That being said you have to know how to hear them.

2.) Practice Patterns

Notice I didn't say scales. That is too restrictive. Scales are just another pattern and you should practice them in all keys. That means major, minor, diminished, half-dimished, whole tone, pentatonic, blues, bebop, modes, etc... Arpeggios are great to practice as well. All in full range. Again this is only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to patterns. 1-2-3-5, 1-4-5-7, 1-3-4, play thirds, fourths, fifths, sixths, etc forwards, backwards, inside out. This is where you would also practice quotes from improv solos that you like as well. All for technical facility. I have an hour long pattern drill I do where I use an alarm with a five minute snooze. Start in one key and every five minutes transition to another. I play whatever pattern I am working on for 5 minutes solid over and over in the key I am in in full horn range. As for the transitions I practice those too. Som days I do cycle of fourths some days chromaticly, some days I do wholes steps or even thirds.

3.) Learn Tunes

I briefly touched on this above but the next step is to learn some tunes. Undoubtedly, if you are following step one you will probably already know how to sing some tunes. And if you are practicing enough patterns as well, chances are you may be able to hear some of the patterns in some of the tunes and can probably play the melody. If nothing else, through mimicry but that is using your ear so I would definately encourage it. Definately find copies of the music to look at as it can help you understand from a theory standpoint what you are hearing. Just like with patterns, I would suggest learning to play tunes in all keys. Again this is for facility more than actual usage.


You may notice that I did not put anything about transcription down. You will see and hear from time to time about people saying that transcription is a good practice and I think it can be in small doses. I do not think learning an entire solo is necessary as it is not your intention to quote an entire solo. It can be good to learn the style of someone's playing but again that can be covered by using your ear and practicing patterns. I guess I think of improvisation as my ear to yours. When composition must go ear to paper to ear. I know when I was in school people used to talk about improvisation in a very analytical way. We did use the Jamey Abersold recordings. They can help. They are no substitute for the real thing. They can help you discover patterns which you may want to play in your pattern practice without playing them on the gig or in class. No matter what you do you need to get out and get some playing under your belt though.
 

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most importantly, have fun and try to play what sounds good to your ears. In addition to the above ideas, I would try to play along with some of your favorite jazz records. Any instrument, start with something not too complicated maybe some medium tempo blues things...

shawn
 

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Sing some scat, keeping in mind the feel of a certain song (I say this instead of chord progression because technicality doesn't help), and then play on the saxophone what you would sing. Even if you can't sing, you've used your voice much longer than a saxophone.
 

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I'd recommend you get a teacher, at least for a few lessons. All the things recommended here are good tools, but nothing beats the assistance of someone who can show you, step-by-step, how to USE them to learn to play jazz.
 

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Pedro - good luck to you. I'd reccomend starting be transcribing a Lester Young solo and learning to sing it and play it perfectly for perhaps 12 months or so - that should start you off well. If you put it through 12 keys that would be great too.

Also, here are some free excersises off my blog you may find interesting:


http://mattotto.org/
 

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As said by Shawn: first and foremost, have fun! If you are intent on becoming a great jazz player then you may need a good pinch of reality.

There is a presumption that is too often promoted around this and other forums as well as institutions that teach music. It promotes the idea that anyone can become a good/great musician if they study and practice very hard. I don't think this is a reality. Not many people think that if they read a lot or study creative writing that this would somehow imbue them with great ideas to write a book or be a great writer. You could learn to write though.

There is a "paint by the numbers" approach to playing jazz in which you learn a lot of theory, practice a lot of riffs, and then paste these as applicable according to how they fit the chart you are reading or a tune you have memorized. Many do this and are very satisfied with what they play. Unfortunately it may not attract much of an audience, but if this is simply for your own gratification then give it a go.

To be a great or creative in the arts you have to have within you the ideas, emotions as well as the technical facility to communicate these to others. This involves a talent that few of us possess. Have realistic goals, keep your ego in check, and have fun.
 

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You will see and hear from time to time about people saying that transcription is a good practice and I think it can be in small doses. I do not think learning an entire solo is necessary as it is not your intention to quote an entire solo. It can be good to learn the style of someone's playing but again that can be covered by using your ear and practicing patterns.
With all due respect to Saxophone Strange (quoted above), I think that transcription is the single most important thing a developing improvisor can spend time on. This is language acquisition at its foundational level. No different than learning to speak a foreign/secondary language.

And, like speaking, the key to this process is playing. It's not necessary to notate anything at this point in development. Just listen and try to "make your horn do what that guy on the record is making his horn do."

My two cents.

sincerely,
~ Rick
 

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I'm not saying it isn't important to increase your vocabulary. It is extremely important. I just don't think full transcriptions are the best way for that. That is only as a player. I definately believe they are wonderful for theoretical analysis. I have been required to do them by professors and done them before but I gained more out of the approach given me above than I ever did trying to translate to a page. I actually started the analytical way. I floundered that way until I was lucky enough to be invited to a convention by a pianist who was going to play with Ernie Watts. I got sit in on their practices and have lunch with him eventually I got to play some for him. That was who set me up with this method and then over time I understood better what he was talking about. I definately think that the analytical way can work for some people but when I read/hear about someone having issues after studying like so, I generally suggest this method as it works on lyricism and demands you pay attention to your ear. It however gives an unbiased approach to the technical aspect of the horn. After a good bit of practice I was quite amazed at what I could play just from what I heard and understanding the intervals. I think I will always consider myself a developing improvisor just as I will always consider myself a developing composer but I will have to disagree about transcriptions place in the scheme of things. I still believe that listening is and always will be paramount as it promotes musicality. Not certain if you are familiar with it but I woulc definately suggest Hal Galper's book Forward Motion as well for some insight on this concept. It's application is of course up to the reader but I found it rather exemplary.

I do very much think that we are probably arguing semantics though. I just prefer to learn it on my horn and don't need to write it down. Some people prefer to write it down while learning it on their horn. Even still I don't think a whole solo is necessary unless the student does.
 

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Start. The 'How' of it is not as important as the act of starting, even if that something is wrong you'll learn something from it.
 

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I'm not saying it isn't important to increase your vocabulary. It is extremely important. I just don't think full transcriptions are the best way for that. That is only as a player. I definately believe they are wonderful for theoretical analysis.
There has been a communication gap here (not uncommon online, eh?). When I (and many other musicians) use the term "transcription", we simply refer to the act of learning to play something by ear, from a source recording. This is "aural" transcription. I suppose it's not the best term, because there actually isn't any writing-down of music.

The idea is to simply learn to take the sounds you hear, and try to get them to come out of your horn.

No theoretical analysis necessary.

Very straightforward: (1) listen to music (2) try to play what you hear.

The more a person does this: the better he/she will sound on her instrument...the more he/she will internalize the musical syntax... the more he/she will have a good tone... the more he/she will develop a solid rhythmic feel... the more he/she will strengthen the connection between ears and instinct... etc., etc., etc.

This is not an issue of individuality or creativity. This is an issue of language acquisition (and all of the other good stuff I just mentioned). If anything, a case can be made that practicing prescribed patterns stifles creativity more than the musical copycat method I describe above.

sincerely,
~Rick

p.s. anyone interested might check out some of my beginning improvisation videos on YouTube.
 

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To be a great or creative in the arts you have to have within you the ideas, emotions as well as the technical facility to communicate these to others. This involves a talent that few of us possess. Have realistic goals, keep your ego in check, and have fun.[/QUOTE]
 

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We're talking about starting - not advancing. The Abersold book 1 will get you farther faster than anything else. How to put theory to practice, and easy play-alongs with full rhythm section.
 

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To be a great or creative in the arts you have to have within you the ideas, emotions as well as the technical facility to communicate these to others. This involves a talent that few of us possess. Have realistic goals, keep your ego in check, and have fun.
Very well put indeed, Wade.
 

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There's an oft overlooked aspect of jazz improvisation that is rarely discussed (especially in the jazz improv teaching industry) that is:
At some point your imagination has to be responsible for your sound.
You can know all the theory in the world and have good proficiency technically on the horn, but people have to stop looking at jazz improvisation as some kind of trade skill but as an art. That's why when you hear a great player it's so impressive, because that guy got inside what makes a good solo like a sleuth, like a swinging Sherlock Homes, like a Jonas Saulk with manuscript paper, not because he read the right chapters in a method book. Let's face it, the things that will seperate a strong improvisor from another college kid utilizing some kind of stunted scale/mode approach is not gonna be found in a book or some excercises.
 

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There's an oft overlooked aspect of jazz improvisation that is rarely discussed (especially in the jazz improv teaching industry) that is:
At some point your imagination has to be responsible for your sound.
You can know all the theory in the world and have good proficiency technically on the horn, but people have to stop looking at jazz improvisation as some kind of trade skill but as an art. That's why when you hear a great player it's so impressive, because that guy got inside what makes a good solo like a sleuth, like a swinging Sherlock Homes, like a Jonas Saulk with manuscript paper, not because he read the right chapters in a method book. Let's face it, the things that will seperate a strong improvisor from another college kid utilizing some kind of stunted scale/mode approach is not gonna be found in a book or some excercises.
I couldn't agree more. Some of the greatist improvisers had very limited formal training or exposure to theory. Chet Baker and Bix Beiderbecke for example.
 
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