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Hi and welcome to SOTW.

Man, start putting the notes in the right places and maintain a steady beat. Your band would beat you for playing like this.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'll definitely work on keeping a steady rhythm, but what do you mean by "putting the notes in the right places"? Do you mean I shouldn't do little improvisational things to the head?
 

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I would suggest you listen and play along with the original so you can time it more like Charley Parker. Also is sounds like you may need a slightly harder reed. Your sound is a bit too buzzy and "kazoo-like", no offense meant.
 

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Do you mean I shouldn't do little improvisational things to the head?
No...you shouldn't. Not yet at least. Keep working on it as it is written until you can play through it with better timing and feel. Then move on to a few other heads out of the Omni Book and keep focusing on the timing and feel. Then listen to Parker or Cannonball (a lot) and try to copy what they do. It (that feel) will come with time and lots of practice so keep at it.
 

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Hm, I don't know why my original post got deleted. It said "invalid post" when I tried to edit it.

But I uploaded another one. This time, I played while listening Charlie Parker's recording and I hope my rhythm has improved. Please tell me what I can do in a day to improve this.
http://youtu.be/t9lkKK51mzU
 

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Do you mean I shouldn't do little improvisational things to the head?
No...you shouldn't. Not yet at least. Keep working on it as it is written until you can play through it with better timing and feel.
I agree with minous. You need to have a better feel for the original head before you start adding incidental improv. Not that it's bad to juice up the head a little if you really have command of the original, but you don't have it yet. Listen to the original and try to copy every nuance of it...without any extra improv that you might hear depending on which recording you're listening to. (Parker plays it straight on the Miles Davis version. He does ad-lib just a little on the Birds Nest version, but not nearly as much as you're trying to do. If the melody "as written" is good enough for Charlie Parker, it should be good enough for you). On this particular tune there's really no need to play around with the melody anyway. It's great just the way it is, and there's plenty of room to show off what you can do during the solo choruses.

As far as phrasing...listen to the original and listen to your own again. The places where you're breathing in the middle of a phrase are pretty obvious. In my opinion, when you're playing out of the Omni Book, you really should listen to the original recordings quite a few times before you even attempt to play those transcriptions.
 

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Second take was better, but it's still a little stiff. Try slowing it down some until you can get those triplets smoother and more even...(such as the one near the very end which you sort of stumbled over). And pay particular attention to where you breathe.

I also agree with Honeyboy that your sound is a little "kazoo-like". That's not something you can fix overnight, but a change in setup (reed brand/strength for starters) might be something you want to think about.
 

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Also watch your intonation. You almost blew me out of my chair when you made the first octave change on the head. And then it was fairly loose throughout. You need to nail it down.

Really slow it down and listen to your intervals between each of the pitches in the head. Are you playing true intervals? I'm not wild about what I'm about to suggest because it can be be overdone, but occasionally play a phrase and watch what the needle on your tuner does as you are playing.

As a matter of fact, I suggest you really slow the head down for a number of reasons - pitch, rhythm, phrasing, breathing, precise fingering.
- - and use a metronome.

Oh, regarding the tone, I'm not sure it's so bad. I think this is subjective. Seems to me it's not that far afield of Sonny Criss and he wasn't too shabby a Bird type player.

Don't get the wrong impression from my post. Your playing isn't bad at all. You're definitely on the right track. I'm just direct, that's all. Why pussy-foot around, eh what? :bluewink:
 

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The 2nd video you posted is much better. Good advice here in terms of slowing it down. It's easier for me to pay attention to the details when I slow a piece down a bit. I'd also agree with Gary...internet posts sound a bit harsh and I don't think any of us intend to diminish your playing. It is quite good and will get better and better with some quality time in the shed. Best to you and keep practicing!
 

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My impression: very promising, but, man, you don't sound relaxed. which is not good because you have to be relaxed if you want to fulfil your promises. This applies to all the areas mentioned above (mainly hythm, intonation, your fingers seem to clamp a bit but that may be my impression). To be relaxed while playing, play stuff that is easy for you: that is the feeling you want to have, and then you have to work on having that feeling when playing more difficult stuff. Practice, practice slow at first, practice, practice, practice.


edit: oh, and then: RECORD yourself! If you want to play this like Bird, record it over the original Bird version until it blends REALLY well!!!
 

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+1 Gary. Slow down. It is valuable to learn without embellishments and once you can do that then embellish it.
The interesting bit for me was the vibrato use on the notes. Have you tried playing without? How does that sound? Is there a reason for the vibrato here or is it just added because that is a regular part of playing?

Keep going. 2nd time was definitely better.
 

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breathe so that the phrases make more sense. You are chopping up the melody. This gets a little better with the recording.
Make sure you can sing the melody(with the recording) to help you get the phrasing(where to breathe) and notes (match the pitches with your voice)
Do this at least 20 times until you can get it extremely accurate.
You should be able to hold the phrases correctly with your voice easily. Play long tones to extend your length that you can play.
May I ask why you are playing specifically yardbird suite?
 

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start with something simple and work your way up, instead of doing the opposite. You just don't sound like this is the adequate level of complexity for you right now. IMHO you need to listen a lot and focus on getting a steady "pulse" to your playing. Meaning: you know when some players are just adlibbing a capella and you still hear and feel the rhythm as a whole, solid unit... work on that.
 

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The interesting bit for me was the vibrato use on the notes. Have you tried playing without? How does that sound? Is there a reason for the vibrato here or is it just added because that is a regular part of playing?
I guess it's just a regular part of my playing. I know it's not what Charlie Parker does but it felt strange to change something I was so used to. I'll try playing without it though.

May I ask why you are playing specifically yardbird suite?
It was assigned for my audition.



The main part of the audition is over now. We were actually tested on improvising over the changes of Yardbird Suite and didn't individually play the head, but thanks for all the tips, guys. I'll definitely slow it down and work my way up with the embellishments after I establish my rhythm and phrasing. I never really noticed how I sounded out of breath and choppy until I recorded myself so many times. I have to work on that.

Also, regarding the clamping of my fingers, I noticed that my fingers get really tense when I play fast things such as etudes. Is that not good for my playing? Or does the tenseness just mean that I haven't practiced to the level of when it gets easy?
 

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I guess it's just a regular part of my playing. I know it's not what Charlie Parker does but it felt strange to change something I was so used to. I'll try playing without it though.
Actually, Parker DID use vibrato on Yardbird Suite, but it was much more subtle and relaxed...to the point that you hardly notice it, but it's definitely there. Your vibrato is more pronounced, which may contribute to your playing sounding "nervous".

Also, regarding the clamping of my fingers, I noticed that my fingers get really tense when I play fast things such as etudes. Is that not good for my playing? Or does the tenseness just mean that I haven't practiced to the level of when it gets easy?
If your fingers are tensing at fast tempos it's because you haven't developed the muscle memory yet. Until your fingers have developed the muscle memory for a specific piece of music, your brain is having to work too hard to communicate with your fingers. The best way to develop smooth muscle memory, and the only way in my opinion, is through SLOW, repeated practice. Slow practice isn't only for beginning and intermediate players. Many of the best professionals talk about and USE the slow practice method when working on new music and new ideas. It's not a matter of slowing it down because you're not "good enough"...it's simply the fastest and most effective way to commit things to muscle memory. You can play the same thing over and over again for days or weeks at full tempo and never really get it down right, but if you slow it down and practice methodically, you can get it down in half the time. The problem with practicing at faster tempos is that every MISTAKE you make is committed to muscle memory just as quickly as everything you play right...so the key is to slow it down to the point that you can't make mistakes, and only gradually speed it up after you've played it several dozen times with absolutely no mistakes and with clean, precise timing. When you do start to speed it up, if you start making mistakes again, or if your timing isn't clean and precise, you've sped it up too much or too soon.
 

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All great advice above!

One thing I would suggest that hasn't been pointed out yet, is to memorize the head and play it without reading the notes. It's a fairly simple melody (as all the best melodies are!) and once you commit it to memory, you'll be using your ears instead of reading note-by-note and you should be able to phrase it much more accurately and smoothly. You really don't have a melody down until you can play it without reading it.
 

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ohmyachinglegs, I listened to both takes, and I agree with others here that the second take is better, and also agree with Gary that you should practice this with a metronome.

I would suggest you not do your embellishments to the head, first because you don't have it "nailed" yet, and secondly because it's already such an interesting melody. If you do a "less is more" approach to this head, I think the result will be much better. You don't need to "push". Try approaching the head as if you were playing a love ballad, and let the "bounce" that naturally exists in this melody come through, without trying to create the bounce yourself. If you listen to a recording of such an attempt, you might be pleasantly surprised.

Finally, I think you probably do have a nice tone underneath that "push", if you let it come out.
 
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