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  #46  
Old 09-10-2013, 06:02 PM
RareBird RareBird is offline
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I started going to jazz concerts in high school with my very knowledgeable friends in 1971. I've seen a lot of greats. I still haven't a clue. It's made for live experience because it's daring music where often each musician is put on the spot to do something inventive without a mistake. It comes from a time where horns were big and guitars were small. I think the most enjoyable and artistic jazz show i attended (beside the Newport Jazz festival which was a real smorgasbord of jazz offerings) was Sun Ra live at the Public Theater in NYC. They really took you somewhere worth going and it wasn't just a duel of saxophonists or coronet and trombone players. My fave jazz musican was dead before i was born. I thought Art Tatum was like Davinci in terms of changing how it was done into something no one thought you could do. But a lot of Jazz guys broke ground like that. I just find the piano so much more pleasing than sax jazz. Just sharing. I have no insights on how to break into jazz guitar. I have jammed with jazz improvisationists as a bass player and faked it enough to get some aplause. But that's about it.
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  #47  
Old 09-11-2013, 02:38 AM
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It's made for live experience because it's daring music where often each musician is put on the spot to do something inventive without a mistake.
Exactly right - except the bit about the mistake! As Miles Davis said: "do not fear wrong notes; there are none."
Meaning - if you play a bad note, that's a challenge to make it right. Jazz musicians don't plan every single note they play; sometimes they shoot for something, and miss. The best players know what to do when that happens, how to turn it around.
If you play a bad note again (2 or 3 times), it often sounds better - because it's less surprising, and makes it sound intentional; so the ear struggles to work out how it might fit.
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I think the most enjoyable and artistic jazz show i attended (beside the Newport Jazz festival which was a real smorgasbord of jazz offerings) was Sun Ra live at the Public Theater in NYC. They really took you somewhere worth going
Yes. Any good jazz performance should do that.
Listening to CDs is all very well, as an educational experience, but it's not real jazz. It's "dead". Jazz performance is supposed to be a one off, not something to be exactly repeated. You can only really appreciate it in a live context, and ideally in a small club or dance hall. It was never meant to be an academic music, an intellectual music where you sit politely stroking your chin.
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I have jammed with jazz improvisationists as a bass player and faked it enough to get some aplause. But that's about it.
Pretty much me too. On guitar or bass, I've always felt like I've faked it enough to get by. Enjoyed the experience of playing alongside real jazz musicians (one or two of them close friends).

If I gave advice on how to get into jazz, it would be like a non-swimmer explaining how to get into a swimming pool: "well, I guess you dip a toe in first..." I've paddled around the shallow end, but I can only stare in awe at those who cruise around effortlessly with their feet off the bottom, or dive off the high board...
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  #48  
Old 09-11-2013, 07:59 AM
JanVigne JanVigne is offline
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"It's made for live experience ... "


From the viewpoint of someone who for decades has sold and owned high end home audio systems, this is true of all music. Even taking into account the most transparent systems with the greatest focus in imaging and soundstaging, a recording remains a poor substitute for the live experience.




"They really took you somewhere worth going ... "


Ditto the above.




"If I gave advice on how to get into jazz, it would be like a non-swimmer explaining how to get into a swimming pool: 'well, I guess you dip a toe in first...'"



How to "get into jazz" ...


Start at the beginning, know where this music came from.

Move to the most contemporary, several dozen styles to choose from here.

Find your place in the middle, hundreds of options now.

This, like all art, must communicate to you as an individual. If you attend a performance of The Ghost Sonata and it means nothing to you, don't write off several thousand years of live theatre. If Miles Davis leaves you perplexed, try Billie Holiday.

Above all else, find the artists and the styles which touch your mind and your soul. Unless you just must know things such as on a molecular level why a brisket must be cooked slow and low, don't overthink the whole thing.
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  #49  
Old 09-11-2013, 12:12 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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As I read this thread, my reaction is that the discussion is entirely detached from the OP's question. He asked for a way to start hearing what is going on in jazz, and got told that he has to master harmony, master the fretboard, master the tunes, go modal, and then go transmodal, and make it a life's work. Preferably on an old D'Angelico. Wow, how encouraging.

I'm going to simplify rather than complexify. Forget modes. Forget free improvisation. Listen to tunes that are songs--what was called "jazz" up to the mid 60's. 95% of these are in major keys. And to make it easy, there are functionally only two chords: tonic and dominant, i.e., the I chord (major) and the V7 chord (dominant). The complexity comes from the keys changing within the song, and additional (but non-essential) notes being added to the chords. When people improvise on these songs, they are following the chord progression of the song, over and over. It goes 'round in circles.

Whenever you see a major chord without the dominant 7 (that's the 7th you have been using to play blues, a half tone below the major scale's 7th) it's a I chord; usually with the major 6th or major 7th added. Every minor chord, diminished or half diminished chord, or dominant 7th chord (that includes all the 9,11, 13, etc. which are just V7 chords with some notes added) is a dominant chord. So as you listen, what you hear is mainly a series of dominant to tonic resolutions, but the keys are changing--usually moving up in 4ths or down in whole tones. Each new key gets introduced by its dominant chord. Sometimes that resolves to the tonic, other times it just moves up a fourth to another dominant chord. When you can hear the chords change you can hear the flow and logic of the music. That more than anything else is the key to hearing what is going on.

Even easier: Each dominant chord only has two significant notes: the third and the seventh. When the dominant resolves to the tonic, its third goes up a half tone to the root of the tonic chord, and its 7th goes down a half step to the third of the tonic chord. The tonic chord is characterized by these two notes, its root and third, except you can leave out the root, so it's even simpler: the tonic chord can be signified by its third alone, so long is there is no dominant 7th played along with it.

The b5 or "tritone" substitution is a bit of a complication. It means that any dominant chord is really two different dominant chords a b5 apart. That's because the 3rd and the dominant 7th are a b5 apart, no matter which you start with--either one can be called the 3rd and the other the 7th. But don't worry about this for now.

The point is that you don't need to master the fretboard or modern diatonic harmony (which IMO is really classical harmony streamlined a bit), or modal or postmodal or transmodal stuff to hear jazz. You are listening to a series of just two chords, major and dominant, each of which can be sufficiently indicated by just two notes, or less.

You might try listening to songs with the chord chart for them in front of you, so you can follow more easily that the players are moving through the chords in order.

The next thing I would add in is that the dominant chord is most often in two parts: the iim7 chord and the V7 chord. That strengthens the sense of movement, because iim7 to V7 is also a movement in fourths. But I'm trying to get it down to essentials.

Regarding rhythm, the essence of jazz is that it swings, and that means that it's based on eighth notes with the note that falls on the beat (the downbeat) getting a longer time than the one that falls off the beat (the upbeat) even though both are written as eighth notes. This also generates movement--it has a kind of loping along feel. Many people think that the swing feel is what sets jazz apart from other music, more than anything else. Whether music that does not employ swing rhythm should be called jazz is a subject of semantic debate. Don't worry about it.

Another thing, not needed for hearing jazz: there was/is no blues without the dominant 7th chord, which comes from white guy music.
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Last edited by Howard Klepper; 09-11-2013 at 02:11 PM.
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  #50  
Old 09-11-2013, 01:18 PM
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I would add to Howard’s excellent post (and some earlier posts by Jeff) that the “color notes” (3rd and 7th) are in practice quite important in jazz because your friend the bassist (you know, the guy who hangs out with the drummer ) is frequently playing the root of the chord. When heard together, it actually sounds like music.
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Old 09-11-2013, 02:07 PM
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My post on the modal (and postmodal) issue arised mostly in relation to another subject (probably, that of composing music in general); i´ve posted it just because i probably would have said that some complexity within jazz (either jazz to be heard or to be composed) rests there, but it was indeed about a sort of secondary topic...
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  #52  
Old 09-11-2013, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post

The point is that you don't need to master the fretboard...
I can't believe anyone would advocate that...I strongly disagree.
Anyone, who seriously wants to learn an instrument must know, really know, the basics of the instrument.
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Old 09-11-2013, 03:51 PM
IndianaGeo IndianaGeo is offline
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Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
As I read this thread, my reaction is that the discussion is entirely detached from the OP's question. He asked for a way to start hearing what is going on in jazz, and got told that he has to master harmony, master the fretboard, master the tunes, go modal, and then go transmodal, and make it a life's work. Preferably on an old D'Angelico. Wow, how encouraging.

I'm going to simplify rather than complexify. Forget modes. Forget free improvisation. Listen to tunes that are songs--what was called "jazz" up to the mid 60's. 95% of these are in major keys. And to make it easy, there are functionally only two chords: tonic and dominant, i.e., the I chord (major) and the V7 chord (dominant). The complexity comes from the keys changing within the song, and additional (but non-essential) notes being added to the chords. When people improvise on these songs, they are following the chord progression of the song, over and over. It goes 'round in circles.

Whenever you see a major chord without the dominant 7 (that's the 7th you have been using to play blues, a half tone below the major scale's 7th) it's a I chord; usually with the major 6th or major 7th added. Every minor chord, diminished or half diminished chord, or dominant 7th chord (that includes all the 9,11, 13, etc. which are just V7 chords with some notes added) is a dominant chord. So as you listen, what you hear is mainly a series of dominant to tonic resolutions, but the keys are changing--usually moving up in 4ths or down in whole tones. Each new key gets introduced by its dominant chord. Sometimes that resolves to the tonic, other times it just moves up a fourth to another dominant chord. When you can hear the chords change you can hear the flow and logic of the music. That more than anything else is the key to hearing what is going on.

Even easier: Each dominant chord only has two significant notes: the third and the seventh. When the dominant resolves to the tonic, its third goes up a half tone to the root of the tonic chord, and its 7th goes down a half step to the third of the tonic chord. The tonic chord is characterized by these two notes, its root and third, except you can leave out the root, so it's even simpler: the tonic chord can be signified by its third alone, so long is there is no dominant 7th played along with it.

The b5 or "tritone" substitution is a bit of a complication. It means that any dominant chord is really two different dominant chords a b5 apart. That's because the 3rd and the dominant 7th are a b5 apart, no matter which you start with--either one can be called the 3rd and the other the 7th. But don't worry about this for now.

The point is that you don't need to master the fretboard or modern diatonic harmony (which IMO is really classical harmony streamlined a bit), or modal or postmodal or transmodal stuff to hear jazz. You are listening to a series of just two chords, major and dominant, each of which can be sufficiently indicated by just two notes, or less.

You might try listening to songs with the chord chart for them in front of you, so you can follow more easily that the players are moving through the chords in order.

The next thing I would add in is that the dominant chord is most often in two parts: the iim7 chord and the V7 chord. That strengthens the sense of movement, because iim7 to V7 is also a movement in fourths. But I'm trying to get it down to essentials.

Regarding rhythm, the essence of jazz is that it swings, and that means that it's based on eighth notes with the note that falls on the beat (the downbeat) getting a longer time than the one that falls off the beat (the upbeat) even though both are written as eighth notes. This also generates movement--it has a kind of loping along feel. Many people think that the swing feel is what sets jazz apart from other music, more than anything else. Whether music that does not employ swing rhythm should be called jazz is a subject of semantic debate. Don't worry about it.

Another thing, not needed for hearing jazz: there was/is no blues without the dominant 7th chord, which comes from white guy music.
Wow.. Nice succinct summary here. Thanks Howard (and everyone)! I didn't expect so many replies. I love this thread. Seriously, I mean, you guys take time out of your day to really, really help. I'm deeply grateful. I've learned more about jazz here than I ever have in my entire life.

Howard, I literally grabbed my guitar and started playing around with tonic and dominant chords to see how the 3rd and 7th's resolve from the dominant to the tonic (i.e. up from the 3rd of the dominant to the root of the tonic and down from the 7th of the dominant to the 3rd of the tonic). This is perhaps obvious to some of you out there, but I've never quite looked at it this way before. I just played.. you know.

I also found some enlightenment from viewing the old Hot Licks Joe Pass video (I found it, and the Emily Remler one, on YouTube). With all of the AGF posts here, and those videos, I'm getting a much, much better sense about what's going on. The "fear", if you will, is starting to dissipate a bit. This isn't to say that I could go out there and hold my own with a jazz band, but I think I could, on the fly, execute more substitutions in my playing--and this is a good thing, a good start. Going to have to break out the metronome as well. Indispensable. I feel like I'm rediscovering playing again...yet another musical avenue to travel down.


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  #54  
Old 09-11-2013, 04:42 PM
Howard Klepper Howard Klepper is offline
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I can't believe anyone would advocate that...I strongly disagree.
Anyone, who seriously wants to learn an instrument must know, really know, the basics of the instrument.
Quote my whole sentence instead of a snippet and then tell me what is wrong with it.
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:36 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
The point is that you don't need to master the fretboard or modern diatonic harmony (which IMO is really classical harmony streamlined a bit), or modal or postmodal or transmodal stuff to hear jazz. You are listening to a series of just two chords, major and dominant, each of which can be sufficiently indicated by just two notes, or less.
FWIW, I agree - although it doesn't only apply to jazz .
The I-V relationship - or maybe more important, the I-V7 relationship - is the kernel of functional harmony, the stuff all western music is based on.(At least, to be precise, the major-minor key system that's dominated western music for a few centuries.)

So (if you don't mind me embellishing your theme in a kind of jazz improv way ), the idea is to hear how chord progressions work: how chords are not isolated entities, but lead from one to another by the mechanism of voice-leading. 3rd>7th, 7th>3rd.
The tonic-dominant contrast is of course embellished with other passing chords, but the V7-I tension-release is what drives the engine.

Jazz plays around with that concept in slightly different ways from other key-based musics, of course - in particular in the habitual use of 7th chords of all kinds (very limited use of triads).
But the main thing that separates jazz from other western music is the governing role of improvisation. Improvisation is not just one element of jazz, it's really the whole point. Without improvisation, it isn't jazz. (Although there's a valid debate about big band jazz...)

Classical music - in the baroque era - also included improvisation, and of course folk music of all kinds is partly improvised. But in traditional western music education (esp of the classical kind) improvisation was practically outlawed. You weren't supposed to take a Mozart or Beethoven piece and just jam on it, make up new tunes to the chord progression; that was emphatically NOT the point! The Genius-Master had a Vision to impart to us lesser folk, and woe betide anyone who thought they could mess with it or improve on it.
Jazz - along with all African American music - helped (or at least attempted to) liberate us from the Romantic genius myth. (Not that the great classical composers weren't great; but they don't have a monopoly on composition.)

Sorry, ranting again...
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Regarding rhythm, the essence of jazz is that it swings, and that means that it's based on eighth notes with the note that falls on the beat (the downbeat) getting a longer time than the one that falls off the beat (the upbeat) even though both are written as eighth notes. This also generates movement--it has a kind of loping along feel. Many people think that the swing feel is what sets jazz apart from other music, more than anything else. Whether music that does not employ swing rhythm should be called jazz is a subject of semantic debate. Don't worry about it.
Agreed again.
Hal Galper makes good points about jazz rhythm - ie where it comes from:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a2XnB5G6oSc
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Originally Posted by Howard Klepper View Post
Another thing, not needed for hearing jazz: there was/is no blues without the dominant 7th chord, which comes from white guy music.
Not sure what point you're making here about hearing jazz, but I disagree on the other part (maybe I'm misunderstanding you?).
Of course it depends how we define "Blues", but IMO it exists quite happily without the dominant 7th chord, indeed without any chords at all.
I agree (of course) the chord comes from "white guy music". But blues - or at least its essence - existed before they thought of adding white guy's chords to it.
Naturally, blues as we know it now is hard to imagine without its collection of dom7s. The dom7 chord does happen to express something of the blues sound - it was certainly a useful add-on to the "black guy music" it began as.
Here's some blues with no dom7 chord:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MI2CK1u2wu8
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mIaPkunqSWs
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MH4metotdRk

- of course I guess one can argue that these aren't "blues" as such, but "folk" or "gospel" or some such: examples of the kinds of music that evolved into "blues". I'd be OK with that. One could actually define "blues" as "a music employing non-functioning dom7 chords" - ie, no dom7s? it ain't blues, it must be something else - and solve the question!

Apologies for minor thread hijack...
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Old 09-12-2013, 02:50 AM
JonPR JonPR is offline
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I can't believe anyone would advocate that...I strongly disagree.
Anyone, who seriously wants to learn an instrument must know, really know, the basics of the instrument.
That wasn't what Howard was saying.
The point was not about "seriously learning one's instrument". It was about how to understand jazz by listening.

Of course, to play jazz, then yes one needs a degree of competence on one's instrument. But you can still play (some) jazz without "mastery" of the fretboard. Jazz doesn't really require greater technical skill than other music. There is some very simple jazz, that is pretty easily understood and not too difficult to play.
The difficulty with jazz is the demands of improvisation, which is more of an intellectual/mental problem than a technical skill one. Improvisation means you need ideas - you need to make a creative input. Just learning the notes isn't enough. (Certainly "mastery of the fretboard" is not enough on its own.)
You have to listen to a lot of jazz, you have to have an idea of the history, you have to get the attitude and the principles, the point of jazz performance. Of course that applies to most kinds of music, but in jazz you have to have something you want to contribute, of yourself. You need an opinion on the theme. If you have that, you can get by with only minimal technical skill (although you will soon get frustrated, no doubt).
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Old 09-12-2013, 10:46 AM
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Jon, at the minimum, fretboard knowledge ('mastery' is just another word for it) should be required for all types of guitar music, even for people who just want to dabble...it's elementary, IMO. Could be that I probably look at it a little more serious than others do.
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Old 09-12-2013, 11:18 AM
IndianaGeo IndianaGeo is offline
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Jon, at the minimum, fretboard knowledge ('mastery' is just another word for it) should be required for all types of guitar music, even for people who just want to dabble...it's elementary, IMO. Could be that I probably look at it a little more serious than others do.
In this vein, what do we mean by 'knowing' or having 'mastery' of the fretboard? For example, I can point out any note on the fretboard, but it might take me a second because I might base it off of patterns relative to, say, the low E or whatever. Can I point out a 5th or a 9th immediately after forming a chord? I doubt it. How do we define mastering the freboard? Thanks.

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Old 09-12-2013, 12:19 PM
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Jon, at the minimum, fretboard knowledge ('mastery' is just another word for it) should be required for all types of guitar music, even for people who just want to dabble...it's elementary, IMO. Could be that I probably look at it a little more serious than others do.
I'm only saying that one can make a start with less than complete fretboard knowledge. (I'd define "mastery" as complete knowledge; a professional standard.)
You don't have to know the fretboard thoroughly before you can begin improvising - even in jazz.
Of course, without total knowledge your improvisation will be limited, rudimentary. But it can still be "jazz". You can play some great phrases with only a few notes, in only one place on the fretboard. Ear, rhythm, feel, imagination, jazz attitude, is what counts.
I'm not advocating low standards! The better one knows one's instrument, the better one can play, that goes without saying.
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Old 09-12-2013, 12:40 PM
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Again, I think the distinction needs to be made between "academic" knowledge and "intuitive" knowledge.

And to parphrase Bill Evans again, "Intuition has to lead knowledge, but it can't be out there on it's own. Most of solving a problem is knowing what the problem is."

I might have ruffled some feathers with the non-negotiables I mentioned...but I'm not referring to them as prerequisites to playing music...
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