How do you guys go about mesmerizing changes for jazz tunes?

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by cantstoplt021, Mar 11, 2015.

  1. cantstoplt021

    cantstoplt021 Member

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    As a beginning jazz player one of the things I have a hard time with is memorizing the changes for tunes. There's a big difference between a 7 chord rock song and a jazz tune with 25 different chords, which can be changed and substituted and all that jazz. I'm amazed by my teachers ability to play a whole bunch of tunes by memory all while comping in very interesting ways all while keeping a great groove. How do you guys go about memorizing the changes to tunes? What about if you need to change keys for a singer or something like that?
     
  2. amstrtatnut

    amstrtatnut Member

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    ok take this with a grain of salt cause Ive never been really good at jazz.


    Im guessing unless youre a total beginner you could play Johnny B. Goode without too much trouble. Its in guitar dna.

    So jazz tunes are still tunes. They are songs. Its not good enough to memorize the changes. You have to get inside the song. When its in your dna....memorization is a non issue.

    Plus if you play enough jazz you recognize patterns and common chord progressions just like in rock.
     
  3. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    exactly
    to the op, check this out: http://www.ralphpatt.com/VBook.html
     
  4. EDS

    EDS Supporting Member

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    To echo what's been said, basically the more tunes you memorize and play, the easier it is to memorize more quickly.

    I distincly remember that the first jazz songs seemed like they take forever to learn.

    Eventually you get to the point where you can memorize changes in one or two passes through a song.
     
  5. gdane4

    gdane4 Supporting Member

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    I've been going through this also. Jazz lessons about 3 years now. This works best for me:

    I listen to lots of versions of the songs, paying particular attention to the melody. I try to hum the melody. Vocal versions are great for melodies also (really any instrument of course).

    I then learn the bass notes first for the progression and try to get familiar with the movement

    Play the bass notes with the recordings.

    Then throw in some chords on top. Or lots of chords.

    Then if playing/practicing with a trio/group, eventually drop the bass notes and just play chord fragments for comping, always "hearing" the bass line/progression in your head/in the background (which is still very hard for me to keep up on many songs).

    Learn the melody over the chords.

    If you can figure the song out without the charts you'll remember the song much better IMO.

    That being said, I almost always need the charts for the progression, repeats and changes, but can get most of the melody without relying on the chart.

    It's always a work in progress, but the journey has been very enjoyable!

    Enjoy the music, hum the melodies and listen to as much jazz as you can.
     
  6. GLB98

    GLB98 Member

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    Mesmerizing - is that like hypnotizing?
     
  7. landru64

    landru64 Member

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    mesmerizing is another term for reharm :)
     
  8. GovernorSilver

    GovernorSilver Member

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    Well, you memorize the tune itself. This comes naturally from listening to the tune over and over again, instead of just once a week because teacher told to do so. Of course it's easiest when you listen to a more straightforward performance of a tune, like an older recording of "All The Things You Are" vs. Pat Metheny and a sax player playing it as a duet without anybody playing backing chords, both of them substituting and whatnot like crazy. And you better listen to a classic recording of the tune, not just have BIAB play it for you, or even worse just read it from a Real Book without listening. For example, if you're learning "Solar", learning by listening to the track on the Miles Davis "Walkin'" album several times a day.

    Over time you observe there are sequences of chords that are used over and over again, like ii-V-I. By listening to jazz standards over and over you start to recognize them.

    Also, over time, from repeatedly listening, you start to realize that the majority of chords used in jazz standards are really variations of just a handful of chords.

    A lot of your questions will be answered by putting in the time to listen to the tunes. I know this will be hard for you as you are into more contemporary stuff like John Mayer, but you have to do it if you want to advance in this stuff. I had to make myself listen to the local jazz station every day when I was in college. I was more into fusion and rock instrumentals at the time, but I knew that the really good fusion players had a background in older jazz styles, and I wanted some of what they got too. Nowadays I actually do like listening to the vintage jazz, but that's another story.
     
  9. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    It helps to like or even love...the tunes.
     
  10. kimock

    kimock Member

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    Stroke their bellies.
     
  11. tweedster

    tweedster Supporting Member

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    That's really it. I spent a lot of time listening to Charlie Parker and Miles, Coltrane, etc., and I never liked the music. Folk, blues, country, from the 1920s till today, floats my boat. Beatles, Dead, Cream, Neil Young, modern jam bands, etc also good. Pop from John Mayer, Bryan Adams, Tom Petty or anything with Waddy Wachtel and Lee Sklar is good too.

    I figure play what you love, love what you play. If my soul ain't taking off with the music, the notes that come out are lame. I guess I like my sugar sweet and my music diatonic.
     
  12. Lucidology

    Lucidology Member

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    It truly does work ya know ... :beer
     
  13. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    You take it all in chunks of tonal centres and not individual chords.

    The individual chords relate back to a tonal centre but it's mainly about the tonal centre.

    A IIm V7 I in a tonal centre can be a IIm V7 I in any tonal centre.

    After a while these tonal centre chunks become very familiar and the repeating tonal centre chunk patterns are in countless songs and progressions.

    Chord subs are coming off of tonal centres as well, so they are not that hard to deal with once the tonal centre approach is understood.

    http://www.jazzguitar.be/all_the_things_you_are.html

    [​IMG]
     
  14. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Yes. That's how I find out which are the tame ones, and which ones turn over and bite me. Naturally I avoid the latter.
     
  15. JonR

    JonR Member

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    When you study jazz standards, you soon find that the vast majority follow a simple structural formula (32-bar AABA); and also they tend to employ the same types of chord changes all the time.
    The so-called "circle progression" crops up all the time - that's where roots move up in 4ths or down in 5ths (or anticlockwise round the circle of 5ths, if you like.)
    In fact, the difficulty is not so much memorising all the different progressions, but remembering which ones are which!

    That's different from rock. In rock, progressions may have fewer chords but, while you still find shared progressions, song formulas can vary more. Many rock songs have more complicated structures than the average jazz standard - some will have two bridges, some will have irregular line or section lengths; some might have changes in time sig (very rare in jazz). Many rock songs will also have much more written into them: not just melody and changes, but things like riffs, intros, solos that are part of the composition.
    Jazz tunes are rarely like that. Typically there'll be the melody, an 8-bar A section and an 8-bar B section, arranged AABA - and that's it. You can repeat that AABA as often as you need to, and you can invent your own intro if you need one (usually the end of the A section works). And of course, you make up your own solos, no need to learn originals!

    But the "trick" - as mentioned above - is simply playing the tunes over and over. As with anything, the more you do it, the more it becomes subconscious. I.e. not a trick at all, just lots of hard work and time! :(

    Naturally you have to learn the melodies as well as the chords. Because the chord changes are largely generic, it's the melodies that are the identity of the tunes. As you get familiar with the melodies - and with the various chord-change formulas - you can often start to predict (if you forget them) which chords will underline the melody. (And jazz musicians often substitute chords anyway, so if it fits it's probably OK, even if it's not the original chord. But don't take that as gospel... sometimes the original chords DO matter ;).)

    I can't say I know many jazz tunes by heart, but I know it's simply because I haven't played them enough. The few I do know from memory are those I've played more than others.
    An additional issue is that a lot of the time I was involved with jazz I was playing bass, which can be done without memorising melodies. Of course, real jazz bassists know the melodies as well as any horn player! But for me, reading from chord charts became an easy habit. I was never that deeply into jazz as a genre, I didn't love the music enough. I just enjoyed playing it sometimes. But I did find that, on the couple of occasions where I'd forget my pad, I could actually play a good number of tunes from memory.
    (I always remember the first time I played Girl From Ipanema from memory - I didn't believe I could do it, but I did. On guitar with melody too, btw, not just bass. It made me realise that reading from charts is a crutch - it can make you think you need it, when often you don't. And of course you play better if you're not reading!)
    Well, that's about learning chord function. You need to see a chord progression not as (say) Gmaj7-Em7-Am7-D7, but as I-vi-ii-V.
    You can then plug that I-vi-ii-V into any key you need to.
    Naturally that means you need to know your fretboard thoroughly. You don't need to know every song in all 12 keys, but you do need to know how all 12 keys work. You need to be able to play at least a ii-V-I and a 12-bar blues in all 12 major keys and all 12 minor keys, and ideally in all neck positions.
     
  16. dingusmingus

    dingusmingus Member

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  17. harmonicator

    harmonicator Member

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    Nice! Thanks for that link. Bruce is one of my favorite players. Good price for an hour lesson.
     
  18. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Broadway show tunes, sea chanteys?
     
  19. Neer

    Neer Member

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    It's also important to learn the changes that other musicians play on the bandstand. A teacher who gigs a lot can really help with this, teaching intros, etc.

    An example would be All The Things You Are. Peter Leitch showed me the intro that is used from Charlie Parker's Bird of Paradise. It's really, really helpful to know all this stuff.
     
  20. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Wait, are we talking about jazz tunes or sneetches?
     

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