Jazz Education

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by fenderlead, Mar 18, 2020.

  1. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Well, he grew up in a household (at least a culture) of people playing gipsy music, folk music, vaudeville (bal musette). Didn't encounter jazz (records) until his mid- or late teens.
    But I'm agreeing with your point, only being pedantic! ;)

    Django's first recording (still playing banjo-guitar):
     
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  2. fenderlead

    fenderlead Member

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    I can hear a few runs by Django I think, and a bit of tremolo chord stuff I think.

    Talking about Django how is this line in bars 54 to 58 https://www.soundslice.com/slices/qYdcc/

    Am / E7 / Am / G7 / C

    starts on an off beat with a descending Am arpeggio over the Am chord and then he starts hitting an ascending F7 arpeggio at the end of the Am chord as the harmony changes to the E7 chord which then slides into a descending E7 arpeggio and then another Am arpeggio (this time ascending) over the next Am chord and then he starts hitting a descending F#7 arpeggio (while the harmony is still at the end of the Am chord) which then slides into an ascending G7 arpeggio over the G7 chord and then a targeted chord tone ending for the C chord.

    The whole descending/ascending/descending/ascending/descending/ascending arpeggio pattern gets displaced (or turned around) by a 1/8 note due to what Django does when he starts playing the descending Am arpeggio over the first Am chord on an off beat and then after all of the displaced arpeggios he manages to land it straight on the money for the C chord.

    Am (starts F7) / E7 (F7 continues and merges into E7) /Am (starts F#7) / G7 (F#7 continues and merges into G7) /C

    All of the descending/ascending arpeggio chord tones are displaced by 1/8 note.

    It's just basic chromatic slide slipping (F7->E7 and F#7->G7) but it's displaced by an 1/8 note and has strong descending/ascending motion.

    He had a tremendous sense of rhythm and keeping track of where he was and landing at the target.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
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  3. NotWesYet

    NotWesYet Supporting Member

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    I think education is valuable. I think demonstration is valuable. But performance is invaluable.

    As they say "The map is not the territory."

    There was an interesting discussion by a pianist on NPR some years ago addressing the reality that so many can play other's music or play over backing tracks. But what has been lost is the knowledge and experience that comes with playing with others-consistently.

    I was only 17 when the headmaster at my school, a jazz pianist and former long shoreman, invited me to play with his local band. The band consisted of a brilliant trombonist and arranger who had worked with a majority of the Big Bands. And a sax player who had toured with Mingus.

    He loaned me an upright bass purchased from the Chicago Salvation Army for less than $40.

    I was permitted to use charts when I practiced, but not on stage. In fact there was no band practice, you showed up to the gig unpacked and tried to keep up.

    On stage it was common for them to change keys every 16 bars following the circle of fifths. I was told I would learn to "feel the changes."

    Eventually I did.

    With experiences like those, it is easier to go back and deconstruct music theory. Or it is for me. I still can't even consider theory while performing. I can't think at all.

    I am thrilled to see young people playing all sorts of scales over changes. Or them copying famous performances or recordings note-for-note. But if music is the abstract expression of emotion. It fails.

    It is a beginning but not an end.
     
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  4. JonR

    JonR Member

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    'Nuff said, pretty much. :)

    Which is not to say maps are not useful, of course... ;)
    Joe Henderson described that sort of solo as sounding "like the index of a book."
     
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  5. guitarjazz

    guitarjazz Member

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    Jazz education is the bread and butter of many jazz musicians. No more ‘playing in the clubs, dives, speakeasys, and brothels of your favorite city.
    I have a friend who toured with Joe Henderson for a number of years and was smart enough to get trained in the medical field. He has a ‘real’ gig and he still does music gigs.
     
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  6. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Right...we do this so every generation doesn't have to reinvent the wheel.
     
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  7. lavinci

    lavinci Supporting Member

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    To get Jazz intuition in one's head, is one thing.
    ...and it is another thing to get jazz under one's fingers....

    "The whole process of learning the facility of being able to play jazz is to take these problems from the outer level in, one by one, and to stay with it at a very intense, conscious concentration level until that process becomes secondary and subconscious. Now when that becomes subconscious, then you can begin concentrating on that next problem which will allow you to do a little bit more and so on."
    Bill Evans...
     
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  8. dsimon665

    dsimon665 Supporting Member

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    Some people are creative in spite of education, not because of it. At least IME.
    "think outside the book" as it were. Maybe not in music schools? Though I've heard one of <institutions name here> functions is gaining contacts.

    I took a class (maybe 2) at Watts Atelier - that was a trip. Some students seem fairly well formed to me, but maybe not to the instructors. They teach a certain school of figure drawing.
    https://www.wattsatelier.com/

    I can see the creative side more in drawing and painting classes (as compared to music classes). It seems harder to be a beginner and be creative at music than fine arts. I think it might be because being out of tune is really hard on the ears :) whereas anyone's hand can have a certain appeal even when drawing a few lines.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2020
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  9. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Sure. But there's still an issue about the balance between the book learning and the aural learning. Obviously good academic teaching combines the two, and gets the balance right.

    As for jazz, the "wheel" was constantly being reinvented in the first part of the 20th century without benefit of academic education. That period is, of course, the solid foundation of what "jazz" is. I don't have anything against "academisation" as such (hey, I went to college too... for a bit anyway...), it's just important not to throw the baby out...
    Book learning supports the aural learning. It should be that way round.
     
  10. JonR

    JonR Member

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    Having taken a Visual Arts degree myself - but not a music one - I get the comparison.

    IMO, the "creative impulse" is there to begin with in both cases. One wouldn't begin either area of study if it wasn't. (That's aside from the question of whether everyone is potentially creative... ;-)).

    Whether you enrol on a music course or a visual arts course, you do it because have a desire to be creative in that direction; you probably think you already have some skill, even though you presumably feel you need to hone it, to have it developed and guided by those who know how to help.

    IMO, you wouldn't expect the course to instruct you on how to be creative - even though you'd probably find they do that. That would be because you start with a limited idea of what "creativity" means, perhaps just as limited as your technical skills are in that area.
    We all know that as we study music, our ear improves. As we hear better, we find we can both play better, and compose and improvise better - in ways we couldn't have imagined previously.
    I.e., we expect that we need to be taught things like techniques and theory - we know we're lacking in those areas. We're usually less conscious of what we lack in hearing skills - perhaps we think we're stuck with the hearing we have.

    In Art, the comparison is with learning to see. We might think we go to Art School to learn to draw better, or paint better, or sculpt or make video better. But actually what happens is we learn to see better. Our visual judgement is honed, along with our technical skill. Good Art teaching confronts us with that issue to begin with, and constantly. What do you see? How do you see? How do you assess the marks you make? You learn that normal seeing is prejudiced, limited by habit; you need to break those habits.

    Ideally, music courses do the same: challenge students to listen better, all the time. In jazz, it's not just about delivering various theories on harmony, or chord-scales. It's about critical listening - and that applies especially to improvisation. Whatever techniques and formulas you acquire, you always apply your personal aural judgement to your choices: to how you apply the things you're being taught. You need to break your previous listening habits, learn to hear in more detail, without prejudice.

    If you can't hear it, you can't play it. If you can't hear it, you shouldn't play it, even if technically you could.
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2020
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  11. NotWesYet

    NotWesYet Supporting Member

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    I think this alludes to the difficulty of art or music schools. Specifically, the students perception of the purpose.

    If they view either schools as a shortcut, a way to learn what they need to practice their craft they they miss out on the gift that has been granted. If they see it as a point of departure, or an awakening of their perceptions then they will have an artistically fascinating life ahead.

    I was asked to teach a university class, a combination of art and computer science (despite having yet to finish my undergraduate degree.) Aside from explaining my own extensive library of excuses presented to profs, and that theirs would be useless, I tried to begin by getting them not only to see, but to get into the habit of looking.

    I walked the class around campus and I asked them to identify the reoccurring architectural theme. It took a while, but they found it. A simple design, much like a cross that was delicately incorporated throughout the architecture.

    This got them to begin looking, looking at everything. And it made them realize that we often overlook the work of people, often never celebrated, but who really take pride in what they do.

    I know it has been mentioned that many famous players attended Berklee and other institutions. But often when I listen to their work I think "too many notes," "too many scales," "too much musical pyrotechnics and not enough emotion."
     
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2020
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  12. JonR

    JonR Member

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    I have two angles on that.

    When I took my own degree, I was a "mature student" - I mean technically of course :D, ten years older than the other students. I chose my course for purely professional reasons. I knew I had a skill (I could draw), I was bored with my desk job in an office, and was confident I could develop and exploit that skill in order to get work when I left college. I had no "vision", no desire to "express myself" visually. Accordingly I chose Graphic Design rather than Fine Art.
    What I discovered was - firstly - that I could understand the tutor's jargon better than the younger students, and I could discern the purpose of each project, and what the outcome was supposed to be. Most of the others were too immersed in unfocussed "creativity", or simply too immature to "get it". I found it easy to tailor my work to the required outcome, and was therefore more successful than the others - even though many of them were more artistically "gifted" than me.
    Secondly - however - I did learn a whole lot of stuff I hadn't been prepared for. I discovered stuff about myself. I got bored with showing off the technical skill that had got me there in the first place, and moved over to illustration, especially cartoons. I became very anti-commerce - my previous vaguely leftist instincts became more entrenched. In that sense, I discovered I did want to "express myself" - I found it did matter to me what I did and how I worked.
    Accordingly, when I left college, instead of taking up the kind of job I'd originally thought I'd be doing (graphic design in some corporation), I became a self-employed illustrator/cartoonist. (Obviously I was still being paid by capitalist enterprises, but at least I was in control of my own style. If they wanted to buy what I was selling that was fine with me.)

    My second angle is that my partner has recently decided to take up painting as a (serious) hobby. She can't draw as well as me, but is much more excited by painting. Accordingly she's enrolled for a college course (in fact two concurrent part time ones). Her experience is that the courses are not technical enough for her. She wants to learn more about how to use all the various materials, while feeling reasonably confident about her style and "vision". Meanwhile the teaching seems to be all about ticking boxes, and lots of philosophical BS. She's always having to write stuff about why she is doing what she is doing, to explain her influences and inspirations, to analyse her own motivations. She's more mature (in both senses) than most of the teachers, it seems, and finds it somewhat tiresome. The course ethos seems strongly angled towards conceptual art - art as idea primarily, image second. She just wants to paint and get better at it.
     
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  13. NotWesYet

    NotWesYet Supporting Member

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    @ JonR

    I understand her perspective. I can't seem to bring myself to study theory in the abstract now. It is just counterproductive.

    I have an odd way of learning guitar now. I bought a Fretlight, a guitar with LED's in the neck which displays scales, chords and modes. I practice that learning by rote.

    I also purchased five or six different versions of an individual song, with the emphasis on the different soloist.

    I learn the song; solos, chord Melodys, comping, etc. by purchasing a group of lessons at Guitarcollege.com.

    Once I have the basics from the lessons under my belt I want to learn each of the solos and then, as it has been said "forget all that sh*t and play."
     
  14. Dickie Fredericks

    Dickie Fredericks Member

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    The stuff he is saying here about foundation etc... I feel like yeah thats where my lessons are based off w/ my current teacher. Its not your usual academia. Its a new way. (for me anyway) Not chord scale relationships as much as tension and release. It is a great rant.

    Again, wise words. When I started with my new teacher I explained that I was sure I could use more than 7 notes at a time but never really had anyone teach me how its done. Spent most of my life relating everything to a major scale. The end goal of my current lessons is licks on the fly based on a foundation.

    Mike knows what I'm talking about. Not the only way but it's been pretty cool for me. Different than any other teacher I've studied with.
     
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  15. Mike

    Mike Member

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    No chord-scales. :)

     
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  16. CharAznable

    CharAznable Member

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    Trying to learn jazz on my own is a bit frustrating... mainly picking up bits and pieces here or there, trying to form them into a coherent system... the theory stuff... scales, chords, arpeggios, substitutions, etc...

    But there's also this vast cultural body of knowledge which is not really academic... a bunch of little tropes and cliches here and there... common endings, licks, etc... also things like how to comp effectively behind a soloist.. how to not step on other's peoples shoes etc... things that you're not going to learn until a more experienced player yells at you. The system for transmitting that sort of thing is not really available to most people that want to learn it.
     
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  17. Trevordog

    Trevordog Member

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    I hate to play jazz police here, but lumping in Al Di Meola with the others you mentioned in a conversation about jazz education, does a disservice to the other players, and jazz.
    I've read several interviews with Di Meola in guitar magazines, and when the subject of jazz comes up, he never fails to put it down, even going as far as saying that jazz is not a creative music.

    He's an incredible technician, and plays other types of music that require that technical ability at a very high level, but he would never call what he plays, jazz.
     
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  18. Dickie Fredericks

    Dickie Fredericks Member

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    Bingo. At about 2:55 - 3:10 she nails it down. Thanks for picking that out Mike.
     
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  19. derekd

    derekd Supporting Member

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    I tossed him onto the list because he is someone who came to mind. I wasn't necessarily running down a list of famous jazzers I knew had gone to school.
     
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  20. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    In all of my undergrad and grad degrees in music performance, I don't think I had a single class that didn't have both book learning and aural learning inseparably linked.

    Where is this 'negative fantasy' music school where students only learn from books? In which school does book learning not support aural learning? I have no idea where this might be
     

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