Jazz Is Hard!

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Redbell, May 24, 2006.

  1. Redbell

    Redbell Member

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    I have been attempting to learn a little Jazz over the last year or so but I find it to be incredibly demanding, confusing & just plain hard.
    How does an old Rock & Roll Dog learn some new Jazz tricks?
    Any tips would be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks!
     
  2. AaeCee

    AaeCee Member

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    I started by jamming over jazz tracks using blues scales. Each session or so, I'd introduce a few more notes from a similar jazz scale that fit in. Eventually, it started to sound more like jazz than blues...not that I'm exactly what you'd call 'good' yet. AC
     
  3. jamminoutloud1

    jamminoutloud1 Supporting Member

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    Yes...Jazz is hard, harder than rocks...this is how I got pretty good at it...I would take one tune...I reccomend something easy to start with like "Green Dolphin Street", "Impressions", "Mr. P.C.,", "I Love You".
    Get the head and chords down perfect! Get it down so good in your head that you won't even need to look at the music.
    After you have mastered that part, start fooling around with the different sounds and scales you can play over each chord. I don't really reccomend spending too much time on playing each scale over every chord, but more like check out what intervals and what ideas and licks might sound good.

    Here
     
  4. jamminoutloud1

    jamminoutloud1 Supporting Member

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    woops, Continued:
    Here is a big tip...when trying to solo over the chord changes, don't look at every chord individually...for instance, on Green Dolphin Street, treat the A section as one full section...and then when you go to the bridge try to connect what you have to the ii-V-I's...and then at the last bridge try to spot out the ii-V's and ii-V-I's and connect your lines...
    Also, get your hands on some good ii-V-i lick books...that right there is when I actually started to sound like I could play Jazz, or atleast hit the right Jazzy notes.
    Also, there are plenty of good videos out there:
    Scott Henderson videos were very inspiring and helpful to me
    Look for a Bruce Buckinghman video....a lot of great (pretty easy) Jazz licks on there, after I got 5 or 6 hip lines off of this video, I felt ready to take on much more.
    John Scofield has a good video called Jazz Improvisation too.

    I hope that was helpful to you, good luck!
     
  5. Bryan T

    Bryan T Guitar Owner Silver Supporting Member

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    My biggest recommendation (that probably works for any form of music) is to listen to more jazz. This might not apply to you, but I'm constantly amazed at the number of guitarists I meet who want to learn how to play jazz, only to find out that they never even listen to jazz. Once you've digested the sounds/phrasing/notes that players go for to play jazz, then it shouldn't be too hard to get the music out of your guitar.

    Bryan
     
  6. scottl

    scottl Member

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    Great advice!!

    (it is all I listen to. can't help myself....)
     
  7. ivers

    ivers Member

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    I got into jazz playing through buying a million (ok, perhaps exaggerating a bit there) jazz records, and learning a bunch of tunes (transcription and real book), arranging them for solo guitar, transcribing solos and so on. If there were tunes I loved and wanted to learn/arrange, I could easily buy 5 albums by different artists, just to hear different approaches to harmony for that tune.

    I also bought a lot of vocal stuff, or piano, hard bop horn players.. because I dug it of course, but also to get other impulses than guitar, and that way perhaps get a more broad understanding of/feeling for what made jazz playing tick.

    I know a lot of discussion about jazz playing is very focused on theory, and I'm definitely not against learning scales, arpeggios and chords, quite the contrary, but for me jazz playing mostly comes from immersion in and love for the style(s), internalizing the whole aesthetic.

    When you love something so much that what you want more than anything else is to be a part of it, enduring all the hard and frustrating work (like trying to make Bill Evans arrangements work on the guitar:crazy) becomes a lot easier.
     
  8. moozak

    moozak Silver Supporting Member

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    yes jazz is hard! i remember about 5 years ago or so when i told the guys in the band i was in that i was tired of playing rock and i wanted to go home and dive into learning jazz... and i'm still at it today. jazz is a long-time commitment... so don't worry if you've only been at it a year and can't do much yet. bryan t is right... listen to more jazz.

    but... also... here's some things i have done:

    a) there are a couple of "don mock" books out there... one on melodic minor and the other on harmonic minor... get both of them. he's a great teacher and those are good books:

    ref: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/076920029X/104-5695271-0583163?v=glance&n=283155

    b) get some software like "the amazing slow downer" or something of that nature and start slowing down some of the jazz greats and really get a feel for them. i've listened to "hours" of charlie parker chops slowed down! you'll start getting a real feel for what these folks are doing

    c) start sampling all sorts of jazz players... and find some favs. it always helps to get zero'd in on folks that you actually LIKE to hear. ITUNES is a great free software for this. pull up a whole list of tunes by an artists and listen to tons of sample clips... if you like what you hear... then go by the CD or the MP3 that you're listening to.

    d) also check out players like robben ford, jeff golub, paul jackson jr. etc. ok... these guys are not jazz purists... but they encorporate jazz chops into their playing and it makes listening and learning a lot of fun!

    e) get "band in a box" software or something like it... and find a couple of jazz patches and when you're ready to try something... simply type in the chords you want to play against and set the tempo and have at it for as long as you like. it's simple... and it will help you a lot.

    f) search the internet and read as much as you can on the jazz greats... find out what it is that makes them (or made them) great. out of that, find some "heros" for yourself and emmulate them as much as you can. here's a good place to start:

    http://www.classicjazzguitar.com/artists/artists.jsp

    g) and let me say one more name here "robert conti"... he's a great player and sells some fine DVD's for you to learn jazz solos with. it's a great way to start and he breaks the solos down bar by bar for you... plus he's just an every day guy and you'll be very relaxed with watching and listening to him on the DVD's. http://www.robertconti.com/

    there are a lot more things that i do... but those are some of the highlights. bottom line... you gotta make it fun for yourself to enable you to learn and "want" to learn. don't worry about how long it's gonna take you ok? did you spend "years" doinking around rock and blues and such before you grew tired of it? most folks don't think of it that way... but if you did... imagine how far you could be in your jazz knowledge now had you spent your time with that instead?

    take your time... always learn... don't stagnate yourself on any one particular thing and have fun! and DON'T worry about timelines... if you want it and work for it... it'll start coming to you.

    have fun! and... i hope this helps!
     
  9. jzucker

    jzucker Supporting Member

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    Transcribetranscribetranscribe
     
  10. KRosser

    KRosser Member

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    Jazz is very hard if it's a 'foreign language' you're learning from books and then expect to speak flawlessly when you meet a native. Not nearly as hard if you're willing to live there for a while and pick up bits of the language as you go.

    In other words, listen a lot, go to shows, hang out with the musicians as much as possible to pick up tips, transcribe a lot and play a lot without expecting to sound 'great' at it right away. If you can have fun and enjoy doing all of the above, it won't be all arduous labor, and you will get it.
     
  11. jazzerken

    jazzerken Member

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    No one has mentioned the one thing that has helped me the most...find a good teacher! I've been playing guitar for 30+ years but decided about 5 years ago to figure out how to play jazz (I've been listening all my life). Getting a good teacher is what made all the difference. Of course I was doing all the other things one must do to get there. I listen to jazz all the time...and not only guitar players. I made an extra effort to get out and play jazz with other people, and that was very difficult and humbling at first. But by actually playing you grow immensely. And transcribe! A great place to start is transcribe some Charlie Christian. His licks are cool and not that difficult to pull off. Five years later I'm feeling pretty good about where I'm at. I can't do it all by any means but I'm feeling more and more comfortable over most standards now.
     
  12. SteveStevens

    SteveStevens Member

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    My two cents is that jazzis a language that you need to immerse yourself in. I started playing jazz when I was 15 out of frustration with rock. I have small hands and found trying to play Hendrix very painful. With jazz, i discovered that you didn't have to bend strings! As a result, I find myself at 30 having to play rock and rnb to make a living and it is as foreign a language to me as jazz is to the average rocker. I have the intellect and know how to figure anything out but it certainly doesn't feel natural. My current practice regime includes lots of string bending and rock catch-up. So enjoy the skills you have and use them to help you learn other skills!
     
  13. scottl

    scottl Member

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    Tony Burnett's course can have you playing even the most scary jazz axemaster licks in just a week!!!!!

    HAHA
     
  14. SteveStevens

    SteveStevens Member

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    Exactly. Kudos to Tony Burnett. Must...order...instructional...video...:rotflmao
     
  15. scottl

    scottl Member

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    :BEER
     
  16. Third Stone

    Third Stone Member

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    the foreign launguage anlogy is a good one....if you were studing French you'd learn how to say "hello, my name is Pierre." In jazz terms that's like a basic ii/v/I line over Bb major. Work on it over and over in many different keys and within the context of the tunes you are working on....Then you can work up to slightly more complex lines like, "hello my name is Pierre, you have the most fabulous eyes. Will you have dinner with me tonight.":drool
     
  17. Luke

    Luke Senior Member

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    Jazz is simply more involved. Simple rock music is similar to basic math, jazz is more like algebra. To do algebra you must understand all the facets of simple math and then you build upon those skills.

    Most rock progressions are simple, diatonic patterns that are easily to whail over in a given minor pentatonic. In jazz the key signature is often evolving, and simple pentatonics sound immature in the context.

    Most jazz is a ii-V-I pattern, so once you begin to see those, it becomes easier.

    If you can chord spell from memory (intentaneously) and you know the names of the notes on your fingerboard, you will have an much easier time of it.

    Once you can chord spell well, you will see the relationship between the chords for voice leading.

    If you think about the chords of a ii-V-I progression they are spelled:

    ii = ii IV vi I

    V = V vii ii IV

    I = I iii V vii

    So the common tones from the ii to the V are: ii & IV

    The common tones from the V to the I are: V & vii

    You could play a simple V arrpeggio over the entire three chords and it would create both an inside and outside sound.

    Of the 12 notes available, only two will sound 'wrong', two more may sound 'very outside' and the other eight will be 'fine'. If you hit a dog, slide up or down a fret quickly to make it appear as you played the bum note on purpose, as a passing tone!
     
  18. jbro

    jbro Member

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    Good advice here. I teach jazz guitar for a living (if you want to call it that) so I just figured I'd chime in.

    Technology has brought us so many advantages in learning about music - a ton of great videos and books, software to slow down songs without changing the pitch to make transcribing easier, internet discussion forums, etc. Use all of this, but also don't overlook the value of a good teacher. A one on one instructor can diagnose what you need and help you with it. Go it alone, and you will certainly end up frustrated and stuck more times than necessary.

    Another interesting point - I feel that folks who have a background in blues and rock who then get into jazz almost always bring a little something extra to the table. A lot of cats who study jazz from day one are majorly lacking in the feel and creativity departments. I personally am not impressed by any player running up and down scales and arpeggios in steady streams of 8th notes. I don't care how fast you can play, how many bizarre substitions and tensions you can come up with, if it's lacking emotional drive, it doesn't do it for me. Now playing pentatonic blues licks for years more or less forces you to develop your feel and phrasing, because you only have those 5 notes to choose from. If you carry this philosphy over to jazz with you, you are already one step ahead of the game.

    Here are some things to think about if you really want to get into jazz:

    1. You need to have a good understanding of fundamental music theory. You should be able to read and write, but it's not entirely essential. This is like learning a new language. You can go to a foreign country without learning their language - and probably get by just making hand gestures and mimicing the sounds the locals are making, but they will probably all think you're retarded. :D

    2. Just like you need to know the rules of music, you need to know the rules of your instrument. You should know where all the notes are on the neck, and should be able to play any interval on any string(s) at will. All the hours of practice behind this will also get the sound of the pitches and intervals in your head, and this is a huge part of improvising (knowing how to produce a sound you hear in your head).

    3. Listen and transribe like crazy. Find sax players, piano players, guitarists.. whoever "does it" for you - and find out what it is that they're doing. Don't transcribe for the sake of learning their licks and reciting them during your own solos.. transcribe and dissect it to see what they're thinking. This will help you make your own lines and will give you a better understanding of WHY your favorite players are your favorites.

    4. Play with musicians who are better than you. There's an old saying, "if you're the best musician in the band... you need to get another band". Playing with guys who are better than you are will force you to progress!

    I'm going to stop here, but there's a lot of work (and play) involved in learning jazz. A lot of people have devoted their entire lives to it, and it truly is a "the more you know, the more there is to know" type of artform.
     
  19. NeuroLogic

    NeuroLogic Supporting Member

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    In addition to the prior good advice, I would use Jimmy Bruno's excellent DVD, the 4 volume Complete Jazz Guitar Method by Jody Fisher (Alfred Publishing Co,) which is used in many college programs and the Jamie Ambersold books, especially Jazz Improvisation & the II, V, I books (also used in colleges). Also, any play along books such as Mel Bay & Ambersold publications are great to put the theory into context. The results are worth the effort.
     
  20. sws1

    sws1 Member

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    Got a link to that course?
     

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