Soloing

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Notorious
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Soloing

Post by Notorious »

Recently found Nuages in G▲ and was wondering which scales others use to solo over this tune in G▲? Possibly a jazz minor or a dominant scale or would you suggest a bop scale of some kind?
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nwilkins
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Post by nwilkins »

it would probably be more helpful to base your improvisation on the appropriate arpeggios.
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Post by Notorious »

I thought that would be obvious though, right?
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Post by nwilkins »

Yes. All I'm saying is that you should work on doing that creatively and not worry so much about scales.
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Post by djangology »

it amazes me that until gypsy jazz came along just about EVERY single american jazz player plays in terms of modes and scales. to me, using an organic approach to building melody by using chords and arpeggios makes more sense musically.

i think modes and scales are just mathematical magic tricks. chords and arpeggios seem much more musical to me and is much easier to explain to someone when they ask you how you played something.

a guy came to one of our jams recently and was showing us how he played over one particular gypsy jazz tune. while he was explaining how he played this mode over that chord and how he raised a 4th here etc... i was just thinking the entire time that it would be much easier if he just explained "musically" what he was doing, rather than mathematically...

you can't just come to a jam and tell someone to play a Lydian mode over a song. on the other hand, you could tell them to play a certain arpeggio and they would be able to easily digest your advice...

i guess i am trying to say that the gypsy method of playing makes a whole lot more sense in terms of sharing ideas with other people etc...
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Post by Notorious »

So you are going from the "don't think with your head, but think with your heart", point of view? I've spoken with quite a few distinguished jazzmen, one being Mike Mannerri, a legendary vibes player, and most tend to think what you say is true. However, I have run into just as many jazzmen and women, so of whom are my professors, and they tend to think that you can't just base a solo over arpeggios (in fact, I've found that my solos have lately been becoming increasingly dryer by just playing over said arpeggios). Thus, I have been looking for ways to make my solos sound more impressive than they have been sounding. I come from a classical background, btw, but Grappelli did too, and I've read that he had the same problem when he started with jazz ("thinking" instead of "playing"). :)
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Post by nwilkins »

If you're looking for ways to make arpeggio-based solos more interesting why don't you transcribe/analyse some of Django's solos? Perhaps that will give you some ideas.
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Post by justjack »

I think what Nick said before is the key here: "work on doing that [running arpeggio based lines] creatively". Without creativity, it will indeed sound dry, just as using scales without creativity would. With Django, what impresses me is his use of dynamics, so that you've got tremolo picking, harmonics, octaves, chord stabs, rhythmic displacement etc., not 'just' arpeggios, but a whole vocabulary that's built upon them. You might think too of extending the arpeggios past the basic harmony, playing a six/nine over a straight major, or an augmented over a dominant; that sort of thing.

Hope that helps,
Jack.
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nwilkins
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Post by nwilkins »

also chord subs, altered tones, anticipation of chords.
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Post by Swing This! »

Just go out and watch the DVD "Swing" and see how Tchavolo teaches the boy Max how to play Manouche guitar and he tells him he's going to teach him how to play, not by reading or with books, but by using his ears and his heart.

So there you go: ears + heart = gypsy jazz! :lol:

cheers-

Phil

***If those who look to world federation as a solution to the world's ills could limit their aims to a world-wide society for music, they might rest assured of early success*** William S. Newman, Understanding Music
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Post by lukejazz »

I'd like to make a little remark here. It's easy to get into some confusing ideas when discussing approaches to soloing, but I'd like to add my $.02 to this good discussion.

Please everyone, don't forget that practicing and performing are different and should be treated differently.

Practice time is the time we should be thinking and learning. Performance time is when we should try to get the "magic" to happen, and so often too much thinking during a performance can be a drag.

Ideally we should probably try to learn our music lessons well enough in practice that we can forget about them when we perform. This is not so easy for most people.

"It's a long way from the practice room to the concert hall" - Somebody Somewhere.
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Post by djangology »

yeah, i never meant to say "play only from your heart". what I was trying to say is that the general arpeggio approach that Django had was just as effective as modern modal theorists... it doesn't mean your putting all the theory behind you... i think you can achieve as much by taking a very thoughtful approach to arpeggios... its these modal guys, who believe everything that the traditional US jazz teacher spits out, who are reluctant and resistant to learning in this new way because they probably think it will limit them...

it may or may not be true. i suppose eventually i will find out.
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Post by lukejazz »

I think you have a very valid point Djangology. I think it's a bad idea to skip learning the arpeggiated approach to soloing and just jumping right into modal approach (that's the path I was led down). It's kind of like skipping a step - sooner or later most of us will want to learn the "arpeggiated" and "chord shape" approach to soloing to get a better grip on harmonic understanding.

Here's what I think has probably happened (timeline).

1. Early jazzers take an arpeggiated approach and have a good understanding of what's happening harmonically.

2. Jazz soloing styles progress towards a more modal style in an effort to explore new approaches.

3. Students want to sound more contemporary and less dated and teachers skip the earlier approach and jump right to the more current approach ("skipping a step" so to speak).

When I was in school I remember one of my fellow students had a teacher who was leading him through learning a lot of Charlie Christian solos - looking back, it's easy for me to see now that that teacher really new what he was doing. That student got a good background in thinking in chord shapes and available chord tones related to those shapes for soloing. It took me a long time to "discover" that approach on my own independent study. Now that I have a better handle on that, I feel a lot more satisfied with my playing.
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Thanks

Post by Notorious »

Thanks for all the responses. Very insightful.
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Chords and melody vs. scalar and modal based improvisation

Post by pallopenna »

Both Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins based a significant amount of their solos on chords and melodic structure. I don't think that I've ever heard either one of them play anything remotely based on a scalar or modal approach to soloing. In fact, it seems that one of the things that made Lester Young so unique (outside of his gorgeous tone) was that he played linear lines through the changes; a totally novel approach at the time. Even Charlie Parker, Bud Powell, and the other early be-bop players mixed chordal improv with scalar runs. Of course, when you're playing Cherokee at 340 bpm and there's 2 changes to the bar, what you can do with a chord is limited...And of course, Thelonious Monk's music is highly chord and melody based, although other players (notably Coltrane) could stretch out in their own ways. Monk used to routinely chastize players for only playing the changes and not using the melody as a basis for their solos.
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