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Beginners hat on. (Back to the basics.)

navarro

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863
Hi Everyone. I am now entering into my ninth month of playing from scratch and fourth month of playing with a swing band. I have had an invitation from a small group of musicians who listened to the band and then invited me to attend and play at a jam session which they hold every week.

Chatting to these guys has left me really nervous because most of them have a very impressive CV and and at least twenty years experience.

I really look on this as an opportunity to hone up on my limited skills.

This is where my dunces hat is put on and my shades and beret discarded.

Question: When soloing I tend to improvise in and around the basic melody of the tune my chord recognition is pretty dismal and the old blues scale where possible comes to the rescue.

In reality what I am saying is I bluff my way through to a degree. My solos tend to have lots of embellishments and the occasional chromatic run.

Here is the root of the question is this acceptable?

They have asked me to bring in a couple of scores I feel comfortable with, so my repertoire will be the classic ` Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.` `Midnight Sun` and `God bless the Child.`

I have broad shoulders and not sensitive at all so fire away with constructive criticism. But please, no ribald comments or mention of my failed stand up status.

Here is me waving my good student flag. I practice all scales at least one hour daily and then run through old standards from my assortment of play along books. Best Regards N.
 

gladsaxisme

Try Hard Die Hard
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Well I am quite literally amazed you can do that at 9 months and are prepared to give it a go with much more skilled musicians than yourself I can only wish you the best of luck.....John
 

Chris

Well Known
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Nothing wrong with playing in and around the melody any way that works for you N. As your ear develops and your playing grows so will the to take solos anywhere you want to..

Chris..
 

trimmy

One day i will...
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10,272
Go along to the jam session with your armoury, and just do what you know, dont try to be too clever and ask for their thoughts and advice, i think its superb that you are going for it.
Hats off to you N :)
 

BigMartin

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3,904
Question: When soloing I tend to improvise in and around the basic melody of the tune my chord recognition is pretty dismal and the old blues scale where possible comes to the rescue.

In reality what I am saying is I bluff my way through to a degree. My solos tend to have lots of embellishments and the occasional chromatic run.

Here is the root of the question is this acceptable?
Only you can answer that! For nine months in, I'd say that level of bluffing is pretty impressive. But if you want to put the work in (and it sounds like you do) then there's always more to learn. Even the best players say they're still learning.

For me, the hardest thing about learning to improvise has been learning to keep my place, ie knowing at alll times where we are in the song form and what chord am I supposed to be playing over. Lots of practice on playing simple patterns on each chord and gradually increasing the tempo (using BiaB or something similar) has helped me
a lot with this, but it's defiitely still work in progress.

Here is me waving my good student flag. I practice all scales at least one hour daily and then run through old standards from my assortment of play along books. Best Regards N.
That's a lot of scales! How about doing some seventh chord arpeggios to go with them? Eg pick a major key and play all the diatonic seventh chords (Imaj7, IImin7, IIImin7, IVmaj7, V7, VImin7, VIImin7(b5), Imaj7). Improvise little bits of melody around each chord, and so on, and so on...
 

navarro

Senior Member
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863
Thanks all and in particular Big for his useful seventh cord arpps.advice. I am progressing and playing around with triads at the moment. However my ear is not the best and recognizing the chord pattern is not easy. But as Big M has stated practice is the answer. Thanks again all, as usual your comments and advice are great confidence boosters.

General question open to the forum At present I am spending a lot of time with the swing band playing set parts and occasional solos. The tenors seem to get the lions share of the solo material. My preference is for the smaller intimate groups and I am wondering if in any way playing a set part (big band}will detract from overall performance. Some of the instrumentalists in the band are of several years standing and seem to have no ambition to progress. So comments please Big band experience vs small ensemble. Regds. N
 

jbtsax

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Both have provided an opportunity to grow musically for me. The big band really teaches sightreading and section playing (ensemble) skills. The combo work I have done has given me much more opportunity to learn tunes and changes without having to look at the music, and also has given me the opportunity to work out my improvisation skills. Most of my big band experience was playing lead alto, and the majority of my combo playing was on both alto and tenor.
 

Wade Cornell

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Playing with people who are better/more experienced is always a lift, as long as you don't let your ego put you on their level. Above all else listen. Developing patterns, arpeggios, and various riffs that are finger memory jobs are at best fillers, not meat. They are good to get you listening, and playing so that you can hear what you would like to play. Developing the skill to play what you hear in your head and want to play is the ultimate goal. This requires two things: 1. thinking musically which means that you have a large musical library in your head, or innate talent; and 2. playing your instrument enough for it to be an extension of you so that you can play whatever you hear.

Learn all you can playing within the chord structure, and using formulated/mechanical types of thinking, but don't get stuck there. Everyone gets the difference between a technical player who just diddles around the chord structure and someone who uses their horn sing the song of their soul.

Play whatever you can for today and be as totally involved as you can, but also set your goals towards where you'd like to be and work towards that.
 

What

Member
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314
Well, while I am newer at this then you are so my getting into form advice is still advice I am looking for, I will say this. If they have heard you play and invited to play, they must have liked what they heard. Plus if they have been at this for so long they probably have been right where you are. I suggest you bring your music give them your best, and let them know you concerns. They just might have some sound advice themselves.
 

navarro

Senior Member
Messages
863
Playing with people who are better/more experienced is always a lift, as long as you don't let your ego put you on their level. Above all else listen. Developing patterns, arpeggios, and various riffs that are finger memory jobs are at best fillers, not meat. They are good to get you listening, and playing so that you can hear what you would like to play. Developing the skill to play what you hear in your head and want to play is the ultimate goal. This requires two things: 1. thinking musically which means that you have a large musical library in your head, or innate talent; and 2. playing your instrument enough for it to be an extension of you so that you can play whatever you hear.

Learn all you can playing within the chord structure, and using formulated/mechanical types of thinking, but don't get stuck there. Everyone gets the difference between a technical player who just diddles around the chord structure and someone who uses their horn sing the song of their soul.

Play whatever you can for today and be as totally involved as you can, but also set your goals towards where you'd like to be and work towards that.
Thanks Wade, I had my first session with the group yesterday and something the alto man said to me mirrored to a degree your comments. Now whether this is a quote from some well known musician or not I don`t know. After my first nervous attempt `Midnight Sun.` which is rather repetitive he said H.J. You are playing from your mind play from your heart. All in all a real learning curve. Lots of bossa nova style numbers and a few jazz classics thrown in. I was a little fazed when the lady vocalist started up, one or two taps of the foot and straight into `East of the Sun West of the Moon`What amazed me though not a sheet of music to be seen indeed one music stand between everybody. A further revelation the tenor man arrived late unpacked his instrument and just blew straight in in perfect sync. Looking forward to next session. Thanks again N.
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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Well done Navarro. I hope the NE will write a review of your appearance soon.
I must say you didn't pick up the easiest tunes, but I will not tell you why, so you can go on playing them.

In your OP you mention your playing in and around the original melody: this is a richness that gets easily lost when we start working on chords. Try to keep this going.

I often go to jams, I hope I will meet you some time.
 

navarro

Senior Member
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863
Thanks Aldevis So many of the elitists have no time for melody and just throw in the occasional bar to remind the audience what the number is. Incidentally your version of Black Satin (Twilight Sunrise} two things intrigued me. One the violin player I have never heard (The Violin) played in such a setting. Secondly did you do a rescue job maybe about 20 or so bars in when the trombonist and tenor man seemed to hesitate.? Or is this just the complexity of the arrangement bewildering me. Anyway I have always liked Mr Davis`s complex foray into what I call poptwang and I have often wondered if said musician had a minor tongue in cheek with his experimentation. Nice vid though everyone enjoying themselves. Hats off to the arranger and give the violinist a Stradivarius . regds. N.
 

aldevis

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your version of Black Satin (Twilight Sunrise}
Thank you Navarro, I didn't know it was online I will listen to it more carefully. The mind behind the whole thing is Nile Peppas, the guitarist/composer/arranger.
Violin player (Roberto Manes) is currently writing book about harmony and tempered systems in pre-baroque Italy.

That project is really difficult, but respect among musicians (another rare good) makes everything easier.

If you are into something a bit older style (heavily and beautifully arranged), next Sunday in Whitechapel...
 

Targa

Among the pigeons
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If you are into something a bit older style (heavily and beautifully arranged), next Sunday in Whitechapel...
....I'll do to music what Jack did to the working girls. (Well it would be if I was there.)
 

gladsaxisme

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Could not find you playing Black Satin,only this I take it that is you,and the attatched links where you play with some of the members of Twilight Sunrise,where is the one that you play blak satin in,always nice to put a face to someone you only know in type,seemed very interesting wish I spoke Italian

 
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aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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12,125
Could not find you playing Black Satin,only this I take it that is you,and the attatched links where you play with some of the members of Twilight Sunrise,where is the one that you play blak satin in,always nice to put a face to someone you only know in type,seemed very interesting wish I spoke Italian
It was just a rant about having to emigrate to have some pleasure from music...
www.aldevis.com have some sound files scattered around, so you can enjoy music without having to see my face.
 
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