SYOS

"Mental Library of Licks?"

"experienced jazz musicians pull from a mental library of licks and riffs"

  • Totally true, they all do

    Votes: 4 30.8%
  • in some cases

    Votes: 4 30.8%
  • Not the best players

    Votes: 4 30.8%
  • No one does this

    Votes: 1 7.7%

  • Total voters
    13

randulo

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Following the viewing of the Galps video, I bought his book, "Forward Motion" and am reading it. I think anyone who is in the early stages of learning to play should consider purchasing and reading the book. The musical examples are on line to hear, too.
 

Wade Cornell

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I trust my desafinado comment was taken in the spirit it was intended.
It wouldn't do for us all be into the same and each to their own is correct.
I am not a jazz enthusiast ; I have heard and listen to very little and when I do I go for the melodic...Zoot : Art Pepper : Scott Hamilton and yeah Stan Getz though the bossa stuff...well I've done that..
In college being into jazz was pretty much considered essential ; players judged each other on how well they could play Donna Lee : more or less every performance given was some standard or other : to me it became tiresome .
Im going out on a limb here but my opinion on jazz is that at the time it was all about stretching boundaries : breaking down barriers : but foremost forward thinking . It achieved that ( I think )...
It puzzles me why almost a century later people are still 're hashing those same old standards. Go to your local " jazz night " or open mic and that is exactly what you will get . Not only that but the old format of head : sax solo ( or trumpet whatever ) piano solo : bass : drums on every tune...sure if you enjoy it I guess : great but I can't help but wonder what the like of Bird or Diz would make of it all these many years later..
Sure the argument will be why do we ĺisten to Chopin : Bach etc ; that I can't answer but it has something to do with the forward thinking thing and how it is not continuing nor contributing to that....each to there own !!
Only my opinion and as I say I'm far from a jazz buff : perhaps I'm trying to justify to myself why....
OK, I'll bite...considering I was around and digging jazz in the 1950s/60s. Jazz was new and fashionable. All the arts are about going to new places. Doesn't mean that those older expressions are bad, they are just past. Where "artists" get in trouble is in going to a previous art form and using an analytical approach to recreate the same work. How valued is a work by a contemporary artist who has analyzed the style and brush strokes of Van Gogh and paints in his style? Not much. Any galleries hosting painters who copy the style of famous painters? How valued are tribute bands compared to the original?

Enjoyment of music can certainly be about listening to anything from the past or present that gives you pleasure, either through the emotions, stories, images or simple beauty. How well we do this depend on how well we communicate through our music and what it is we are communicating. In the case of Classical music it's composed and worked out meticulously. The player(s) are practiced in trying to communicate the intent of the composer. In Jazz, in the sense of 1950s/60s style, the source material was popular music from that time..."standards". The clever variations were understood because the source was part of everyday culture of that time. Fast forward half a century with players who are playing tunes that the general populace don't know, playing in an formulated academic attempt to copy those players from 60 years ago, where the music is less important than the player's ability to impress listeners with their technical prowess, and you have a formulae for disinterested audiences.

Music is more than appreciation of the technical abilities of the players. If that's all that's being communicated then all those other artistic potentials of communication are stillborn.

While it's possible that Jazz players form that era would be honored that their music was being imitated, they would have to wonder why our present music scene was so impoverished. Improvisation isn't limited to a formulaic imitation of one period from the past. It can be whatever we make it in the present...knowing that it will be different in the future.
 

Adrian63

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Well said Wade : well said !! Surely if there is a jazz hat to be worn right now it should be worn by those who are pushing the limits using the latest innovations in sound : production : visuals : the whole thing . Who this is I wouldn't know ; as I say I don't do jazz but I'd sure like to hear it !!
 

Wade Cornell

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Well said Wade : well said !! Surely if there is a jazz hat to be worn right now it should be worn by those who are pushing the limits using the latest innovations in sound : production : visuals : the whole thing . Who this is I wouldn't know ; as I say I don't do jazz but I'd sure like to hear it !!
This (unfortunately) gets into that area of definitions/semantics. I don't consider myself a jazz player if that now means to most people playing in a style of the 1950s/60s, however I play 99% improvised music. Hopefully there is a healthy future for improvisation, but that doesn't necessarily = what most people now call jazz. E.g. I'll play a gig with DJs for dancers that's 100% improvisation, and yet nobody would call that jazz. It's more about spinning melodies and telling stories that are missing from that type of music, yet can fit. It's never about trying to show off your chops (just as well since mine are very limited). There are precious few situations where anyone wants to listen to some w*n*er doing an ego trip.
 
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Jimmymack

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Jazz is an outdated term for what many people want to do today. Jazz is now taught as if it were a thing in itself and the very fact that jazz is taught means that what people are taught to do is a historically fixed set of ideas. You get no development or progress from this approach. There are so many different things in the pot labelled jazz that it no longer makes any sense as a descriptive term. Who cares what you call it, I call it jazz because it's an easy descriptive but it's not what I think I'm doing when I play it. I think I'm playing music that I, hopefully, want to hear that relates to the present day, in my terms. I'm influenced as much by rock music from the 60s and 70s as I am by jazz. Look at what Miles was doing towards the end, he saw it.
 

randulo

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I believe the word 'jazz', for non-musicians, brings up several images, all fairly inaccurate for anyone who has played and studied non-classical, non-rock and roll music.

1. Dixieland
2. Piano bar
3. Wedding trio or quartet
4. African-American guys who were a thing in the 50's and moved to Paris in the 60's
5. Frank Zappa
6. Do fans consider Kenny G to be jazz?

I was working for a guy in an artistic company in a music-related business. When he came into our office and heard a few bars of Bill Evans "You Must Believe in Spring", he cocked his head and asked me, "Why are you listening to that cocktail bar music?" A friend of mine referred to people like this as 'civilians'.

I hate when people ask me what kind of music I play. It's very difficult for me to categorise it, but I wouldn't call it jazz at all (except for the BOTM/SOTM here, which I play for practice). In the past, I played rock, RnB, blues and soul/funk in bands and a few rare jazz jams. I do embrace the idea of improvisation, both individual and group. Wait, I did once get drunk enough to sing "You Don't Know What Love Is" in a café a few years ago.

The Hal Galper book begins with some interesting background and history.
One thing that struck home with me, was when he writes about the idea of "apprenticeship", where young musicians hang around with local great players. Hal talks about his time with Cannonball and how much he learned from that and others he played with. I remembered my own past, exactly that! Listening to music and playing it with people far above my level, I learned a huge amount about music. At various times, I lived with great musicians, we ate together, played, went to concerts... But aside from these reminiscences, what stuck was that this doesn't happen much today. Now we learn from YouTube, and there's a lot of great stuff out there, but it isn't at all the same.

I think it's not so much the "Mental Library", but the Mental State of understanding what music is in you, and what that is to you.
 

Adrian63

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1,771
Morning folks :
I guess a lot of it comes down to people liking labels....." I'm a jazz musician "...
Sure : if you are actively writing ; performing and recording " jazz " then yeah you are a jazz musician. Sales outlets and streaming platforms want a genre ; it makes life easier. I sometimes get asked what I play and can never answer....it usually comes down to " whatever I feel like "...
Today I'll play " Come Sunday " ; it's a great tune ; probably a " jazz tune "....does this make me a " jazz musician " ? I certainly hope not ;)
Have great day !!
 

jbtsax

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Since this thread has strayed from the topic of playing licks and riffs to different forms and "styles" of music that are lumped together under the label "jazz" I would like to express a different view than some previously have stated in this thread. The term classic is defined as:
A classic is an outstanding example of a particular style; something of lasting worth or with a timeless quality; of the first or highest quality, class, or rank – something that exemplifies its class.
In my study of music history and "jazz history" I have become familiar with works that were "milestones" in the development of that particular form or style of music. Whether composed by Bach, Mozart, Jellyroll Morton, Duke Ellington, or Irving Berlin these songs exemplify music of "timeless quality" and "lasting worth" by virtue of the fact that they are still with us today. As such, I believe that each successive generation of both players and listeners of music can greatly benefit from having the opportunity to become familiar with all of these styles of music either through listening or playing which collectively make up the musical heritage of our "western civilization".

Granted most of this music will never have the following as large as the current "pop" music of the day, but that is not a valid excuse not to continue to teach about, listen to, and perform the songs and works of music that are of "lasting worth and with a timeless quality". That is not to say that the most contemporary, "cutting edge" styles of music are not important as well, but the understanding and appreciation of that musical art can certainly be enhanced through knowledge and familiarity of the musical foundations upon which those types of music were created.
 

Pete Effamy

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Did you vote Pete ? Be interested as to what you think... :)
Not sure you meant me, but I am a Pete nonetheless.

I think of a lick as a group of notes that have melodic form, rather than a pattern which would be more akin to scales and arpeggios.

But aside from this - do I repeat phrases? Yes of course. I have a vocabulary like all the known players as has been said already. Since the band that I played many gigs per year in folded over a decade ago I have been involved in far less improvised music, and when there have been solos the style has invariably not been jazz. Consequently I have forgotten much of my vocabulary from 15 - 20 years ago.

During this time I might not have replaced that vocabulary particularly but I have become more skilled in not playing the wrong thing, or more aptly, something inappropriate. Mostly this is due to "getting out more" rather than being with the same outfit each gig and playing largely a similar set.

Ultimately though I don't really care whether people think I play licks or whatnot because you have to be confident in your own choice of what you play - probably propped up by a cherished few whose view ( and ears) you trust. I have done enough listening in my life to know whether what I play is any good, in fact I'm more likely to downgrade it than others just because it's me.

I learned a lot from a trumpet player mate years ago - "I do what I do and if people don't like it they can..." - I'm sure you get his message.

So, how many of the greats could be picked from a typical transcription alone? Most probably.
 

randulo

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The main point about this metaphor is that although everyone plays licks (even if they don't know it), they are not necessarily drawing on a "mental library" of them! An can't a lick be a phrase you just made up? Once made up, it can be reused in the same song, making it an element of structure.

The analogy was that you can keep little combination of elements like a bowl of sautéd peppers and shallots in the fridge to brighten any dish you're going to cook, "like jazz musicians call up licks from a mental library".
 

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