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#1316870 - 12/02/09 04:38 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: knotty]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
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Originally Posted By: knotty
I am intimately convinced that playing Jazz is incredibly more difficult than playing Classical. Not just different, but more difficult.
The technique is more difficult, the fingering always unpredictable and awkward, the tempos faster, and one has to actually think while they play.

Yet, classical is often more impressive. A total beginner playing classical will almost surely sound better after 6 months of practice than a jazz player after 3 years.


I'm not sure if this is true. But to me, it is more impressive to hear an improvisation done well. It's something we can work on for a decade and still not succeed in. Though I agree that compared to classical, there's not as much early gratification for sure.
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#1317534 - 12/03/09 12:39 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Originally Posted By: jazzwee

But beyond that, I'm visually oriented to the piano now and looks like this aspect of it can be learned. There are more shapes to learn with piano because of key differences. But I'm finding that it can be overcome.


Yes, of course, you can overcome anything, it just takes longer. And makes the beginning stages much harder.

Quote:
If anything, the hardest thing about piano is the percussive nature of it. Which means you have to fill in more in a shorter amount of time.


There is that too. You can't bend a note, you can't do vibrato.

Some languages are easy to learn at the beginning, but very difficult to master. English is like that, not much grammar, but lots of exceptions and idioms. Other languages are hard at the beginning, lots of grammar, but then once you've got the grammar, you've cracked it. I think it's like that with improvising on guitar and piano. Certainly piano's a lot harder to begin with.

Now I can't speak for anyone else, but I think when I said I wanted to learn to improvise I had pretty naive expectations. I knew I wouldn't be an instant master. But I think I imagined that I would 'learn' and then, I would be able to improvise. I hadn't imagined there would be so many shades of 'beginning' and 'getting a bit better.'

And that's not dissimilar to anyone who wants to learn piano, has a reasonable stab at it, and is disappointed that they don't sound like the guy on the play-along CD. It's just a bit demoralizing when you realise how far there is to go, and that there really are no short cuts.

The other thing that I found with jazz was that I really didn't make progress until I stopped playing (and stopped listening to) anything but jazz. Maybe it's just a question of time spent, or maybe regular rhythms and simple harmonies were getting in the way.

And the hard work of transcribing solos is something I just wasn't prepared for - everyone says it's essential.

So all-in-all there are really a lot of barriers, I think, to learning jazz improvisation on piano. But I do plan to get back to it, in the New Year. I put Transcribe in my letter to Santa this year, so I need to wait and see if he thinks I've been good....
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#1317599 - 12/03/09 01:54 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
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TLT, I think you're setting the right expectations now. I was quite frustrated the first couple of years I think. Although by year two there were was enough progress to give some thrills. Then I think the growth becomes geometric. Also your understanding and hearing changes. What seemed so complex is no longer complex.

Compared to classical, Jazz is about development of the ear mostly and the technical mastery to make use of that development. Classical doesn't focus much on the ear other than for listening for nuances, which is not tonally based.

Rhythmic hearing is also a big part of it (you can see from swing discussions).
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#1321253 - 12/08/09 05:32 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
knotty Offline
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Tlt,

I don't know if transcribing will make you a better pianist. But I guarantee, one day you will decide it's time to transcribe Bird, you'll plug it into Transcribe, and you'll hear things you never heard before.

I don't do drugs, but my guess is that this is as close to the effect as it gets.

++

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#1321294 - 12/08/09 06:47 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: knotty]
jazzwee Offline
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knotty, I'm having fun working on Chick Corea transcriptions. I'm not trying to transcribe but I'm really reading it very slowly and getting it automatic in my fingers. I've never tried Chick before and with my teacher's guidance, I'm really learning a lot.
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#1325980 - 12/15/09 02:15 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
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Loc: Scotland
I just wanted to share this. Lately I've been focussing on blues. Last few days I've been addicted to Straight - No Chaser, and I find myself singing it, tapping it, all the time. Last night I was playing it over and over on the piano, and my son came up and started talking to me. So I put my silent pedals on, and kept playing while having a conversation with him at the same time. crazy I've never done that before.
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#1326055 - 12/15/09 04:34 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
knotty Offline
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One of the teachers I had in the past used to say:
you can't really play a tune unless you can have a conversation and read the newspaper at the same time.

That was his test actually smile

congrats!

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#1326064 - 12/15/09 04:48 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: knotty]
ten left thumbs Offline
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I suppose all this time I've not really been able to play any tunes! smile
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#1326126 - 12/15/09 06:29 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
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Fantastic TLT!

I'm doing something similar, which I want to write about one of these days (when I succeed). It has to do with developing good time and has to be built to be at the subconscious level. It is very difficult because as with anything else in playing jazz, you cannot allocate 50% of the brain to each of the following: note selection, rhythm, phrasing, LH voicing, LH/RH independence, chord/scales, dynamics, swing.... we'll be at 1000% of our brain capacity by the time we add it up.

So the goal is to develop each element to a level that requires very little conscious effort.

No wonder it's a hard thing to master...

Everyday, I do these boring single note exercises against a metronome to make sure I "bury" the click. The good news is that my teacher says it needs to be done only once and it will never disappear as a skill. Maybe I should just listen to Gyro and have NO time. Less work...
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#1326773 - 12/16/09 03:44 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Yep, the brain's overrated.

I honestly think that lobotomy a couple of weeks ago helped. wink Certainly, severing the cerebral hemispheres has helped with hand separation.

So today I went one further. Not only did my son talk to me, but he also sang. Something else. OK, I didn't join in, but I did chat and keep playing.
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#1326926 - 12/16/09 06:47 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
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Haha! LOL! smile

Did you have a metronome running though. That's the true test of skill.

My old jazz teacher (not the current one), had a story similar to Knotty's. He said Cats need to be able to have a conversation -- getting a girl's phone number -- while playing a tune with the band. So not only must he play the notes, he's got to keep up with the rhythm section smile

Some of my recordings that I posted here had some similar stuff going on in the background (my little ones). Good thing my keyboard is plugged directly into the Zoom smile
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#1327432 - 12/17/09 11:46 AM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Originally Posted By: jazzwee


Did you have a metronome running though. That's the true test of skill.



Always! (The one that runs in my blood, that is.) smile
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#1336312 - 12/29/09 02:15 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
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Santa came! thumb

... and brought me 5 golden rings, 4 calling birds, 3 French horns, 2 jazz CDs (one by Mark Levine and one by Tim Richards) and one copy of Transcribe! smile

To top it all, my family very kindly gave me some money which I put in the direction of Metaphors for the Musician, The Jazz Piano book, and the ABRSM grade 3 book and CD.

But it gets better. I got my son a metronome for his Christmas, which he puts to good use my making it make the most annoying sound he can think of. help But when he does go back to school, I do plan to 'borrow' it occasionally. So I now have no excuses about not having a decent metronome. This is one of the little digital ones that you can set to different time-signatures.

Now I'm feeling really well equipped to learn jazz in the next year. Everything has arrived, and it all looks good. But I'm not rushing in, and I know this is going to take time. Now if anyone else has any ideas about essential books, CDs, gadgets, widgets, without which one just cannot learn jazz, can you please, please, keep quiet about it!
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#1336452 - 12/29/09 05:07 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
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Wow! You're all set TLT! Beyond this, you'll need to get an MP3 player or Ipod and start buying tunes you're working on at $0.99 apiece. Or just use YouTube. Part of what you have to do is spend a lot of time listening over and over (and over).

If I'm working on a tune, I'll probably listen to it 300 times...Makes it hard to do on Youtube.

The most important purchase was probably the Metronome. When you're ready to discuss it, I'll tell you why. I've been heavy on the metronome the last few weeks and I'm seeing tremenduous changes.
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#1336506 - 12/29/09 06:12 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
Beyond this, you'll need to get an MP3 player or Ipod and start buying tunes you're working on at $0.99 apiece.


I have this and have been using it. It's very handy to get just the tracks I need and no more. So, if I'm using a Tim Richards book, or an ABRSM book, I go through, buy all the recommended tracks, listen for about a week, before I begin to play.

I have set myself the goal of taking another bite out of blues (piano and guitar) before going back into jazz, though. I was going to start some transcribing.

Before Christmas I got back into the blues numbers at the back of the Mark Harrison book. No improvising - just trying my damndest to play the notes on the page. I stuck them on CD and sent them to friends and relatives. So far, positive feedback (of course everyone is polite!). Still it's good, because it marks what I've been able to achieve in a year.

I could play them better, though.
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#1337701 - 12/31/09 08:57 AM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
knotty Offline
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Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
Hi All,

TLT, these are great gifts. I think you will enjoy Transcribe! very much. Those books you plan on buying also.
As for buying tracks, I have emusic myself, I don't know if it's available in Scotland, but it's a very cheap way to buy music.
You can extract audio out of youtube fairly easily, but it is somewhat technical.

On my end, I am buying a house and moving in 1 month now, most of my gear, except for the acoustic is gone in storage, so I'm off recording for a while.
That said, my new basement will have space for a mini studio, with a nice side room for a drum set. My resolution for this year is to get the studio up, and start inviting people to play. I figure if you tell a drummer you have the practice space and the drum set already installed, how can he say no? Then I'll poke around the nearby music school and try to grab a horn, and off we go.

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#1337725 - 12/31/09 09:43 AM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: knotty]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
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Loc: Scotland
Knotty, I wish I could be there!
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#1337850 - 12/31/09 12:35 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
jotur Online   blank
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Registered: 09/16/06
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Loc: Santa Fe, NM
Knotty - what a great step up! Finding practice space is always a problem, and to be able to both practice and record! Heaven on earth. Enjoy it, and I can hardly wait for a recording.

Cathy
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#1338458 - 01/01/10 12:53 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jotur]
knotty Offline
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Registered: 03/01/07
Posts: 2938
Loc: Bethesda, MD (Washington D.C)
thanks, realistically, this probably won't happen until at least june 2010, but I'm gonna make it happen !

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#1338465 - 01/01/10 01:01 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: knotty]
jazzwee Offline
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Too bad you're not near me Knotty. I've got all the instruments too. Steinway, 2 Yamaha DP's, Drums, multiple guitars -- acoustic, Gibson electrics.

I can have a jam session here and the no one has to bring a thing smile

But I'm the only one who plays Jazz so it doesn't help...
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#1338467 - 01/01/10 01:02 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: knotty]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
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Loc: Scotland
Knotty, I just checked out emusic. What's the deal with it? I always get suspicious when I'm told I can cancel at any time.

I'm really excited for you having your own studio. That would be ideal! Me, I've got an instrument in every corner, but you can't get them together.
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#1338486 - 01/01/10 01:26 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
A little blog post for the new year ---

After passing the 5 year mark of learning Jazz, I'd like to describe what happens at this stage. First of all, the improvements in my playing seem to be geometric and I sound different now than even a couple of months ago. I attribute this a teacher's guidance as it focuses my practice on the things necessary to take the next step.

Back in October, I was focused on building up my speed. Before I started, I would never take a tune much above 150bpm. That was my comfort zone. A little bit because of watching Dave Solazzo and how relaxed he plays, I challenged myself to improve speed. And I realized that speed can't be developed until you really are able to relax everything but the active finger during playing. Easy enough at slow tempo but usually causing lock-ups at 250bpm. Now here in the New Year, I'm pretty relaxed playing at 220bpm, which is a professional level tempo.

Then the next thing my teacher focused me on is the Time issue once again. The difference between professional players and what I can play is time. The precision of swing and the ability to create the feel of swing is time control. Although I could play well enough, it wasn't at the 'rock-steady' level that pros play at. So I've just been heavily focused on exercises on refining my time. A month later, even my articulation changed. Didn't I say that swing is based on time control? Well it's true. I'm not done with this yet, but the improvements have been amazing. I've said this before and repeat it: you cannot swing well until you perfect your time.

The other thing I've worked on in the last few months is my Left hand. In a way, a weak LH also screws up time so they're all interconnected under the "technique" heading. Different muscles are building in my LH. I've been trying to improvise daily with my LH while comping with the RH. This is tiresome for my brain so I only do a little bit of it a day. But the dexterity change in my LH has been amazing too. It's not up to RH standards, but from where it came from, it's quite a jump. This is a more long term project and involves Hanon (not usually my preferred but useful here) and contrary scales.

The final focus recently has been the enhancement of my Jazz vocabulary. For this, I've engaged in a long-span study of Chick Corea, something that would not even be possible years ago due to the complexity and speed of what he does. But I discovered that plenty of what he does is the mainstay of Modern Jazz (intervallic playing, quartals, diminished scales, substitutions). I know all these in theory, but closely following a transcription of Chick and trying to play the line like he does just exposes some interesting patterns. I'm not a "lick" guy so my study is slower and more intellectual so I can apply it to anything.

So all in all, it was quite a successful 2009. If anyone has issues with the same things I worked on here, let me know and I'll pass on what I did to get past these limitations.

Happy New Year to all and let's get to the next level in 2010!
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#1338529 - 01/01/10 03:02 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Wow. Jazzwee, what an honour to have such a great teacher, eh? Your progress is a real inspiration. I suppose, the bottom line is, there are no short-cuts, but if you stick at something, you get better. thumb
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#1338552 - 01/01/10 03:57 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
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Loc: So. California
TLT, there are absolutely no short-cuts. But it's like a staircase. You build on it a skill at a time. If anything, a teacher makes sure you're not focusing your time on things you already know. It's always an identification of a focus. I try to do the same here when I'm asked for advise. There's A-Z, but maybe I will suggest you work on E first.

There is no doubt that improvising in Jazz (or Blues) is a complex deal. Creating one's own music at millisecond speed cannot be a simple skill. But if you don't get ahead of yourself, it does pay off as the skill cannot disappear once mastered.

BTW - some of these skills might take years for some to develop. But with intense focused practice, I'm accomplishing them in a matter of a few months. I think that's really the point. This stuff can and does get done faster with guidance.

So I've reached the level of a reasonable passable jazz player in 5 years (a hard slog no doubt). Without guidance, I have no doubt that 15 years would not have been enough. I do think the teacher matters. Since most don't have one, I have shared what I know so that you do it closer to 5 than to 15...
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#1338674 - 01/01/10 06:34 PM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: jazzwee


So I've reached the level of a reasonable passable jazz player in 5 years (a hard slog no doubt). Without guidance, I have no doubt that 15 years would not have been enough. I do think the teacher matters. Since most don't have one, I have shared what I know so that you do it closer to 5 than to 15...



I wouldn't mind it taking 15 years to get to your standard, at my current level of committment. But, within the next 15 years I do hope to be in a better position to get proper lessons myself.

My annual blog:

A year ago I got a guitar, started learning to play it. I first heard about '12 bar blues' and was amazed to find that it might finish on a 7th chord. Then I went back to the piano and learned how to play blues on that.

I've become acqainted with what jazz is. I can 'swing' with the RH, get the accents on the offbeats and keep legato, but the subtleties of swing ratio elude me. I can improvise with the RH, and keep the LH going, but only at a very, very simple level. I've got a fair idea of what's possible harmony-wise, but I can't harmonise or re-harmonise at any kind of speed.

At one point, when I set out on the piano, it was my ambition to be able to improvise on piano at the same level as I was able on guitar. Now I would say I can do that.

I can't say I have specific aims for the next year. But I do want to get better at each of these:
blues
jazz
rock
re-harmonising
improvising

It would be fine for me if, at the end of the year, I am the same technically as I am now. My technique just now is mostly adequate to do what I want to do, until someone persuades me otherwise. It would just be good to 'release' that technical ability in more creative ways, than just playing the notes on the page.
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#1338944 - 01/02/10 12:36 AM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
TLT, mentions something that I wanted to make clear on learning to swing/"swing ratios", etc.

In a way, swing is connected to several things: (1) Playing evenly and in time, and (2) Playing a wider range of tempos.

If you never reach a tempo beyond, let's say 120bpm, then you only get one aspect of swing: the hard swing, closer to triplet (heavier on the long-short). It's only when one reaches a tempo of 150bpm and higher that you get a different sense of this because at that tempo, it will be actually quite difficult to swing with an extreme ratio. At 200bpm, there is no swing ratio, it's quite even.

I only say this because over the course of this thread, that has been discussed but sometimes the context is different. For someone trying to "slowly" execute a tune at 100bpm, you practically have no choice but to have an extreme swing ratio of long-shorts. Even offbeat accents cannot be done at a very fast tempo (200bpm and above). In fact, at the higher tempos, there's more use of "short-longs" instead (which has a delayed feel).

So perhaps the deal is to reach "150bpm" speed first in improvising, although that can potentially be reached only by a beginner by using fewer eighth notes bursts. Even then, the difference in swing can be apparent.

In some cases, many here have focused on playing tunes only at a slow tempo. So instead of being focused on swing, perhaps the question is raising the tempo, which then opens up more of an understanding of swing feel.

Playing even a 'Donna Lee' head at these various tempi (100-150bpm) should make this clearer.
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#1338955 - 01/02/10 12:52 AM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: jazzwee]
EltonRach Offline
Full Member

Registered: 09/20/09
Posts: 95
Loc: Singapore
jazzwee - this is so helpful. Please continue to share your experiences. Even if it's a short excerpt month on month. I've not found a jazz teacher yet in my part of the world.

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#1338958 - 01/02/10 01:00 AM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: EltonRach]
jazzwee Offline
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Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
Hi EltonRach, sure! I never know if anyone reads what I say so thanks for the feedback.
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#1338967 - 01/02/10 01:27 AM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: EltonRach]
guest1013 Offline
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Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
Originally Posted By: EltonRach
jazzwee - this is so helpful. Please continue to share your experiences. Even if it's a short excerpt month on month. I've not found a jazz teacher yet in my part of the world.
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#1339140 - 01/02/10 11:09 AM Re: Jazz Study Group: Autumn Leaves, ATTYA, etc. [Re: guest1013]
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
From the reading counts, I've always though this thread had so many lurkers, but never confirmed. Thanks for coming out and saying a word or two! It's good to know the room isn't empty smile
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