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#1235045 - 07/21/09 07:56 PM HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
charliehornsby Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 45
Loc: Los Angeles
guys, i really need help with my soloing. i went to berklee. i play in bands, jazz, rock, blues, and my solos suck. and i guys, can't seem to find the right teacher to help me get it together. i mean, i know who i like. i love oscar peterson, kenny werner, keith jarret, chuck leavell, bruce hornsby... all these guys i love but for some reason when i'm on stage, and everyone looks for me to take a solo. the suck. they're not clean, they're not melodic, or phrased will. i just blow some scales. and i need help and guidance. is there ANYTHING out there or ANYONE i can talk to about help here? a book? a teacher? a site? anything? i just want to be a good soloist. i want to be able to burn... why is this so hard? what am i doing wrong?! please help!!!!!

you can contact me directly if you google: charlie hornsby. i have a website, myspace, facebook, etc.

thank you!
_________________________
http://charliehornsby.com/

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Piano & Music Accessories
#1235154 - 07/22/09 12:43 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: charliehornsby]
thewright Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/28/09
Posts: 4
I'm running into the same issue. It sucks when you're jamming and then everyone turns to you for a solo and rip something that completely sucks. I'm looking forward to hearing peoples response on this one cause i'd really like to know.

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#1235159 - 07/22/09 12:55 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: thewright]
Othello Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/06/07
Posts: 121
I am pretty much in the same boat, except I did not go to Berklee!

I am learning to play by myself, with the guidance of this fantastic book, "Art of Improvisation" by Bob Taylor, which really gets into the nitty gritty of jazz improv.

I also use Band in a Box to practice at home. I surely helps with the whole stage fright thing!

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#1235165 - 07/22/09 01:24 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: Othello]
dave solazzo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/09
Posts: 160
Loc: syracuse ny
i think the whole stage fright thing is something that we all go through...even the best pianists deal with it to some degree. i think the trick is learning to make that nervous energy work for you, so it actually enhances your performance. that's easier said than done though :-)

about the soloing: i think simplicity is the way to go when you're starting out. it's tempting to want to play a million eighth notes and flashy lines all the time. and that kind of thing certainly has its place. but, for me, some of the most satisfying solos are the singable ones, the ones built on simple, melodic phrases.

check out this bill evans video. he says some great stuff about simplicity and soloing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YEHWaGuurUk


Edited by dave solazzo (07/22/09 01:40 AM)
_________________________
http://davesolazzo.com

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#1235175 - 07/22/09 02:14 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: dave solazzo]
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
Here's your solution... read the reviews, they ar not kidding:

http://www.amazon.com/Connecting-Chords-...howViewpoints=1

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#1235199 - 07/22/09 03:46 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: Jazz+]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Good solos are pulled off when you start hearing passages that relate to the chord progression and you become confident in your path to pull them off.

1. Get the book Country Riffs for Piano by George Wurbach. The book has all the cool licks that can apply to rock, blues and country. A CD is included to hear all the exercises played the way they are written and the feel. Transpose them to the "rock keys", E-A-D-G-B. It can be more of a challenge to play a great solo over a simple triad progression, I-IV-V than to blow on II-V-I like Autumn Leaves.

2. Learn the solo on the Beatles Get Back tune that the "fifth Beatle Billy Preston played on electric piano. A simple, but very fine solo on 2 chords, A and D. Transpose the solo to the guitar keys.

3. Listen to all the tunes that keyboardist Reese Wynans plays on with Stevie Ray Vaughn. Reese is on youtube, so download the videos, open them in Quicktime Pro, slow them down and learn them note for note.

If you can find a teacher to work with, that's fine too, but really you have to work it out yourself by listening to the tunes and trying to copy what the keyboard players are doing, one note, one bar at a time until you can duplicate it 24-7, awake or asleep.

4. Play pentatonic octaves of I-IV-V up and down the scale in quarter notes, eighth notes and eighth note triplets until it;s smooth with a metronome.

Do these suggestions and you will see successful results in a month with daily practice. The key to all this is listening and then duplicating. Take it a day at a time, have patience and results will come

katt

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#1235394 - 07/22/09 01:03 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Well, this is indeed the story of my life at the moment. 3rd year jazz major, play in all sorts of combos, bands, whatevs. Aannddd, yep my solos sound like garbage right now. There was a point this past year where I was creating fantastic solos all the time and my teacher calls that my "singing" voice. Don't really know where it comes from or how to get it back, but I certainly hope that it comes back to me soon.

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#1235407 - 07/22/09 01:25 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
I should add... a lot of the feedback I see here is "connect the harmony, make sense of the theory, steal some licks, transcribe, listen" etc. I mean I guess I could do more of that that, but at some point it needs to be music created from within me, possibly influenced by some things,right? What I want to do is find that balance. The vocabulary is there, the chord scale relationships are there, the many transcriptions I have done are there, but the art is not. I don't want to get lost in all of the information I can get my hands on, I want to make music, and that I cannot do.

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#1235414 - 07/22/09 01:30 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
charliehornsby Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 45
Loc: Los Angeles
Katt, that's great stuff. thank you. i'll also check out those books. i have been looking for the Reese Wynans and Leavell and Bill Payne footage, i didn't know you could download it from youtube. i'll have to figure that out.

and yes, i should know all the pentatonics, and i don't know those as well as i should.

i hope this thread will continue to yield more conversation, thoughts and ideas.

thank you!
_________________________
http://charliehornsby.com/

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#1235416 - 07/22/09 01:32 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: charliehornsby]
charliehornsby Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 45
Loc: Los Angeles
i think the trick too, is isolating HOW TO PRACTICE AND WHAT TO PRACTICE to get better solos.
_________________________
http://charliehornsby.com/

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#1235443 - 07/22/09 02:57 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: charliehornsby]
charliehornsby Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 45
Loc: Los Angeles
Dave Salazzo, this bill evans video is genius!!!! thank you!
_________________________
http://charliehornsby.com/

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#1235446 - 07/22/09 03:04 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: charliehornsby]
charliehornsby Offline
Full Member

Registered: 02/01/09
Posts: 45
Loc: Los Angeles
i did a google search and amazon search for "Country Riffs for Piano by George Wurzbach"... i couldn't find it. anyone have any tips on where to get it?

thanks!
_________________________
http://charliehornsby.com/

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#1235515 - 07/22/09 05:44 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: charliehornsby]
dannac Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/04/07
Posts: 595
Loc: USA
disregard post .... links do not work.


Edited by dannac (07/22/09 05:48 PM)

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#1235812 - 07/23/09 09:50 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: dannac]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
I think you need to take a page from Michael Jackson.
Initially he imitated his favorite singers, but
he wanted to be no. 1, and he realized that if he
imitated others, he'd be just a lesser version
of them. He knew he had to do things differently
if wanted to be King of Pop. Normal people take sleeping
pills. Jackson didn't sleep, and if he did, it was
with anesthesia. No one in the world sleeps by
anesthesia, but no one in the world is as big as
Michael Jackson.

If you imitate your favorite pianists, you'll be
just a lesser version of them. You need to do
things differently if you want to stand out.

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#1235881 - 07/23/09 11:29 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: Gyro]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Unfortunately, it looks like the riff book by George Wurzbach book is out of print. You can out in a search to Amazon and they me able to find a used copy out there.

We learn to talk by hearing our parents and people around us speak and we pick up the language which is passed on in order to communicate. Music is also a language.

Chick Corea learned to "speak" at the piano by transcribing all of Horace Silver's records and then duplicating it and applying it to his own style. But could you tell the difference between Horace's style and Chicks? To my ears, there is no comparison, they are both unique with the sound they produce. Bill Evans learned every lick Bud Powell played and then developed his own sound.

Why do we play music that is written, pop, classical, etc? Why is it that 10 of the greatest classical pianists that include Glenn Gould, Horowitz, Byron Janis, Richter, Daniel Pollack, and others play the same Chopin Etude, but each interpretation is unique and has an individual sound? They are imitating what the composer wrote down.

To become good at improvisation, you need a path to follow which means listening to records, transcribing, learning licks, getting lessons, copying what others are doing and then let all this knowledge filter in to our own interpretation. As piano players, we are all copying and listening to others to learn how to "speak" the language of music.

So I'm sorry, but I disagree that imitating your favorite pianist will make you a lesser one. Just my opinion and you have yours which is fine too. Imitating all of my influences has made me a better player but not an imitator. We are all going to have "identities" and influences from other pianists to go our own path. We also find teachers to show us things we duplicate in order to learn other approaches to harmony, improvisation, cool licks, etc. JMHO

katt


Edited by nitekatt2008z (07/23/09 11:31 AM)

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#1235947 - 07/23/09 01:06 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: nitekatt2008z]
thewright Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 06/28/09
Posts: 4
There is some good stuff here all, thanks for all your input and suggestions.

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#1237789 - 07/26/09 07:30 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: charliehornsby]
rfgs Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/26/09
Posts: 1
Two one-word tips:

SING. Not necessarily in public, not during gigs, but for yourself. Learn the words, any words (I made a jump in how much I "got" what Coltrane was doing in his solos when I started learning Jon Hendricks' vocalese version of "Freddie Freeloader"!) Get rhythm-section tracks to tunes you know like the back of your hand and put'em on the in car while you drive around; you'll find yourself starting to sing over'em after a while. This'll free you from thinking about technique as such, and let you focus on what works for you melodically. Listen to Dizzy scat-sing. Nobody ever nominated him for any awards as a vocalist (as far as I know) but you can hear how his solos work, when he sings.

SIMPLIFY. Strip it down. WAY down. Understate. Consider that maybe "burning" and velocity just isn't what your playing is about right now. Don't think Tatum/Peterson, think Monk,think Miles, think Horace Silver, think Basie. Stop playing "Giant Steps", and spend time working on soloing on 12-bar blues. SLOW 12 bar blues. In G.

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#1237926 - 07/27/09 12:02 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: nitekatt2008z]
Nikalette Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/08
Posts: 1079
Loc: California
Originally Posted By: nitekatt2008z
Good solos are pulled off when you start hearing passages that relate to the chord progression and you become confident in your path to pull them off.

1. Get the book Country Riffs for Piano by George Wurbach. The book has all the cool licks that can apply to rock, blues and country. A CD is included to hear all the exercises played the way they are written and the feel. Transpose them to the "rock keys", E-A-D-G-B. It can be more of a challenge to play a great solo over a simple triad progression, I-IV-V than to blow on II-V-I like Autumn Leaves.

2. Learn the solo on the Beatles Get Back tune that the "fifth Beatle Billy Preston played on electric piano. A simple, but very fine solo on 2 chords, A and D. Transpose the solo to the guitar keys.

3. Listen to all the tunes that keyboardist Reese Wynans plays on with Stevie Ray Vaughn. Reese is on youtube, so download the videos, open them in Quicktime Pro, slow them down and learn them note for note.

If you can find a teacher to work with, that's fine too, but really you have to work it out yourself by listening to the tunes and trying to copy what the keyboard players are doing, one note, one bar at a time until you can duplicate it 24-7, awake or asleep.

4. Play pentatonic octaves of I-IV-V up and down the scale in quarter notes, eighth notes and eighth note triplets until it;s smooth with a metronome.

Do these suggestions and you will see successful results in a month with daily practice. The key to all this is listening and then duplicating. Take it a day at a time, have patience and results will come

katt


What exactly do you mean in no. 4?

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#1237931 - 07/27/09 12:17 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: Nikalette]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Gyro,

I think people underestimate just how much great musicians copy other people before they do their own thing. I heard that Ray Brown used to copy from Oscar Pettiford so much that people used to call him ray pettiford. A lot of great players I know can play an entire album worth of transcriptions they learned by ear. One of my teacher is so fluent in the style of stan getz, john coltrane, and lockjaw davis, and as demonstration he played a blues solo in the style of trane, getz, and davis on each chorus.

charliehornsby,

my suggestion is imitate as much as you can...and try to do as much of it by ear without music. For now don't worry about developing your own voice, because as you imitate, you will naturally find your own way of doing things, your voice should naturally emerge.

pick something really easy like, Mile's Solo from Kind of blue album, but learn them completely by ear. Learn it so that you can play it exactly like the record, with all the accents and feel.. you'll start to realize that a good solo is not just good choice of notes, but good feel, dynamic and other things.

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#1237935 - 07/27/09 12:26 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: etcetra]
Nikalette Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 12/22/08
Posts: 1079
Loc: California
I've searched high and low for the George Wurzbach book (and that's Wurzbach with an double dots accent um....) and it's not only out of print but not available in the usual places. You could try the UK sites, I've found some more obscure things for sale there. Anyway, I found his website, and being completely without inhibitions or shame, emailed him and asked him where the book might be found. I'll let you know!

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#1237945 - 07/27/09 01:06 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: rfgs]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Originally Posted By: rfgs
Two one-word tips:

SING. Not necessarily in public, not during gigs, but for yourself. Learn the words, any words (I made a jump in how much I "got" what Coltrane was doing in his solos when I started learning Jon Hendricks' vocalese version of "Freddie Freeloader"!) Get rhythm-section tracks to tunes you know like the back of your hand and put'em on the in car while you drive around; you'll find yourself starting to sing over'em after a while. This'll free you from thinking about technique as such, and let you focus on what works for you melodically. Listen to Dizzy scat-sing. Nobody ever nominated him for any awards as a vocalist (as far as I know) but you can hear how his solos work, when he sings.

SIMPLIFY. Strip it down. WAY down. Understate. Consider that maybe "burning" and velocity just isn't what your playing is about right now. Don't think Tatum/Peterson, think Monk,think Miles, think Horace Silver, think Basie. Stop playing "Giant Steps", and spend time working on soloing on 12-bar blues. SLOW 12 bar blues. In G.


Absolutely! 100 percent.

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#1237970 - 07/27/09 04:21 AM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: Gyro]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Originally Posted By: Gyro
I think you need to take a page from Michael Jackson.
Initially he imitated his favorite singers, but
he wanted to be no. 1, and he realized that if he
imitated others, he'd be just a lesser version
of them. He knew he had to do things differently
if wanted to be King of Pop. Normal people take sleeping
pills. Jackson didn't sleep, and if he did, it was
with anesthesia. No one in the world sleeps by
anesthesia, but no one in the world is as big as
Michael Jackson.



Gyro

I just want to point out how absurd your point is. first of all Michale Jackson is not a jazz pianist and he doesn't improvise on an instrument. How does any of this apply to improvisation?

You seem to cite that Michel Jackson as the ultimate example of someone learning by ear, but do you realize that Michael probably didn't write/produce the songs you hear on the record? chances are that he had a basic idea (chords and melody), and he hired an arranger to make his song. And whoever that arranger is, he probably had to write out charts for the studio musicians to sight-read. And I wouldn't be surprised. click track/metronome on the recording session

I don't know how much you know about jazz, and from reading your post it doesn't sound like you play jazz at all.. and frankly it's rather disconcerting that you are giving me and other people advice on how to play jazz. So please, stop giving people advice on things you don't know anything about. Not only are you embaressing yourself, you are misinforming people who doesn't know better, and you are doing a great disservice to them.


Edited by etcetra (07/27/09 04:24 AM)

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#1238899 - 07/28/09 01:27 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: etcetra]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
Gyro's point makes perfect sense. Imitating Brad Mehdlau and Keith Jarrett and you name it will only take a musician so far. Once that vocabulary is learned there comes a point as I have said on other threads, when the musician needs to start being innovative. The paralell Gyro is using is simply an example, no it's not a "Jazz" example, but a decent metaphor.

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#1238951 - 07/28/09 02:36 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I feel skeptical about people who tell others to "find your own voice"... etc, mostly because people don't realize just how much homework people do to get to that point. It doesn't really work like that.

I've given many examples, but I've heard Brad Mehldau play just like Wynton Kelly, and Chick Corea can play just like Bud Powell if he wants to. I've mentioned how Gearld Clayton learned the entire Oscar Peterson's "Candiana Suite" by ear.. that's an entire album!! It's no wonder Gearld is one of the best young pianist alive. You are literally talking about people imitating for years and years, if not over 10 years.

I've talk to many greats, and none of them seemed to be preoccupied about "finding your own voice". It shouldn't be a goal or something to shoot for, your voice should naturally come out of you from what you practice. I am paraphrasing but, Bill Evans once said that if you feel like your individuality will be compromised from imitating, then you didn't have much individuality in the first place.

My point is that for most of us, esp for the someone who is having problem playing a coherent melodic solo.. finding your own voice should not be a priority at all. you should be transcribing, imitating everything you hear that you like.

Also I am speaking about Gyro with respect to other posts he has made. He's made some outrageous advice on how to play jazz, and from what I read i doesn't seem like he really plays jazz. I dunno I just think some people should be more careful when they give advice, esp if it's not your expertise. That's why I usually refrain from giving advice on how to play classical pieces.

btw I think a singer imitating another vocalist is quite different from a pianist imitating another pianist's style.


Edited by etcetra (07/28/09 02:43 PM)

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#1238958 - 07/28/09 02:46 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: etcetra]
MarKey Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/07
Posts: 235
Etcetra,Who are you to tell other people what to say?

Who care's if it's Jazz or not, the point was made that Michael Jackson became his own person first by imitating then doing his own thing. I personally think it was great advice from Gyro about MJ.

I also think you are TOTALLY wrong about "finding your own voice shouldn't be a priority". We should all find our voice. It appears that you are somewhat of a follower. There are leaders and followers and you might be better suited to copy the greats and never find your own voice. Don't worry there are many like you that play music without soul and it's okay, but for those of us that want to let our voice come out, we'll just keep searching inside.

Keep copying music etc...

Not my idea of fun!


Edited by MarKey (07/28/09 04:28 PM)
_________________________
Time's a tickin!

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#1238985 - 07/28/09 03:16 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: MarKey]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Let me just say that the whole "finding your own voice shouldn't be a priority, it should be a natural byproduct of your study" is something I heard from Carl Allen, Bill Evans, Jeff Clayton.. etc

Chances are that if your solos suck and you can't make melodic coherent ideas, its probably because you haven't done enough homework. you do have to imitate first before you can do your own thing..and you have to imitate quite a bit.

I can say that about any great player.. they all have major influences. when you listen to good players you immediately notice their influence, you can a lot of McCoy Tyner in Kenny Kirkland or Geoffrey Keezers playing, and Eldar Dgangirov and Gearld Clayton have stole quite a bit from Oscar Peterson.. and let's face it, we're talking about years and years spent imitating those masters. It's a natural part of learning jazz.

I wouldn't be surprised if all those guys have done over 1000 transcriptions in their lifetime, and I am sure they learned albums worth of solos by memory. One of my teacher once told me Ray Brown used to steal from Oscar Pettiford so much that people called him "Ray Pettiford" so I guess I woudln't really mind following in their footsteps, because they all sound great!!

By the way I accept your opinion and criticism about my point of view, but keep in mind I also have the right to criticize Gyro for his point of view too.

And you don't have the right to call me names, that is rude an inappropriate. I am notifying you to the moderator.


Edited by etcetra (07/28/09 03:49 PM)

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#1239016 - 07/28/09 04:06 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: etcetra]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Pianos_N_Cheezecake,

btw I was talking to my friend the other day.. he was talking about how Pat Metheny and those guys still transcribe music even to this day. I don't think the greats ever stop stealing and copying ideas. I think the point is that, no matter how much you steal and copy stuff, you end up doing it your way. and it's combination of stuff you imitate that makes your playing your own.

besides what does any one really mean when they say "finding your own voice"?? How else can we 'speak' other than through our own voice? whenever I learn a new solo or new vocabulary, I don't just stop there, I usually find ways to tweak them and make up different exercise based on what I learned... so whatever you decided to copy, you are learning it your own way, you internalize it in a way only you can, and you put your experience and feeling to it, which is different than anyone else. everything you learn you make it your own. So why be so preoccupied over being yourself?

I don't think the greats consciously paid attention finding their own style.. they just developed ideas that are important to them.. they were just being themselves. and that just happened to be what we call 'their style".

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#1239051 - 07/28/09 04:39 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: etcetra]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 625
Loc: Chicago
Just to chime in: My jazz teacher, and everybody else in the business I've spoken to, says that playing the solos of the greats is one of the absolute keys to learning jazz. My teacher has given me transcribed solos, and the task to play it along with the recording so you don't notice any differences. You want to understand every nuance that the great player used. You can feel how this helps your playing after doing a few.

The notion that close study of the greats forcloses originality just makes no sense. Beethoven studied Mozart closely, Miles Davis studied Ravel. Everyone needs to study what past masters have done, and playing transcribed solos is nothing more than the most authentic and serious way to study the great jazz tradition. Would anyone suggest that you don't benefit by listening to Miles Davis? Well, playing his transcribed solos is just a way to really understand what you're listening to. It's a lot of work, but there is no better way to learn.

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#1239185 - 07/28/09 08:35 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: etcetra]
dave solazzo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/30/09
Posts: 160
Loc: syracuse ny
Originally Posted By: etcetra

besides what does any one really mean when they say "finding your own voice"?? How else can we 'speak' other than through our own voice? whenever I learn a new solo or new vocabulary, I don't just stop there, I usually find ways to tweak them and make up different exercise based on what I learned... so whatever you decided to copy, you are learning it your own way, you internalize it in a way only you can, and you put your experience and feeling to it, which is different than anyone else. everything you learn you make it your own. So why be so preoccupied over being yourself?


i agree. if five different pianists play a chick corea solo or an oscar solo, you end up with five completely different solos. it's the same with classical music. glenn gould's recording of the goldberg variations is very different from rosalyn tureck's which is very different from andras schiff's, and so on and so forth. the notes are only part of the story, it's what the great pianists do with the notes that makes the music special.

so when it comes to finding "your own voice," i think that just kind of happens automatically.


Edited by dave solazzo (07/28/09 08:47 PM)
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#1239311 - 07/28/09 11:13 PM Re: HELP ME!!!!!! My piano solos SUCK!!!!!!!!!!!!! [Re: dave solazzo]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Yes, to become an innovator, a student must first be an imitator of the language and then utilize their technical skills to be able to communicate, especially playing jazz.

Where would blues come from if the style had not need imitated and past on to new generations of blues artists? Same with jazz.

Suppose a piano player was stranded on an island with only a piano but no written music, no radio, no iPod, Internet, CD's. But before he got there, he studied classical and developed great technique, but had the desire and passion to play and study jazz. But how would he learn to play jazz without listening to other musicians who play it and making attempts to read and transcribe other jazz musicians work? Would he have enough memory of the whole history of jazz and the leaders who contributed to it to be able to imitate it? I doubt it seriously. But then after being stranded for 5 years, he is finally rescued and ready to hit the jazz clubs and play his interpretation of what he thought and practiced of his concept of jazz. Unfortunately when he started playing his version of "jazz" all the listeners were scratching there heads as they were walking out of the joint and asking themselves, what kind of music is that anyway? Hmmm...

When you hear jazz, whether you are a student of the art or not, when you hear it out in the world, you just know that what you heard is jazz. You just know it, even if you can't put your finger on the reason, but jazz just sounds like jazz.The players are different, the improvisational phrases are different, the harmony different, but still, we know that jazz has a distinctive sound, even though each musician's intent is unique, it all shares the same voice. And why is that? Of course the answer is, there are many similar "words and phrases" that could present a cliche of stylistic identities with jazz.

I used to talk about music to this dude and I asked what type of music he listened to and he told me. "country man, the only music worth listening to." I told him I listen to all types of music but that I went to school to learn about playing jazz. Then he stated, "man, jazz sucks, I hate jazz, all jazz." So I asked him to be specific of what musicians or jazz groups he had heard, and he said he didn't know the names, but all jazz to him was nowhere. So even this dude that hated jazz knew what it sounded like because jazz has a distinctive and unique sound.

And the reason jazz has a distinctive and unique sound is because many of the rudiments of jazz have been duplicated and imitated by the musicians who play and study the art form. Just my $2

katt


Edited by nitekatt2008z (07/28/09 11:19 PM)

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