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#1242534 - 08/03/09 11:22 AM Pre-working your stuff out before solos
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
people say that if you work out stuff beforehand, its no longer improv, but I've heard Bill Evans used the same kind of voicing or pretty extended line (like 4-5seconds worth of it) note-to-note on various recordings. I've also read an interview on Hal Galper, and he talks about how a lot of Bill Evan's voicings are worked out beforehand. I've also read about how Oscar Peterson used to work on his fingering before his gigs.

I think when you are working out complicated stuff like soloing on block chord there is no way you can just "improvise on them". I realized that I had to come up with something I worked out already and practice it. I might even play them on a gig exactly note-by-note for that block chord section. I am hoping that eventually I would be able to play variations on them, and ultimately be able to improvise on them fluently.

So I guess my question is how much of improv actually improvised vs something that you consciously worked out? I know you pretty much have to work out any new thing you want to incoporate in your playing, but in some ways if you are playing some things note-by-note the same on performance, it's not that much different than classical music... and for something as difficult as block chord solos, I don't see any other way of doing them.

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#1242626 - 08/03/09 01:23 PM Re: Pre-working your stuff out before solos [Re: etcetra]
Pianos_N_Cheezecake Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/15/07
Posts: 150
Loc: Saskatchewan, Canada
It just depends how you work those things into your solos while in performance. If you're thinking along the lines of "Second chorus, insert line here" then I think that's a problem. The nature of improvisation is that when notes are played, you follow through and take it where it is SUPPOSED to go. My prof says "Start the note, and play the one that comes next". So in this case I think that working out things before hand means you have to attempt to set them up properly(on the spot)so that the line doesn't awkwardly stick out within the rest of the solo. Making sense? I think that this is 1 way to work it, but not ideal in my opinion.

I think a better way to work it is like you work everything else. Transcribe, practise lines, work out fingerings, and if they're meant to come out in a solo they will because it is simply a part of your language. In my opinion that is true improvisation.

Cheeze...

Miranda


Edited by Pianos_N_Cheezecake (08/03/09 01:25 PM)

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#1242633 - 08/03/09 01:34 PM Re: Pre-working your stuff out before solos [Re: Pianos_N_Cheezecake]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

I guess the problem here is that block chord soloing is much harder than working lines into your playing. It's one thing to learn how to play #11 over a V7 or using the phrygian instead of Mixolydian on V7, you don't necessary have to work out everything beforehand.. but with block chords you are dealing with multiple notes at a any given 8th notes.

The difficulty of those things doesn't really leave a lot of space for spontaneity.. at least for me. I can see how you can do lines you've worked on can come out spontaneously on a new tune, but some things, like block chords seems nearly impossible to 'come out' naturally, and the probably won't be as spontaneous as my lines.


I know Bill Evans worked things out beforehand extensively When I hear different takes of Bill Evan's solos, it sounds like he has X amount of voicings and other stuff worked out already.. and you are hearing different variations of them at a different time.. I've heard him play an entire section, a even chorus worth of stuff exactly the same note-by-note in a solo on different takes.

on the other hand I think Keith Jarrett is more spontaneous and less meticulous/pre-meditated when he plays... but he does a lot less with chords than Bill (in my opinion)

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#1242845 - 08/03/09 07:10 PM Re: Pre-working your stuff out before solos [Re: etcetra]
nitekatt2008z Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/24/08
Posts: 552
Originally Posted By: etcetra
Pianos_N_Cheezecake,

I guess the problem here is that block chord soloing is much harder than working lines into your playing. It's one thing to learn how to play #11 over a V7 or using the phrygian instead of Mixolydian on V7, you don't necessary have to work out everything beforehand.. but with block chords you are dealing with multiple notes at a any given 8th notes.

The difficulty of those things doesn't really leave a lot of space for spontaneity.. at least for me. I can see how you can do lines you've worked on can come out spontaneously on a new tune, but some things, like block chords seems nearly impossible to 'come out' naturally, and the probably won't be as spontaneous as my lines.


I know Bill Evans worked things out beforehand extensively When I hear different takes of Bill Evan's solos, it sounds like he has X amount of voicings and other stuff worked out already.. and you are hearing different variations of them at a different time.. I've heard him play an entire section, a even chorus worth of stuff exactly the same note-by-note in a solo on different takes.

on the other hand I think Keith Jarrett is more spontaneous and less meticulous/pre-meditated when he plays... but he does a lot less with chords than Bill (in my opinion)


Etcetra, I think I read an interview with drummer Joe LaBarbera, that played with Bill until the final gig and he said Bill would spend a long time with a tune, playing every possible voicing, solo, reharmonization before he would record the tune or perform it live. He was not necessarily spontaneous in coming up with his arrangements.

I think it's ok to play some ideas over a tune to get a start before putting on the set list for gigs/recording. I'm pretty sure Chick C lays down some ideas to form a great solo. I have heard some similar pentatonics licks he uses in several tunes as well as Bill E. Keith Jarrett on the other hand seems to play differently and just takes it as he hears it at the time, without much thought or prep. Just some thoughts

katt

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#1243658 - 08/04/09 09:46 PM Re: Pre-working your stuff out before solos [Re: nitekatt2008z]
fingerbreaker Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/02/09
Posts: 41
A couple of points:

1. There's no shame in preparing a solo if that's what it takes for your solo to sound good. If the audience likes it, it's good.

2. Improvisation connotes spontanaiety but it doesn't necessarily equate to absolute originality. I would guess that, whether the performer recognizes it or not, that experienced jazz improvisationalists (and I am not one) rarely play licks, phrases, runs, etc. that they have not played hundreds of times before in practice or previous performances. What separates good improvisers from the mediocre is the size of their repertoire of prepared "tools" and their fluency in calling on those tools in a musical way in real time.

Think of it like a good orator who gives an improvised speech. He's not going to try to make words up, he's going to pick from the thousands he already knows backwards and forwards. He is able to pick which ones capture his meaning the best and he knows from experience which ones those are. And he knows more grammatical rules and patterns than you thought there were to know. Within those rules there are infinite possibilities for what he might say, but he might throw in some colloquialisms or French phrases depending on his audience. He may quote someone else if it helps make his point, or even for a laugh. He also has an idea of what he wants to get across as he begins the speech, but he hasn't memorized it up front (although many great speeches are memorized of course). He also has a knack for stressing certain words, pausing for effect, etc. which further enraptures his audience. And he knows when to stop!

So, start your vocabulary drills and study your grammar. And read lots of great speeches to see how others do it and find out what words, phrases, and styles work for you. Don't worry about preparing your speech ahead of time if you're not good at talking on the fly yet. And if you find yourself spitting on the stage in the middle of your speeches, you are probably better suited for the trumpet.

-FB

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