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#1290337 - 10/20/09 05:58 AM techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation
traveler Offline
Full Member

Registered: 10/12/09
Posts: 27
Loc: South Carolina
Hello, I'm a fairly new PW member and have received great opinions on finding a new Baby Grand. And now I would greatly appreciate any advice on what I have found to be a difficult qurstion.
Practicing for an hour or two using regular sheet music seems to me to be straight forward. However, if practicing from a fake book and improvising with your left hand or if practicing various licks while improvising along chord lines, what is the best way to practice?
I have read a lot about playing from a fake book, taken lessons, but the practice technique seems not very straight forward to me.
This may be an obvious newbie question but it seems that I know a lot more in my head than I have passed to my hands. How best to pursue a fake bok and improvisation practice regime?

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#1290369 - 10/20/09 07:18 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: traveler]
beeboss Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
There is unfortunately no best way to practice. If your goal is to improvise on standards I would suggest the following...

1 - learn the melody and chord sequence from the fake book and then put book away forever.

2 - learn to improvise on the melody and sequence.

For me I find that playing the tune/sequence in real time is the most important thing. If that is too tricky then go slow or take an easier tune. Use a metronome or backing track if required to keep your rhyhmn in check.

Learning to improvise really deserves a book by itself, or better still a decent teacher, and how you go about it is entirely dependant on your abilities, A few things you could try are...

- play root in lh, and 3 and 7 guide tones in rh
- play simple voicings in lh and the melody in rh
- play a proper bassline in lh and add in some more interesting voicings in rh
- 2 handed voicings, as if you are comping behind a horn player
- single line rh improvisation
- single line improvisaion lh
- solo using block chords
- try some different chord substitutions
- same again in another key
- up the tempo, slow the tempo, try it in 7/4 !
These are just a few suggestions to get you going. The things you can do are only limited by your imagination.
If there is one part of the sequence that is particularly tricky then isolate that and loop round 4 bar sections, a particular 2 5 1 for example. Stop and experiment to find some better voicings or better stategies of getting round these parts, and then do it again, and again and again.
I believe improvisation is like a language, and the only way to learn is to actually do it.

3 - listen to as many versions as possible of the tune played by the jazz greats. Take a mental note of how they are getting round the tune, what voicings they are using etc. Transcribing is good for you. Developing good ears is essential.

4 - away from the piano get used to humming the tune, improvising over the sequence in your head, visualising the chord shapes, mentally transposing sequence and chord shapes to different keys, hear the walking bass, tap out new cross rhythms, etc. Do it all the time.

And have fun with it.
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/davebeeboss

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#1290470 - 10/20/09 11:12 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: beeboss]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
You've made one wrong move so far
by buying a baby grand. We are
living in the Digital Piano Era, and
acoustic pianos are on their way out.
Digital pianos offer so many advantages
over acoustic pianos that they are
sending them the way of the harpsichord and
clavichord, that is, into obsolescence.

Don't compound the error now by approaching
improvisation in the wrong way too.
Like many people, you're trying to
learn to improvise by playing from
a fake book/lead sheet, but that's
doing it backwards. You improvise
first, to train your ear, and then
you'll be able to play by ear,
arrange, compose, play from a fake
book, sight-read, etc. Improvisation
is actually the key to everything
on the piano, and you do it first,
before everything else.

To improvise you sit down at the
piano (a digital is far superior
for this than an acoustic) and dig
in with both hands and all ten
fingers and play purely by ear, with
no consideration for any music
theory. When you do this, you are not
playing any particular chords, just
bunches of notes with one or both
hands--you make up your own
chord-like structures. And you
are not playing any particular
scales or arpeggios, just what might
resemble scale or arpeggio-type
runs--you make up your own, on the
fly. And so forth.

Anything goes when you improvise, and
you might not even restrict yourself
to using ten fingers. You might
your your palms, fists, forearms,
etc., if it suits you. And you
give no heed to what anyone says
is the proper way to play--you're
improvising, not doing textbook
drills.

To ears used to hearing nicely finished
compositions and polished recordings,
this type of improvisation might
sound awful, like a chimp pounding
on a keyboard, but that's exactly
what you want--that's what improvisation
is all about, being original, not
playing according to some textbook.
And like anything on the piano,
this takes practice and experience.
After you've done this for a while,
you'll probably lose all interest
in playing from fake books or
making arrangements of popular
tunes. You're making you own
music, which is far superior to
merely arranging someone else's.

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#1290483 - 10/20/09 11:37 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
russcycles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/09
Posts: 11
Originally Posted By: Gyro
And you
give no heed to what anyone says
is the proper way to play.
Hi Gyro. I have a partial quote from your above post. Your statement here invalidates your entire post above. Your only useful info was about ear training.

To help, here is a link to a nice ear training site: http://miles.be/

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#1290536 - 10/20/09 01:08 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: russcycles]
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
Shells in Left Hand (7th or 3rd)

Right Thumb on 7th or 3rd (whichever is NOT already being played by the Left Thumb)

Main melody is always played on top (A moving to G in this example)

After playing the main melody you may improvise your own lead lines using mostly chords tones while continuing to play left hand shells like shown below. You do not need to keep playing the right thumb harmony note while you are soloing unless you want to.


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#1290595 - 10/20/09 02:22 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Jazz+]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Gyro I'd like to hear some of your improvising based on what you mentioned above. Care to post a song or 2?

I have a feeling you don't really play the piano at all and just spout utter nonsense.

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#1290615 - 10/20/09 02:55 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
Cudo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 127
Loc: Heidelberg, Germany
Originally Posted By: Gyro
You've made one wrong move so far
by buying a baby grand. We are
living in the Digital Piano Era, and
acoustic pianos are on their way out.

What kind of information is this? I want to know more about the fact that acoustic pianos are out.
Please give more information on this topic.

Originally Posted By: Gyro
You improvise
first, to train your ear, and then
you'll be able to play by ear,
arrange, compose, play from a fake
book, sight-read, etc.

After how many days of improvising can I arrange, let's say, a Big Band chart?


Originally Posted By: Gyro
To improvise you sit down at the
piano (a digital is far superior
for this than an acoustic) and dig
in with both hands and all ten
fingers and play purely by ear, with
no consideration for any music
theory. When you do this, you are not
playing any particular chords, just
bunches of notes with one or both
hands--you make up your own
chord-like structures. And you
are not playing any particular
scales or arpeggios,

How do I know that I don't play scales and arpeggios when I don't know what scales and arpeggios are?



Originally Posted By: Gyro
Anything goes when you improvise, and
you might not even restrict yourself
to using ten fingers.

More than ten? or what you mean?


Originally Posted By: Gyro
...your your palms, fists, forearms,
etc., if it suits you.

My neighbours are complaining. Shall I close the window?



Originally Posted By: Gyro
this type of improvisation might
sound awful, like a chimp pounding
on a keyboard, but that's exactly
what you want--that's what improvisation
is all about, being original, not
playing according to some textbook.


Wiki says:
the art of improvisation can be understood as composing music "on the fly". This of course requires great skill and knowledge, and is a very important aspect of music in general, for any experienced musician.
...Work within the idiom and music-theory of the certain style to express ideas with creativity and originality.

That sounds better. ;-)


Edited by Cudo (10/20/09 03:24 PM)

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#1290692 - 10/20/09 04:50 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Cudo]
russcycles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/09
Posts: 11
I'm going to try Gyro's tip to not use your fingers to play piano but use other body parts. I'm going to record a cd and call it, "Fists of Fury on the Keyboard". It should go platinum!

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#1290737 - 10/20/09 05:35 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
fingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 799
Loc: Westchester, NY
Gyro,

Why do you think a digital is superior to an acoustic with respect to improvisation?

fingers
_________________________
Playing piano at age 2, it was thought that I was some sort of idiot-savant. As it turns out, I'm just an idiot.

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#1290785 - 10/20/09 06:49 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: fingers]
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
Shells in Left Hand (7th or 3rd)

Right Thumb on 7th or 3rd (whichever is NOT already being played by the Left Thumb)

Main melody is always played on top (A moving to G in this example)

After playing the main melody you may improvise your own lead lines using mostly chords tones while continuing to play left hand shells like shown below. You do not need to keep playing the right thumb harmony note while you are soloing unless you want to.

_________________________
Roland FP-4 digital piano, Mason & Hamlin acoustic piano.

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#1290966 - 10/21/09 12:41 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Jazz+]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Wizard of Oz, I could post something,
but I won't, because the point is to
not listen to other pianists but
to develop your own way of playing.
I have the impression that like so
many other jazz players here you're
working from a textbook and/or trying
to imitate the jazz greats. What is
the point of playing just like some
other person? You might as well not
play if you're going to do that.

Cudo, several forum members have recently
bought good, but unspectacular, acoustic
upright pianos in the ~$6000 price range.
For the same price they could get a
V Piano or a CLP 380, essentially
concert grands. Add to this the advantages
of light weight, volume control,
instant record and playback, no
maintenance or tuning, durability and
reliability, and one would have to say
that choosing an upright is insane.

As for how many days of improvising before
you can arrange for Big Bands, I would
put it more in years than days. But
in any case, people have been arranging
for Big Bands since the 1930's. Of
course you could go into that field,
but wouldn't you rather do something
original instead?

Fingers, a digital has volume control
and a headphone jack, and so you
can improvise and not disturb anyone,
as you develop your style from what
might initially be hard on people's ears.
You spend $100,000 on a concert grand
and there's no volume control. So
even a $500 digital is superior to
a concert grand in that respect.





Edited by Gyro (10/21/09 12:44 AM)

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#1291049 - 10/21/09 05:43 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
flat13sharp11 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 117
Loc: Lancashire, UK
On the subject of acoustic pianos, even though I think he is one of the best pianists in the world, why is Keith Jarrett so anti electric? It's saves a lot of money to get a digital piano. Is he just a snob, or is there another reason?

I have a Yamaha Clavinova and the piano sample is superb.

Eventually I want a Nord Stage which has a Steinway sample on and sounds incredible, just like the real McCoy.Plus it has lots of great other sounds too.
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/user/timwood1987

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#1291121 - 10/21/09 09:24 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: flat13sharp11]
beeboss Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: flat13sharp11
On the subject of acoustic pianos, even though I think he is one of the best pianists in the world, why is Keith Jarrett so anti electric? It's saves a lot of money to get a digital piano. Is he just a snob, or is there another reason?
Eventually I want a Nord Stage which has a Steinway sample on and sounds incredible, just like the real McCoy.Plus it has lots of great other sounds too.


An electric piano is just not like a real piano, they are a very poor imitation. Of course they have a use, when the gig doesn't have a real piano or if you don't have space or money for the real deal, but there really is no comparison. Any electric piano, even V piano, is just a toy in comparison to a Steinway D.
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/davebeeboss

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#1291149 - 10/21/09 10:01 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: beeboss]
flat13sharp11 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/23/09
Posts: 117
Loc: Lancashire, UK
Yeah, I know theres nothing like the real thing but since most people don't have£100,000 to splash out on a steinway, an electric piano is the next best thing.


Edited by flat13sharp11 (10/21/09 10:01 AM)
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/user/timwood1987

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#1291153 - 10/21/09 10:04 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: beeboss]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
There are forces at work in the jazz
piano community that are trying to
make it just like classical, that is,
fossilized and hidebound, where
people must play in a certain accepted
way and only play the "classics,"
in the style of the jazz greats,
with nothing else acceptable.

And this carries over into the
choice of pianos. Now, only a Steinway
concert grand is acceptable for
a jazz performer.

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#1291203 - 10/21/09 11:07 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Gyro, imitation is the way all jazz musicians learn. Everyone tries to find their own voice, but you need to hear all the masters before you. Branford Marsalis said he was imitating people even in his 20's, it's like a fine wine, it takes time to really develop your own voice.

If you skip this process you end up sounding bad, like a person who's learning a new language but doesn't bother with vocabulary, grammar, and articulation.

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#1291243 - 10/21/09 12:32 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Wizard of Oz]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Wizard of OZ,

Gyro doesn't really play jazz.. and considering the other posts he wrote on classical/jazz piano, you shouldn't take what he say too seriously

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#1291266 - 10/21/09 01:19 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: etcetra]
russcycles Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 10/13/09
Posts: 11
Yea, don't pay any attention to Gyro. I suspect he is a borderline troll. He posts simply to get others to react to his posts. Doubtful he even plays piano, at least with his fingers anyway.

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#1291305 - 10/21/09 02:37 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: flat13sharp11]
beeboss Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/18/09
Posts: 1171
Loc: uk south
Originally Posted By: flat13sharp11
Yeah, I know theres nothing like the real thing but since most people don't have£100,000 to splash out on a steinway, an electric piano is the next best thing.


Real pianos are cheap these days. I have a couple. I am thinking of selling my upright and will probably get £3-400, and that is a LOT less than my electric piano and accessories cost. Its even got a nice rich tone, for a budget piano. I would rather play that every time to my top of the range electric piano.
_________________________
http://www.youtube.com/davebeeboss

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#1291337 - 10/21/09 03:23 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
fingers Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 799
Loc: Westchester, NY
Originally Posted By: Gyro


Fingers, a digital has volume control
and a headphone jack, and so you
can improvise and not disturb anyone,
as you develop your style from what
might initially be hard on people's ears.
You spend $100,000 on a concert grand
and there's no volume control. So
even a $500 digital is superior to
a concert grand in that respect.






Gyro,

WOW! I never looked at it that way.
You're a genius. You really ought to publish you're findings.

fingers
_________________________
Playing piano at age 2, it was thought that I was some sort of idiot-savant. As it turns out, I'm just an idiot.

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#1291661 - 10/22/09 02:48 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: fingers]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

Gyro is known to make these kind of outrageous comments, maybe he really is a genius and 99% of us in the forum is wrong smile. After all, he is telling everyone how to play jazz even though he doesn't play jazz at all!! it's like someone who has never taken a college biology giving you medical advice smile

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#1291810 - 10/22/09 12:05 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: fingers]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Wizard of Oz, I'll repeat. Suppose
you study jazz piano for years out
of a textbook and/or with a jazz
pianist, always striving to sound
like your idols, the jazz greats.
And after a long time doing this
you end up a polished jazz pianist
who sounds just like a lesser version
of some jazz great. I think that's
absolutely the worst thing imaginable,
worse than a beginner who can barely
play a note. You've essentially
replicated another pianist's
playing, and not as well either.
What's the point of doing that? I
can pull out a CD and listen to
better playing from the real artist.
You've spent years accomplishing what
is essentially worthless. Your
playing is polished but unoriginal,
just a bad copy of someone else's
playing. Someone already plays like
that. Copying him is worthless. You
need to develop your own style of playing,
and to do that it's better not to
even listen to the jazz greats,
lest you fall into the trap of
trying to copy them instead of
finding your own way.

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#1291813 - 10/22/09 12:06 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Jazz+]
pianojazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 359
Loc: dearborn, mi
The first thing you need to do is narrow your focus - take one song from the fake book at a time. Learn the song as written. Then, and this is the most important part, listen to other pianists play the song - get some recordings. Listen to them over and over. Listen to how other pianists approach the song - how they voice chords, how they harmonize the melody line, how they comp during their solos, how they interact with the band - there is a lot you need to be aware of and listen for - these are just for starters. Then start to incorporate some of their ideas into your playing of the song - a little Herbie here, a little Oscar there, a little Ahamad, a little Chic - whoever - it's all good. Then go on to another song - repeat this for the next 10 years or so and remember - the best players are the best listeners>
_________________________
www.myspace.com/michaelbreenpiano

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#1291846 - 10/22/09 01:10 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: pianojazz]
jjo Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/09/08
Posts: 593
Loc: Chicago
I was thinking of this thread, and the rather silly statements sometimes made here that one should not try to trascribe or imitate the great jazz artists of the past when I read this quote from an interview with the great sax player Jimmy Heath:

"Miles loved Freddie Webster, who had played with Jimmie Lunceford. Freddie was a guy with a beautiful sound. Miles knew him. Freddie didn’t make but a few recordings in the 1940s, and all were historic for trumpet players. Freddie got a sound curve that Miles wanted to get. Nobody wants to be just like someone else. But they’re inspired by their predecessors, and they learn what they did. Then they come up in a matter of time with their own sound. Nobody can play sax like Coltrane, Sonny Rollins or Hank Mobley. But eventually you get your own sound. Clifford Brown loved Fats Navarro, and Lee Morgan loved Clifford Brown. But each had his own thing. It’s a continuum."

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#1292164 - 10/22/09 11:05 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: jjo]
1RC Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/28/06
Posts: 495
Loc: Alberta
The more I understand the history, the more ridiculous the idea of absolute originality seems. As if we could start from scratch in a vacuum without influence - we'd have to create our own instruments as well if we want to escape our history of tuning systems...

I suppose it's plausible, though one is very likely to spend a lot of time reinventing the wheel. Due to ignorance of what's out there, thinking they've done something completely new which is really hundreds of years old. It's a very lazy and naive approach to ignore tradition. I think we've seen a lot of garbage art come out of this mindset.

Every great new style was part of a continuum. Bit by bit the established way of doing things was elaborated, modified, experimented with. Different musics cross-pollinated, an idea from here, an idea from there, combined in a novel way. I'd rather hear some older concept done REALLY WELL. All the great innovators were masters of the existing styles before they forged new rules.

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#1292168 - 10/22/09 11:17 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: jjo]
marimorimo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/02/09
Posts: 429
Loc: Kingdom of Nodame
I was going to hold my peace since I'm a beginner unfamiliar with jazz (though I really want to learn to play from a fake book), but Gyro's statements about not imitating other pianists and being more original struck a chord in me.

At first I thought, "Gyro, strangely, does make sense. What good would it do to just ape someone else? Originality is highly valued in this day and age!" However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized how the opposite holds true. Imitation is the way to find your own voice. By imitating others, you realize what's good and then you try improving on it. It also helps that what you're imitating is a good example from the start. The two areas in which I am reasonably good at, illustration and foreign languages, I learned from imitating others. I'd say my art is a blend of different styles. My Japanese isn't 100% perfect, but people say I speak it quite well and with a good accent and are surprised when I tell them I only lived in the country for a year. I can also confidently say that I can speak and read/write English better than 99% of the population in my country. This wasn't achieved by just making up my own sentences. I took good, correct examples and imitated them, which is why my speech sounds natural. (Btw, I find that studying grammar alone won't make you speak well.)

David Nevue, one of my favorite pianist-composers, says that he started by imitating George Winston piano records measure by measure while he was on the piano. I don't think he sounds like George Winston, and I personally like Nevue's music better than Winston's!
_________________________
Alfred's AOI Course Bk 2
Frances Clark Contemporary Piano Literature, Bk 1
The Festival Collection Bk 3
30th Week Playing Piano
--------------------------------------------
+ CASIO PX-720 and PX-730 +
--------------------------------------------

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#1292231 - 10/23/09 04:58 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: marimorimo]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Gyro, it's becoming quite obvious that you aren't a musician at all, in jazz, classical, heck even rock and roll.

Until you post a song, even just one so I can hear your "own voice" then all your advice is worthless.

It's like telling someone to learn French without ever hearing it. Tell me, how did Oscar Peterson learn jazz without listening to Art Tatum? Or the countless guitar players who listened to Jimi Hendrix.

You have no clue man.

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#1292422 - 10/23/09 01:09 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Wizard of Oz]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
You don't start in a complete vacuum.
Presumably you've played the piano--
most likely in classical lessons--
for a number of years before you
get into jazz. And then you've
heard all kinds of music growing
up: classical, rock, jazz, popular,
country, etc. So everyone,
even a beginner, has tons
of musical material to draw on
when he improvises.

But then the fossilized jazz folks
say that in order to play jazz you've
got to do it "right," according to how
the jazz greats did it, textbook jazz
playing according to set formulas,
with no originality or innovation
allowed, almost like in classical piano.
So what everyone ends up doing is
essentially copying the playing of
others, which is why everyone sounds
almost the same. What's the point
of doing that, producing carbon
copies of the jazz greats? You
might as well not play if you're going to
do that, because we've heard all
of it before.

Now Wizard of Oz wants me to post
something so he can see how it checks
out with the forumlas, because that's
the only thing he knows, copying
from set patterns. I'll do you a
favor Wizard and not post anything.
Then there's a chance that one
day you'll stop copying others and
develop your own style.



Edited by Gyro (10/23/09 01:31 PM)

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#1292443 - 10/23/09 01:39 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
Larry B Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/03/09
Posts: 377
Loc: Boston
Originally Posted By: Gyro
So what everyone ends up doing is
essentially copying the playing of
others, which is why everyone sounds
almost the same. What's the point
of doing that, producing carbon
copies of the jazz greats? You
might as well not play if you're going to
do that, because we've heard all
of it before.


I do agree with the idea others have mentioned that my best path to creating something new is to learn and then build on the work of others. Learn the "vocabulary" first, and then find my own way to assemble and evolve the "words". You don't start to create a novel by making up your own language.

But more realistic, for me, is the realization that if I could actually imitate great players, and do it passably well, I'd be pretty satisfied. Original -- my foot. I'd be delighted to be able to jam like Bruce Hornsby or swing like Oscar Petersen. I'd call that "carbon copy" good enough and be happy. smile

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#1292445 - 10/23/09 01:40 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
Swingin' Barb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: Gyro
Now Wizard of Oz wants me to post
something so he can see how it checks
out with the forumlas, because that's
the only thing he knows, copying
from set patterns. I'll do you a
favor Wizard and not post anything.
Then there's a chance that one
day you'll stop copying others and
develop your own style.


Gyro - Would you do me a favor and post some of your improvisation? I am quite new to this and have not yet tried to even "copy" others. I would love to hear the "Gyro" sound.

Thank you,

Barb
_________________________
A Sudnow Method Fanatic
"Color tones, can't live without them"

To hear how I have progressed since 2006, check out: http://b.kane.home.mindspring.com

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#1292507 - 10/23/09 02:44 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Swingin' Barb]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
The day Gyro posts his own music is the day I sound better than Keith Jarrett, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Oscar all put together.

ALL jazz musicians learn by copying and imitating other players. After you've done it enough THEN you learn to develop your own voice. It takes years to do that. Listen to some of the newer players today, Brad Melhdau, Marcin Wasilewski, Taylor Eigsti, Esbjorn Svennson (RIP).... you can distinctly tell they have learned from the past jazz masters, yet have incorporated their own personality and style.

Many of these players have listed the old masters as big influences and inspirations. Yet they have pushed beyond that so we can hear their voice. Listen to Diana Krall, you hear bits of Oscar Peterson in there. But you hear her come through.

Gyro, you saying "find your own voice" would disregard the entire classical genre. They are playing the works of other people, like Bach, Beethoven, Chopin, Mozart. Some players spend their entire lives just doing that, so is that a waste in your opinion?

I am calling you out to post your own playing otherwise you are contradicting everything you say. Let's hear YOUR voice.

Like you said, it's better for a beginner to play a few bad notes than to sound almost as good as the masters. You sir are that beginner.

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#1292517 - 10/23/09 03:16 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Swingin' Barb]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Swingin' Barb, I'll do you a great favor
and not post something. You don't
want to listen to me play or to anyone
else. You've already got plenty
of material to work with if you're
a Sudnow player, intermeditate classical
student, etc. Furthermore you've
listened to music all your life
and it's all stored in your psyche
and can be tapped as you improvise.

Sit down at the piano and dig in with
both hands and all ten fingers, and
play stuff purely by ear, with no
consideration for any theory. You're
not trying to sound like anyone in particular
or produce any particular type of
sound. You are producing your own sound,
influenced by all of your experience
with music. If what comes out initially
sounds like a chimp pounding on a piano,
that's good, not bad, and you know you're
on the right track, because you want to
sound different. In any case, that's a
million times better than a jazz player
who just copies the sound of the jazz
greats. You might as well not play if
you're just going to do that.

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#1292523 - 10/23/09 03:28 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Wizard of Oz]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Gyro

By all means Please name one great jazz pianist who NEVER imitated other great pianist. Which pianist do you consider original in their approach? Can you even name a single jazz pianist that you like listening to?

You talk about how the "forces that be" are turning jazz into a 'fossilized' art.. Can you name a one well-known jazz pianist who is alive&at the forefront of jazz scene right now? Because If you listen to David Kikoski, Robert Glasper, Geri Allen, Tigran Hamasyan.. etc you will never come to those kind of conclusion.


Originally Posted By: Gyro

Now Wizard of Oz wants me to post
something so he can see how it checks
out with the forumlas, because that's
the only thing he knows, copying
from set patterns. I'll do you a
favor Wizard and not post anything.
Then there's a chance that one
day you'll stop copying others and
develop your own style.



The only thing we want to know is whether your playing sounds anything like jazz.. I think we are just curious as to whether you really know what you are talking about. I mean how much do you really know about jazz?


Guess what?? , the truth is that most great players spent a lot of time copying others, but they end up becoming their own thing anyways. Just because you copy other people it doesn't mean you lose your originality..those two things are mutually exclusive. You don't hear people saying that Geoffrey Keezer sounds too much like McCoy Tyner, or Gearld clayton sounding too much like Oscar Peterson.. but then again, I doubt you know who any of these people are.


Edited by etcetra (10/23/09 03:49 PM)

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#1292525 - 10/23/09 03:36 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
Originally Posted By: Gyro


Sit down at the piano and dig in with
both hands and all ten fingers, and
play stuff purely by ear, with no
consideration for any theory. You're
not trying to sound like anyone in particular
or produce any particular type of
sound. You are producing your own sound,
influenced by all of your experience
with music. If what comes out initially
sounds like a chimp pounding on a piano,
that's good, not bad, and you know you're
on the right track, because you want to
sound different. In any case, that's a
million times better than a jazz player
who just copies the sound of the jazz
greats. You might as well not play if
you're just going to do that.





What you just described is free improvisation.. how in the world does this help you with your jazz improv, or playing a tune in a fakebook, in which you have to play over a specific harmony and rhythm? Do you realize the methods you have been posting has nothing to do with the topic?


And what makes you think it's " a million times better than a jazz player who just copies the sound of the jazz greats?" Isn't that just matter of opinion? If you prefer hearing something that sounds like "chimp pounding on a piano" over someone who imitates a jazz greats.. then well.. I am glad I don't have the same kind of taste in music as you do smile

Again I need to ask you what makes you think that copying someone and being original have to be mutually exclusive? Can't you do both? What makes you in an expert in these issue?



Edited by etcetra (10/23/09 03:41 PM)

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#1292527 - 10/23/09 03:40 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Swingin' Barb]
pianojazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 01/10/06
Posts: 359
Loc: dearborn, mi
Gyro - I understand your point about being creative, and striving to create your own style. And I agree, at least partially. But we disagree on how best to accomplish that goal. IMHO, I believe in order to best create one's own style, one must first understand what has been done before - perhaps not everything, but much of it: Then, and only then is one in a position to creat anew. Certainly Einstein understood the limitations of Newtonian physics before he went on to create Special and then General relatively. And although music, an art, is not a science, certainly music, be it classical, jazz, pop, whatever genre, evolves as musicians add their particular styles and nuances to those of their predecessors. You simply can't ignore what has preceeded you.
_________________________
www.myspace.com/michaelbreenpiano

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#1292581 - 10/23/09 05:20 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: pianojazz]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
Gyro, you irritate me with what you write. If I were to take your advice, I might as well stop playing the piano altogether and never listen to music at all. Lest I end up copying someone and be tainted by how they sound. Better to just use my elbows and fists and see what comes out of the piano. At least I'll be original!


How did you manage to write 3600 posts?!?!? Wait, I think I've read that one before, about sounding like a chimp. Do you recycle everything?

Let me ask you one last question, which musicians do you like the most and who did you listen to as a kid and now?
Who inspired you to learn to play the piano?

Don't tell me you learned because you wanted to find your own voice, I know you listen to some music. I have a bad feeling it's Yanni though!!!

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#1292591 - 10/23/09 05:43 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: pianojazz]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/25/08
Posts: 1446
I also think there is a huge problem in the way gyro describes "playing by ear".. what does he really mean? I hear Lizst's Hungarian rhapsody in my head, but I do not have the ability to reproduce that music just by ear.

I can imagine how much harder it would be to play be ear esp if you are a beginner.. without any training, how in the world will you be able to hear and play complex chords just by ear? how many of us are capable of hearing 3-4 voice counterpoint, and actually be able to play them on the spot?

I think what Gyro really means is free-playing, and you aren't necessary hearing what you are playing when you do his exercise. Playing by ear is not as easy as Gyro puts it... if you really want to play by ear, try singing your melody as you play it with your right hand, and see how easy that is.

The problem here is that Gyro doesn't realize how important muscle memory is in improv/playing by ear. We imitate and copy what we like so that our hands will know where to go when we recall a melodic idea.

Also most of us are not born with the ability to identify intervals/chord quality.. etc..chances are that you need quite a lot of training to be able to make sense of what you are hearing in your head... and we also build muscle memory to reproduce that sound. Unless Gyro has perfect pitch(which he might).. I really doubt that he is actually "playing by ear".

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#1292821 - 10/24/09 07:44 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: etcetra]
Cudo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 03/11/09
Posts: 127
Loc: Heidelberg, Germany
Hi Gyro,

are you sometimes inspired by somebodies composition or playing? Can you think of basic patterns which you follow in your own way? Do you know that doing this, is the Art of Improvisation?

Look, for me it doesn't matter if the pattern I follow is of classical, Jazz or own origin. But important is, to follow a pattern, rhythmically or harmonically or both.

If you write something here in this forum, there is allways an idea behind it. You are not writing just words without any context. In your writings there is always a matter behind it. And there is a form in your writing and still it is your own writing. The same happens in music.

Look, you know maybe Beethovens Moonlight Serenade. I love this song and when I play it I do it my own way. I mean, there is still the form and harmony Beethoven did, but I am speaking in my language over the same form and harmony. ---> www.cisum.info/mondschein.mp3

If I would not have practiced certain improvisation skills, for me it would be impossible to express myself in that way.
I am born in a world of tonal music and so I prefer to improvise/speak in a tonal form. I express myself like I feel.
Beethoven was a great improviser and his music was born out of the classical tradition and not out of nowhere.

Cadenzas are a natural form of resolving tensions. All music is about that. These formulas have so many aspects. You have to learn them. The more variety you learn the more freedom you'll get.

Here is another example of my improvisations. The composer is Anatoly Lyadov ---> http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatoly_Lyadov

His prelude was really inspiring for me. I love his harmonic concept!
Now, please have a look at the music first. You can read music, right? It is here on page 7 ---> http://imslp.info/files/imglnks/usimg/2/29/IMSLP06754-Liadov_-_Op.40_-_Etude___3_Preludes.pdf

Now read it carefully and try to imagine the melody in your head. Try also to improvise over it.

Than listen to my version. ---> www.cisum.info/prelude.mp3
Is this what you call a carbon copy?


Edited by Cudo (10/24/09 07:47 AM)

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#1292824 - 10/24/09 07:55 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Cudo]
guest1013 Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 10/13/07
Posts: 1239
wow, cudo, I like your example, that is very nice! And helpful, I'm just starting to look at fake books.

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#1292940 - 10/24/09 01:34 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: guest1013]
Gyro Offline
4000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/24/05
Posts: 4533
Larry B, I'd like to address what
you posted, about how if you could
play even a fraction as well as
some jazz great, then you'd be
satisfied with that.

This is a very natural attitude in
a jazz novice. Indeed I used to feel
exactly the same way, and to that
end I tried to wade through 3 jazz
piano method books, as well as books
on classical harmony, both types of
counterpoint, orchestration, and form,
because I thought that knowing the theory
behind it all would be necessary to play
and improvise jazz and popular music.
However, I didn't get very far and soon
gave up on all of the books. There
were a number of reasons for this.
First, I'm mainly a classical player,
and my daily practice session is
dominated by difficult classical
repertoire, leaving little time for
anything else. Second, wading through
all that theory was the most tedious
thing imaginable, and I just couldn't
handle it. Third, although I didn't
get very far into the books, what I
did cover didn't help me one bit
in improvising jazz and popular.
Fourth, reading between the lines,
the books seemed to be saying that
it all comes down in the end to playing
by ear. Fifth, I began to think that
this is not what jazz is all about.
Some the best early jazz players
could not even read music and could
never have waded through a theory
book. They improvised and innovated
on the fly, never concerned for a second
about if their playing was in accordance
with some textbook.

Because of all the above reasons I
finally decided to give up on all theory
study, but since I still wanted to play
jazz, the only way available to me then
was to just dig in and play it, purely
by ear. So that's was I did, and it
was a revelation. I was creating my
own music, free from the restraints of
theory books. There were no rules,
no right or wrong notes, no patterns
to follow. This was pure music, created
by me on the spot. It was the most
enjoyable thing I had ever done at
the piano.

Initially, I thought that I would do
this for a while and train my ear,
and then this would help me to
arrange, play from fake books, etc.
But now I've lost all interest in doing
that. Why bother with arranging someone
else's tunes, when you can create your
own music, every day? And questions
like if I can ever play a fraction
as well as some jazz great are now
irrelevant. I'm playing my own
music, my own way, and how some jazz
great happens to play is no longer of
any interest to me.



Edited by Gyro (10/24/09 01:39 PM)

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#1292959 - 10/24/09 02:27 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: Gyro]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

There is nothing wrong with what you are doing, whether you want to learn jazz is entirely up to you.. but do you realize that what you are playing has very little to do with jazz? Just because it's improvised music it doesn't mean you are playing jazz.

So why are you giving your advice to people who are actually trying to learn jazz? Are you actually discouraging others to learn from fake book and adopt your method instead? Why bother posting your opinion on jazz improv when you have no knowledge/interest at all in it?

Frankly I don't share your extreme view of theory vs ear, copying vs being original.. as far as I know, most of us are capable of doing both at the same time.. Why should anyone adopt your extreme approach instead of a more well-rounded approach?

"Fifth, I began to think that
this is not what jazz is all about.
Some the best early jazz players
could not even read music and could
never have waded through a theory
book. They improvised and innovated
on the fly, never concerned for a second
about if their playing was in accordance
with some textbook.
"

Do you realize that the early jazz players did IMITATE other players using their EARS??

Also Are you actually hearing everything you are playing as you improvise? Are you playing what you are hearing in your head, or are you just playing whatever it is that comes out? Frankly everything you described so far is about free-playing, which may or may not have to do with you ears.

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#1293312 - 10/25/09 10:54 AM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: etcetra]
angelojf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/06
Posts: 742
Loc: PA
Hi Gyro,

Why are you so hesitant to let us hear your playing? I for one think that it would just be interesting to hear your improvising....just like I find it interesting to hear others' play....

Its interesting to hear Monk, Chopin, a nine year old, and it'd be likewise interesting to hear your improvising.

With over 3,000 posts from someone on musical topics, it'd be great to hear that person's playing......

Just like listening to someone who has appeared in over 3,000 appearances on a talk show now talking about how he or she has great experiences in improvised art refuses to share the art leaves a lot of questions in the audience unanswered, don't you think it would be great for your audience in this forum to hear your play?

With all due respect, again, it sounds like someone talking about some art that he or she produced, but never shares it....

Don't you think you would make your point better by sharing your stuff?

Or is the music you produce in improvisation so personal? Is music to be shared with others?

Put yourself in our shoes.....You are hearing from someone who has over 3,000 posts state how he or she is having such a blast making improvised muisc. Wouldn't you be interested in hearing it?

Thanks


Edited by angelojf (10/25/09 12:04 PM)

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#1293364 - 10/25/09 12:43 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: angelojf]
HooDoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 56
Loc: Los Angeles
I for one am confident that if Gyro posts an example of his playing we will all be impressed. Someone who has given his advice 3000 times on Pianoworld is surely onto something unique and any reluctance to share his innovative musicality merely reflects shyness and not any underlying pathology.

I have no doubt that, should we ever happen to hear his original approach to improvisation, he will not resemble some of my classmates in film school who talked endlessly about not imitating past filmmaking giants, but when pressed to show their work after their assignments were overdue and were about to be failed in class, turned out to be simply godawful.

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#1293376 - 10/25/09 01:02 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: HooDoo]
angelojf Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/03/06
Posts: 742
Loc: PA
Hi HooDoo,

I for one did not suggest any "pathology, " but someone who posts over 3000 posts (with most of them probably being against the grain) can hardly be described as shy.

Come on Gyro, lets just hear your stuff! _


Edited by angelojf (10/25/09 01:04 PM)

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#1293386 - 10/25/09 01:13 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: angelojf]
etcetra Offline
1000 Post Club Member

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

after all he does insist on adopting his approach whenever someone post a question about improv. I am sure I am not the only one who wants to know just how effective his method is.

There are plenty of garage band who claims to be 'original' and refuse to be influenced by anything... it's only natural that we are all suspicious.

Again I don't discredit what he is doing as a means for personal fulfillment If that's what you like then that's fine. But it does become a problem when you are telling aspiring student that the entire jazz world is wrong and that his approach is what jazz is really supposed to be.


Edited by etcetra (10/25/09 01:34 PM)

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#1293405 - 10/25/09 01:30 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: etcetra]
HooDoo Offline
Full Member

Registered: 04/06/09
Posts: 56
Loc: Los Angeles
Pardon my feeble attempt to be ironic. With Gyro, I detect the scent of what comes out of the backside of an uncastrated male bovine.

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#1293645 - 10/25/09 08:32 PM Re: techniques for practicing fake book or improvisation [Re: HooDoo]
Wizard of Oz Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/12/09
Posts: 873
hahahah that made me laugh!! I think I'm being too hard on Gyro, if he doesn't want to post that's fine. I get the sense that he's just been very frustrated with the traditional approaches to piano playing, with classical and jazz.

I can understand it as I learned jazz on my own, and alot of those theory books are over-complicated. It's easy to see how someone can feel like they aren't improving and don't want to keep learning.

I was talking in another thread about Taylor Eigsti's way to playing music, which uses shapes of the hand to create sounds on a diatonic scale. He had a great philosophy: would you rather understand the theory or just know how to play.

That is why I want to hear Gyro's improvising, as I'm sure it would be quite different to what we may hear.

Once I get a good recording device I'll be putting up some songs.

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