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#482117 - 01/07/02 09:22 PM Learning to "fake"
Dison Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 3
Loc: Austin, TX
Hi folks -

I have a simple question: What's the best way to learn how to "fake"?

A little background: I was extremely fortunate in my childhood to have parents that valued music and supported me in my efforts to learn to play. I had 12 years worth of classical lessons, and a piano at home on which to practice. I lost ready access to a piano after college, and finally got around to fixing that situation a little over a year ago (after having gone without for a decade). I've since been kicking myself for procrastinating so long - renewing my enthusiasm over the past year has been a true joy.

Anyway, I had the good fortune back in October to visit a friend (Steve) who has a completely different musical background - he put himself through college as a jazz pianist. Steve has a remarkable talent: if you can hum or sing a couple of bars of a song, he can play it. From watching him, and from subsequent conversation, it's obvious to me that he's simply applying "patterns" of melody, harmony, and rhythm. You'd think after so much training I'd know that stuff cold, but this has come as a revelation to me. This, I believe, is what's called "faking".

So, naturally, I want to learn how to fake. I tried the usual approach - looking for a teacher. However, the teachers I've contacted say (literally, in one case) that they have nothing to teach me. I disagree - even with 25 years of experience, I think I still have something to learn - but I can't make a teacher accept a student they don't want. Plus, the focus of my request is, I think, odd. But, there are way too many people out there who know how to fake, and they must learn it somehow.

So, I appeal to the assembled wisdom of the forum - any pointers for an experienced classical pianist who wants to learn how to fake his way through an unfamiliar song?

Thanks in advance,
-Dison

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#482118 - 01/07/02 09:41 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
Amy Offline
Full Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 433
Loc: Upstate New York
I've been taking jazz piano lessons for a few months now and to be good at it you have to know quite a bit about theory and chord progressions. It is definatly not as easy as it appears to be.
_________________________
-Amy-
*Visit my page! http://www.expage.com/pianopalace

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#482119 - 01/07/02 09:50 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Well you're in the right place. There are lots of great players in Austin. Keep looking. You'll find the right person.

Also, Amy's right. There's a lot of theory behind improvisation.
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#482120 - 01/08/02 11:35 AM Re: Learning to "fake"
Dison Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 3
Loc: Austin, TX
I figured there was a fair bit of theory behind it. My education was lacking in that area, which is probably one reason I haven't been able to "pick it up" as quickly as I'd like. I thought about taking a music theory course at UT, but my travel schedule with work prohibits that.

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#482121 - 01/08/02 11:58 AM Re: Learning to "fake"
DT Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 1478
Loc: Illinois
If you'd like to do some self-study on improvisation, chord patterns/substitutions, etc., you might give Duane Shinn a try. You can email him at pianoman@playpiano.com or see all (sample some) of the courses he offers at www.playpiano.com.
_________________________
Through clever and constant application of propaganda, people can be made to see paradise as hell...

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#482122 - 01/08/02 01:48 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
There are several skills involving harmonization (in order of difficulty):

1. Harmonizing chords when both the baseline and melody are known.
2. Harmonizing chords when the bassine is known but not the melody.
3. Harmonizing chords when only the melody is known but not the bass.

You're not alone. There are lots of musicians who are skilled players and maybe even fluent improvisers that nonetheless cannot harmonize a melody on-the-fly. For example, Wynton Marsalis got into trouble a few years ago on stage and had to have his dad whisper the changes to him because he didn't have ears for the tune. Another example is a professional jazz bass player friend who got so nervous about an upcoming gig with Milt Jackson, an older jazz musician who knows thousands of tunes and expects you to play them all by ear, that he couldn't sleep.

This kind of playing is an entirely different neurological process than sight reading, and fluency in one area won't help in the other. To develop these kind of harmonization skills try playing a very basic version of "Happy Birthday" with just base in the left hand and melody in the right hand. Once you can get through that play that basic version in all 12 keys. Once you can do that harmonize every nursery rhyme you know in the same manner. Once you do that get yourself a fake book and black out the chords such that you have only the melody as your guide. Harmonize tons of music with this approach and you'll get the hang of it.

It won't sound very satisfying at first, but be patient. You didn't learn to sight read in a day either. (Actually, most people don't have the patience.) Over time you will develop the ability to match chord tones to melodies and become familiar with common chord progressions.

Of course, there is an entirely different approach to this problem that differs from the rather "right brained" approach I just described. It involves rigorous harmonic analysis, learning scales and chords and how they match up and analyzing tons of music for its harmonic structure. You first work on conscious competence, generally with paper and pen, and proceed over time to a level of unconscious competence. This method takes longer to develop but will yield a more sophisticated sound. Especially if you wind up analyzing stuff like Stravinsky. The challenge with this approach is going from non-real-time harmonic analysis to the real-time process of laying it down on the bandstand.

Both approaches are good and have both pluses and minuses. I suggest starting with the basic "right brained" approach first. And start studying harmony in the meantime.

T2

P.S.: This kind of training will also have a side-effect. It will give you new found respect for those piano bar players that fake so well--even if you can blow 'em away technically and/or harmonically.

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#482123 - 01/08/02 05:38 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
Bernard Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/06/01
Posts: 3857
Loc: North Groton, NH
Gee T2, thanks very much for that wonderful post. It was very informative and has actually got me motivated to try the right-brained approach you mention (in my spare time, when I can find some).
_________________________
"Hunger for growth will come to you in the form of a problem." -- unknown

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#482124 - 01/08/02 07:07 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
Penny Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2943
Loc: San Juan Capistrano, CA
I, too, very much want to learn jazz. I was classically trained as a youth and was away from the piano for 20 years before picking it up again this past year. I found a professionnal jazz trumpeter who can also "fake it" on the piano who will give me jazz lessons. He said the same thing people are saying here: it's not as easy as it looks and that there is a lot of theory behind it. I can't wait!
penny

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#482125 - 01/08/02 07:54 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
Penny, if you're in Southern California I might be able to suggest a couple of teachers for you. David Roitstein teaches over at Cal Arts. Of course, you're also fortunate to have the most admired of all the West Coast jazz piano teachers, Claire Fisher, right there in L.A. I'm sure that either one of those guys or someone they would refer would be top notch.

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#482126 - 01/08/02 08:53 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Let me add a couple of suggestions in the So. California area:
Mark Harrison is a wonderful teacher. He is the author of several books on contemporary theory and eartraining as well as "The Pop Piano Book" which is a wonderful resource for learning contemporary styles of piano (no matter where you live). He's located in the San Fernando Valley. You can reach him through his web site at www.harrisonmusic.com
Probably the most in-demand teacher in all of LA is Terry Trotter. Many well-known recording artists still take lessons with him from time to time. He's not cheap, but is worth a try. He usually gives you so much to work on, that weekly study is almost a waste of time. That kind of balances out the cost.
I don't mean to be argumentative, but while I think Claire Fisher is a genius, I would not recommend him as a teacher. I studied with him a little about 12 years ago. Not a great experience. However, one can learn TONS by analyzing his work.
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#482127 - 01/08/02 09:42 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
Dison Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 01/07/02
Posts: 3
Loc: Austin, TX
Thanks everyone - T2 especially - for the info. I think I'll try a combination approach. My work requires me to be away from home for most of the week, so the pen-and-paper approach would work for those snippets of time I can carve out while on the road. The right-brained approach seems like a good compliment for the time (weekends, usually) when I'm back at home with access to the piano.

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#482128 - 01/08/02 11:52 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
SethW Offline
Full Member

Registered: 06/24/01
Posts: 106
A knowledge of music is probably the only reliable way to accomplish this. Fortunately, I'm both a jazz and classical player. Of course, for me, a degree in musical composition certainly helps (a lot!) in playing by ear or improvising.

[ January 08, 2002: Message edited by: SethW ]

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#482129 - 01/09/02 12:12 AM Re: Learning to "fake"
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dison:
Thanks everyone - T2 especially - for the info.[/b]


My pleasure. Ya know, there are a couple of sites on the Internet that are more focused on jazz piano. There is one over at http://www.learnjazzpiano.com that I might look at. There isn't a lot of discussion, but there are a few knowledgeable people that contribute some nice things targeted to beginners. ;\)

So, SteveY, you didn't like Claire Fisher. Hmmm...I may take that offline with you as both my mentors in the Bay Area, Smith Dobson and Don Haas, died unexpectedly last year. I was just devastated. The problem is that the only person left at that level can't really teach and the second level teachers keep pointing me to that one guy. (I just can't bring myself to work with a guy that talks trash about people that were so kind to me.) I can certainly do composition and classical performance and double bass, and I love all that stuff. But I may have to get on a plane to continue studying jazz piano. I know Jerry Gray and Dave Peck in Seattle, and they are both world class teachers. But I'd be grateful for an update on the L.A. scene.

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#482130 - 01/09/02 12:50 AM Re: Learning to "fake"
Penny Offline
2000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 2943
Loc: San Juan Capistrano, CA
Hey, thanks for the tips about LA-based jazz teachers. I can't begin until next September, when my daughter will be in preschool three days a week. But I can't wait! Until then, I'm still brushing up on my skills.

penny

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#482131 - 01/10/02 08:26 AM Re: Learning to "fake"
Samejame Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 808
Loc: NL, Canada
Dison,

Faking takes a solid knowledge of the theory of chord voicings, inversions, and progressions, and a good ear. For jazz, it wouldn't hurt to also know your major and minor pentatonics. Alot of jazz finds its roots in blues music, thus the pentatonics. Drilling diatonic scales and chromatics in each key will also help in building confidence for solo riffs as well. Many jazz pianists make it look so easy, but that's mainly because they are just that good, and having a solid foundation of some of the things I've mentioned certainly doesn't hurt.

There's a book called the "Ultimate Fake Book" that's available in most sheet music stores. It's a belomoth of a thing, featuring many popular pop and jazz tunes that's pretty good. It has just about everything in it. Working with a book like this, especially if you are familiar with the tunes, will help you in developing your techniques with left hand chording.

Good luck.

amie
_________________________
"A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" Oscar Wilde.

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#482132 - 01/10/02 12:47 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
T2 Offline
Full Member

Registered: 12/18/01
Posts: 341
There are a couple of books by a Bay Area pianist named Mark Levine that cover jazz piano harmony pretty well. One is titled "The Jazz Piano Book" and one called "The Jazz Theory Book". These are some of the better introductions to the subject out there, and once you are far along enough to know where the mistakes are you're pretty much there.

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#482133 - 01/10/02 06:05 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
RKVS1 Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/07/01
Posts: 3192
Loc: Topeka, Kansas
Penny, I'm happy to hear that TheRedPiano will be singing the Blues soon.
This subject best describes what I've been trying to do for quite a while too. I played piano till 15 or so then switched majority of time to woodwinds which I played all through college and in some community groups after that. Treble clef reading skills are fine but base clef was a little labored so I figured if I learned to read chords and learned some of the theory I could make more chord Progressions than Transgressions when I went back to the piano. I'm taking lessons from a woman here who composes and arranges and who is helping with my theory background. I don't know if "Jazz" is a realistic goal, but I'm a lot more comfortable around fake books than I was a few years ago and I think that IS a worthwhile goal.
I've been actively searching the web for music theory sites. I've listed the ones I found most helpful for me as well as some LinkPages which contain many more (sometimes overlapping) web sites.


This site has extensive keyboard chord diagrams but BEST are the ChordProgressionMaps in all keys and a "GenericMap" (I, ii iii IV7 bIV9 etc) of various ways to work your chordal way from "somewhere" back to the root chord. I really recommend this site for its printable graphical references.
S Music Theory for Songwriters, AOL GREAT CHORD THEORY MAPS and DIAGRAM http://members.aol.com/chordmaps/index.htm
(excuse the hyperbolic language.....when you've got 30,000 links in this one folder of your "favorites list" you have do something to make the good ones stand out, and its SO difficult to click that DELETE box on one that MIGHT have some good stuff in it)


Barda is guitar player but the 2 pages "Intervals De-Mystified PART ONE" and "PartTWO" are clear, concise and memorable statements of some fundamentals. He teaches in LA, though I dont know if he teaches piano.
RickBarda'sJazzEd WebsiteScaleMnemonics Guitar Patterns also http://www.drbop.com/index.shtml

Thorough theory page, mainly in text rather than graphics, has links to MIDI files for hearing the progressions he's discussing.
Bob Frazier's Music Page http://catalog.com/sft/bobf/music.html

Dr Brian Blood, a music professor somewhere in United Kingdom leads a quite well-organized step by step trip through theory, Has good Musical Dictionary online.
Music Theory Online OUTLINE be-blood.uk
http://www.be-blood.demon.co.uk/theoryintro.htm
These first four links don't contain any new breakthroughs in music theory.....they are just the ones I felt were most thorough and clear.


Solomon was recommended by Dr. Blood (but that might be a GOOD thing)?
Solomon's Music Instruction http://www.azstarnet.com/~solo/mused.htm
Solomon has lots of downloadable training programs,,,,some free some not. Some of his theory discussions were very academic and way beyond me, but its an extensive site.
HarmonyInTonalMusicUK TomSutcliffe ChordProgression in Classical Music http://www.harmony.org.uk/
Retired physicist turning his analytical and mathematic skills toward (against?) music. Interesting but very technical site, I only included it because of its quite different goal and approach. Its at the same end of a different spectrum.

Adams is a university music student bursting with the desire to spread his understanding......very good site, with a forum that's well organized if you feel the need to ask a question. Also has good "chord calculators" and other visual aids. More theory than practice, perhaps.
Ricci Adams' Musictheory.net - Animated music theory lessonsGOOD http://www.musictheory.net/


Mark Sabatella plays jazz in Denver area. His primer doesn't have lots of graphics but has good progression discussions as well as a discography and a bibliography of recommended references. Pretty good insight into the history of fake books, legal and not-quite-so, as well as a history of jazz players and movements. The Almanac has a very extensive list of fakebooks and instruction books.
The Outside Shore JazzTHeory site good, recommended by UofWisc,madison http://www.outsideshore.com/
A Jazz Improvisation Almanac Outside Shore ,Mark Sabatella http://www.outsideshore.com/primer/almanac/text/index.htm

Has some downloadable EarTraining programs for $30 or so.
teoría - Music Theory - Teoría de la música OK but SLOW connection http://www.teoria.com/

Its in Australia, but maybe your up late anyway?
JAZZ COURSES : Email Lessons on Chords, Blues and Jazz Improvisation,Aussie http://www.jazclass.aust.com/spect.htm#00

UCLA also has a good site I believe. These are a couple of University sites I thought were good.
GeorgetownCollege.edu Web Study Guides, Etc. SonnyBurnett http://spider.georgetowncollege.edu/music/burnette/index.html
Jazz Improvisation UofWisconsin, Madison ,Joan WIldman http://hum.lss.wisc.edu/jazz/

These are some of the Pages of Links from other music sites. Some links are redundant I'm sure. Advise taking a sandwich and alarm clock along. Perhaps a trashbag as well.
Music Theory Links from SONGSTUFF.com GOOD PAGE OF LINKS http://www.songstuff.com/Links/Knowledge/Theory.htm
Worldwide Internet Music Outline IndianaUniversity LinksTo:OnlnLessons;Theory http://www.music.indiana.edu/music_resources/outline.html
Google Directory - Arts > Music > Theory MusicTheory LINKS page http://directory.google.com/Top/Arts/Music/Theory/

Music Theory & Education Resources - SYNTH ZONE PAGE of LINKS LINKS LINKS http://www.synthzone.com/

Music Resources SibeliusAcademy LINKS PAGE http://www.siba.fi/Kulttuuripalvelut/music.html
The Sibelius Academy has more European links I believe.


Thanks, T2 for the ScotRanney link and you Steve for Harrison's site, both of which would have gone near the top of my list.

Bob

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#482134 - 01/10/02 06:24 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
SteveY Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 11/06/01
Posts: 1820
Loc: NJ
Thanks for the heads-up on Rick Barda's site. We actually went to the same music school. So did Mark Harrison. Small world.
_________________________
PianoWorld disclaimer: musician, producer, arranger, author, clinician, consultant, PS2 aficionado, secret agent...

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#482135 - 01/10/02 06:40 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
Samejame Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/01/01
Posts: 808
Loc: NL, Canada
WOW Bob.

Done some homework I see. Great stuff! Tks for the links.

Jamie
_________________________
"A cynic knows the price of everything and the value of nothing" Oscar Wilde.

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#482136 - 01/11/02 05:27 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
kenny Offline
7000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/29/01
Posts: 7051
 Quote:
Originally posted by Dison:

So, I appeal to the assembled wisdom of the forum - any pointers for an experienced classical pianist who wants to learn how to fake his way through an unfamiliar song?

Thanks in advance,
-Dison[/b]


Dison
Me confused.
What does Fake mean?

Is is listening to a CD and figuring out how to play something without the sheet music? I believe this is called paying by ear. Is that different from faking it?

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#482137 - 01/11/02 07:28 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
Vid Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 06/12/01
Posts: 706
Loc: Vancouver, B.C.
Faking and playing by ear are two different things, but by no mean are they unrelated. Faking refers to reading charts that provide the melody and harmonies in a shorthand form. The pianist takes these charts and creates their own accompaniment using the given harmonies as a guideline.

Playing by ear does the same thing more or less except you don't use the charts.
_________________________
Kawai VPC1, Pianoteq, Galaxy Vintage D

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#482138 - 01/11/02 10:31 PM Re: Learning to "fake"
MacDuff Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/26/01
Posts: 560
Loc: Southeast, U.S.A.
What about the "Nashville Number System"? Anybody fluent in that?
http://members.aol.com/numchart/chart_basics.htm

[ January 11, 2002: Message edited by: MacDuff ]

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