Re: Re: Practicing Jazz

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Posted by Joe Sellmansberger on April 12, 1999 at 21:57:55:

In Reply to: Re: Practicing Jazz posted by I have another question? (Brian) on April 12, 1999 at 11:18:24:

Bach is said to have learned compositional techniques from the tedious practice of copying the music scores of other composers (note-by-note -- down on paper). By sitting down and doing this, he forced himself to observe every detail of the other composers' compositional techniques. Quite soon, the techniques that they used, in that how those techniques created sound, function, etc., became overwhelmingly apparent to Bach. When I was about 17 years old and wanted to sound to others like I knew how to be a jazz player (I was a jazz novice), I would record L.P.s (does anyone remember what THOSE were?) on to cassette tapes and then play top artists really cool jazz solos phrase-by-phrase (stopping the tape a lot, and rewinding) and WRITE THEM DOWN. Then, I would learn them on my horn, with all of the nuances (at least TRIED to include all of the nuances) that I heard on the recordings. Getting into it this deeply forced me to look at and eventually understand what they were doing (even how they were clever about working with "whoops" notes in their solos).
Just playing the transcribed solos of these artists written down by others in books will NOT bring this level of examination to you. You must LISTEN, REALIZE, NOTATE, UNDERSTAND, and PERFORM. Yes, this is tedious, but Bach proved this method to be terribly effective in his compositional technique development (Did he not?). As YOU are developing your off-the-top-of-your-head compositional techniques in jazz idioms (Church organ players learn to improvise in "classical" idioms.), you must STUDY ! Try studying in the manner that I suggested above. It is NOT easy -- Is ANYTHING easy that is worth doing? YES, it takes a lot of time -- Bach had time to do this and then compose thousands of written-down masterpieces of his own -- you've got the time.
As you struggle to write down the notes on paper that you hear on the recordings, have faith that you will get more and more accurate and faster and faster at it. When you FINALLY get to the point that you can TOTALLY skip the writing stage and go straight to the playing stage in the imitation of these classic recorded jazz solos, your ear will have developed a lot of "muscles", and you might be capable - through osmosis - of playing some pretty darn good sounding jazz-sounding "rides". Carl might not call them true "jazz" yet, and maybe he would be right, but you will have so much stuff swimming in your head (even when you don't want it to) and you will be neurotically fingering these made-up solos "in the air" (while driving your car, etc.) that you will start to take bits and pieces of all of these great solo lines that you have studied in this idiom and put your own stuff together -- as appeals to your intellect, ear, and technical limitations. Don't expect quick results (unless you are some sort of quick-study genious), and later on, don't be too timid to try out your skills in front of others.

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