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Brad Hedrick



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 43
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Sat Apr 11, 2009 8:18 pm    Post subject: Square one? Reply with quote

OK, here's my problem. After playing guitar and bass in various classic-rock, country-rock bands for an embarrassing number of years, embarrassing because after about 33 years of playing "at" guitar, you would think I would actually have some level of talent... LOL However, my musical tastes have expanded and matured over the years and I now find myself a jazz and standards fan.

I have been mostly self-taught and that may account for my lack of real talent... that notwithstanding, I still desire to play in this genre either with a combo or maybe as an accompanist to my own vocals. I have no desire to lead a trio or quartet since I have always been just a solid rhythm player my whole life and would be happy to just be able to comp along within a band setting, if nothing else.

I engaged a teacher a couple of years ago who basically wanted me to throw out all the knowledge I had of barre and first position chords and learn jazz chords the "proper" way. That meant doing away with chord windows and reading the music and playing these very difficult finger positions.

I recognized that learning jazz guitar would be a challenge and was willing to go as far as paying for lessons for the first time in my life. My teacher was a gifted and talented player and I had sort of "auditioned" him by going one night to hear him play with his own quartet. Were I a younger student and not 48, I'm sure I would have done much better under his tutelage and not had to "unlearn" so much. "Don't play that Dmin7 like that, play it like this!"

I had some health issues a few years ago and suspended my lessons, however, I was getting discouraged with my progress anyways. I am now fairly recovered and interested in tackling this again. So finally here are my questions:

Should I find a different teacher this time who will let me build upon the knowledge I already have?

Forego the teacher this time and take some other course, like online, DVD or book?

Is it not possible to comp by playing the proper maj, min, 7th and 9th type chords in barre position?

I have been a member of this forum for a few years now and have basically lurked on here because I have not had much to add in the way of advice or knowledge, but I do know there are quite a few talented people on here and I welcome any and all advice.

Thanks, Brad
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jazzerchick



Joined: 31 Oct 2006
Posts: 968
Location: SanAntonio , Tx

PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 8:43 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just a comment on why you're teacher might want you to learn other
voicings besides barres.
When you accompany, voice leading becomes a very important issue.
Also altered voicings. You need to use voicings that let you include and
exclude the melody and also let you pass smoothly through the
changes. Barres can get you stuck in positions that don't allow alterations
and also you usually don't need or want to play 4, 5 , or 6 note chords.
Voicings that leave you open to movement and alterations are most
useful in the long run. This doesn't mean that you never use the bigger
barres. You just need some more tools so that you have options.
Does that help? Thats probably why your teacher wants you to expand
your chordal possibilities.
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M



Joined: 02 Jan 2009
Posts: 331
Location: Northern VA (USA)

PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

jazzerchick wrote:
... You just need some more tools so that you have options.


jazzerchick has provided good advice. If you're looking to grow, you'll need to venture away from the familiar and explore the unfamiliar.

Learning new things should be invigorating. The usual caveats apply, though. Don't overwhelm yourself. Break it down into manageable/achieveable chunks. Measure your progress. Etc.

Go forth and prosper! Wink
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Brad Hedrick



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 43
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Sun Apr 12, 2009 9:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I understand the reason behind "voicings", he explained how in different dynamic settings and with various instrumentation I would need to occupy different real estate in the musical landscape. I was just wondering if he had to be so dogmatic about it that it was discouraging me with my inability to even grasp a couple of simple tunes.

I mean, I WANT to be challenged somewhat but it was becoming oppressive in it's obsessiveness and taking the fun out of it for me. I'm perfectly willing to apply myself here and am committed to learning the genre, knowing full well I will never truly M"aster" it though.

Thanks jazzerchick for the advice, I hope I didn't just sound like I was whining....

M, I guess that's where I am having the other difficulty, breaking it down into manageable chunks and seeing enough progress to encourage myself.

Brad
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HST



Joined: 10 Feb 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 1:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

My suggestion would be to start off learning the 3 note min7, maj7 and dom7 shapes with the bass in the root. Once you have those shapes down you can apply them to ii-V-I in all keys. In addition learn the chord tones as well do not just memorize the shapes. This will give you the ability to begin to comp over most standards and learn the changes.
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M



Joined: 02 Jan 2009
Posts: 331
Location: Northern VA (USA)

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 2:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

HST wrote:
My suggestion would be to start off learning the 3 note min7, maj7 and dom7 shapes with the bass in the root. Once you have those shapes down you can apply them to ii-V-I in all keys. In addition learn the chord tones as well do not just memorize the shapes. This will give you the ability to begin to comp over most standards and learn the changes.


+1, HST! I almost went here, too, but I was afraid of confusing you, Brad (if your teacher was approaching it differently).

This is a great starting point (IMHO) for moving away from parallel barre movement into more voice-led movement. It's a great way to start to appreciate the fundamental guide-tone movement (the 3rds and 7ths of each chord) through a chord progression, too!
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Brad Hedrick



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 43
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He could be very confusing at times. After all he stressed about not using barre chords, I found a chord chart by Rick Peckham that I took to him and asked what he though of it. He immediately went through there and checked off a dozen or so positions that he though were essential and many of them were just slightly modified barre type positions.

I've been meaning to dig that up and study it again a little more intently, it's called, "Jazz Chord Summary".

Brad
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Mon Apr 13, 2009 5:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Re: Teachers

Best thing is probably to do some research and try out different folks. Just because somebody is a good player doesn't mean you'll like his or her teaching style.

I've found that when a good student-teacher relationship clicks, it clicks. so maybe this isn't the right guy for you.

However, in your position I understand it's terribly humbling to take lessons. Ya gotta roll with it, and to a certain extent just let the teacher do the teaching and go along for the ride.

But you should check out different teachers in the area, see websites, craigs list ads, etc.
_________________
"Inspiration may be a form of superconsciousness, or perhaps of subconciousness - I wouldn't know. But I am sure that it is the antithesis of self-consciousness." - Aaron Copland
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Viper



Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 568
Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Is it not possible to comp by playing the proper maj, min, 7th and 9th type chords in barre position?


I don't know the answer to this question, but I think you would have to develop a fully fledged classical fingering which would take a lot longer that learning the jazz positions. Jazz fingering tending not use barre chords is difficult to begin with and tedious to learn but once you have it you will find it invaluable in the jazz context. On balance I would say this a bullet which has to be bitten. It will take you weeks and maybe months of tedious repetition until you get it. I wonder how much help a teacher can be.

There is a systematic approach you can adopt which is shown on Olivier Gannons and maybe on Chris Standings DVDs ( i am sorry but I am unfamiliar with Play What You Hear and his other stuff). Yes I think I would get a good DVD.
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JakeJew



Joined: 30 Jul 2005
Posts: 2190
Location: Boston, MA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 1:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, most of the barre chords include natural fifths, and in comping for jazz those are often ommitted.
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"Inspiration may be a form of superconsciousness, or perhaps of subconciousness - I wouldn't know. But I am sure that it is the antithesis of self-consciousness." - Aaron Copland
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Viper



Joined: 04 Oct 2005
Posts: 568
Location: Bristol, UK

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 2:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That's right Jake I didn't think of that and also repeated notes. For jazz the 3rd and 7th are much more important for the guitar, so called 'power chords' are by and large an anathema.

I am sorry Brad I don't think your barres are going to help in most situations. If you did pick selectively you might get away with it but you are making internal movement (voice leading) too difficult.

Less is more.. hooray for jazz ....


Last edited by Viper on Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Brad Hedrick



Joined: 05 Feb 2006
Posts: 43
Location: Virginia, USA

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 5:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

OK, I was afraid this was where this was going, but that's alright, at least I know that is the direction I SHOULD be moving and stop fighting it so much. I will look into some other study aids and do a search on this forum for other good reference materials.

And... instead of just resuming lessons again with the same teacher, I think I'll look round a little bit too.

I just haven't been able to get the "light bulb to come on" for me yet with all the jazz chords. I know when I was learning the barre positions and then later some of my major and minor pentatonic scales, I would be able to reach a level of understanding eventually. I obviously haven't hit that yet with jazz and it all seems so foreign and disjointed to me still. It's ALMOST like I have to UNLEARN what seems to just come naturally to me when I try to play with the old positions.

I guess this is why this forum is on here for some of us to be able to ask so many questions and tap the expertise of the learned.... thanks.

Brad
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HST



Joined: 10 Feb 2009
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 6:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just my .02 but you might want to consider learning some jazz theory I say this because without the theory side I feel you will become lost in trying to just learn chords without the understanding of how the chords are constructed. You can start by learning some shapes and patterns but to really understand jazz chords you need to be able to construct them. There are not right or wrong patterns or shapes just ones that fit or sound better within the music you are playing.
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Merlin



Joined: 05 Apr 2009
Posts: 7

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 7:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brad Hedrick wrote:

I just haven't been able to get the "light bulb to come on" for me yet with all the jazz chords. I know when I was learning the barre positions and then later some of my major and minor pentatonic scales, I would be able to reach a level of understanding eventually. I obviously haven't hit that yet with jazz and it all seems so foreign and disjointed to me still. It's ALMOST like I have to UNLEARN what seems to just come naturally to me when I try to play with the old positions.



I learned to play barre chords in HS, and thought I had chords all figured out.

I came back to guitar as an adult, starting on classical, then getting a 5th Avenue to play rhythm guitar in a big band.

The two most useful books I've gotten are the Berklee Modern Method for the Guitar (Wm. Leavitt) and Big Band and Swing Guitar by Charlton Johnson.

The Johnson book is the ultimate Freddie Green "how-to" book, and learning from that has helped me strip down jazz chords to their fundamentals.

I do have the advantage of approaching the guitar with a very thorough grounding in jazz harmony - I've been playing saxophone and arranging professionally for 30 years. YMMV.
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dewey decibel



Joined: 15 Feb 2006
Posts: 1677

PostPosted: Tue Apr 14, 2009 8:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Brad Hedrick wrote:
He could be very confusing at times. After all he stressed about not using barre chords, I found a chord chart by Rick Peckham that I took to him and asked what he though of it. He immediately went through there and checked off a dozen or so positions that he though were essential and many of them were just slightly modified barre type positions.



Most everything is going to be a modified barre chord. It's just a matter of how you look at it. Learning this stuff is going to be a constant stuggle of what seems like learning and unlearning, and the trick to it is learning these things in a way that you can relate them to one another. IMO, that's where most teachers go wrong. It takes a lot to learn where a student is coming from and what they already know, and figure out a way to add everything else on top of this exsisting knowledge base. But understand that eventually this won't seem like a different system or approach, but all part of the same approach. That is if you have a good teacher...
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