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My head is exploding!!!

 
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fleudian



Joined: 25 Dec 2007
Posts: 7
Location: Calgary, AB, Canada

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 6:12 pm    Post subject: My head is exploding!!! Reply with quote

Lately, I have run into some problems while running through licks in 12 keys...

I have been told I should know the name of every note I hit as well as its relationship to the underlying chord as I play. I have a solid knowledge of the note names all over the fretboard, as well as an understanding of chord tones... the problem is that if I want to actually think of both at the same time, I have to be going at unbearable tempos (ie, quarter note is 25 or lower). I'm basically trying to think of two things at the same time. I had much less difficulty before, when I would play a lick and think of how the notes related, and I would sort of just "know" the note names without actually reciting them in my head. Does that make any sense?

Hopefully that's clearly explained enough... I feel like this is impossible and I'm wasting a lot of practice time working on this. Maybe this is something that will benefit me in the long run, but it just doesn't seem that practical right now. Can anyone more experienced give me their thoughts about this?
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Jens



Joined: 20 Feb 2007
Posts: 416
Location: The Hague, The Netherlands

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well if you are practicing transposing lines and relating the notes to the underlying harmony then it's a good exercise no matter how fast you play it.
Personally it is not something I would do as a part of a regular routine.

Maybe try to group the notes? like "arpeggio from the 3rd" "chromatic leading note backs to the 7th" , "scale from the 7th to the 4th" etc. then you can remember the melody as a few melodic fragments rather than a bunch of notes, and it gives you more effective building blocks for when you are improvising yourself, complete licks might sound a bit stale and are difficult to put in a context so it sounds natural.

I don't know how you move the lines around , but it could be just as effective to play the same line in the same key but in all positions? (And usually there are less positions than keys), and take a different key every day.

If you are practicing to play the line then maybe try using it in songs. II-V-I lines are good in the bridge of Cherokee, I'll remember april, How High the Moon, Solar etc. All songs where you get more keys to play the same line.
When you practice like this it is probably more focused on the fingering and the phrasing so maybe you should not think too much of the notes but trust that you know the line well enough to hear it as a meoldy in that place. In the end playing a certain arpeggio or scale sound in an improvisation is not a conscious choice, music is always happening too fast for you to think. The things you practice should end up beeing reflexes.

Jens
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JakeJew



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

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's fine to do this slowly - treat it as an exercise. Then when it's time to play a solo, don't think about it.

Remember then when you actually perform, you want to use tools at your disposal, play what you can play to express yourself as long as you don't entirely lose the form.

The exercise you described is a great one, and I've done really similar things in the past and found them extremely helpful. But when you're playing, as long as you know what the notes are going to sound like, you don't need to think about numbers and letters, at least not in my opinion.

I guess my point is that there's a difference between practicing and playing.
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JakeJew



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

PostPosted: Tue Apr 21, 2009 10:07 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, adding to that-
when you're playing you really shouldn't be thinking "this is the b3, this is G#" etc etc. The letters and numbers are just to help us organize things, talk about them and study them. Sorry to get esoteric, but the music is the sound, and the goal of the shed should be to get sounds internalized (and categorized) both physically and mentally so that when you play, the muse can release what needs to be released...
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Viper



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

PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 7:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
I have been told I should know the name of every note I hit as well as its relationship to the underlying chord as I play
Why?
Quote:
I feel like this is impossible and I'm wasting a lot of practice time working on this.
I think this is true and it would prevent me from playing at all. If you applied the same thought processes to walking you would probably fall over.
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M



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

PostPosted: Wed Apr 22, 2009 1:25 pm    Post subject: Re: My head is exploding!!! Reply with quote

fleudian wrote:
I have been told I should know the name of every note I hit as well as its relationship to the underlying chord as I play.


I believe this is generally true, if you have or are building a strong theoretical foundation; however, I don't think you want to or have time to consciously think about it while you are playing.

You want to build a strong foundation and internalize it to the extent possible so that you don't have to be consciously reciting relationships in your head as you play.
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chrisj



Joined: 03 Jan 2009
Posts: 22
Location: Los Angeles

PostPosted: Fri Jul 17, 2009 7:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

A portion of your practice routine should be dedicated to this type of thing and another portion should be dedicated to improvising without so much thinking. It is really important to focus on playing chord tones though. The reason is simply because it is much quicker to understand theory that to develop your ears. If you wait for your ears to be able to hear chord tones, and hit them on the strong beats, you might be waiting a very long time. By simply using your head first, your ears are quicker to follow.

I don't think you need to understand everything you play. After all, you don't want to be frozen while the chord go by. But try to make a conscious effort to pick some specific chord tones to start on and target, you don't have know where each and everyone is. Before you start to play, and I strongly suggest that you play over a pre-recorded chord progression or sequence, make an effort to locate roots of each chord, in the scale pattern and start on each of those roots. You will be surprised how this will help your ears and help you to improve as a soloist.

I wrote out a lesson on this. Why don't you try it and see how it goes:

http://chrisjuergensen.com/chord_tones.htm
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lex_robben



Joined: 10 May 2010
Posts: 9

PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 5:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Haha Chris,

I remember checking some lessons on your website many years ago Laughing

I agree with all the people here. Treat the whole "know the exact relationship of the note to the chord" thing simply as an exercise. Your ability to play a good improvisation should come first over some ear training exercise. By the time you've figured out what note you're playing you'll have missed the beat. After all, isn't the whole point of such exercises meant to improve your jazz improvisation? I feel that jazz has become too much of an academic OCD subject in recent years...anyone disagree? Confused
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Jazz Playa



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 346

PostPosted: Mon May 31, 2010 8:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds like a good exercise to learn your intervals and what they (sound) like. Best advice here i think is to learn the stuff as an exercise but when you're playing just forget it all and just play. Definitely learn the note names and the intervals but more importantly learn how each note (sounds) over a given chord and get that ingrained in your brain. That way if you want to hear a certain (sound) you can just go to it without having to really think about it. Then when you learn how all the intervals sound (the letters) you can start putting them together into interesting words, phrases, sentences, and then paragraphs, musically speaking. Yup its just like learning a language. Good luck! Smile
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hobersmith



Joined: 28 May 2010
Posts: 18
Location: San Francisco, CA

PostPosted: Tue Jun 01, 2010 2:21 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

You will be able to think of both things at the same time. Just give it more time and keep exercising. Very Happy
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Jazz Playa



Joined: 11 Mar 2009
Posts: 346

PostPosted: Mon Jun 07, 2010 4:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

"Learn it then forget it and just play" Or in other words, learn it so well that you don't have to think about it anymore. If you're still having to think about it that means you haven't really learned it yet. Wink Another way of saying it, learn it so well that it just becomes a part of you.
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hanni



Joined: 01 Sep 2006
Posts: 660
Location: germany

PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 12:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Viper wrote:
Quote:
I have been told I should know the name of every note I hit as well as its relationship to the underlying chord as I play
Why?
Quote:
I feel like this is impossible and I'm wasting a lot of practice time working on this.
I think this is true and it would prevent me from playing at all. If you applied the same thought processes to walking you would probably fall over.


how true, i was feeling so bad to do only jazz lessons, at last there was nothing i could play, now i am going another way to learn jazz, keep a song and look what stuck inside, take the lessons out of a song, at last you can play and sing the song, thats much better
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jazzerchick



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

PostPosted: Fri Sep 17, 2010 7:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Agree with that.

Hi Hanni! How are you? Haven't heard from you in a long time.
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