Page 2 of 5 FirstFirst 12345 LastLast
Results 26 to 50 of 125

Thread: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

  1. #26
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Dec 2002
    Location
    Decorah, Iowa
    Posts
    718

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Coming a little late to this excellent conversation. Mostly I agree with almost everything already said, especially about the importance of actually listening to a lot of jazz, live and recorded. It's a lifetime's occupation and a constantly rewarding one.

    My two cents here are mostly to mention two more fine players, Don Julin and the late, great John Abercrombie. In recent years Don has been gaining a reputation as a fine bluegrass mandolinist and teacher but, I think, at heart his first love is jazz. He can play the old stuff and the new stuff, inside and out, with real soul. Plus he's a nice guy, like all of the other living players mentioned so far.

    John Abercrombie, while always primarily a ground-breaking guitarist, played a lot of electric mandolin from the mid-70s into the 80s. He used the instrument quite a bit in his fabulous duo recordings with Ralph Towner, in Jack DeJohnette's band, and in his own first quartet (recently re-released on CD by ECM). You can find some videos on youtube of him doing things no one else has every done with a mandolin. Not burning hot licks stuff but beautiful, adventurous, improvisations that constantly inspire me.

    P.S. A hello to DavidKOS who I met last week at the CMSA convention in Santa Rosa without realizing that he was the same guy who frequently makes informed comments here at the Cafe. The mention of the "End of Early Music" made the penny drop. I certainly enjoyed our conversations in the vendor room.

    John G.

  2. The following members say thank you to John Goodin for this post:


  3. #27
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,915

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by John Goodin View Post

    P.S. A hello to DavidKOS who I met last week at the CMSA convention in Santa Rosa without realizing that he was the same guy who frequently makes informed comments here at the Cafe. The mention of the "End of Early Music" made the penny drop. I certainly enjoyed our conversations in the vendor room.

    John G.
    Hi John, it was great meeting you!

  4. #28
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,014

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Dave Apollon is probably the closest you're going to hear a mandolin at near Django-level artistry. Another guy that deserves mention is Andy Statman. Johnny Gimble too, when he played one, but that's more Texas swing.

    That said, listening to "jazz mandolinists" is no substitute for listening to the jazz giants who have pioneered the various eras. If you have the mindset of "learning jazz mandolin" instead of "learning JAZZ", you're are missing the boat, imo.

    Listen to your favorite players, and let that stuff seep into your brain over time. (the crockpot method rather than kill it and grill it). If you don't have "favorites", then you need to go down to your library and start checking out CDs until you realize whose playing you prefer.

    Aside from a few guys (Django, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery) I was never that enamoured of jazz guitar. Though there are some of the solid body electric players (Lee Rittenour, Robben Ford) who use rock/blues articulation and techniques and who actually phrase more like sax players than those archtop guitar guys, and I like what they do.

    For trumpet....Cootie Williams (early Duke Ellington), Chet Baker. Miles Davis (but that's more for everything rather than his trumpet 'sound)'.

    Sax is where it's at for me: Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Johnny Hodges (alto, Ellington), Ornette Coleman, Rhasaan Roland Kirk, Johnny Almond (saxes & flutes w/John Mayall, Mark-Almond), Stan Getz, Paul Desmond (alto w/Dave Brubeck), Lester Young. There lots of guys worth listening to. Art Pepper (alto) - there's no sax player I would rather listen to playing blues than him.

    Piano: Tommy Flannagan, Bill Evans, Red Garland. (Bud Powell leaves me cold)

    There are plenty who "shred", but I go for the lyrical players who really have a vocal quality on their instrument. (Same criteria for players of country, BG, blues, celtic, Nordic or almost every other genre I listen to.) Listening to players should be like listening to singers....there are plenty that are good, but there are those select ones which really take it elsewhere (for you). (or the type of restaurant you prefer going to and what you choose off the menu.)

    Niles H

    Oh...and you might want to consider playing mandola and get a little lower. And/or, think about retuning your mandolin to F-C-G-D or your mandola to Bb-F-C-G to make life easier playing in those "flat" horn keys.

  5. The following members say thank you to mandocrucian for this post:


  6. #29
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,915

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    Dave Apollon is probably the closest you're going to hear a mandolin at near Django-level artistry. Another guy that deserves mention is Andy Statman. Johnny Gimble too, when he played one, but that's more Texas swing.

    That said, listening to "jazz mandolinists" is no substitute for listening to the jazz giants who have pioneered the various eras. If you have the mindset of "learning jazz mandolin" instead of "learning JAZZ", you're are missing the boat, imo.
    .........

    Aside from a few guys (Django, Charlie Christian, Wes Montgomery) I was never that enamoured of jazz guitar.


    .......

    Sax is where it's at for me: Coltrane, Sonny Rollins, Johnny Hodges (alto, Ellington), Ornette Coleman, Rhasaan Roland Kirk, Johnny Almond (saxes & flutes w/John Mayall, Mark-Almond), Stan Getz, Paul Desmond (alto w/Dave Brubeck), Lester Young. There lots of guys worth listening to. Art Pepper (alto) - there's no sax player I would rather listen to playing blues than him.



    .......
    Oh...and you might want to consider playing mandola and get a little lower. And/or, think about retuning your mandolin to F-C-G-D or your mandola to Bb-F-C-G to make life easier playing in those "flat" horn keys.
    I could have written much of the above!

    I really liked sax players - I used to listen to Parker bootlegs when I was a teenager.

    There are other jazz guitar players I liked - Joe Pass, Kenny Burrell, among others - but like mandolin players they were not at the forefront of jazz until fusion.

  7. #30
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Chicago, IL,USA
    Posts
    517

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Hello again original poster Michael,

    Here's some tips, observations and steps to take toward improvising and playing in general...

    Start with concrete goals. Don't be afraid to take smaller pieces or go slower in tempo.
    Your basic goals both musically and mandolinistically might boil down to:
    Chord Progressions and Rhythm Playing and
    What notes go with each chord? a/k/a scales, modes, rows of tones..
    When locating all of the above on the mandolin remember it is your friend and will help you since it's fretboard patterns are symmetrical: When you learn a major scale with all fretted notes, for instance, you've learned all of them in a sense-look for the shape and feel of a scale, move it up a fret you have that scale in the next key higher. Same with chords of course--all the forms are moveable.
    Django styled jazz is a good starting point believe it or not because the tunes of the era have rich but accessible progressions. One thing that distinguishes jazz chords is the regular use of color tones, say the 6th and the 9th. A tune in G would use a G6 chord. A tune in Gm might use Gm6 in gypsy jazz and Gm9 in other places. On Dominant chords, say D7, the V chord of the key of G, if you add the color tone of the 6th you now have D13. The other thing added in this style on the dominant chord are called alterations. These are b5#5b9#9.. they add chromaticism, tension, interest. A 7th chord with an alteration often resolves to a minor chord, for example D7b9-Gm6.
    As far as the swing rhythm stroke, to me it sounds like Da-Dit Da-Dit Da-Dit, or long-short. The shorter of the notes is enunciated much like a chop in bluegrass-lift the fingers off in the left hand and let them stop the sound of the strings. The Da-Dit rhythm reminds one of the sound of the hi-hat cymbal in a big band. You can also play steady quarter notes, chunk-chunk-chunk-chunk.
    I like to practice chords key by key. The default basic progression in this style is ii-V-I, as in the key of G, Am7-D7-G. If moving from any chord to another seems awkward, just drill that one change. Move the progression to all the other keys to see what challenges arise. That same progression in minor is Gm-Am7b5-D7b9 or i-iim7b5-V7b9...
    There are four most basic chords Major Minor, Augmented, and Diminished. And not that many ways to play each kind! Again look for shape, feel, and always say out loud the pitch and function, like G6-Am7-D7, I-ii-V7.
    Similarly with scales-when you learn a scale with all fretted notes, you have a shape or pattern that serves the same function in the other keys.
    List 6 favorite tunes in the style. Make a chart of each one even if you have one already. Learn a memorize a rhythm part including the progression and the form(sections). This yields something you'll see in your mind's eye as the changes fly by in real life.
    Next jot down a scale for each chord. These will be the notes to choose from when constructing solos. Generating ideas one chord sound at a time at slow tempo works fine. Then when you string them all together for the entire song form, if you play all eighth notes (dogga-dogga-dogga-dogga, and no repeated notes)it will force you to think quickly of the next note, and hear things in the basic underlying rhythm of jazz soloing. By the time you try these things on your six favorite tunes, you're probably playing in all keys, and it's more fun to do in the context of the tunes than just sitting drilling scales...
    OK maybe I better make this our first installment of tips etc., except for this most important one: Keep it fun! You can do it.

  8. The Following 13 Users Say Thank You to Don Stiernberg For This Useful Post:

    + Show/Hide list of the thanked


  9. #31
    Stop the chop!
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    europe
    Posts
    1,268
    Blog Entries
    1

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Jazz mandolin, of course, is jazz on the mandolin, so there are two main steps here: 1) getting into the mandolin and 2) getting into jazz. Of course, in learning the instrument you will also gradually acquire some jazz vocabulary and improvisational devices (such as playing through the chords, scale- and arpeggiowise, playing around the chords, diatonic and chromatic approach notes), playing past the chords, e.g., whole tone and dim scales, and altering and extending the chords (ninths, thirteenths, augmented elevenths, etc.) Note: gradually !!!, beginning, e.g., with variations on the melodies of standards.

    As for getting into the instrument, my approach on learning the guitar more than 60 years ago, was to proceed key by key, traveling along the circle of fifths in both directions, C, F, G, Bb, D, etc. in first position, *without the use of open strings*, proceeding to higher positions after that. You will probably find that at least the first few flat keys, F, Bb, Eb, sit very comfortably on the mandolin. And the keys of Ab, and Db, are really A and D pulled back one fret.

    The instrument does matter, to some extent. For one thing, do you plan to play single-course electric or double-course acoustic? The two have very different possibilities and limitations. E.g., acoustic instruments have very little sustain, and tremolo (to be used sparingly in jazz) doesn’t really work on single-course instruments. Acoustic mandolin works best in a string ensemble, or with trimmed-down percussion, although our man Stiernberg has recorded with horns, piano and (as I recall) drums.

    For most styles of jazz you will need fairly thorough training in harmony. Do you play guitar or piano? Otherwise (or anyway) you may need a teacher for that. One great disadvantage of being completely self-taught on guitar and mandolin (I could not afford lessons at 12-13…) is I never had formal ear training, so my ears are too slow for jazz at a professional level.

    No one asks the important question what and who attracted you to jazz in the first place? Listen to these cats and catesses, transcribe their solos (not right away …) if you hear something reallys triking elaborate on these ideas. In the swing and bop idioms of course there are soloists at least worthy of study. E.g., Charlie Christian’s Minton sessions and Clifford Brown (esp.on Valse Hot and Pentup House, two 16-bar tunes) are excellent studies in building solos over several choruses; and in Brown’s case you have his wonderful interaction with Max Roach.

    I won’t enumerate more soloists, at least not until I know more about your preferences. The late John Abercrombie was mentioned. I’m not familiar with his (electric?) mandolin work but on guitar he’s often so far on the outside that he leaves me behind. I’ve heard an album of his with Vassar Clements on vioiln, whose approach is the exact opposite, often gravitating towards the melody. Without the strong bass playing of David Holland the whole thing would fall apart.

  10. The following members say thank you to ralph johansson for this post:


  11. #32
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,915

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    J

    No one asks the important question what and who attracted you to jazz in the first place? Listen to these cats and catesses, transcribe their solos (not right away …) if you hear something reallys triking elaborate on these ideas. In the swing and bop idioms of course there are soloists at least worthy of study. E.g., Charlie Christian’s Minton sessions and ......

    I won’t enumerate more soloists, at least not until I know more about your preferences.
    Great point.

    There are so many styles of jazz - including what I call "jazz tunes" played by somewhat non-jazz musicians.

    Almost ALL jazz teaching material is for modern jazz, that is bop and it's derived styles. If you love swing, or love traditional New Orleans or Chicago style jazz, the materials for learning are much less common.

    Back then you learned jazz by ear, or from lessons from a specific pro player - and on the job as one worked with (hopefully) better bands as time went on.

    "what and who attracted you to jazz in the first place?"

    In my case it was just the "folk" music of the city I was born in . - New Orleans. It has been said that New Orleans is the ONLY city on earth with an over 100 year tradition of jazz, and of using jazz as a part of the everyday culture.

    That's older than Bluegrass...older than bebop...older than rock and roll.



    But what about you guys from other places? Of course cities like New York, Chicago, Detroit, Philadelphia, Kansas City, San Francisco and Los Angeles have their own jazz "traditions", so maybe you heard some jazz in one of those places.

    What about folks that hear their favorite mandolin player - not necessarily a specialist jazz-only musician - play some "jazz tunes" and like that music?

    I've also met people that are primarily into swing-style singing, from solo front singers to groups reproducing the close jazz harmonies of the 30's.

    Each of these sub-styles has somewhat different needs if you are learning.

    What is common is some fluency on your instrument and some theory knowledge, even if you just can play all the chords you need by ear.

    I'll leave y'all with a thought from one of my music teachers and bandleaders, a man that had wide-ranging musical skills.

    He said that just being able to swing the basic melody of a tune is an art form.

  12. The following members say thank you to DavidKOS for this post:


  13. #33
    Registered User Pete Martin's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Seattle, WA
    Posts
    3,017

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    He said that just being able to swing the basic melody of a tune is an art form.
    -----------
    Pete Martin
    www.PetimarPress.com www.Jazz-Mandolin.com
    Instruction books, videos: Bluegrass, Jazz, improvisation, ergonomics
    Private lessons in Seattle and Issaquah WA, Skype lessons to anywhere
    Pete Martin Plays Wes Montgomery free download
    http://www.jazz-mandolin.com/PetePlaysWes.xht

  14. The following members say thank you to Pete Martin for this post:


  15. #34
    Registered User Carl23's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jul 2018
    Location
    New Hampshire USA
    Posts
    170
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    One of the best books I've found on learning jazz and improvising in general is "the art and language of jazz vibes" by Jon Metzger.

    Yes, I know it is a "vibes" book, however the section on "two mallet exercises" is a great approach for any melodic instrument.

    Also, the chord section is structured quite well. You would need to figure out the Mandolin shapes, but the general theory is sound. Chords are spelled out in standard notation in treble clef. most of the progressions are in "slash notation" (chord name above and a slash for each quarter note)

    So, with the exception of the occasional Vibes only content, a highly recomended book. It is not cheap, so I'd check with your local library (interlibrary loan is your friend) and check it out to see if it is right for you.

    Each chapter has a list of song recordings to check out, 25+ songs per chapter. Includes publishing info.

    Carl

  16. The following members say thank you to Carl23 for this post:


  17. #35
    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    3,014

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    “That’s what improvisation is all about: losing conscious thought. You can’t think and play at the same time. ... You just have to put yourself in the state of mind where there’s no conscious thought. And then let the music come out.”

    --SONNY ROLLINS
    (from a 2017 interview in Pitchfork Review)

  18. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to mandocrucian For This Useful Post:


  19. #36
    Registered User Mark Seale's Avatar
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    805

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Add Dave Peters to your listening list:

  20. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to Mark Seale For This Useful Post:


  21. #37
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,915

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    “That’s what improvisation is all about: losing conscious thought. You can’t think and play at the same time. ... You just have to put yourself in the state of mind where there’s no conscious thought. And then let the music come out.”

    --SONNY ROLLINS
    (from a 2017 interview in Pitchfork Review)
    Exactly.

    But this is from a master sax player that used to practice for hours on the bridge and took at least 2 sabbaticals from performing to focus on his playing.

    He spent a lot of time and effort to get his fingers to match his "mind where there’s no conscious thought" in a musical way.

  22. The following members say thank you to DavidKOS for this post:


  23. #38
    Registered User Rick Jones's Avatar
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Rochester Hills, MI
    Posts
    244

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Seale View Post
    Add Dave Peters to your listening list:
    Man, I sure wish I could find this disc floating around out there somewhere!
    "I don't want to get technical or anything, but according to chemistry, alcohol actually IS a solution."

  24. #39
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,915

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Mark Seale View Post
    Add Dave Peters to your listening list:
    Who said jazz (well, bossanova) mandolin has no tremolo? He had me from the opening long notes. Nice use of tremolo and phrasing with other techniques.

  25. #40
    Chief Moderator/Shepherd Ted Eschliman's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Nebraska
    Posts
    4,327
    Blog Entries
    2

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Classic. Yogi Bera on jazz.

    Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?

    Yogi: I can't, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, its right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong.

    Interviewer: I don't understand.

    Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's whats so simple about it.

    Interviewer: Do you understand it?

    Yogi: No. That's why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn't know anything about it.

    Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?

    Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead. Some would kill for it.

    Interviewer: What is syncopation?

    Yogi: That's when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don't hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they're the same as something different from those other kinds.

    Interviewer: Now I really don't understand.

    Yogi: I haven't taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.
    Ted Eschliman
    Tenor Guitar Enthusiast

    Author, Getting Into Jazz Mandolin

  26. The Following 6 Users Say Thank You to Ted Eschliman For This Useful Post:


  27. #41

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    In terms of how to organize your practice, I like the www.jazzadvice.com website’s approach. Don’t get bogged down in “learning scales, chords, and arpeggios”. Choose an easy tune. Learn one set of scales, chords and arpeggios necessary to play and improvise over that tune. Then choose a new tune with new challenges. Repeat.

    For a typical, busy person, this is the only way get joy out of learning jazz.

    Finding a guitar player who wants to share this journey would be very helpful. Set a date where you will perform one tune after dinner for your families. Then set gradually more ambitious performance goals.
    Object to this post? Find out how to ignore me here!

  28. The Following 4 Users Say Thank You to JonZ For This Useful Post:


  29. #42
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,915

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    In terms of how to organize your practice, I like the www.jazzadvice.com website’s approach. Don’t get bogged down in “learning scales, chords, and arpeggios”. Choose an easy tune. Learn one set of scales, chords and arpeggios necessary to play and improvise over that tune. Then choose a new tune with new challenges. Repeat.
    That's the way you learn to apply those "scales, chords, and arpeggios” - by learning tunes. Using familiar songs you like - but which also have a musical reason for study, like they use ii-V's, secondary dominants, etc - are excellent choices and more fun than just sitting practicing scales...although practicing technique is helpful too.

  30. #43
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Boulder, CO & Chesterfield, MO
    Posts
    2,564

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by mandocrucian View Post
    “That’s what improvisation is all about: losing conscious thought. You can’t think and play at the same time. ... You just have to put yourself in the state of mind where there’s no conscious thought. And then let the music come out.”

    --SONNY ROLLINS
    (from a 2017 interview in Pitchfork Review)
    This seems to be my entire approach to music...I need to do some more concerted listening, especially to the other members of my band

  31. #44
    Registered User Perry's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Rockland Cty, NY
    Posts
    1,974

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by MSGrady20 View Post
    Hi! I am a beginner mandolin player and I am wanting to learn jazz mandolin; however, I don't know what the first steps are to start learning it? Any help would be great! Thanks!
    Perhaps if the you asked "what is the meaning of life" there would be an easier answer

    I only have this to add regarding first steps:


    1) learn how to read standard notation
    2) learn to name the notes anywhere on your fingerboard
    3) realize this will be a lifetime pursuit
    4) enjoy the journey

  32. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to Perry For This Useful Post:


  33. #45

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    That's the way you learn to apply those "scales, chords, and arpeggios” - by learning tunes. Using familiar songs you like - but which also have a musical reason for study, like they use ii-V's, secondary dominants, etc - are excellent choices and more fun than just sitting practicing scales...although practicing technique is helpful too.
    It is funny, when you think about it, how it is common to use songs as mnemonics to memorize non musical things. Then, we take music and try to learn it by breaking it down into components that are no longer musical.
    Object to this post? Find out how to ignore me here!

  34. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to JonZ For This Useful Post:


  35. #46
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,915

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    It is funny, when you think about it, how it is common to use songs as mnemonics to memorize non musical things. Then, we take music and try to learn it by breaking it down into components that are no longer musical.
    I'm not sure what you mean - ii-V's, scales, etc. - these are the musical tools used in jazz.

  36. #47

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I'm not sure what you mean - ii-V's, scales, etc. - these are the musical tools used in jazz.
    We make them less musical when we remove melody from how we practice them.
    Object to this post? Find out how to ignore me here!

  37. #48
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2014
    Location
    North CA
    Posts
    3,915

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by JonZ View Post
    We make them less musical when we remove melody from how we practice them.
    That's the reason tunes are used when teaching these musical elements.

  38. #49
    Registered User
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Chicago, IL,USA
    Posts
    517

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Melody is difficult to define.

    The way I see it is there's THE melody of a tune or piece, the notes dictated by the composer. But when we improvise a solo, is that not also a melody? It's a sequence of chosen notes that has a particular sound and effect. So I believe it is. Some melodies, particularly in the realm of improvised solos, are more accessible than others aren't they? Here we get into asessments such as "lyrical" or "having a vocal quality" or "soulful" etc. and by contrast "just a bunch of notes" or "licks"...

    I've been intrigued by these terms and concepts for a while, particularly after hearing people say "I don't like jazz, it's not melodic.." and also "when it's your turn to improvise a solo or break, just play the melody.." Well, hold up now, isn't jazz extremely melodic, melody after melody? Yes it is, it's just that some melodies are more accessible than others, more memorable, hummable, and so on. Others are more challenging. Secondly if your time to play a break or solo comes and you "just play the melody", you are not improvising, unless you paraphrase the melody, make it your own by adding variations, adding a note, leaving a note out, playing a fill in the spaces between phrases of the melody, etc.
    I recommend to students who want to improvise that when they take a ride, break, solo, chorus, whatever that they not play THE melody but create ANOTHER melody. This is where the ii-V's,iim7b5-V7b9's, scales, modes, rows of tones, arpeggios, progressions, cadences, tensions, alterations, substitutions all come in. They are the elements from which we draw to create our new melody. Think of the old beaten up analogy with verbal language--Paragraphs contain sentences which contain words which are made of letters, and there are conventional ways in which those things are put together.
    One book I saw made the contrast of the two(valid) approaches to improvisation this way: Paraphrase vs. Free Invention. How cool is that? You can Paraphrase THE melody, or you can make up(freely invent) your own...
    Dawg said a line that has stuck with me also. At a workshop he said "I don't believe in improvisation. I think think of it as spontaneous composition." I think he went on to say the main difference between a written melody and an improvised one was the amount of time it took creating them.
    What do you cats think? Please help, I wrestle with this stuff all the time. And I mean no criticism to any of the assertions made by friends and colleagues above. Just trying to getting a clear sense of what do mean by melody. And how we can get better at improvising. And how we can get more people to listen to and like jazz. And the mandolin of course, greatest instrument of all. Thanks.

  39. The Following 9 Users Say Thank You to Don Stiernberg For This Useful Post:


  40. #50
    Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Boulder, CO & Chesterfield, MO
    Posts
    2,564

    Default Re: Want to learn Jazz mandolin

    Quote Originally Posted by Don Stiernberg View Post
    Dawg said a line that has stuck with me also. At a workshop he said "I don't believe in improvisation. I think think of it as spontaneous composition." I think he went on to say the main difference between a written melody and an improvised one was the amount of time it took creating them
    I love that idea!
    I'm firmly in the "spontaneous composition" camp. I think it is important to learn the written melody of a piece, which might help inform your decisions when you take a solo. I'm also a believer in the saying by the great jazz drummer Shelly Mane that a jazz musician is someone who can't play the same thing once. Every time you play a piece, you get to re-compose it. I look at it as an opportunity to try out different ideas each time it comes around.

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •