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Thread: Transposing tunes composed for horns

  1. #26
    Registered User Tom Wright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    One can play jazz on any instrument, but some work better than others. (Please, no bagpipes, oboe, bassoon, french horn, or harp.) For me, 10-string blows away my violin or viola. Not only easier to amplify, it serves as a comping instrument, without piano or guitar.

    An associated question is, do you want to stay in the trad-jazz/swing genre of old stuff? If you want to join with the icons of jazz, Parker, Coltrane, Monk, Sonny Rollins, Miles, Bill Evans, Jm Hall, etc., and newer names like John Scofield and Michael Brecker, go electric, with a C course. Best, convert a 5-string to 10 for the richer tone.

    One genre that welcomes everybody blowing is contra dance. Instrumentation is ad hoc, often with winds like flute and saxophone. My contra band is piano, acoustic 10-string, violin, and flute. We vary the sound, sometimes unison, sometimes one solo, and sometimes a free-for-all. Tunes edge into rags and marches, but are mostly reels and jigs.
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  3. #27

    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    Perfect example, the 6 7/8 String Band.

    There used to be others in the past, the 6 7/8 String Band was together for many decades and is well known.

    So what about all the Gypsy jazz players? They sure play string band jazz.

    Eddie Lang and Joe Venuti?
    With all due respect, David, I think the main question that Jim Nollman had was regarding "collective improv" or "simultaneous improv" whereby several instruments are playing solos at the same time. One hears that all of the time in NO jazz bands which have horns mostly (with comping banjo).

    I have listened to a LOT of gypsy jazz, and rarely if ever hear two instruments taking a solo at the same time. Or maybe not solos so much as different lines (e.g., a descending trombone line against an ascending trumpet line). If there is such a band (other than The 6 7/8 String Band), it seems that one of those instruments is a clarinet or other horn that plays flowing lines that don't get covered up by the "tinky tinky" lines of strings.

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  5. #28
    Registered User DavidKOS's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Quote Originally Posted by James Vwaal View Post
    With all due respect, David, I think the main question that Jim Nollman had was regarding "collective improv" or "simultaneous improv" whereby several instruments are playing solos at the same time. One hears that all of the time in NO jazz bands which have horns mostly (with comping banjo).
    We used to play collective group improv "New Orleans style" with strings. It may not be common but it can be done!

    Quote Originally Posted by James Vwaal View Post
    I have listened to a LOT of gypsy jazz, and rarely if ever hear two instruments taking a solo at the same time. Or maybe not solos so much as different lines (e.g., a descending trombone line against an ascending trumpet line). If there is such a band (other than The 6 7/8 String Band), it seems that one of those instruments is a clarinet or other horn that plays flowing lines that don't get covered up by the "tinky tinky" lines of strings.
    Point taken about Gypsy jazz....it is more of a soloists' style.

    I guess I don't hear jazz strings as "tinky tink"...that's not the way we were taught to play.

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  7. #29

    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    I play mandolin in a string swing jazz band. Our lineup is upright bass, guitar, mandolin, violin, clarinet. We often have 2 or 3 instruments "soloing" at the same time. Usually mandolin, violin & clarinet. As long as we're all playing it pretty straight it works out well. We also have some sections worked up where everyone goes at the same time, but those are well rehearsed with specific parts for everyone.

    PS- to the OP, if you're looking for a specific piece of music to work on Bb, check out David Grisman's "Sea of Cortez". In his Latin - Book of the Dawg, he says he wrote it as part of a practicing Bb minor scale.
    Great song and well presented notation in the book.
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Best, Stevo

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  9. #30

    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Quote Originally Posted by DavidKOS View Post
    I guess I don't hear jazz strings as "tinky tink"...that's not the way we were taught to play.
    Yeah, "tinky tinky" was my poor and off-the-cuff attempt to express how the timbre of stringed instruments is too similar to be clearly distinguished as opposed to the timbre of the different horn sounds. Your point is taken.

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  11. #31

    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Quote Originally Posted by stevojack665 View Post
    I play mandolin in a string swing jazz band. Our lineup is upright bass, guitar, mandolin, violin, clarinet. We often have 2 or 3 instruments "soloing" at the same time. Usually mandolin, violin & clarinet. As long as we're all playing it pretty straight it works out well. We also have some sections worked up where everyone goes at the same time, but those are well rehearsed with specific parts for everyone.
    Cool. Do you have any recorded examples for us to hear?

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  13. #32
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    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    OK people … THIS is the kind of thread I like to run into. Thanks … carry on. R/
    I love hanging out with mandolin nerds . . . . . Thanks peeps ...

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  15. #33

    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Quote Originally Posted by James Vwaal View Post
    Cool. Do you have any recorded examples for us to hear?
    Our recorded material has mostly individual solos.



    When we play live it's looser with overlapping parts
    Best, Stevo

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  17. #34

    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Quote Originally Posted by stevojack665 View Post
    Our recorded material has mostly individual solos.


    When we play live it's looser with overlapping parts
    Wait a minute. I have listened to this before. Someone with the handle "colorado_al" posted a link to this back in January.

    https://www.mandolincafe.com/forum/t...-Coucou-New-EP

    Did you replace Al in that group, or are there two mandolinists in the band? Or are you and Al one and the same?

    The music, I like. But, as you said, it doesn't show simultaneous improv or simultaneous melody or contra-melody lines.

    Good gypsy jazz; the singer sells the style well. What I mean by that is by both dress and vocal style. While it might be okay to dress scruffily to play newgrass or "progressive" bluegrass, Gypsy jazz really requires good grooming (clothing and personal) to sell the style. You didn't see Django and Stephane wearing T-shirts and ripped jeans.

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  19. #35
    music with whales Jim Nollman's Avatar
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    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Iím thinking of the concurrent improv style of tuba skinny. Especially the slower stuff where they often start with all three horns improvising in very strict niches at the same time. Anyone doing what they do on trumpet, trombone, and clarinet, but with fiddle, guitar and mandolin? I guess thatís the essence of my first post, but I didnít say it very clearly.
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  20. #36
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    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Quote Originally Posted by ralph johansson View Post
    Jazz players are supposed to master all keys; this is strongly emphasized in most books devoted to jazz didactics. One book exemplifies by citing All the Things You Are (5 keys), Body and Soul (3 keys), and Cherokee (4). Done in their printed keys they cover 10 major keys, only F (a rather common key) and F# are missing.
    However, a few keys, like A, E, and B, aren't used that much.

    And, of course, on mandolin and guitar that is no big issue at all (although Joe Pass advised beginners to avoid D, A, and E, because of those open strings).

    If you can play in A on mandolin you can play in Ab, just move your fingerings one fret back.

    I forgot Joy Spring, which passes throught the keys of F, F#, and G. So there you are, four songs to cover all 12 major keys.

  21. #37
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    Default Re: Transposing tunes composed for horns

    Quote Originally Posted by stevojack665 View Post
    If you're playing jazz, you're going to have to learn to play in those keys. A few reasons, a bunch of the repertoire is recorded in those keys and transcribed in those keys. If you're going to jam with other folks who know those tunes, they will play them in those keys. Asking them to transpose for you isn't going to go over well, unless you're a singer and that tune isn't in your range.
    So, the long answer is get used to playing in closed positions where you have few or no open strings.
    The quick answer, and one this jazz mandolin player uses (which I'm sure some will bash me for) is a capo. Buy one. use it. Don't give a damn what other people think.
    Capo at 1st fret and play in A and D.
    That doesn't mean not to learn to play closed position and develop a facility for playing in Bb and Eb. That will help you all over the finger board.
    In the meantime, you can still rely on what you already know to play those tunes now with the help of a capo.
    Spend time after you play with the capo and play without it to see what the differences are and learn about closed position playing. That in itself is an instructive lesson.
    Most of all, have fun!
    Capoing seems like very curcuitous route, capo first, then remove it and start all over? I've never used a capo on mandolin, and only very rarely on guitar, in harmonically limited genres, like Bluegrass (but I often play slower tunes without capo, e.g., Beaumont Rag and Peach Picking Time (in F), and I Am a Pilgrim (in A, Bb or B). I wouldn't use a capo in the keys of A or D.

    Furthermore I've always found capos a bit confusing, thinking one key in the capoed position, another up the neck. Also, in genres like jazz, open strings in sharp keys don't offer any particular advantages, because you will have to avoid them. By that token the key of Bb is easier than A, at least in first position. In keys like F, Bb, and Eb, open strings are useful as phrase turns, pivot notes and approach notes, at least to me, because I'm used to them. They also seem to fit the position markers particularly well.

    I never learned the mandolin as systematically as the guitar, which I learned key by key in first position, traveling along the circle of fifths in both directions: C, F, F, Bb, D, etc. I would recommend that approach to a rank (serious) beginner on mandolin. (next step, transposing C and F forms up the neck - since the C and F scales use only three frets in first position, and, after that, total freedom).

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