#1
Whats up guys,

I've been playing guitar on and off for for about 5 years, didn't get serious until about a year and a half ago. Taught myself a ton of theory and progressed quite rapidly from the typical beginner's rut that everyone has probably found themselves stuck in early on with their playing.

I'm currently in a Jazz Comp class as a sophomore at college - which I took as a whim this semester, call it a curiosity - and while I've learned an incredible amount of information one of the greatest things I've come to admire is jazz.

My biggest problem with learning guitar initially was that I really disliked learning other songs (especially what "everybody" learns - classic rock, etc). I wanted to play what came from inside of me, what I created. I'm a very creative person so it came natural to want to do that. I've been practicing improvisation over songs for about 7 months months now and I've gotten it to a point where I can string consecutive phrases together, arpeggiate, etc confidently, accurately, and in time.

My issue is keeping track of time, so to speak. I can do it with simple quarter notes/straight eight beats, but whenever I start improvising over a chord progression it kind of goes to hell. I could be 4 measures in or 8, absolutely no clue. I feel like it's an odd spot to be in - I stay IN time but not sure WHERE I am.

The importance of this is obvious in jazz, especially with avoid notes and much less obvious when you play over a song that stays in one key the entire time.

If any of you could lend a few suggestions of practice ideas/techniques, I would be greatly appreciative.

"time on the instrument" is of course useful to certain point but I'm trying to get in a combo at school next semester and I'd like to be comfortable comping and improving over a moderately complex chart

Cheers,
Lucas
#2
Everybody experiences that when learning jazz. Part of the solution is simply being familiar with the work and knowing the changes. Some more useful advice is to be conscious of your phrase lengths when you're improvising. Unless you're deliberately trying to create a long and wandering melody (a perfectly fine approach as long as you're doing it deliberately), your solo should have a structure of its own, and you should be able to isolate individual phrases of specific lengths. If you can say to yourself "alright, I've played a phrase of four beats long, and now I'm going to play one that lasts six beats...maybe I'll add a little two beat embellishment to even it out" it's much easier to keep track of how long you've playing and how long you have until the next change.
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Last edited by Archeo Avis at Mar 11, 2009,
#3
well, Jazz musically speaking is not as complex as for instance Species counterpoint of the highest level.

Sure there are many different notes, but the logic is rather simple.

The hard part is the execution and the speed of which you can see a chord and execute different ideas.

It's also based on aural conventions, just like any music.

Through experience, you know what ideas would be stylistically "better". This just comes with experience and jamming with alot of other jazz musician's or learn from other jazz musicians

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#4
Quote by xxdarrenxx
well, Jazz musically speaking is not as complex as for instance Species counterpoint of the highest level.

Sure there are many different notes, but the logic is rather simple.


I see where you're coming from - reading chord charts isn't too bad it's just keeping track of time itself. Am I on the third beat of D#min7b5 about to go into D7 or am I just on the second? This isn't hard for me when I have a set melody but to improvise and play what you feel as opposed to spitting out prememorized licks.

I feel like I'm struggling to explain it correctly :\
Last edited by moonlightdrive at Mar 11, 2009,
#5
Quote by moonlightdrive
I see where you're coming from - reading chord charts isn't too bad it's just keeping track of time itself. Am I on the third beat of D#min7b5 about to go into D7 or am I just on the second? This isn't hard for me when I have a set melody but to improvise and play what you feel as opposed to spitting out prememorized licks.

I feel like I'm struggling to explain it correctly :\



Yes, but it's not a complexity issue, but a speed issue.

Like you said, you have no problem in playing a set melody over it, because yo had time to think about.

You need to take it slow, and the speed will come.

Just like reading, you did it slow when you first start to read, now you can think of a word + a sentence and write it down at the same time, like what I'm doing now while I'm typing this text.

This is exactly the same, over time you will see a chord, and you will know every note that can work over it, and can play it all over the neck just as easy as writing/reading/talking.

Only reading seems easy, because we are forced to read in life from the age of what is it, 6 or something? And we read everyday, thus we can think/write/read words and make a sentence in virtually a milisecond.

You have alot of asian kids that play virtuosity piano at the age of 10 or something, this is not beause of natural talent, but because the parents disciplined them in "talking" music as in real talking/reading.

Only natural talent is more "romantic" so western people often use that as an explanation.

Playing virtuoso piano is actually theoretically speaking easier to learn then a language, because there are far less combinations (12 notes to make up "phrases" while in normal language 26 and in asia up to 76 characters) as well as far little rules (Actually no rules) to formulate certain things.

Example; saying, hfuhoshf = random, but in music it could very well be a nice melody, because there are no set emotion or ideas linked to certain musical phrase.

Being in key is the only "rule", where especially with jazz you can add "randomness" to it, while maintaining a focus of using chord tones.
About the time thing, what does the bass player do? If he starts the root of the chord on the 3rd beat, then you change the chord on that beat to (off course exceptions, but this is almost 100% fail safe)

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Mar 11, 2009,
#6
try just tapping your foot along if you don't do that already, sounds a little retarded but having your foot just doing steady quater notes can give your hands a bit of a reference point. I know what you mean because I never think in terms of where my playing fits into a bar, it distracts me, but when my foots a-tappin' i find i can improvise with a little more structure without even trying
#7
I think my point is still kinda being missed - I can count quarters, eighths, sixteenths, etc perfectly well, in time with a song. I have rhythm haha I just can't keep track of what beat my foot/feet is/are tapping (I've tried counting 1/3 on left foot 2/4 on right, all sorts of combinations).
#8
Quote by moonlightdrive
I think my point is still kinda being missed - I can count quarters, eighths, sixteenths, etc perfectly well, in time with a song. I have rhythm haha I just can't keep track of what beat my foot/feet is/are tapping (I've tried counting 1/3 on left foot 2/4 on right, all sorts of combinations).



What's the time signature?

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#9
It can be any time signature, I just can't keep track of what beat, numerically, I'm on.

My point is that this is very frustrating when you have a few key changes per tune, and chord changes basically every measure. It's this little nagging problem I have that I just need to work out, but I'm not sure how.
#10
Play a chord tone for every beat, and only on the beats. That's how I used to practise it.
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#11
Quote by moonlightdrive
It can be any time signature, I just can't keep track of what beat, numerically, I'm on.

My point is that this is very frustrating when you have a few key changes per tune, and chord changes basically every measure. It's this little nagging problem I have that I just need to work out, but I'm not sure how.



hmm you can't?

4/4th is pretty natural to "feel". Hmmm, start out slowly maybe, or count 4/4th signatures in ur head all day.

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#12
I'm clueless about jazz and stuff but let's see if I understand your problem here. So your playing a melody, but you lose track of how far your in right? Like there is some sort of theme which repeats itself and you lose track fo how much it has repeated?
#13
Quote by pandora_grunt
I'm clueless about jazz and stuff but let's see if I understand your problem here. So your playing a melody, but you lose track of how far your in right? Like there is some sort of theme which repeats itself and you lose track fo how much it has repeated?


Eh not necessarily a "set", repetitive melody, more of your own playing over the song - how many measures have you played for etc
#14
Then I can only recommend waht Archeo said. Time out your phrasing and follow how much it adds up to each other. I assume you play solo, but with a band you might have it easier because you can follow what the others are doing. I used to have the problem of getting lost in the song while playing alone, but it grew over time and I don't really suffer it from anymore. Sorry I'm not of much help.
#15
TS you must be able to tap ur foot 4/4th.

don't follow the rhythm of the chords with ur foot, this is dead wrong, and could cause problems.

all rhythms are only what they are in relation to the beat.

a quarter note is only quarter if you tap 120 bpm with ur foot, but that same note is a dotted quarter at 180 bpm.

You musn't lose time with ur foot, or you will mess up the other rhythms.

There must always be a pulse, unless it's freely, but even then there's a pulse although ambiguous.

If you go out of time with ur foot, ur whole playing goes out of time, because you measure everything to those taps, whether you do this by "feel" or count, doesn't matter.

You must be able to play random rhythms or even just mindless wank and still have that 4/4th dead on.

It must be a metronome, if your foot hasn't got the condition/strenght to tap to the time without losing the beat, then you must use a metronome, or something else that gives a constant pulse.

Solution;

The ultimate practice for this is, use a metronome, tap ur foot to it, and play guitar at the same time. This way you train the most efficient, and over time, weeks, months, maybe years, ur foot will become as solid as a metronome.

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Last edited by xxdarrenxx at Mar 12, 2009,