#1
I am into a lot of genres of music, but jazz is not one of them. I am looking to go to a school for music theory/composition, and it seems my only options around here is classical guitar, and jazz guitar. What is studying jazz guitar like?
#3
It's like any other intense study of music -- in fact, because jazz informs a lot of contemporary music genres you end up learning theory that can be applied to a lot of genres.

Jazz guitar is a pretty loose term. Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt, Bill Frissel and Mike Stern are very different guitarists and they are all considered jazzers.

Studying jazz guitar includes the study of jazz "standards", reharmonization, altered dominant chord forms, improvisation, styles and periods of jazz music, comping techniques, voice leading techniques, modal music and all sorts of interesting stuff that jazz players have done over the years from traditional ragtime to swing to be bop to electric jazz-funk to avant garde.

Have a listen to some players like John McLaughlin, Mike Stern, Adrian Belew, Hiram Bullock, Al Di Meola, and Allan Holdsworth to get a sense of what jazz guitar is in the modern era.
#5
I suggest you know your stuff very very well in other single key kinds of music and have a strong hold on music theory, or get used to the feeling of being underwater and staying there.

There's one exception that I know of and he doesnt teach it for free, but Jimmy Bruno will give you some street level real world Jazz knowledge without bogging you down in theory, but he is demanding and you will have to have a thick skin and work your tail off.

Best,

Sean
#6
So your applying to university to do a music course you have no experience in?


I'll call you a dumb asshole for posting that.

Ahem....
You are a dumb asshole.
#7
Quote by bryceh12321
I'll call you a dumb asshole for posting that.

Ahem....
You are a dumb asshole.


Coming from a 'Dumb asshole' that does infact study music at an undergraduate level, you won't last 5 minutes in a class with no prior experience in the subject.
#8
Are you going to study jazz before you go to school, or are you just going to try and get in with no prior knowledge? If you're trying to get into a jazz program with no prior study of jazz, you probably aren't going to get in. It's not because you won't be a good enough guitarist, but more because you aren't familiar with the style you're attempting to study. Studying jazz guitar basically requires you to completely dismiss almost all aspects of your previous playing style and start fresh. Think about it this way: if a college was offering a degree program for the study of salsa music, would you expect to be able to just jump into the program without any study? Heck no, because you aren't familiar with salsa music. That being said, there's no reason you can't start doing your homework and get into a jazz program, but you'll likely need at least a year of study to get your toes wet. Sure, you might be able to work your butt off for two or three months to learn enough to pass an entrance audition, but you'll still end up over your head once you get into the program and have to start playing with other students who do know what they're doing.

So, if you decided to start studying jazz, what would it be like? First off, you don't have to be into jazz to start studying it. You will, however, need to acquire a taste for jazz. If you try listening to major jazz artists from different styles and periods, you should be able to find at least a few different things that peak your interest. If nothing does, jazz just might not be for you. In my case, I basically woke up one day and said to myself, "myself, I think I'm going to start studying jazz so that I can become a better guitarist." I bought Kind of Blue by Miles Davis, The Shape of Things To Come by George Benson, and Live at the 1964 Monterey Jazz Festival by Thelonious Monk. It's safe to say that I had no idea what any of these CDs were going to sound like. I liked the george benson at first, because it was more structured and easy to listen to. I tried the Monk a few times, but it often felt like I had to strain my ears to try and get into it, and I decided to put it off for a while. Kind of Blue was really good, and I probably listened to it over a hundred times over the course of a few months, putting it on every time I went to bed.

It's safe to say that your experience will be similar, in that you'll find some artists that you don't really like at first, but will find a few that you can get into right off the bat. You'll have to keep getting more albums as often as possible, because there's a MASSIVE amount of jazz music out there, even if you just try to listen to the biggest artists of each style. After you keep listening to more music, certain things will start to sound better than they would have before. That Monk album that I used to have trouble listening to is now quite enjoyable to me. Anyway, that's the first step to studying jazz guitar - immersing yourself in the music.

The second step is learning the chords to use, as well as the context in which to use them. Before you start this, it's quite necessary that you've brushed up on your theory. You should know all aspects of chord construction and chord function, your major scale and its modes, the circle of fifths, intervals, etc... basically all the music theory you could learn without going to college to study classical music or jazz. If you've got that down already, you can start learning jazz chords and some songs. You'll likely have trouble just playing the chords to many songs at first, because jazz tunes switch chords constantly, often at fast tempos. You'll have to learn how to find the vi of a key at the drop of a hat, as well as the ii, the IV, the V, and so on and so forth. You'll stop thinking of chords as letters, and instead start thinking of them as roman numerals. You'll start saying things like "it starts on the three and then walks down to the two, then you make the two dominant to go to the five, and it just does a one, six, two, five progression." This nomenclature is used because you often don't stay in one key during a song, and you will often have to transpose songs to different keys.

Learning to solo over jazz songs will likely be the next step, and will be a constant struggle to learn what to play over different chords and chord progressions. You'll have to learn to play arpeggios (nothing remotely similar to sweep picking) for various chord types in different positions on the neck (luckily this can be simplified by learning single octave shapes that can be moved from string to string, with slight alterations made for the b string annoyance), as well as new, smaller scale shapes that can be used anywhere on the neck for quick access during fast chord changes. You'll have to learn to play solos on a chord-by-chord basis, where you play a different scale/arpeggio over each chord in a progression. You'll then have to learn to utilize a mix of the chord-by-chord approach and the scale-oriented approach that leads you to group 3 or 4 consecutive chords into a specific key, while making exceptions now and then for odd chords. The real challenge in all this isn't learning what to play and when to play it, but how to play it in a way that sounds less like an exercise and more like real music. This takes lots of practice, and will require you to listen to famous jazz guitarists, trumpeters, saxophonists, etc. to find lines that you think sound good and will want to use. You won't find tabs for any of this stuff, so you'll have to be able to transpose a solo by yourself. Basically, once you can start soloing over some jazz standards, you'll basically just spend the rest of your life learning how to play better sounding lines over simple songs, and learning how to play halfway decent-sounding lines over more complex songs. With time, the more complex songs will seem less complex, and other, more complex songs will catch your ear. You'll continue in this fashion for the rest of your musical career, or until you realize that there's no money in jazz and decide to devote your time to another genre of music instead.

Or you can just take the easy route and play modal jazz.
Last edited by Glen'sHeroicAct at Apr 6, 2011,
#9
Quote by bryceh12321
I'll call you a dumb asshole for posting that.

Ahem....
You are a dumb asshole.


If you don't get into a school because of your ignorance, come back and read those words aloud to yourself.

And if you DO get into a school in spite of your ignorance, come back and say those words to me

... you'll have earned it!

Sean
Last edited by Sean0913 at Apr 6, 2011,
#10
Quote by Zen Skin
It's like any other intense study of music -- in fact, because jazz informs a lot of contemporary music genres you end up learning theory that can be applied to a lot of genres.

Jazz guitar is a pretty loose term. Wes Montgomery, Django Reinhardt, Bill Frissel and Mike Stern are very different guitarists and they are all considered jazzers.

Studying jazz guitar includes the study of jazz "standards", reharmonization, altered dominant chord forms, improvisation, styles and periods of jazz music, comping techniques, voice leading techniques, modal music and all sorts of interesting stuff that jazz players have done over the years from traditional ragtime to swing to be bop to electric jazz-funk to avant garde.

Have a listen to some players like John McLaughlin, Mike Stern, Adrian Belew, Hiram Bullock, Al Di Meola, and Allan Holdsworth to get a sense of what jazz guitar is in the modern era.


^ this


Quote by griffRG7321
Coming from a 'Dumb asshole' that does infact study music at an undergraduate level, you won't last 5 minutes in a class with no prior experience in the subject.


Well the classroom is often the 1st experience people get with certain subjects. You don't have to have experience with counterpoint when you're in counterpoint 101. It's a class.... they teach you that stuff.


Quote by bryceh12321
I am into a lot of genres of music, but jazz is not one of them. I am looking to go to a school for music theory/composition, and it seems my only options around here is classical guitar, and jazz guitar. What is studying jazz guitar like?


btw most universities are like that. What you learn in either will apply to most other music.

What do you plan on doing when you get your degree? are you going to perform? teach a band class?
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at Apr 6, 2011,
#11
Well I've never studied music at a tertiary level. However I can assure you that once you get past the whole "music" side of things, it just involves wearing sunglasses and smoking a lot. Oh and also bagging out fellow students for either being "too avant-garde" or "not avant-garde enough".
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#12
its a LOT of work (music performance in general, not jazz-specific). you need to practice somewhere between 3 and 5 hours a day--and keep up in your liberal arts classes--which can be a joke or very intense depending of the school--and theory, piano and musicianship classes (more if you want to play your own stuff and progress as an artist and not just a craftsman).
if that sounds like fun (minus the liberal arts) you'll love it---if not, you probably won't.
all the best.
(insert self-aggrandizing quote here)
#13
Wow I must admit that you all have made learning jazz sound absolutely torturous and delightful all at the same time. I am rather intrigued I may have to take more of an interest in jazz.

Any good suggested reading for the history of jazz?
Last edited by Dangertux at Apr 7, 2011,
#14
Quote by Dangertux
Wow I must admit that you all have made learning jazz sound absolutely torturous and delightful all at the same time. I am rather intrigued I may have to take more of an interest in jazz.

Any good suggested reading for the history of jazz?


Perhaps the requirements for auditions? Even though I "super-loved" guitar at the time I finished school, there was no way I was going to get into university to study it with my sub-par theory knowledge and lack of sight-reading.
And no, Guitar Hero will not help. Even on expert. Really.
Soundcloud
#15
Ah yeah I definitely wouldn't pursue it as a career more a personal interest.

I already did my college time getting a degree in computer science which I oddly enough don't even use. Funny how job opportunities rarely match your interests or qualifications lol.
#16
Quote by Dangertux
Wow I must admit that you all have made learning jazz sound absolutely torturous and delightful all at the same time. I am rather intrigued I may have to take more of an interest in jazz.

Any good suggested reading for the history of jazz?


Ken Burns' history -- but he never even mentions Wes Montgomery -- so ... not much interest to a guitarist.

There is this: http://www.amazon.com/Masters-Jazz-Guitar-Story-Players/dp/0879307285 I have never read it.

Any bio of the serious players (Joe Pass, Django Reinhardt, Kenny Burrel, Tal Farlow, Lenny Breau, Charlie Christian, Wes, George Benson, Larry Coryell, Grant Green .. etc etc etc)

If this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yI-1sq5dFD4 rendition of Donna Lee by Charlie Parker does not convince you that Joe pass was a total monster on guitar ... I dunno what to say! (Niels Pendersen is from another planet .. it's been confirmed)

The movies "Bird" and "Round Midnight" are both highly recommended.

Any bio on the life of Miles Davis should give a pretty clear idea of jazz from post-war be bop to cool to modal to electric to smooth to funk-jazz. He worked with some amazing guitarists in his electric years as well -- John McGlaughlin and Mike Stern among others.

Jazz: The Smithsonian Anthology was just released - box set .. cost ya a few -- but have a look at the recordings .. a who's who of jazz from way back to the fusion era.