So I understand that I need to listen to a lot of jazz. I'm working on that part, but I'm confused on a couple of reasons I'm supposed to be listening. An I listening to recognize jazz music and therefore should listen more to standards to know the melody and therefore tackle learning those songs? Or should I be picking an artist to listen to that I like the most to pickup his style? Or is it to develop my ear in a jazz style? I'm having a hard time recognizing jazz songs and picking up melody unless I hear singing. I've been listening to Ella Fitzgerald and frank Sinatra. Any help is appreciated.
I'm going to assume you want to play jazz. You have to listen to a lot of jazz because you need to fill your head with what jazz is. But don't always listen with a passive ear. Even without going in and learning tunes and solos by ear you can learn a lot by just paying attention. What instrument is playing the melody? The chords? What is keeping the rhythm? How are they interacting? How are the short instrumental breaks handled? How is the soloist phrasing his lines? What form is the song using? Just listen to a song and write down things you notice about it.
^^The above is a Cryptic Metaphor^^

"To know the truth of history is to realize its ultimate myth and its inevitable ambiguity." Everything is made up and the facts don't matter.

you're listening to absorb vocabulary, repertoire and form. there are songs i've only ever heard, but can fake my way through because i've played enough and my ear is okay.

don't just listen, but transcribe as well. because when you transcribe, the goal is to hear something and then be able to replicate that on your instrument. i even recommend people start with nursery rhymes, kids songs and christmas melodies. if you can't spontaneously play a simple tune you've heard a thousand times in your head, how are you going to be able to spontaneously play something more rhythmically and harmonically complex?

strengthen the relationship between your ear, your voice and your fingers.

that said, i do recommend finding a player (preferably a horn player, but it could be a good guitar player) that you really dig. get in his kitchen. learn the way he plays melodies. learn his solos. after a few solos you'll notice recurring elements. or maybe you'll just notice a lick you like. just like whenever you've been reading something and found a new word/phrase you like. you learn it and figure out how to use it.

but always remember to focus on playing what you hear. transcription's the best way to do this. don't neglect learning to sing tunes/solos. singing will make your playing infinitely better, even if it's only in your head.
Quote by ChucklesMginty
Why would you want to play jazz if you don't like the sound of jazz?

Jazz guitar opens up your mind to the possibilities on the guitar like no other genre. You don't have to enjoy the sound of jazz to realize the value of it.

Quote by a0kalittlema0n
An I listening to recognize jazz music and therefore should listen more to standards to know the melody and therefore tackle learning those songs?

Or should I be picking an artist to listen to that I like the most to pickup his style?

That too.
Or is it to develop my ear in a jazz style?


Try listening to Duke ellington, charlie parker, miles davis, and john coltrane to start with. Someone else can give a much more rounded list but this is a small sample.
Quote by guitarxo
I had a dream about your avatar once, so yes of course.

Quote by Bladez22

every time i see that twirling electrode avatar of yours I know that the post is worth reading or the link is worth clicking

Last edited by fearofthemark at Feb 6, 2013,
You're listening to it because you enjoy listening to it and want to listen to it, if one or both of those things can't be said of you, you probably shouldn't be listening to it.
If you have to ask why you should be listening to jazz then there really is no point in listening to it. Yes it will open you up to the possibilities on the guitar but so would studying classical guitar or harmony in general.

I love jazz and listen to it constantly. I play in a jazz band. Now after years of absorbing myself in the music and learning everything that I can I still consider myself a beginner in jazz. If I didn't enjoy listening to it there is no way I could make any progress.

There is no harm in studying from some books concerning jazz harmony and I would suggest Mark Levine's Jazz Theory book if you are interested. However you will have to have a basic knowledge of harmony as the material gets very deep. But jazz really has more to do with rhythm, phrasing, articulation and dynamics and this is something you learn through osmosis and careful study of music you enjoy.

To reiterate, spend your time working on things/styles/genres you enjoy and can deduce a direct benefit from. Set aside some time every week to check out some jazz and it it is right for you, in time you will find yourself being more and more drawn to it. This was certainly my experience. I would also expand upon that and say spend some time listening to new music in general every week. I will stick some links below for some recommended jazz listening.

Good luck!


Cannonball Adderley - Dat Dere - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YeIHxZlES3c

John Scofield - Let's Say We Did - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FYdsXmam7ww

Miles Davis - Four - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8xNbqG9PtyE|

Wayne Shorter - Footprints _ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RCyGBNKlrPI
Quote by a0kalittlema0n
So I understand that I need to listen to a lot of jazz. I'm working on that part, but I'm confused on a couple of reasons I'm supposed to be listening.

I'm also confused. Why are you supposed to be listening to jazz music?
Quote by Showiddlydiddly
You're listening to it because you enjoy listening to it and want to listen to it, if one or both of those things can't be said of you, you probably shouldn't be listening to it.

Some people are interested in artistic development even if it challenges their personal taste in music. Anyone who hopes to play guitar professionally would be wise to have enough jazz experience to comp through a chart on sight and lay down a chorus of solo.
So let me set a few things straight. I LOVE to listen to jazz, I do ENJOY jazz, and I WANT to learn to play jazz. There, now that's settled.

My new questions that you all bring up are these. I see that I should be transcribing by ear, and I understand the difference of jazz in rhythm, phrasing, and have a basic knowledge of jazz theory.

I guess what I struggle with is knowing what I want in jazz, and therefore lacking a direct focus in listening. I absolutely love to listen to a joe pass style jazz piece (Not that I don't love ensembles of jazz, don't get me wrong) But I'm realizing that learning that style takes a lot more than just application, it takes tons of practice and knowledge of jazz.

I also struggle listening to something like contrane or miles because I have a harder time connecting to the music to either remember it, or find the reason I'm listening to it. YES I KNOW I should enjoy it, and I do, but when I'm trying to listen with a purpose, I can't find that purpose. I don't know if that makes sense or not, I feel like most of your aren't going to catch what I mean and tell me I should like jazz more.

I also see this outrageously huge amount of jazz music, and then standards. I feel like I should know tons of standards, but I have a hard time recognizing and memorizing the melody for them unless they are sung. Any recommendations on this problem? I'm sure someone else had to have this problem too...

Should I start only worrying as playing the lead to standards? Or maybe focus on comping and then later once I've learned a good bunch of standards try to put them together?

Thanks everyone for trying to help me with this, I just feel like there isn't too much jazz info out there like there is for blues -_-

Also, I liked the post above about listening to the other instruments and seeing what different people are doing in different parts of the song.
it sounds like you're just overwhelmed because there's so much material and so much you can do in jazz.

and there's plenty of jazz info out there. you just have to know where to look. ultimately, all the info you need is in the records.

don't worry about tons of standards. here's something you can do. just learn a tune every two weeks. really focus on one tune for two weeks.

1) start with something easy like "autumn leaves" or "softly, as in a morning sunrise"

2) go onto grooveshark or spotify, and listen to as many different versions of that tune as you can. listen to miles. chet baker. grant green. coltrane. sonny stitt. sonny rollins. etc. anyone and everyone. even listen to vocalists. learn the words. get a feel for the melody and lyrics. you don't have to overly-concentrate for this. i know words to tons of shit on the radio i just kind of overhear, just because i hear it a lot.

3) after listening to a bunch of versions, you should have a good feel for the melody. a lot of guys say don't use sheet music, but for someone starting out who may have trouble distinguishing embellishments from the actual melody, just go ahead and use the real book chart to learn the most basic version of the melody/chords.

4) practice. go to grooveshark and try to find an aebersold play along for that tune. if you have the iRealB app, use that to play along to. or band in a box. whatever. here's how you can effectively practice:

first chorus: play the melody

second chorus: play the chords in quarter note freddie green chomps

third chorus: do more sparse jazz type comping that you'll pick up from listening to piano/guitar players

fourth chorus: play 1-3-5-7 arpeggios over each chord. (if the chord lasts a whole bar, play each note as a quarter; if it's half a bar, play them as eighths. if it's two whole bars, play as half notes, or quarters ascending and descending. basically: just make the arpeggio last as long as that chord does)

fifth chorus: do the same with 3-5-7-9 arpeggios

sixth chorus: alternate playing the melody for eight bars and soloing for eight bars.

seventh chorus: alternate playing the melody for four bars and soloing for four bars.

eighth chorus: solo a full chorus.

ninth chorus: take the melody out

you might not be able to do all this at first. at the very least: play the melody, play the chords, solo to the best of your ability, and then play the melody out. i do highly recommend trading fours/eights with the melody though because it helps players hear some context for their solo.

the other thing to do is when listening to the versions of those songs, and you hear a solo you like, transcribe it. or at the very least transcribe the licks that really speak to you and find out where those lie in the context of the tune.
Last edited by primusfan at Feb 6, 2013,
i did stay at a holiday inn express last night.

but seriously, after some household chords, i'll be back to write some thoughts in my February RTT thread (link in sig). if you want to drop by we talk about note choice/phrasing/whatever you have questions about in that solo.
haha, I already took a look, but I'll be checking that out. I'll definitely be stalking you for the next while seeing that you somehow find your way to every jazz question I ask with the exact answer I'm looking for...

Wait a second, who's the stalker...
Besides the many great artists posted I suggest you also look out for Charlie Christian and Django Reinhardt. Read a bit about them too!
I know people have been telling you to transcribe as you listen, but I really recommend not even trying to play Jazz for a while. Learn to listen to it and love it, even if you have NO clue what is going on theoretically.
Once you've filled up your head with a bunch of the jazz greats, then start with a simple blues.
All the information you need is *online. Ask yourself simple questions, such as: what is the difference between a regular blues and a blues that the bebop cats would play? (lol)
I don't think you should go right into playing if you haven't been listening to it much. That way, as you begin learning the theory of it, you will have TONS of sonic references to go by in your head and the info will just click. Best of luck!