Thursday, June 23, 2005

Lines

I’m a little behind on my journal upkeep. I took a little break since I last posted. Then I had a lesson with Tim Miller and I’ve been working on improv and creative ventures since then. I’ve seen a major increase in my progress with this "unitar" concept. It was really hard work to get started with it, but it’s just beginning (hopefully) to further my playing. It’s made a huge connection for me as far as improvising with scales. I previously would improvise using the changes and working on the chord tones. This was difficult work as well, but once I got pretty good at it, it left me longing for something more. These ear exercises have gotten me to think and improvise more linearly. Just recently I was learning an Ella Fitzgerald melody by ear and this whole idea really made sense. Learning the piece by ear gave me a better understanding of her melodic weight for each note as well as her sense of phrasing. When I began improvising over the same tune by ear I found that I could tap into the same type of melodies that she could and it was because I was basically playing a scale. The chord progression was a bit reharmed so there were chords from outside the key in there. When playing the chord changes as a foundation for improv my solos sounded jagged and awkward, but when I was playing in the general key of the tune I was making melodies that the harmony could support. Combining the two improv ideas gave a delight and intriguing solo. It seems like the simplest thing, but it took me so long to figure out. It’s refreshing playing through tunes now and hope these exercises can further deepen my understanding.

I was going to record an improv this evening, but I think Valerie is off with the mini-disc player tonight. Maybe I’ll get to it on Saturday.

As I mentioned earlier, I’ve been behind on my journal upkeep. I’ve been making some progress, but I lost the momentum for writing it down. I recognize it’s importance though, because I miss the nightly overview or recap of what I’ve done during the day. Kind of a "what did I learn today" experience. The following is a journal entry from a couple days back. I was so out of my usual rhythm that I never got around to posting it.

More ear stuff today. It’s hard work and thankfully I’m seeing some progress. I’m also seeing how much more I need to do and where my own weaknesses are. I had a lesson with Tim Miller on Sunday and he helped clarify what to do with these exercises and how to get more out of them. I spent today working on a variety of things:

  • Playing with recordings and mimicking or learning the melody or harmony part. For the jazz tunes I was playing the melody, for some of the pop tunes I was looking in the vocal or chordal harmonies.
  • Playing with recordings and improvising over them.
  • Looping drones and then improvising modes that I can sing over them
  • Looping drones and improvising solely by ear, switching between different modes/tonalities.
  • Playing over changes and soloing up and down one string, listening for the next correct note.


I’m getting better at the last exercise, because previously I would get to intellectual about it. These are limiting exercises and they need to be only by ear. I’m getting better at focusing on just that.

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