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Jazz

Jazz

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Published by: jamesyu on Aug 16, 2007
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05/20/2013

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Learning to play natural sounding swing eighth notes is often the hardest part of
learning to play jzz, since it can sound so bad until you can do it well. There
are some techniques that can help you vercome this initial awkward stage.

If you have been listening carefully to other musicians, you may be better at
recognizing swing thanat playing it. Therefore, I highly recommend recording
yourself playing swing eighth notes at variou tempos, and then listening to
yourself on tape. You can judge for yourself whether your swing sound natural or
forced. It has been said that if you cannot swing unaccompanied, you cannot swing.
It isimportant to work on your own concept of swing in this way so that your
perception of how you sound s not influenced by the sound of your accompanists.

You should work on your swing no matter what you are playing. When you practice
scales, work on swin as well as simply playing the right notes. Try varying the
rhythm you use to play the scale. In addtion to scales, you should try practicing
swing when playing other exercises or songs. Any practice ethod book or fakebook
will probably contain several appropriate pieces. Try playing songs with
manyconsecutive eighth notes, but also try songs with longer notes and rests.
Having to play many consective eighth notes can make you too self-conscious of
your swing.

While being able to swing unaccompanied is important, it is not easy to do at
first, and when develoing your swing concept, it can also help to hear it
occasionally in the context of a group performane. One thing that would help at
times is to have a rhythm section accompaniment. If you have Band-InA-Box, you can
program it to play endless choruses of C major, and then you can practice playing
or mprovising on your C major scale while working on your swing. Aebersold records
can provide accompanment as well, but be aware that most of the tunes have many
chord changes and are too complex to usefor this purpose. There are a few suitable
tracks, however, such as some of those on Volumes 1, 16, 1, 24, and 54, which are
geared toward beginners. The books included with these, especially the firs four,
also contain some useful instructional material.

If you have a partner, or a tape recorder, or a sequencer (computer hardware
and/or software to recod and play back on a synthesizer) you can create do-it-
yourself accompaniment. The basic components f a swing drum beat are the ride
pattern and the hi-hat pattern. The ride cymbal pattern, at its mos basic, is "1,
2 and, 3, 4 and"; or, phonetically, "ding ding-a ding ding-a". The eighth notes on
2 nd 4 should be swung, of course. The hi-hat is closed (with the foot pedal) on 2
and 4. Walking basslines can be constructed by following a few simple rules.
First, play quarter notes. Second, keep thm in the two octaves below middle C.
Third, play only notes from the scale on which you are working.Fourth, most notes

should be only a step away from the previous note, although occasional leaps are
cceptable. For instance, a C major bass line might consist of "C, D, E, F, G, E,
F, G, A, B, A, G, F E, D, B, C". You will need a lot of patience to create your
own accompaniment with a tape recorder,since you will want to record many measures
so you do not have to keep rewinding the tape when improising later. A sequencer
will allow you to set up loops, so you can record only a few measures and hve them
repeat endlessly.

3.3. Creativity

The most important aspect of improvisation is creativity. This is the most vital
concept for an imprviser to understand. The goal is to hear something interesting
in your head and be able to play it imediately. Your understanding of music
fundamentals is one ally in this endeavor. It can help you inerpret the sounds you
hear in your head by relating them to sounds you know and understand. Your
tecnical proficiency on your instrument is another ally. It can help you
accurately execute what you coceive. Inspiration, however, is what enables you to
hear interesting ideas to begin with. That creatve spark is what distinguishes the
true artist from the mere craftsman. While no primer can show youhow to be
creative, I can try to shed a little light on creativity as it pertains to
improvisation.

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