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  • Petri Krzywacki
    Hi all, I thought I d offer my perspective to the discussion, as well as correct some misunderstandings that I have noticed. Those misunderstandings have grown
    Message 1 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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      Hi all,

      I thought I'd offer my perspective to the discussion, as well as
      correct some misunderstandings that I have noticed. Those
      misunderstandings have grown from people's personal experience, so
      I'm not out to put anyone down, just state some things about the
      subject of knowing tunes.

      The idea of knowing a tune instead of having to read the changes (or
      the melody for that matter) is to free up as much of one's energy as
      possible to be used for communicative purposes. To be able to react
      instinctively to anything happening around you, you have to be on top
      of the material at hand. A good point of reference for most people is
      the standard 12-bar blues form, just the three chords; no-one needs
      to have a chart for that even though there are things that might be a
      little different each time (does it go to IV in the second bar? are
      bars 9-10 V-IV or just V for both bars?) -those are things that you
      listen for and decide on the spot; usually a sort of concensus
      appears. And you learn to trust your ears; no verbal discussion is
      even necessary to confirm that you know how you did it.

      Blues is a good point of reference because that's exactly what the
      fruitful attitude is for knowing the standards. Not knowing them "by
      heart" (which could mean anything from 'barely remembering' to
      mastery) but KNOWING them, inside and out, on an instinctive level.
      And for that, the melody comes first. Not any set of changes; they're
      all different (have you ever noticed how hard it is to find two
      versions of the same tune with the exact same changes?). Then you
      learn ways to harmonize the melody, including the "standard" changes,
      but also a lot of other ways, some of which may develop as a personal
      harmonic style even. And the harmonic situations might be described a
      little 'more sophisticated' (by people who are on top of them)
      or 'complex' (by those who have trouble with them). That doesn't
      change the fact that it's just like the blues, only a wider palette
      of harmonic colors. This comes through repetition, both in the
      practice room and on stage.

      Unless this level of 'knowing' the tune is reached, it doesn't make
      that much of a difference whether one's reading or not. If you have
      to spend a lot of energy on remembering the changes instead of
      knowing the tune so that you hear them in advance (and also hear
      different routes they might take -that's something you hear
      collectively within the band), you don't really know the tune yet.
      The whole purpose is to be free to play around with the tune,
      personally and collectively. How much fun would children's games be
      (a metaphor for playing a tune used by Chick Corea) if you had to
      look up the rules all the time? ;)

      Take care everyone,
      Pete



      --- In jazz_guitar@yahoogroups.com, "mylesgorham" <myles@k...> wrote:
      > I brought the topic up for one specific reason. I played the first
      > gig I had ever played without using any music whatsoever. And, it
      > was a great gig...my head was in an entirely different place...I
      > felt much more loose and creative because I was playing tunes that
      I
      > knew and didn't have to think about. Maybe this isn't true for
      > everybody, but it certainly is for me. My whole point was to
      > mention that it helped me, and it could help some other people.
      >
      > Peace,
      > Myles
    • gtrjaz@aol.com
      I couldn t agree more. Jerry
      Message 2 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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        I couldn't agree more.

        Jerry
      • gtrjaz@aol.com
        I have been to many, many, many gigs.  Standards gigs too, and to this day I have never, ever, ever seen a real book.  Jam sessions, yes.  Workshops, yes.
        Message 3 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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          "I have been to many, many, many gigs.  Standards gigs too, and to
          this day I have never, ever, ever seen a real book.  Jam sessions,
          yes.  Workshops, yes.

          But gigs, never. (except the ones where the players are not really
          pros; they are weekend warriors)."

          Well, I have! And yes I'm a weekend warrior. You're right, if we are not full time musicians it isn't an issue execpt when people bring it up. I think ultimately, it's a point of distinction those who make a living playing music full time make. Either intentionally or not. Kind of like saying "I'm the real deal". If I'm auditioning someone for a gig, I'm am NOT going to give the gig to someone who needs the real book or not, I'm more interested in what they DO with the tune when they're playing.
          Someone else mentioned that other than the music stand looking "goofy" in a "performance" situation, there really isn't any issue at all about needing a book. One more point I'd like to make. Let's not confuse 'KNOWING MUSIC" with ''KNOWING TUNES". I think, if you really understand the language of music, you can play anything you read well. But, if you know a tune better than you know music, you are screwed when it comes to unfamiliar territory. And finally, I know you're joking? But, I play jazz, and please believe me when I say, I am not a snob.

          Jerry
        • kuboken1
          ... For me, that is the most irrelevant reason. Who cares what you look like when you re playing? All the best gigs I have seen in the last 3 months were guys
          Message 4 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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            --- In jazz_guitar@yahoogroups.com, gtrjaz@a... wrote:
            > Someone else mentioned that other than the music stand
            >looking "goofy" in a "performance" situation, there really isn't any
            >issue at all about needing a book.

            For me, that is the most irrelevant reason. Who cares what you look
            like when you're playing? All the best gigs I have seen in the last
            3 months were guys staring at charts on 'goofy' music stands.
            These 'goofballs' include Dave Liebman, Adam Rogers, Chris Potter,
            Jonathon Kreisberg (for his originals band, not his standards trio!),
            John Abercrombie/Loren Stillman etc... on and on...



            >One more point I'd like to make. Let's not confuse 'KNOWING MUSIC"
            >with ''KNOWING TUNES". I think, if you really understand the
            >language of music, you can play anything you read well. But, if you
            >know a tune better than you know music, you are screwed when it
            >comes to unfamiliar territory.

            Yes, that sound good on paper, but I have never met that kind of
            person (except maybe singers) in the real world. I have never met a
            really good jazz musician that didn't know a lot of tunes. period.

            >And finally, I know you're joking? But, I play jazz, and please
            >believe me when I say, I am not a snob.

            I don't believe you. ;)

            Yes, I was kidding (but only partially).

            Ken
          • Adriel
            ... Ah and here comes the line that many musicians forget about. If you actually want to be a successful artist you have to realize that you are a
            Message 5 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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              > --- In jazz_guitar@yahoogroups.com, gtrjaz@a... wrote:
              >> Someone else mentioned that other than the music stand
              >> looking "goofy" in a "performance" situation, there really isn't any
              >> issue at all about needing a book.
              >
              > For me, that is the most irrelevant reason. Who cares what you look
              > like when you're playing? All the best gigs I have seen in the last
              > 3 months were guys staring at charts on 'goofy' music stands.
              > These 'goofballs' include Dave Liebman, Adam Rogers, Chris Potter,
              > Jonathon Kreisberg (for his originals band, not his standards trio!),
              > John Abercrombie/Loren Stillman etc... on and on...
              >
              Ah and here comes the line that many 'musicians' forget about. If you
              actually want to be a successful 'artist' you have to realize that you are a
              performer. Pizzarelli coems ot mind as someone who gets the whole image
              being a performer thing. I do performance coaching and that's on the list of
              no no's.

              What's interesting is that for the most part in the classical world other
              than a featured soloists it's not as big of a deal. If you want to connect
              with your audience you need to be able to look at them during the show.

              That's why I asked for a clarificaiton on what type of 'pro' gigs.
              -Adriel
            • joseph kiernan
              Are they reading Stella by Starlight though. I brought a topic a while ago about this and it does give a musician more freedonm if they know whast they are
              Message 6 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                Are they reading "Stella by Starlight" though. I brought a topic a while ago about this and it does give a musician more freedonm if they know whast they are hearing. I honestly thinks it impossible to see all the chords changes in you head (unless you have photographic memory). But you can hear them and thats what is important. But lets not compare what the giants do to what we are doing.
                Joe

                kuboken1 <kuboken1@...> wrote:
                --- In jazz_guitar@yahoogroups.com, gtrjaz@a... wrote:
                > Someone else mentioned that other than the music stand
                >looking "goofy" in a "performance" situation, there really isn't any
                >issue at all about needing a book.

                For me, that is the most irrelevant reason. Who cares what you look
                like when you're playing? All the best gigs I have seen in the last
                3 months were guys staring at charts on 'goofy' music stands.
                These 'goofballs' include Dave Liebman, Adam Rogers, Chris Potter,
                Jonathon Kreisberg (for his originals band, not his standards trio!),
                John Abercrombie/Loren Stillman etc... on and on...



                >One more point I'd like to make. Let's not confuse 'KNOWING MUSIC"
                >with ''KNOWING TUNES". I think, if you really understand the
                >language of music, you can play anything you read well. But, if you
                >know a tune better than you know music, you are screwed when it
                >comes to unfamiliar territory.

                Yes, that sound good on paper, but I have never met that kind of
                person (except maybe singers) in the real world. I have never met a
                really good jazz musician that didn't know a lot of tunes. period.

                >And finally, I know you're joking? But, I play jazz, and please
                >believe me when I say, I am not a snob.

                I don't believe you. ;)

                Yes, I was kidding (but only partially).

                Ken

                [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
              • gtrjaz@aol.com
                ... I m not sure how you can disagree with the fact that if you KNOW music theory and how to execute on your instrument that you couldn t possibly accomplish
                Message 7 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                  In a message dated 6/1/04 6:58:22 AM, kuboken1@... writes:


                  > >One more point I'd like to make. Let's not confuse 'KNOWING MUSIC " 
                  > >with ''KNOWING TUNES".  I think, if you really understand the
                  > >language of music, you can play anything you read well.  But, if you
                  > >know a tune better than you know music, you are screwed when it
                  > >comes to unfamiliar territory. 
                  >
                  > Yes, that sound good on paper, but I have never met that kind of
                  > person (except maybe singers) in the real world.  I have never met a
                  > really good jazz musician that didn't know a lot of tunes. period.
                  >
                  > I don't believe you. ;) 
                  >
                  > Yes, I was kidding (but only partially).
                  >
                  > Ken
                  >


                  I'm not sure how you can disagree with the fact that if you KNOW music theory
                  and how to execute on your instrument that you couldn't possibly accomplish
                  something as creative as the next guy that has the tune memorized. And, why
                  do you reserve this ability for vocalists only? I'm not just trying to "SOUND
                  GOOD" on paper, I really know this to be true, how can you not agree?
                  I might be able to "memorize" a poem in French and recite it without really
                  know the French language, but as soon as I sit down and try to have a
                  conversation in French I'm screwed. Knowledge of music is THE HOME OF WHERE ALL THE
                  TUNES COME FROM. If you can learn and understand the basis from which all
                  musical ideas come from, you in a sense, can relate and communicate with any one
                  musically. Even if you need a Fake book to see what the changes are. Why
                  do you think this is so hard to accomplish? Anyone who has taken guitar lessons
                  (as I did, starting when I was a kid) from a guitar teacher, that not only
                  gave guitar lessons but music theory lessons as well knows this stuff. I don't
                  have a degree in music, but I play with musicians who do, and we communicate
                  pretty well. You seem to be suggesting that by memorizing different poems,
                  etc. in French that you can "speak French". There might be many French people
                  who don't know the poems you memorized, does that mean they can't speak French?
                  Sorry for this analogy, but it seems my original statement didn't come
                  across to you.

                  Lastly, you don't have to believe me when I say I'm not a snob. Don't
                  include me, when you claim everyone who plays jazz is a snob, even jokingly. I'd
                  rather be just what I am, someone who enjoys playing music for it's own sake
                  and has no interest in laying down some b.s. about who has memorized the most
                  tunes. That measures nothing for me until I hear the playing.

                  Jerry


                  [Non-text portions of this message have been removed]
                • kuboken1
                  ... music theory ... accomplish ... That is not what I meant to say. Of course a well-trained improvisor will play a tune at first sight better than a
                  Message 8 of 12 , Jun 1, 2004
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                    --- In jazz_guitar@yahoogroups.com, gtrjaz@a... wrote:
                    >
                    > I'm not sure how you can disagree with the fact that if you KNOW
                    music theory
                    > and how to execute on your instrument that you couldn't possibly
                    accomplish
                    > something as creative as the next guy that has the tune memorized.

                    That is not what I meant to say. Of course a well-trained improvisor
                    will play a tune at first sight better than a not-so-well-trained
                    improvisor playing a tune he has memorized.

                    If two people had the same level of musical knowledge and
                    improvisational skill, I am just saying that usually the guy who has
                    internalized the tune will be able to improvise on it better than the
                    guy who would have to read it.

                    That is all I am saying. I can say that is the case for me with no
                    doubt, and that is the case for everyone I have ever played with, and
                    that is what I've been told by just about everyone I ever studied
                    with.

                    There is a reason why a lot of teachers (like Tristano) won't even
                    allow a student to improvise on a tune until it is fully
                    internalized, and why some of the older band leaders wouldn't allow
                    people to read on the bandstand. It's often not about looks. It's
                    about what Pete said earlier; if you haven't internalized the tune
                    and know it inside and out, you aren't gonna be able to play it well.
                    (or as well as you could otherwise).

                    This has nothing to do with how many scales or chords you know.

                    And, why
                    > do you reserve this ability for vocalists only?

                    Well, I only meant I know a lot of singers that can sing a tune but
                    can't scat anything meaningful over it. (Singers DO NOT HAVE TO
                    SCAT. Singers are musicians too.) I am only referring to the
                    singers that insist on scatting and claim they spend many hours
                    practicing. Most of the time, their scatting is just awful.

                    But this is a really bad example so I retract that statement!

                    If you really think you can improvise just as well over a tune that
                    you have to read as you can on a tune you've been playing since day
                    one and have internalized deeply, GREAT! Congratulations.

                    I'm sure there are people like this. I have not come across any yet.
                    It is contrary to ALL of my experiences; first hand, observationally,
                    second hand etc... That's all.

                    Although some might say that if that is really, truly the case then
                    you aren't really digging into the tune and playing it, that you are
                    just skating over the changes.

                    But then again, maybe not!

                    Sorry for the misunderstanding.

                    Ken
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