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So exactly how should you learn blues/gospel/jazz....
#1434353 05/11/10 11:17 AM
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Sorry for opening another thread, but I believe this doesn't fit anywhere in particularly well.

In a couple of topics these days I've read some really interesting stuff. In some thread I especially liked the remark about blues/jazz/gospel/etc. music being "caught" rather than "taught".
So, if that kind of music is "caught", how would one catch it?

Listening, a lot, of course is the first best thing to do. But what's next?
Should you play along with it with some of your -no matter how tiny/simple- improvisations? Should you try to mimic it? Or perhaps transcribe it?
Is it best to learn one piece thoroughly, listening it over and over again, understanding in some way what is being played. Or is it best to just listen to as much different songs as possible, to really get the hang of it?

Since a couple of weeks I've been playing piano blindfolded. Not to give myself a harder time, but to really learn to use my ears, instead of my eyes. Is that advisable? (Hence Ray Charles, Stevie Wonder, and probably some more)
Could playing blindfolded interfere with the learning process? I guess transcribing recordings is not really an option for example...

I'd just like to hear and/or collect the opinions about how to learn to play these genres. smile

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Re: So exactly how should you learn blues/gospel/jazz....
snakechaser #1434379 05/11/10 12:01 PM
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My "shortcuts", so to speak:

1. listening
2. due diligence
3. jamming

Listening: you are what you eat. I don't mean to be a naysayer, but if you don't listen to the kind of music you are trying to internalize, you're giving yourself a severe handicap.

A further note about listening...years ago, when cassettes were popular, I had two kind of tapes: what I called my "inspiration tapes", and then my "tune tapes". My inspiration tapes were filled with the kinds of things that really made me want to learn how to play. I listened to them often, and I still do. My tune tapes were made up of every recorded example of a particular tune I could find. For example, my Autumn Leaves tape had at least a dozen different versions. A third general category was a set of tapes of tunes that I wanted to transcribe.

Due diligence: sweat equity. Scales, chords, patterns, learning tunes, transcription, etc. Some find success with a teacher (skilled in the genre you're trying to learn).

Jamming: the first step is internalization, and the second step is applying what you've learned. There usually is lots of trial and error here, and this is where jamming comes into play. With friends, with like-minded others at a similar level, in public jam sessions, with play-alongs and "Band In a Box" and other aids.

Books are great. I own several myself :-), but books are really just an aid to the "due diligence" part. Books don't help with the listening/internalization step, and they don't help with the practical application/jamming step.

Re: So exactly how should you learn blues/gospel/jazz....
snakechaser #1434493 05/11/10 02:55 PM
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Originally Posted by snakechaser
Sorry for opening another thread, but I believe this doesn't fit anywhere in particularly well.

In a couple of topics these days I've read some really interesting stuff. In some thread I especially liked the remark about blues/jazz/gospel/etc. music being "caught" rather than "taught".
So, if that kind of music is "caught", how would one catch it?

Listening, a lot, of course is the first best thing to do. But what's next?
Should you play along with it with some of your -no matter how tiny/simple- improvisations? Should you try to mimic it? Or perhaps transcribe it?
Is it best to learn one piece thoroughly, listening it over and over again, understanding in some way what is being played. Or is it best to just listen to as much different songs as possible, to really get the hang of it?


I'd just like to hear and/or collect the opinions about how to learn to play these genres. smile


Snakecharmer,
Everything you listed here is a viable and important step in your blues development.
Transcription is one of the deepest and most thorough approaches you can take to learn more about any style. I highly advise it.
It should be noted though that often times in contemporary styles the word "transcription" just means figuring out the notes and playing along. Alot of players don't write out the notes they just catch it all by ear and memorize.
Personally, I write everything out though. I can analyze it later and learn from a different perspective (visually). It also allows you to go back several years later and study again if you've forgotten the notes.
I also use the transcriptions as learning material when I teach as well. This has been really huge for my students in terms of their development.
Good luck and have fun!!

Re: So exactly how should you learn blues/gospel/jazz....
Steve Nixon #1434984 05/12/10 07:31 AM
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There was a time period in the mid-90s where I had four different teachers at the same time (two were Berklee guys and two were New England Conservatory guys) and I'd have varying opinions on different topics. For example, while one was hammering on me about chord-scale modal approaches to melodic development, another was preaching a chord-tone approach note method, while another was highly skilled at moving in between these two primary methods, while the other took a more holistic or organic approach based on listening.

All of them preached listening and transcription, but one would tell me it wasn't that important to write things down, but another would say that was an important step. The holistic/organic guy, though, insisted on memorization and the ability to sing things back (signs of internalization, so to speak).

The idea of transcribing an entire solo is sometimes daunting. What I would like to say is that there can be value in transcribing small sections of solos, even individual patterns. I do have scraps of paper with fragments written down, but what is really important, in my opinion, is the ex post facto analysis that goes on. Why does this pattern work? What other places can this pattern work? Do you know the pattern well enough to be able to use anywhere it might be appropriate?

Re: So exactly how should you learn blues/gospel/jazz....
Guy #1435109 05/12/10 11:51 AM
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Originally Posted by Guy


The idea of transcribing an entire solo is sometimes daunting. What I would like to say is that there can be value in transcribing small sections of solos, even individual patterns. I do have scraps of paper with fragments written down, but what is really important, in my opinion, is the ex post facto analysis that goes on. Why does this pattern work? What other places can this pattern work? Do you know the pattern well enough to be able to use anywhere it might be appropriate?


I agree. Great advice.



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