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RinTin Offline OP
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I thinks it's perhaps among the best questions to ask at workshops, of teachers, and good improvisers.
And I would ask it in two parts, how do you think when practicing soloing over changes, and also, how do you think when soloing over changes in performance?
I think the answers should be all different and vary widely from person to person.


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.
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It really depends on what you mean by changes. Changes to All The Things You Are or changes to Little Sunflower
When practicing soloing over changes it’s more of immersion type of approach rather than a technical approach. I get the sheet music of what ever tune I am working on if no sheet music use my ear and write the changes out but today everything is on the net so I usually print out a few charts of the same tune in different keys. Research the tune to see who has played it and play along , play a long with ireal tunes, play the tune at different tempos starting new tunes at 60 and working my way up. Try and apply any lesson or licks or parts from written out solo’s to the tune that I might have. Have practice sessions with bassist and drummers both or one or the other. Spend a day with the tune literally. So what am I thinking while I am practicing any number of things that would better my performance. Time, KEY, Chord changes, scales is usually what I am thinking about when soloing in performance everything I was thinking about when I was practicing add the energy and excitement of a live performance and plus the ability get along with other really good musicians I really enjoy it when I get to solo. The first tune we made up the second a Monk tune



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Originally Posted by RinTin
And I would ask it in two parts, how do you think when practicing soloing over changes, and also, how do you think when soloing over changes in performance?

It depends on where we are at in our improvsational journey. The first thing is the time, we need to keep the time and should always be thinking about that. Then there is the sequence and we need to devote enough brain power to that to avoid getting lost. Then there is the melody, always good to have that ticking over somewhere in the back of the brain even when soloing.
When all this is fairly automatic there is some brain power left over for other things (chord voicings, scales, musical ideas), and as we get better even this gradually becomes automatic and we can just think about the music.

When practising we can experiment with moving the concentration around, maybe just concentrating on the voicings or a certain shape of phrase (or any of a thousand other things) but in performance we should probably just think about the music and relaxing into it.

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Originally Posted by beeboss
Originally Posted by RinTin
And I would ask it in two parts, how do you think when practicing soloing over changes, and also, how do you think when soloing over changes in performance?

It depends on where we are at in our improvsational journey. The first thing is the time, we need to keep the time and should always be thinking about that. Then there is the sequence and we need to devote enough brain power to that to avoid getting lost. Then there is the melody, always good to have that ticking over somewhere in the back of the brain even when soloing.
When all this is fairly automatic there is some brain power left over for other things (chord voicings, scales, musical ideas), and as we get better even this gradually becomes automatic and we can just think about the music.

When practising we can experiment with moving the concentration around, maybe just concentrating on the voicings or a certain shape of phrase (or any of a thousand other things) but in performance we should probably just think about the music and relaxing into it.

Agree about time. Sometimes it's easy to rush for me. Less so solo. But you'd think if with drums/bass player it would be easier on fast tempos. I think it depends on the players. Can be tricky at times until you lock it in.
Instead of taking off at the beginning of a solo, I now tend to listen to bass/drum groove to see if they're together, as that is not a given always.

The melody. Yes, my teacher had me write out solos with bits of melody in it. That was useful as the listener can perhaps follow your solo better.

I never was much of a dedicated practice of patterns. Prefer spontaneity over mechanic tendencies. As we'll build tendencies anyway to our liking.

One thing I've found true for me anyway, was what I believe Kenny Werner said going with the flow.
I had a solo break on stage with a band and thought I'd play something I worked out at the start.
Even though I played the notes correct, the feel felt forced and it didn't come off the way I wanted it to.
So to me as my teacher said, study it then forget it.

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RinTin Offline OP
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"thinking"
Noun:
the process of using one's mind to consider or reason about something.
Adjective:
using thought or rational judgment; intelligent.

sensing:
perceive by a sense or senses.
"with the first frost, they could sense a change in the days"
synonyms:
discern · feel · observe · notice · get the impression of · recognize · pick up · [more]
be aware of (something) without being able to define exactly how one knows.
"she could sense her father's anger rising" · [more]
(of a machine or similar device) detect.
"an optical fiber senses a current flowing in a conductor"

--------------
Acceptance, I accept what I play.
I'm sensing and associating (connecting) to the style of the music. I am sensing my rhythmic feel and my phrasing with its' stops and starts.
Sometimes I am aware of the shapes I am weaving, like little choreographed dances being improvised.
I have a sense of a searching quality at times.
Often times my phrasing feels as if I'm in a dialogue with myself, a call and a response, as if one thing leads to another.


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.
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I just try to make nice melodies.
I am sensing my rhythmic feel.
Sometimes I am aware of the shapes I am weaving.
Often times my phrasing feels as if I'm in a dialogue with myself, a call and a response, as if one thing leads to another.


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.
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When I was young, I just practiced the playing on chords with the hope that something will turn out at performance in the evening. It was intuitive and often worked. But after losing my jazz innocence, I try to express myself through the instrument, and not play cute melodies.

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"I think you're exactly where you need to be right now.
I believe in you."

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"mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness“. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. Essentially it is what modern athletes and musicians call “the flow state”


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.
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For myself and I assume more when I was first starting out to try to improvise. There was a disconnect to wanting to play what I wanted to play (what the pros where doing). I played a lot of corn, or if I wrote out an improvisation it could be so complicated I couldn't play it with my technic at the time. Gotta be able to play it.

The main turning point was taking an intensive ear training course and working on it for a year a lot. Hearing the notes in my head before playing them changed things and gave me confidence.
Of course you also gain experience jamming and from other combined musical practices.

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Originally Posted by RinTin
"mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness“. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. Essentially it is what modern athletes and musicians call “the flow state”

As Yogi Berra put it "How could you think and hit at the same time?"

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Originally Posted by tend to rush
Originally Posted by RinTin
"mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness“. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. Essentially it is what modern athletes and musicians call “the flow state”

As Yogi Berra put it "How could you think and hit at the same time?"

That good.


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.
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Musical improvisation isn't divorced from the field of acting improvisation, with which every improviser - present or future - is obliged to get acquainted.
Acting improvisation is studied primarily in partnership, which also applies to musical improvisation (the tradition of African musical education). Here's just one piece of advice for actors:

You can almost guarantee a good improvisation if each player says one line at a time and then listens to the other character's line and responds. The response should be based on the last thing the other character said.

Leave philosophy alone; improvisation should be studied in the most natural conditions, to which a session in a closed studio near an instrument and recorder does not apply.

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I focus on my time feel (listening/feeling the pulse and my various subdivisions) and the changes: navigating the geography of the path of the changes..


Harry Likas was the Technical Editor of Mark Levine's "The Jazz Theory Book" and also helped develop "The Jazz Piano Book." Harry spends his time teaching jazz piano online and playing solo piano gigs.
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Originally Posted by beeboss
Originally Posted by RinTin
And I would ask it in two parts, how do you think when practicing soloing over changes, and also, how do you think when soloing over changes in performance?

It depends on where we are at in our improvsational journey. The first thing is the time, we need to keep the time and should always be thinking about that. Then there is the sequence and we need to devote enough brain power to that to avoid getting lost. Then there is the melody, always good to have that ticking over somewhere in the back of the brain even when soloing.
When all this is fairly automatic there is some brain power left over for other things (chord voicings, scales, musical ideas), and as we get better even this gradually becomes automatic and we can just think about the music.

When practising we can experiment with moving the concentration around, maybe just concentrating on the voicings or a certain shape of phrase (or any of a thousand other things) but in performance we should probably just think about the music and relaxing into it.
Totally agree with this

There is a quote from some jazzer that goes something like "woodshed all your scales, arpeggios, licks, keys and everything, but when it's finally time to go up and play, forget all that [censored] and just play!"

I'm at the point now where when I take a solo over a tune I'm generally trying to elicit a vibe or a feeling or a color more than anything else. Due to years of exploring music, I have a good general sense of the note selection and phrasing that will help me achieve those feelings I wish to convey.

But when I'm practicing at home, I'm experimenting and noodling. Seeing how far I can stretch, what licks pop up that I can internalize.


My youtube channel where I discuss theory, performance, cover some tunes, etc.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCruDLJseRHB_04Zwz0NXVGg
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Originally Posted by RinTin
"mushin no shin (無心の心), a Zen expression meaning the mind without mind and is also referred to as the state of “no-mindness“. That is, a mind not fixed or occupied by thought or emotion and thus open to everything. Essentially it is what modern athletes and musicians call “the flow state”
There seems to be more than one type of no-mindness that is not "the flow state ” . For example, I get it due to the defocusing of the eyes.

Last edited by Nahum; 09/06/21 07:03 AM.

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