i was reading an interview with Lee Konitz in Jazztimes earlier today and he mentions singing a lot, both in warm-up, practice, and performing. aside from him, a lot of non-vocal jazz musicians seem to embrace singing but i've never seen/heard anything concrete about how it is applicable. i know singing along with licks, solos, scales, etc, but is there anything else you guys do in particular or any other advice?
singing exercises?(11 posts)
Sing along with a drone. Work on particular intervals, modes, and chromatic modification of keys and modes. The same can be done with triads, extended chords, and chord progressions as well, but starting with a drone is best.
singing intervals is a great way to empirically gain understanding of intervals and how their qualities change as they move through a scale when dealing with a specific set or sets. you can see the various relationships within triads and larger chords. even if i don't sing out loud, i am ( singing internally when i transcribe: i am slowing down what i heard in my mind and [hopefully] carving away at and revealing the exact voicing of a chord and the exact notes and contour and inflection of a line ).
the singing while playing thing is still something that i have mixed feelings about and seems to be an issue bound up in contextual considerations:
if the overall aesthetic of the music is coming from a blues or jazzyjazz world or anything where the "lyrical" qualities are under scrutiny and held in a place of higher value- above other considerations in a solo's construction; and issues of singing's functionality ( or lack thereof ) in other disciplines and aesthetics of music making.
since it is not what i am used to , i feel somewhat corny and histrionic and fraudulent- affecting a vibe ( ...unless i am alone ).
this is somewhat sad and pathetic considering:
* that i've been playing a while and me emanating a sound from my mouth SHOULD be normal and not worry about appearing crazy.
*it is an extremely useful tool.
* i have quite decent relative ( sometimes perfect [ good relative pitch+ decent memory+ playing a bunch or transcribing and having an awareness of what "the world " is calling A440 on a given day=perfect]) pitch.
* it is totally cool that with our voices, brains; and symbol formation we can make and communicate some amazing sounds with or WITHOUT a " musical instrument"!
the things that i have against it are the aforementioned corny/sap aspects when not done with conviction or as a way to mask something and call it " soul" or whatever AND that unless it is written music , an improvisation with me singing or me playing/singing ( rosenwinkel, benson) feels like (for me ) i am ultimately staying within my range and not going to be doing things with dramatic interval leaps and speed - limiting the "improvisation"'s parameters drastically ( a priori)... unless it's functionality crops in a more vague manner( like keith jarrett and other people who do it really well [kurt included]) where it is clearly more ingrained in the person's thing or practice and is void of the hammy vibes and functions to help them guide their " inner urge" and serves that purpose well- with the singing's actual accuracy being secondary and if we were to transcribe a line and write it on paper the vocal part would be like a swarm of bees clouding around the line's contour and areas of concentration - just giving a more vague impression of where things come from or go to .
with the hopes of improving my reading and training other music muscles while away from the instrument i picked up a used book from the bookstore. it looks a little antiquated ( cover and language...and it being from 1964) but i am trying not to buy music books and it was sort of an impulse buy based on it being in line with things i was looking for. it starts of pretty basic and had excercises that were kind of like enclosures that were bigger by a few notes on either side - which was very cool ; rather than a motif that you understand and blindly take uphill or down hill it forced you to KNOW what it is like to be neighboring tones of various distance before you move out in either direction- not starting on the root.
the book is :
fundamentals of sight singing and ear training ( arnold fish/ norman lloyd) waveland press.
My teacher Matt Otto has a ton of stuff about singing on his site, including some drone mp3's. It is a big focus of our lessons and what I practice daily.
Just one example would be taking a simple diatonic phrase (major, harmonic minor, harmonic major, melodic minor) and singing it against a drone, then taking the same shape and moving it through the diatonic modes either ascending or descending. I try to play the phrase, sing it, then play and sing it. It is not easy for me as I don't have a great ear yet, but it is improving quickly.
Another thing I like to do is take a standard and play just shell voicings and sing a note on top of the chord, starting w/ the roots of each chord. You can move through all chromatic notes if you have time. Even roots can be tricky to really hear.
@floatingbridge thank you for the in-depth post. i enjoy your thoughts on singing and what not.
@smoke thanks for those exercises; and the lessons (not only the singing ones) on matt's site are killer. he must be a deep guy to study with.
Otto is one of the best players and teacher I have ever encountered. He is a great musician and a kind and generous guy. I have no higher praise for a person.
Thanks smoke, Matt Otto does seem like a wonderful teacher. Can't wait to check out some of the lessons on his site.
otto's page and lessons look /sound really good. l
has anyone checked out his books? they appear highly informative and hip.
I hate to beat the drum, but I have them both. I haven't spent much time w/ the ii-V book just because of so much other stuff to work on, but I have shed the harmonic major book a lot over the last year and still do at least a few times a week. It is really a great book because it deals with one subject in a very thorough and useful way (at least in my opinion). I didn't know much about the scale and can now 'hear' it fairly clearly. Some of the modes are pretty exotic and will require a lot more work, but I have a much better understanding of it. It is a small book but has a ton of ideas and concepts about this one particular sound. I recommend it. I know there are some pretty big name pros working out of both books, if that means anything...
I kind of wish all books were written like the harmonic major book -- one subject, very detailed, but not overly so.
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1). Try thinking about practicing and drink a latte.
2) you tube the greats on your smartphone while having a red eye.
3). Maybe go to the forum while exploring a decaf soy cap.
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