Taking My Playing Up A Level.

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  1. Hello, everyone.

    I am a guitarist seeking to take my playing to the "next" level. My ear is pretty good and my reading is decent, sight reading is passable but certainly needs improvement. I do gig, and certainly do very well in the style I play in, but it doesn't keep me satisfied.

    I currently play in a style similar to that of Kenny Burrell, Grant Green, etc. ... kind of a soul-jazz feel. Most of my improvising is based on staying harmonically static (play in a key rather than over harmonic changes).

    I want to gain the knowledge and skill to be able to play over changes confidently with fluidity, with a kind of modern voice that you hear in guys like Kurt, Pat, Gilad Hekselman (Check that cat out if you haven't, unbelievable) ... that kind of contemporary sound ... very sharp angles, almost geometric yet organic.

    Any suggestions about how to take this next step? What concepts should I employ, how do I practice this, any books, etc? I appreciate your help very much.


  2. cruxtable

    i don't pretend to be a master at this, but here's my take:

    transcribe! anything you can hear those guys playing, you could potentially play - just figure out what they're playing and how it fits in - or how it doesn't fit. transcribe and analyze - make sure you know how each note fits in harmonically and rhythmically.

    make sure you know all your scales - the 7 modes of major, melodic minor and its modes (some of those modes are used almost never), harmonic minor (and modes, if you're ambitious), whole tone, and especially DIMINISHED! i hear so many guys using diminished scales and patterns to play over dominant chords (such as gilad's triad lick at 4:13 on this video:

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    a lot of these guys - especially kurt - practice these scales using patterns - which is a good way to learn the scales and get a lot of vocab. pick a pattern, like 1-3-5, 1-3-5-7, 1-2-3-5, 1-3-2-4, etc. (or any pattern you hear someone using) and learn how to play it fluently through any scale, any mode. and do it backwards, any way you can think of.

    there's a lot more advanced techniques that i don't know about, such as maybe playing over a chord with pentatonics from different keys, so you get different sounds, but my advice is just to take whatever you hear that you want to be able to play and learn how to use it..just gradually start building a vocabulary from those guys and eventually you'll have to end up sounding like them..that's my goal, at least..if you take your favorite licks from everything you hear, eventually you'll sound exactly how you want to sound.

    for chord voicings, if you're interested, check out vic juris' book on modern chords - covers a lot of different chords in a small book. covers triads, stacked polychords, and mostly different structures you can use for comping. i hear a lot of guys using those structures - gilad, lage lund, mike stern, vic juris (of course) probably kurt and ben monder. also, any chord you hear one of those guys you like playing, just transcribe it an analyze it, and then you'll know it!

  3. 111

    Find a good teacher.

  4. riverstooge

    In my opinion the best way to learn the language is to learn and memorize some standards. Monk, Trane, Ellington, Miles...maybe one a week. Look up how other people play it, like Monk's "Round Midnight"....there's Monk's version, the Miles Davis version, Rosenwinkel's version, Ella Fitzgerald version (which is insane). Also yeah, find a good teacher, preferably who's playing your respect and admire. Always good to play with people too, especially if they're better/more experienced than you. As scary as that is sometimes, it's the tradition. There really isn't any shortcuts (at least that I know about). Take care

  5. Thanks for all the responses, I really appreciate it. I just feel kind of overwhelmed with all this and not sure exactly how to approach the next level.

    Lauren - that book looks great, thanks. And Paul - thanks for laying it out straight. Riverstooge - a good idea. And 111 - it's on the list!

  6. 111

    Good luck with your quest!

  7. Colonel Trane

    I second getting a teacher but a lot of it depends on how you learn. I learn things a lot quicker if someone is showing and explaining it to me than if I'm reading it from a book and trying to figure it out for myself (though I do that too). A teacher can turn you on to things that you wouldn't find yourself which is another plus. Learning standards is really good advice too I highly reccomend that.

  8. add4

    My teacher makes me do what paul said, with a structure. to me, playing your scales and modes, with patterns, and try to develop a vocabulary out of them is a great key to develop the ability to play over changes. after following that approach for a moment, i am currently discovering i am able to play over changes now rather than staying static as your described it.

    the teacher thing might help a lot if you find someone good and don't want to loose too much time figuring out how you should practice a particular thing. To me a good teacher teaches you a method to learn new material, and assimilate it.

    good luck :)


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