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Chick Corea: "Cheap But Good Advice For Playing Music In A Group"

Discussion in 'Music to Your Ears' started by wyclif, Feb 6, 2020.

  1. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    According to Hall of Fame drummer Ed Soph, the famous jazz keyboardist Chick Corea typed this leaflet up on his old Smith-Corona typewriter and used to hand it out at clinics. I'm sharing it here because I thought it's interesting and thoughtful:


    Cheap But Good Advice For Playing Music In A Group
    by Chick Corea
    1. Play only what you hear.
    2. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything.
    3. Don't let your fingers and limbs just wander--place them intentionally.
    4. Don't improvise on endlessly--play something with intention, develop it or not, but then end off, take a break.
    5. Leave space--create space--intentionally create places where you don't play.
    6. Make your sound blend. Listen to your sound and adjust it to the rest of the band and the room.
    7. If you play more than one instrument at a time--like a drum kit or multiple keyboards--make sure that they are balanced with one another.
    8. Don't make any of your music mechanically or just through patterns of habit. Create each sound, phrase, and piece with choice--deliberately.
    9. Guide your choice of what to play by what you like--not by what someone else will think.
    10. Use contrast and balance the elements: high/low, fast/slow, loud/soft, tense/relaxed, dense/sparse.
    11. Play to make the other musicians sound good. Play things that will make the overall music sound good.
    12. Play with a relaxed body. Always release whatever tension you create.
    13. Create space--begin, develop, and end phrases with intention.
    14. Never beat or pound your instrument--play it easily and gracefully.
    15. Create space--then place something in it.
    16. Use mimicry sparsely--mostly create phrases that contrast with and develop the phrases of the other players.


    corea.jpg
     
  2. Deebs3

    Deebs3 Tele-Meister

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    Sometimes pounding your guitar is good though......
     
  3. AlbertoMilanese

    AlbertoMilanese Tele-Meister Silver Supporter

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    Sounds kinda new-agey to me. The telecaster has always been a great guitar for just pounding out on it...
     
    Last edited: Feb 6, 2020
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  4. wyclif

    wyclif Tele-Afflicted

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    Yeah, I have a feeling Pete Townshend would disagree with #14...

     
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  5. Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon Tele-Meister

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    When I read #14 my first thought was "this will not be agreed here".
    But of course Corea's right when it comes to more sophisticated music.
     
  6. brookdalebill

    brookdalebill Tele Axpert Ad Free Member

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    Lotsa good stuff there.
    I’d be lucky to adhere to even a few of Chick’s suggestions.
    I really like 2,5,6, and 11.
    I try to do those already.
    The rest are a little cerebral for this ol’ hippie.
     
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  7. Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon Tele-Meister

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    Yes, I guess it's not directed at the common weekend blooze or country player ;- )
    (imagine a country player "leaving space" - his solo spot would be over before he began.)
     
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  8. Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon Tele-Meister

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    Or #2: Townshend could stop making music at all...
     
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  9. Tidepoolbay

    Tidepoolbay Friend of Leo's

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    Thank you! Very good advice!
     
  10. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    Thanks for posting!
    That’s good advice indeed. Some points are so hard to follow though.
    I particularly like #1 & #2.
     
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  11. Spexicola

    Spexicola Tele-Meister

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    Could you explain 1 & 2 to a couch player? I'm not sure I'm following.
     
  12. Vibrolux59

    Vibrolux59 Tele-Meister

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    Great post. Excellent advice IMO.
     
  13. Digital Larry

    Digital Larry Friend of Leo's

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    5. Leave space--create space--intentionally create places where you don't play.
    ----------
    Ok, I've established a no-play zone in the kitchen and bathroom.

    PS I actually like the list and think it applies also to when you're just playing with yourself... ah ha ha... I mean doing the one man band recording thing. Nobody's giving me the stink eye so I just keep going and going and going....
     
  14. maxvintage

    maxvintage Poster Extraordinaire

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    As a guy who mostly plays bass, I just know waaaaay too many guitarist who just can't shut up. it's especially "great" when there are two guitarists and they both play exactly the same thing. Like they only know how to do one thing and they're gonna do it, dammit, whether the band needs it or not.

    i agree with Chick, although if I'm playing bass in a straight ahead jazz situation stopping when I don't know the chord is not really an option. But on a ballad, or when half-time is called for? Space is the place man
     
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  15. sds1

    sds1 Tele-Afflicted

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    Carlos Santana resembles this remark.
     
  16. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    I love how many times he refers to creating or leaving space.
    One of the most difficult concepts for many musicians to grasp, IMO.
     
  17. Ron R

    Ron R Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    The way I read it, it just ties in with his whole concept of playing deliberately. He's referring to guys meshing as a band, so in others words, "don't play just for the sake of playing something; if it's not adding to and furthering the music, just leave.... wait for it.... space"
     
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  18. EsquireBoy

    EsquireBoy Friend of Leo's

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    The way I understand what he meant is: play what you hear in your head, and if you do not hear anything inside, remain silent on your instrument. Which would go along with point #8, since playing patterns is quite the opposite of playing what you hear or feel deep inside.
     
  19. Hari Seldon

    Hari Seldon Tele-Meister

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    Music is communication. If you don't have something to say, don't talk.

    What he says is mostly for playing solos. With pattern oriented or arranged music it's different.

    In Rock etc. solos are almost always without any melodic connection to the song. In Jazz etc. a solo should reflect the melody, mood etc. of the song. It should offer variations and interpretations of the material. That's the opposite of licks, patterns and noodling that are common with Rock, Blooze etc. players.

    Not to be misunderstood: A flashy solo like in Van Halen's "jump" is a great thing. But it's no noodling, either. Corea would be the first to like it.
     
  20. Texicaster

    Texicaster Friend of Leo's

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    Seems to me Return to Forever broke most of these rules!

    ....to good effect!
     
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