Thinkin'

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by Larry F, Oct 26, 2013.

  1. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    The concept of thinking while you play comes up a lot in this forum. For the most part, my conscious thinking is before and after the fact. I use thinking to understand how chords work, etc. After the gig, I use thinking to understand what I did well and what I stumbled on. Actually, I do worse than stumble: I avoid things that have a high likelihood of making me stumble. That is a terrible thing to do, as it suppresses creativity.

    I used to play a lot of rhythm in different genres: blues, rock/pop songs, big-band Freddie Green style, and small ensemble comping. I had a lot of reflexes back then, but not so much now. Whenever I do pick up my guitar and just dork around with diatonic chords, my ear and brain are in sync. However, there is one move that sometimes stumps me for a second. In classical music theory and analysis, they call it V/V, or five of five, or a secondary dominant. In C major, that would be something like: C Am D G. The D major is not in the key of C, but it is in the key of G. More significantly, it is the dominant of the key of G. You could say that in D G, you have modulated from the key of C to the key of G. But, usually something as local as this, it wouldn't be right to think that we are in a new key. rather, all we did was tonicize the G. To tonicize something is to give it a stronger emphasis. To modulate, you need to stay in G for a little while, usually playing D G not once, but twice. The second time would be called a confirmation of the new key. In the classical tradition, confirmation is necessary if you are playing in the new key.

    Anyway, when I pick up my guitar and just idly strum some chords, sometimes I will hear (or pre-hear) a secondary dominant. For some reason, probably because I play so little rhythm nowadays (please, please, please don't chastise me; I've played as much rhythm as anyone in the forum, I'd bet, just not now), when I hear the secondary dominant, I hear it as V/V but not as D, when I am in the key of C. This means that I hear the function of what is coming up, but I don't reflexively play the D chord. Instead, I quickly ask myself what the dominant of G is, then play that. I literally have to think it through like this. If the tempo were really fast, I would stumble (or avoid). Now, I am a pretty fast thinker in terms of theory, but I'm not fast enough to pull this off at fast tempos. The solution is easy: just make up some exercises and play them for a few days. Then I'll have it. I just think this is interesting and thought I would share it.

    In my jazz days, we would communicate chords onstage using roman numerals, not literal chords. I would have to get back up to speed if I wanted to play jazz again.
     
  2. getbent

    getbent Telefied Ad Free Member

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    our bass player is a really really fine player and he tells me he gets a kick out of playing with me because he says my sense of humor (which he enjoys) comes through in my playing.. he claims that in my soloing, I tell jokes and poke fun and have fun and express that kind of stuff... I kind of know what he means, I do think of little 'homages' or 'funny' bends or timing (not hokey, but, hopefully, subtle) anyway, I guess I do kind of think ahead and in response to things I hear.

    Our keyboard player has been down with vertigo for 6 weeks, so, I have had to solo like crazy.. and to keep it interesting, I go through all kinds of thematic ideas..

    Our current rythmn guy is kind of a washing machine type player (not a compliment) so, lots of rhy ideas I use are horn stab type ideas or something to provide some kind of punctuation... he is like a friggin faulkner sentence...

    I keep learning and reminding myself, in a band context--> fewer strings, smaller chords, add complexity where it provides sweetness or sass.
     
  3. B.G.

    B.G. Tele-Meister

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    Not sure if it's quite the same conversation you're trying to start here, but I've noticed a trick my ears and brain play on me sometimes.
    When in a minor key, and there's an i/VI chord transition, my brain retroactively treats the minor tonic as major. Not the best explanation there, but I guess I just like the sound of a b6 over the major chord in that situation.
     
  4. raito

    raito Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

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    I run into the V/V in the context of the more sophisticated doo-wop stuff. Instead of the usual IV-V! OReven ii-V, some groups throw in that major chord.
     
  5. Axis29

    Axis29 Poster Extraordinaire Ad Free Member

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    Thinking? Yeah, If I start thinking on the bandstand... it's too late and I'm dun fer.

    I used to think all the time... Because I wasn't familiar enough with my instrument or the sounds I was trying to make. And I always sounded boring and slow, and just kinda plain.

    The way I think these days is more about what I'll do in the next twelve bars to make them sound different than what I'm currently playing... Next time around it'll be faster or on a different pickup, or major instead of minor, more syncopated, etc.

    As I illustrate regularly in my playing and in my interactions here on the board, my music education is limited. My knowledge is pretty basic. But, I'm getting better, making progress all the time. And, the more progress I make, the more I am comfortable playing and the more I hear without thinking. But, i try not to educate myself WHILE playing on stage. Like Larry mentions, I do a lot of after-action-analyzation. I do think when I'm at home 'noodling' (we could call it practicing, but it's rarely all that focused! LOL). I am always trying to figure out what and why.
     
  6. Joefish

    Joefish Tele-Afflicted

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    edit/attempt at humor
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2013
  7. Larry F

    Larry F Doctor of Teleocity Vendor Member

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    Absolutely, that's where it comes from. In classical theory, ii and IV are sometimes called "pre-dominant," since the chord that usually follows is the dominant, V. By the same token, V/V is also followed by V. Now the IV, unlike ii, can also move to I, something they call a plagal cadence ("amen"). If you really want to strengthen the drive from I to IV, you can use V7/IV IV. In C major, this would be C7 F. But that is another move that I feel queasy with. Nothing to do with it being off or weird, it just gives me a yucky feeling.

    Thinking of root movement by 5ths, here is a good exercise for the ears:

    I IV viio iii vi ii V I. The IV viio is a flat 5th (or is it a raised 4th?), so doesn't perfectly fit the pattern.

    Here's a question for the jazz chord guys: do you do much thinking while comping?
     
  8. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    That's 4th motion to me - forward 4th motion. b5 or #4 doesn't matter - it's the pattern diatonically.

    As for thinking while comping. Sure, in as much as 'hey, this'll add some interest when we get to the bridge' or 'Im gonna play this tune at least five times through - what are my options, where would I maybe like to try to take it?'

    As it is with soloing you have a vocabulary. The nature of the band - skill level, instrumentation, etc. all play in to what comes out. Real jazz comping is improvised to a large extent. Not necessarily making up new voicings (though sometimes for sure) but rhythmically responding to the rest of the band (and soloist) being careful and hopefully creative with your voice leading and chord density, etc. It 'should' be improv. Not a forced type of thinking but a flow of ideas generated and influenced by what's going on at the moment. That's where a big chordal vocabulary as well as a decent knowledge of harmony comes in handy.

    *This all sort of speaks to BGs (rhythm/lead) post.
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2013
  9. slowpinky

    slowpinky Tele-Afflicted

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    +1 Even though you maybe improvising an arrangement of an accompaniment , it still should have all the hallmarks of a good arrangement, including voice leading, counter melody and texture. Not only does it mean having a wide range of voicings to draw on, but also the ability to move between them and understand the various functions that each voicing is capable of fulfilling. Jim Hall had a great chord vocab, and was a great chunka chunka rhythm player too - but his understanding of how to use a few choice voicings in a variety of ways was what really inspired me.

    Also - Ted Greene's chordal stuff. Tim Lerch's vid of the G blues progression says it all. Its all there.

    NB - Alot of thinking goes into how these work and forging new solutions - but I cant really 'think' in that way when Im playing. I have to have those things at a gestural level otherwise I tend to drag or play out of time. Sometimes I can think 'in time' - which are always ah-ha! moments for me..when I seem to 'get' the whole of the music in the moment.
    But most neuro scientists would insist that this is primarily intuitive action, as opposed to an abstract decision - and some stuff I've been learning about the brain recently bears this out.
    __________________
     
  10. upinthemteles

    upinthemteles Tele-Meister

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    How is the V/V different from a II (ii) chord? You could say that a ii chord should be minor and a V/V is dominant but in the jazz idiom at least you can do whatever you want to that II (ii) if it's before a V. Make it a dominant #9 chord, keep it minor, play a tritone sub, whatever.

    Is the V/V distinction versus a ii more important in doo-wop or country or something?

    Edit: I guess one important distinction would be when moving to a new key, like Larry said in his original post. So classical music might use it more

    As a side note, I recently decided to start working on my "bachompianant", that is comping using Bach (baroque?) language. Similar to what Ted Greene did sometimes. I really like how Bach moves chords around and has little dyads and triads interspersed with single notes. I can't read this kind of music in time (or out), so I'm trying to learn some of the language by reading tab. http://www.classtab.org/

    Do you guys think I'll get as much out of it by reading tab? I'm still trying to analyze how he moves from chord to chord and frequent chord changes.
     
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2013
  11. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Jazzers, even when it's used as a modulation/pivot chord will still usually call it a II chord - because it's so prevalent in the repertoire.

    As for the TAB thing with Bach - ?
    Fine for just 'playing' it but not really for learning why. Notationally being able to see the motion and the linearity of it really helps in true understanding
     
  12. upinthemteles

    upinthemteles Tele-Meister

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    Yeah, that's what I was afraid of. I'm at the point where I can figure out single note melodies from the real book, but can't sight read them or anything. I'm been doing some reading is david becker's bebop volume too. Should I just bite the bullet and start working on my three note chord reading? Maybe some bach chorals... I think that's what people suggest. I have Ted Greene's chord chemistry so I'll start with his arrangement of O Come All Ye Faithful on page 83. Any tips for reading three note chords? I guess the trick is to recognize chord shapes like major and sus4 chords on the staff?
     
  13. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Look at the top note first.
    Then top and bottom ... then the 3 together.
    And go slowly - it's takes a while to be able to 'read' 3 voices.
    This is what I do when I need to read that stuff - (time permitting) I'll analyze the chords and put the letter names above them and the bass note i.e., A/C# or A/3.

    *If I'm 'actually' sight-reading 3 part ... on a gig ... I'll just read the top line and make sure that I at least get that right. Maybe grab some of the lower voices that I'm sure about.
     
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