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  #1  
Old 04-03-2014, 12:42 PM
stavrosdru stavrosdru is offline
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Default Jazz: Following the form questions

Hi guys, i'm kind of beginner at Jazz (i play drums for over 8 years, but jazz only the last 5-6 months), and i would like to know your opinions on keeping the form in jazz playing. How do you know where are you in the form of the song. Do you count bars, singing the melody, listen to the chord changes and the harmony? If you sing the melody, you sing it while other musicians are soloing too or only when you solo. If you do, how do you listen what the other players are doing? Also i would like to know how do you approach learning a jazz standard song and when you know that are you ready to play it on a jam night with trading fours and solo. Lets say i want to learn ''Take the A train''. I print it out of my realbook and take it to my drumset. What are the steps to learn it and be able to perform it live? Thanks a lot!!!
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  #2  
Old 04-03-2014, 02:47 PM
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8Mile 8Mile is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

As with most things, I don't think there's a single correct answer to this. Whatever works for you is good. Here's what I do:

When I'm supporting another soloist, depending on the instrumentation, I key in on the changes of the piano, or the bass. I find piano chords the easiest to follow, but you may not have a piano in the group. Assuming I'm playing with a good bunch of musicians, I find that once I know the form of the tune, I internalize it and it's easy for me to follow what the soloist is doing, like I'm taking that ride with him/her. If the soloist isn't a strong player, falling back on the bass or piano is always an option.

For soloing or trading fours, etc., I find that humming the head of the tune is the easiest way to follow the form. I don't actually have to hum it out loud, just in my head. Purely counting bars doesn't help me follow the form of the tune the same way. I want to consider the accents and the melodic structure. For instance, if it's a 12-bar blues, I may want to phrase in such a way that the changes are reflected.

The most important key, I would say, in getting on the band stand with Take The A Train, is lots of listening. Just get that form stuck in your head so you feel it and you're not thinking about it. Then when you play it live, you're playing from the heart rather than it being an intellectual or mathematical exercise.

Just my two cents.
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  #3  
Old 04-03-2014, 02:52 PM
adamosmianski adamosmianski is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

Wow, that's a massive question! Here's a few little things.

Very rarely do I count. 9 times out of 10 I'm singing the melody in my head. After you do this for quite a few year you'll just "feel" it on common forms like the blues. Being very aware of the chord changes is very important as well, though. Once the soloist is playing you want to be able to know exactly where you are by hearing the changes.

I do sing the melody others are soloing….sort of. I would say that I'm aware of the melody while soloists are playing. With experience you'll learn to listen to multiple things at once. I recommend starting by listening to a harmony instrument that is playing behind a soloist. For example, listen to the guitarist or pianist while the sax player is soloing. Far too many younger player listen way too hard to the soloist and fall into the habit of "Mickey Mousing", which means you hear the soloist play something and you play it back at him. This is pretty lame. You want to create a strong, connected foundation on which the soloist can work. So try locking in with the rhythm section first. While listening and playing with the rhythm section try to keep the melody in the back of your mind, and use it as source material in your comping. The same goes for soloing. Keep the melody in your mind and use it.

Here are some things to try when approaching a standard like A Train:

*LISTEN TO IT….A LOT. Find multiple recordings and listen to them.

*Play along with those recordings

*Turn the recording off, and with a metronome on 2 & 4 play while singing the melody out loud.

*Play without singing the melody aloud, but sing it in your head.

*Try playing the melody on the kit. Don't stress too much about actual pitches, but at least get the rhythms "right" and try to make it follow the shape of the line. As you get comfortable with this start to take liberties with the rhythm.

*Trade fours with yourself. Play time and sing the melody out loud for 4 bars, then solo for 4 bars

*Beyond reading the rhythms in the practice room I would try to ditch the chart. Listen and play it a lot and know it inside out. You're eventually going to have to know hundreds on standards and you don't want to be lugging around a book. You need to know the tunes.

Hope that helps. Good luck!
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  #4  
Old 04-03-2014, 02:54 PM
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

many ways to approach this

everyone is different ... I can only speak on what I do

mostly I feel bars .... not count.... feel ....

there is a certain point in a drummers playing ... or any musician ... where he /she should be able to feel 4s and 8s

if it is a ... say.... 32 bar AABA... then I just feel in groups of 8 bars loosely phrasing what I am playing in groups of 8 playing melodies on the ride cymbal

if it is a 12 bar form I'll feel groups of 4 using the same concept

in uptempo tunes I tend to sing the melody more ...."sing the melody" is sort of an overstatement......I kind of just know where in the melody I am ...... and yes through solos .... mostly in uptempo stuff 280 or 300 + .... my comps are more based on the melody than accompanying to soloist ....but you can really never go wrong comping off a melody because it is the root of what everyone is playing so you will always be in the vein

as for trading 4s and 8s or whatever.... that is the most fun... it is your time to really express and it is nice to have a set amount of time to say what you want to say and do your part in that conversation .

remember it is a conversation ... so if a sax player says to you ...."hey I went to the store and bought some bread"..... don't respond.... "thank you my shoes are Alligator" .... ya dig ?

stay in the conversation .... sometimes another players 4 will sound to me like they are telling a joke and my response will be the way I respond to the joke ....its all about the personality of the player you are trading with.
some trade like a battle.... thats not my thing ... I like to keep in conversational

standards .... easy... just know the melody and you are good....

you mentioned Take the A train....know that melody ... sing it in your head while you are walking down the street
simple AABA 32 bar form .... so feel those groups of 8 and swing your tail off

the jam nights.... best thing to do is jump in the fire.... but I know thats not always comfortable

if you have some friends you can jam with just to get comfortable and see where you stand in a less exposed environment then do so .... it will take the edge off

confidence is a huge part of this music we play .... and being confident enough to express what you are feeling at that very moment.

if you are not confident your quarter note will rat on you to the rest of the band.... trust me !

grab John Rileys books,
grab John Ramsays Alan Dawson book
grab Danny Gotliebs Evolution of jazz drumming

and grab as many jazz recordings as you possibly can and LISTEN LISTEN LISTEN

then listen some more.... and when you are done.... listen more

as Joe Porcaro used to yell to me every time I walked in the door then again when I walked out.... "Big Ears!!!!!!"

have fun my brother
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  #5  
Old 04-03-2014, 04:27 PM
toddbishop toddbishop is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

Quote:
Originally Posted by stavrosdru View Post
How do you know where are you in the form of the song. Do you count bars, singing the melody, listen to the chord changes and the harmony? If you sing the melody, you sing it while other musicians are soloing too or only when you solo. If you do, how do you listen what the other players are doing?
You don't sing it, you hear it-- you know the tune well enough that you don't have to actively keep track of it. You also have to know the standard forms well enough that you can know where you are with minimal thought. To do that, you just have to listen to a lot of recordings, play a lot, and listen while you play. Probably as a prerequisite you need to know how to play in 4 and 8 measures phrases unaccompanied without getting lost-- that's something you should be practicing.

Quote:
Also i would like to know how do you approach learning a jazz standard song and when you know that are you ready to play it on a jam night with trading fours and solo. Lets say i want to learn ''Take the A train''. I print it out of my realbook and take it to my drumset. What are the steps to learn it and be able to perform it live? Thanks a lot!!!
Usually if you can play a jazz time feel you're good to go-- learning new tunes on the spot without music and without preparation is sort of the way it's done. The first time through you just listen to the tune, try to figure out the form, and listen for any figures or stops you should be catching. Like if you play I Let A Song Go Out Of My Heart one time, you know it, and it's impossible to screw it up-- a lot of them are like that. Some of them are not so distinctive, so you have to know how to play generically over, say, a 32 bar form. Others are too hard/idiosyncratic to figure out by just playing them, and you say to yourself "I probably could've used a chart on that one", and you go home and listen to it a lot, and memorize what's weird about it, so you know it the next time it comes up.
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  #6  
Old 04-03-2014, 10:05 PM
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

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Originally Posted by adamosmianski View Post
Far too many younger player listen way too hard to the soloist and fall into the habit of "Mickey Mousing", which means you hear the soloist play something and you play it back at him. This is pretty lame. You want to create a strong, connected foundation on which the soloist can work.
Could you explain this a bit more? I thought that was a valid way of communicating on the bandstand. Taking a part of a soloist's lick, reinterpreting it, and responding with it. John Riley even mentioned this on his Master Drummer DVD.

Is this not a "correct" thing to do?
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Old 04-03-2014, 10:11 PM
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

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Originally Posted by brady View Post
Could you explain this a bit more? I thought that was a valid way of communicating on the bandstand. Taking a part of a soloist's lick, reinterpreting it, and responding with it. John Riley even mentioned this on his Master Drummer DVD.

Is this not a "correct" thing to do?
Peter Erskine talked about "Mickey Mouseing" quite a bit when I studied with him

he described it as .... if the melody plays da dida diddlyda the drummer would play ba booba bibbidyba

pretty much what you hear in most middle school jazz band performances

there is a stylish way to do something like this.... like what Mr. Riley describes .... then there is the "Mickey Mouse" way

very hard to describe without you being able to hear what I am saying

ok....I'm done type scatting
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Old 04-03-2014, 11:20 PM
eddypierce eddypierce is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

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Originally Posted by WhoIsTony? View Post
Peter Erskine talked about "Mickey Mouseing" quite a bit when I studied with him

he described it as .... if the melody plays da dida diddlyda the drummer would play ba booba bibbidyba

pretty much what you hear in most middle school jazz band performances

there is a stylish way to do something like this.... like what Mr. Riley describes .... then there is the "Mickey Mouse" way

very hard to describe without you being able to hear what I am saying

ok....I'm done type scatting
This topic reminds me of something Bob Moses says in his book Drum Wisdom (I'm paraphrasing from memory, so I hope I don't misrepresent his words). He says that our primary job as drummers when backing a soloist is not to interact with/respond to what the soloist does, but rather to provide the foundation for the soloist--creating a swinging, solid time feel, and helping outline the form with the rest of the rhythm section. Obviously, this doesn't preclude a drummer from interacting with the soloist, but it shouldn't be the primary concern, and it definitely shouldn't be done if it causes the drummer to lose focus on outlining the form. Moses even says that we may need to NOT listen to the soloist if doing so causes us to lose our concentration on the form.

I've definitely done my share of "Mickey Mousing" in my time (and perhaps I still do it too much), so I understand the impulse. There are a variety of ways to interact conversationally with other musicians in a jazz group, and I think there are various levels of sophistication that can be employed in doing so. Perhaps the kind of mimicking referred to by Adam is analogous to having a conversation with someone in which you simply repeat everything he or she says to you. That would be pretty lame. But we can still have a musical conversation with other players at a more sophisticated (and thus more interesting/rewarding) level. That doesn't mean that repeating some licks back at the soloist can't be highly effective every once in a while, but we have to be careful to pick the few moments where it's a musically astute choice, and not just do it all the time to show that we can.

Last edited by eddypierce; 04-04-2014 at 12:13 AM.
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  #9  
Old 04-04-2014, 12:07 AM
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

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Originally Posted by eddypierce View Post
This topic reminds me of something Bob Moses says in his book Drum Wisdom (I'm paraphrasing from memory, so I hope I don't misrepresent his words). He says that our primary job as drummers when backing a soloist is not to interact with/respond to what the soloist does, but rather to provide the foundation for the soloist--creating a swinging, solid time feel, and helping outline the form with the rest of the rhythm section. Obviously, this doesn't preclude a drummer from interacting with the soloist, but it shouldn't be the primary concern, and it definitely shouldn't be done if it causes the drummer to lose focus on outlining the form. Moses even says that we may need to NOT listen to the soloist if doing so causes us to lose our concentration on the form.

I've definitely done my share of "Mickey Mousing" in my time (and perhaps I still do it too much), so I understand the impulse. There are a variety of ways to interact conversationally with other musicians in a jazz group, and I think there are various levels of sophistication that can be employed in doing so. Perhaps the kind of mimicking referred to by Adam is analogous to having a conversation with someone in which you simply repeat everything he or she says to you. That would be a pretty lame. But we can still have a musical conversation with other players at a more sophisticated (and thus more interesting/rewarding) level. That doesn't mean that repeating some licks back at the soloist can't be highly effective every once in a while, but we have to be careful to pick the few moments where it's a musically astute choice, and not just do it all the time to show that we can.
let me first say that I absolutely LOVE that book and that I LOVE Bob Moses !!!!

and I definitely remember the part of the book where he said you may need to NOT listen to the soloist and that sometimes he doesn't listen to the soloist at all .

that book was so ahead of it's time and the subject matter goes quite a bit against the grain compared to all the teachings that were out previously and at the time.

it did so much for that way I approach music today, the way I listen to music , and the way I respond to music

such an organic undertone to everything he says in it and it all made perfect sense to me


..... and I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said in your post
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Old 04-04-2014, 05:45 AM
julius julius is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

This is probably the least useful thing ever, but I was a Lindy Hopper for fifteen years before ever taking up drums. Turns out dancing to swing music really, really helped me learn to feel where I am in a song.

You don't have to take up dancing of course ... I just happened to do what everyone else has suggested: listen intensively to the music until it's internalized, instinctive.

The most interesting part about it is that I get lost in later jazz even though it might be a standard 32 bar form simply because that style isn't really played for dancers. I got some more listening to do!
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Old 04-04-2014, 06:43 AM
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

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Originally Posted by stavrosdru View Post
Hi guys, i'm kind of beginner at Jazz (i play drums for over 8 years, but jazz only the last 5-6 months), and i would like to know your opinions on keeping the form in jazz playing. How do you know where are you in the form of the song.
You know this by knowing the structure of the song. Here's a jazz song, there are two parts of it:

A - 8 measures
B - 8 measures

Most of the time, the A section is played twice. That makes 16 measures.

Most of the time, the B section follows, and that's played once. So there's 8 bars after the repeated A section.

Then, most of the time, the A section is played one more time. So there's 8 bars after the B section.

This gives us four parts, and that's the structure of the tune: AABA. So the structure of the song, the form of the song, comprises 32 measures.

If the song isn't in the AABA form, which 90% of the jazz canon is, then obviously this does not apply,
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Old 04-05-2014, 01:26 AM
adamosmianski adamosmianski is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

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Originally Posted by brady View Post
Could you explain this a bit more? I thought that was a valid way of communicating on the bandstand. Taking a part of a soloist's lick, reinterpreting it, and responding with it. John Riley even mentioned this on his Master Drummer DVD.

Is this not a "correct" thing to do?
Looks like there is already a few great answers to this below….

It's not that it isn't "correct". There's certainly nothing wrong with it. It's just not very tasteful. You can interact with the rhythm section and "respond" to soloists in a more subtle way. The guys below gave some great analogies. Think of it like a conversation. If someone said to you, "I read a great book", Mickey Mousing would be akin you responding with, "Yeah, I read a great book too"; rather than, say, "Oh really, what was it about?" You're trying to create an intelligent conversation, not meaningless banter.

I don't want to knock Mickey Mousing completely. It can be a good place to start in regards to learning to interact, but it can be over used and become a bad habit VERY quickly. It took me awhile to shake it.

Another good place to start to avoid Mickey Mousing is to punctuate. Rather than playing back what you just heard think about finishing the soloists sentence for him, or adding an AMEN. To "type scat" like Tony…. If the soloist says boobeedoobeedoobadi, you could just say BAP BAP BAP!
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Old 04-05-2014, 02:03 AM
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8Mile 8Mile is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

I don't have much to add that hasn't been said already. I would just say that Mickey Mousing is considered corny when it's overdone. The same way constant quarter notes on the bass drum in jazz sounds corny (not talking about feathering, which is cool). It's okay to mimic a phrase now and then, but just don't do it constantly.

It's funny to say it, but the line between incredibly hip and incredibly corny is pretty fine. Jazz is just that way.
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Old 04-05-2014, 08:28 AM
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

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Originally Posted by adamosmianski View Post
Looks like there is already a few great answers to this below….

It's not that it isn't "correct". There's certainly nothing wrong with it. It's just not very tasteful. You can interact with the rhythm section and "respond" to soloists in a more subtle way. The guys below gave some great analogies. Think of it like a conversation. If someone said to you, "I read a great book", Mickey Mousing would be akin you responding with, "Yeah, I read a great book too"; rather than, say, "Oh really, what was it about?" You're trying to create an intelligent conversation, not meaningless banter.

I don't want to knock Mickey Mousing completely. It can be a good place to start in regards to learning to interact, but it can be over used and become a bad habit VERY quickly. It took me awhile to shake it.

Another good place to start to avoid Mickey Mousing is to punctuate. Rather than playing back what you just heard think about finishing the soloists sentence for him, or adding an AMEN. To "type scat" like Tony…. If the soloist says boobeedoobeedoobadi, you could just say BAP BAP BAP!
That makes things pretty clear.

Yeah, I don't parrot phrases back to the soloist when trading fours, but I do pick up on a bit of a lick that catches my ear and try to play with it.

Like say the word "book" in your analogy, I would pick up on that and respond with something like, "I like to read books too. What was it about?"

I don't try to, nor have I ever that I recall, tried to repeat an entire phrase back to someone. I agree, that would sound corny.
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Old 04-05-2014, 06:05 PM
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

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Originally Posted by con struct View Post
You know this by knowing the structure of the song. Here's a jazz song, there are two parts of it:

A - 8 measures
B - 8 measures

Most of the time, the A section is played twice. That makes 16 measures.

Most of the time, the B section follows, and that's played once. So there's 8 bars after the repeated A section.

Then, most of the time, the A section is played one more time. So there's 8 bars after the B section.

This gives us four parts, and that's the structure of the tune: AABA. So the structure of the song, the form of the song, comprises 32 measures.

If the song isn't in the AABA form, which 90% of the jazz canon is, then obviously this does not apply,
J, love the clarity of your answers.
I don't play jazz but would like to start some time. Nice to know 90% is in the AABA form.
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Old 04-06-2014, 01:09 AM
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Anon La Ply Anon La Ply is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

Great talk. I'm going to take the round ears off next jam.
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Old 04-08-2014, 09:33 AM
stavrosdru stavrosdru is offline
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Default Re: Jazz: Following the form questions

Thanks guys, you are really helpful. Thanks
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