Help with improving jazz vocabulary?

Number Two

Junior Member
Some days, I feel like I'm tired of practicing after only a little bit (maybe 40min, or so) because I realize that I'm just playing the same crap over and over. I get frustrated because no matter how much my skill improves, my creativity suffers horribly for reasons that escape me. I'd really appreciate some advice on how to make it so that my fills don't get stale and my comping doesn't get too repetitive.
 

Steamer

Platinum Member
Get out and play with as many folks as possible and don't "think" about your chops or fills per se seperately but let the listening process within the music {call and response on the spot with other musicians} release some new ideas for you is my advice.

This gets to the heart of this improvised based music and what makes it fun and fresh...... communicating ideas back and forth on the spot with others.
 
Peter Erskine has a great book with a CD. It's called " Essential Drum Fills ".
It has play a longs, transcriptions and drum charts and over 500 fills.
It will absolutely get you out of your rut. Best $14.95 I ever spent. Good Luck
 

branflakes992

Senior Member
Dude, don't buy a bunch of books like I did. Transcribing is the way to go. It's the only way you will get better and if you can't notate drum music learn how.
 

jazzin'

Silver Member
Get out and play with as many folks as possible and don't "think" about your chops or fills per se seperately but let the listening process within the music {call and response on the spot with other musicians} release some new ideas for you is my advice.

This gets to the heart of this improvised based music and what makes it fun and fresh...... communicating ideas back and forth on the spot with others.
This. Unless you are playing with other guys a lot, you can practice forever and you won't see the greatest improvement. You have to be playing with people and listening to all the great records to hear what you are doing and they are doing. A lot of it will naturally come out in your playing if you are doing it with other guys in a band.

Stick with simple ideas if you are struggling. Go back to the basics and make sure your technique is there. After that, it's all about playing with people. Also, start learning tunes. Build up as large a repetoire as possible. Learn all the main standards and sing them to yourself as you improvise with comping and with soloing.

Practice all your licks, fills, comping stuff, technique etc etc etc etc etc etc. After you have done that, move into trying to improvise with that stuff that you have just practiced. Unless you practice improvising with what you have just been learning it will not happen in your playing. You have to make those new things natural to yourself and to be honest, 40 minutes is not much time to do that. You should focus on one new fill, lick, comping rhythm, whatever in one practice session. Work it up properly then spend time improvising in lots of ways with it. This way, you will start using it in your every day playing.

Start playing with other people though!
 

JoeLackey

Senior Member
I would pretty much do what the other guys on here are saying - buy books. That will give you new ideas and inspiration.
 

Stefan Brodsky

Senior Member
Sometimes it helps to vary one's repertoire, e.g. don't just play jazz all the time. Found that to be the case when I played lots of jazz. More of an R & B guy, now anyway, but it doesn't hurt to play other material, particularly while practicing.
 

groovemaster_flex

Silver Member
I often ran into the same problem while practicing jazz.

In one of my classes at university (Vocal Workshop, I was in the accompanying trio), the professor gave the singers a list of "vocable rhythms" to practice. They were basically various one bar ostinatos to scat with, to practice the ups, downs, longs, and shorts of different rhythmic figures.

I copied out all 12 versions and their 15 variations and started to practice that.

Basically, what you want to do is take the different combinations of triplets, quarter notes, 8th notes, the ups and downs, staccatos and legatos, and practice them. Think of the downbeats as, well, downs, and the upbeats as ups.

So, without the music, just try comping a phrase like:

up up down down

which works out to 1 (+) 2 (+) (3) + (4) +, you playing the bracketed notes.

Another great comping primer that I got from jazz drummer Anthony Michelli was the triplet. Try out various combinations of triplets between snare and bass while you play a basic swing pattern on the ride and 2 and 4 on the snare.

Some of them include:

BSS BSS
BSB SBS
SBS BSB
BBS BBS
SSB SSB
SBB SBB

Then try playing them as quarter note triplets.

As far as fills go, take basic rudiments, and shift the accents around. Play the accents on the toms, left on the rack and right on the floor.

So... a paradiddle for instance, play the accents like Rlrr lRll. It immediately becomes a totally different feel. Take your basic rudiments and drop out the left hand for a bass.

Explore your options, they're totally endless, you just gotta get creative.
 

Unevil

Member
As far as what I do for creativity--I either listen to music that is a similar style to what I am attempting and see if there are any interesting things that I would not think of myself. My other way to get creative stuff is I will just jam with one of my friends who happens to rock out the keyboard, and we just make a bunch of random (but cool) sounding stuff up together...I think the latter works best for me...I would definitely recommend just listening to stuff, though--if you run into something that you notice out of a bunch of "standard" fills, then others would probably notice it too... at that point, you can either look up the tabs/music for that song and refer to them or just go by ear if you can do that. Hope I helped a little bit =P.
 
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