[Dixielandjazz] Re: Speaking of classics

LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing sign.guy at charter.net
Fri Oct 15 21:20:31 PDT 2004

Thanks for the complement but it's not quite the same.  I wish I had the
talent to compose tunes that others would like.  It's a talent that sadly I
never really tried to develop even though I got good grades in college in
composition and theory etc.  My talent was that I could put meaning into a
tune not only with improvisation but with I hope some taste.  Some composers
are nowhere as musicians and some are really good.  I never really tried
arranging because I lacked skill on the piano.  Enter the computer and I've
started arranging.  I can now hear what I've written.  Nothing much but I'm
happy with them.   I have been playing them with my band and they work. So
if it's something you haven't tried go for it.  Like improv - tear yourself
away from the paper.  Yes YOU WILL MAKE MISTAKES.  So what get over it.
Music is God's way to tell us we aren't perfect.

So start with the melody and add a few things.  Keep it simple.  Pretend you
are a Piano player and you are accompanying you.  Put in the fill tones that
the piano would usually at the end of phrases instead of the long notes.
All of a sudden you will be playing solos that sound good and as you gain
skill and a little knowledge you will be able to improvise well.  It doesn't
have to be great or the fastest or anything else.  ask yourself.  did I like
it?  did it sound good to me? and then did it feel good.

You know improvisation produces a high that's very akin to a drug.  I go
into an almost trance like state where I don't feel the horn or my fingers
or know what's going on around me.  It's me and the sound and I'm somewhere
else. It's like Alice going through the looking glass.   My body and horn
are here but I'm not.  After a gig the adrenalin is up and I play hell going
to sleep.  I'm up till three or four in the morning sometimes after a gig
and I don't smoke , drink or use drugs.  I don't have to, Music does it.

Taking that step is everything.  Don't let the other guy intimidate you or
make you feel less.  One time I had a solo (lead tenor in an USAF big band}
and Jamey Ambersold was sitting in the front row not ten ft from me and I
played through an improv solo.  To this day I don't remember what I played
but he came up and complemented me and after that I've been able to stand up
in front of anyone and just blow.  He may just have been being nice but
being able to do it was the hurdle.

I used to play guitar and one thing I noted about guitar players was they
were always saying show me that chord or lick.  Horn players should do that
too. but we don't for some reason.
----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Dan Augustine" <ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu>
To: "DJML" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
Sent: Friday, October 15, 2004 8:31 PM
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Re: Speaking of classics

> Larry--
>      Gotta say it, man, but you have been making a lot of sense ever
> since you started posting.  To my mind, what you say is right on.
>      When a composer sits down at the piano and tinkles out a few
> tentative chords and melodies to with them, is that great art?  No.
> He's creating a universe of discourse, in which one of the threads is
> his idea.  If that universe of discourse (e.g., the chord-structure)
> existed already, he would merely be populating it with his
> expression, but that expression might be the best or the most
> appropriate one for that chord-structure.
>      Creation takes no time.  It's instantaneous. The composer sitting
> at his piano, or the jazz soloist standing up and starting to play,
> both of them are at square one musically.  Nothing exists yet.  They
> are going to create it right now.  It may be crap, it may be OK, it
> may be good, it may be great, it may be immortal.  No one knows until
> it happens.
>      An unknown number of 'great' composers over the last (say) 500
> years just write down what they tinkle out.  (Not a great image,
> sorry.)  The worst stuff Mozart tinkled out, Salieri would have
> killed to have done.
>      The IDEA is what counts.  Musical ideas may tax the greatest
> computers not yet invented to come up with the almost infinite
> possible ways of expressing a mood or an idea, which are at the heart
> of music.
>      And what Larry may be saying is that knowing the tune's
> chord-structure and playing linearly (i.e., composing on the spot)
> will result in a solo that (very much like those of Louis
> Armstrong's) is in no way inferior to what a composer sittig at a
> piano and thinking and playing around with a melody might compose.
>      All this from a tuba-player who can't improvise.  What does he know?
>      Dan
> --------------------------------------------------------------------------
> >From: "LARRY'S Signs and Large Format Printing" <sign.guy at charter.net>
> >To: "1-DIXIELAND JAZZ POST" <dixielandjazz at ml.islandnet.com>
> >Date: Fri, 15 Oct 2004 17:52:19 -0500
> >
> >Bill said:
> >The seductive thing about how he plays is that it's fast and complicated
> >sounds "skillful" - "Wow! That guy can PLAY!"  I'm trying to ignore that
> >siren call, though.
> >
> >I'm knee deep in guys like that. Because someone got the idea that
> >it was cool and they said hey! I can teach that.  Always use the
> >KISS principal.  Don't try to keep up with the other soloist.  You
> >will always lose if you play the other guys game.  By the way I
> >really don't like bebop very much.  It's a lot like getting in a car
> >and driving very fast and forgetting where you are going.  In real
> >life they lock you up for that, in music they say WOW!
> >
> >.Remember this if nothing else.  You can teach technique but you
> >can't teach art and lots of right notes put in the wrong place is
> >gibberish.
> >
> >Don't let those guys intimidate you.  Do what you can do well and
> >forget what the other guy did.  Think contrast.   I have heard young
> >players just fold up and not be able to do anything when a good
> >player is on the band.  Do your thing and be proud of it.  Tape
> >yourself and listen to it at least 10 times.  What would you do
> >different?  Was it in tune?  Was it what you wanted to say?  If the
> >answers are to get someone to say Wow or I did it perfect then you
> >should go study bebop, get really fast so you can tell everyone else
> >they suck.
> >
> >There is a guy in town that can technically play circles around me
> >and he gets a lot of wows.  I went to him once on a gig and told him
> >that I didn't understand his solos very much and I was thinking that
> >maybe I wasn't as knowledgeable as I thought.  Maybe he could help
> >me to understand what he was doing.  I told him I thought it sounded
> >like a lot of notes to me. He was pretty insulted by my questions
> >and went off in a huff.  I guess if you have to ask what Picasso was
> >saying you shouldn't probably ask.  My thought is, he really didn't
> >know what he is doing except he does it really quick.  I was
> >actually trying to understand his music.  The thing is I think I
> >really know what he's doing.
> >
> >Would you say wow if an athlete got a really fast start,  ran
> >quicker than anyone else,  looked good while he did it but was
> >running in the wrong direction?  Think about it.
> >
> >My thought is that a solo should have a starting point, a middle and
> >an end much like a good book to have any meaning.  Bebop and Jazz as
> >taught in schools today is like taking the book, cutting it up into
> >individual sentences, putting them in a box and drawing out the
> >slips.  You could say that each slip was a perfect thought and
> >conveyed a meaning and was complete within its self.  But if you
> >think you can make sense of it you are better than I am or on drugs
> >like the "Bird"
> >
> >Larry
> -- 
> **--------------------------------------------------------------------**
> **  Dan Augustine     Austin, Texas     ds.augustine at mail.utexas.edu  **
> **        "Luck is the residue of design."  --  Branch Rickey         **
> **--------------------------------------------------------------------**
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