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Thread: So, I've been listening to a lot Rippingtons, Toto, etc

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    Axeaholic itsallintheblues's Avatar
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    So, I've been listening to a lot Rippingtons, Toto, etc

    I never touched anything about jazz before. I dont know why, I think its so much harder than the "feel" of blues. but Im not that good in blues either. I feel stuck in my technique.

    anyway, where do I start if I want to be able to play dynamically like those bands above? Do I need to learn jazz chords? whats the scale most jazz players use? so far I've only touched Major and Minor Pentatonic, and I havent even mastered it.

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    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
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    Jamey Aebersold teaches to get comfortable with three modes of the major scale:
    Ionian (which is a major scale, starting on the first note of the scale)
    Dorian (which is a major scale, starting on the second note of the scale)
    Mixolydian (which is a major scale, starting on the fifth note of the scale)

    Are you familiar with the song "Doe a Deer" from The Sound of Music? It was a very powerful piece to teach the major scale to countless children the world over.
    Do you have access to a piano-type keyboard? Maybe at church if not at home? Spend some time with the piano or whatever keyboard you can get access to. I keep a little $30 Casio handy for things like this.

    Play a C major scale. Preferably on the piano (because it is all white keys), but on guitar if no keyboard is available.
    Play one octave: C D E F G A B C
    Any position that is comfortable. Play it over and over until you are sick of it. Walk around singing it all day.

    When you have had enough of the C major scale (which is the Ionian mode), spend some time with the Dorian mode. Since it is a C major scale starting on D, the notes will be: D E F G A B C D
    Again, until you are sick of it. Or rather, until you know it and can sing it when you are away from an instrument.

    Now do the same with the Mixolydian mode:
    G A B C D E F G

    Once you are comfortable with these three modes (which are really just the major scale, starting on different notes), you can learn to apply them to "two-five-one" progressions, which are extremely common in jazz tunes, especially the standards. Some jazz tunes are more or less just a string of 2-5-1 progressions in different keys.

    In answer to your question "Do I need to learn jazz chords?", start with the 2-5-1 progression. Do not bother trying to learn #9 chords and 13 chords until you are really comfortable with the 2-5-1 chords, in several keys at least.

    The 2-5-1 progression in the key of C is: Dm7-G7-C

    (The funny thing about the 2-5-1 progression is that, a few years ago, when I embarked on the road you are considering, 2-5-1 was mentioned everywhere I looked. Every jazz tutorial video I watched, whether it was a guitar player, a horn player, or a piano player - they all said the 2-5-1 was extremely important. And it wasn't until my ears and eyes were familiar with it that I started to see it everywhere - just about every jazz standard chord chart I see has it, and I can hear it in the changes of a jazz tune, where I could not before. So I will repeat what all those folks said before me, and which fell on my deaf ears at the time - 2-5-1 is extremely important for any student of jazz, because it is everywhere.)

    The whole point of learning different scales and modes to play jazz is to be able to express musical ideas over (sometimes difficult) chord changes. Sometimes the ideas we hear in our head are inspired by things we have heard from other players, so it helps a lot if we know the language (scales and modes) that those players use. Using non-jazz players to explain this, if you know your minor pentatonic scale, and the blues scale (minor pentatonic with an added flatted fifth), then you can tackle 60s Clapton solos with a head-start. If you know the major pentatonic and major blues scale (major pentatonic with an added raised second), you can more easily learn country solos. And if you know the harmonic minor scale (and you can slow down recordings), you can learn Yngwie Malmsteen solos and even some gypsy jazz!

    As far as playing dynamically, that depends on what you mean. Playing dynamically, to me, means playing with varying amounts of volume, from soft to loud, and having the control to change that in a moment. But I am guessing that you mean that you want to be able to play with the energy that the Rippingtons and Toto play with - like a dynamo or dynamite! I think that we can all play with that kind of energy when we are playing a musical style that we are comfortable with, at a tempo that we are comfortable with. I would say that CCR played with a lot of energy, but their music did not have the technical demands that the Rippingtons music has. Being aware of this tells us just how great the players in the Rippingtons and Toto are.

    Take your time with this. (Take your time with all of the things you will learn in this journey of musical knowledge.)
    These modes are just baby-steps in the journey of jazz knowledge, yet they are part of the vocabulary. And jazz and blues are cousins - jazz vocabulary sounds great over blues changes! Your blues playing will improve from your jazz studies.

    Blues, if you let me know when you have worked through the stuff I have put here, I will add more scales, modes and chords. I can also suggest books and blogs if you want to dig in.

    There is no magical scale or chord that will make this easy to learn in a day or a week.
    Jazz is a big beautiful onion that you will have to peel. And sometimes it will make you cry.
    But it is a sweet onion.
    Last edited by doublewah; 10-13-2016 at 12:50 AM.
    I bought a relic'd guitar because I liked the way it sounded. Then I refinished it because I didn't like the way it looked.

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    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
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    Something to add about those three modes...

    Alternate between playing the modes and their "parent" pentatonic scale. Here's what I mean:

    The C major pentatonic scale is: C D E G A C
    The C Ionian mode is: C D E F G A B C
    So go back and forth between the 5 note major pentatonic scale and 7 note Ionian mode (we do not count to repeated octave note when counting the notes in a scale). The Ionian mode is merely a major pentatonic scale with added natural 4 and 7 (the F and B).

    Likewise with the Mixolydian mode. It is a major pentatonic scale with added natural 4 and flatted 7. Since C major's Mixolydian mode starts on G, the 4 and flat 7 are C and F.
    The G major pentatonic scale is: G A B D E G
    The G Mixolydian mode is: G A B C D E F G

    So now, for the Dorian mode, we are going to use the D Minor pentatonic scale.
    The D Minor pentatonic scale is: D F G A C D
    The D Dorian mode is: D E F G A B C D
    We have added the natural 2 and 6.

    So going back and forth between these modes and their parent pentatonics will really make lights go off in your head about what these modes are, and how you already know half of them!

    Also (especially when you are just learning these or any new scales or modes), do not just go from one mode to another. The whole point of learning a mode is not only to be able to play it effortlessly, but to be able to hear it when another player uses it, and to be able to hear it and recognize it in your head when you want to invent a musical phrase. So spend some time with one mode. An hour, a day, a week. Just focus on that one mode and what IT is. Then at another practice session, do another mode. You are trying to SEPARATE them in your mind, not jumble them all in there together.

    (I hope what I have written here does not sound contradictory. Playing a 7-note mode with it's 5-note pentatonic parent solidifies them both. Playing from one mode to another just makes the brain say, "So it's the major scale. So what?", in confusion.)
    I bought a relic'd guitar because I liked the way it sounded. Then I refinished it because I didn't like the way it looked.

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    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
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    DW covered the technical aspects very well so I will cover the other side of this.

    I know Toto from back in the 80's and I would hardly call them a jazz band. I don't know the Rippingtons that well but they aren't really jazz either. So I guess the question is do you want to learn to play like Toto or do you want to learn to play jazz?

    If you want to learn to play jazz and/or blues you have to LISTEN to it. People I know who are not jazz musicians who play “jazz” are often unconvincing and generally very easy to spot- they sound scripted and orchestrated because that is how they play. You think throwing a blue note in somewhere makes you a jazz player- think again. Conversely you put most jazz musicians into another genre and the jazz influence is immediately evident, for better or worse.

    Once you move out of the rock genre, articulation becomes critical. You can’t leave your amp at 10 the whole time with tons of effects to bury your mistakes when you play other genres, now you have to learn how to actually recover from those mistakes and make people think the mistake was intended. Listen to the great players and you will hear occasional clam or missed notes that they ran with and the whole solo changed because they are masters of recovery.

    2 of my favourite jazz albums of all time are “Satch plays Fats” (jazz) and “Louis Armstrong plays WC Handy” (blues) and I recommend them to anyone who wants a jazz/ blues primer. Believe it or not the music is very easy to play- it is very straightforward and approachable because when Louis Armstrong was starting out this was pop music, not something that only beatniks in black turtlenecks and sunglasses smoking Kool cigarettes listen to.
    Last edited by die Bullen; 10-13-2016 at 12:11 PM.

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    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
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    That was an excellent response!

    Quote Originally Posted by die Bullen View Post
    ...So I guess the question is do you want to learn to play like Toto or do you want to learn to play jazz?...
    This crossed my mind as well. I chose to slip in some scales and stuff, because this knowledge is very useful when playing "real" jazz, AND Toto (extremely capable pop band comprised of top LA musicians of the late 70s) and the Rippingtons (jazz fusion).

    (The 2-5-1 progression is not going to show up very much in Toto music, and probably not the Rippingtons either. But valuable if one wants to expand one's musical boundaries. And blues music uses it!)
    I bought a relic'd guitar because I liked the way it sounded. Then I refinished it because I didn't like the way it looked.

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    Super Moderator die Bullen's Avatar
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    BTW DW (and others) if you ever want a neat educational tool and a way to show scale modes do this:

    1. Print out a two octave chromatic scale
    2. Take transparent, coloured post-it note tabs and put them on the major scale positions (C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C)
    3. Move the low C to middle D- now you have Dorian. Additionally, move the low D to middle E and you have Phyrigian, etc etc.

    I have always found this to be a very easy way to actually see how the modes fit together. My son and I use this technique for all kinds of music theory discussions.

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    Axeaholic itsallintheblues's Avatar
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    Wow! this is a lot to take in, but very informative.

    I want to clarify things first:

    1. dB, you are right when I said to play dynamically, on both accounts as you've stated, being able to play in varying changes and melodic playing in a technical way. Im not sure how to put it with my limited english vocabulary. I see jazz as a very dynamic music genre where it seems to be that there's no direction on their playing, BUT they get it right. even the drummer is changing beats, and all. I hope you get what I mean.

    2. The Rippingtons, Toto, are just one of the examples I listen to today. It's my wife (oh yea, I forgot I got married last May 20, will post a few pics soon) who introduced me to this jazz/fusion genre. I havent really considered it, but now I'm warming up to the idea and would want to play JAZZ, not wanting to play like the Rippingtons and Toto and the like, of course, I would want to play like them. It just seem so technical.

    3. I will look into that 2-5-1 progression. Im still wrapping my head around the three scale modes. I think I have them in my scale book, but just skipped the pages, because I want the Minor and Major pentatonic. LOL

    4. double wah, Im also trying to figure out what you said about the parent scales, would dive into this deeper in the coming weeks.

    5. After listening to blues over and over again, listening to Hendrix (even if I dont like him), SRV, BB King, Albert King, Eric Clapton, Muddy Waters, etc. all those blues legends, I kind of growing tired of hearing the same notes, similar solos and all. I still love blues, but would want to supplement my listening and learning with something new to incorporate to my overall musicality and be able to adapt more to songs that I cant enjoy playing with a guitar.

    The reason is that recently, our church band is singing all these old songs, that seem jazzy, and most are black gospel type, which has a lot of chords, stops, different kinds of beats and all. my current guitar vocabulary/arsenal cant cope up and I'm stuck in playing blues and it sounds weird, and feel like I dont know anything. Its not that Im condemned that my style or knowledge of the guitar in a band setting is limited, but I just want to improve and I think learning jazz would improve and add onto what I know and to know what I dont know. It will be easier for me to familiarize and understand why the song went this way, or that way, or how the song used this chord as transition to a brand new set of chord progression. I hope Im making sense.

    Thank you for all these tips! and please recommend me more albums, songs, tracks to listen to. I have spotify so I can listen pretty much 24/7. LOL. and also those with guitar heavy riffs.

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    Axe-honerated spellcaster's Avatar
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    I begin to realize how much of a butchering hack I am when I hear some of these guys talk theory. I just think...So much to learn, and so little time......
    "I know just enough to be dangerous....."

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    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by die Bullen View Post
    BTW DW (and others) if you ever want a neat educational tool and a way to show scale modes do this:

    1. Print out a two octave chromatic scale
    2. Take transparent, coloured post-it note tabs and put them on the major scale positions (C,D,E,F,G,A,B,C)
    3. Move the low C to middle D- now you have Dorian. Additionally, move the low D to middle E and you have Phyrigian, etc etc.

    I have always found this to be a very easy way to actually see how the modes fit together. My son and I use this technique for all kinds of music theory discussions.
    dB, it would be very helpful for all of us if you could take a picture of this sometime and post it here.
    I bought a relic'd guitar because I liked the way it sounded. Then I refinished it because I didn't like the way it looked.

  10. #10
    Axetastic doublewah's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by spellcaster View Post
    ...So much to learn, and so little time......
    THAT is what makes me dig into this.
    I bought a relic'd guitar because I liked the way it sounded. Then I refinished it because I didn't like the way it looked.

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