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Learning some old standards...


daveinspain

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Just got sent a couple songs from our band leader to learn. These are songs I have heard all my life but never paid any attention to. Course, I was a rocker and these types of songs were very uncool… But hey, I'm really enjoying working on them now and becoming a better player for it. The chords are much more interesting (forcing me to learn new chords) and go together so well. The songs are, don't laugh, The Shadow of Your Smile and Misty… Great music if you listen to whats going on… Sounds simple but its not… Just saying'...

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The songs are, don't laugh, The Shadow of Your Smile and Misty…

 

Laugh..., these are songs I play every day.

 

Anyway, as you've already figured out, the chord voicings and fingerings are the key. Get a copy of a Mel Bay chord book, such as the "Deluxe Guitar Chord Encyclopedia", that specifically shows "Inside Chords" and "Rhythm Chords" ("Melody Chords" may also be useful depending on the instrumentation of the ensemble), and it will give you a giant headstart.

 

http://www.melbay.com/Products/93283S/deluxe-guitar-chord-encyclopedia-spiral.aspx

 

Don't rely on the chord blocks on the sheet music, they're usually generic fingerings, seldom actually written by a guitar player, and often bad choices.

 

Let me know if I can be of any help.

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Great music if you listen to whats going on… Sounds simple but its not… Just saying'

 

Not really simple at all actually. Working a chord/melody piece out is cool tho. you've got to cover everything (the bass lines, the melody, and the chord tones)

 

This will challenge your knowledge of chord voicing and the chord intervals that make these work. You will learn a lot from doing this.

 

You may need to figure out different keys tho, as Larry mentions, most of these songs were written on piano with the idea that they'd be horn friendly too, so there will be a lot of sharps and flat key centers. to bring these to a Guitar solo piece, you may often find that you will need to probably think about transposing to natural keys or use a capo.

 

I've been working on Darn That Dream for a few weeks now. It's one I've always wanted to have in the collection.

 

It's good stuff Dave and no one who knows what's involved will laugh at the choices or song selection.

 

Be persistent, these take time to perfect.

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I'm pretty much in the same general situation as L5Larry, although I haven't done Shadow of Your Smile since '79. I even did a solo instrumental Misty on an AE at a cowboy music and poetry show - while remarking that even cowboys in the olden days were listening to popular music of their era as well as more specific "cowboy" material.

 

I think there are two ways of going about this.

 

First, Larry's suggestion on the chord book is, of course, an excellent one, especially if you note his caveats. Then you play at least the chords as on a piece of "sheet music" whether on paper or digital. Or... you can transpose depending on the vocalist (important especially for a solo act, IMHO) and/or other instruments involved in your group.

 

Second, and easier for me since I'm almost always solo given my "day and night job," and that's simply to figure a chord structure that hits my ear as "right" and the heck with what may be on the map. Especially if you're fingerpicking standards, you've got a chord/bass-type background during a vocal and a chord-melody for an instrumental break. Regardless, the "octaves" bit works well for solos regardless of the key.

 

"Standards" are standards simply because there's something about them that maintains an enduring value. That's true whether some reeeeally old material or material that's relatively new but consistently played to the point that most folks in an audience will recognize at least the tune.

 

"You Belong to Me" as done in the '50s for example. Misty, of course. Blue Moon and dozens of other tunes/lyrics using that same chord pattern. "Heart and Soul" was as I recall a 1939 piece with Bea Wain and Larry Clinton's orchestra, but I think into the 1960s every high school girl I knew who could play a little piano was pounding that one out on the keys.

 

The melodies and chord patterns tend to be simple - or at least easily available. "Shadow of Your Smile" is perhaps a bit more difficult than most. Misty isn't all that crazy. Old Cape Cod works well... as does a lotta similar material.

 

It's a different thought process for playing, though, especially if you work up your own arrangements. Best of luck.

 

m

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Playing these tunes will really open up your playing and knowledge of the fingerboard. Everyone should learn standards IMO and how to play over key changes etc, these really get you thinking to become a more rounded musician.

 

Btw, it may not be a standard but I always enjoy playing over 'A Lotus on Irish Streams' by Mahavishnu Orchestra, as it has so many key changes it forces you to come up with ideas for chord/ melody playing.

 

Have fun with the standards...learning them years ago changed my playing for the better [smile]

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Just got sent a couple songs from our band leader to learn. These are songs I have heard all my life but never paid any attention to. Course, I was a rocker and these types of songs were very uncool… But hey, I'm really enjoying working on them now and becoming a better player for it. The chords are much more interesting (forcing me to learn new chords) and go together so well. The songs are, don't laugh, The Shadow of Your Smile and Misty… Great music if you listen to whats going on… Sounds simple but its not… Just saying'...

Learning Standards is equivalent to learning a world language. Most of these songs are known globally and you will be able to instantly communicate with music lovers everywhere. Nice!

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"Misty"is a classic, along with "Autum Leaves", " Days of Wines and Roses", "In a Sentimental Mood", "Equinox", "Blue Bossa", i could go on and on.

 

Just really great songs

 

 

We already have Autumn Leaves, Blue Bossa in our song line up… Some others we play are Agua de Beber, All for You, Orfeo Negro, History of Lily Braun, Fly Me to The Moon, Sypathique, Amado Mio, Chason D'Amour, Mas Que Nada and Breezin… Some of these may be more well known in the more Latin countries though. All great Tunes!

 

I, for the most part, am just playing the basic chord structure of the songs as we have a brass section and second guitar...

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We already have Autumn Leaves, Blue Bossa in our song line up… Some others we play are Agua de Beber, All for You, Orfeo Negro, History of Lily Braun, Fly Me to The Moon, Sypathique, Amado Mio, Chason D'Amour, Mas Que Nada and Breezin… Some of these may be more well known in the more Latin countries though. All great Tunes!

 

I, for the most part, am just playing the basic chord structure of the songs as we have a brass section and second guitar...

You have a horn section! Now that is awesome

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As a rock or blues type player nothing is more humbling than standards or even broadway/show tune stuff. Okay, maybe jazz is more humbling. But not much else.

 

I do gigs every year with our school choir and the stuff that band and choir directors will throw at you can kick your as$$. All those piano chords with different notes in the bass. [cursing] And 6th chords? WTF? I will never forget how long I had to work on "76 Trombones" to get something to work. It was just SOOOOOO far outside of my frame of reference (plus it was in Fb or something) [biggrin] But in the end I came up with some cool parts that the directors had not thought of and it all worked out.

 

So I agree it helps you as a player. It's good to push those boundaries. If you trust your ear and your instinct you will learn a lot.

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As a rock or blues type player nothing is more humbling than standards or even broadway/show tune stuff. Okay, maybe jazz is more humbling....the stuff that band and choir directors will throw at you can kick your as$$.

 

All those piano chords with different notes in the bass. [cursing] And 6th chords? WTF?

 

So I agree it helps you as a player. It's good to push those boundaries. If you trust your ear and your instinct you will learn a lot.

 

First... DO NOT BE INTIMIDATED, every chord (piano or otherwise, a chord is a chord is a chord) can be played with FOUR NOTES or less. It all comes down to what tones are important, or what "defines", the chord.

 

Let's take a 13th chord. You can't play the root, 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th. 11th, 13th, you don't have that many strings OR fingers. Your standard jazz 13th is played R, 3, 7, 13. Four notes, four fingers, boom, you're done, there is no need for all the other crap. The R-3-7 gives you the balls of a 7th chord, and then you just throw the 13th on top.

 

Surfpup talks about the 6th chord. Yes, this one will scramble your brain, until...... you figure out that a C6 is nothing but a Am7. As long as the notes are there, it makes no difference what order they're in. The root doesn't have to be on the bottom, and in fact, many jazz chord voicings do not even include the root.

 

One of my favorite chords is the m6th. This is the chord that Gershwin's "Summertime" is based around. Now there's a chord to play with. Again, it only a four tone chord, R,3,5,6.

 

Another of my favorite chords is the m7b5. This just looks intimidating, until you realize that the fingering is the same as a (6th string root) Blues 9th chord, with the root on the 5th string (the 6th string root fingering for m7b5 is a little more odd).

 

In jazz there is always talk about chord "substitution" and "inversions". This is just people that need to prove that they are more EDUCATED than we are, it's ONLY music, and there are only 12 tones in the western scale.

 

One other statement above I want to address before I sign off and go to bed (I'll be glad to continue this conversation later, either here or by PM). There are no capos in jazz. Generally speaking, if your fingers not on it, you don't play it. There are no barre chords, no cowboy chords, and no capos.

 

And lastly.... You will not learn a jazz song by ear, you need to see the music chart with the chords listed. I doubt you can HEAR a 6th chord, or a m7b5 ( I can't), but once you see it in print.... it all comes together.

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That WAS good, Larry. But if you were not educated, you would not have been able to figure all that stuff out on your own. And while I agree that barre chords may not be necessary in jazz, Joe Pass said that he based a lot of his playing off of barre chords; yet another way of seeing note intervals and arpeggios.

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Maybe 'cuz I started on a classical guitar and still think of stuff like "F" is a "C" barred to the fifth fret or a root "A" barred to the eighth fret or even a "G" that's barred up the neck so the bass runs go into the "A" that's barred up? Or that an F maj7 has most of the same notes as an Am when played at the fifth fret?

 

Or because I think of guitar as a physically light-weight keyboard and the most important part of a keyboard is chords? I dunno.

 

I like barre chords 'cuz they seem to me more "keyboardy." I tend to hear and think "chords" first and then melody lines and improv on top of those chords. Maybe that's why some Bartok and Webern seem so "out of it" because there's little or nothing per se that is "chord" in a more traditional sense.

 

For what I hear Larry saying, he's not just "right," he's 190 percent right.

 

OTOH, a lot also has to do with one's definition of "jazz." I know I kinda lost it when "jazz" got so far into bebop that it seldom got onto radio or tv in the '50s - Except... when pop standards were being used as a base for improv and adding fatter chords and more passing chords and... I loved it. Still do, obviously. And... although I figure I had relatively little formal "theory" training, in ways it was far more than I realize in some comparisons.

 

On the other hand, yes also to what Pass had to say. He also made interesting comments about what chords he "thought" regardless what notes might be played.

 

Or... a Byrd taking flight? Granted, Charlie got into the Brazil stuff, but... it's just different as jazz guitar technique. He did do barre chords. Could do other material in that same "classical guitar "style, too.

 

m

 

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You should write a book. Seriously. [thumbup]

 

It's funny you should mention that. About 5 or 6 years ago I started making notes to do just that. In fact, I have the rough draft of the "introduction" written.

 

Here's an exerpt:

 

"One fateful day when I was in my mid-teens I had conversation with Mel Bay that completely changed the way I looked at guitar playing. It was still years before I completely understood the concepts of what he told me, but it was a conversation I never forgot. As a teenage rock and roller, I actually did start using some of his advise right away, but it would be nearly 40 years later that it really all sank in. I had gone up to the store to ask him about some major 7th chords, or minor 6ths or something that he’d have never thought a long-haired teenage rocker would be interested in. He grabbed an out of tune guitar off the store rack and showed me a few chords. Then, guitar still in hand, he went into a story about a big band coming to town that was auditioning for a guitar player for the local shows. He and two other local guitarists had showed up for the audition and were to “comp” with the big band on the same chart. He said “the first guy got up and played it this way”, and he ripped through a chord progression of some jazz standard. He then said “the second guy played it this way”, and played the same song with completely different chord voicings. Then he said “I got up and played it this way”, with a third and completely different set of chords, “guess who got the job”, “I did”. Why, because of the way he voiced the chords around the other instruments.

 

Mel had developed two sets of chord voicings he called “Inside Chords”, and “Rhythm Chords”. Inside Chords are played only on the 2-5 strings of the guitar, Rhythm Chords also encompass use of the 6th string. These chord structures are designed to work “around” the other instruments in the band. As he told me that afternoon in his store, “you don’t need to be playing the low “E” string, that’s where the bass is, and you don’t need to be playing the high “E” string, that’s where the horn section is”. To me that was a profound statement, so simple and obvious in concept that I would have never figured it out myself. This concept of alternate chord voicings went right to work for me in the twin guitar driven rock and roll band, but until I tried to be a “jazzman” I wouldn’t fully understand all he was trying to say.

 

Another conversation of note I had was with jazz guitarist, Jerry Byrd. For years Jerry recorded and toured with the great pianist/vocalist Freddy Cole, the younger brother of Nat “King” Cole. I had heard Freddy Cole perform many times and admired the minimalistic style of Jerry’s accompaniment to the piano of Freddy. By the time of this meeting I had started to play a little jazz and was really looking for something to jumpstart my understanding of jazz guitar playing. I asked Jerry if there was ONE book he would recommend on learning to play jazz guitar, what would it be. Without hesitation he said “the Mickey Baker book”. After a little research I found out he was talking about “Mickey Bakers’ Complete Course in Jazz Guitar” p.1955 by Lewis Music Publishing Co., Inc. The basis of this book was that if you learned 26 specific chords, you could play jazz."

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Doesn't matter how you learn or what you learn. You get out what you put in. Jazz should not be intimidating, but it ain't Kumbayah, either.

 

Learning how to make chords is a great place to start. That will teach you intervals (which is the most important concept in music) and arpeggios.

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A long time ago Mundell Lowe noted that there's not a single "method" of teaching guitar. It used to be on youtube but I think it's disappeared.

 

Larry kinda hit it on the many voicings of chords on guitar. Heck, the many ways to get a given note on guitar.

 

I think if you wanna play as Larry is playing, you've pretty much gotta listen to what he's saying. And - I think that book may be a good idea to finish and get out at least as a digital edition.

 

But I also think there are many ways to get at how one plays.

 

I've known incredible "classical" artists, and even some saloon keyboard players who couldn't just sit down and play stuff that they heard if they didn't have "the music" in front of them.

 

Me? I guess you could almost figure my head is kinda like the old style "piano bar" player in that if I have the chords and know the melody I just might could get by.

 

m

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It's funny you should mention that. About 5 or 6 years ago I started making notes to do just that. In fact, I have the rough draft of the "introduction" written.

 

Here's an exerpt:

 

"One fateful day ...... if you learned 26 specific chords, you could play jazz."

 

Sounds like a good start. Put me on the pre-order list. In the meantime - when I have some time - I am gonna go back and work on the stuff in your earlier post... 6th and m7b5 for example - before it's copyrighted and costs me any $ [biggrin]

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Some times simple or clean is very good..I often think of a great one we just lost JJ Cale in reading the RS issue where Clapton was talking about the very same thing and that we sometimes try to put too much into a song and it kinda muddies the water where as JJ kept it simple and clean that was his beauty.

Love J.J.! Ever heard Eric cover his 'Travellin' Light' off the 'Reptile' album? Fantastic, though I've always preferred Cale's versions to the other Clapton covers.

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I wonder where/if/who, we could contact to get some sort of chord block generator on this forum.

 

Maybe an icon on the "response" page that clicking would give us a blank cord block, six strings/4 or 5 frets. It would need a fill-in space to label a fret number, and clicking a string at the specific fret would give us a finger dot. We would probably need to be able to type in the finger number in the dot also.

 

Any software guru's out there. I wonder where/how I would suggest this to the forum powers-at-be, "Forum Feedback" maybe.

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