Monday, 21 May 2012

Modulation, AM or FM?





Modulation, AM or FM? Many (many!) years ago , I was a telephone engineer in the UK, and went to college to learn my craft. One afternoon we learnt about radio and what was meant by AM and FM - Amplitude Modulation and Frequency Modulation. What I don't remember is the why and how of AM and FM, and to be honest I now leave it to the radio experts to ponder such things!
These days, modulation is to do with music for me. A lot of jazz is based on the use of 'standards' that is songs written by composers originally for the theatre, tin pan alley or the hit parade and then taken by us jazzers to make our own by improvising around these wonderful pieces.
Take 'How about you' for example, a great standard to jazz around. The lyrics of the first bit go:

I like New York in June,
how about you?
I like a Gershwin tune,
how about you?
I love a fireside
when a storm is due.
I like potato chips,
moonlight and motor trips,
how about you?
Let's say we're playing the piece in the key of F (one flat) a favourite for this piece.
Every thing goes alright, with straight forward chords until we come to "I like potato chips, moonlight and motor trips, how about you?"
On the face of it we see some strange chords for the key of F, until realise, that bit is in fact in a different key, the key of A (three sharps) in this case. What has happened is to the piece has modulated into a new key, for a bit.  As the piece goes on it goes back to the key of F and all is well again!
What the jazzer has to do in fact, is to recognise these temporary key changes, or modulations, because the jazzer will use different scales to solo (extemporise) around that modulated bit. The important thing to remember is that modulation is only a temporary change of key within the piece - and that's because the composer has written it in, and not a complete key change. If you changed the key to of the whole piece to G (one sharp) for example,the modulation as above  would now be in the key of B (5 sharps)!

Modulations within pieces make them sound really cool, as I sometimes think that pieces that don't modulate seem to go nowhere! The same of course is true in classical music, where modulations are all over the place!

So to get to grips with modulation and how it affects you as a jazzer, go on a Jazz Workshop and all will be revealed

Happy Jazzing

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)

+44 1323 833770 (International)

Thursday, 17 May 2012

Google

Google

Jug a tea? No just swing please!
Jazz Workshop

Jug a tea? No just swing please!
One of the main things that jazzers need to develop is being able to play in swing time.
This is all about the eighth notes or quavers as we call them in the UK. If you have eight quavers in a bar, then when you play them as in classical music, all the notes sound the same length - no problem there - until you want to 'swing' them.
What does that mean? Well, when you listen to a piece of jazz in swing, listen to the drummer playing the high hat cymbal. It should be easy to hear because you'll hear the rythmn 'jug-a-tea'.
The drummer will be playing - jug-a-tea, jug-a-tea, jug-a-tea etc.
(Cue for old joke, when playing latin he will play 'jug-a-coffee' instead!)
How can aspiring players find the swing in the rythmn. One method is to imagine a bar full not of eight quaver, but twelve of them in four groups of three.
What you've now got of course is 12/8 time signature, and it sounds like:-
da da da - da da da - da da da - da da da
you can count all 12 beats or the four groups of three -
(the basis of compound time signatures)
Now we're nearly beginning to swing, because if you take out the middle one of each of three, and replace them with rests -silence- you get
da (rest) da, da (rest) da, da (rest) da, da (rest) da etc. Try saying that aloud and you'll be getting a 'shuffle' beat, often used in 60's pop music.
Squeeze the two da's in a bar together and you'll be swinging! Its much easier to hear than to explain, so book yourself onto a jazz workshop if you want to be a real swinger!
Happy Jazzing
Peter Willson
Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012
Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

Jug a tea? No just swing please!


Jazz Workshop



Jug a tea?  No just swing please!

One of the main things that jazzers need to develop is being able to play in swing time.

This is all about the eighth notes or quavers as we call them in the UK. If you have eight quavers in a bar, then when you play them as in classical music, all the notes sound the same length - no problem there - until you want to 'swing' them.

What does that mean? Well, when you listen to a piece of jazz in swing, listen to the drummer playing the high hat cymbal. It should be easy to hear because you'll hear the rythmn 'jug-a-tea'.

The drummer will be playing - jug-a-tea, jug-a-tea, jug-a-tea etc.

(Cue for old joke, when playing latin he will play 'jug-a-coffee' instead!)

How can  aspiring players find the swing in the rythmn. One method is to imagine a bar full not of eight quaver, but twelve of them in four groups of three.

What you've now got of course is 12/8 time signature, and it sounds like:-

da da da - da da da - da da da - da da da

you can count all 12 beats or the four groups of three -

(the basis of compound time signatures)

Now we're nearly beginning to swing, because if you take out the middle one of each of three, and replace them with rests -silence- you get

da (rest) da, da (rest) da, da (rest) da, da (rest) da etc. Try saying that aloud and you'll be getting a 'shuffle' beat, often used in 60's pop music.

Squeeze the two da's in a bar together and you'll be swinging! Its much easier to hear than to explain, so book yourself onto a jazz workshop if you want to be a real swinger!


Happy Jazzing


Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Bass, how low can you get?




Bass, how low can you get?

This one's for pianists in the main, but other instruments keep on reading as you will see where we as the pianists fit in to jazz!

Still with us? Great!

This is where I blow the pianist's trumpet (if that's possible!) by saying that we keyboard players when playing a solo piece (i.e. on our own, not as a solo in an ensemble) are doing not one, not two but three things simultaneously!

What a feat I hear you cry - but what are those three things?

First is the melody (or improvisation/solo in jazz), second is the bass line and third is filling the middle bit with chords!

How is this possible? Well the right bit of the right hand usually plays the melody, the left bit of the left hand plays the bass line and the middle bits of the left and right hand fill in with the chords, and sometimes a countermelody!

I ought here to bow to the guitarist who does the same but effectively using one hand supporting the other - I've no idea at all how you do that - perhaps you have ten fingers on each hand? (See Martin Taylor's Youtube video on how he plays 'I Got Rhythm')

Now with my pupils I get them to understand what a bass line is, and how  bass players work. To me, the bass is king - its the fundamental for all jazz and in fact pretty much all music - without the bass, you ain't got a band!

Back to pianists. When a pupil wants to learn a new piece, instead of getting them to play a melody line in the right hand with chords in the left (Oh, how amateur that can sound!) I get them to play the melody in the right, and the bass line only in the left. The idea is , once they can make that sound good, add the chords as above (the voicing of the chord is very important here) and voila, you have a great solo jazz piece for piano!

All of this, I must say, will take new pianists quite a little time to master, but one way to progress things is to go on a jazz workshop where you will find tutors and players all very eager to help the new pianist along, and help them to get to grips with bass lines.


Happy Jazzing


Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Listen to the great players of jazz





Listen to the great players of jazz

In an earlier post I wrote about how the history of jazz coincides almost entirely with the history of recorded music. In fact, the earliest recordings of the human voice, that could be played back and listened to, was much earlier than the first recordings of jazz.

It seems that the Original Dixieland Jazz Band made its first recording in 1917, so anybody who wanted to study jazz had the option from that time, to listen many times to hear and imitate the music being played.

And of course, a major way of learning jazz for any instrument, is to do just that!

To be a good jazz musician, I maintain, is to be a good jazz listener. Anybody who wants to play music, any music, needs to listen to the great players of that music.

How do you listen to jazz?  Well if you want to do some serious study of a piece by listening, I think you have to listen to that piece more than once, more than twice, in fact, to get a feel for that piece, one has to listen to that one track many times.

There have been many books and articles with some good information about listening to jazz, many can be found on the web, but the following might prove helpful to a keen listener.

 So who are the great players of your chosen instrument? 

You can't learn to play jazz on any instrument, till you know of the players who are the greatest players of that instrument! That seems obvious to me, but when I've asked some of my pupils in the past who are the great jazz pianists, they said they didn't know of any!

How can you play an instrument well if you don't know who are the greatest players of that instrument?

First select a track, from one of the great players you admire, and after selecting the track, listen to the track as a whole, and think what it is that makes you want to listen to that track. Is it the melody, the chord structure, the way the performer plays or the the sheer excitement you get from the performance?

If you are not excited by the track, listen and work on another one because if you get bored it makes the whole exercise much more difficult.

As soon as you can, after listening to the track for a few times, go to your instrument and see if you can play some of the phrases you hear.

You need to now get some understanding of how that piece works, and the way that the performer has put it together. The best way to do this, is to go to a jazz workshop and the whole listening process will be made clear, so you can start on the road to be a great jazz player yourself!

Happy Jazzing


Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

Thursday, 3 May 2012

The Piano Sage: Piano Battle! Forget your sheet music, start Impro...

The Piano Sage: Piano Battle! Forget your sheet music, start Impro...: Don't do improvising ? Well, all the classical composers did, it was an essential skillset. Just think of any Theme and Variations - these ...

In The Mode for Jazz




In the Mode for Jazz


Has it struck you as strange the arrangements of the notes on a piano keyboard?

Why are there 7 white notes and 5 black in an octave?

The answer ( very simplified ) is that the white notes came first. There were no pianos back in the pre Bach days, the main instrument that musical theory developed around was the organ (in churches and monasteries mainly, they had the money!) and the very early organs had white notes only.

Why only white notes - the music of the church then (with its roots in Ancient Greek music no less) was based around the 'modes' and the white notes have all seven. The black notes came later;(but they caused a tuning problem which JS Bach and his contemporaries began to solve with equal temperament tuning: thus he published the Well Tempered Clavier, 48 preludes and fugues 2 in each major key and 2 in each minor, published 24 at a time!, a huge issue well outside the scope of this blog - but fascinating all the same. I maintain that had Bach been alive today, he would almost certainly been a jazzman!)

Back to the white notes. If you start from C and play D,E,F,G,A B and (C) you are playing the major scale of C. You are also playing the Ionian mode.

Play from D E F G A B C (D) you've got the Dorian mode. Play around those notes, and you will find a very 'churchy' sound - no accident

E F G A B C D (E) Phrygian mode
F G A B C D E (F) Lydian mode
G A B C D E F (G) Mixolydian mode
A B C D E F G (A) Aeolian mode
B C D E F G A (B) Locrian mode

Or as a jazzplayer might say Mode 1,2 3,4 5 6 and 7 !

The important thing when playing modes is the hear the 'home' note, where does the scale want to end. Whatever note that is, that is the mode you are playing in!

All twelve notes in the octave can be the starting point for modes, not just the white notes and of course to the jazzer, modes can be useful, because they can be a fantastic framework for improvisation. (Miles Davis, John Coltrane, Bill Evans etc etc)

To progress further down the modal route go on a jazz workshop and you will end up in the mode for jazz! 
Happy Jazzing



Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Anything extra Sir?




Adding extras


I don't know if it still happens but when going to the barbers, many years ago (when I had hair!), after the main event, the chap turned round and said in my ear "anything extra sir?".
Ah happy uncomplicated days!

But what about adding extras to your jazz music? I'm talking about intros and endings.

My pupils, when working on a jazz piece, would often play me the tune straight from the first bar, and would finish it at at the end of the last bar, as one might when playing a classical piece of music (and that's of course because usually the classical composer has written any intros and endings into the piece already).

With jazz however, generally you are playing your own interpretation of a number, and you as a jazz player are the arranger (especially if you are the keyboard or guitar player).

So the jazz player usually 'sets up' the piece with an intro, and finishes it with an ending.

There are many techniques in improvising an intro, a favourite of mine is to play a selection of chords - (one might begin by trying chord I VI II and V) out of time, and when you get to the main melody, introduce the pulse (the beat) and away you go. You might want to start the intro in a different key and go into the main melody by using the II V sequence into the main key (George Shearing on Let There be Love). With latin numbers, you might want to set up the rythmn first and go into the main melody after 8 bars.

Endings too are a constant challenge and delight. From the classic ' Count Basie' ending (listen to recordings of the great man's band and see how he ends his numbers) to a smooth progression of chords that add more enjoyment to the performance. (Diana Kralls endings for instance).

The ideas of starting and ending a number are literally endless. How then do you know what to do?

The answer of course is always the same, you listen a lot to recordings of the great jazzers, see what they do, copy it and then use their ideas added to your own to formulate some really great intros and endings. By going on a jazz workshop, you will find that these techniques will be discussed in some detail, making you in the end , the complete jazz player with all the extras!


Happy Jazzing



Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

Monday, 30 April 2012

3rds and 7ths in Jazz




Thirds and Sevenths in Jazz


The thing about learning jazz and its theory, its all numbers! I had a pupil about 10 years ago that said when he was driving home after a lesson, his head was buzzing with thirds, fourths, 9ths, 13ths............all these numbers were flying around in his head! I have some sympathy, music theory can sometimes seem to involve endless arithmetic (goodness knows how a mathematician survives all the figures he has to work with!).

Mind you, its better than the old days when the positions of notes in the major scale were called Tonic, Supertonic, Mediant, Subdominant, Dominant, Submediant and Leading Note!

Even singers have (since the Sound of Music!!) Doh Ray Me Fah So Lah Te (Doh)

Us jazzers just say One Two Three or First Second Third etc - simples!

So what about Thirds and Sevenths?  Well now we're talking voicing of chords, which again is different from the positions of notes in the major scale.

If you look back at the chords of the major scale posting, you'll see that the four note chord based on the 5th note of the major scale (numbers, numbers I hear you cry!)  you'll see you have a seventh chord (eg G7 in the key of C) the seventh refered to here is short for dominant seventh.

If you play just the third and the seventh of the chord (the B and the F in G7) you'll get the flavour or the essence of the chord.

Jazzers use the 3rd and 7th of chords all the time to suggest the chords that being played.

Numbers numbers!  To start making sense go on a jazz workshop and the whole thing will begin to come into focus.

Happy Jazzing

Peter Willson


Butlers Jazz Workshop, France August 13th -17th 2012

Ring 01323 833770 (UK)
+44 1323 833770 (International)

Friday, 27 April 2012

What about the rudiments?






What about the rudiments?

What a lovely word - rudiments! You don't seem to hear the word much nowadays, but back in my distant youth, budding musicians were told "you need to learn the rudiments of music!" Great books were published on the subject, all designed to make the learning of music look very complicated (so it seemed to me), so musicians could say "look how clever I am, I learnt the rudiments of music a long time ago!"

I love music, I love jazz and I think it is in all of us to become musicians and we as existing musicians want these days to welcome everyone who wants to into our world - well I do anyway!

Back to the rudiments, if you Wikipedia the rudiments of music you will see that they include musical notation, pitch, time, scales, key signatures, time signatures, and intervals, together with their typical uses in melody and harmony.


Yes of course, to be an accomplished musician you will need to look all those aspects of music (and more) to play a musical instrument, and to play instrument well, may take many years of hard work.

Thats what I like about jazz, jazz was born in the USA, mainly in the south and in the New Orleans area especially. Many famous jazz musicians didn't know anything about the rudiments of music, but they had one great asset when they learned how to play jazz - they listened to it!  In fact, they probably couldn't avoid listening to it, it was everywhere, in the street, the cafes and restaurants, the bawdy houses (lots of those!) - everywhere.

Kids that wanted to play jazz, picked up a trumpet, found a piano, blew a trombone, found a box to drum on and imitated what they heard. This was, and is still, the best way to learn jazz, the problem is that it takes many years of imitation to learn to play as good as the guys you wanted to imitate.

How can you make a shortcut to those many years? Well you have to learn the rudiments, the rudiments of jazz!

A good way is to come on a jazz workshop and listen to the tutors, and interact with the other players on the course, it will still take a bit of time (nothing worth doing is achieved in a short space of time!) but it get you on the road to becoming a jazz musician, and to you, eventually, the rudiments of music will be yours!








Saturday, 21 April 2012

Cycle of fifths - An aid to 2 5 1




The cycle of fifths - An aid to  II V I (2 5 1)

The good old cycle of fifths (or fourths!) has many uses in music, not the least of which, of course, is to make sense of the keys and key signatures we use in music.

If you look at a diagram of the cycle of fifths you'll see that if we start at the top in the key of C, that key has no sharps or flats, as we go right to G, that has 1#, D has 2#,  A has3# and so on.
Going left, we go into the flat territory, F has 1b, Bb has 2b, Eb has 3b etc.

A very useful aid memoire. Note when we get to 6b, its the same key as 6#, but of course written differently.

Jazzers (and classical performers) often call the keys by the number of flats or sharps in that key as it avoids misinterpretation when calling across a stage "What key is this in? D or E, I can't quite hear" You can then say, 2 or 4 sharps to make it clear.
Also, many musicians hold up a number of fingers to indicate the key, three fingers up mean A, three fingers down Eb. (Be careful when indicating the key of D!)



What about the II V I sequence?


In previous posts we looked at the chords of the major scale, and we found that chord II will be a minor seventh chord, chord V a dominant seventh and chord I a major seventh chord (using four note chords).

In C that would be Dmin7, G7 and Cmaj7 (D minor seventh, G dominant seventh (or just G7) and C major seventh).

This II V I, or a lot of the time just a II V is found all over the music we play in jazz, especially the 'standards'. When playing those three chords in sequence, you'll hear what I mean. Look at chord charts, or lead sheets of those pieces, and you'll see what I mean, the sequences will be everywhere!

Don't forget that there are twelve keys altogether, so how do you remember them all?


Look at the cycle of fifths, they are all there!


D G C (going backwards from D) is there. The II chord is D min7 The V is G7 and the I is C.


Lets say you want the II V I in Eb, That will be Fmin7, Bb7 and Ebmaj7.

In A?

That will be Bmin7, E7 and Amaj7.

All this will be made much clearer if you can go on a Jazz Workshop where everyone will be using the II V I sequence all over the place.




Wednesday, 18 April 2012

Jazz Workshop - Cycle of Fifths (my old friend!)



The cycle of fifths - how to use it and love it!




Sooner or later the jazzer comes across the cycle of fifths (or as you might sometimes see it the cycle of fourths!).

So, what is a fifth (or a fourth for that matter!)

We go into the world now of musical intervals, no great panic here because its just two notes played together, and the interval is how far those two notes are apart.

Lets look at a major scale, you should be familiar with them by now (see previous posts) and lets say your looking at the C major scale. (the white notes on the keyboard)

Start at C and then play the white note above it - D. You will now have an interval of a second (as in 2, nothing to do with time!)

Play the C and E you have a third and so on. Play the C and G above it and you will be playing a Fifth. By the way, if you go down a fourth from C you will be playing a G below the C. Welcome to inversions! An inverted fifth (going up) is a fourth (going down). Thats why sometimes the cycle is called the cycle of fourths.

You now have to know your 12 major scales well, because as you go up a fifth from C going to G you are in the major scale of C. Now, go up from G to a fifth above it to D, you will be playing another fifth but this time from D. You are now in the major scale of G. Now go up a fifth from D and you get to A, in the scale of D......and so on.

The complete sequence is C G D A E B Gb Db Ab Eb Bb F and back to C. You will notice that you have played all twelve notes in the octave, and gone through all twelve keys! Again jazzers generally prefer the flat keys (see previous post).

You can google many diagrams of this cycle, one you might want to look at is


This little sequence actually goes a long way in helping your understanding of music works,  both classical and jazz, but to get a real feel for its practical use go on a jazz workshop

All the very best you jazzers!













Tuesday, 17 April 2012

Pentatonic Scales - great for the jazzer!




 Jazz Workshop - Pentatonic Scales, a quick way to improvise!


 Pentatonic scales are great, they mean you can start improvising immediately!

What is a pentatonic scale? Its a 5 note scale and is one of the most useful in music, not just jazz.

Where do you find one? Go to a keyboard and just play the black notes - you are playing a pentatonic scale. If you start on Gb, thats the one to the left of the three black notes, and play upward from there, you will be playing the Gb major pentatonic.

Play it high on the keyboard, does it sound Chinese? No accident, because a lot of Chinese music is based on the pentatonic scale.

Start now from Eb, thats the note to the right of the set of two black notes. You're now playing the Eb minor pentatonic scale. Does it sound Scottish? No accident again, a lot of Celtic music is based on the pentatonic scale.

You will, after a bit of experimentation, find 11 more pentatonic scales on the keyboard, each one starting on one of the 12 different notes you have on all western instruments.

The interesting thing is, if you add one note to the minor pentatonic scale to make it a six note scale, you have the blues scale - one of the fundamental scales that jazzers use to improvise. The note you have to add to the Eb Minor pentatonic scale is an A - (see if you can find it on the keyboard).

In fact, if you have the chords playing of the Eb minor blues (a subject of another post) you will be improvising by just playing the black notes of the piano, how about that!

Why are the black notes a pentatonic scale? A very good question and not one easy to answer, but by using them you will have great fun! Come on a jazz workshop and all will be explained, and great opportunities will be had to practice improvising, or 'soloing' jazz!












Monday, 16 April 2012

Jazz Workshop - Some more chords






New Chords


I guess, as a pianist, chords are one of the things that really interest me (in common I should think with guitar players) so a jazz player needs to be familiar with chords and how to use them.
In a previous post, I was talking about the chords of the major scale, ie three and four note chords that are built up in thirds (every other note of the scale) to form chords.

 
Its the 4 note chords that the jazz man uses, and what makes a good pianist/guitarist is how they 'voice' the chords (in the US, they might call it how they 'spell' the chords).

Before we get to voicing chords though, some thoughts about how chords are used in a lot of tunes.

The magic sequence in a lot of jazz standards is II V I  (2 - 5 - 1   NB Roman numerals are often used for chord numbers).

In C that would be Dm7, G7 and Cmaj7 (Using four note chords)
In F                        Gm7  C7        Fmaj7
In Bb                      Cm7  F7        Bb maj7


Try to work out the other 9 keys, you will find that it will be one of the most useful exercises you'll ever do!

Why? a lot of composers, especially of jazz standards used these sequences frequently very often to modulate (temporarily change key in a piece).

These sequences, especially just the II V become signposts for you to 'solo' (make up your own variation or extemporise) which of course become the real fun of playing jazz!

Best of luck with the practice, and don't forget, going on a jazz workshop will help you with all of this!

Peter Willson


 




Thursday, 12 April 2012

Jazz Workshop How to play jazz seriously


  
Take yourself seriously as a musician if you want to learn how to play jazz!

You have to believe in your own ability to play jazz, obviously  you have to practice, but what you practice is going make you win!

Here it would be good if you have a knowledge of all the 12 major keys as scales (see previous posts) and by using the mode starting on the 6th note of the scale, will give you the relative minor key (as a natural minor scale). Note, sharpening the 7th note of that scale will give you the harmonic minor scale. For example, the scale of a minor   A B C D E F G is the natural minor scale and A B C D E F G# is the harmonic minor scale - both are useful in jazz for improvisation. All the info below equally applies to the minor scales as well.

Once you know all twelve major scales, you can use those for practice on your instrument. Don't just play the scale straight from top to bottom or from bottom to top, start on different notes of the scale (you will then be playing the modes of the major scale, see post on scales).

Try playing every other note in C they will be C E G B D F A etc (you are now playing arpeggios!)

Go round the notes of each major scale until you are familiar with all twelve. Don't know the 12, try looking at http://www.piano-lessons-info.com/12-major-scales.html .

If you can't read music, don't worry, you'll find all twelve major scales sound the same ( Doh Ray Me Fah So La Te Doh) but each one starts on a different one of the twelve notes available to play your instrument.

C Db D Eb E F Gb G Ab A Bb B  . In jazz, we generally (not always though) use flats instead of sharps (blame the reed instruments!)

Pick out the notes by ear on each of the starting notes. This actually gives you great 'ear training' for jazz playing!

All this work may be made easier by going on a jazz workshop and interacting with other players as they learn.

Good luck!

Peter Willson

Wednesday, 11 April 2012

Jazz Workshop



The pulse is the thing!

What one thing makes a good player different from a bad or mediocre player?

You might think that its playing the right notes (though not necessarily in the right order! (UK readers))

There is some truth in that, but its playing with a pulse thats is so important.

What does pulse mean?

I guess its the beat of the music - but beat has come to mean so many other things- the pulse actually drives the player to play, if you like, in time to the beat.

This pulse is so important in (most) classical music, but its VITAL in jazz!

How to check whether you're playing to a pulse, well one simple way is to play a familiar piece, one that you know well, and record it at the same time.

Listen back to the recording, maybe with a metronome, and see if all the notes are played to a pulse, you will soon see, if you listen carefully, if the piece you played had a pulse!

Come on a jazz workshop and you will soon see how the pulse works in jazz!

Peter Willson

Saturday, 7 April 2012

Listening to Jazz - a valuable way to learn how to play it!




Listening to jazz, and learning to play from the recordings

It doesn't seem an accident to me that the history of jazz almost coincides with the history of recorded music, originally the gramophone and phonograph.

The early jazz pioneers were recorded and then would be players, rather than using sheet music (as one might for classical music) listened to those recordings and tried to play a jazz piece from the recording on their instrument.

Musicians wanting to learn jazz today might well follow the same principle, especially when learning how to improvise.

Don't listen to a piece once, and think that is sufficient for you to play it, you may well have to listen very carefully to the same piece many times to get a real feel for it!

After listening carefully here are some tips that might be useful.

Take a simple piect to start of with and then find out key that the performer is playing in, (go the end of the piece and see what chord it finishes on may help) . You would need to know if its a major or minor key.

Here it would be good if you have a knowledge of all the 12 major keys as scales (see previous posts) and by using the mode starting on the 6th note of the scale, would gie you the relative minor key (as a natural minor scale).

A useful thing to know, the relative minor (the minor key with the same number of sharps or flats as the major) is always the same as the mode starting on the 6th note of the major scale. Determine whether the piece is in a major or minor key. (Some jazz, especially more 'modern' might not be in a key at all), so maybe stick in the first instance to jazz standards.

Find, by playing along with the recording, the melody or improvisation that you hear, and try to memorise it. If you read and write music you can write it down, but its much better anyway to try and get it into your head!

You might well notice that the notes don't always follow the major or minor scale that the piece is in, that may be because the tune might 'visit' other keys during the piece, to give it interest.
(A process called modulation) This is all part of the understanding of thispiece of music.

Hopefully, with due diligence, this will give you a basic idea of the piece, but to get to the heart, you will need to undersatnd the chords that support the melody, or improvisation, and this can be quite a challenge, and will be the subject of later posts.

All this work may be made easier by going on a jazz workshop and interacting with other players as they learn.

Good luck!

Peter Willson

Friday, 6 April 2012

Jazz Workshop in France

Butlers Jazz Workshop in France


Who goes to a Jazz Workshop in France?

Do you play the Saxophone, Piano, Trumpet, Guitar, Trombone or sing?


Please pass on on anybody that plays, or wants to play Jazz in France that may be interested


Who goes on a  French Jazz Workshop?
Simply, anyone who plays any instrument, and who would like to learn or develop their skills and interests in Jazz, and would like a few days holidays in France.

It doesn't matter how good (or bad!) you think you are you will be most welcome.

Even if you've just started to play your chosen instrument, the beauty of jazz is you are able to play a jazz tune, or improvise a jazz tune to your level of ability, and have a great time while doing it!
The real fun is meeting everyone else of the workshop, and seeing how they play their way.
The tutors on the workshop understand how jazz works, and are able to encourage players to get the best fun out of playing jazz their instruments.

What instruments will you see on a jazz workshop?
Almost any instrument can play jazz, the most popular being
Piano, Saxophone, Clarinet, Guitar, Flute,Trumpet, Trombone, Violin, Double Bass, Drums, Vibes, Hammond Organ, and of course the human voice.
The beauty of a multi day workshop, see Butlers Jazz in Varengeville (near Dieppe in Normandy) is that you get time to immerse yourself in jazz and really benefit from being away from other distractions of day to day life! The course will be in English.

Don't be afraid of playing in front of others, everyone on the workshop will be supportive and friendly, because they know exactly how you feel, they have been there themselves.
Email me Peter Willson if you would like to know more about Jazz Workshops
Butlers Jazz Workshop

Thursday, 5 April 2012

Jazz Workshops - Are you a Jazz Player?




Hi all

You may be wondering what a jazz workshop is all about and what to expect from one.

I started going to jazz workshops in the 1980s and the first one I went to was at Wavendon in the UK (Some 40 miles or so North of London) and had a great week meeting players of all instruments, in fact I found that this was the start of my jazz career!

To all those out there who play musical instruments, any musical instrument, and are interested in jazz, why not have a look at Butlers Jazz Workshop this year in Normandy (France) and have a short break as well!

It doesn't matter if you are a beginner, or you have been playing some time, you will be welcome, and you will find that you will make some incredible friends whilst having a really great time playing!

If you would like more details, see Butlersjazz.co.uk or email me for more details, and I will send a brochure.

Good luck with your jazzing!!

Peter Willson

Wednesday, 4 April 2012

Jazz Workshops - Are they for you?






Who goes on a Jazz Workshop?

Simply, anyone who plays any instrument, and who would like to learn or develop their skills and interests in Jazz.

Even if you've just started to play your chosen instrument, the beauty of jazz is you are able to play a jazz tune, or improvise a jazz tune to your level of ability.

The real fun is meeting everyone else of the workshop, and seeing how they play their way.

The tutors on the workshop understand how jazz works, and are able to encourage players to get the best fun out of playing jazz their instruments.

What instruments will you see on a jazz workshop?

Almost any instrument can play jazz, the most popular being

Piano, Saxophone, Clarinet, Guitar, Flute,Trumpet, Trombone, Violin, Double Bass, Drums, Vibes, Hammond Organ, and of course the human voice.

The beauty of a multi day workshop, see Butlers Jazz in Varengeville is that you get time to immerse yourself in jazz and really benefit from being away from other distractions of day to day life!

Don't be afraid of playing in front of others, everyone on the workshop will be supportive and friendly, because they know exactly how you feel, they have been there themselves.

Email me Peter Willson if you would like to know more about Jazz Workshops

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Jazz Workshop in France (Normandy)

Butlers Jazz Workshop

Tuesday 3rd April 2012


Who goes to a Jazz Workshop?



Please pass on on anybody that plays, or wants to play Jazz that may be interested


Who goes on a Jazz Workshop?
Simply, anyone who plays any instrument, and who would like to learn or develop their skills and interests in Jazz.
Even if you've just started to play your chosen instrument, the beauty of jazz is you are able to play a jazz tune, or improvise a jazz tune to your level of ability.
The real fun is meeting everyone else of the workshop, and seeing how they play their way.
The tutors on the workshop understand how jazz works, and are able to encourage players to get the best fun out of playing jazz their instruments.
What instruments will you see on a jazz workshop?
Almost any instrument can play jazz, the most popular being
Piano, Saxophone, Clarinet, Guitar, Flute,Trumpet, Trombone, Violin, Double Bass, Drums, Vibes, Hammond Organ, and of course the human voice.
The beauty of a multi day workshop, see Butlers Jazz in Varengeville is that you get time to immerse yourself in jazz and really benefit from being away from other distractions of day to day life!
Don't be afraid of playing in front of others, everyone on the workshop will be supportive and friendly, because they know exactly how you feel, they have been there themselves.
Email me Peter Willson if you would like to know more about Jazz Workshops
Butlers Jazz Workshop

Friday, 30 March 2012

Butlers Jazz Workshop


Jazz Workshops

Butlers Jazz Workshop

Tuesday, 27 March 2012


Who goes to a Jazz Workshop?



Please pass on on anybody that plays, or wants to play Jazz that may be interested


Who goes on a Jazz Workshop?
Simply, anyone who plays any instrument, and who would like to learn or develop their skills and interests in Jazz.
Even if you've just started to play your chosen instrument, the beauty of jazz is you are able to play a jazz tune, or improvise a jazz tune to your level of ability.
The real fun is meeting everyone else of the workshop, and seeing how they play their way.
The tutors on the workshop understand how jazz works, and are able to encourage players to get the best fun out of playing jazz their instruments.
What instruments will you see on a jazz workshop?
Almost any instrument can play jazz, the most popular being
Piano, Saxophone, Clarinet, Guitar, Flute,Trumpet, Trombone, Violin, Double Bass, Drums, Vibes, Hammond Organ, and of course the human voice.
The beauty of a multi day workshop, see Butlers Jazz in Varengeville is that you get time to immerse yourself in jazz and really benefit from being away from other distractions of day to day life!
Don't be afraid of playing in front of others, everyone on the workshop will be supportive and friendly, because they know exactly how you feel, they have been there themselves.
Email me Peter Willson if you would like to know more about Jazz Workshops
Butlers Jazz Workshop

Tuesday, 27 March 2012

Who goes to a Jazz Workshop?






Who goes on a Jazz Workshop?

Simply, anyone who plays any instrument, and who would like to learn  or develop their skills and interests in Jazz.

Even if you've just started to play your chosen instrument, the beauty of jazz is you are able to play a jazz tune, or improvise a jazz tune to your level of ability.

The real fun is meeting everyone else of the workshop, and seeing how they play their way.

The tutors on the workshop understand how jazz works, and are able to encourage players to get the best fun out of playing jazz their instruments.

What instruments will you see on a jazz workshop?

Almost any instrument can play jazz, the most popular being

Piano, Saxophone, Clarinet, Guitar, Flute,Trumpet, Trombone, Violin, Double Bass, Drums, Vibes, Hammond Organ, and of course the human voice.

The beauty of a multi day workshop, see Butlers Jazz in Varengeville is that you get time to immerse yourself in jazz and really benefit from being away from other distractions of day to day life!

Don't be afraid of playing in front of others, everyone on the workshop will be supportive and friendly, because they know exactly how you feel, they have been there themselves.

Email me Peter Willson if you would like to know more about Jazz Workshops

Jazz Workshop Hints - What to expect at a Jazz Workshop


Hi all

You may be wondering what a jazz workshop is all about and what to expect from one.

I started going to jazz workshops in the 1980s and the first one I went to was at Wavendon in the UK (Some 40 miles or so North of London) and had a great week meeting players of all instruments, in fact I found that this was the start of my jazz career!

To all those out there who play musical instruments, any musical instrument, and are interested in jazz, why not have a look at Butlers Jazz Workshop this year in Normandy (France) and have a short break as well!

It doesn't matter if you are a beginner, or you have been playing some time, you will be welcome, and you will find that you will make some incredible friends whilst having a really great time playing!

If you would like more details, see Butlersjazz.co.uk or email me for more details, and I will send a brochure.

Good luck with your jazzing!!

Peter

Jazz Workshop Hints - Voicing Chords - a start!

Jazz Workshop Hints

Starting to 'voice' chords

Butlers Jazz Workshop

What does 'voicing chords' mean?

Unlike classical music, jazz players generally have to have a knowledge of chords so that they can play the chord when playing a piece.

Although this mainly is thought of as a rythmn section thing, ie only for the piano and/or guitar, all players of jazz need to have some understanding of chord structure or voicing of the chord.

If you are a line player, (usually a blower!) you might think that this is a subject that you can ignore - but line players can play chords (with other players) under a soloist adding to the rythmn section chords.

Now, look at a lead sheet, that is music for jazz that only has a melody line and chords (see any of the Real Books or so called 'busker' books) and you will see the player is given under the melody line the associated chord that is played at that point of the melody.

One will see things like Dm7 (D minor seventh) or Cmaj7 (C major seventh). Future post will explain all the more commonly seen chords, as this is a subject can be quite challenging - but fascinating!

From the major scale if you play the 1st 3rd 5th and 7th notes together on a keyboard or guitar, you will get a major seventh chord, in the key of C that will be C E G and B - you will be playing C major 7th chord (Cmaj7)

From the C major scale again, play the 2nd 4th 6th and octave (8th) note and you will be playing
D F A and C, the chord of  D minor seventh  (Dm7) These chords can be repeated in any of the 12 major scales (major keys) but will of course have different names, the bottom note of the basic chord giving it it's name. For example F A C E, the 1st 3rd 5th and 7th note of the F major scale, will be called F major 7th (Fmaj7)

Now play the 5th 7th 9th and 11th of the scale in C it will be G B D and F (the 9th and 11th are above the octave) and you will be playing G dominant 7th, or for short, G7.

Now those chords, if played like that, are quite heavy sounding, so the pianist and/or guitarist generally play chords in a more 'spread out' fashion, that is they 'voice' the chord.

Voicing is an art form in itself, and diffeerent pianists and guitar players will play chords differently, and that give each player their own identity.

Much can be said of voicing chords, but as a start, dont play the whole chord, play the 3rd and seventh of the chord (not the scale) and you will have the essence of that chord - ie in G7 (G B D and F) play the B and the F only. This is the just the beginning of the process of voicing that chord (G7).

It's what other notes you add to that will make the chord sound interesting, great or even fantastic!!

Watch this space!

Peter Willson







Monday, 26 March 2012

Jazz Workshop Hints - Listening to jazz

Butlers Jazz Workshops

Listening to jazz, and learning to play from the recordings

It doesn't seem an accident to me that the history of jazz almost coincides with the history of recorded music, originally the gramophone and phonograph.

The early jazz pioneers were recorded and then would be players, rather than using sheet music (as one might for classical music) listened to those recordings and tried to play a jazz piece from the recording on their instrument.

Musicians wanting to learn jazz today might well follow the same principle, especially when learning how to improvise.

Don't listen to a piece once, and think that is sufficient for you to play it, you may well have to listen very carefully to the same piece many times to get a real feel for it!

After listening carefully here are some tips that might be useful.

Take a simple piect to start of with and then find out key that the performer is playing in, (go the end of the piece and see what chord it finishes on may help) . You would need to know if its a major or minor key.

Here it would be good if you have a knowledge of all the 12 major keys as scales (see previous posts) and by using the mode starting on the 6th note of the scale, would gie you the relative minor key (as a natural minor scale).

A useful thing to know, the relative minor (the minor key with the same number of sharps or flats as the major) is always the same as the mode starting on the 6th note of the major scale. Determine whether the piece is in a major or minor key. (Some jazz, especially more 'modern' might not be in a key at all), so maybe stick in the first instance to jazz standards.

Find, by playing along with the recording, the melody or improvisation that you hear, and try to memorise it. If you read and write music you can write it down, but its much better anyway to try and get it into your head!

You might well notice that the notes don't always follow the major or minor scale that the piece is in, that may be because the tune might 'visit' other keys during the piece, to give it interest.
(A process called modulation) This is all part of the understanding of thispiece of music.

Hopefully, with due diligence, this will give you a basic idea of the piece, but to get to the heart, you will need to undersatnd the chords that support the melody, or improvisation, and this can be quite a challenge, and will be the subject of later posts.

All this work may be made easier by going on a jazz workshop and interacting with other players as they learn.

Good luck!

Peter Willson

Friday, 23 March 2012

Jazz Workshop Hints - Chords of the Major scale

The Chords of the major scale

Butlers Jazz Workshop

There are 12 major scales in (Western) music each one starting on a separate note
C  Db  D  Eb  E  F  Gb  G  Ab  A  Bb  B (see note below)

Each note above has a major scale starting on that note.
Chords can be built up on each note of the scale by playing evry other note in the scale (Musically called Thirds) like this
In C
Chord 1  C E G
Chord 2  D F A
Chord 3  E G B
Chord 4  F A C etc
Carry on in C to get all seven chords
The same thing can be done in any of the other 12 major scales ie
In F
Chord 1  F  A  C
Chord 2  G  Bb D
Chord 3  A  C  E etc.
In jazz, we extend this to four note chords (and beyond!)
So in C
Chord 1  C E G B
Chord 2  D F A C
Chord 3  E G B D etc
In every major scale therefore you can have 7 four note chords
They all have names
Chord 1  Major 7th
Chord 2  minor 7th
Chord 3  minor 7th
Chord 4  Major 7th
Chord 5  Dominant 7th (or just 7th for short)
Chord 6  minor 7th
Chord 7  minor seventh flat 5 (or half dimished for short)
Don't worry too much about the names, until you want to read a chart (the jazz man's term for sheet music or chord sheet) then it becomes very useful.
In C therefore chord 1 is C Major 7th
chord 5 is G dominant 7th (or G7th for short)
By using just the 12 major scales, a musician can build up a whole library of chords for use in playing and improvising.
There are of course many more chords (and scales) available to the jazz musician, but more about that another time!

Peter Willson

Thursday, 22 March 2012

Jazz Workshop Hints - Some thoughts about scales and chords

Some thoughts about scales and chords

Butlers Jazz Workshops

Before going on a jazz workshop, make sure you know all 12 major scales on your instrument
A major scale can be defined by its sound, try singing Doh Ray Me Fah So La Te Doh and you have a major scale.

For example C D E F G A B C. Now there are eleven others to find starting on each one of the eleven notes in an octave - eleven notes in an octave you say? I thought there were eight (OCTave) no there are 12 altogether, on a keyboard, look at all the notes including the black notes.

Using your 12 major scales, (there are seven different notes in each major scale) and by starting on a different note (say the 2nd in the scale) you are now playing a mode, (very useful in jazz!)

You now should know 12 major scales, plus seven different starting points, making 72 scales/modes in all!

If you play the mode starting on the 6th not of the major scale, you are now playing a natural minor scale. Sharpen the seventh note and you have a harmonic minor scale.

To build a chord from a major scale play the 1st 3rd and 5th note of that scale at the same time and you have a major triad chord - you can call it chord 1 of that major scale

Other chords can be built from a major scale, ie 2nd 4th and 5th note will give you a minor triad - this one is chord 2
Sit down and play these on your instrument, if you've never done it before it will take time, but when you are improvising in jazz, these scales and modes are invaluable!

Peter Willson