Theory and Learning Rhythm; ear training; approach to learning chord transcriptions.



  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    edited June 2020 Posts: 1,858

    i agree with Scot, don’t worry about learning an encyclopedia full of chords, for swing music you only need a few and just move em up or down a fret or two as necessary.

    Now, as you go along, you will accidentally learn some cool chord tricks here and there. I swiped a real cool one from Herb Ellis which I would love to share if you like.. but most of these little tricks are not super useful in real life.

    Why not try the Will Wilson Method?

    You already know Step One and Step Two, but here’s Step Three which I swiped from the late great Jeff Healey..

    ...put together a compilation tape of all your favourite tunes and see if you can play along by ear...sometimes you won’t be able to, and that’s okay, but WTF, you’ll enjoy it and get better as you go along. Jeff would do this for hours and hours, its how he learned from about the age of eight, when he started out playing country guitar before later turning to rock and jazz.

    Louis Armstrong used to do the exact same thing when he cam home from touring, except he would just turn on his radio up in his study which I visited and just play along with whatever was on... pop, jazz, opera, symphony... Louis didn’t care!

    And best of all, he taped all this wonderfulness for posterity and you can listen to it if you go to the Armstrong museum in Corona/Queens... or maybe its available online? Who knows?

    And any time you hear a song with cool chords, make a note to check out the chords... I will probably never play Dolly Parton’s 1970’s hit “Here You Come Again”, but man, I just love being able to figure out the cool chords that happen in the bridge...

    Ain’t No Fun, Won’t Get Done!


    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • bbwood_98bbwood_98 Brooklyn, NyProdigy Vladimir music! Les Effes. . Its the best!
    Posts: 674

    @scot Man, I remember seeing you play in NC back then . . . super OG!! helped to inspire me to this path for sure . . . You all were super nice to me as well . . Thanks!

    ps. bought my copy of Ian's book from David Sheppard guitars . . lol.

  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471

    Wow you guys. This is an insane treasure to work from. Everybody, thank you. This is going to take some time to chew through! I know myself well enough to know I'm certain I'm complicating what needs to be simple and trying to grab as much forward in the now, so slowing down or, as one of my doctors told me, putting on the sea-anchor (my condition has forced me to accept my body is not going to go back...she called it perhaps a blessing, like a sea-anchor, in that it forces me to take stock and slow the hell down), is good.

    In truth, what I am working on now is just a good swing rhythm in basic chords any soloist would enjoy playing over. Light and swinging, and Nous'che is my god. I used to know virtually the entire library in Michael's book but that's all gone. Again, a good thing.

    Can't thank you enough for your generosity of thought.


    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471

    Sorry, I just realized I forgot:

    -Thoughts on going about learning theory - just go through the Levine?

    Ando: It depends. Are you a complete beginner?

    Yes, I think I'd say so. Whatever theory I learned those years ago I've forgotten. I know chord construction, inversions, extensions, somewhat about progressions, resolving, passing chords. Bbwood reminds me of two-tone subs, I know only the idea of tritone subs, and that would be about it.

    Scot, as usual, thanks. Your way of getting subs in your body is typical as I know you, and really helpful. Everyone else, of course, thank you again.


    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • BonesBones Moderator
    edited June 2020 Posts: 3,320

    Hey Paul, especially if you are having physical issues you might want to focus on basic Freddie Green chord shapes. At least that helps me out with my wrist/hand/shoulder issues. Has the added benefit that you can stay out of the higher register to stay away from the soloist and not throwing a bunch of color tones at the soloist either. Plus there are only a small number of key shapes to use that will cover all songs and easy to get under your fingers so that you can play cleanly.

    Regardless, I think this is a good base point for everyone regardless of physical ability because if all one knows is big fat chord voicings there is no way to dial it back. Better to start with less and add more if you want than not knowing how to dial it back.

  • Posts: 4,787

    I just hope you have 10 hours a day Paul!

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471

    Thanks Bones. I'm more or less OK in my hands, though I take more time to stretch and nurse them along as I'm older. Mine is a central nervous system thing, affects my whole bod. Tremoring is just one symptom.

    On the 3-note chords. In Michael's first section of the book, he has the "basic," "intermediate" and "3-note" chords. How different are these 3-note voicings from the Freddie Green style?

    I was "fluent" in a lot of Michael's book, in that I knew a good part of the shapes in there - not that I did much good, knowing what I know now. Still, it felt good to have them in my hands. Interestingly, going after...someone's comment on voicings, might have been Denis, I've always tended to "fat" shapes, including a lot of pinky stretches. The only 3-note chords I can think of I use regularly are 7ths. I'd be curious comparing Michael's 3-note shapes to the Freddie Green style. Thoughts?


    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • PassacagliaPassacaglia Madison, WI✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 1,471

    pas encore, j'erre toujours.
  • billyshakesbillyshakes NoVA✭✭✭ Park Avance - Dupont Nomade - Dupont DM-50E
    Posts: 1,322

    Now, as you go along, you will accidentally learn some cool chord tricks here and there. I swiped a real cool one from Herb Ellis which I would love to share if you like.. but most of these little tricks are not super useful in real life.

    I'll bite, Will. Care to share?

  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    edited June 2020 Posts: 360

    Shell, Freddie Green, three-note chords--all pretty much the same thing, and notably different as a teaching approach from, say, the giant chord charts in Mickey Baker's jazz book, which was probably the main influence on ambitious amateurs when I started getting ambitious fifty years ago. My introduction to shell chords (almost 25 years ago) was via the late Ted Conner, who wrote two slim instruction books, Fast Chords Applied, that combined the harmonic ideas (root-third-seventh) with specific fingering patterns that allowed/encouraged construction of movable changes that fit a wide range of song patterns. More recently another of my teachers, Mike Dowling, has produced a similar introductory lesson set, Rhythm by the Code

    Both of these belong to a family of approaches that I've been encountering in workshops for many years and see all over the internet--for example at Jazz Guitar Online, which always has clear lessons and lucid explanations, like this one, which shows the shapes that result when the root is on different strings:

    BTW, Ted's chord-melody playing was not particuarly Djangoesque, but here's an old thread from Stefan Grossman's site, as a kind of memorial (he died in 2015) for one of my favorite teachers. It also includes a link to a Soundclick page with a few of his recordings. (He produced just one solo album in all those decades of playing and teaching.)

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