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Howto improvise over ain't misbehavin?

murillomurillo ✭✭✭
edited November 2011 in Technique Posts: 46
Not an easy song to improvise over. How do you guys play over this one?

There is a lot of chords in this song and I thought about simplifying it. For the first two bars I’m thinking Eb over the changes, after that I’m pretty much lost.

Any tips would be highly appreciated.

Best regards.

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Comments

  • marcelodamonmarcelodamon Hattiesburg, MS✭✭✭ 2005 AJL Modèle Marcelo Damon Selmer copy, 2020 Aylward Favino copy
    Posts: 31
    Use your ear, and that's it; everything else is unimportant. Listen to what Joe Pass has to say about this:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIOp4TLTPYg
  • Mark DSMark DS New
    Posts: 37
    I don't think that this chord chart you posted makes any sense, because in the fourth bar it goes from Ab to Abm which you can hear is very wrong and does not give the I-vi-ii-V movement like the rest of the A section. Check out this one http://www.learnjazzstandards.com/wp-co ... s-.pdf.pdf .

    As for how to play over it I don't have a lot of information - I think that you are right to break it down, because typically I don't think people outline every chord in rhythm changes like this. I will need to work on this too, but my best advice would be to listen to some solos over Ain't Misbehavin' that you like and copy those first to get some ideas about what you could do. Good luck!

    -M
  • murillomurillo ✭✭✭
    Posts: 46
    Thanks for your help, I feel that the doors for this song has opened up for me.

    Best regards
  • BluesBop HarryBluesBop Harry Mexico city, MexicoVirtuoso
    Posts: 1,379
    Mark DS wrote:
    I don't think that this chord chart you posted makes any sense, because in the fourth bar it goes from Ab to Abm which you can hear is very wrong and does not give the I-vi-ii-V movement like the rest of the A section.
    -M
    That change is correct and makes perfect sense. Sounds especially good as a m6...Very, very common. Django loved to imply this harmony (IVm6) over a regular II-V-I!

    Sometimes you see the bVII7 (Db7 in this case) which is closely related. But the IVm6 is more typical swing era changes. You can play both and make it a II- V... Or you can treat the Ab6 as Fm7b5 (enharmonic spelling) and then go to Bb7, like a minor II-V resolving to major (think night and day, What is this thing called love, etc...) I personally would only play the IVm6, sounds great!

    Off the top of my head in Eb you can play this for the first A:
    Eb-Eo-Fm-F#o-
    Eb(/G)- Eb7(/G)- Ab6-Abm6
    Eb-Cm-Fm-Bb7
    Gm-C7-Fm-Bb7

    There are lots of ways to play this kind of progression though... I like those chromatic diminished chords, but more often than not a diminished is a disguised dominant Eo=C7.
    As for soloing you could either follow each chord or make harmonic generalizations. Depends on style and speed. As previously suggested I also recommend transcribing your favorite musicians ideas and going from there. Good luck!
  • Mark DSMark DS New
    Posts: 37
    That change is correct and makes perfect sense. Sounds especially good as a m6...Very, very common. Django loved to imply this harmony (IVm6) over a regular II-V-I!
    Oops yes thank you for correcting me! When I went to play that I was moving down chromatically instead of up to the Ab (so I was playing F#7 to F#m7 which did not make sense). But yes that is a great variation! I like to combine that with the Gm7, F#7, Fm7, Bb7 for a nice chromatic movement.
  • marcelodamonmarcelodamon Hattiesburg, MS✭✭✭ 2005 AJL Modèle Marcelo Damon Selmer copy, 2020 Aylward Favino copy
    Posts: 31
    Again guys, all of this theory came AFTER the occurrence of such ideas. Django didn't read music and knew little of theory. Neither did Charlie Christian, nor Wes Montgomery. Additionally, the modern masters Stochelo and Angelo (not to mention Bireli) all "hear" what they play, rather than think about it because they don't read music either.

    "If you have to think about what you're going to play, your playing becomes stilted" - Joe Pass said this in the video I posted. I am thoroughly convinced after going to music school, learning to read music, and then learning all the theory that describes such music, that none of it is relevant to improvising. The only thing we can do is develop our ears to be able to play EVERYTHING our ears fish out of our musical subconsciousnesses; which should contain all the musical ideas you currently know. If you don't know or have any musical ideas: transcribe EVERYTHING you hear (and I do mean every little melody you come across in addition to your formal transcriptions). It's the best, and how everyone we admire as an improviser has learned to improvise. All the "modern masters" transcribed Django, and we all should too.

    So as to what you "should" play over Ain't Misbehavin', just transcribe a bunch of ideas from Django and others (Angelo, Bireli, Stochelo, etc.) and then practice those ideas over the song until they become a part of your musical subconsciousness.

    I learn whole solos at a time and then learn the most melodic parts in different keys and positions on the guitar. I do this with my eyes closed to build up "kinetic awareness" as to where the "sounds" of these phrases "are" on the neck. After a while of doing this, you should see a HUGE improvement in your ability to improvise. Also, the great thing about learning Django's solos first, as opposed to the modern players, is that in EVERY one of Django's solos there is a phrase that completely demonstrates his melodic inventiveness and genius. Sometimes his whole solos are masterpieces as in Dark Eyes, Ou est Tu Mon Amour, and I'll See You In My Dreams (to name a few).

    Keep on Djamming!

    Marcelo Damon
  • Mark DSMark DS New
    Posts: 37
    I agree that it's important to learn to play by ear and to learn solos, but the people you are describing are musical geniuses and completely fluent on the guitar. I agree that theory will not teach you to play music, but it can help you to understand music and the guitar and can make learning to play music a lot easier for those of us starting out.
  • marcelodamonmarcelodamon Hattiesburg, MS✭✭✭ 2005 AJL Modèle Marcelo Damon Selmer copy, 2020 Aylward Favino copy
    Posts: 31
    Wes Montgomery started playing the guitar at 19!!! I read in a article all he ever did was transcribe Charlie Christian; and that was it. I read an article some years ago about how Stochelo learned to play and he said he spent countless hours learning Django's solos by slowing down his record player. I asked Bireli (about 8 years ago after seeing him play in San Diego) how he learned to make the switch from playing gypsy jazz to bebop and beyond and he said he listened to and emulated George Benson's playing (as I told him his standard's album was the best strait ahead album of standards I had ever heard).

    Sure, all of these players are no doubt geniuses, but none of them told me "I studied theory and learned to read notes". Bottom line, all that theory does is stifle your playing. I don't believe knowing theory makes learning to improvise easier, I actually believe it to be a detriment, as it takes your ear of the equation and makes ideas visible on paper, when they should be entirely audible. Leave the theory to the theorists, and the musical notation to the classical musicians.

    I don't believe any of the players who we most admire in this style and beyond think "Well, here is a G7 chord, I should play a B diminished arpeggio and/or scale". If you think like this, then you are not actually creating a melody, rather just being a flashcard improviser; which none of the masters are.

    I think the word "genius" is thrown around too often anyway. These people learned to become great at what they did because they were wholly dedicated to learning to play. I think when you say someone is gifted, you debase the obvious dedication and devotion that this artist has committed to becoming what they have become. Gypsies traditionally play better than us gadjos because Django Reinhardt IS the partriarch of their cultural heritage. Thus they are brought up on the orthodoxy of his playing style. This is why there are so many young "prodigies" in the roma communities.

    I do believe anyone can achieve a very high level of capability by being diligent in your transcribing, and learning to "hear" everything. You just have to believe in yourself and that you are capable of learning anything. Additionally, always play from your heart!

    Keep on Djamming!
  • dennisdennis Montreal, QuebecModerator
    Posts: 2,131
    i've been saying what marcello is saying for years, but people are stubborn and they refuse to believe me...

    the truth is simple: the path to success is actualyl the longest and hardest one... i think it's the fear of going through that road that make people try to take shortcuts.... the problem is that you can spend 20 yrs trying to takeshortcuts and never getting to yoru destination, or you can spend 20 yrs struggling but reach actual the destination.... most people would rather take the shortcut... sad but true

    however, i should add that for peopel who don't have high/professional aspirations, shortcuts are fine, the important thing is to have fun, after all
  • Dario NapoliDario Napoli Milano✭✭✭✭ Hahl Gitano Deluxe
    Posts: 291
    Awesome thread guys, really enjoyed reading all of it! Couldn't agree more Marcelo, the development of the ear is really the only thing that matters and I agree that should come FIRST. Theory can come after and maybe help make sense of some things and to be able to adapt same concepts in different situations.
    Lets just remember how we all learned our native languages, we essentially copied the people around us, by ear, then came the grammar but it's really almost as if we never needed it.
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