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Topic: Greetings and a Question for You All  (Read 1910 times)

Offline markj

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Greetings and a Question for You All
on: May 25, 2005, 03:58:37 AM
Hello all. I'm new to the board. I think I will be hanging out here a lot as I am (at 37 years old) FINALLY committed to learning this complicated thing that is piano. I have played by ear for many years. I can play OK.. but I consider myself a total hack. I have begun playing minuets to work on my dexterity and rhythm and it's coming along well. I'm practicing about 1 hour a night - but I wonder if it's enough. I play scales, I do arpeggios, I work on II-V-I's (for jazz) - in every key. The II-V-I's are grueling.

Which is a segue..

How many of you experienced players know the II-V-I progression in every key by touch? How many know it by sight? How many have to labor through it and think about all of the intervals?

And if you can play it by touch in every key, can you play all three primary inversions?

I'm just curious to know how far I should take it. EVERYONE tells me I MUST know the II-V-I in every key and I'm a believer having seen (and owned) every fake book on the earth, but I'm just wondering how far I should go. To be honest, I don't think I have the brain capacity to remember ANY progression in all 12 keys. I have ahrd time even remembering progressions for popular songs.

Anyways, hopefully this will be a good thread as I'm really curious to know how deep the average experienced pianists chord dictionary is.

Thanks

Mark
www.jforce.org

 ;D

Offline rob47

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #1 on: May 25, 2005, 04:42:57 AM
EVERYONE tells me I MUST know the II-V-I in every key

Nice to meet you!  They lied to you.  8)
"Phenomenon 1 is me"
-Alexis Weissenberg

Offline i_m_robot

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #2 on: May 25, 2005, 04:46:40 AM
you dont have to member progression just patterns

and doing progressions in every key not very so hard if you know your keys well

self can tell you for sure
WATASHI NO NAMAE WA

AI EMU ROBATO DESU

立派のエビの苦闘及びは立派である

Offline markj

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #3 on: May 25, 2005, 05:29:47 AM
Who is self?

Offline i_m_robot

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #4 on: May 25, 2005, 05:45:21 AM
self is self
WATASHI NO NAMAE WA

AI EMU ROBATO DESU

立派のエビの苦闘及びは立派である

Offline Floristan

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #5 on: May 25, 2005, 06:21:39 AM
self is self

ROFTLMAO!  A triumphant tautology!

MarkJ:  you'll get used to robot's depersonalized use of the third person singular.  He's a robot, after all.  ;)

Offline popdog

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #6 on: May 25, 2005, 11:49:15 AM
Welcome aboard. 
There is a difference between things that are learnt and things that are memorised, although the overlap is sufficiant to often cause confusion about the boundaries which seperate the two different disiplines. 
The piano is undenyably a beautiful instrument, and it is also very useful as a means of composition and theory visualisation.  I think I have read a post post from Bernhard about pragmatic learning.  I think that much of what I have learnt has been learnt because of the nature in which I learnt it - mostly from exposure to the instrument and my own desire for competence on the instrument, that is, by myself. 
I think I have learnt a lot from this, not only about piano, but about myself and the ways we learn. 

The ii-V-Is are something which one learnt, will be worked out instead of memorised.  Through the process of learning, memorisation occurs.  That is, you figure them out when you have to through you're pragmatic knowledge, and you will, in turn, memorise them instead of blindly memorising them. 
Get started with some structured practice and instruction (sounds like you're doing that), more importantly, start to spend time getting to know the instrument. 

That which I have just written is a partially structured mass of words.  I apologise about this.  I find that there is generally a corelation between my manner of writing and my mental health.  Hopefully you get something from this, for this is my experience of the instrument. 
popdog.

Offline goose

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #7 on: May 25, 2005, 09:53:15 PM
Hi Mark, and welcome!

You raise an excellent question. Several years ago I got the same advice: “Keep taking the ii-V-Is” as if they were the magical panacea for all ailing jazz pianists. That’s only half the story, though.

As you know from listening (and from your fake books) most every jazz ‘standard’ uses the ii-V-I progression. But, unlike in classical theory, a ii-V does not necessarily mean a real modulation to a new key. Frequently, the Imaj7 chord doesn’t materialize (often becoming another ii chord for the next ii-V).

I love Mark Levine’s ‘Jazz Piano Book’ and agree it’s the bible of voicings (and much else). The problem I found, though, is that he offers numerous voicings but doesn’t say much about learning them except: “Practice them through the cycle in all keys”.

While you should have the circle of fifths down, you don’t have to ‘remember’ every progression as such. What you’re balancing is (a) the shape of a voicing (the way it looks and feels) and (b) the logic behind it (i.e. which notes the voicing includes).

The shape is a visual and a tactile thing. And, if you cycle through keys in a regular order (around the circle, down in whole-tones, etc) it will become familiar through ‘muscle memory’. But that doesn’t help you much when faced with a lead sheet. So you also need to practice chord voicings randomly, as well as other regularly occurring chord patterns than ii-V-I. And on top of all that you need to practice depending on whether you’ll be playing solo, or in a duo, trio or larger combo. Nightmare, eh?

Fortunately, help is at hand! I strongly recommend Phil DeGreg's 'Jazz Keyboard Harmony' (Aebersold Jazz). He systematises a wide variety of basic voicings (guide tones, left-hand, two-handed, fourths, etc) in ii-V-I and several other frequently encountered cycles (ii-V, V7-V7, maj7-maj7, rhythm changes, etc).

Don't be put off by the fact that the book is 'designed for all musicians' (not just pianists). Voicings are a jazz pianist's bread and butter, and I don't think you'll find a better way in than this. What's more, you can continue to apply his techniques to learn any new voicing you come up with (i.e. your own experimentation or using Levine’s ideas).

Another book which I just love is Randy Halberstadt's 'Metaphors for the Musician' (Sher Music). He really opened up Levine (and a bunch of other books) for me. All the well-known method books are essentially giving the same information. Each one just slices the pie a little differently. For me, Mr Halberstadt was the one who made everything start making sense. Was it because I'd already read other books? Hard to say, but his book could stand on its own as a theory/practice handbook. The first edition came out in 2001, which may be why you don't see too many people recommending it.

The most relevant Halberstadt chapter for your question is ‘Voicings 101’ where he offers his take on voicings for specific environments (solo, trio, quartet, etc). It really complements Levine and DeGreg. In fact, every chapter contains a wealth of information presented in a practical and entertaining way.

You might think from all this that I’m some kind of voicing master. Far from it! But I thought my thoughts on ‘getting there’ might help you on your own journey.

Two parting tips:
1) I struggled with the drudgery of learning voicings. So many variations, so many keys! I still struggle but it’s no longer drudgery. Something Kenny Werner wrote made things easier: Start simple and master something basic. Don’t move on until you can do it effortlessly.

He’s right. It’s too easy to fly through things and not really internalize them. I find it helps to think of voicings as a kind of (pseudo)-Zen meditation. Just relax and enjoy seeing they way the chords look and how they feel. Alternatively, while you play through them, really focus on your touch and timing. Play with a metronome if need be. We jazz folk can easily get lost focusing too much on the ‘right notes’, when really good playing is defined the same was as classical playing: tone and time.

2) It’s easy to jump ahead to altering notes in voicings. But master simple rootless voicings with 3rd-5th-7th-9th. You may not use these ‘vanilla voicings’ much in practice, but if you practice them first and really focus on the important 3rd and 7th when you go through them, you’ll find the notes you want to alter later on (9th and 5th/13th) will jump out at you. You’ll play a chord and immediately see ‘ah, there’s the 9th, now it’s become the 13th of the next chord’.

One final thing, then I’m done, I promise  :). Although this is a wonderful forum for pianists, you may find your jazz questions answered more comprehensively on allaboutjazz.com. Oh, and you might also think about using a more obvious topic header next time  ;)

Have fun,
Goose
Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes. - Jack Handey

Offline nanabush

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #8 on: May 26, 2005, 12:07:36 AM
ii-V-I as in supertonic note do dominant note to tonic note or... supertonic chord to dominant chord to tonic chord...
Interested in discussing:

-Prokofiev Toccata
-Scriabin Sonata 2

Offline Daevren

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #9 on: June 22, 2005, 12:36:44 PM
You really need to memorise ii-V-I's in all keys so you can instantly play them. This is very hard. Classical pianists don't realise this and they say it's not needed. It is for bebob style jazz. Plus its only the first step. I am sure Goose goes into all the details.


[edit]

Whoa, I kind of bumbed this topic. Ooh well...

Offline c18cont

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #10 on: June 22, 2005, 02:39:22 PM
I support the posting,

From Goose....and in particular his rec. of"allaboutjazz".

For quick looks and a real nice layout of material on the keyboard, see also "Virtual Piano Chords"...(just stick either it in a search engine...)

John

Offline whynot

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Re: Greetings and a Question for You All
Reply #11 on: June 22, 2005, 02:52:49 PM
I think Goose gave a GREAT answer.  I would definitely encourage you to keep working on your current project (using Goose's suggestions).  I think a well-rounded musician should be able to do many, many things in every key.  My suggestion would be to experiment thoroughly within one key at a time for a while.  You could force yourself to do everything in every key right away, but until you're really comfortable in a given key, the progression or exercise by itself may not make a lot of sense, so you wouldn't necessarily guage how to apply it in a song.  So maybe pick a key and just do everything you can think of:  scales, arpeggios (big or small), chords, inversions, progressions, then a simple song.  Then do the whole thing again in another key.  I mean, I definitely see the point of running isolated patterns in every key and practicing modulations this way-- I myself have spent a lot of time doing this over the years.  It's fun! and incredibly relevant.  But more easily done, and the applications more obvious, if you're fairly at ease in each key.  Anyway, just my own little thoughts.  Best of luck, hang in there.      
 

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