Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

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Play much more simply

I’ve been trying to think about what I want to achieve by learning jazz.
I think it’s that I want to be able to analyse what I’m doing, as I do it, so that I’m always aware of what I’m doing. That is it, I think.
I don’t want to plan everything I play, consciously – that would be dull, contrived and too slow a process to come up with anything but safe material.
On the other hand I don’t want to let my unconscious autopilot do just anything it chooses, as I have always done in the past with my improvising. It’s fine for free improvising but not much use for particular chord sequence.
It has to be a question of the balance between the automatic trawling for “licks”, learned patterns and inventing brand new material or recombining patterns in new ways.
This is why I think Ken Bartels is right when he tells me that I should try to learn to play much more simply, using limited ranges of notes, for example only the blues scale (that’s my first load of homework), and try to keep track of where I am all both harmonically and within the musical sequence.
What has always happened, whenever I launch into some blues for example, is that I would race around not knowing what notes I am playing – I suppose trying to go straight for the finished product without any considerations for the means-whereby. Where have I heard that story before? Read some stuff I wrote for the Horn Magazine about the Alexander Technique. Click.

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