Pip Eastop, Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Horn player, Photographer, Trumpet player

Pip Eastop Hornplayer Photographer Trumpetplayer

Posts tagged “chord symbols

More help from Valentin

Valentin Garvie came around this evening. He had phoned up to say he was in London for four days between a tour around Sweden and a pile of work with Ensemble Moderm in Germany, so I invited him around straight away. We played through a few blues pieces and one or two standards, all with the Aebersold playalongs.

To summarise what came out of the evening:

1. I’ve improved a bit since the last time we tried this together, which is encouraging in itself, but in addition Valentin was particularly encouraging. He’s very good at delivering praise and encouragement wrapped up neatly with some constructive criticism.

2. My polycarbonate mouthpiece is really not bad – we did a sound test and the differences were not quite so obvious as they had seemed last time we compared it with his Bach 1.5C

3. Valentin is a really good jazzer! I don’t know why he hasn’t been doing more of it. As we got warmed up he got much better, very rapidly, indicating that he has been very good at jazz improvisation in the past but has let it get a bit rusty. After half an hour or so he was producing some amazingly impressive stuff and by comparison I felt I was sounding worse and worse. The most noticable thing for me was that I don’t seem to have any sort of style, rather I play in what might be called the “Blandissimo” style. Some gin didn’t help. For a moment or two I felt like giving up but then Valentin managed to find yet more encouragement, somehow.

4. He agreed wholeheartedly with “Really, the best way to learn is to take tunes off records..”. (see previous post, here).

5. He thinks that rather than trying to learn all the turnarounds, all the two-five-ones, all the blues progressions in every key etc. (not that I have been, entirely…) I should I should stick to the simpler more common keys only and concentrate my efforts more on learning a big repertoire of patterns, licks, riffs, whatever they are called, extracted from recorded solos. I must find a ways of chaining chunks of this sort of remembered material together in my improvisation. Hopefully, this should to prevent me meandering around aimlessly, which is what I tend to do when I’m reading chord symbols.

Now, that’s a lot of learning in one evening – and all it cost me was the preparation of a bowl of stif-fried vegetables with rice and a gin&tonic!

(6. I must persuade Valentin to come over more often.)


Lodes Of Modes

I’m on holiday with the family in a cottage in Sherringham Park, Norfolk. Nobody lives anywhere nearby so I can practice at anytime and most of what I’ve done so far has been outside.

I’ve brought Kenny’s Benge pocket trumpet with me and I’m doing irregular bursts of modes and jazz-chord arpeggios from an exercise I’ve written called “Lodes of Modes”. See below.  

I’ve also had the odd stab at repeat tonguing in the high register – something I find rather difficult. So, I’m not really being very systematic but then this is a holiday. I guess what I’m doing adds up to about 90 minutes or so each day.

The little Benge is perfect for a holiday practice trumpet. It takes up almost no space – it even fits inside my regular horn case, next to my horn, and, most importantly, it’s a serious piece of gear – an excellent instrument by any standards.

Benge Pocket Trumpet

Benge Pocket Trumpet

With a cup mute in it’s nice and quiet so it doesn’t disturb the kids trying to get to sleep.

Here’s “Lodes Of Modes”: 

This evening, I’ve just discovered a good way forward. I sat down with Aebersold’s Turnarounds book and CD (volume 16) and tackled the progressions for what are called “Turnarounds No 3”. It’s basically this progression: DM,F7, BbM,Eb7 repeated three times followed by a variety of unsubtle modulations into another key – and through all the keys.

I started off by playing along with the CD but soon realised I was just deepening previous grooves I had made rather than finding new pathways. I turned off the playalong and started to play just the chord notes of each chord symbol. Difficult! Ken Bartells was right – I must learn to know what notes I am playing and learn play ones I choose rather than playing exclusively by ear.


Reading from chord symbols

The task ahead has got a little bit clearer now.

I need to learn how to read from chord symbols. I should carry written sequences around with me and work on them in my head. Yes, that’s a good idea. I could photocopy a few from the Real Book and carry them around with me. I don’t necessarily have to have the instrument with me.

I think I need to learn to “see” each chord symbol as a harmony flavour and a scale – sort of a grid of possibilities within that flavour. Having learned that then I should learn how to imagine how the following one sounds while I am still playing the first. I think this ability must take a long time and a lot of work to acquire – and the method of acquiring this skill must be efficient.

Working out methods is where I am right now.