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Lifelong learning-latest installment


jeremy c

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Lately I have been doing gigs with saxophonist Jules Broussard.

 

I have been getting quite an education on these gigs. Jules has a fantastic sound on sax. But what is amazing me is his ability to create melodies. Everything he plays sounds like a composition. He'll play the melody and on the next choruses he will make up new melodies. They are all perfect. I guess you could say he is a "pre-bebop" player. His ability to play the perfect notes over changes is uncanny.

 

I sit right next to him (actually just a little behind him, between the pianist and the drummer).

My solo style is changing from being in this environment as I am attempting to say more while playing less.

 

(this isn't the usual "less is more" nonsense...we're playing standards that have at least one chord change per bar and several key changes per song)

 

Last week there was a different guitarist playing than the guy who had been playing most of the gigs on which I played.

 

His name is Ned Boynton. He sounded great playing all the jazz standards that we were playing....but as I looked at his hands I didn't recognize his voicings.

 

Finally when we played a few rock tunes at the end of the night, I realized that his guitar was not in standard tuning.

 

We talked about it....he's got his guitar tuned low to high: D G C F Bb Eb

 

So it's just like my six string bass, a minor third and an octave up.

 

Today I went and took a lesson on chord voicings from Ned.

 

It was great! I learned a whole set of new voicings and will be able to play extensions, substitutions and altered chords all over the neck now.

 

At some point I may even get to use this stuff on a gig! (though probably not on Mustang Sally or Skin Tight).

 

Stay tuned.

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He's got his guitar tuned in this very unconventional way because he used to play Bajo Sexto in a Mexican band and he got used to an instrument tuned in fourths.

 

One advantage is that chord shapes can be moved anywhere.

 

An advantage or disadvantage (depending on how you see it) is that you can't play typical guitar riffs and chord fingerings.

 

It's a little harder to play chord voicings with seconds in them.

 

Ned decided to play this way one day and just went for it. He gave me a little history lesson on jazz guitarists who have not used standard tuning.

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A guitar player I gig with a lot also tunes his guitar in fourths, but not up a minor third. He has an C and F string above the G.

 

And his voicings and solos are among the most musical ever.

 

Makes me wanna learn something new.

Yep. I'm the other voice in the head of davebrownbass.
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Great news, Jeremy!

 

Tuning guitar in forths is becoming more and more common. A guitarist I played with in Providence (he recently moved to Austin) tuned his 7 string guitar just like we would tune a 7 string bass. He says he started tuning in forths because the major third tuning between G and B never really made sense to him and that bass players tune in in forths. Tuninging in forths is also symmetrical, as you touched on when mentioning that chord shapes can be moved anywhere. All of his student tune in fourths.

 

As for not being able to play "typical guitar riffs" comfortably - good! We've heard enough of them.

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One BIG caveat of tuning in 4ths is that a lot of the normal open-string chords on a standard-tuned guitar are terribly difficult to adapt.

 

C major chord?

-0---------2-
-1--new->--0-
-0---------0-
-2--<-old--2-
-3---------3-
-x---------x-

Actually quite awkward to finger. E major?

 

-0---------3-
-0--new->--4-
-1---------1-
-2--<-old--2-
-2---------2-
-0---------0-

...Not gonna happen.

 

You have to rethink everything. And on top of that, you have to throw out your old barre chord shapes and invent entirely new ones. It's a whole new ballgame, and that's why, as jeremyc and Dave Brown pointed out, it's a whole new sound.

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Originally posted by jeremy c:

Lately I have been doing gigs with saxophonist Jules Broussard.

 

...what is amazing me is his ability to create melodies. ... My solo style is changing from being in this environment as I am attempting to say more while playing less.

this approach may well make me a much better soloist -- too often i take the guitar-style scale tones and riff cookbook approach, which is boring and never satisfies.

 

thanks for the insight, jerms!

 

robb.

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Oh,Boy! This thread could B real fun!

 

I have a question about the guitar tunings.

I suspect that these R used 4 partial rather than full chords, what w/the snag of the different pitches for the 1st & 2nd strings (& Bsides who needs a full 6 note chord N most cases) but I personally have always though that the standard guitar tuning was a "miracle of science" Bcause of the ease with which full barres can B handled & the accessabilty of notes under ones's fingers, compared 2 most altered tunings, at least 2 me.

Also most altered tunings, at least those from the blues angle, preserve a triad as available at a single fret.

Anything that one works at U can Bcome accustomed 2, of course...

 

"He gave me a little history lesson on jazz guitarists who have not used standard tuning".

Other than George Van Eps & 2 long ago players, Carl Kress & Dick McDonough (I think that's the right name) could U drop a few names/tunings, JC ?

(not 2 turn this N2 a discussion only about guitar tunings, though).

 

Now, I&I'll just listen quietly from the corner. :D

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