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Jazz School Experience Series

Posted by David Bloom on Apr 20, 2011 6:06:00 PM

Escaping Yourself to Be You (Part 3)

A few specific ideas for musicians as well as civilians to help you escape both the outside and inside negative forces are as follows: For musicians, I have found that a good way to work on escaping preconceived notions, and occupying the present is to play the first two bars of the melody of a ballad twenty times, each phrasing the melody differently, but in a way that is sincere and expressive. They rhythm can be changed, the melody can be broken up differently with different length rests and dramatic dynamics can be used. But do not change the actual pitches; once you change the pitches and the rhythm it is no longer the tune that is was to begin with.

We want to vary it, not dismiss it. I once asked Ira Sullivan how it is that he doesn't repeat himself. He told me that when he first arrived in New York he went to a jam session Monday at 4pm and left on Wednesday at 8pm. He said, "When you play that long you have to look deep inside to come up with new ideas so as to not bore yourself." This exercise demands that the player looks deep inside to find and hear varied ways of playing the moelody notes (pitches) but giving a new perspective to the melody each time they play it. It demands being accountable for one's creativity for each new moment, and not phrasing the tune the same every time just waiting to blow (improvise). Playing a two bar phrase versus the whole tune allows you to remember what you did two bars ago rather than trying to remember what you did thirty-two bars ago.

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