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Learning The Changes Of 100+ Songs - Is It Worth It or Just a Waste of Time?

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  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,852

    A related goal might be to be able to play the melody of each one my top 100 songs by ear...

    Anybody here ever tried doing anything like that?

    bopster
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 867

    why not and melodies will also help your soloing...go for it!

  • bopsterbopster St. Louis, MOProdigy Wide Sky PL-1, 1940? French mystery guitar, ‘37 L-4
    edited January 2020 Posts: 513

    I’m always reminded of what practice goals I forgot to write down at jam sessions, when people call tunes whose head includes a bebop bridge. Or any other tune with melodic twists and turns.

    And not knowing the heads well breaks s cardinal rule I have and teach - knowing heads/lyrics are the only way to memorize tunes that utilize a non standardized form. Think of “Cheek to Cheek.” Not terribly complicated, but if you can’t follow the lyric, you’re lost.


    I’m totally with you @Lango-Django.

    rudolfochristeverett
  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    Posts: 458

    Unless a guy in a funny outfit starts calling really obscure tunes around a campfire.....

    Buco
  • bopsterbopster St. Louis, MOProdigy Wide Sky PL-1, 1940? French mystery guitar, ‘37 L-4
    Posts: 513

    @geese_com - the more you hang with funky dressers, the better YOU look. And the more tunes you know.

    geese_com
  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    Posts: 458


    Learning the melodies and heads on the guitar are next on my list. I will probably start on that phase once I get to 100 songs for the changes. I know about 25 melodies/heads on the guitar and can (badly) sing/hum most of the others.

  • Lango-DjangoLango-Django Niagara-On-The-Lake, ONModerator
    Posts: 1,852

    You know what else would be really cool?

    To be able to switch effortlessly from chords to melody... and back again... at random...

    If I could do that with a tune, I’d feel like I had really nailed it.

    MichaelHorowitzgeese_com
    Paul Cezanne: "I could paint for a thousand years without stopping and I would still feel as though I knew nothing."

    Edgar Degas: "Only when he no longer knows what he is doing does the painter do good things.... To draw, you must close your eyes and sing."

    Georges Braque: "In art there is only one thing that counts: the bit that can’t be explained."
  • Russell LetsonRussell Letson Prodigy
    Posts: 355

    I find it hard to imagine knowing the changes but not the melody of a tune--in fact, there are probably hundreds of tunes I can hum along with even though I don't know the changes.

    I've been sitting in with a bop-centric band for a couple years now and have had my nose rubbed in my ignorance of changes to tunes I can hum or even sing. Even more frustrating is that I've been doing this for long enough that I can often hear the *kind* of changes but don't know exactly which chords to apply until I either sit down and work them out or look at a chart. That's where the family-resemblance recognition can kick in--"Ah, it's the 'All of Me' pattern." It doesnt' help that my ear's not good enough to spot the key right off--I have to experiment around the fingerboard and even then I can get it wrong. I used to play with a guy who could spot the key center on the fly--it always looked like magic to me.

  • geese_comgeese_com Madison, WINew 503
    Posts: 458

    That's a neat idea. I might have to try it out to test myself.

  • MichaelHorowitzMichaelHorowitz SeattleAdministrator
    Posts: 6,146

    I agree that this is the ultimate test of knowing a tune. And you don't need some fancy solo arrangement or anything, just turn the metronome on, play the head and solo ideas in time and interject the chords in the spaces. When done well, it sounds amazingly complete and you can do entire gigs this way on your own.

    Much of what has been said here is spot on and I think learning 100 tunes, whether it happens naturally or more as a concerted effort, is a great way to develop. But just to play devil's advocate, there's also another exercise you can perform whereby you take one tune and learn many versions of it (could be just Gypsy/Django versions or expand it to include other styles of jazz too.) Even just the basic melody and chord changes in most fake books are just a loose approximation that no one ever really played. You have to go back to the original recordings and listen very carefully. Django played so many cool variations and fills on the heads, and the chords are both simpler (i.e. bare bones changes that the rhythm players played) and the more complex (the more advanced harmonies, passing chords, rhythms, that Django played.) I go back and listen to tunes I've been playing for decades and often find that I've been playing the head or chords incorrectly (well, maybe not "incorrectly," but am missing many subtleties of phrasing, variation, etc.)

    rudolfochristgeese_commac63000BillDaCostaWilliamsStringswingerbillyshakesJSanta
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