Tuesday, August 26, 2008

New Tune Learning Strategy

I'm going back to one of the first, if not the first tune I've ever attempted: Satin Doll.

But this time, I'm taking it to a different level.
Step one on my trip to mastering this tune is learning RH comping while playing a walking bass line.

Here's the strategy for accomplishing this.
There are 4 sections in this tune, it goes AABA
I have randomly (with the help of a die) selected 3 keys besides the common one (C in this case). (It will be C, Eb, F and B)

Simple math, 4 sections, 4 keys. That's 16 items to learn. I've drawn a simple matrix for myself. I will start with the first A section in 4 keys. It will include a particular bass line to be learned by heart, and simple shell chords.
Then I'll do A again in the same 4 keys, with a different bass line and adding more tones to the chords.
Then B, then A again. In a slightly different way once again.

Playing in different keys is crucial to mastering just about anything, including tunes. The first key is by far the most difficult since this is where most of the stuff happens:
- Transcribe bass line
- Play bass line :)
- Figure out LH chords
- Come up with varying rhythms for RH comping

When doing the 2nd key, it only looks difficult, but it isn't. However, you learn a lot by finding out those spots you didn't quite analyse or understand properly the first time around. You are starting to play tones in relations to scales.
The 3rd key continues down that path, while the 4th key is more or less a formality.

The idea is to be able to totally internalize the tune's progression, and learn a couple of slick bass lines while I'm at it. I'm hoping this is where I'll get by the end of the week.


Thomas Heute said...

"There are 4 sections in this tune, it goes AABA"

I think you meant ABBA, Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Man After Midnight)...

I don't see how it is related to Jazz though...

Al said...

I'm enjoying your blog. Here's a suggestion: You don't need to learn or memorize a bass line. You can instead learn to make up the bass lines as you go along, using some simple rules (e.g. always hit the root of the chord on the first beat, etc.). After a while this becomes second nature and you don't have to think about it.

Check out Randy Halberstadt's book.