Want to learn to play in tune? You should. Read on. Playing in tune is a skill often overlooked in practice. Here’s a great example of playing in tune: Michel Godard playing a serpent. The serpent is an ancient low-voiced instrument similar to the Medieval cornetto, and it produces a mesmerizing sound in the hands of a master like Godard (see the vid below or listen to the mp3).
This is an excellent musical performance, and interesting to boot! The frame drum solo at the beginning drew me right in, and when Michel Godard began to play the serpent I was entranced. The serpent is an ancient low-voiced instrument similar to the Medieval cornetto, and it produces a mesmerizing sound in the hands of a master like Godard (see the vid below or listen to the mp3).
Last Saturday at the Lionel Hampton Jazz Festival, I went to listen to Victor Wooten give a clinic. A while ago I posted a review of Victor’s book The Music Lesson, which is up for an audiobook award. For the clinic, Victor Wooten played with the fantastic and funny bass player (yes, there is another bass player in his band) Anthony Wellington; legendary jazz bassist John Clayton showed up for an improvised tune or two. The clinic was a fantastic example of playing, teaching and telling it straight. It was so good and inspirational, I knew it would be worth sharing.
More in the practical realm this week, continuing the scale-related theme started last week. Here are some patterns to consider for your scale practice. Because it’s so pervasive and is used to explain many aspects of music theory, I’m going to use the Major scale as a reference, and particularly, its numbers, like so:
Major Scale = 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
If Music is genetic material, scales are its DNA. This is true for most music, anyway. Scales won’t help you much if you’re going to perform John Cage’s 4′ 33,” or if you’re interested in Inupiat shamanistic drumming, but scales will get you through just about any other music, from any culture (as long as you choose the right scale to practice) and they’re invaluable material for use in improvising.
As I started putting my thoughts together on this topic, I realized that a complex set of information is bewildering without tools to make sense of it all. There are so many scales, and so many ways to practice them that it can be difficult to keep them all straight. So I’ve created some tools to help you keep track: checklists, scales, and a few other things. Checklists are making headlines lately (New Yorker article here) because they’ve been shown to improve performance significantly (it’s why pilots use them).