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Thread: Giant Steps - how to improvise?

  1. #16
    Registered User dmsstudios's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929 View Post
    I can tell you that Im definitely not ready. This dude seems to be ready, lol.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSj06...eature=related

    I don't think I will ever get this stuff. As a jazz guitar player, I make a great tire salesman.
    That's fantastic - thanks for sharing this. You can tell by the guy's face that he's maxing out his brain - and playing a brilliant Giant Steps!

    I think that true artistry is in the desire to be better, to grow, but most importantly, to always want it. If you ever "arrive" then you will no longer be making true art.

    I'm still bungling through arpeggios across the fretboard on this one - I have nothing on your youtube guy. Thanks again!

  2. #17
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    The way I would play it

    Quote Originally Posted by dmsstudios View Post
    That's fantastic - thanks for sharing this. You can tell by the guy's face that he's maxing out his brain - and playing a brilliant Giant Steps!

    I think that true artistry is in the desire to be better, to grow, but most importantly, to always want it. If you ever "arrive" then you will no longer be making true art.

    I'm still bungling through arpeggios across the fretboard on this one - I have nothing on your youtube guy. Thanks again!

    I don't have a clue what he is thinking about but he is definitely maxing out the brain power. All I can say is that he is playing the notes that I wish I could find.
    Joey D




  3. #18
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Expirement

    I have been studying jazz theory with a jazz pianist and at this point in time I have a decent handle on many of the jazz solo concepts but this one takes the cake.

    My experiment is going to go like this. Im going to record the progression and just go for it over and over until I get it right. I was playing around last night and came up with this idea.

    I was just trying to make the notes work as the chords flew by and every now and then I was able to catch notes that worked. The tricky part was obviously when the key changes.

    My theory is that from where ever I am at the moment, the key change is really only a few notes away. I realized this after learning to play major scales all in one place on the neck.

    Im not saying he is using all major scales but for the most part you can use major scales. For the dominant chords really any note will work (avoiding the Major 7th interval) and even then if I hit the Maj 7 interval its just a passing tone.

    I find it impossible to believe that anyone can think scale changes this fast but maybe Im wrong. My point is that Im going to play around with it.

    On another note, I have been studying chord construction and analysis, and have learned to analyze jazz tunes to some degree but this one just is out of the ball park regarding my level of knowledge. I have a long way to go.

    When I analyze jazz tunes I usually look for II V and/or II V I progressions. Then I look for any secondary dominants. Next I look for any dominant 7 chords that can be explained as tritone subs. Its baby steps but I have to start somewhere.

    I am at the point where I want an explanation for as many chords as possible but giant steps just doesn't make sense to me because there are sooooo many subs and so fourth.

    One thing that I did learn is that the progression follows the augmented cycle to some degree. Im getting together with my theory teacher tomorrow to try and make some sense of this.

    Im sure when I can understand this that things will be much clearer in the long run.
    Joey D




  4. #19
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Raul Midon

    Here is a great video of Raul Midon explaining some things regarding giant steps.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oZTlfPHfwso

    He makes the point that he can scat over the changes because he has done it many many many times. His point is that that blues singers can remember and hear changes because they do it alot.

    I have not done it alot but check out the video, he makes a good point that its not just theory that gets you through an improv solo, its being familiar with the changes and knowing them inside out, upside down, backwards, forwards, and sideways.
    Joey D




  5. #20
    I like music.
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    here's how you do/don't play on giant steps

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a8Dh2...eature=related

    go to around 6:30, you'll hear an interesting approach....

    continues here, another interesting approach at around 4 minutes

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PKv5BThwVuc&NR=1

    I have the most interesting recordings of the most innovative young creative musicians in new york tackling this tune.
    Last edited by Dommy; 06-14-2010 at 05:45 PM.
    Hard luck and trouble...

  6. #21
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Old news or not

    Maybe this is yesterday's news to you who are "real" jazz players but I just figured this out, like a revelation to help me change keys when improvising over specific parts of giant steps, as much as a newbie as I am to jazz, this makes sense.

    Regarding the parts where there are a series of II V I progressions that move through augmented cycles, I discovered it is easier to change keys and hit the right note if you move an augmented interval from where ever you are at the moment, of course, being careful of the Major 7th if you end up on this note at the first beat of the next minor 7 chord.

    It really doesn't seem to matter where you are and no real thought is involved other than moving up a Major third because you are moving in an augmented pattern, (augmented is series of Major third intervals so it works)

    The progression starts in F. Fmin7 Bb7 EbMaj7. On the EbMaj7 if I play the Bb note just before the augmented cycle starts the Amin7 - D7 - GMaj7 chords, all I have to do is play the note that is the Major third above the Bb. This puts me on a D note. From here, it is easy to go into the Aminor 7 scales, at least it guides my ears into the right tonality.

    Its an easy set up into the next scale. IF the last note played over the Eb Major 7 chord is a G, then the next I would play is B, this at least puts me on a note that works over Aminor 7. It is a fool proof way(at least for me) to get my ear into the next scale because I know the note is going to fit, or at least lead me up or down to the right series of scale tones.

    I guess is would work if you are modulating up in fourths, just make the next note a perfect fourth from where ever you are.

    I just have to be careful and be aware if it causes me to land on the Major 7th when I get to the next minor 7 chord. I just try to move if I realize that I have landed on this note, then its just a passing tone if I move along with some thought.

    I figure I can either go up or down from there into a scale or part of an arpeggio if I can anticipate it coming.

    Any1?
    Joey D




  7. #22
    IbreatheMusic Author ChrisJ's Avatar
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    This is one of those songs... It is basically ii-Vs-Is and V-Is in three keys, all spread apart by major thirds. The bottom line with this song, especially if you want to play it at the tempo he does is to just work out the licks. Try:

    ii chord - the ii chord arpeggio (duh)
    V chord - dim7 arpeggio on the 3rd of the chord
    I - I chord arpeggio

    So for the ii-V-I (in B)= C#min7-A#dim7-Bmaj7 arpeggios.

    John also played add2 arpeggio over the major and dominant chords
    (1-2-3-5). So for the first B chord: B-C#-D#-F#.

    You really have to memorize the licks and combine them for this song. Scales don't work that great although it can be done. I have outakes of this song and John is mostly playing the same licks, in different order so he worked out the licks before hand. The point is to not really simplify but to nail the chords. It is the musical version of painting by numbers.

  8. #23
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Interesting discovery for me

    I was up very late last night and also spent the past few hours trying to get this straight. I spent most of the time analyzing the entire tune Giant Steps and this is what I have discovered, for what its worth. Improvising is another area, I just wanted to understand the chord movement at this point.


    My real book starts off with B Maj 7.

    You will need the sheet music to see this, but I was trying to make sense of the chord movement and read that it moves in mostly augmented cycles.

    Im sure you more experienced players are aware of this but please bear with me, Its all new to me. Here are my findings:

    Measures 1-2-3 and 5-6-7...
    The first three Major 7 chords have their respective V preceding them. When this happens in the measures listed above, the root of each of the three Maj 7 chords moves in Augmented fifths. (the opening BMaj7 chord technically follows this because measure 16 is a II V that resolves back to measure 1. So the first three measures are IIIMajor V I instead of IIm V I, essentially, moving in Augmented cycles.

    Measures 3-4 7-8 9-10 11-12 13-14 are Major 7 chords leading into II V movements. This only happens after the Major 7 chord that is held for a full measure. When this happens, the root of the II chord in the II V is always a tritone away from the root of the preceding full measure Maj7 chord.

    The Major 7 chords that precede and follow the II V will have roots that are a Major third apart.

    After the second full measure Major 7 chord in measure 7, a sequence of II V I progressions begin on Fminor7. The next four II V progression II roots are a Major third away from the previous II root. This follows the augmented cycle of II V I progressions. Fmin7 Amin7 C#min7 back to Fmin7.

    The only exception is at the end of this cycle, in measure 15, notice that the II root in the II V on measure 16 is NOT a tritone away from the full measure Maj 7 chord in measure 15. This is because the last II V I following the Augmented cycle skips ahead an Augmented 5th, rather then a Major third. Simply put it skips two Major thirds.

    It has to do this so that the II V in measure 16 resolves back to BMaj7 in measure one.

    Once I memorized this information, I found that it is easy to transpose into another key if I follow the systematic logic that is clearly laid out in this arrangement. Quite amazing no doubt.

    The way this is worded may be subject to interpretation but no matter how you slice it, this is how the chords move. The entire tune moves in either Major thirds to generate augmented cycles, or the chords move in Augmented 5th cycles. Of course, the exception is when the II V movement happens the root is a tritone from the Maj7, as I stated above.

    In simplest terms, the chords move in Augmented fifths when Major and diminished fifths when moving to minor (tritone)
    Last edited by joeyd929; 06-15-2010 at 05:08 PM. Reason: Left out some data.
    Joey D




  9. #24
    Registered User bakery's Avatar
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    I like to study Giant Steps too

    I'am just in the middle of trying to understand it myself .I'll talk about it when I get there.

  10. #25
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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  11. #26
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Clueless

    I finally think I understand how the chord movement works but as far as how to solo over this, I haven't a clue.

    I hear the jazz cats blazing over this and just don't get it. Someone posted earlier about memorizing some stock riffs that work, maybe thats the key like the country players, just remember a boatload of riffs and where to start them????

    Meanwhile Im still experimenting, thats about it.
    Joey D




  12. #27
    Registered User JonR's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by joeyd929 View Post
    I finally think I understand how the chord movement works but as far as how to solo over this, I haven't a clue.

    I hear the jazz cats blazing over this and just don't get it. Someone posted earlier about memorizing some stock riffs that work, maybe thats the key like the country players, just remember a boatload of riffs and where to start them????

    Meanwhile Im still experimenting, thats about it.
    As I said earlier, this is a notoriously difficult tune to solo on, maybe the hardest you could ever tackle. Only the very best "jazz cats", after years of experience and practice, can "blaze" over this. I certainly can't.

    Certainly stock riffs are a good idea, but IMO that's a pretty unsatisfying strategy if it's all you do. What's the point of that? Getting a prize for escaping from it unscathed? Jazz isn't about escape plans, avoiding dialogue with the material. "Phew I got through that one." It's not about showing off technical chops either: "wow he can play Giant Steps without making a mistake!"

    Basically it's about key centres that move by major 3rds - pretty simple in principle, but the problem is the tempo it's usually taken at, and the fact that it never spends long enough in any one key to build any sense of key. Every phrase always has to lead into the next key; and that leads immediately on into the next.

    Personally I hate this tune, not because I can't play anything sensible on it (although I can't), but because it's always seemed like an exercise for the sake of it, not really a "tune" at all. I don't think there is anything very "musical" about it. Or - if there is - the musical elements (those melodic phrases in the head) are swamped by the clever-clever technical concepts and challenges.
    Obviously this is a personal view. I'm just pointing out that this tune is supposed to be difficult. It's not supposed to reveal itself as easily as most other jazz tunes do from theoretical analysis.

    Sorry I'm not being a lot of help, am I?

    But as I said before, there is a ton of info and debate on this tune all over the internet, and - if I really wanted to play it - I would be doing all that research and not struggling to understand it myself from scratch, without a guide. That work has been done already - why waste your effort?
    OTOH, if you're keen on personal research and on not leaning on other people's interpretations, you could learn a lot by transcribing what other musicians have played on it - starting with Coltrane himself, of course.
    I mean, you sound like you're working in the dark, when there's plenty of light out there.
    Last edited by JonR; 06-16-2010 at 02:36 PM.

  13. #28
    JazzNerd gersdal's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JonR View Post
    As I said earlier, this is a notoriously difficult tune to solo on, maybe the hardest you could ever tackle. Only the very best "jazz cats", after years of experience and practice, can "blaze" over this. I certainly can't.
    According to a book I'm reading right now, John Coletrane never (or maybe it said very few times) played Giant Steps live! I'll have a check in my Coletrane collection to see if there's contradictionary examples... Anyway, the point is: Even he did not play it much, and we should probably concern ourself mostly with easier stuff

  14. #29
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    300 devices

    It was mentioned somewhere in this thread that Coltrane had memorized 300 melodic devices? What does this mean "melodic devices"?

    Are these little short melodies that work over chords? Not sure I follow.
    Joey D




  15. #30
    Did I say that out loud ? joeyd929's Avatar
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    Here is some interesting

    information about Giant Steps. Someone posted this link on youtube. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kotK...eature=related

    Its the sax solo and it prints the notes and shows the chords as it moves along. I thought it would be a good idea to hit pause after each section and at least the notes are there that he is playing.

    Maybe someone out there can make heads or tails out of it by seeing the music note for note on the computer.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2kotK...eature=related
    Joey D




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