Am backing track, Bathory & Joe Riposo
So, assuming its really him, Joe Riposo left a thank-you comment on my About page for reading his book, Target and Approach Tones – Shaping Bebop Lines. If it is, I’m surprised that he’d find my blog, and both humbled and flattered that he’d actually drop a line. I realized that I didn’t know much of anything about him, outside of the little that I’ve read from his book, so I Googled him. He’s really quite amazing – according to Wikipedia, he’s a saxophonist, composer and arranger and he taught (and headed the jazz studies department) at Syracuse University.
I think that right now, he’s around 86 years old. What really amazes me though was that he suffered a hematoma around 6 years ago, had brain surgery to drain the blood from his head and was able to recover and play music again. And its not a stringed instrument, like what I’m trying to learn. He regained his proficiency on saxophone – which likely means a lot more aerobic activity than what I’m putting into what I’m doing. I’m glad that he was able to overcome and hope that he has years still to continue composing, arranging and playing music.
I tried playing along with a jazz backing track in Am tonight. Its something I found on Youtube when I decided to see if I can put anything I’ve been practicing from Building Rock Bass Lines and Joe’s book into play. So far, I’m probably very simple with what I’m doing and anyone with more knowledge of how all of this works is probably wondering why on earth I picked a jazz track to practice with. Well, its because I liked how it sounded, and it seemed to move at a pace that I think I could handle.
Of course, what they’re playing is a little past what I think I’m capable of matching – its lots of 7th chords and some 9ths (I’ve never even played a 9th) – but I’m finding some stuff that I think works using roots, octaves and some other stuff that mostly plays off of those, ascending or descending from them using mostly scalar notes. We’re supposed to challenge ourselves to learn, and I’m finding that doing this is challenging in a few ways. First, even though I have the chord chart in the video, I still have to really pay attention to hear when the chords are changing, and 2nd, I’m hearing tones in my head that I want to play and I’m being forced to find them – which is showing me some surprising things. One is that I like to jump octaves a little bit, which is hard to do right now, and another is that chromatic notes can definitely fit into otherwise scale or chord-based riffs.
I actually realized that last bit earlier this evening. I had listened to some of Hammerheart, from Bathory, earlier today, because wifey got a Bathory shirt that’s the long-sleeve version of one of my tee-shirts. I happened to be wearing a different Bathory shirt as well, so when the mailman met us on the way to the car, I had to insist that one of us change. Neither did though. So, later on, when I got back home, I had the riff from Father to Son in my head and tried to piece it together from memory. I don’t know why I attempted it, and I know its in the wrong key, but I think I got some of the rhythm right, although I probably mushed the guitar and bass parts together a bit and likely made other mistakes I’m not aware of yet.
Here’s a snippet of what I attempted:
But, the point of all of that is, afterward (its not recorded) I tried playing in different keys and found one that sounds closer to what I had previously played. For part of it, I noticed that although it was mostly in C#m, I used 2 chromatic notes that worked well. I might record it later, just to compare with what I did above.
Oh, and I’m not looking forward to taking Bopps to her first actual piano lesson on Sunday. Its early and I didn’t realize that daylight savings also ends that day. She’s not an early riser and weekends are the only time I get any semblance of sleep… which I’m not doing right now, now that I think about it.