Category Archives: Musicianship

The Philosophy of Fingering

Many moons have passed since I was last on speaking terms with film composers, so I was unable to ask John Williams if he was aware that his Imperial March for the latest Star Wars movie uses one of those … Continue reading

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How do You Read Music?

Well, how do you read music? Western music notation is unique in having adapted essentially one and the same system to the task of notating for all musical instruments and voices. But does that mean we all read the same way? … Continue reading

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Weightlessness

Jazz education generally does its best to keep up with the latest trends in music, with thousands of teachers worldwide analysing classic performances and attempting to reverse-engineer them into exercises that you can try at home. Working always on the … Continue reading

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Lines of Least Resistance and Trusting to Chance

I once asked South African jazz harmonica player Adam Glasser if it wouldn’t be more practical to have an isomorphic chromatic harmonica laid out around the two whole tone scales, to make intervallic improvising intuitive and everything you play freely transposable. … Continue reading

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Why Saxophonists are so Annoying

Last week a friend, who remembered me from back in the day when I used to play saxophone, invited me to come on a gig with him in Paris. I wondered how come he didn’t know any sax players in … Continue reading

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MOVES: Melodic Freedom for the Classically Chained

Followers of this blog (both of you) will have noticed that I like to quote the NLP adage: “The Map is not the Territory”. And one of my main beefs about most traditional musical instruments, when it comes to learning … Continue reading

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Violin Mind and Guitar Mind or Why You Should Learn Two Instruments

Here is an exercise that builds on a fragment from John Coltrane’s solo on Giant Steps that gets you through all the major triads (4 3) and half diminished arpeggios (3 3 4). In the original context the half diminished is actually … Continue reading

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How to be a Bomber (Perfect Love Casts Out Fear)

Across the road from me is an area where the old men play their pétanque, or as the English prefer to call it, boules. And most afternoons when there isn’t a game on, one particular fellow can be found there … Continue reading

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The Philosophy of Licks

What is a lick? A lick is a musical phrase. But not every musical phrase is a lick. To qualify as a lick, the phrase must stand out in some way. As far back as I can remember, licks were … Continue reading

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Your Three Instruments

1st Instrument : your horn Learning to be a musician begins with mastering your instrument. An instrument is supposed to be that thing that you bang or blow out notes on. Your voice. Why is it even called an instrument? An … Continue reading

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