Same old licks

The lowdown on the Mississippi Sax. Just for Google, this section is about harmonicas.

Same old licks

Postby jeffl » Wed Jul 12, 2006 12:26 am

Since I've spent the last 6 months primarily sittin' in with other bands,for just a set or two a nite, tryin' to play with many different arrangements of alotta blues standards, I've noticed that my comping and solo licks sound like they're gettin' repetitious to me. When I was playin' with my own band, we had all the arrangements and parts worked out,and there seemed to be alot more variety in my playing. The problem seems to be in trying to hang in there with some real different arrangements that I've never played with before. And,then of course, there's bands that want you to play harp on tunes that never had harp parts originally,but they were great blues tunes,and you have to really improvise. Man,I gotta try to spice up my improvisations a little!
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Postby brianp » Wed Jul 12, 2006 2:50 pm

All I can say about this is man do I feel you. Welcome to my world for the last 6 months. Everytime I have to improve what is going on it seems to be a little bit different but mostly just the same riffs I normally do slightly altered. I have started to not allow myself certain holes to start riffs and I have sat down to listen and learn morn horn lines for songs where I think it will work but I still end up feeling the same way. Its not as bad but stillsounds repetetive to me. The band and people seem to like it but you know how that goes...

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Postby jeffl » Wed Jul 12, 2006 4:57 pm

Brian,when I hear people say "I don't like to play covers", I feel like tellin' 'em,at least when you learn covers,you learn new licks you may never have used,and you don't have the tendency to play the same licks over and over. One good thing about starting a new band is that you learn new tunes with new licks.
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Postby jellyroll baker » Wed Jul 12, 2006 10:34 pm

I tend to spend a lot of my practise time "jamming" over backing tracks. That way, I can try new ideas without feeling like a fool if they don't work. I think that half the time the problem isn't a lack of ideas or licks but a tendency to stick with what works.
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Postby dblues » Thu Jul 13, 2006 1:25 am

Listen to some sax solos from jazz blues groups. They will be a lot more complex of course because of the more complex chords (usually) and some notes you probably won't be able to get (unless you can overblow etc.) but there will be an endless supply of new riffs to incorporate. Even if you only get some of the notes, I'll bet you will be playing things you never thought of before.
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Postby jeffl » Thu Jul 13, 2006 11:20 am

I prob'ly do need to put in more time listenin' to music again. Actually,I prob'ly need to buy some more CDs to freshen up my supply of the blues (and yeah,some jazz and gospel sounds good too); I kinda slowed down on my CD purchases a few years ago,'cuz I wuz spendin' prob'ly a $1000/yr for a while,and I can no longer afford to do that. And Brian is right about the band and the crowd prob'ly not pickin' up on it, 'cuz they don't have to listen to ya' all the time . I jus' need to get a little fresh energy into my life from some outside sources. Also,I got 3 blues fests to attend in the next 60 days,so I'll hear more good harpers in the next 2 months than I've heard live in the past year--that should freshen up my attitude a little.
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Postby qtheblues » Sat Jul 15, 2006 5:34 am

You're not alone, guys.
A couple of years back I felt exactly the same. Same old - same old.......that was untill I dug out some of my fathers (now long dead) tapes he recorded at home. He was a piano man, and famed for his boogie-woogie & blues.
O.K., I can't hit all the notes, but I don't have to. Take what you hear and re-arrange it for yourself, is my motto. And the phrasing of some of that old style piano is fabulous for harping.
Dig out some old piano stuff - it could help.
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Postby Bournio » Sat Jul 15, 2006 3:51 pm

[quote]Actually,I prob'ly need to buy some more CDs to freshen up my supply of the blues (and yeah,some jazz and gospel sounds good too) quote]

One of my friends(I'd love to say close friends but I've only been face to face with her three times... and 2 of those are fuzzy parties!) is very keen on Vocal music, generally A-cappella stuff, Gospel and Jazz, bands like Take 6, The Swingle Sisters, and Vox One, they're well worth listening to, even if you just adapt songs, pick up on the nuances of the voices, stuff like that. Maybe pick out a few melodies, listen to the phrasing. Try it, I'm not sure how easy their albums are to find though!

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Postby watertore » Tue Jul 18, 2006 4:20 am

hi bubba: You know I had to jump in on this one. For me, improvising works only when I let go of my thoughts. I have been playing the same old licks for decades, but they sound fresh when I let go of my concerns of acceptance, and they get real old when I grab onto to my thinking head. I find very few people that can truely improvise, with improvising as definition, being a world without time, thought, or concern. Walter
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Postby jeffl » Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:14 pm

watertore wrote:hi bubba: You know I had to jump in on this one. For me, improvising works only when I let go of my thoughts. I have been playing the same old licks for decades, but they sound fresh when I let go of my concerns of acceptance, and they get real old when I grab onto to my thinking head. I find very few people that can truely improvise, with improvising as definition, being a world without time, thought, or concern. Walter
Walter: I see why you got into your "Spontobeat" thing,in part; it ensures that your music will always be fresh,and that YOU are in control of it--not somebody else. Part of the problem I have is that I spend alotta time taggin' along with somebody else's music. I'm not demeaning my contribution,because I know people enjoy my harpin',and I bring energy and dynamics to the tunes, but there's still a lack of spontonaiety when you're coverin' bar tunes. What I've discovered with alotta the people I play with is that jammin' has become a lost art. People feel the necessity to cover familiar tunes,not just for the bar crowds,but when jus' playin' together, so that everybody gets on the same page and they know where the tune's goin'. My ole Wednesday nite jam bunch started out about a dozen years ago as a buncha jammers playin' any damn thing that came outa somebody's head,occasionally fumblin' poorly with covers--and it morphed into an ad hoc "band" that got pretty good at covers in many genres,but lost its jammin' soul. Now, if the bass player or the drummer can't make it, everybody jus' opts out of the nite,and there's no jam. I keep tellin' 'em that you only need two to jam,and three can be a great time, but it seems that they've decided that a quorum is at least 6, as long as you got a bassist and a drummer. Apparently "The Thrill is Gone" with some of 'em.
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Postby watertore » Tue Jul 18, 2006 2:38 pm

hi bubba: I hit the same problems you are hitting, a long time ago. All I wanted to be was a harp player/singer. But it got increasingly harder to find a guitarist that played the way I wanted, so I began to learn the guitar. Then it got harder and harder, living up here in northern ca, to find a reliable drummer, so I re-learned the drums with my feet. If you have that burn to play, it is amazing what lenghts one will go to, to get it out. Keep an open heart! Walter
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