Singing in the Not So Gentle Rain…
After more than a week of absolutely glorious weather, it’s storming, derecho-ing and tornado-ing here in the Washington, DC area. My husband was running around closing all of the windows in the house and saying, “Batten down the hatches!”
I got some inspiration last night while hanging out with Brian who was sitting in with the award-winning Bohemian Caverns Jazz Orchestra. It was an evening of beautiful and adventurous arrangements, inspired fiery solos and great fun and camaraderie!
This morning, I got to hang out with a very good friend who I had not seen in long time. We ate eggs and caught up on all the goings-on! (I love you, Kim!) I was in a good mood when I returned home and ready to put in some hours of practicing.
Started with my Charlie Parker “Ornithology” solo. I’ve now learned the whole solo but singing it with complete accuracy and the correct articulations is still going to need some work. Now that I’ve learned it, I’m going to take an approach I learned here: http://jazzadvice.com/how-transcribing-one-solo-can-entirely-change-your-approach-to-improvising/. These dudes (Forrest and Eric) suggest breaking down any solo that you’re working into ii-V patterns and patterns to use over various chord qualities (major, minor, dominant, etc.). You then practice working on the patterns individually in all twelve keys. Once you’ve got them down, then you can apply them to similar chord progressions in other tunes and then add your own variations to the patterns. Using this method, even though you’re working on one solo for a long time, should give you a really good grasp of the language and help you to grow your vocabulary in a shorter amount of time than just learning a bunch of solos and not internalizing them. I’m down for trying this! I’m at the point now where I have a lot of patience and I think that I will really benefit from this approach to transcribing solos.
During the time I was working on singing through the transcription, I stopped and took a short detour in order to address a vocal issue that I have struggled with for a very long time…vocal agility. I have never been able to do vocal runs like the ones you hear in gospel or R&B music but in high school when I was studying classical music, I was able to get through arias that had short passages of vocal melismas and such. Since then, maybe because I have not studied that kind of music since then, I have had a lot of trouble with being able to sing scales and melismas. My voice seems to be able to follow the piano during warm ups but if I’m not playing the scales, I am not able to execute the scales on a vowel sound. I spent about 15 minutes today on just the “ah” sound going up and down a five-note scale. I would play and sing with the piano slowly and then increase the speed, then I would try it without the piano. It’s very shaky and I don’t know why I am not able to sing freely. I think a lot of it now is mental but I plan to spend some time on this everyday and hope that I will see some improvement in the near future.
I also made more progress on memorizing the syllables of the Ella Fitzgerald “How High the Moon” solo transcription.
I’m going to spend the rest of the time away from the piano and write out (using Finale) these patterns from the “Ornithology” solo in all the keys (I’m not good at transposing lines on the spot so I have to write them out), starting to write out the Ella Fitzgerald solo and taking a stab at writing these lyrics for my new original composition.