An electronic orchestration of The First Noel

Knowing Christmas was coming, the time when I annually reach inward to give birth to a new rendition of a holiday tune, I first bought a couple of interesting synths for inspiration. One was Straylight by Native Instruments, a sample-based granular synthesizer. I’m a sucker for the X-Y modulation matrix. The other is Trailer expressions…

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How to develop your unique musical personality and style through right brain connection with your instrument

Think about playing using your right (creative) brain. It’s the part of your brain that, if connected well to your instrument, allows for the most authentic improvisation. You hear a note, you’re better able to play that note. Your instrument becomes the amplifier of your musical “voice”. But there’s another aspect to improvisation that benefits…

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How to improvise more melodically – part 2 of 2

30 percent of your brain’s cerebral cortex is dedicated to visual processing. A paultry three percent is dedicated to hearing. That says a lot. One, it explains why it’s harder to retain the content of an audio book than reading a physical book. It explains why people often say, “I’m a visual learner” (of course…

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How to improvise more melodically – part 1 of 2

The title of this post reflects the majority of responses I received recently when I asked the question of 1,500 musicians: What are you struggling to accomplish with your jazz playing Some people put it in terms of playing solos that were more inventive or riveting, or creative. One respondent wrote, “Combining ideas into melodies…

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Getting a peek at an improvisation virtual lesson

I’ve had a few people submit their playing for the end of the 30-day challenge I put out there in my video called Jazz Improvisation: Simple 30-day Exercise to Rapidly Develop Your Skills I was demonstrating how a habit of a certain type of ear training could lead to results. “Habit” is the key word.…

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How to learn difficult skills faster and more deeply

I am very excited to be finishing up my new book. The point of the book is, strengthening one’s musical ear to enable better musicianship and improvisation. That’s not the title, just the concept. The working title is Jazz Patterns for Ear. As I reached the end of creating and embedding the almost 150 audio…

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Trombones swimming in the luscious reverb of Biosphere2

Gerry Pagano came to town this past week. It’s odd. Every time he comes here, remarkable music gets recorded. The first time Gerry came to Phoenix after a long absence was to record the CD Roads Less Traveled. Two years later he and Doug Yeo descended upon my studio to record the CD Fratras. This…

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Training your brain for both left and right brain improvising

Except for only the last couple hundred years–a sliver of time for us– human existence on earth has been hard. Very hard. Over 200,000 years, our brains have evolved to protect us from the dangers of being eaten by animals, surviving harsh weather, and attacks from warring factions. In order to survive, our brains have…

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Driver assist for guiding your improvisation

Last week’s video was on simplifying improvisation to the point of making it much easier for you to feel confident standing up to play a solo. I used the standard I Thought About You to demonstrate that you can play nothing but Eb major and sound good throughout the entire form of the tune. My…

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