Friday, 3 February 2012

How Does Bob Marley Like His Doughnuts?

As anyone who survived the 1970s and 80s will tell you - the answer to the above question is - wi' jam-in

The Wailers, for anyone who is interested, like jam-in too - and also hope that we like jam-in too

Sadly Bob, wherever you may be, I have to report that I don't

Not, I should clarify, the very popular and highly enjoyable song from which the rather terrible joke derives - anything by Bob Marley is top notch and well worth a listen to on a sunny summers eve (note for Herself - Marley is not the one who sang Blowin' In The Wind and sounds like he has been gargling concrete for a week - that was a different Bob)

Anyway - as some of you may remember I started learning to play the Saxophone about 2 years ago.

The saxophone is different to most of the instruments I have previously learned - in as much as if you hit the right key at the right time on a piano or guitar or bass then the liklihood is that the right note will come out.  Where the Saxophone varies is that in addition to this you have to have the right Embouchure (lip pattern), or else a high pitched squeak will emit instead of an actual note.  This is likely to send even the bravest of felines scurrying for cover and can be most readily likened to the sound of a Gnat breaking wind (not something that Gnat fanciers particularly like to listen to of an evening, and certainly not something that music lovers around the globe aspire to)

But even though I have made some progress in the world of High Pitched Squeaking (the complaints from local airlines finding their guidance systems interfered with have at least stopped) I still find the improvisational sections of my practice depressing to say the least.

Improvisation is a vital way of learning ones scales and as a result of which learning fluidity of play.  The saxophone was also largely designed by its creators (despite what it says on Wikipedia I still like to tell people that it was designed by two Irish gentlemen called John Sax and Padraig O'Phone after a particularly nasty accident with a tuba) to be an improvisational instrument and was largely responsible for Jazz (for which sin it will no doubt never be fully forgiven)

But I just can't do it - I can't improvise.  Yes, ok - I can muck about with the scales and play notes that no one else has written for me - but its all depressingly linear and unimaginative and, frankly, a bit dull.  And the fact that I am clearly unable to think outside of this particular box depresses me to the point where I keep postponing any improvisation as part of my practice.

For those of you wondering at this point - i should probably mention that i specifically went to a local hardware shop recently and bought myself a box so that i would always know which particular box i was thinking outside of - one step ahead of the game so to speak (this is not true, although i do think it should just to see what people say)

Perhaps, via response, y'all would be able to suggest ways in which you were able to re-shape your thinking and to work on these skills - or just suggest a good place to buy a box to think outside of?


8 comments:

Argent said...

You do yourself down. I like to improv with no backing then I can do anything I like which gives me ideas to use when there is backing. I also have many boxes.

The Bug said...

What the heck is wrong with being all snug inside the box I ask you? What? I have my blankie & a water bottle, and some snacks (whole grain goldfish) - I'm good.

Stephen Hayes said...

Some people take great comfort in living within the "box." I bet these people are happier than those of us who don't.

Michael said...

Outside the box huh? Are you trying to hard to be original? maybe not. How about creating some musical mash ups? Jammin meets Mozarts Reqiem? Or Roy Rogers meets Kiss? It's like fortune telling. Throw down a handful of sticks and see what you see. Look for the patterns. They are everywhere. (I just watched a show called Touch on Fox. I may be a little under the influence.)

Don't Feed The Pixies said...

Argent - i'll keep on trying and you never know

Bug - sometimes being inside the box is good also

Stephen - maybe half and half is the answer?

Michael - Roy Rogers meets Kiss eh? Now that is different!

roxy said...

Improvising is hard! I can't imagine doing it on a saxaphone. (for all of my three grades of it in high school). Maybe you should start just improvising with your voice - with a melody - with a rhythm first ... my and my cousin used to jam with one of us on a piano and the other on a drum. Painful for the rest of the family. ridiculously fun for us.

Friko said...

thinking outside the box? never.
I hide inside the box while everybody does their thinking.

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