i've come to realize the secret to playing great music is anticipation.  not jumping ahead of the beat, or guessing what your musicians are going to do next, no, what i mean is anticipation of the next big thing.

right, that made a whole lot of sense.

how many people here remember the moment they "got it", the moment it happened?  i do.  one day i didn't have time and could hardly get through a chart, the next something clicked and i never got lost again.

this anticipation idea is the same, sort of (maybe, maybe not.)  the idea is that when you're playing a song, you can have tunnel vision or see the entire horizon.  you can be super stuck on the notes you're playing, the chords, the changes, being in the moment to such a degree that everything around the spot you are making music in is blacked out, or, you can be aware, cognisant if you will, of not only what you are doing and which notes you are playing, but of the entire tune and your place in the entirety of the tune.

that is, not only knowing what's coming next, but what has gone before, and what will come next in two choruses, and how you can shape your playing to touch on all of those things.

only the greatest of players do this.  jarrett is a good example.  his improvisations are like compositions. theme, variations, theme, etc..

now i'm not saying you can't be free in your playing and change things up when something awesome happens, not at all.  but if something awesome doesn't happen and inspiration isn't as inspiring as you'd like, having the big, the really big picture in mind sure makes a difference when it comes to improvisation.

ok, i rambled, but that's part of what i do.  there's also the small picture of anticipation which is: know what's coming 8 measures ahead, harmonically and rhythmically and melodically.   this way as you come around to the end of the form it doesn't have to sound like you're coming around to the end of the form.  8 measures before the end of the form, you can start building up to hitting it hard at the beginning of the form. that way it's not a surprise or a broken record to your listeners.

"oh listen, he just started over."  that's what it sounds like to the average listener when you hit the top of the form and start playing like it's the  beginning of your song.

two guys i know of who do this amazingly well. the sax player pete christlieb and the trumpet player jay thomas.  you can listen to these guys and never, ever, get bored with their solos. monty alexander the pianist is good at it too.  they bring you in with them, there's a momentum so that when you hit the top of the form it's like the journey has picked up some excitement, not like it's starting again.
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hey scot,
every so often, this post pops into my head.  i didn't respond to it until now because, as someone still learning 'which' notes to play, this concept is waaaaaay out there, and i'm still trying to grasp it.  there is one thing that caught my eye, and it was what you said about keith jarrett.  years ago, i transcribed two of his tunes from his album entitled 'the melody at night with you'... the tunes are, be my love, and, i'm through with love.... when i think hard about those tunes, i understand what you mean about where he gets to the beginning chord of the tune, but instead of it being an 'ok, the tune stops here and it now begins again' feeling... i've noticed a thing he does, where he seems to surround the tonic chord with suspended chords, based on the tonic root, and then he's suddenly moving out in a certain direction.. so where the tune if resolving to the tonic is in the 'middle of his phrase'... i've played the tunes many times, and obviously didn't notice this... but as i've stopped and thought about it, i can see what's happening; well that's my interpretation of what's going on! if you get a chance to hear the tune 'be my love' you can hear how he deals with moving through the end of the 2nd chorus into the 3rd chorus.  my question is, is it even worth attempting to do this, from the stand point of someone who is still trying to build harmonic vocabulary??? great post. this is one of those you need to come back to and read again and again.

so where the tune if resolving to the tonic is in the 'middle of his phrase'...

should have read.

so even though the harmony is resolving to the tonic, he is playing as though he is in the middle of a phrase, and not at the end of it..
my question is, is it even worth attempting to do this, from the stand point of someone who is still trying to build harmonic vocabulary??

this is a compositional idea more than it is a vocabulary idea.  you can be the most basic of beginners in knowing the science behind jazz and music in general, but this idea transcends that because it's about the artistic side of what we're doing.

don't ever believe that how good you are is based on how much you know, because it isn't.

you can practice this idea of anticipation no matter what your level of playing is.  to be sure, it helps if you know the tune you're playing, so make sure you practice this with tunes you know very well.  if a person is a beginner to the point where it's hard not to get lost in a tune (everyone went through that phase!) then practice it in a 12 bar blues or even a simple 2-5-1 pattern.

musicality can be practiced and learned, but it's a totally different mindset and part of the brain than learning formulas for chords and what scales go where.  working on both sides of the brain together will in the end make you a much better musician.

people who don't practice both areas of music (science and art) often turn out to be very accomplished technical players who can do anything they want on their instruments but haven't learned how to infuse that with the art of composition in a way that makes their playing compelling in any other way than how technical it is.

the few guys who can do both at the same high level are the cream of the crop, and that's what makes them special.  i'm thinking of a guy named pete christlieb, a sax player who can take dozens of choruses and you never know it because of the way he draws you into what he's doing, regardless if it's an easy swing or some kind of crazy reharmonized melodic minor tri-tone sub line on a coltrane tune.  you just never get tired of what he's doing.

on the other hand, other guys who can play whatever they want play just as many notes as pete, but after a chorus or two, you're wondering when they are going to stop because it's just noise.
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i work on the premise that you have to become the music before you actually play it. when i speak or think i do it musically. i work on phrasing, harmony and dynamics. someday days i'm a symphony orchestra, sometimes a string quartet, or a brass ensemble, a country or a jazz trio, or the beatles. when i sit down and play it flows from my hands. i create oceans, mountain ranges, cities, backstreets, worlds and galaxies.
i'll need time to absorb these answers.  thanks scot, and thanks peter for your additional thoughts.

the essence of both answers has come at exactly the right time for me.  i just realised today, that even though i can play several tunes, the brutal honest truth is 'i don't know those tunes well that well'...

here are the circumstances that exposed it.  yesterday i was at a coffee bar/restaurant, where a classically trained friend of mine plays. she invites a few of us to play one or two tunes; we're usually there for about 3 hours.

well in the run-up to this session, on monday, i was thinking to myself, marvin, you need to practice your tunes, so you can have something decent to offer. so i sat down and did an inventory of the tunes i have that i can play right through.  and then i decided there were about 6 i can add to the ones i'm currently playing.  so i try to work on voicings etc on each tune.  but by the time it gets to thursday night i'm getting worried, because there's no way these tunes are gonna be ready, and with each passing day, the nerves increase as does the amount of time i'll need to practice. well, by the time sunday morning comes around, i'm thinking i need to practice from 8;00 to 14;00.  suddenly i feel very tired and instead go back to bed for an hour.  then i wake up, and practice a couple of tunes i've played without too many hiccups before and guess what? i can't even play those through without stopping and stumbling.  i suddenly feel very nervous, and decide to throw out two of the tunes.

onto the restaurant: i have no desire to play because i feel i will barely be able to get through the tunes. but when my friend asks me to play, i accept her offer.  much of the playing was meanderings, stopping and starting and forgetting parts of the tune.  to make matters worse, another friend who's classically trained, plays about 6 classical pieces back-to-back, not flawlessly, but well enough.  i want to go home by now.  on the way home i was kicking myself because i realised that in the restaurant i was feeling ashamed of the music i was 'unable' to play well... and i'm saying to myself 'why are you feeling ashamed and embarrassed about your music?' a lady came to thank me for the music while i was in the restaurant, but i was so up in my head and flustered that i didn't know how to thank her properly.

anyway.  i sat on my bed yesterday evening rather bewildered, but also resolving to learn these tunes well enough to perform them properly...

but it only occurred to me 'today' that part of the problem is 'i don't know the tunes well'... this pretty much applies to every tune in my arsenal, i guess i'm pretty quick to pick up tunes and don't take them to the next level..in fact when i am playing many of my tunes there are several trouble spots... i've been so busy looking at harmony and how to voice chords etc.  but what i haven't been doing is getting the music into my skin, and understanding the tunes as a whole, or as peter puts is, becoming the music.

what you said in the first post scot, makes so much sense now.  the idea of knowing where you are in the tune, and knowing a tune very well first.  i just need to decide how to move forward.  i'm not sure why you originally posted this, but it was definitely food for though in more than one area.

in addition to the above, i've just had another realisation.  i learn all the bits of each tune, but, don't really give a lot of time to concentrating on knitting it all together so it becomes one tune... well i spent yesterday evening and this morning piecing together, some of the tunes... now it's time to practice!
i think you know that you know the tunes.  you can practice forever and still not be able to play in public.  relax and go out and fall on your face a few times.  we've all been there.  it gets better.
hey pphilip...

thanks for your honesty.. i was thinking about this yesterday...
truth be told, i have been playing publicly and have fallen on my face.. although i probably need to get out even more..

what i have understood though, is that there are sections in every song i play that i don't know well, and i guess i'm falling in those 'same places'each time i play them...

since reading scot and peter's answers, i sat down and slowly went through a few of the songs, i mean, very slowly and the areas where my memory is weak are really  jumping out at me... i've homed in on a couple of those areas and played them very slowly, and for an extended time. and i've found that after doing this for maybe 30 minutes to an hour, something clicks inside me, and the weak area just gets very solid and i feel so much more 'sure' of what to play...

i guess i had to reach this point, because recently at least a couple of times a week i had been going to public piano's and playing, just to get myself used to playing in front of people with out worrying... and the more i played, the more i noticed where the holes are at...

and as you've said, i believe it will get better... thanks

using memory to remember tunes will trip you up every time.  practice the circle of fourths until it is automatic.  learn some standard bridges to use as turnarounds when you get stuck and can't think of anything.  sometimes,  what i play is a series of fortunate mistakes and resolutions.
hey, time to talk, if you haven't already, i recommend you read effortless mastery by kenny werner.
hi dr whack, yes, i have the book, it has become like a bible to me.. i pick the thing up every so often, it's time to pick it up again.  it was the content of that book that helped me have the courage to get out and play in the first place..
cool!  if you haven't already seen this, you would probably dig this 96 minute master class:

thanks... will take a look...
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