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I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Blue Skies

I tried to learn a jazz standard by ear.  I started with Irvin Berlin's "Blue Skies." I listened to some recordings and found out by ear, with my keyboard out, that it is usually played in C. The next step was to play the melody by ear. That wasn't hard to figure out.

The first chord is A minor. I tried to figure out the second chord but what I came up with didn't sound right. I tried to get E7 to work, but I was not satisfied with it. I got some other things "right," after I looked at what the chords were supposed to be. Then I remembered that I had played the song by looking at the chords, maybe a year ago, so I was partially reconstructing it from memory.

The result was an inexpert reharmonization of the tune. I'm not discouraged, because I learned something about my own abilities.

I can tell what key a song is in

I can figure out the melody

I can figure out some of the chords easily

I can hear when a chord is completely wrong when I try out something that isn't even in the ballpark

When I am wrong I can reharmonize things in a way that doesn't always sound completely bad

I have some musical memory to rely on.

On the other hand, I cannot

hear exactly what the chords should be / I'm at about 30%.

reharmonize with skill

I will try this with another song next.  

If I play something and it sounds wrong, then that is actually a skillful event. It is MY ears that are telling me that, therefore my ear has some capacity.


I looked at a first sentence of one my chapters, and I realized it was not a good sentence, especially to introduce a chapter. You don't want to lead with a weak sentence. That feedback loop is like my "ear" for prose.  I'm sure the sentence was functional in some previous version of the chapter, but it is not, so I changed it.  Normally I read through a paragraph many times, on many days, making small changes, until I can come back to it and leave it alone.

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