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12,160 (and counting) posts since we started blogging 12 years ago. 1300 of them this year alone and, so far, 2 this month (Dec. 1).

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Improvisation & Ear Training Workshop @ The Lit & Phil. June 30

(Investigative Journalism…)
A clarinet, an alto or three, tenor, whistle and voice, the range of instrumentalists in attendance at Paul Edis’ latest workshop session at the Lit & Phil, Newcastle. A note book (a scrap of paper) and pen (purloined from Paddy Power), yes, this is Gumshoe Bebop filing copy to Bebop Spoken Here’s news desk. What the Head Honcho (LL)   will make of it is anyone’s guess.
Determined to get to the bottom of this ‘ear training’ business, BSH’s gumshoe wasn’t going to take any nonsense from anyone. Taking a look at their mugshots, yes, you’ve guessed it…it was the usual suspects. Dr Edis entered the room carrying an unfamiliar instrument case. The guy’s a piano player, right? What’s the matter with the piano? He plays the piano, right? So, what’s going on? Nothing gets by Gumshoe Bebop. An alto. Are you kidding? You’re a piano player, no fooling. It was an alto saxophone. Nothing gets by Gumshoe Bebop…the alto player was stuck in traffic.
Tonight said Edis, we’ll look at ‘rhythm and meter’ (slow down, ‘rhythm’ takes a bit of spelling). A metronome ticked and tocked, not a real metronome, you understand, but a WyeiPhone, ticking and tocking. A lot of clapping started, some clapping in their own time. Things were subdivided into three semi quavers, Handel’s Passacaglia intervened and it didn’t help matters when there was talk of 12/8 and 9/8, triplets and a rhythmic pattern, the hemiola. For further reading turn to Wikipedia. A student wielding a liquorice  stick gave it a go. Some time later the student stopped saying: Is that wrong? No, it’s far too good! Edis was impressed.              
More talk of beat displacement, the Dorian mode and a blues scale. The students were making notes, extensive notes. Hey! Free pens at Paddy Power. Gumshoe Bebop was about to ask the wise guy at the front where the sax player was when the piano player – can you believe it, the piano player! – blew the alto. Some things just ain’t fair. It was almost time to hit the street, the janitor wanted to lock up and head over to the joint across the road, grab a beer and watch the football.
This improvisation lark is a funny business. As for training your ear, it don’t come easy.  All this ‘one, two, three’ business, crotchets and quavers…you gotta have a degree in Applied Mathematics!
Gumshoe Bebop

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