All the things I did

A belated happy 2024!

Most of my blog visitors are just bots spamming it with SQL injection attacks so this one goes out to any humans left out there. My job has been sucked into the generative AI vortex so I now work in an AI group at Amazon. If you’re reading this after an LLM became sentient and began rampaging… bwahahah, oh man, we’re nowhere near that… unless of course you are an investor and then yes sir I can magic your problem away.

As both of my human readers will know, in 2023 I posted a lot of jazz transcriptions and videos of myself playing them badly. This was very intentional as I decided to stop marveling at how one could make up solos on the spot, and to take some steps to learn the trick myself. My last guitar teacher (Berklee-trained) was very scale oriented, and so my improv really sounded like I was playing scales: very linear, no chromaticism and quite boring. It turns out I had a lot of misconceptions about how one does the thing — as I discovered, chord tones work better than scales; transcribing licks and solos by ear is not cheating but actually foundational; approach tones are key to getting the bebop sound. Besides transcribing, sitting down and working out all the arpeggios on a tune in one position, and composing a couple of solos really felt like they gave me a good boost in my playing. So I’m going to keep this going into 2024.

As a reference point, here’s where I am starting this year, on All the Things You Are in which the first chorus is composed and second half-chorus is improvised. Maybe I’ll check in again in 12 months and see how I improve.