Time for a bit of Noodling

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The latest in Serious and the EFG London Jazz Festival’s attempt to demystify the language of jazz is “Noodling”. To be honest it’s not a word that is confined to jazz, over the years there has been more than the odd Prog Rocker who has been accused of “noodling.” But is it really such a bad thing? Well, here’s your chance to find out exactly what it is and please do tell us if you think they’ve got it right…


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  1. Bill

    April 25, 2015 at 11:27 pm

    “Noodling” seemed to me to be used as an insulting term used by those who didn’t like live exploration and creation, whether by ‘train, Jarrett or Jerry Garcia. They wanted their music rehearsed, packaged and neat. So came to regard the employment of “noodling” as a pejorative as evidence that the commenter was not worth listing to. The most transcendent music I’ve experienced coalesced from “noodling.”

    • Jim Conley

      May 1, 2015 at 7:37 am

      Bill, that was the most perfect take on the idea of “noodling” that I have ever read!

  2. Bart Ferguson

    May 1, 2015 at 9:45 am

    Noodling in my viewis playing scales, licks, arpeggios, intervallic designs etc. that you know will work over the changes. The best and most inspired improvised solos are linear melodies that have the structural integrity of a good melody in it’s design. Even the best improvisers descend into noodling or lick playing when they don’t hear a melodic idea, or as filler between ideas…these licks are often more impressive displays of chops than the melodic ideas so they are appealing for us exhibitionists…but they can get boring just strung together randomely. Great solos mix true melodies with exciting licks and dramatic devices.

  3. Carole Weber

    May 1, 2015 at 11:20 pm

    My Dad played jazz tenor sax, and had great improvisational skills. He taught me that as long as you’re aware of the chord structure, you can “noodle” all you want and eventually come back to the melody. Never heard him use that term, but I sure miss hearing him play, especially Coleman Hawkins’ rendition of “Body and Soul.” Wow!!

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