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Fingering patterns are different on piano too. Beginners often think C is the easiest key because the mind only has to think "white keys" but actually B major fits the (right) hand the best for running a scale up and down many octaves and is easier to get faster on, imo, so yeah-- familiarity is all it is.
when I was in school practicing a lot, I got common scales in hand memory; but one thing I should have worked harder at was getting the chord extensions to be 2nd nature. Ammons and of course Bird danced with those all day long. when playing in F, I can easily work in notes not in the scale. When playing in F# there is a tendency to stay in the safe zone. One can play any note really, but it has to be in the right place. lol
 

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when I was in school practicing a lot, I got common scales in hand memory; but one thing I should have worked harder at was getting the chord extensions to be 2nd nature. Ammons and of course Bird danced with those all day long. when playing in F, I can easily work in notes not in the scale. When playing in F# there is a tendency to stay in the safe zone.
You could practice 12 hours a day for 80 years and you'll still never be any better in the keys that you habitually skip/avoid/treat like having to swallow medicine. I do not know what uncommon scales are cause I've played a lot of music in every key (especially as a longtime piano teacher taking students through the standard repertoire) BUT if there are certain keys that you don't feel as good in, why not just resolve to favor those going forward, say focus on one a month? We're probably not even talking about more than 3-4 so in just a few months you could be totally over this idea. This is what I would do with a student who said X is a hard key: find them some music to love in that key for a month. After that it'll be their favorite key! ☺
 

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Back in the summer 1979, I would schedule 6 hours a day on my Selmer Balanced action tenor in every key:
common: Major, minor ( aeolian), diminished, blues,
less common: Barry Harris jazz scale
arpeggios M7, m7, dim half dim, aug
the common ones are in my hand memory like riding a bike.

I felt very comfortable with these on Sax and Piano.

However in playing gigs, I never have use even a quarter of that.

Here are points that seems to be missed.
In common jazz harmony (not quartal)
the chord extensions are important so the scale isnt just 8 notes. In 1 octave it is one thing in, and changes past the 7ths.
Then there are passing tones,,,,
I met the late Barry Harris in 1976 and took his method through the mail.
You should hear on Youtube what he says about how jazz education teaches scales.

Yes I played in pop bands and I can play in any key the basic scale, some blues pentatonic with it.
and often compose motifs that work.
That is just the tip of the iceberg in Jazz.
In some keys it is easy and some it is not, not because of the scale but in part
because of the mechanics of the keyboard and the hands.
Also the black/white keyboard creates a mental bias towards certain keys.

Looking at a Gene Ammons transcription there is a lot more going on than ii V I patterns.
That is why he sounds different than most horn players

I wonder people assume what other posters know.
For all I know you could be as great as Benny Green.
Many here are very disrespectful.
 

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You could practice 12 hours a day for 80 years and you'll still never be any better in the keys that you habitually skip/avoid/treat like having to swallow medicine. I do not know what uncommon scales are cause I've played a lot of music in every key (especially as a longtime piano teacher taking students through the standard repertoire) BUT if there are certain keys that you don't feel as good in, why not just resolve to favor those going forward, say focus on one a month? We're probably not even talking about more than 3-4 so in just a few months you could be totally over this idea. This is what I would do with a student who said X is a hard key: find them some music to love in that key for a month. After that it'll be their favorite key! ☺
This is what I meant by uncommon scales: (I did not practice these)

Nicolas Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of scales and melodic patterns (1947) is a highly systematic compendium of templates for composition and improvisation.

In an interview, Slonimsky stated that “the scales are compositions and they also provide materials for more extended compositions…I wrote several works in those scales.”

“Everybody warned me that only dyed-in-the-wool academics would touch the Thesaurus, but what actually happened was that academics did not care at all for it. So who picked it up? Jazz players!”

“I have interviewed McCoy Tyner, Coltrane’s pianist for a number of years, and he directly confirmed Coltrane’s use of the book. [According to Tyner,] Coltrane carried the book with him constantly during the years 1957 to ’59…He always took it with him when he travelled on concert tours, and…practiced it as part of his daily routine.”
 

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This is what I meant by uncommon scales: (I did not practice these)

Nicolas Slonimsky’s Thesaurus of scales and melodic patterns (1947) is a highly systematic compendium of templates for composition and improvisation.

In an interview, Slonimsky stated that “the scales are compositions and they also provide materials for more extended compositions…I wrote several works in those scales.”

“Everybody warned me that only dyed-in-the-wool academics would touch the Thesaurus, but what actually happened was that academics did not care at all for it. So who picked it up? Jazz players!”

“I have interviewed McCoy Tyner, Coltrane’s pianist for a number of years, and he directly confirmed Coltrane’s use of the book. [According to Tyner,] Coltrane carried the book with him constantly during the years 1957 to ’59…He always took it with him when he travelled on concert tours, and…practiced it as part of his daily routine.”
Back in the summer 1979, I would schedule 6 hours a day on my Selmer Balanced action tenor in every key:
common: Major, minor ( aeolian), diminished, blues,
less common: Barry Harris jazz scale
arpeggios M7, m7, dim half dim, aug
the common ones are in my hand memory like riding a bike.

I felt very comfortable with these on Sax and Piano.

However in playing gigs, I never have use even a quarter of that.

Here are points that seems to be missed.
In common jazz harmony (not quartal)
the chord extensions are important so the scale isnt just 8 notes. In 1 octave it is one thing in, and changes past the 7ths.
Then there are passing tones,,,,
I met the late Barry Harris in 1976 and took his method through the mail.
You should hear on Youtube what he says about how jazz education teaches scales.

Yes I played in pop bands and I can play in any key the basic scale, some blues pentatonic with it.
and often compose motifs that work.
That is just the tip of the iceberg in Jazz.
In some keys it is easy and some it is not, not because of the scale but in part
because of the mechanics of the keyboard and the hands.
Also the black/white keyboard creates a mental bias towards certain keys.

Looking at a Gene Ammons transcription there is a lot more going on than ii V I patterns.
That is why he sounds different than most horn players

I wonder people assume what other posters know.
For all I know you could be as great as Benny Green.
Many here are very disrespectful.
A
You could practice 12 hours a day for 80 years and you'll still never be any better in the keys that you habitually skip/avoid/treat like having to swallow medicine. I do not know what uncommon scales are cause I've played a lot of music in every key (especially as a longtime piano teacher taking students through the standard repertoire) BUT if there are certain keys that you don't feel as good in, why not just resolve to favor those going forward, say focus on one a month? We're probably not even talking about more than 3-4 so in just a few months you could be totally over this idea. This is what I would do with a student who said X is a hard key: find them some music to love in that key for a month. After that it'll be their favorite key! ☺
Here is one for you...
How many months would it take for me to play like Jerry Lee Lewis on "Great Balls of Fire" in the key of E?
 

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Here are points that seems to be missed.
In common jazz harmony (not quartal)
the chord extensions are important so the scale isnt just 8 notes. In 1 octave it is one thing in, and changes past the 7ths.
Then there are passing tones,,,,
I met the late Barry Harris in 1976 and took his method through the mail.
You should hear on Youtube what he says about how jazz education teaches scales.
Oh you’re talking about extensions— sorry I never tried those before, way over my head! I thought you meant like, playing Mary Had A Little Lamb, not Jazz!
Here is one for you...
How many months would it take for me to play like Jerry Lee Lewis on "Great Balls of Fire" in the key of E?
One week? It’s like 3 chords. If you already have the physical endurance to do the LH octaves in C, moving them to E isn’t a big deal.

Also, of course “play like” is a loaded term. Even when something isn’t particularly difficult, getting it “the same” as someone who only focused on that one thing all the time isn’t necessarily easy. (Witness how hard it is for people to exactly cop Ringo.)
 

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Oh you’re talking about extensions— sorry I never tried those before, way over my head! I thought you meant like, playing Mary Had A Little Lamb, not Jazz!

One week? It’s like 3 chords. If you already have the physical endurance to do the LH octaves in C, moving them to E isn’t a big deal.

Also, of course “play like” is a loaded term. Even when something isn’t particularly difficult, getting it “the same” as someone who only focused on that one thing all the time isn’t necessarily easy. (Witness how hard it is for people to exactly cop Ringo.)
I love ringo.
When jerry Lee Lewis takes his thumb and rolls it across the white keys. Could not be done except in c. Unless it's a digital piano.
 

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I love ringo.
When jerry Lee Lewis takes his thumb and rolls it across the white keys. Could not be done except in c. Unless it's a digital piano.
I thought you might say that except it doesn’t matter, a gliss isn’t really perceived as a scale or real pitches. You can slide down the white keys and just make sure to land on E— or even a black key— and it’ll still work for the effect.

Here is someone playing a gliss in G. Notice how it makes no difference that you're missing the F#. All you hear is a blur as long as the final note/chord is struck definitively:
 

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For the life of me I’ve never understood how playing in certain keys is harder than others unless you don’t have reasonable technique…especially on a saxophone, trumpet, or other monophonic instrument. Keyboards can probably complain, but even stringed instruments just move up or down a fret and it’s all there exactly the same (I play bass too). Range is the only consideration, same as with a vocalist. Sure, looking at a key signature with a handful of sharps or flats can be daunting, especially when there’s quick key changes…but you guys are talking about improvising on jazz and pop music. Notes are notes and playing a C#, E or G# is no more difficult than playing a C, Eb or G.
 

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I find the alto fun to play but I can't perform nearly as well on it. The tenor just gives a more dynamic tone to work with a more natural, vocal range making it easier to improvise on. Alto is somewhat easier to play in terms of overall air, but the embouchure is a bit tighter, so maybe it's a wash? I don't find it easy to be creative or inspired on the alto, not sure why. I sound better on tenor. I just feel more connected with the sound, like I'm singing thru the sax. Altos range feels foreign. It might be an Eb Bb thing, because soprano feels normal.
 

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I tried it in F#, sounds like cecil taylor not jerry lee lewis

I just saw something cool on extensions by Matt Otto. He shows a trick by Dexter Gordon and monk.
Take maj or 7th or min and solo with 1 5 9 13.
And it works on all.

Extensions:
Stitt often ended every statement on 1.
Ammons saves 1 for the end of solo.
Miles end on 9 a lot.
 

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For the life of me I’ve never understood how playing in certain keys is harder than others unless you don’t have reasonable technique…especially on a saxophone, trumpet, or other monophonic instrument. Keyboards can probably complain, but even stringed instruments just move up or down a fret and it’s all there exactly the same (I play bass too). Range is the only consideration, same as with a vocalist. Sure, looking at a key signature with a handful of sharps or flats can be daunting, especially when there’s quick key changes…but you guys are talking about improvising on jazz and pop music. Notes are notes and playing a C#, E or G# is no more difficult than playing a C, Eb or G.
Not a problem for bass. Except wouldn't be easier to drop the pitch on lowest string to the key of the song. Some players do that.

Here is a different example for sax.
Are you familiar with the "Texas shake"?
Listen to Dexter Gordon, sonny stitt, Ben Webster, rusty bryant, gene ammons.
It only really works in mostly in 1 key.
These guys used it over and over again.
 

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I thought you might say that except it doesn’t matter, a gliss isn’t really perceived as a scale or real pitches. You can slide down the white keys and just make sure to land on E— or even a black key— and it’ll still work for the effect.

Here is someone playing a gliss in G. Notice how it makes no difference that you're missing the F#. All you hear is a blur as long as the final note/chord is struck definitively:
try it in f#
 

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try it in f#
Yes, people do it in all keys, including F#. This is totally not the “gotchya” you seem to think it is. (Have you never heard of New Orleans piano, Boogie Woogie etc? There are tunes in all keys.) Sometimes people prefer to do a gliss on the black keys, not always. It works fine to just make sure to end on a black key too.
 

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For the life of me I’ve never understood how playing in certain keys is harder than others unless you don’t have reasonable technique…especially on a saxophone, trumpet, or other monophonic instrument. Keyboards can probably complain, but even stringed instruments just move up or down a fret and it’s all there exactly the same (I play bass too). Range is the only consideration, same as with a vocalist. Sure, looking at a key signature with a handful of sharps or flats can be daunting, especially when there’s quick key changes…but you guys are talking about improvising on jazz and pop music. Notes are notes and playing a C#, E or G# is no more difficult than playing a C, Eb or G.
the scales are a given.
Also know every chord arpeggio in every key (expected)
In Jazz sax be able to know all the extensions without thinking #11, b9, 13, #9 (pretty easy)
understand how the diminished and blues scales tie into the current key (pretty easy)
accept that many trills and shakes will only work in certain keys.
be able to play altissimo f#, g nat, g#, a nat perfectly. (or transpose down)
accept because of keywork and hands, keys like D on sax will be faster than F#
and then go find standards to play that.
In the Real Book (the Girl From Ipanema - Getz gilberto version , So What by Miles Davis, Forest Flower by Charles Lloyd,
my favorite things by Coltrane, take 5 by Brubeck, Body and Soul - the bridge.
Good songs to practice different keys other than the countless "easy" sax key songs
all the greats, like Webster, Gordon, Parker, Ammons, even Coltrane tended play in certain keys.
 

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Yes, people do it in all keys, including F#. This is totally not the “gotchya” you seem to think it is. (Have you never heard of New Orleans piano, Boogie Woogie etc? There are tunes in all keys.) Sometimes people prefer to do a gliss on the black keys, not always. It works fine to just make sure to end on a black key too.
I am doing on the piano now, might work when the song ends. Sounds like Don Pullen with Mingus.
 

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Yes, people do it in all keys, including F#. This is totally not the “gotchya” you seem to think it is. (Have you never heard of New Orleans piano, Boogie Woogie etc? There are tunes in all keys.) Sometimes people prefer to do a gliss on the black keys, not always. It works fine to just make sure to end on a black key too.
my point not all keys are created equal. can be on guitar though. which brings us back to your original challenge on my point. good thing i have some time to waste.
 

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my point not all keys are created equal. can be on guitar though. which brings us back to your original challenge on my point. good thing i have some time to waste.
Yes all keys are created equal because keys are theoretical things with an arbitrary tuning to some note at some frequency. Instruments on the other hand are physical objects with some limitations such as the piano glissando, an incredibly minor issue that you’ve chosen to fixate on which nonetheless hasn’t prevented people for centuries playing the instrument in every key. Yes the six-string guitar is also limited in that it can’t have more than 6 open strings at once. There are situations where you want the note to be an open string, not fretted. You can’t have more than six such options at a time without retuning. That doesn’t mean any key is harder or easier, it just means that instrument can’t do the same exact thing the same exact way in a different key.
Clearly I also have some time to waste. 😵‍💫
 

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Yes all keys are created equal because keys are theoretical things with an arbitrary tuning to some note at some frequency. Instruments on the other hand are physical objects with some limitations such as the piano glissando, an incredibly minor issue that you’ve chosen to fixate on which nonetheless hasn’t prevented people for centuries playing the instrument in every key. Yes the six-string guitar is also limited in that it can’t have more than 6 open strings at once. There are situations where you want the note to be an open string, not fretted. You can’t have more than six such options at a time without retuning. That doesn’t mean any key is harder or easier, it just means that instrument can’t do the same exact thing the same exact way in a different key.
Clearly I also have some time to waste. 😵‍💫
Capo.
 
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