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After recently discovering that I've been practicing too long on all the wrong things, I've decided I should begin applying a structure to my practices. Due to my deficiency in the ability to read a chord structure, I've taken upon myself the task of learning how to read the ever-coveted ii-V7-I chords.

But, well... that's easy now. I can find ii-V7-I chords effortlessly and can hear them in the music I'm listening to. However, I simply don't know how to approach learning them myself. What's the most efficient way? Should I arpeggiate each chord in each key? Lean some of the licks from Aebersold's books and transcribe those for each key? Should I simply listen to some favorite recordings of mine, learn the licks I hear, and then transcribe those?

Or, as I expect more than one member is apt to suggest, a combination of the three?

In any case, I understand that learning these licks in each key is vitally important. I've never had formal instruction with my instrument, however, so the learning curve seems to be monumentally slow. Time, therefore, is a limited commodity, so I'd like to find the most efficient method to tackle this hurdle.

Any contructive comments and suggestions would be appreciated. Note the boldness of the word constructive. That's intentional. :D
 

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Your suggestions are fine. I would also recommend Tim Price's set of exercises and Steve Neff's (neffertiti) patterns.
 

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Check out Steve Neff's (aka Nefertiti) ii-V-I books. A screamin' deal with a lifetime of musical workouts.
 

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There's nothing wrong with learning them from books but you want to get away from that as soon as possible. I think the advantage of written exercises is, if you are a decent reader, you can practice digital patterns quicker than if you are struggling to play them by ear. OTOH playing them by ear is your goal so you should also be playing them that way, also; maybe from print on even days and by ear on odd days.

I would suggest going around the circle of fifths (4th up/5th down) a full ii-7,V7,I to begin with so you clearly hear where the ii-Vs are resolving to, but then playing them as ii-Vs without the I since this is more likely how you're going to be playing them in standards. (Man this is deja vu - I swear I just typed this this week :scratch:) Anyway that's my take on playing the chords.

Regarding matching licks up to the chords, the Aebersold 2-5 book is fine. I like the licks in the Benny Green book and Coltrane books from Dave Baker and one from Mel Bay Publ. The 1001 Jazz Licks by Jack Shneidman is decent also. Personally I don't like working on licks unless they're in conjunction with studying one particular player's style.
 

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Hey MA!

I've asked a cartload of questions about this topic over the last year or so and have gotten some great advice--you might like to look around for some of it.

I also bought the Neff books online recently and they do seem really great.

This is perhaps obvious, but I guess the answer to what's "best" depends on what you're trying to achieve: my plan is:

a) to spend a lot of time playing (i.e grinding out) Steve's patterns more or less as a sort of substitute scales. I'm hoping something harmonic will get ingrained in my inner ear, but mainly the goal here is to improve my speed, articulation, rhythm, etc.

and

b) to work on ii-Vs in a more musical and applied sort of way by using the Aebersold "I got rhythm" workout (thanks Gary!)--which really is a kind of exercise in applied ii-Vs. I'm hoping at some point in the next year or so to progress to the point where I can play the Neff patterns over the tracks on the cd.

To me, that would be getting somewhere.

Rory
 

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Listen to your favorite players and transcribe them. Recognize your favorite passages and learn them in all keys. Ain't easy at first, but certainly will help your ear better than taking written patterns and memorizing them and then plugging them into your improvisations IMO
 

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Good question and i have another one regarding this chord progression.

How do you apply this chord progression in your impro as not every song has 2 5 1 chord progression?

I've been practicisng this chord progression as taught by a book called "amazing phrasing"

i am actually quite confused in applying chord progression in a song, whats the best way or any clue to apply the chord progression in a song?

Many thanks
 

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i´m using the aebersold book "ii-V7-I" excersises in all keys, my goal is to memorize all the scales. It seems like (for me anyway) that i have a very slow learning curve ahead of me. First i have to learn how to play the scales from the sheet, then i have to learn how to play the scales from memory and then i have to learn how to play the scales in arppegiate. For me it seems that there are absolutely no synergi benefits to be had from each seperate excersise.
for instance if i were to play the scales over b- E7 AMaj i would have no problem in doing so, but if someone asked me to play the root, third, fifth and seventh in each chord i would be hard pressed, and inversions? lets not even go there.

But so far i´m crawling along trying to memorize those scales without the book.

At one time i visited a friend of mine, while using his toilet i saw that the door had all sorts of small notes with latin written on them - i asked him what it was, and he explained that they were words on the intestine system. He was a paramedic at the time and needed to memorize those word for an upcomming exam. Maybe the same approach could be applied to learning theory?
 

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My method;

Lee Konitz taught me this: If you like it, fine. Employ it and be happy. If you don't, keep it to yourself please. I'm not interested in getting into dog fights with curmudgeons. (See my posting history if you're wondering about this comment.)
Example; key of C
Run the tonic; a C maj 7th
Move up to D and run a D min 7th
Then E min 7th
Then F maj 7th
Then G 7th
Then A min 7th
Then B min 7th flat 5th (B, D, F, A)
Comments: You're starting the chords on each note of the scale in question. You will notice that every chord all the way up has essentially the same form as the Cmaj 7th and are easy to hear and play in every key. They constitute all the modern chords a player will need in this particular key except the regular diminished chord (flat 3rd, flat 5th). [Note well: I didn't say they will be all the chords needed in a song written in the key of C. The exercise will provide you with all the chords available in one particular tonality.]
Learn them arpeggiating upwards, starting on the note that names the chord at each degree of the scale.
Then learn them descending, starting at the "tonic" of each chord and arpeggiating each chord upwards. Then learn them descending the arpeggio AND the scale (ie, B, G, E, C. etc.). Then learn them descending the arpeggio but ascending the scale.
Joe Viola approaches chords differently in his great chord book; he presents all the chords that start on one particular tonic only. Then he moves to another key. And he doesn't go around the circle of fifths. He goes from C to F to G to A to Bb, etc. I play his too but I like Konitz's better. The nice thing about Viola's though, is that after ascending the chord he descends in the SCALE of that particular chord. Good stuff.

Allthatjazz
 

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mjs10 said:
How do you apply this chord progression in your impro as not every song has 2 5 1 chord progression?
Most jazz "standards" are loaded with ii-V and ii-V-I progressions, until you get into the modal stuff. One place to start would be with the blues. You can play a ii-V-I over bars 9, 10, & 11 of a blues. Also you can substitute a ii-V for a V chord in many cases. So, for example in a tune based on rhythm changes, on the bridge each V7 chord lasts for 2 bars. On the first bar play the related ii chord.

Hey, allthatjazz, I learned that method also. Once you have worked on the chords stepwise in a specific key, as you outline, you can also do the same thing in a cycle-fashion (IV-vii-iii-vi-ii-V-I). Like this, in C:

Fmaj7
Bminb5
Emin7
Amin7
Dmin7
G7
Cmaj7

This is all diatonic, in the key. You can vary it by changing Amin7 to A7, which would introduce another ii-V (Emin7 - A7)
 

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Allthatjazz,

i will vouch for this method. My teacher, Ed Petersen, taught me this way and it has done worlds for my playing. I play the arpeggios, then go down the scale. This is a good thing to do in any diatonic system.
 

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JL said:
Most jazz "standards" are loaded with ii-V and ii-V-I progressions, until you get into the modal stuff. One place to start would be with the blues. You can play a ii-V-I over bars 9, 10, & 11 of a blues. Also you can substitute a ii-V for a V chord in many cases. So, for example in a tune based on rhythm changes, on the bridge each V7 chord lasts for 2 bars. On the first bar play the related ii chord.

Hey, allthatjazz, I learned that method also. Once you have worked on the chords stepwise in a specific key, as you outline, you can also do the same thing in a cycle-fashion (IV-vii-iii-vi-ii-V-I). Like this, in C:

Fmaj7
Bminb5
Emin7
Amin7
Dmin7
G7
Cmaj7

This is all diatonic, in the key. You can vary it by changing Amin7 to A7, which would introduce another ii-V (Emin7 - A7)
Yes, JL, good observation. I do this too, but I find after all these years that when I play a tune, I hear the chords as they come and find myself running them and their extensions without too much thought. Instead I'm thinking about whether I can remember the tritone substitution for the chord.
Reminds me of an anecdote about Jerry Mulligan/Chet Baker.
When Chet told him that he didn't know the chords to some tune they were going to play, Jerry told him, "You know the chords very well. You just don't know their names."
 

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Tritone Substitution

Good way to think about tritone substitution: thirds become sevenths and sevenths become thirds. It simplifies their immediate application.

BTW, I never think in modal scales. It makes my solos too boring. Besides, I'm not smart enough to think that fast. I'd rather depend on getting the basics down and then depending on my instincts. Miles Davis said, "Learn it then forget it."
Just so, eh?

ATJ
 

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Allthatjazz said:
...I hear the chords as they come and find myself running them and their extensions without too much thought.
Quite true, for me also (although I have a ways to go if I want to get beyond fairly simple changes). This came up in a different thread somewhere, but thinking actually can get in the way. All this discussion about scales, chords, and practicing them is for laying the groundwork. You can't be thinking about it and trying to process it while improvising.
 

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gary's got the right idea. You want to practice ii-V's as you would see them in real life. So circle of 5ths.

Also, the patterns you'll learn most quickly are the ones you LIKE. When you listen to a tune, write down what YOU like. Those will stick to you and never come off.

The most important thing to do is write it down, memorize the sound and feel of it, get away from the written music as quickly as possible, and play from memory/by ear...OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER . . . Oh, and do it the NEXT DAY and the NEXT and the NEXT and the NEXT . . .

A final suggestion/requirement: Put metronome on 2 & 4. That will solidify your time.
 

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SaxyAcoustician said:
The most important thing to do is write it down, memorize the sound and feel of it, get away from the written music as quickly as possible, and play from memory/by ear...OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER . . . Oh, and do it the NEXT DAY and the NEXT and the NEXT and the NEXT . . .
Man, ain't that the truth!! I'm doing that now with some Art Pepper stuff, and it takes a while for it to be ingrained enough come out naturally in a solo..... but once you've really got it under your fingers, you can then play a number of variations on it as you're improvising............
 

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a lot of good replies here. not much to add except take your time. try to really nail whatever you do in a single key before moving on. having a pattern or exercise really solid in one key is better then so-so in a bunch of keys. create a model of correctness in one key that you can then begin to replicate in the others.
 

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First of all thanks for all the info given here. As a result I tried to combine all the things said into a homework asignment for myself (now getting all of this in my head and under the fingers is a bigger challenge). Following the circle I wrote down all the chords in a given scale and also added the notes to the chords. I've put the I-VI-V in bold and the ii-V7-I with a grey background.
Hopefully there are no mistakes in it but if the more experienced members could have a look at it please let me know for adjustments to be made. This one is in pdf, I do have it as an Excel file with an extra page that is without the written notes, to get away from them when practicing.

Hope I get the sheet in this post.

edit 8-21: found some mistakes that I have changed now (sorry, I'm only learning)
 
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