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Thanks so much for posting this. Great insight. Transcription is always helpful, no matter your level.
 

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Maybe the best advice I ever got about improvising came inadvertently from a ventriloquist. The ventriloquist uses phrases, not words, to talk through the dummy. This particular ventriloquist practiced in Hebrew. One reviewer was convinced that her show was a fake because she spoke Hebrew with an American accent and her dummy didn't.

Along the lines of 814Jazzer's advice, play phrases, not notes.
 

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Great writeup.

I've discovered over the past couple years that I spent way too much of my musical career thinking about notes.
 

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What a wonderful article! I enjoyed reading that quite a bit. Thank you for posting!
 

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Bob's thoughts actually lead to the fact, that it's pretty easy to develop your own musical language on improvisation by following his listening approach (providing that you have the required listening skills). But it also means that if you want to develop a certain musical style, you have to bring a lot of dicipline and responsability for what you are listening to.
I've heard many great saxophone players tell their students to listen to the great masters of jazz history but at the same time to listen to as many contemporary players as possible in order to aurally understand the development of jazz. Is this true then? Can you really understand and play in the tradition when you listen to EVERYTHING all the time?
I've spent a couple of years trying to only listen to the 'historical players', i.e. radically reducing the complexity of my musical input. It was hard at some point because I refused listening to some great contemporary players for a while, but when I restarted to listen to most of them after years of abstinence, I could hear the music with other ears, noticing how much of the 'older' material from the greats they had transformed into their own style and language. I definitely would not have been able to recognize that before I had diciplined myself in the way I described.
As a european player I'm trying to emphasize the bop stylistics of the 50s with my bands. I think it's a bit harder to do that in Europe than in the U.S., because hardly anyone is playing this music here. Most of the guys I studied jazz with just did what they wanted and aimed for developing an unfocused style, consisting of a broad mixture of every musical trend available around them, which they eventually named their personal style. Almost noone focused on music in a historical sense.

Now I don't want to claim that I'm doing the only right things; I just notice that although I'm a fully employed college teacher, I still have more gigs to play than most of the cats I studied with. Obviously, targeting and reducing my musical input yielded to an musical output of myself that people and audiences are aware of as a certain style they can codify and relate to.

It would be nice to share experiences or thoughts on that here with you.
 

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victor wooten appears to be of the same mind as bob amram...

 

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Discussion Starter · #72 ·
Bob has sent me some superb practice routines of his, and I am going to publish those as soon as I am able to. I have to convert the PDF files and such, and am a bit backlogged with work at the moment.

I think the membership will find those equally helpful.
 

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Mike...a really wonderful insight for me....it is certainly how I learn best....from teh bottom of my heart ...thank you...I was starting to wonder...until I read this
 

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Discussion Starter · #74 ·
Here is the text of the lessons. I'm still trying to find a good way to post the pdf files of the sheet music portions:

I found my formal exercises that I had sent to Curtis at Saxsolos. He wanted them and then transcribed them into sheet music along with the Lullaby in an Avery number from my Myspace site ( I was curious to see what it looked like, my reading chops are not up to the task of actually playing it).

Those interested should only use the transcript to compensate for inadequacies in my descriptive abilities. I really do not want them to play the transcripts. The idea is to establish a direct mind/fingers/sound relationship and not an eyes/fingers/ sound relationship.

They should also pay attention my instructions to not use the tongue when so directed-this will help develop articulation in rapid passages via the throat and embrochure, including those which contain extended intervals.

Even though they may not care for the aesthetic content of the performance (everyone is entitled to their own taste), they may want to check out the youtube video of the last number from The Blank Canvas album. They will get a full image of technique evolving from the application of these exercises. Again, these are not improvisation exercises, but are technical in facilitating the mind/ finger/sound.


Lesson #1 Fourths, Whole Tone and Chromatics.

This is the most structured of the exercise. Practice without tonguing - which builds rapid passage articulation. All are non key specific, yet applicable in any key

Fourths: This has two primary effects:

1. It tends to breaks the static effects of 1-3-5 exercises on your solos
2. Tends to build comfort with wide intervals in your solos

Exercise #! ( ASCENDING): Start on the bottom of your horn and play a series of 4ths to the top -n successive step ( number of notes) example Ascending - Bb-Eb, Bb-Eb-Ab, Bb-Eb-Ab-C#, Bb-Eb-Ab-C#-F#, Bb-Eb-Ab-C#-F#-B, Bb-Eb-Ab-C#-F#-B-E

Now do the same starting on lowB, Then start on C, then C# etc until you are finishing with a two note group starting on your high C# to F#

Exercise #2 (DESCENDING):Now reverse the series starting on your high F#
Example Descending -F#-C#, F#-C#-Ab, F#-C#-Ab, F#-C#-Ab-Eb, F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Bb, F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Bb-F, F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Bb-F-C

Now do the same starting on high E, Then start on Eb, then D etc until you are finishing with a two note group starting on your high Eb to LowBb

Try not to tongue at all - this develops your throat and embrochure. Tonguing should be used to give pulse and rhythm to phrases and you will start phrases with tonguing- but not tonguing these exercise means that you are using it as an adjunct- not a technical crutch

Now repeat the same exercises but both ascend and descend -

Exercise # 3 (ASCENDING/DESCENDING):Example: Low Bb-Eb, Bb-Eb-Ab-Eb-LowBb, Low Bb-Eb-Ab_C#-Ab-Eb-Low Bb, Low Bb-Eb-Ab_C#-F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Low Bb, Low Bb-Eb-Ab-C#-F#-B-F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Low Bb, Low Bb-Eb-Ab-C#-F#-B-HighE-B-F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Low Bb

Now Repeat the exercise starting on Low B etc

Exercise#4 (DESCENDING?ASCENDING): Then reverse- playing Descending /Acsending lines Starting on High F#

Example High F#-C#, High F#-C#-AB-C#-High F#, High F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Ab-C#-High F#, High F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Bb-Eb-Ab-C#-High F#, High F#-C#-Ab-Eb-Bb-F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C#-High F#, High #-C#-Ab-Eb-Bb-F-Low C-F-Bb-Eb-Ab-C#-High F#

Now repeat starting on High F
Three Note Groupings
Exercise #5 ( ASCENDING TRIPLETS):Now do triblet figures Ascending
Example:
LowBb-Eb-Ab, Low B-E-A, Low C-F-Bb, etc.

Exercise #6 (DESCENDING TRIPLETS): Now do Descending Triples Starting on High F#

Example:
High F#-C#-AB, High F-C-G, High E to B-F#, etc.

Exercise #7 (ASCENDING/DESCENDING):Now do Ascending/Descending triplets
This is continuous:
Low Bb-Eb-Ab-Eb-Low B-E-A-E-Low C-F-Bb-F-Low C#-F#-B-F#-D Etc,

Exercise #8 (DESCENDING/ASCENDING): Now Do Descending/Ascending Triplets Starting on High F#:

Example: High F#-C#-AB-C#-High F-C-G-C-High E-B-F#-B-HighEb

Four Note Groupings
Exercises 9 through 12: Now repeat the triple exercises (Exercises 5 through 8) in four note groupings
Ascending only
Descending only, Ascending/Descending, and Descending/Ascending

The critical thing to remember is that we tend to repeat tendencies that we practice. Counterbalancing means that your lines and phrases will have equal tendencies to move in any direction. Also- you will find that the entire Fourth Series will help your bop chops.

NEXT UP in Fourths is Reverses , two note groupings, and Big Intervals.

Lesson #2 Big Intervals Based on Fourths Exercises

Fourth Rotations (Four Note Groupings)

Exercise 1: Starting at the bottom of the horn with low Eb - Rotate blocks of 4 Fourths with the initial movement being descending as follows:
Low Eb-Low Bb-Ab-to-original Eb, E-Low B-A-original E, F-Low C-Bb-original F, ascend in this manner to the top of the horn

Exercise 2: Now start at the top of the horn with the initial movement being ascending as in the following example: High C#-High F#-Ab-original C#, High C to High F-G-Original C, High B-E-F#-original B, high Bb-Eb-F-original Bb

Now Counterbalance these exercises
Exercise 3: Going back to the bottom of the horn
Now repeat exercise #1, but with the initial movement being ascending. Example: Low Eb-Ab-low Bb-original Eb. Low E-A-low B-original E, low F-middle Bb-Low C-original F, etc. - continue pattern up the horn.

Exercise 4: Going to the top of the horn, repeat Exercise 2, but with an initial descending movement.
Example: High C#-Ab-high F#-original C#, High C-G-high F-original B, High Bb-F-high Eb-original Bb - continue down the horn

Fourth Rotations (Three Note Groupings)

:
Exercise 5: Starting at the bottom of the horn with low Eb, rotate blocks of 3 Fourths with the initial movement being descending as follows: Eb-Low Bb-Ab, E-Low B-A, F-Low C-Bb -- ascend in this manner to the top of the horn

Exercise 6: Now start at the top of the horn with the initial movement being ascending as in the following example: High C#-High F#-Ab, High C to High F, High B-E-F#, high Bb-Eb-F --- continue down the horn

Now Counterbalance these exercises

Exercise 7: Going back to the bottom of the horn
Now repeat exercise #5 but with the initial movement being ascending. Example: Low Eb-Ab-low Bb,Low E-A-low B, low F-middle Bb-Low C etc. - continue pattern up the horn.

Exercise 8: Going to the top of the horn, repeat Exercise 6, but with an initial descending movement.
Example: High C#-Ab-high F#, High C-G-high F, High Bb-F-high Eb - continue down the horn

Fourths (Two Note Groupings):

Exercise 9: Starting at the bottom of the horn with Low Bb, run fourths in groups of 2 up the horn, with the initial movement being ascending. Example: Low Bb-Eb, Low B-E, Low C-F, Low C#-F# etc. continue up the horn

Exercise 10: Starting at the top of the horn with high F#, run fourths in groups of 2, with the initial movement being descending.
Example: High F#-C#, High F - Bb, High E-A, etc. - continue down the horn

Now run counterbalanced exercises.

Exercise 11: Starting at the bottom of the horn with low Eb, run fourths in groups of 2, with the initial movement being descending in nature. Example: low Eb-Low Bb, E-low B, F-low C, F#- low C#, etc. Continue up the horn.

Exercise 12: Starting at the top of the horn with high C#, run fourths in groups of 2 down the horn, with the initial movement being ascending in nature. Example: High C#-high F#, High C-high F, High B-high E, etc. continue down the horn.

This completes the fourth series, remember 1. Try not to tongue, 2. Do not write these exercises down ( This is preparation for "thinking with your horn") 3. Gradually build up speed to as fast as possible - with accurate intonation and articulation

Lesson #3 Whole Tones ( 1 of 2)

Exercise 1:Run Ascending triples for Bb Scale: Ex. Low Bb-C-D, C-D-E, D-E-F#, E-F#-G#-, F#-G#-Bb, etc

Exercise 2: Run Descending triples For same scale starting at Upper F#: Ex. High F#-E-D, E-D-C, D-C-Bb, C-Bb-Ab, Bb-Ab-F#, etc.

Now Counterbalance
Exercise 3: Run Ascending Descending triplets: Ex. Low D- Low C- Low Bb, Low E-Low D-Low C, Low F#-E-D, etc.

Exercise 4: Run Descending Ascending triplets: Ex. High D-E-F#, High C-D-E, High Bb-C-D, etc.

Exercise 5: Run Ascending Four note groupings: Ex. Low Bb-C-D-E, Low C-D-E-F#, Low D-E-F#-G#, etc

Exercise 6: Run Descending Four Note Groupings: Ex. High F#-E-D-C, High E-D-C-Bb, High D-C-Bb-Ab, Etc.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 7: Run Ascending/Descending Four Note Groupings: Ex. Low E-Low D-Low C, Low Bb, Low F#-E-D-C, Low G#-F#-E-D, Etc.

Exercise 8: Run Descending/Ascending Four Note Groupings: Ex. High C-High D-High E- High F#, High Bb-C-D-E, High Ab-Bb-C-D, etc

Repeat all Exercises for the second Wholetone Scale starting on Low B

Scale Based Rotations

Exercise 9: Run Ascending triple Scale Based Rotations for Bb Scale: Ex. Low Bb-C-D-C-Bb, C-D-E-D-C, D-E-F#-E-D, E-F#-G#-F#-E, F#-G#-Bb-G#-F#, etc

Exercise 10: Run Descending triple Scale Based Rotations for same scale starting at Upper F#: Ex. High F#-E-D-E-F#, E-D-C-D-E, D-C-Bb-C-D, C-Bb-Ab-Bb-C, Bb-Ab-F#-Ab-Bb, etc.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 11: Run Ascending Descending triplet Scale Based Rotations: Ex. Low D- Low C- Low Bb-C-D, Low E-Low D-Low C-D-E, Low F#-E-D-E-F#, etc.
Exercise 12: Run Descending Ascending triplet Scale Based Rotations: Ex. High D-E-F#-E-F#, High C-D-E-D-C, High Bb-C-D-C-Bb, etc.

Exercise 13: Run Ascending Four note grouping Scale Based Rotations: Ex. Low Bb-C-D-E-D-C-Bb, Low C-D-E-F#-E-D-C, Low D-E-F#-G#-F#-E-D, etc

Exercise 14: Run Descending Four Note Grouping Scale Based Rotations: Ex. High F#-E-D-C-D-E-F#, High E-D-C-Bb-C-D-E, High D-C-Bb-Ab-Bb-C-D, Etc.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 15: Run Ascending/Descending Four Note Grouping Scale Based Rotations: Ex. Low E-Low D-Low C- Low Bb-C-D-E, Low F#-E-D-C-D-E-F#, Low G#-F#-E-D-E-F#-G#, Etc.

Exercise 16: Run Descending/Ascending Four Note Grouping Scale Based Rotations: Ex. High C-High D-High E- High F#-E-D-C, High Bb-C-D-E-D-C-Bb, High Ab-Bb-C-D-C-Bb-Ab, etc

Repeat all Exercises for the second Whole tone Scale starting on Low B

Center Note Rotations

Exercise 17: Run Center Based Rotations in an Ascending manner with the first note being Descending: Ex. Low C-Low Bb-Low C-E, Low D-Low C-Low D-F#, Low E-D-E-G#,

Exercise 18: Run Center Based Rotations in a Descending manner with the first note being Ascending: Ex: High E-High F#-High E-High C, High D-High E-High D-Bb, High C-D-C-Ab, Bb-C-Bb-F#, etc.

Note the final note in each group is a whole step above the anticipated note- this allows better flow without having to tongue.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 17: Run Center Based Rotations in an Ascending manner with the first note being Ascending: Ex. Low C-Low D-Low C-Low Bb, Low D-Low E-Low D-Low C, Low E-F#-E-D, etc.

Exercise 18: Run Center Based Rotations in a Descending manner with the first note being Descending: Ex: High E-High D-High E-High F#, High D-High C-High D-High E, High C-Bb-C-High D, Bb-Ab-Bb-High C, etc.

Repeat all Exercises for the second Whole tone Scale starting on Low B

Two Note Groupings:

Exercise 19: Run Two Note groupings as follows: Ascending/ Ascending :Ex. Low Bb-C, Low C-D, Low D-E, etc (Note: Tongue the first note in each group)

Exercise 20: Run Two Note Descending/Descending Groups as follows: High F#-High E, High E-High D, High D-High C, etc. (Note: Tongue the first note in each group)

Exercise 21: Run Two Note groupings as follows: Ascending/ Descending :Ex. Low C-Low Bb, Low D-low C, Low E-D, etc (Note: Do Not Use the tongue )

Exercise 20: Run Two Note Descending/Ascending Groups as follows: High E-High F#, High D-High E, High C-High D, etc. (Note: Do Not Use the tongue)

Repeat all Exercises for the second Whole tone Scale starting on Low B

From an analytical standpoint, note that all 7th and 9th chords with a diminished or augmented 5th ( Common Substitutes for 7ths) fall into one of the two wholetone scales.

As with all exercises, do not write the notes down and exept where noted, do not tongue.

Lesson #4 Whole Tones Combined

This is basically a repeat of the exercises in lesson #3 except that note groupings in each exercise alternate whole tone scales.

Exercise 1:Run Ascending triples for Bb and B Whole Tone Scale: Ex. Low Bb-C-D, B-C3-Eb,C-D-E, C#-Eb-F, D-E-F#, Eb-F-G- etc

Exercise 2: Run Descending triples For same scale starting at Upper F#: Ex. High F#-E-D, High F-Eb-C#, E-D-C, D-C-Bb, Eb-C#-B, C-Bb-Ab, B-A-G, etc.

Now Counterbalance
Exercise 3: Run Ascending Descending triplets: Ex. Low D- Low C- Low Bb, Low Eb-C#-B-C#-Eb, Low E-Low D-Low C, Low F-Eb-C#, etc.

Exercise 4: Run Descending Ascending triplets: Ex. High D-E-F#, High C#-Eb-F-Eb-C#, High C-D-E, High B-C#-Eb, etc.

Exercise 5: Run Ascending Four note groupings: Ex. Low Bb-C-D-E, Low B-C#-Eb-F, Low C-D-E-F#, Low C#-Eb-F-G-F-Eb-C#, Low D-E-F#-G#, etc

Exercise 6: Run Descending Four Note Groupings: Ex. High F#-E-D-C, High F-Eb-C#-B, High E-D-C-Bb, High Eb-C#-B-A, High D-C-Bb-Ab, Etc.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 7: Run Ascending/Descending Four Note Groupings: Ex. Low E-Low D-Low C, Low Bb, Low F-Eb-C#-B, Low F#-E-D-C, Low G-F-Eb-C#, Low G#-F#-E-D, Etc.

Exercise 8: Run Descending/Ascending Four Note Groupings: Ex. High C-High D-High E- High F#, High B-C#-Eb-F, High Bb-C-D-E, High A-B-C#-Eb, High Ab-Bb-C-D, etc

Scale Based Rotations

Exercise 9: Run Ascending triple Scale Based Rotations for Bb/B Scales: Ex. Low Bb-C-D-C-Bb,B-C#-Eb-C#-B, C-D-E-D-C, C#-Eb-F-Eb-C#, D-E-F#-E-D, Eb-F-G-F-Eb, etc

Exercise 10: Run Descending triple Scale Based Rotations for same scale starting at Upper F#: Ex. High F#-E-D-E-F#, F-Eb-C#-Eb-F, E-D-C-D-E, Eb-C#-B-C#-Eb, D-C-Bb-C-D, etc.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 11: Run Ascending Descending triplet Scale Based Rotations: Ex. Low D- Low C- Low Bb-C-D, Low Eb-C#-B-C#-Eb, Low E-Low D-Low C-D-E, Low F-Eb-C#-Eb-F, etc.
Exercise 12: Run Descending Ascending triplet Scale Based Rotations: Ex. High D-E-F#-E-D, High C#-Eb_F-Eb_C#, High C-D-E-D-C, High B-C#-Eb-C#-B, etc.

Exercise 13: Run Ascending Four note grouping Scale Based Rotations: Ex. Low Bb-C-D-E-D-C-Bb,B-C#-Eb-F-Eb-C#-B, Low C-D-E-F#-E-D-C, Low C#-Eb-F-G-F-Eb_C#, Low D-E-F#-G#-F#-E-D, etc

Exercise 14: Run Descending Four Note Grouping Scale Based Rotations: Ex. High F#-E-D-C-D-E-F#, High F-Eb-C#-B-C#-Eb-F, High E-D-C-Bb-C-D-E, High Eb-C#-B-A-B-C#-Eb, High D-C-Bb-Ab-Bb-C-D, Etc.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 15: Run Ascending/Descending Four Note Grouping Scale Based Rotations: Ex. Low E-Low D-Low C- Low Bb-C-D-E, Low F-Eb-C#-B-C#-Eb-F, Low F#-E-D-C-D-E-F#, Low G-F-Eb-C#-Eb-F-G, Etc.

Exercise 16: Run Descending/Ascending Four Note Grouping Scale Based Rotations: Ex. High C-High D-High E- High F#-E-D-C, High B-C#-Eb-F-Eb-C#-B, High Bb-C-D-E-D-C-Bb, High A-B-C#-Eb-C#-B-A, etc

Repeat all Exercises for the second Whole tone Scale starting on Low B

Center Note Rotations

Exercise 17: Run Center Based Rotations in an Ascending manner with the first note being Descending: Ex. Low C-Low Bb-Low C-E, Low C#-B-C#-Eb, Low D-Low C-Low D-F#, Low Eb-C#-Eb-F, Low E-D-E-G#,

Exercise 18: Run Center Based Rotations in a Descending manner with the first note being Ascending: Ex: High E-High F#-High E-High C, High Eb-F-Eb-C#, High D-High E-High D-Bb, High C#-Eb-C#-B, High C-D-C-Bb, High B-C#-B-A, etc.

Note the final note in each group is a whole step above the anticipated note- this allows better flow without having to tongue.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 17: Run Center Based Rotations in an Ascending manner with the first note being Ascending: Ex. Low C-Low D-Low C-Low Bb, C#-Eb-C#-B, Low D-Low E-Low D-Low C, Low Eb-F-Eb-C#, Low E-F#-E-D, etc.

Exercise 18: Run Center Based Rotations in a Descending manner with the first note being Descending: Ex: High E-High D-High E-High F#, High Eb-C#-Eb-F, High D-High C-High D-High E, High B-A-B-High C#, Bb-Ab-Bb-High C, etc.

Two Note Groupings:

Exercise 19: Run Two Note groupings as follows: Ascending/ Ascending :Ex. Low Bb-C, Low B-C#, Low C-D, Low C#-Eb, Low D-E, etc (Note: Tongue the first note in each group)

Exercise 20: Run Two Note Descending/Descending Groups as follows: High F#-High E, High F-Eb, High E-High D, High Eb-C#, High D-High C, etc. (Note: Tongue the first note in each group)

Exercise 21: Run Two Note groupings as follows: Ascending/ Descending :Ex. Low C-Low Bb, Low C#-B, Low D-low C, Low Eb-C#, Low E-D, etc (Note: Do Not Use the tongue )

Exercise 20: Run Two Note Descending/Ascending Groups as follows: High E-High F#, High Eb-F, High D-High E, High C#-Eb, High C-High D, etc. (Note: Do Not Use the tongue)

From an analytical standpoint, note that all 7th and 9th chords with a diminished or augmented 5th ( Common Substitutes for 7ths) fall into one of the two wholetone scales.

As with all exercises, do not write the notes down and except where noted, do not tongue.

Lesson 5 Fourth Flips

Exercise 1: Fourths Flips Type A ( Starting at the bottom of horn-first two notes in each group of four are descending, with the second two being ascending) : example: Low Eb-Low Bb-middle Ab- middle C#, Low E-Low B- middle A-middle D, Low F-Low C-middle Bb-middle Eb , etc.

Exercise 2: Fourths Flips Type B: ( Starting at the top of horn-first two notes in each group of four are ascending, with the second two being descending) example: high C#-high F#-high Ab- middle Eb, high C-high F-high G-middle D, high B-high E-middle F#-middle C#, etc

Counterbalance

Exercise 3: Fourth Flips Type C: ( Starting at bottom of horn-first two notes in each group of four are ascending, with the second two being descending): example: middle Ab-middle C#-low Eb-low Bb, middle A-middle D-low E-low B, middle Bb-middle Eb-low F-low C, etc

Exercise 4: Fourth Flips Type D: ( Starting at the top of horn-first two notes in each group of four are ascending, with the second two being descending): example: high Ab-middle Eb-high C#-high F#, high G-middle D-high C-high F, middle F#-middle C#-high B-high E, etc.

Lesson #6 Chromatics

Exercise 1:Run Ascending triples starting on low Bb Scale: Ex. Low Bb-B-C, B-C-C#, C#-D-Eb, etc

Exercise 2: Run Descending triples For same scale starting at Upper F#: Ex. High F#-F-E, F-E-Eb, E-Eb-D, etc.

Now Counterbalance
Exercise 3: Run Ascending Descending triplets: Ex. Low C- Low B- Low Bb, Low C#-Low C-Low B, Low D-C#-C, etc.

Exercise 4: Run Descending Ascending triplets: Ex. High E-F-F#, High Eb-E-F, High D-Eb-E, etc.

Exercise 5: Run Ascending Four note groupings: Ex. Low Bb-B-C-C#, Low B-C-C#-D, Low C-C#-D-Eb, etc

Exercise 6: Run Descending Four Note Groupings: Ex. High F#-F-E-Eb, High F-E-Eb-D, High E-Eb-D-C#, Etc.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 7: Run Ascending/Descending Four Note Groupings: Ex. Low C#-Low C-Low B- Low Bb, Low D-C#-C-B, Low Eb-D-C#-C, Etc.

Exercise 8: Run Descending/Ascending Four Note Groupings: Ex. High Eb-High E-High F- High F#, High D-Eb-E-F, etc

Scale Based Rotations

To be given later

Center Note Rotations

Exercise 9: Run Center Based Rotations in an Ascending manner with the first note being Descending: Ex. Low B-Low Bb-Low B-C#, Low C-Low B-Low C-D, Low C#-C-C#-Eb,

Exercise 10: Run Center Based Rotations in a Descending manner with the first note being Ascending: Ex: High F-High F#-High F-High Eb, High E-High F-High E-D, High Eb-E-Eb-C#, D-Eb-D-C, etc.

Note the final note in each group is a whole step above the anticipated note- this allows better flow without having to tongue.

Now Counterbalance

Exercise 11: Run Center Based Rotations in an Ascending manner with the first note being Ascending: Ex. Low B-Low C-Low B-Low Bb, Low C-Low C#-Low C-Low B, Low C#-D-C#-C, etc.

Exercise 12: Run Center Based Rotations in a Descending manner with the first note being Descending: Ex: High F-High E-High F-High F#, High E-High Eb-High E-High F, High D-C#-D-High Eb, C#-C-C#-High D, etc.

Two Note Groupings:

Exercise 13: Run Two Note groupings as follows: Ascending/ Ascending :Ex. Low Bb-B, Low B-C, Low C-C#, etc (Note: Tongue the first note in each group)

Exercise 14: Run Two Note Descending/Descending Groups as follows: High F#-High F, High F-High E, High E-High Eb, etc. (Note: Tongue the first note in each group)

Exercise 15: Run Two Note groupings as follows: Ascending/ Descending :Ex. Low B-Low Bb, Low C-low B, Low C#-C, etc (Note: Do Not Use the tongue )

Exercise 16: Run Two Note Descending/Ascending Groups as follows: High F-High F#, High E-High F, High Eb-High E, etc. (Note: Do Not Use the tongue)

CHROMATIC BURSTS

Starting at any note rotate around a single tone chromatically in the following manner with middle C as an example: C-C#-C-B-C-C#-D-C#-C-B-Bb-B-C-C#-D-Eb-D-C#-C-B-Bb-A-Bb-B-C. Extend it up and down as far as you like then without breathing, take the top most or bottom most note that you reached and repeat, with that note becoming the rotational center.

Then try these burst rotations in the following manner. Start your first rotation in the middle of the horn ( ex B), then jump to a rotation centered on a note on the upper part of the horn (high A), then drop to a rotation centered on a note on the bottom of the horn (low E), then back to a high note rotation ( ex. High B ), Then a middle note rotation (ex. D), Then high ( ex. High C), then low ( ex. Low F). Try doing this without stopping between jumps.

This will build articulation of phrases, where the single phrase has tight note groupings on one part of the horn, with the same phrase having notes at other parts of the horn.

As with all exercises, do not write the notes down and except where noted, do not tongue.
 

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Bob has sent me some superb practice routines of his, and I am going to publish those as soon as I am able to. I have to convert the PDF files and such, and am a bit backlogged with work at the moment.

I think the membership will find those equally helpful.
Mike - Thanks both for making the work of Bob Anram known and transcribing and transmitting his insights on SOTW Forum. I found Bob's thoughts on listening insightful and have begun to put them to use. In searching his name, I discovered the Sax on the Web articles of Bob's which you posted; his insights into spontaneity and the use of neutral phrases in practicing equally informative.

Additionally, I downloaded "The Hurricane Sessions 2008" from iTunes yesterday and am very much enjoying Bob's playing. This post is a great example of why I keep coming back to SOTW Forum. Thanks again!
 

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Thank you Bob, I'm happy to make others aware of this fantastic artist. I feel that he deserves to be a household name.
 

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You've brought the debate full circle. If you want to copy what you have heard you will need to transcribe and learn note for note. If this is truly your goal, I'm sure it's achievable over time (depending on your skill level). If your goal is to be able to improvise your own solo in your own voice, then I suggest that you put your sax aside and try to sing what you want to hear. This IS your voice. The sax, if you are one with your instrument, is just an extension of your voice. If you've got nothing to offer in singing a solo line, then you won't have much to play either.

The technician's approach is to learn all scales and modes, practice lots of arpeggios and licks, then cut and past according to the chord structure with a myriad of variations possible. In the technical approach you don't necessarily "hear" what you are about to play, but know that in theory it should "fit". This can sound OK to great, but in my humble opinion never has the depth and honesty of speaking with your own unique voice.
This is a terrific discussion thread, but the either / or debate doesn't ring true… isn't the basic improvisational craft about doing enough practice that the chord-scales become second nature so that harmonically you can stay with the tune you are trying to improvise over… and then its all about having a good tone, sense of rhythm, and just being good enough (lived enough?) to introduce all the other variations to put some "life" into the improvisation; but getting too free for most of us can just mean you can't hang it on the melody and chord changes? I heard a great quote in one of the old videos I had (I think it was Phil Woods talking about Cannonball - but my memory fails me), saying he asked him if he could use a lick and Cannonball was like… "did I play that!" but also said "if you can hear it, you can have it".
 

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Wow, this is very encouraging.. being a newbie and almost mid 40s, have a hard time with transcribing notes, but I can play by ear after years of playing guitar... so theres hope for me after all :)
 

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Great post. I think the best way to learn is to listen and transcribe...

I like new modern players and have been getting into Landen Vieira recently. Specifically on this song:

 
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