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I think arpeggios would be a vertical construct as apposed to moving by scale degrees which is more horizontal. Seems pretty obvious to me regardless of what instrument you are playing.
 

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I think arpeggios would be a vertical construct as apposed to moving by scale degrees which is more horizontal. Seems pretty obvious to me regardless of what instrument you are playing.
If you think of a graph of pitch vs time (ie pitch vertical and time horizontal) then both arpeggios and scales are diagonal. This seems an obvious way to think of it. So a chord on the piano would be vertical, and a line of notes of the same pitch would be horizontal. Everything else is different degrees of diagonal. That is what sets obvious to me, but let us celebrate that we are all different.
 

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If you think of a graph of pitch vs time (ie pitch vertical and time horizontal) then both arpeggios and scales are diagonal.
Obviously true, but one is more horizontal and the other is more vertical compared with each other so some people refer to them as such.
 

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Obviously true, but one is more horizontal and the other is more vertical compared with each other so some people refer to them as such.
Sorry I don't get this (Please excuse me if you think I'm being obtuse or pedantic, I'm really just getting confused)

The concept of more vertical or more horizontal makes no sense in the case of the graph, because the faster you play the more vertical. I've looked around various sites about this, and I've seen another definition, ie people define vertical as fitting the chord changes and horizontal as being more "ear" or "melodic" (e.g. with modal jazz and Stan Getz being defined as horizontal. So a lot of confusion out there and people with their own definitions.

Still I suppose that makes life interesting, as I said we all think differently.
 

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I guess I visualize it like this. If you play an ascending line of 8th notes starting on low Bb and you run up a major arrpeggio and into it's extensions, the line ascends up the staff at a very steep angle. If you play another line the same rhythm but play the Bb major scale or chromatic scale the line is much more horizontal in the way it moves through pitches compared to the arpeggios.

Arpeggios are cool because they can shoot you down and up a couple octaves in no time and every note sounds great if you are playing the right chord. But they can certainly become stale, corny or robotic. Scales seem to describe a more sensual contour and it seems to me like they require more sensitivity because there are non-chord tones and tensions that need to be handled appropriately.

I think maybe that is what the OP is having a problem with. I have the same problem. One thing that really helped me (this is something that Nefertiti brought up here earlier) is articulation. If you can cleanly tongue all the weak beats at a decent tempo it really helps give your line some forward motion or a nice rhythmic tumbling kind of quality. It is also important that the chord tones of the scale are aligned on the strong beats. These are all rules to eventually be broken when you take it a step further but it's a good place to start.
 

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I think it's more conceptual than anything.

Horizontal: melodic construction, looking to play a sustained line that makes sense. Placing greater emphasis on a "melodic" line. (I'd also say linear).
Vertical: Thinking of chord-tones, upper extensions and all that. Placing greater emphasis on outlining chords vs. a melody.

You can get into what constitutes a melody now. When learning, the entire harmonic structures are open to you! When I was learning, I certainly got hung-up on getting all the"right" chord-tones and although I outlined a chord, my melodic ideas were absent.

For melodic development, singing what I wanted to play definitely helped me develop melodic ideas. I can play MUCH more vertical on my sax than my voice, so the constraint of the voice forced me to sing melodies. Then transfer that to the horn and viola: you have a melody (which is more horizontal).

Good luck!
 

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I think it's more conceptual than anything.

Horizontal: melodic construction, looking to play a sustained line that makes sense. Placing greater emphasis on a "melodic" line. (I'd also say linear).
Vertical: Thinking of chord-tones, upper extensions and all that. Placing greater emphasis on outlining chords vs. a melody.
Aha OK, that is the second definition I mentioned then. Not arpeggios vs scales.
 

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Aha OK, that is the second definition I mentioned then. Not arpeggios vs scales.
I mean, the argument could be made that scales are more melodic than arpeggios. I don't think melodic excludes arpeggios, but a disjunct melody with wide leaps *maybe* is less conventionally melodic.

Likewise, scales can be un-melodic. I remember way back in middle school when I was introduced to the idea, "horizontal" was introduced with modal playing with the intent of excluding chord motion because paying attention to a progression was taking verticality into account. Using the simplified logic, if you're playing a progression, any outlining has an element of verticality.

*shrug* Words, words, words!
 

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Lots of good input here. Lurking the hell out of this.

To me (as another pedantic) the vertical/horizontal terms do make sense in the changes/melody sense.

So purely vertical playing means prioritizing consistency with the chord changes (vertical elements - bars, beats - that change frequently), whether you’re using arpeggios or "chord scales". "Giant steps", Dixieland/trad, ...

Horizontal playing prioritizes horizontal consistency; melodic lines, motivic development, something that fits logically with what came before and what is about to come. The blues is often quite horizontal. Cool jazz, too.

$0.02
 

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I heard these terms (vertical and horizontal) a long time ago and yes they were roughly applied to style of playing mostly using chord tones (vertical) vs mostly using a scalar approach (horizontal).

With the caveat that this is 'just semantics', I'm with Pete. I don't think those terms are all that useful or descriptive of what's actually going on. Scales move up or down (vertical) as do chord arpeggios and in both cases if you add in the time element, they are moving diagonally. The main difference is the intervals between notes; closer intervals for scales.

But most melodies use a mix of intervals, from half steps to octaves or greater. And while you can play a melodic line that focuses primarily on chord tones or on scales, again it's usually a mix. So I don't think in terms of 'horizonal' or 'vertical' when soloing. But whatever works for you is the way to go.
 

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Sorry I haven't gotten my video up yet- should be up Thursday. To me, horizontal vs. vertical playing has to do with how you connect chord changes to one another in a smooth, melodic way versus playing over each chord as a singular phrase/solo/etc. I'll explain my take on it much better on the video- stay tuned!
 

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To me the words vertical and horizontal conquer up either something that goes up and down, or something that goes left to right (or right to left).

How you apply that to music I'm not quite sure. So if you apply those terms to playing the saxophone I might think of vertical as going up and down melodically, and horizontal as sticking on one Note.

I've heard piano players use those terms where vertical would be a chord (ie notes stacked on top of each other) and horizontal would be a melody line

But a saxophone cannot stack notes on top as a chord (except with mutliphonics)

People do seem confused about the meanings here.
Vertical refers to patterns, scales, arps, stuff like that. Horizontal refers to working on transitions between chords, different ways of weaving through chord progressions melodically.
 

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Seems like as there are different definitions, with in this and previous threads.

I was also a bit confused, what exactly is "horizontal" playing?
I was referring to scale wise movement(with chromatics also)
I want to improve horizontally (by ear) because I know that Lester Young and Stan Getz, two of my favorite saxophonists, improvised mainly that way..
Improvising horizontally is one of my favorite things to do. Try just turning on a song and playin whatever sounds good, it's really fun. And I find it's more soulful than playing chord by chord.
Melodic improvisation is often called "horizontal" or "linear" while the chord/scale approach is often called "vertical". The latter is virtually the only approach taught in today's "jazz education factories" and, I believe, is largely responsible for the fact that most "jazz players" today usually sound essentially indistinguishable from each other or,
A simple way I use for Horizontal playing is to work triads and 7ths in all 12 keys within 1 Octave (C to C 1 octave)
To my thinking that is purely vertical. Chords. Regardless of that is a good exercise.
I think arpeggios would be a vertical construct as apposed to moving by scale degrees which is more horizontal. Seems pretty obvious to me regardless of what instrument you are playing.
Horizontal: melodic construction, looking to play a sustained line that makes sense. Placing greater emphasis on a "melodic" line. (I'd also say linear).
Vertical: Thinking of chord-tones, upper extensions and all that. Placing greater emphasis on outlining chords vs. a melody.
Vertical refers to patterns, scales, arps
So purely vertical playing means prioritizing consistency with the chord changes (vertical elements - bars, beats - that change frequently), whether you're using arpeggios or "chord scales". "Giant steps", Dixieland/trad, ...

Horizontal playing prioritizes horizontal consistency; melodic lines, motivic development, something that fits logically with what came before and what is about to come. The blues is often quite horizontal. Cool jazz, too.
I heard these terms (vertical and horizontal) a long time ago and yes they were roughly applied to style of playing mostly using chord tones (vertical) vs mostly using a scalar approach (horizontal).

With the caveat that this is 'just semantics', I'm with Pete. .
I mean, the argument could be made that scales are more melodic than arpeggios. I don't think melodic excludes arpeggios, but a disjunct melody with wide leaps *maybe* is less conventionally melodic.

Likewise, scales can be un-melodic. !
Melody can include all or any one of arpeggios, scales, interval leaps. What makes it a good melody in many cases is the way those elements are used, e.g. development of motifs, tension release etc.

A few examples spring to mind, take the opening section of various tunes.

Yesterday (Beatles) mostly scales
All of Me = arpeggios
Over the Rainbow = big interval leaps
My favourite Things = intervals
Fly Me to the Moon = scales
Autumn Leaves = intervals/scales
In the Mood
= arpeggios

All of these are built very firmly around the chord changes.

I am now realising more and more, given the different definitions, that using the terms horizontal and vertical as if there is a definition is not too helpful.

This is what makes sense to me:
But most melodies use a mix of intervals, from half steps to octaves or greater. And while you can play a melodic line that focuses primarily on chord tones or on scales, again it's usually a mix. So I don't think in terms of 'horizonal' or 'vertical' when soloing. But whatever works for you is the way to go.
 

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Discussion Starter · #34 ·
What i was referring to as horizontal is the scale, and scale plus chromatics take on chord changes, that's all.
 

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Basically what I'm getting at is that as there seem to be so many definitions of horizontal/vertical, why not just say what we actually mean in plain terms that are less easy to misinterpret:

  • arpeggios
  • scales
  • melodic
  • playing "by ear"
  • use of guide tones
  • flowing
  • angular

etc...
 

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Discussion Starter · #36 ·
For me it´s a useful definition cause it helps me analyze my playing technique. So, for me is a technical question. For a reason my fingers and mind visualize and executes better the vertical, arpeggios, chords,...than the horizontal, scales, bebop scales, chromatics. Maybe is a matter of practice more scales vs chords, so i am open to different exercises that help with that. Of course the scales or bebop playing are linked to the chord and harmony. There's no need to overdiscuse any term, terms are there to help, not to confuse.
Also take in consideration that english is not my language, haha!
 

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For me it´s a useful definition cause it helps me analyze my playing technique. So, for me is a technical question. For a reason my fingers and mind visualize and executes better the vertical, arpeggios, chords,...than the horizontal, scales, bebop scales, chromatics. Maybe is a matter of practice more scales vs chords, so i am open to different exercises that help with that. Of course the scales or bebop playing are linked to the chord and harmony. There's no need to overdiscuse any term, terms are there to help, not to confuse.
Also take in consideration that english is not my language, haha!
Partly why I suggest people use more specific terms rather than terms (vertical/horizontal) that, as we see, have various definitions.

What i was referring to as horizontal is the scale, and scale plus chromatics take on chord changes, that's all.
OK, well that does make total sense and I understand what you are getting at when you say it like that - thanks for defining what you mean, but as you see not everyone sees it like that.

EDIT: I can also see how a specific teacher/method may employ the terms vertical/horizontal in a teaching context (and teaching is the main context here as great improvisers don't think "now I'm going to play horizontal/vertical") and if that helps those particular students that is all good. The problem only arises when those students use the terms in a wider context away from that specific teacher/method.
 

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Discussion Starter · #38 ·
Nice Pete!
Anyway i am enjoying a lot more the forum, not only the marketplace, which i have to say, i am addicted to...
A lot of good advice and suggestions, as ever.
 

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The terms vertical and horizontal do, in my view, lead to the conflation of melodic playing with scalar playing. Which are very different things.

I've heard Lester Young referred to as a Horizontal player (Vs. Coleman Hawkins the vertical player). I think people generally take Horizontal to man melodically driven and Vertical to mean harmonically driven or motivated.

Take Lester Young's solo on Pound Cake, totally melodic yet there's arpeggios all over it, in fact it's far more arpeggio based than a typical bop solo....

Anyway, to go back to the original question, the Bergonzi book is great and helped me, as does transcribing or writing lines and practicing through the keys. I try to sing as much as possible too to ensure this isn't just a technical or theoritcal exercise. Good luck!
 
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