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In response to http://forum.saxontheweb.net/showthread.php?140795-Ideas-on-THE-BLUES-To-shed

Tim's exercise in question is from http://www.saxontheweb.net/Price/Feb01.html
FIRST PLAY THIS, then analyze how the notes in the chord relate to surrounding notes. This will help you shape a solo of your own on blues… post bop style.
THEN… Write some of your own based on this example!
Man, there's a lot of stuff in there! For me, as a player and teacher, blowing these kinds of exercises is great for phrasing, hearing how things sound over changes, reading etc. I find "licks" the way most people play them to be too long and too much for me to use creatively, though, so let me take this opportunity to show what I would do with Tim's exercise (again, posted HERE).

First of all, like I said, it's too long for me to REALLY digest all at once. That doesn't mean I can't play it or memorize it, but you'll see what I'm talking about in a second. Let's take a look at the first phrase in the exercise. Tim's chord was C7, which I forgot to include in the first couple of pdfs.

Looking at this, I see a structure of chord tones and approach notes that allow you to play around two chord tones for each phrase. The first thing I'd do, for the sake of uniformity, is to move the first note down so that we're always staying between chord tones. This is done for simplicity. Now you are always looking from one chord tone to the closest one, never confusing yourself by skipping one... a simpler formula, which I'd analyze like this:

So now we are starting on a chord tone and I see that the approach notes are the target note itself, upper DIATONIC neighbor tone, the lower chromatic neighbor tone (or the LEADING TONE to the target note). Now that we understand the process, we are no longer using a lick that works on C7, but rather have a pattern that we can apply to any chord quality in any key.

OK, I don't usually write these things down at all, but to start off practicing this pattern, I would play this first:


I would do it on Maj7 chords first, just cuz that's just how I do. LOL. After that, I'd do it on dominants, then on min7s. If I'm in the mood, I'll rock the min7(b5) and diminished, too, but after you've shedded the first few chord qualities, you're pretty much good to go. BTW, I do this in 12 keys, one chord quality at a time. The important thing about this type of drill is that you are doing it in your head, and playing slow enough that you can think ahead to the next chord tones in time to play it with no mistakes.

***READ THIS***THE MOST IMPORTANT THING in this drill is thinking about chord tones, specifically pairs of chord tones like B/G, G/E, E/C. This is why I've broken the pattern up into 5-note phrases. It's easier to think ahead to the next chord tones that way, and easier to get familiar with the pattern on your first day. They are also more useful than the entire pattern because you can switch chords faster with shorter motifs, which we'll get to in a minute. I will repeat, because students can't hear this enough, the point of practicing these types of drills, for me, is to force you to be more aware of chord tones. After shedding this pattern, you MAY never use it in a solo (you will, but that doesn't matter). You WILL find yourself playing more melodic lines, outlining chord changes more effectively, being more aware of your place in the song's form and creating smoother, longer phrases. That's WITHOUT deliberately throwing it into your solos.******


On the 2nd day of practicing this pattern, however, I'd connect the phrases like Tim had them originally so I could work on playing more fluid lines and get ready for my ultimate improvising use for this drill. That means I'd be playing the exact same example as the very first one I posted, but starting on B (for a Maj7 chord) instead of C (which would be the same on any type of major chord).

Of course, when I switched Tim's original note from the root to the 7th, I created a problem. We now run into the issue of figuring out where to go after we hit the root, since my plan says we want to always go from one chord tone to the next, but the root to the 7th are not the usual 3rd away that all the other pairs are. Tim dealt with it by placing the note on the root, and ignoring the 7th (below, 1st example). In theory, I don't like this because for me, I want to play ALL the chord tones in these exercises. That teaches me to think. Again, in theory, I'd keep the formula and use the upper diatonic and lower chromatic approach (below, 2nd example). Honestly, if I want to ignore anything, it's the root as a starting note (below, 3rd example), since I already have it as an ending target note. Here are some solutions:


Looking at those solutions, it's clear to see why Tim went from the root to the 5th, skipping the 7th. The second example I have up there is too chromatic. Even though we are using a diatonic upper note, since it's a half step away from the chord tone, and we've just come away from that chord tone, we start destroying the chordal clarity that this pattern gives us. It can be a cool effect (dig Josh Redman on Jazz Crimes), but defeats the purpose for me. My third example also lacks because it skips the resolution from the leading tone to the root, which is really what the sound of this pattern is all about. This is unfulfilling and unnatural. So, at the end of the day, if I were starting on the 7th, I'd go between the 7th and 5th. If I started on the third, for example, and want to go down past the root, I'd use Tim's original idea and go between the root and the 5th directly. Practice > Theory

FINALLY, the end use of this drill is to help develop smooth voice leading in your improv by teaching you how to target chord tones. We can identify pairs of chord tones voice lead smoothly and play the pattern over those chord tones. This way, we can really nail the changes, instead of just playing guide tone lines that work smoothly over the changes but coupling the guide tone lines with other chord tones so we can really OUTLINE the changes as we play. You can even devise patterns that will hit BOTH guide tones in a single phrase that outline changes VERY strongly. Here are some ideas over ii V I progressions, but again I never write this stuff down; it's always done in my head, usually over a blues in 12 keys first then over whatever tune I'm learning and then over some other tunes that I know and even others that I don't.


This particular pattern runs into some trouble when you have a 2-beat harmonic rhythm (changing chords every two beats), but I stuck in some possible solutions to that. What's important about my post here is that it details how to create these patterns, not that every pattern is going to be the most easily useful thing in the world. This pattern will actually get plenty of use from me, though. Its little theoretical flaws force you to be creative to solve simple harmonic problems, which in turn forces you to think even more about chord tones and will ultimately improve your playing more. I'll shed it this week.

The very last step to this is to practice improvising using the pattern as a SPRINGBOARD for ideas. Don't just cut and paste the pattern into your solo, try to play something that sounds KINDA like that pattern. Then try to invert it, play it backwards, etc.

See why I started off saying Tim's exercise was too much for me all at once? How many patterns like this can you create out of Tim's exercise, or any great jazz solo? There is enough information in the Omnibook to keep you practicing forever, I think, if you take this approach.

P.S. This is NOT overkill. This is how I really build vocabulary. You might spend a few months on this pattern depending on your ability level, but don't sweat it. It will treat you right. The more you get used to practicing this type of thing in this way, the faster you will learn the patterns. Each one is a very powerful tool for building your improv chops, and the core of your vocabulary.

P.P.S. This took me 1.5 hours to write! How does one become distinguished on SOTW? :shameless: LOL
 

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Dan- I dug it a lot too.

Theres a solid approch there- and cool things. THANK YOU !
 

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Thanks to both of you!! It helps me alot to find out how people think about what they are doing, in a detailed way, and about how to get from here to there.
 

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RIGHT ON DAN!

What programs are you using to get this information up and on-line? B:cool:
 

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The dedicated, knowledgeable people inhabiting here is what makes this site so great. There are enough resources here for ten lifetimes. Thanks to everyone for all the time and effort.
 

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FUN STUFF.....I do this with my students and peers a lot. Dan put a lot of work in here, I dug it. There are SO MANY directions. In thinking more also... I think the first "lesson" for any student of improvisation should take is the one where they listen to people who do it. With desire present. before you even tell them they will be trying to do stuff and that will create more questions. I enjoy the personal steps, in jazz. There's only 12 notes ya know?
To much today is cemented in with no flexiable expression, every aspect of everything is planned in advance. By keeping an open mind ( Thank you Dan !!) one can find things of use everywhere. Be it a note,or even a pause. The individualism of the performer is becoming a thing of the past, this becomes very bad for the artistic jazz expression. Something I'm very concerned about.

If the goal is to be able to compose in the now then whatever your experience is ( practicing, or playing) it needs to be PLAYED FROM. IMHO-you can have a limitless number of ideas because you should be playing FROM the idea- you should be responding to what is happening.
One must cultivate their ability to respond,to compose in the now as well as everything else.

Questions are where answers come from and the subsequent know-how.Improvising is a rebound of that, more so than ever.
 

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I enjoyed working on that first phrase quite a bit yesterday to figure out how it could be changed to make it sound like down home pre-bop blues.
 

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I enjoyed working on that first phrase quite a bit yesterday to figure out how it could be changed to make it sound like down home pre-bop blues.
Ok by the way ,the thing that most people miss is via jazz is a relationship to the blues.It colors every phrase you can play .

The "how you play" is all coming out of the blues even if the "what you plays" can be complex, At the end you also got to get to pure expression, past the page if you will, and that blues element can appear more prominent.

Stay well. Play, play, play with others too. Watch what hapens :)
 

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Discussion Starter #13
I enjoyed working on that first phrase quite a bit yesterday to figure out how it could be changed to make it sound like down home pre-bop blues.
Check out the videos and linked pdf files Matt Otto posted in this thread. He's taken a harmonic minor scale and created a couple melodic lines. The first one (from his Lesson 35) is very obviously based on a pattern similar to the one I posted up here, but instead of taking his approach notes from the diatonic scale, he takes it from the harmonic minor. You can do that with the Tim Price lick I copped, or you can get your approach notes from pentatonic scales, the blues scale, or whatever to get that more "down home pre bop" feel.
 

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Great post Dan.
Lately i've been working a lot on improvisation, and i really do find more joy in jamming and playing from ideas, as Tim Price puts it, than by doing licks and stuff. This approach really appeals to me, so thanks a lot for the great inspiration.
 

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Dan, you're not only distinguished, you're a beast. Nice thread.
...Not only that...I'm proud of him. For a few reasons. But let me say this, THIS IS WHY I PUT THESE UP HERE, FOR FREE BACK IN 2002, TO GET GUYS TO WRITE/STUDY/AND PLAY...And try stuff of_THEIR_own!!! I'm happy to see when guys do this- this is why I did it. HOPEFULLY GUYS WILL START USING THESE AS SPRING BOARDS MORE OFTEN.

....Also Mascio Dan is a very nice cat. He came by my gig a while ago. Hung, played a few tunes and I told him to hang and stay. He was ultra-polite respectful and a very interesting dedicated player who I really dig musically. I wish a guy like this could get some real " road time" - he has the right tools/vibe and a big heart. His sound reminds me of my friend Ed Tomassi , he got that Bostonian thing. He can play- and is fun to be around. We had a great time playing, havin' some beer and tequila and talking about Berklee guys we know.

That IS what's supposed to be happening!!! You know? That is a SOTW asset...as I always said!!! It should be happening more and I hope it does it's great for the music, and community and tequila sales:mrgreen: LOL.....But this is what's supposed to be happening. Good times!
 

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This is cool. Music is fun. Good ideas, Dan, and Tim, guys like you and Steve Neff put up some seriously great information for musicians to digest, for free. It's incredible. Thanks for working to really build things and help keep community and dialogue strong. I'd love to see more people's ideas bouncing off these principles.
 
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