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Distinguished SOTW Member
3,494 Posts
How much do you know already ?
You say you know scales.
Do you play piano ?

Do you know how the basic chords, such as simple major triads,
are derived from the major scale of the same name ?
i.e. The 1st, 3rd and 5th notes of the scale.

To adapt chords to saxophone, you need to understand
the theory behind them, because you can only arpeggiate
them, unlike a guitar or piano.

If you learnt classical, then they probably covered this.

However, your post is a bit vague in this respect.
Give us a bit more information regarding what you know at this point.
Then we can provide some suggestions.

I would suggest you buy a cheap guitar and start to learn some
chords on that. There is plenty of information available for this.
You can pick up a cheap guitar for much less than a saxophone.
It would be a good investment if you intend to get serious about
learning jazz and improvising. It may take some time, but then
learning to play saxophone and improvise is no quick task either.

I'm not sure where you are from, but your spelling and grammar
need a bit of improvement.
If English is not your first language then that would explain that.

Distinguished SOTW Member
3,494 Posts
indeed english is my second languege..
Okay, no problem.

dorlz said:
i know about the principle of tention and release
(tunic, dominant, and subdominant)
I don't quite follow this.
Tonic, dominant, and subdominant are the names of some of the notes
of a scale. It's not really related to the subject of tension and release.

dorlz said:
i know that the I, III make up the tunic
Your thinking is a bit foggy here.
I & III make up only part of a chord using the tonic note of the
scale as the root.
You are missing the V note.
Two notes is only a harmony. A chord, generally
speaking, requires a minimum of three notes.

dorlz said:
the II, IV, VI, make the subdominant
No. These notes are the II chord i.e D minor in the key of C
The subdominant chord has the scale notes IV, VI, and I.

dorlz said:
the V, VII make the dominant.
Once again, you really need at least three notes, which for
the dominant chord would be the scale notes, V, VII and II.

dorlz said:
by the way i dont play the piano.
As Dave says, you don't have to be able to play the piano.
It is sufficient just to know the names of the notes on the
keyboard. Then you can play the relevant notes together
to hear how they sound. This is something that you cannot
do on saxophone.

Some do play multiphonics, but that is not quite the same thing.

It is obvious to me, reading your answer that you need some basic
chord theory.
This is not a difficult subject.
You can teach yourself with a suitable book, and by trying the notes
on your sax and on the piano if you have access to one.

Learning basic chord theory is an essential part of learning music.
It's sort of like knowing what goes on under the hood.

Distinguished SOTW Member
3,494 Posts
I think dorlz is not referring to chord tones but to roots of diatonic chords.

ie chords I and III can be thought of as basically tonic, II IV and VI as subdominant, and V and VII as dominant.

I used to teach this on a simplistic level for beginning improvisers to think of tonic as home, subdominant as being a different place, and dominant as wanting to come home.

Of course, there is much more to it, but that is a neat way to start thinking about tension and release.
Hmmm. Interesting concept. I can see the logic.
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