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I am playing many standards on my flute and sax and I am trying to understand how to use the chord symbols. I know how to read them but I am having some difficulty applying them to the melody line in terms of improvisation. I learn the melody first then I go to the chords themselves and when I attempt to interpret them in terms of what I know I run into a wall..........any practical advice out there? Aebersold says to play them one note at a time - then two - then three - then the chord, triad, seventh, ninth - then the scale, etc but I don't know what he means. Can someone explain his instructions on "How to memorize a tune"?.........thank you
 

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your question is so large, i'll start out with this:

first make sure you know all your major scales .. not just being able to play them but that you can play any of them spontaneously. Then their respective arpeggios ...

get a private teacher

get books on jazz theory

get Jazz theory workbooks (many out there, i'll check my titles) and practice, practice, practice

Pete Thomas' website (do an internet search)

here's a good started which I found straightforward - i picked up a book called "The Complete Idiot's Guide" for "Solos and Improvisation". Quite interesting & straightforward ... you can never not learn enough in this arena.
 

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When in doubt, simplify. Break it down into two components initially. You're either 'there' or 'going there'. Eventually, you'll start to see the grey areas.

Get Aebersold Volume 1 and start shedding. Then come back here and ask again.

..or get yourself a private teacher.
 

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Nuova,

as you probably know, chords are built of different scale degrees and therefore have a reltionship to scales. One widely used technique (not one of my favorites for aesthetic reasons) is to learn which scales coorespond to which types of chords/contexts.

Other methods include learning to HEAR how the chords relate to the melody of the tune, learning to improvise by creating variations on the melodies, etc. etc. etc.

I would suggest the following:

-order at least one Jamey Aebersold play along set. With it you will receive a little booklet written on newsprint called the scale syllabus (for free!). That contains some talk about chord-scale relationships and will give you a chart of which scales 'work' over which type of chords

-work with the play along and learn to use the info in the syllabus

-work with the play along and forget everything you ever read in the syllabus (improvise through melodic variation, purely by ear, anything...just concentrate on being musical

-work your way through the tune by playing different degrees of each chord (play all of the '3rds' of the chords in succession, the base notes, the 7ths, etc.)

bigtiny
 

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Chord symbols are primarily for the guitars, keys, and any uther chordal instruments. Saxophone is monophonic and that means notes are played in succession instead of played simultaneously. If you were to play the 1, 3, 5, or 7 of any chord you can be sure of playing the correct note. You need to know what makes a major chord major, and a minor chord minor. Don't worry about notes not fitting the basic chord. These notes "add character." :)
 

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I'm in the same boat right now, and I find it is easiest to focus on one tune at a time. Find a tune you are really familiar with (you know the head well, at least) and then focus on improvising over short sections. For example, if you're working on a tune with a 32-bar form, just improvise over the first four bars until you come up with some ideas that work, repeating the four bars as many times as necessary. Do this to slowly with the help of a metronome or, better yet, something like Band-in-a-Box. Then, move on to the next four bars and do the same thing. After that, play through all eight bars together and see what you come up with. Continue in the same fashion.

It's really all about building your vocabulary, so try listening to recordings of the tune you are working on and try to incorporate some of what you hear into your practice. If you can ingrain and modify those things you hear, then you'll be cranking out creative, original solos in no time.
 

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Any given tune has three basic components.

Melody, harmony and rhythm.

The chord symbols are just a guide to the underlying harmony as intended
by the composer.

The melody notes on some tunes can seem to be at odds with the harmony,
and are not necessarily based on the 1 - 3 - 5 etc of the chord.

Once you start improvising you have several choices.
1)You can stick close to the melody and imbellish it.
2)You can forget the melody and rely on the chords to stay with the
basic harmony of the tune.
3)You can forget all of the above and create a lot of tension by going
outside the harmony.
Most players will use combinations of all of these methods.
Of course it goes without saying that whatever you play will be enhanced
if it makes sense rhythmically.

No.1 requires a good ear, taste and experience.
No.2 is more of an intellectual process and can be learned. Hence all the
practising of scales and their related chord tones, along with licks.
No.3 takes a lot of skill to pull off effectively.

Learning the chords allows you to know the structure of a tune,
which is very useful when attempting to improvise on it.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Kavala – Master America – DX Camp – Bigtiny – hgiles – stevesklar – et al., thanks for all the good tips and pointers. I do have quite a few of the J. Aebersold books and I now have a much better idea of what to do. I think perhaps I was expecting a little too much of myself. The message I am getting from you all is to take it easy – but work hard - and have a good time of it. Pretty good advice I would say.
 
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