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So I spent the past six months focusing solely on my tone and have it way closer to where I want it. Now I want to focus on my improv. I have been improving by ear for the past 5 years and I want to change that, as though it is useful, it is hard to go from alto to tenor now since I hear things better on alto then on tenor.

I am interested in learning in the style of bebop/fusion, a la Eric Marienthal, Masato Honda, and Takahiro Miyazaki. I have been told to practice my scales (all the modes of major and melodic minor, as well as the whole step, diminished, and any other scales i can get my hands on...any recommendations?) but am wondering what would be the best method of getting towards a bebop style of playing...i.e. how to apply the learned scale to chords and songs in a way that would be beneficial to someone trying to learn in a bebop style.

I have heard of learning tunes using three different methods: a continuous scale (not sure what that is), arpeggiating chords, and learning the song as roman numerals. Which would be a good route to take for learning bebop?

Also, my jazz library is a little lacking and I need to beef it up, so I would also like to know some recommendations for listening (the usuals and the unusuals please, I'll take anything).

I realize that this is going to take time and I am hoping to practice every day but I'm in college and I'm not majoring in music so its going to be a little tough to keep up on that. I have a lot of the Aebersold recordings and a copy of the real book. Any other resources I should look into?

Thanks!
 

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I'm a long ways from being a good bebop player, but if you're asking about scales, I'd suggest working on the bebop scales:

mixolydian with maj7th added as a passing tone
minor dorian with maj3rd added as a passing tone
major scale with b6th added as a passing tone

Passing tones on the upbeat!

And also all chord arpeggios and ii-V lines. Listen to the bebop players and how they phrase. And make sure you know how to play the blues.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I'm a long ways from being a good bebop player, but if you're asking about scales, I'd suggest working on the bebop scales:

mixolydian with maj7th added as a passing tone
minor dorian with maj3rd added as a passing tone
major scale with b6th added as a passing tone

Passing tones on the upbeat!

And also all chord arpeggios and ii-V lines. Listen to the bebop players and how they phrase. And make sure you know how to play the blues.
Some sound advice. I have been looking at the bebop scales but I'm going to get down my modes for major/minor first before I try and internalize those as well. Do you have a list of good bebop players (old and new) to listen to? I know Parker is an obvious one, and I listen to a lot of Dizzy too, but I definitely need to add to my library.
 

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take a bebop line-something simple-and transpose it to every key-
if it doesn't lay well on the horn (too low,awkward etc.)-change it a little.

note: you could take part of a head, like "groovin' high" and transpose to every key but be thorough.
 

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Do you have a list of good bebop players (old and new) to listen to? I know Parker is an obvious one, and I listen to a lot of Dizzy too, but I definitely need to add to my library.
Sonny Stitt
Dexter Gordon
Phil Woods
Sonny Rollins
Wardell Gray
"Fats" Navarro
Thelonious Monk
Bud Powell

...to name a few. Really almost every prominent jazz musician of the late '40s and '50s played bebop.

I could be wrong, but I think one of the most important, and difficult, aspects of the bebop style is the rhythmic component.
 

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I found that Cannonball was a nice place to start for a bebop sound. Yes, I understand he's not a perfectly traditional bebopper. But, if you study his disk "Something Else" and then the two disk set "Sophisticated Swing" you'll find he's got a nice combination of bebop, blues, and hard bop. The blues aspect of Cannonball's playing makes it slightly more approachable (to me, at least) than Parker etc. And, many of the tunes are standards with changes typical of bop, so the techniques and lines will be very similar.

To start learning a bebop sound, take a Real Book and learn to blow arpeggios up and down over the chord changes. For example, if a song says

G7 .... A-7 .... D7 ... G7

learn to play:

G-B-D-F

A-C-E-G

D-F#-A-C

G-B-D-F

Start with some songs with basic chords (chord changes with "7", "-7", "-7b5", and "maj7", primarily). Then you can study what the chords tell you.

Then, study what scales match each change.

Long run, you'll need to be able to blow the arpeggios and scales over the chords as they come and go. Then, shape the lines as you hear Parker/Cannonball/etc shaping them. If you can do all that, you're a professional and way better than me.

Good luck.
 

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Discussion Starter #7
I found that Cannonball was a nice place to start for a bebop sound. Yes, I understand he's not a perfectly traditional bebopper. But, if you study his disk "Something Else" and then the two disk set "Sophisticated Swing" you'll find he's got a nice combination of bebop, blues, and hard bop. The blues aspect of Cannonball's playing makes it slightly more approachable (to me, at least) than Parker etc. And, many of the tunes are standards with changes typical of bop, so the techniques and lines will be very similar.

To start learning a bebop sound, take a Real Book and learn to blow arpeggios up and down over the chord changes. For example, if a song says

G7 .... A-7 .... D7 ... G7

learn to play:

G-B-D-F

A-C-E-G

D-F#-A-C

G-B-D-F

Start with some songs with basic chords (chord changes with "7", "-7", "-7b5", and "maj7", primarily). Then you can study what the chords tell you.

Then, study what scales match each change.

Long run, you'll need to be able to blow the arpeggios and scales over the chords as they come and go. Then, shape the lines as you hear Parker/Cannonball/etc shaping them. If you can do all that, you're a professional and way better than me.

Good luck.
Sounds awesome. Thanks for your help! I will definitely give this a go.
 

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I found that Cannonball was a nice place to start for a bebop sound.

The blues aspect of Cannonball's playing makes it slightly more approachable (to me, at least) than Parker etc.
I agree Cannonball is easier to approach from a listening standpoint, but from a player's standpoint I actually think his style is more difficult to assimilate (if that's the right word) than Parker. Not to say anyone can play as well as Bird at those high tempos, but his phrasing is more approachable, I think, than Cannonball. Cannonball's articulation is very sophisticated and difficult to reproduce, imo. But well worth working on!! I'm not talking about the harmony or note choice, but the rhythm/phrasing.
 

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I'm going to make an off-the-wall suggestion. Get Mark Levine's Piano Jazz book. It has a LOT about why certain chord progressions work and how to deal with them.

You have been improvising "by ear" - I assume this means playing stuff that sounds good to you. And now you are looking to expand on this with some theoretical and practical knowledge. This book is great for that.

Yes, you need to practice your scales and arpeggios. I would add to the already great suggestions that you work on the diminished scale. This is an eight note scales formed by alternating 1/2 and whole steps - it works on 7th chords by starting on the 1/2 step and diminished chords by starting on the whole step.

OK, enough about scales and arpeggios, learn your major, minor, bebop, blues, diminished scales in all keys. A lifetime's work :)

The next, most important step (and where Mark Levine's book will help) is to form a conception of the chord changes in a tune. The purpose of harmony is to provide tension and release points in a tune. DON'T THINK VERTICALLY!!! THINK HORIZONTALLY - that is, think in terms of the line (melody) that you are playing.

JL's comment about Cannonball is instructive in this case - his improvisations form very rich melodic phrases, that complement the chords, rather than just restate them. Actually, any great bebop improviser does the same.
 

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Ah, by "approachable" I certainly didn't mean "easier to do." Just "easier to listen to," "easier to engage with," etc. Regardless of whether you end up attracted to Bird, Woods, Cannonball, Stitt, or 100 others, the key is to find a few that truly engage you, and begin to apply the mechanics/techniques you'll learn in a way that builds from the masters that touch you.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'm going to make an off-the-wall suggestion. Get Mark Levine's Piano Jazz book. It has a LOT about why certain chord progressions work and how to deal with them.

You have been improvising "by ear" - I assume this means playing stuff that sounds good to you. And now you are looking to expand on this with some theoretical and practical knowledge. This book is great for that.

Yes, you need to practice your scales and arpeggios. I would add to the already great suggestions that you work on the diminished scale. This is an eight note scales formed by alternating 1/2 and whole steps - it works on 7th chords by starting on the 1/2 step and diminished chords by starting on the whole step.

OK, enough about scales and arpeggios, learn your major, minor, bebop, blues, diminished scales in all keys. A lifetime's work :)

The next, most important step (and where Mark Levine's book will help) is to form a conception of the chord changes in a tune. The purpose of harmony is to provide tension and release points in a tune. DON'T THINK VERTICALLY!!! THINK HORIZONTALLY - that is, think in terms of the line (melody) that you are playing.

JL's comment about Cannonball is instructive in this case - his improvisations form very rich melodic phrases, that complement the chords, rather than just restate them. Actually, any great bebop improviser does the same.
I'm actually working through Mark Levine's The Jazz Theory Book which I guess is basically the same as the Piano Book...teaching theory, chords, scales, their relationships, and harmony and all that.
 
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