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· Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008
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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
First you must give up any ambition. You will be playing strictly for your own enjoyment. You're not going to impress anyone and being a late bloomer you probably do not have the practice time or attitude to ever be the frontman in a band.

Prerequisite: You must be able to sing. Good harmony singing is essential. You should be able to hit the third, minor third fifth and dominant seventh or at least get close. It really helps if you play guitar or bass and know basic chord sequences used in popular songs.

The only scales you need to know are the pentatonic and blues scales. Of course you need to know all the notes on the sax too. Throw away any sheet music and don't even try to memorize a hundred different scales. You will just get discouraged. That's for serious jazz players and they should ignore this thread.

The goal here is to teach your fingers to find the right notes just like your voice does. Make playlists of songs you like and just play along for an hour or so every day. Play the melody, the guitar solo, the bass part or just improvise you will find all the notes that work probably soon enough. Eventually your fingers will know where to go and if you hit a wrong note, chances are you are only a half step off.

The Mope method and this thread is just for fun, but it is what works for me after years of struggling with reading sheet music and trying to memorize scales.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2009
Sax, Flute, Keyboard, Vocal
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Whatever works for you. I do mostly major and minor pent on improve and blues scales. That gets me through 99%of pandora tunes.Whatever gets you to practice and preforrm. Even for yourself K
 
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· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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Prerequisite: You must be able to sing. Good harmony singing is essential. You should be able to hit the third, minor third fifth and dominant seventh or at least get close. It really helps if you play guitar or bass and know basic chord sequences used in popular songs.

The only scales you need to know are the pentatonic and blues scales. Of course you need to know all the notes on the sax too.
That's a pretty stiff set of prerequisites for a "recreational" musician. I wonder how many people can actually meet those???

I caution you against advertising those prereqs when you take your method to market. It could be a deal breaker.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member/Forum Contributor 2008
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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Agreed Dr G, at least about the harmony, but it's just ear training. Will need a publisher with your insight.
 

· Distinguished SOTW Member, Forum Contributor 2015-
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Agreed Dr G, at least about the harmony, but it's just ear training. Will need a publisher with your insight.
You say "just" and it makes me laugh. I always thought that everyone could sing, until I had a roommate that absolutely could NOT sing even though she would belt out the noise at the top of her lungs.

Here, let me turn up the radio a lil' more...
 

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I think a lot of scales are ways to introduce chromatic movements like passing tones, or to introduce “outside” or tension tones. These can be approached directly as well. Increasingly, I think the most important thing is to resolve, or NOT resolve, at the right moment or beat - at least playing standards or songs with a lot of chord changes. On a modal tune where the harmony holds static for much longer, a scalar approach makes much more sense and works extremely well while thinking “harmonically” doesn’t work very well at all.

I do think this “method” is a start, a good start even, and as seen by the comments perhaps the most common start. The pentatonic and blues scales usually sound much better over changes because they lack “avoid” notes, and using the minor blues scale on dominant or major harmony is a way to step outside while sounding familiar and still centering around the harmonic base.

I think the thing that is missing in a lot of teaching is that chances are, you’re not going to be inserting licks, especially as a beginner. Improvising in time is something that has to be practiced, something that has to be experimented with. Playing over backing tracks or playing along with records or the radio or Spotify playlist is how you learn what works. Having a set of notes to start with and taking time to experiment with them is where you get a lot of interesting stuff, and the pentatonic and blues scales don’t lead you into the rocks.
 

· Just a guy who plays saxophone.
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You say "just" and it makes me laugh. I always thought that everyone could sing, until I had a roommate that absolutely could NOT sing even though she would belt out the noise at the top of her lungs.

Here, let me turn up the radio a lil' more...
My mother is hopelessly tone deaf; can’t even tell if one pitch is higher, lower, or the same as the last…loves to sing. It took me thirty-five years to realize I actually do like older country music 🤣
 

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I think it’s important to have several approaches That you are proficient at, regardless of what they are. When you can masterfully weave in and out and combine Different scales, fragments, phrases,… Then things start to get interesting.

Seems like for a couple years I really tried to just use the major scale and the harmonic minor. I think I made progress and got some mileage out of that but when I started to reintroduce Pentatonic and blue scales and stuff it got a lot more interesting, And gave more of a context for All ideas against each other or juxtaposed against one another.
I open my eyes to the idea that really great jazz musicians are really good at a lot of different Ways of doing things. Pretty humbling.
 

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You only need rhythmic imagination and enthusiasm, the rest is just jam.
 
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