A Jazz Improvisation Primer
Second Edition: Last Revised 3/7/94
Copyright (C) 1992, 1993 by Marc Sabatella
This primer began as an attempt to put together some answers to questions commonly asked by beginnin improvisers in the rec.music.bluenote newsgroup on the Internet computer network. In the process ofputting the text together, however, it gradually grew into a more comprehensive treatise hopefully sitable as a beginning guide to the self-study of jazz improvisation.
As I expanded the scope of this work from the simple question and answer sheet to what it is now, on of my objectives was to make it also useful to people who have no intention of becoming jazz perforers, but who wish to increase their understanding of the music in order to gain a better appreciatio for it. Some listeners delight in not knowing what goes into the music, considering it in the same ein as sausages in that respect, but I sincerely believe that one's enjoyment of music can almost alays be enhanced by a better understanding of it.
This primer assumes the reader has a certain familiarity with basic concepts of terminology and notaion, but no more than one might have learned in a few music lessons as a child. From this foundation the primer gradually delves into relatively advanced theory. The amount of information presented hee may appear overwhelming to all but the most ambitious of non-performing listeners, but I believe te study is well worth the effort.
The theory discussed in this primer could easily take hundreds of pages to cover adequately, and shold be accompanied by transcriptions of musical examples and excerpts from actual solos. However, it s not my intention here to write the Great American "How To Play Jazz" Manual. Think of this primer ore as an introduction to the subject, or as a survey of the various topics to be covered by other txts. I also feel that jazz improvisation cannot be understood or mastered without a feel for the hisory of jazz, so I have included a section on history. Again, my treatment is rather cursory, and shold be considered only an introductory survey.
One could argue that instead of reading this primer, one would be better off just reading a history ext and a theory text. There is probably some truth to this. However, this primer tries to relate thse approaches in a manner that cannot be done with separate texts, to give you a broad idea of what azz improvisation is all about. It also takes a less pedantic approach than most improvisation texts encouraging you to find your own voice rather than merely teaching you how to play the "right" note. I think you will find that the history, theories, and techniques discussed here go a long way towad explaining what is behind most of the jazz you hear, but are not necessarily enough on its own to llow you to reproduce it or even fully analyze it. If it points anyone in the right direction, encouages them to check out more comprehensive texts, or motivates them to take some lessons or a class, hen it has succeeded.
I still consider this primer to be a work in progress. Since it is currently distributed through theInternet, and there is no standard way to create and transmit documents that include integrated textand graphics over that network, this primer is all text. This is unfortunate, since it makes the secions on chords, scales, and voicings much more confusing than they deserve to be. It also makes for n overly technical and dry discussion of such a free and creative art form as jazz. However, the reaership of the Internet tends to be made up of college educated engineer types who are expected to beable to read dry technical papers, so this is perhaps not as big a problem as it might otherwise be.It would be nice to be able to target this primer at the more typical beginning improviser, the highschool or college student who is not necessarily especially technically inclined. Musical examples ould undoubtedly help me make some of my points that are probably being lost now in the bewildering erbiage. Also, I think streamlining some of the more tedious explanations would help me focus the prmer a little better. Once I allow for musical examples, I might not be able to employ the Internet a a distribution mechanism, but I could use any of the available computer typesetting packages to getan expanded edition of this primer printed and published.
If any readers have any suggestions for improvements, or wish to contribute anything to future editins, or have any other comments or feedback for me, please let me know. My electronic mail address iscurrently firstname.lastname@example.org. A note posted to rec.music.bluenote will generally get my attention aswell if you have difficulties in reaching me. I can also be reached by telephone at (303)493-4856, o by mail at 511 East Myrtle Street, Fort Collins, CO 80524.
I would like to thank some people who contributed to this primer. Solomon Douglas, Jonathan Cohen, ad Sue Raul reviewed the early drafts and gave me lots of good suggestions, most of which were incorprated into the first edition. Jonathan also contributed some material for the discussions on modal msic. Since the first edition was made available, over six hundred people have downloaded it, and man others have obtained copies by other means as well. I have received many more comments and have trid to incorporate as many of the suggestions as possible. While it would be difficult to list everyon who gave me feedback, I would like to especially acknowledge Russ Evans, Jos Groot, Jason Martin Leitt, Scott Gordon, Jim Franzen, and David Geiser.
Finally, I would like to say a few words about the copyright. The first edition contained no copyrigt notice, but was covered anyhow under United States copyright law and under the international Berneconvention. This second edition carries an explicit copyright notice. I grant you the right to printthis primer and make copies to distribute if you wish. I do plan to publish this some day, however, o please do not get carried away. For persons on the Internet, the latest version of this primer canbe obtained via anonymous ftp from ftp.njit.edu, in the directory /pub/jazz-primer. Postscript, DVI,troff -me, and ASCII versions are available. The primer can also be accessed via the World Wide Web sing a web client such as NCSA Mosaic. The primer is listed in the Jazz Web at http://www.acns.nwu.eu/jazz/.
For the purposes of this primer, we are all musicians. Some of us may be performing musicians, whilemost of us are listening musicians. Most of the former are also the latter. I will try to use the tem performer and listener respectively, rather than the terms musician or nonmusician, when addressin my audience. This primer is intended primarily for performers who wish to learn jazz improvisation.It is also intended for listeners who wish to increase their understanding of the music. I believe tat all musicians can benefit from a fuller understanding of jazz, as this can lead to an enhanced enoyment of the music.
Some basic knowledge of music, including familiarity with standard music notation, is assumed in man places throughout the primer. I highly recommend that you have access to a piano and the ability toplay simple examples on it. Performers should already possess basic technical proficiency on your intruments in order to gain the most from this primer. Listeners should try to bear with the more techical discussions and not get too bogged down with the details where it seems too far over your head.
There are three main goals of this primer. They are to teach you the language of jazz, to increase yur understanding of jazz as performed by others, and, for performers, to get you started on improvisng. The language of jazz is mostly a language of styles, history, and music theory. It is the languae of liner notes, interviews, and textbooks, and contains terms such as "bebop", "Trane", and "lydia dominant". Learning this language will also provide a framework for understanding the music itself.While it is certainly possible to enjoy John Coltrane without understanding anything about music thery, a working knowledge of harmony can provide a new basis for appreciation. It is also possible to mprovise without much theoretic background, but stories of famous musicians who were unable to read usic are generally greatly exaggerated, and I believe any musician's playing can be improved by learing more theory.
This primer is organized as a series of steps toward becoming a jazz musician, either as a performeror as a more informed listener. Most of the steps are geared for the performer, but the non-performig listener is encouraged to try out as many of the playing examples as possible. This should help braden your ear and help you recognize aspects of the music you might not have otherwise.
The steps outlined in this primer are:
1. listen to many different styles of jazz 2. understand jazz fundamentals 3. learn chord/scale relaionships 4. learn how to apply the theory to jazz improvisation 5. learn how to accompany other solosts 6. play with others 7. listen analytically 8. break the rules
These will each be described in some detail later.
Some of the material presented here is very basic, and some of it is rather advanced. Those of you wo have listened to a lot of jazz but are not performers yourselves will probably find the history dicussions to be simplistic, but find the theoretical discussions overwhelming. Others may grow impatint at the explanations of such basic concepts as the major scale, but will be bewildered at the numbr and variety of musicians discussed. You may wonder why such a broad array of information has been queezed into this one primer. I believe that, in order to understand jazz improvisation, it is necesary to understand the history, the theory, and the techniques of jazz. I feel that it is important t merge these avenues if one is to develop a broad understanding.
1.2. Other Resources
This primer is not the only source of information you can or should be using in learning jazz improvsation. There are books by Jerry Coker, David Baker, and others that can be used as an aid to learnig jazz improvisation. Some of these are relatively basic and do not cover much more material than ths primer. Others are quite advanced, and this primer will hopefully provide the necessary backgroundto tackle these texts.
In addition to textbooks, another important resource for performers is the fakebook. A fakebook typially contains music for hundreds of songs, but it contains only the melody, lyrics if appropriate, ad chord symbols for each. A description of some of the available textbooks and fakebooks can be foun in the bibliography.
When practicing, it is often useful to play along with a rhythm section (piano, bass, and drums). Ths is, of course, not always practical. Jamey Aebersold has produced a series of play-along albums toremedy this situation. These records, cassettes, or CD's come with books containing the music, in faebook form, for the songs on the record. The recordings contain only accompaniment; there is no meloy or solos.
Providing them is your job. The piano and bass are on different stereo channels, so they can be turnd off individually if you play one of those instruments. I recommend all performers pick up a few ofthese. Advertisements are run in Down Beat magazine.
Another option is the computer program Band-In-A-Box. This program runs on several different hardwar platforms. It allows you to enter the chords for a song in ASCII format, and it then generates rhytm section parts and can play them via a MIDI port through a synthesizer. It actually does a very goo job of generating realistic parts, and if your synthesizer can generate realistic sounds, you may nt be able to tell you are not playing with a recording of a real rhythm section. Disks are availablecontaining hundreds of songs already entered. Advertisements are run in Keyboard magazine.
2. A Brief History Of Jazz
Listening to other jazz musicians is by far the most important single thing you can do to learn abou jazz improvisation. Just as no words can ever describe what a Monet painting looks like, no primer can write will describe what Charlie Parker sounds like. While it is important for a performer to dvelop his own style, this should not be done in isolation. You should be aware of what others have dne before you.
Having established the importance of listening, the question remains, "What should I listen to?" Mos likely, you already have some idea of jazz musicians you like. Often, you can start with one musicin and work outwards. For example, the first jazz musician I listened to extensively was the pianist scar Peterson. After buying half a dozen or so of his albums, I found I also liked some of the musicans with whom he had performed, such as trumpet players Freddie Hubbard and Dizzy Gillespie, and stated buying their albums as well. Then, upon hearing pianist Herbie Hancock with Hubbard, I found a nw direction to explore, one which lead me to trumpet player Miles Davis, and thereby to saxophonist ohn Coltrane, and the process is still continuing.
Part of the goal of this primer is to help direct you in your listening. What follows is a brief hisory of jazz, with mention of many important musicians and albums. Note that the subject of jazz histry has generated entire volumes. A few of these are listed in the bibliography.
This primer gives a cursory overview of major periods and styles. There is a lot of overlap in the eas and styles described. The later sections on jazz theory are based primarily on principles developd from the 1940's through the 1960's. This music is sometimes referred to as mainstream or straightaead jazz.
Your local library can be an invaluable asset in checking out musicians with whom you are unfamiliar Also, you may wish to share albums with friends. Taping records or CD's for use by others is, of corse, in violation of copyright law, however, and it devalues the musicians' economic reward. You shold use the library, and other people's collections, to give you an idea of what you like, and thengo out and buy it.
2.1. Early Jazz
The earliest easily available jazz recordings are from the 1920's and early 1930's. Trumpet player ad vocalist Louis Armstrong ("Pops", "Satchmo") was by far the most important figure of this period. e played with groups called the Hot Five and the Hot Seven; any recordings you can find of these grops are recommended. The style of these groups, and many others of the period, is often referred to a New Orleans jazz or Dixieland. It is characterized by collective improvisation, in which all perforers simultaneously play improvised melodic lines within the harmonic structure of the tune. Louis, a a singer, is credited with the invention of scat, in which the vocalist makes up nonsense syllablesto sing improvised lines. Other notable performers of New Orleans or Dixieland jazz include clarinetst Johnny Dodds, soprano saxophone player Sidney Bechet, trumpeter King Oliver, and trombonist Kid Oy.
Other styles popular during this period were various forms of piano jazz, including ragtime, Harlem tride, and boogie-woogie. These styles are actually quite distinct, but all three are characterized y rhythmic, percussive left hand lines and fast, full right hand lines. Scott Joplin and Jelly Roll orton were early ragtime pioneers. Fats Waller, Willie "The Lion" Smith and James P. Johnson popularzed the stride left hand pattern (bass note, chord, bass note, chord); Albert Ammons and Meade Lux Lwis developed this into the faster moving left hand patterns of boogie-woogie. Earl "Fatha" Hines wa a pianist who was especially known for his right hand, in which he did not often play full chords o arpeggios, playing instead "horn-like" melodic lines. This has become commonplace since then. Art Ttum is considered by many to be the greatest jazz pianist ever; he was certainly one of the most tecnically gifted, and his harmonic insights paved the way for many who came after him. He is sometimesconsidered a precursor of bebop.
2.2. Big Band
Jazz And Swing
Although the big bands are normally associated with a slightly later era, there were several large bnds playing during the 1920's and early 1930's, including that of Fletcher Henderson. Bix Beiderbeck was a trumpet soloist who played with several bands and was considered a legend in his time.
The mid 1930's brought on the swing era and the emergence of the big bands as the popular music of te day. While Glenn Miller, Benny Goodman, Tommy Dorsey, and Artie Shaw led some of the more popular ands, those of Duke Ellington and Count Basie are generally more respected today. There were also soe important small group swing recordings during the 1930's and 1940's. These differed from earlier sall groups in that these featured very little collective improvisation. This music emphasized the inividual soloist. Major saxophonists of the era include Johnny Hodges, Paul Gonsalves, Lester Young, oleman Hawkins, and Ben Webster. Trumpet players include Roy Eldridge, Harry "Sweets" Edison, CootieWilliams, and Charlie Shavers. Pianists include Ellington, Basie, Teddy Wilson, Erroll Garner, and Ocar Peterson; guitarists include Charlie Christian, Herb Ellis, Barney Kessell, and Django Reinhardt vibraphonists include Lionel Hampton; bassists include Jimmy Blanton, Walter Page, and Slam Stewart drummers include Jo Jones and Sam Woodyard. Billie Holiday, Dinah Washington, and Ella Fitzgerald wre important singers in this era. Most of these musicians recorded in small groups as well as with bg bands. The styles of these musicians can best be summarized by saying they concentrated primarily n playing melodically, on the swing feel, and on the development of an individual sound. The blues ws, as in many other styles, an important element of this music.
The birth of bebop in the 1940's is often considered to mark the beginning of modern jazz. This styl grew directly out of the small swing groups, but placed a much higher emphasis on technique and on ore complex harmonies rather than on singable melodies. Much of the theory to be discussed later stes directly from innovations in this style. Alto saxophonist Charlie "Bird" Parker was the father of his movement, and trumpet player Dizzy Gillespie ("Diz") was his primary accomplice. Dizzy also led big band, and helped introduce Afro-Cuban music, including rhythms such as the mambo, to American adiences, through his work with Cuban percussionists. But it was the quintet and other small group reordings featuring Diz and Bird that formed the foundation of bebop and most modern jazz.
While, as with previous styles, much use was made of the blues and popular songs of the day, includig songs by George Gershwin and Cole Porter, the original compositions of the bebop players began to iverge from popular music for the first time, and in particular, bebop was not intended to be dance usic. The compositions usually featured fast tempos and difficult eighth note runs. Many of the bebo standards are based on the chord progressions of other popular songs, such as "I Got Rhythm", "Cherkee", or "How High The Moon". The improvisations were based on scales implied by those chords, and te scales used included alterations such as the flatted fifth.
The development of bebop led to new approaches to accompanying as well as soloing. Drummers began torely less on the bass drum and more on the ride cymbal and hi-hat. Bass players became responsible fr keeping the pulse by playing almost exclusively a walking bass line consisting mostly of quarter ntes while outlining the chord progression. Pianists were able to use a lighter touch, and in particuar their left hands were no longer forced to define the beat or to play roots of chords. In addition the modern jazz standard form became universal. Performers would play the melody to a piece (the hed), often in unison, then take turns playing solos based on the chord progression of the piece, and inally play the head again. The technique of trading fours, in which soloists exchange four bar phraes with each other or with the drummer, also became commonplace. The standard quartet and quintet fomats (piano, bass, drums; saxophone and/or trumpet) used in bebop have changed very little since the1940's.
Many of the players from the previous generation helped pave the way for bebop. These musicians inclded Lester Young, Coleman Hawkins, Roy Eldridge, Charlie Christian, Jimmy Blanton, and Jo Jones. Youg and Hawkins in particular are often considered two of the most important musicians in this effort.Other bebop notables include saxophonists Sonny Stitt and Lucky Thompson, trumpeters Fats Navarro, Knny Dorham, and Miles Davis, pianists Bud Powell, Duke Jordan, Al Haig, and Thelonious Monk, vibraphnist Milt Jackson, bassists Oscar Pettiford, Tommy Potter, and Charles Mingus, and drummers Max Roac, Kenny Clarke, and Roy Haynes. Miles, Monk, and Mingus went on to further advances in the post-bebo eras, and their music will be discussed later.
2.4. Cool Jazz
Although Miles Davis first appeared on bebop recordings of Charlie Parker, his first important sessin as a leader was called The Birth Of The Cool. An album containing all the recordings of this groupis available. The cool jazz style has been described as a reaction against the fast tempos and the cmplex melodic, harmonic, and rhythmic ideas of bebop. These ideas were picked up by many west coast usicians, and this style is thus also called West Coast jazz. This music is generally more relaxed tan bebop. Other musicians in the cool style include saxophonists Stan Getz and Gerry Mulligan, and tumpet player Chet Baker. Stan Getz is also credited with the popularization of Brazilian styles suchas the bossa nova and samba. These and a few other Latin American styles are sometimes collectively nown as Latin jazz.
Many groups in the cool style do not use a piano, and instead rely on counterpoint and harmonizationamong the horns, usually saxophone and trumpet, to outline chord progressions. Pianist-led groups tht developed from this school include those of Dave Brubeck (with Paul Desmond on saxophone), Lennie ristano (with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh on saxophones), and the Modern Jazz Quartet or MJQ (featurig John Lewis on piano and Milt Jackson on vibraphone), which also infuses elements of classical musi. The incorporation of classical music into jazz is often called the third stream.
2.5. Hard Bop
In what has been described as either an extension of bebop or a backlash against cool, a style of muic known as hard bop developed in the 1950's. This style also downplayed the technically demanding mlodies of bebop, but did so without compromising intensity. It did this by maintaining the rhythmic rive of bebop while including a healthier dose of the blues and gospel music. Art Blakey And The Jaz Messengers were, for decades, the most well-known exponent of this style. Many musicians came up though the so-called "University Of Blakey". Blakey's early groups included pianist Horace Silver, trupet player Clifford Brown, and saxophonist Lou Donaldson. Clifford Brown also co-led a group with Ma Roach that is considered one of the great working quintets in history. Several albums from these grups are available today and all are recommended. Miles Davis also recorded several albums in this stle during the early 1950's. There were also a number of groups led by or including organists that cae from this school, with even more of a blues and gospel influence. Organist Jimmy Smith and tenor sxophonist Stanley Turrentine were popular players in this genre.
2.6. Post Bop
The period from the mid 1950's until the mid 1960's represents the heyday of mainstream modern jazz.Many of those now considered among the greatest of all time achieved their fame in this era.
Miles Davis had four important groups during this time. The first featured John Coltrane ("Trane") o tenor saxophone, Red Garland on piano, Paul Chambers on bass, and "Philly" Joe Jones on drums. Thisgroup is sometimes considered the single greatest jazz group ever. Most of their albums are availabl today, including the series of Workin' , Steamin' , Relaxin' , and Cookin' with the Miles Davis Quitet. Miles perfected his muted ballad playing with this group, and the rhythm section was consideredby many to be the hardest swinging in the business. The second important Davis group came with the adition of alto saxophonist Julian "Cannonball" Adderly and the replacement of Garland and Jones withWynton Kelly and Jimmy Cobb. The album Kind Of Blue from this group is high on most lists of favorit jazz albums. The primary style of this group is called modal, as it relies on songs written around imple scales or modes that often last for many measures each, as opposed to the quickly changing comlex harmonies of bebop derived styles. The third Davis group of the era was actually the Gil Evans ochestra. Miles recorded several classic albums with Gil, including Sketches Of Spain. The fourth imprtant Miles group of this period included Wayne Shorter on saxophone, Herbie Hancock on piano, Ron Crter on bass, and Tony Williams on drums. The early recordings of this group, including Live At The lugged Nickel, as well as the earlier My Funny Valentine, with George Coleman on saxophone instead o Wayne Shorter, mainly feature innovative versions of standards. Later recordings such as Miles Smils and Nefertiti consist of originals, including many by Wayne Shorter, that largely transcend traditonal harmonies. Herbie Hancock developed a new approach to harmonization that was based as much on sunds as on any conventional theoretical underpinning.
John Coltrane is another giant of this period. In addition to his playing with Miles, he recorded th album Giant Steps under his own name, which showed him to be one of the most technically gifted andharmonically advanced players around. After leaving Miles, he formed a quartet with pianist McCoy Tyer, drummer Elvin Jones, and a variety of bass players, finally settling on Jimmy Garrison. Coltranes playing with this group showed him to be one of the most intensely emotional players around. Tyneris also a major voice on his instrument, featuring a very percussive attack. Elvin Jones is a masterof rhythmic intensity. This group evolved constantly, from the relatively traditional post bop of MyFavorite Things to the high energy modal of A Love Supreme to the wailing avant garde of Meditationsand Ascension.
Charles Mingus was another influential leader during this period. His small groups tended to be lessstructured than others, giving more freedom to the individual players, although Mingus also directedlarger ensembles in which most of the parts were written out. Mingus' compositions for smaller group were often only rough sketches, and performances were sometimes literally composed or arranged on te bandstand, with Mingus calling out directions to the musicians. Alto saxophonist, bass clarinetist and flautist Eric Dolphy was a mainstay of Mingus' groups. His playing was often described angular,meaning that the interval in his lines were often large leaps, as opposed to scalar lines, consist mstly of steps. The album Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus featuring Dolphy is a classic.
Thelonious Monk is widely regarded as one of the most important composers in jazz, as well as being highly original pianist. His playing is more sparse than most of his contemporaries. Some of his alums include Brilliant Corners and Thelonious Monk With John Coltrane. Pianist Bill Evans was known a one of the most sensitive ballad players, and his trio albums, particularly Waltz For Debby, with Sott LeFaro on bass and Paul Motian on drums, are models of trio interplay. Wes Montgomery was one ofthe most influential of jazz guitarists. He often played in groups with an organist, and had a partiularly soulful sound. He also popularized the technique of playing solos in octaves. His early album include Full House. Later albums were more commercial and less well regarded. Tenor saxophonist Sony Rollins rivaled Coltrane in popularity and recorded many albums under his own name, including Saxohone Colossus and The Bridge, which also featured Jim Hall on guitar. Sonny also recorded with Cliffrd Brown, Miles Davis, Bud Powell, Thelonious Monk, and other giants.
Other noteworthy musicians of the era include saxophonists Jackie McLean, Dexter Gordon, Joe Hendersn, and Charlie Rouse; trumpet players Freddie Hubbard, Lee Morgan, Woody Shaw, and Booker Little; trmbonists J. J. Johnson and Curtis Fuller; clarinetist Jimmy Guiffre, pianists Tommy Flanagan, Hank Jnes, Bobby Timmons, Mal Waldron, Andrew Hill, Cedar Walton, Chick Corea, and Ahmad Jamal; organist Lrry Young, guitarists Kenny Burrell and Joe Pass; guitarist and harmonica player Toots Thielemans; vbraphonist Bobby Hutcherson; bassists Ray Brown, Percy Heath, Sam Jones, Buster Williams, Reggie Worman, Doug Watkins, and Red Mitchell; drummers Billy Higgins and Ben Riley; and vocalists Jon Hendrics, Eddie Jefferson, Sarah Vaughan, Betty Carter, Carmen McRae, Abbey Lincoln, and Shirley Horn. Big ands such as those of Woody Herman and Stan Kenton also thrived.
2.7. Free Jazz And The Avant Garde
During these same decades of the 1950's and 1960's, some musicians took jazz in more exploratory dirctions. The terms free jazz and avant garde are often used to describe these approaches, in which trditional forms, harmony, melody, and rhythm were extended considerably or even abandoned. Saxophonis Ornette Coleman and trumpet player Don Cherry were pioneers of this music through albums such as Th Shape Of Jazz To Come and Free Jazz. The former album, as well as several more recorded with a quaret that also include either Scott LeFaro or Charlie Haden on bass and either Billy Higgins or Ed Blakwell on drums, still retains the basic feel of traditional post bop small group jazz, with alternatng soloists over a walking bass line and swinging drum beat. This style is sometimes known as freebo. The album Free Jazz was a more cacophonous affair that featured collective improvisation.
Another major figure in the avant garde movement was pianist Cecil Taylor. His playing is very percusive, and includes dissonant clusters of notes and fast technical passages that do not appear to be ased on any particular harmonies or rhythmic pulse.
John Coltrane, as already mentioned, delved into the avant garde in the mid 1960's. Albums such as Acension and Interstellar Space show Coltrane absorbing both Free Jazz and the works of Cecil Taylor.Later Coltrane groups featured his wife Alice on piano and Rashied Ali on drums, as well as Pharoah anders on tenor saxophone. He also recorded an album The Avant Garde with Don Cherry that is interesing for its parallels with The Shape Of Jazz To Come and other Ornette Coleman quartet recordings. Cltrane influenced many other musicians, including saxophonists Archie Shepp, Sam Rivers, and Albert yler.
Sun Ra is a somewhat enigmatic figure in the avant garde, claiming to be from the planet Saturn. He lays a variety of keyboard instruments with his big bands that range from 1920's style swing to the ilder free jazz of Coltrane and others.
Miles Davis helped usher in the fusion of jazz and rock in the mid to late 1960's through albums suc as Bitches Brew and Jack Johnson. His bands during this period featured Herbie Hancock, Chick Corea and Joe Zawinul on electric piano, Ron Carter and Dave Holland on bass, John McLaughlin on guitar, nd Tony Williams and Jack DeJohnette on drums. Tony Williams formed a rock oriented band called Lifeime with John McLaughlin, who also formed his own high energy group, the Mahavishnu Orchestra. Throuh the 1970's Miles continued to explore new directions in the use of electronics and the incorporatin of funk and rock elements into his music, leading to albums such as Pangea and Agharta.
Other groups combined jazz and rock in a more popularly oriented manner, from the crossover Top 40 o Spyro Gyra and Chuck Mangione to the somewhat more esoteric guitarist Pat Metheny. Other popular fuion bands include Weather Report, featuring Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, and bass players Jaco Pastorus and Miroslav Vitous; Return To Forever, featuring Chick Corea and bassist Stanley Clarke; The Cruaders, featuring saxophonist Wilton Felder and keyboardist Joe Sample; the Yellowjackets, featuring eyboardist Russ Freeman; and the Jeff Lorber Fusion, which originally featured Kenny G on saxophone.In recent years, several fusion bands have achieved much commercial success, including those of Pat etheny and Kenny G.
2.9. Post Modern Jazz
While fusion seemed to dominate the jazz market in the 1970's and early 1980's, there were other devlopments as well. Some performers started borrowing from 20th century classical music as well as Afrcan and other forms of world music. These musicians include Don Cherry, Charlie Haden, saxophonists nthony Braxton, David Murray, and Dewey Redman, clarinetist John Carter, pianists Carla Bley and Muhl Richard Abrams, the World Saxophone Quartet, featuring four saxophonists with no rhythm section, ad the Art Ensemble Of Chicago, featuring trumpet player Lester Bowie and woodwind player Roscoe Mitcell. Their music tended to emphasize compositional elements more sophisticated than the head-soloshed form.
Some groups, such as Oregon, rejected the complexity and dissonance of modern jazz and played in a mch simpler style, which has given rise to the current New Age music. On the other extreme are musicins like saxophonist John Zorn and guitarists Sonny Sharrock and Fred Frith, who engaged in a freneti form of free improvisation sometimes called energy music. Somewhere in between was the long lived goup formed by saxophonist George Adams, who was influenced by Coltrane and Pharoah Sanders, and pianst Don Pullen, who was influenced by Cecil Taylor. This group drew heavily from blues music and wellas the avant garde. Other important musicians during the 1970's and 1980's include pianists AbdullahIbrahim, Paul Bley, Anthony Davis and Keith Jarrett.
Not all developments in jazz occur in the United States. Many European musicians extended some of th free jazz ideas of Ornette Coleman and Cecil Taylor, and further dispensed with traditional forms. thers turned toward a more introspective music. Some of the more successful of the European improvisrs include saxophonists Evan Parker, John Tchicai, John Surman, and Jan Garbarek, trumpet players Keny Wheeler and Ian Carr, pianist John Taylor, guitarists Derek Bailey and Allan Holdsworth, bassist berhard Weber, drummer John Stevens, and arrangers Mike Westbrook, Franz Koglman, and Willem Breuker
2.10. The Present
One of the big trends of today is a return to the bebop and post bop roots of modern jazz. This moveent is often referred to as neoclassicism. Trumpeter Wynton Marsalis and his brother, saxophonist Brnford Marsalis, have achieved much popular success playing music that is based on styles of the 1950s and 1960's. The best of this group of young musicians, including the Marsalises and their rhythm sctions of Kenny Kirkland or Marcus Roberts on piano, Bob Hurst on bass, and Jeff "Tain" Watts on drus, manage to extend the art through new approaches to melodicism, harmony, rhythm, and form, rather han just recreate the music of past masters.
An exciting development since the mid 1980's has been a collective of musicians that refers to its msic as M-Base. There seems to be some disagreement, even among its members, as to what this means exctly, but the music is characterized by angular melodic lines played over complex funky beats with uusual rhythmic twists. This movement is led by saxophonists Steve Coleman, Greg Osby, and Gary Thoma, trumpet player Graham Haynes, trombonist Robin Eubanks, bass player Anthony Cox, and drummer Marvi "Smitty" Smith.
Many other musicians are making strong music in the modern tradition. Among musicians already mentioed, there are Ornette Coleman, David Murray, Joe Henderson, Dewey Redman, Don Cherry, Don Pullen, Ceil Taylor, Charlie Haden, Dave Holland, Tony Williams, and Jack DeJohnette. Others include saxophonits Phil Woods, Frank Morgan, Bobby Watson, Tim Berne, John Zorn, Chico Freeman, Courtney Pine, Michal Brecker, Joe Lovano, Bob Berg, and Jerry Bergonzi; clarinetists Don Byron and Eddie Daniels; trumpt players Tom Harrell, Marcus Belgrave, and Arturo Sanduval; trombonists Steve Turre and Ray Anderso; pianists Geri Allen, Mulgrew Miller, Kenny Barron, Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Eduard Simon, Renee Rosnes, nd Marilyn Crispell; guitarists John Scofield, Bill Frisell, and Kevin Eubanks; vibraphonist Gary Buton; bassists Niels-Henning Oersted Pedersen and Lonnie Plaxico; and vocalists Bobby McFerrin and Casandra Wilson. This is by no means a complete list, and you are encouraged to listen to as many musiians as possible to increase your awareness and appreciation for different styles.
2.11. Top Ten List
It is certainly not expected that you run out and purchase albums by all of the artists mentioned abve. In general, the artists described first and in the most detail within a given style are considerd the most important. A fairly non-controversial "Top Ten List", containing representatives of severl styles and instruments, would be Louis Armstrong, Duke Ellington, Billie Holiday, Charlie Parker, rt Blakey, Charles Mingus, Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, John Coltrane, and Ornette Coleman. These ae among the true giants of jazz. After this, personal preferences begin to come more into play.
3. Jazz Fundamentals
Now that you are listening to jazz, you need to be more conscious of what you are hearing. The most mportant aspects to which you should pay attention are structure, swing, and creativity.
Most jazz since the bebop era is based on a form that is actually quite similar to the sonata allegr form from classical theory: an optional introduction, the exposition or theme (possibly repeated), he development section, and the recapitulation, possibly followed by a coda. The introduction, if prsent, sets the tone for the piece; the exposition is the main melody; the development section is whee the composer extends the ideas of the exposition; the recapitulation is a restatement of the theme and the coda is an ending. In jazz terms, these sections of a piece would be called the the intro, he head (possibly repeated), the solo section, the head out, and possibly a coda or tag ending. The ntro establishes the mood; the head is the main melody; the solo section is where the soloists improise on the melody and/or chord progression of the tune; the head out is a restatement of the theme; nd the coda or tag is an ending.
While not every piece follows this form, the vast majority of traditional jazz stays very close to i. During the solo section, the rhythm section generally keeps following the chord progression of thehead while the soloists take turns improvising. Each time through the progression is called a chorus and each soloist may take several choruses. In this respect, the theme-and-variations form of classcal music is also a valid analogy. Each soloist plays an improvised variation on the theme.
The improvisation is the most important aspect of jazz, just as the development is often considered he most important part of the classical sonata. While listening to a piece, try to sing the theme toyourself behind the solos. You may notice that some soloists, particularly Thelonious Monk and WayneShorter, often base their solos on the melodic theme as much as on the chord progression. You will aso notice that liberties are often taken with the theme itself; players such as Miles Davis, ColemanHawkins, Sonny Rollins, and John Coltrane were especially adept at making personal statements even wile just playing the head.
There are two very common forms for a head or theme in jazz. The first is the blues form, which is nrmally a twelve bar form. There are many variants on blues chord progressions, but most are based onthe idea of three four bar phrases. In its original form, the second phrase would be a repeat of thefirst, and the third would be an answer to that phrase, although this convention is rarely adhered t in jazz. You may wish to check out the blues progressions listed later to get an idea of what they ound like, so you can recognize blues forms when you hear them. Liner notes and song titles will als often help identify which tunes are based on the blues. Some well known jazz tunes based on blues pogressions include "Now's The Time" and "Billie's Bounce" by Charlie Parker, "Straight, No Chaser" ad "Blue Monk" by Thelonious Monk, and "Freddie Freeloader" and "All Blues" by Miles Davis.
The other common form in jazz is the AABA song form, used extensively in popular music from the turnof the century until the dawn of rock and roll. This form consists two sections, called the verse orA-section and the bridge. The form is verse 1, verse 2, bridge, verse 3. The verses are similar or ientical except for the lyrics and perhaps the last two bars. The song "I Got Rhythm" by George Gershin, is one example of an AABA form. There are literally hundreds of tunes based on the chord progresion to that tune, including "Anthropology" by Charlie Parker and "Oleo" by Sonny Rollins. Other song with the AABA form include "Darn That Dream" by Jimmy Van Heusen, and "There Is No Greater Love" byIsham Jones. Songs such as these, popular songs from the first half of the century that have been inerpreted by many jazz musicians, are often called standards.
These structures are only guidelines. Musicians such as Cecil Taylor showed us long ago that it is pssible to express oneself without such well defined structures, and indeed this type of expression i often more personal that any more organized form. I have described these common structures to help ou understand the context in which many musicians work, not to suggest that they are the only way. Yu should learn to discern for yourself when listening to other musicians what type of structures the are using, if any. You should also decide for yourself which structures to use in your own playing.
Understanding the structure of the music is the first step toward an increased appreciation of it. Te rest of this primer will deal mainly with hands-on musical examples. Before you delve into the thery, however, you need to develop a feel for swing. This is part of the rationale behind doing so muc listening, since it is virtually impossible to teach swing analytically. Nonetheless, I will try toexplain what you should be hearing and trying to achieve in your own playing.
The most basic element of swing is the swing eighth note. In classical music, a set of eighth notes n 4/4 time are meant to take exactly onehalf of a beat each. This style is called straight eighth noes. Play a C major scale "C, D, E, F, G, A, B, C" in straight eighth notes. If you have a metronome,set it to 96 beats per minute. Those are quarter notes, "one, two, three, four". Subdivide this in yur mind, "one and two and three and four and".
A common approximation to swing eighth notes uses triplets. The basic beats are be subdivided in you mind as "one-and-uh two-and-uh threeand-uh four-and-uh", and you play only on the beat and on the "h". The first note of every beat will be twice as long as the second. This will sound like Morse Cod dash-dot-dash-dot-dash-dot-dash-dot and is far too exaggerated for most jazz purposes. Somewhere inbetween straight eighth notes (1:1 ratio between first and second note) and triplets (2:1 ratio) lietrue swing eighth notes. I cannot give an exact ratio, however, because it varies depending on the tmpo and the style of the piece. In general, the faster the tempo, the straighter the eighth notes. Aso, pre-bebop era players often use a more exaggerated swing than later performers, even at the sametempo. No matter what the ratio, the second "half" of each beat is usually accented, and beats two ad four are usually accented as well. Again, the amount of accent depends on the player and the situaion.
There is also the issue of playing behind or ahead of the beat. When Dexter Gordon plays, even the ntes that should fall on the beat are usually played a little bit late. This is often called laying bck. It can lend a more relaxed feel to the music, whereas playing notes that should fall on the beata little bit early can have the opposite effect. Bassists often play slightly ahead of the beat, paricularly at faster tempos, to keep the music driving forward.
Not all styles of jazz use swing in the same way. Most Latin jazz styles and many fusion and modern tyles use straight eighths, or eighth notes that are only slightly swung. Shuffles and some other rok styles use very exaggerated swing. Listen closely to recordings in different styles, paying attenton to the differences. Do not be fooled into thinking that swing is a universal constant.
3.2.2. Practicing Swing
Learning to play natural sounding swing eighth notes is often the hardest part of learning to play jzz, since it can sound so bad until you can do it well. There are some techniques that can help you vercome this initial awkward stage.
If you have been listening carefully to other musicians, you may be better at recognizing swing thanat playing it. Therefore, I highly recommend recording yourself playing swing eighth notes at variou tempos, and then listening to yourself on tape. You can judge for yourself whether your swing sound natural or forced. It has been said that if you cannot swing unaccompanied, you cannot swing. It isimportant to work on your own concept of swing in this way so that your perception of how you sound s not influenced by the sound of your accompanists.
You should work on your swing no matter what you are playing. When you practice scales, work on swin as well as simply playing the right notes. Try varying the rhythm you use to play the scale. In addtion to scales, you should try practicing swing when playing other exercises or songs. Any practice ethod book or fakebook will probably contain several appropriate pieces. Try playing songs with manyconsecutive eighth notes, but also try songs with longer notes and rests. Having to play many consective eighth notes can make you too self-conscious of your swing.
While being able to swing unaccompanied is important, it is not easy to do at first, and when develoing your swing concept, it can also help to hear it occasionally in the context of a group performane. One thing that would help at times is to have a rhythm section accompaniment. If you have Band-InA-Box, you can program it to play endless choruses of C major, and then you can practice playing or mprovising on your C major scale while working on your swing. Aebersold records can provide accompanment as well, but be aware that most of the tunes have many chord changes and are too complex to usefor this purpose. There are a few suitable tracks, however, such as some of those on Volumes 1, 16, 1, 24, and 54, which are geared toward beginners. The books included with these, especially the firs four, also contain some useful instructional material.
If you have a partner, or a tape recorder, or a sequencer (computer hardware and/or software to recod and play back on a synthesizer) you can create do-it-yourself accompaniment. The basic components f a swing drum beat are the ride pattern and the hi-hat pattern. The ride cymbal pattern, at its mos basic, is "1, 2 and, 3, 4 and"; or, phonetically, "ding ding-a ding ding-a". The eighth notes on 2 nd 4 should be swung, of course. The hi-hat is closed (with the foot pedal) on 2 and 4. Walking basslines can be constructed by following a few simple rules. First, play quarter notes. Second, keep thm in the two octaves below middle C. Third, play only notes from the scale on which you are working.Fourth, most notes should be only a step away from the previous note, although occasional leaps are cceptable. For instance, a C major bass line might consist of "C, D, E, F, G, E, F, G, A, B, A, G, F E, D, B, C". You will need a lot of patience to create your own accompaniment with a tape recorder,since you will want to record many measures so you do not have to keep rewinding the tape when improising later. A sequencer will allow you to set up loops, so you can record only a few measures and hve them repeat endlessly.
The most important aspect of improvisation is creativity. This is the most vital concept for an imprviser to understand. The goal is to hear something interesting in your head and be able to play it imediately. Your understanding of music fundamentals is one ally in this endeavor. It can help you inerpret the sounds you hear in your head by relating them to sounds you know and understand. Your tecnical proficiency on your instrument is another ally. It can help you accurately execute what you coceive. Inspiration, however, is what enables you to hear interesting ideas to begin with. That creatve spark is what distinguishes the true artist from the mere craftsman. While no primer can show youhow to be creative, I can try to shed a little light on creativity as it pertains to improvisation.
3.3.1. The Creative Process
Trumpet player Clark Terry summarizes the creative process as "imitate, assimilate, innovate". Listeing to other musicians can give you ideas you may wish to develop further, and being able to successully duplicate what they are doing is one step toward being able to express yourself. Next, you mustunderstand why the things you are playing sound the way they do, so that when you want to create a prticular sound, you will know how to achieve it. The theory presented in the following sections can elp you structure your thoughts, and can also help you identify the sounds you hear. However, analytc processes are an aid to the creative process, not a replacement for it. Two analogies, one with laguage and one with mathematics, should help make this clear.
When you began to speak, you learned at first by listening to others and imitating them. Gradually, ou became aware of grammar, and eventually the grammar was codified for you in English classes. Yourvocabulary has probably been growing ever since you spoke your first word. In both writing and convesation, your tools are your knowledge of grammar, vocabulary, and appropriate subject matter. To wrie or say anything interesting, however, you must have a certain amount of inspiration. It is not suficient to merely string together grammatically correct phrases of words. What you have to say is genrally more important than how you say it, although proper use of the language can help to get your pint across. Similarly, in music, knowledge of theory and fundamentals are the tools of composition ad improvisation, but inspiration plays the most important role in determining your success. It is no enough to merely play the "right" notes; you must also play interesting music. Jazz improvisation i often likened to "telling a story", and, like a good story, should be well structured and also convy something interesting to the listener.
In mathematics, creativity can often be crucial as well. Learning the various axioms, formulas, and quations normally does not tell you how to solve a particular word problem, integrate a certain funcion, or prove a new theorem. Some ingenuity is required to be able to apply your knowledge to the prblem at hand. Often, knowing how similar problems have been solved in the past can give you an idea f where to start, and experience working with a particular type of problem can help direct you. In al but the simplest of math problems, however, some original thinking is required. Similarly, in jazz your familiarity with the works of other musicians can help you get started, and your knowledge of heory can help direct you, but in order to be a successful improviser, you will need to be creative.Just as long columns of numbers are not particularly interesting, even if they add up correctly, neiher is an improvisation that consists of nothing but scales and patterns based on those scales.
Your listening experience, your knowledge of music theory, and experimentation on your instrument wil define the musical context in which you are able to express yourself. You should continually striv to expand that context by listening to many different musicians, analyzing what you hear, and practcing as much as possible. Still, the final ingredient, the inspiration, you will have to find on you own.
You should by now, if you have not already, be starting to improvise. You should start the same way ou began to practice swing: alone and unaccompanied at first, with a tape recorder if possible, and hen with some sort of rhythm section accompaniment. Again, Band-In-A-Box, Aebersold records, or do-i-yourself accompaniment will be invaluable.
For your first attempts at improvisation, pick a key with which you are comfortable and then start t play whatever comes into your head. Invent little melodies that use mainly notes from the selected cale. Do not try to fill all available space with notes. Instead, concentrate on hearing a short phrse in your head, and then try to play that phrase. Do not worry if this means there are breaks of seeral seconds or more between phrases. Miles Davis used this style of phrasing all the time.
At some point while improvising in a given key, try playing notes that are not in that key. Playing otes that are not in the current key is sometimes called playing outside. You will find that in manycases, it sounds very natural, while in other cases, it sounds dissonant, or harsh. The later sectios on theory may help you understand why this is so, but your ear is the ultimate judge. When you finlly run out of ideas in one key, you may wish to switch to another. You may also wish to try improviing without any key center at all. I believe this should be just as natural as improvising within a ey,
Transcribing solos played by other musicians is one way to get some ideas of what to play. You can eamine the structure of the solo, see how they use the various chord/scale relationships discussed laer in this primer, and try to apply what you learn to your own playing. One of the best solos for a eginner to study is Miles Davis' solo on "So What" from the album Kind Of Blue. The chord structure s simple: sixteen bars of D minor, followed by 8 bars of Eb minor, and then 8 bars of D minor again.Miles' lines are easy enough to transcribe note for note. The theory sections below will help you unerstand the framework in which Miles was working, but transcribing his solo will help you see what h was doing within that framework.
Another way to get ideas for soloing is by using patterns, or short phrases that you have practiced eforehand and know will fit the chord changes at a particular point. In general, improvising is muchmore than simply stringing together patterns, but pattern practicing can be a good way to develop yor technique as well as your ear, particularly if you practice your patterns in all twelve keys. Ther are several books, including Jerry Coker's Patterns For Jazz, that give some useful patterns.
A technique used often in the bebop era and since is quoting, or using a recognizable phrase from anther composition or well-known recorded improvisation as part of one's own improvisation. This is alo sometimes called interpolation. You may have noticed this taking place in solos you have heard. Thre is usually some humor value in quoting, particularly if the interpolated work is something silly ike "Pop Goes The Weasel".
The most important obstacles for a beginning improviser to overcome are his or her own inhibitions. t first, when practicing improvisation by yourself, you may feel you have no idea what to play. Onceyou have reached the point where you feel comfortable in the practice room and decide it is time to lay with other musicians, you may feel selfconscious about playing in front of your peers. Finally, hen you can play with other musicians in private, you may feel nervous when you first perform in pubic. I have no miracle cures for these problems. I can only suggest you play as much as possible at ech stage, and continually push yourself to take chances.
4. Chord/Scale Relationships
Most improvisation in mainstream jazz is based on chord progressions. The chord progression is the squence of chords that harmonizes the melody. Usually each chord lasts a measure; sometimes two, someimes only half. A fakebook will give the symbol representing a particular chord above the correspondng point in the melody.
Even more important than the actual chords, however, are the scales implied by those chords. An imprviser, when playing over a D minor chord, whose symbol is Dm, will normally play lines built from noes in the D dorian scale. This section documents the various chords and associated scales used in jaz. Familiarity with note names and locations is assumed.
If your aim is to become a jazz performer, you should practice improvising lines based on all the scles presented here, and in all twelve keys. Otherwise, you may stick to just one key per scale, but ou should still practice improvising over each chord/scale relationship in order to better recognizetheir sounds.
4.1. Basic Theory
This section reviews the concepts of intervals, scales, keys, and chords from classical theory. Thos readers with basic classical theory training should be able to skip this section if they wish.
There are twelve different notes in traditional music: C, C#/Db, D, D#/Eb, E, F, F#/Gb, G, G#/Ab, A,A#/Bb, and B. After the B comes the C an octave higher than the first C, and this cycle continues. Tis sequence is called the chromatic scale. Each step in this scale is called a half step or semitone The interval between two notes is defined by the number of half steps between them. Two notes a hal step apart, like C and C#, define a minor second. Notes that are two half steps apart, like C and D define a major second. This is also called a whole step. Expanding by half steps, the remaining intrvals are the minor third, major third, perfect fourth, tritone, perfect fifth, minor sixth, major sxth, minor seventh, major seventh, and finally, the octave. Most of these intervals have other names as well. For example, a tritone is sometimes called an augmented fourth if the spelling of the note in the interval appears to describe a fourth. For example, the tritone interval from C to F# is caled an augmented fourth, because the interval from C to F is a perfect fourth. Conversely, if the speling of the notes in the interval appears to describe a fifth, then the tritone is sometimes called diminished fifth. For example, the tritone interval from C to Gb, which is actually the same as theinterval from C to F#, is called a diminished fifth, because the interval from C to G is a perfect ffth. In general, if any major, minor, or perfect interval is expanded by a half step by changing an ccidental (the flat or sharp indication on the note) the resultant interval is called augmented, andif it is reduced by a half step by changing an accidental, the resultant interval is called diminishd.
4.1.2. Major And Minor Scales
All scales are simply subsets of the chromatic scale. Most scales have 7 different notes, although sme have 5, 6, or 8. The simplest scale, which will be used as an example for the discussion of chord, is the C major scale, which is "C, D, E, F, G, A, B". A major scale is defined by the intervals beween these notes: "W W H W W W (H)", where "W" indicates a whole step and "H" a half. Thus, a G majo scale is "G, A, B, C, D, E, F#", with a half step leading to the G that would start the next octave
The scale consisting of the same notes as the C major scale, but starting on A ("A, B, C, D, E, F, G) is the A minor scale. This is called the relative minor of C major, since it is a minor scale buil from the same notes. The relative minor of any major scale is formed by playing the same notes staring on the sixth note of the major scale. Thus, t he relative minor of G major is E minor.
A piece that is based on a particular scale is said to be in the key of that scale. For instance, a iece based on the notes C, D, E, F, G, A, and B is said to be in the key of either C major or A mino. The chord progression of the piece may distinguish between the two. Similarly, a piece based on th notes G, A, B, C, D, E, and F# is either in G major or E minor. If the word "major" or "minor" is oitted, "major" is assumed. The collection of flat and sharp notes in a scale defines the key signatue of the associated key. Thus, the key signature of G major is F#.
You should try playing various major and minor scales. You may wish to write out the notes for each,or buy a book like Dan Haerle's Scales For Jazz Improvisation, which contains many scales already wrtten out for you. The more complex scales described below should be written out and practiced as wel. Listeners should try enough of each scale to become familiar with the sound. In many cases, just oe key will suffice. Performers should practice each scale in all twelve keys over the entire range o their instruments until they have complete mastery over all of them. However, do not become so boggd down in the various scales that you become frustrated and never advance to the next sections on aplying the theory. You should start on the applications once you have some command of the dorian, mixlydian, lydian, and locrian modes discussed below.
A chord is a set of notes, usually played at the same time, that form a particular harmonic relationhip with each other. The most basic chord is the triad. A triad, as the name implies, is composed ofthree notes, separated by intervals of a third. For instance, the notes C, E, and G played together omprise a C major triad. It is so called because the three notes come from the beginning of the C maor scale. The interval from C to E is a major third, and from E to G a minor third. These intervals efine a major triad. A G major triad is composed of G, B, and D; other major triads are constructed imilarly.
The notes A, C, and E comprise an A minor triad, so called because the notes come from the beginningof the A minor scale. The interval from A to C is a minor third, and from C to E a major third. Thes intervals define a minor triad. An E minor triad is composed of E, G, and B; other minor triads areconstructed similarly.
The two other types of triads are the diminished triad and the augmented triad. A diminished triad i like a minor triad, but the major third on top is reduced to a minor third. Thus, an A diminished tiad would be formed by changing the E in an A minor triad to an Eb. An augmented triad is like a majr triad, but the minor third on top is increased to a major triad. Thus, a C augmented triad would b formed by changing the G in a C major triad to a G#. Note that a diminished triad can be formed fro three notes of the major scale; for example, B, D, and F from C major. However, there are no naturaly occurring augmented triads in the major or minor scales.
A triad can be extended by adding more thirds on top. For instance, if you take the C major triad (" E G"), and add B, you have a major seventh chord (Cmaj7 or CM7), so called because the notes come fom the C major scale. Similarly, if you take an A minor triad ("A C E"), and add G, you have a minorseventh chord (Am7 or A-7), so called because the notes come from the A minor scale. The most commontype of seventh chord in classical harmony, however, is the dominant seventh, which is obtained by ading a minor seventh to the major triad built on the fifth note of the major scale, also called the ominant. For instance, in the key of C major, the fifth note is G, so a G major triad (G B D) with aseventh added (F) is a dominant seventh chord (G7).
These three types of seventh chords have a very important relationship to each other. In any major ky, for example, C, the chord built on the second step of the scale is a minor seventh chord; the chod built on the fifth step of the scale is a dominant seventh chord; and the seventh chord built on te root of the scale, also called the tonic, is a major seventh chord. Roman numerals are often used o indicate scale degrees, with capital letters indicating major triads and their sevenths, and lowercase letters indicating minor triads and their sevenths. The sequence Dm7G7Cmaj7 in the key of C canthus be represented as ii-VI. This is a very common chord progression in jazz, and is discussed in mch detail later. The motion of roots in this progression is upwards by perfect fourth, or, equivalenly, downward by perfect fifth. This is one of the strongest resolutions in classical harmony as well
Sevenths can also be added to diminished triads or augmented triads. In the case of a diminished trid, the third added can either be a minor third, which creates a fully diminished seventh (for exampl, A C Eb Gb, or Adim) or a major third, which creates a half diminished seventh (for example, B D F , or Bm7b5). A minor third can be added to an augmented triad, although this is a very rarely used cord that does not have a standard name in classical theory. Adding a major third to an augmented trid would create a seventh chord in name only, since added note is a duplicate an octave higher of theroot (lowest note) of the chord. For example, C E G# C. Technically, the seventh is a B# instead of C, but in modern tuning systems these are the same note. Two notes that have different names but th same pitch, like B# and C or F# and Gb, are called enharmonic. Classical theory is usually very picy about the correct enharmonic spelling of a chord, but in jazz, the most convenient spelling is oftn used.
More extensions to all types of seventh chords can be created by adding more thirds. For instance, te C major seventh chord (C E G B) can be extended into a C major ninth by adding D. These further exensions, and alterations formed by raising or lowering them by a half step, are the trademarks of jaz harmony, and are discussed in sections below. While there is an almost infinite variety of possibl chords, most chords commonly used in jazz can be classified as either major chords, minor chords, dminant chords, or half diminished chords. Fully diminished chords and augmented chords are used as wll, but as will be seen, they are often used as substitutes for one of these four basic types of chods.
4.1.4. The Circle Of Fifths
The interval of a perfect fifth is significant in many ways in music theory. Many people use a devic called the circle of fifths to illustrate this significance. Picture a circle in which the circumfeence has been divided into twelve equal parts, much like the face of a clock. Put the letter C at th top of the circle, and then label the other points clockwise G, D, A, E, B, F#/Gb, C#/Db, G#/Ab, D#Eb, A#/Bb, and F. The interval between any two adjacent notes is a perfect fifth. Note that each not of the chromatic scale is included exactly once in the circle.
One application of the circle of fifths is in determining key signatures. The key of C major has no harps or flats. As you move clockwise around the circle, each new key signature adds one sharp. For xample, G major has one sharp (F#); D major has two (F# and C#); A major has three (F#, C#, and G#);E major has four (F#, C#, G#, and D#); and so forth. Also note that the sharps added at each step thmselves trace the circle of fifths, starting with F# (added in G major), then C# (in D), then G# (inA), then D# (in E), and so forth. Conversely, if you trace the circle counterclockwise, the key signtures add flats. For example, F major has one flat (Bb); Bb major has two (Bb and Eb); Eb major has hree (Bb, Eb, and Ab); and so forth. The flats added at each step also trace the circle of fifths, sarting with Bb (added in F major), then Eb (in Bb), then Ab (in Eb), and so forth.
The circle of fifths can also define scales. Any set of seven consecutive notes can be arranged to frm a major scale. Any set of five consecutive notes can be arranged to form a pentatonic scale, whic is discussed later.
If the labels on the circle of fifths are considered as chord names, they show root movement downwar by perfect fifth when read counterclockwise. This root movement has already been observed to be oneof the strongest resolutions there is, especially in the context of a ii-VI chord progression. For eample, a ii-V-I progression in F is Gm7C7F, and the names of these three chords can be read off the ircle of fifths. One can also find the note a tritone away from a given note by simply looking diamerically across the circle. For example, a tritone away from G is Db, and these are directly across fom each other. This can be useful in performing tritone substitutions, discussed later.
4.2. Major Scale Harmony
A large part of jazz harmony is based on the major scale. As discussed earlier, every major scale ha a relative minor that is formed by playing the same sequence of notes but starting on the sixth ste of the scale. In fact, a scale can be formed using the sequence of notes from a major scale startin on any step of the scale. These scales are called modes of the scale. The major scale itself is caled the ionian mode. The sixth mode, the relative minor, is called the aeolian mode. The names of thee modes, as well as the others discussed below, come from ancient Greece, although the names are rumred to have been mixed up in translation long ago. While the Greek modes are mainly only of historicl interest in classical theory, they are fundamental to jazz.
4.2.1. Major Scale
The major scale, or ionian mode, should be quite familiar by now. It is associated with major sevent chords. In the key of C, for example, the C major seventh chord, notated Cmaj7 (or C with a little riangle next to it, or sometimes CM7), is "C E G B", and these notes outline the C major scale. If ameasure in a piece of music is harmonized with a Cmaj7 chord, then the C major scale is one approprite scale to use when improvising. The only note in this scale that sounds bad when played against a maj7 chord is the fourth note, F. You may wish to convince yourself of this by going to a piano and laying Cmaj7 in your left hand while playing various notes from the C major scale in your right. Thefourth of the major is often called an avoid note over a major seventh chord. This does not mean youare not allowed to ever play F over a Cmaj7, of course, but you should be conscious of the dissonanteffect it produces.
The chord obtained by adding another third on top ("C E G B D") would be called a Cmaj9, and it imples the same scale. Adding another third on top would yield "C, E, G, B, D, F", and this chord would e called a Cmaj11. Because of the dissonant nature of the F in this context, however, neither this cord, nor the Cmaj13 chord obtained by adding an additional third (A), are used very much.
4.2.2. Dorian Mode
The dorian mode is built on the second step of the major scale, using the same notes. For example, te D dorian scale is built from the notes of the C major scale, starting on D, and consists of "D, E,F, G, A, B, C". The dorian mode is a lot like minor scale, but the sixth step is raised a half step.That is, the D minor scale would have a Bb while the dorian has a B. Because it is so similar to theminor scale, it is natural to play this scale over a minor seventh chord. In fact, it is used more oten than the minor scale itself. If you go to a piano and play a Dm7 chord ("D F A C") in your left and, and play notes from the D dorian and D minor scales in your right, you will probably find that he dorian mode sounds better, because the B is less dissonant against the Dm7 than the Bb is. If youuse the dorian mode over a minor seventh chord, there are no notes to avoid.
Like the major seventh chord, you can add more thirds to the minor seventh chord to obtain Dm9, Dm11 and Dm13. These chords still imply the same dorian mode. If you use the natural minor scale, the thrteen chord contains the note Bb, which is somewhat dissonant in this context. This chord is seldom sed, but when it is called for, it is often notated Dm7b6, and is one of the few exceptions to the rle that most chords are written in terms of odd numbered extensions above the seventh. This rule coms from the fact that chords are traditionally built by stacking thirds. The notation Dm6 is sometime as a synonym for Dm13 when the B natural is explicitly meant.
4.2.3. Phrygian Mode
The third mode of the major scale is called the phrygian mode. In the key of C, a phrygian scale is uilt on E, and consists of "E, F, G, A, B, C, D". This scale, like the dorian mode, is also similar o the minor scale, except that the second step in the phrygian mode is lowered by a half step. That s, an E minor scale would have an F# while the phrygian has an F. If you try playing the phrygian scle over a minor seventh chord, you will probably find it more dissonant than the minor scale, becaus of the lowered second. The phrygian mode is used occasionally over a minor seventh chord, although ften the chord is written as m7b9 as a hint to the improviser that the phrygian scale is to be used.There are certain other situations in which the phrygian scale sounds good. One is over a dominant sventh chord with a suspended fourth (see mixolydian mode, below) and a lowered ninth, notated susb9.Another is over a particular chord that I will simply call a phrygian chord. A phrygian chord in E wuld be "E F A B D". When the phrygian mode is played over this type of chord, the result is a somewht Spanish sound, particularly if you add a G# to the scale, yielding what is sometimes called the Spnish phrygian scale. Several Chick Corea tunes, including "La Fiesta", and much of the music from Mies Davis' Sketches Of Spain feature this sound extensively.
4.2.4. Lydian Mode
The fourth mode of the major scale is the lydian mode. In the key of C, a lydian scale is built on F and consists of "F, G, A, B, C, D, E". This scale is like the major scale except that it contains araised fourth step. That is, an F major scale would contain a Bb while the lydian contains a B. Sinc the fourth step of the major scale is an avoid note over a major seventh chord, this scale gives th improviser an alternative. While the raised fourth might sound a little unusual at first, you shoul find that it is in general preferable to the natural fourth of the major scale. When the symbol Cma7 appears, you have a choice between the major and lydian scales. Often, if the lydian mode is speciically intended, the symbol Cmaj7#11 will appear instead. Recall that Cmaj11 contains an F as the elventh; Cmaj7#11 denotes that this note should be raised by a half step.
4.2.5. Mixolydian Mode
The fifth mode of the major scale is the mixolydian mode. In the key of C, a mixolydian scale is buit on G, and consists of "G, A, B, C, D, E, F". This scale is like the major scale except that the seenth step is lowered a half step. That is, a G major scale would contain an F# while the mixolydian ontains an F. Since the seventh chord built on the fifth degree of the major scale is a dominant sevnth, it is natural to play lines based on the mixolydian mode over a dominant seventh chord. For insance, the G mixolydian scale might be used over a G7 chord.
As with the major scale over a major seventh chord, the fourth step of the scale (C in the case of Gmixolydian) is somewhat of an avoid note over a dominant seventh chord. However, there is a chord caled a suspended chord, notated Gsus, Gsus4, G7sus, G7sus4, F/G, Dm7/G, or G11 over which there are n avoid notes in the G mixolydian mode. The notation F/G indicates an F major triad over the single nte G in the bass. The term "suspension" comes from classical harmony and refers to the temporary delying of the third in a dominant chord by first playing the fourth before resolving it to the third. n jazz, however, the fourth often is never resolved. The suspended chord consists of the root, fourt, fifth, and usually the seventh as well. Herbie Hancock's tune "Maiden Voyage" consists solely of uresolved suspended chords. 4.2.6. Minor Scale
The aeolian mode, or minor scale, has already been discussed. It can be played over a minor seventh hord, although the dorian or phrygian modes are used more often. It is most often played over a m7b6chord.
4.2.7. Locrian Mode
The seventh and final mode of the major scale is the locrian mode. In the key of C, a locrian scale s built on B, and consists of "B, C, D, E, F, G, A". The seventh chord built on this scale ("B D F A) is a half diminished seventh chord, Bm7b5. This symbol comes from the fact that this chord is simiar to a Bm7, except that the fifth is lowered by a half step. The classical symbol for this chord isa circle with a "/" through it. The locrian scale can be used over a half diminished (also called a inor seven flat five) chord, but the second step is somewhat dissonant and is sometimes considered a avoid note.
4.3. Melodic Minor Harmony
In classical theory, there are three types of minor scale. The minor scale we have already discussed the aeolian mode, is also called the natural minor or pure minor. The two other minor scales were drived from it to provide more interesting harmonic and melodic possibilities. If you construct a ii--I progression in a minor key, you will find that the seventh chord built on the root is a minor sevnth chord, and the seventh chord built on the second step is a half diminished seventh chord. For exmple, Am7 and Bm7b5 in the key of A minor. The chord built on the fifth step of this scale is a mino chord, for example Em7 in A minor. The resolution of Em7 to Am7 is not as strong as E7 to Am7. Also the Am7 does not sound like a tonic; it sounds like it should resolve to a D chord. By raising the eventh degree of the minor scale by a half step (that is, raising the G of A minor to G#), these prolems are solved. The chord built on the fifth is now E7, and the seventh chord built on the root is n A minor triad with a major seventh, often notated Am-maj7. This creates a much stronger ii-V-i. Th resultant scale, "A, B, C, D, E, F, G#", is called the harmonic minor, since it is perceived to yied more interesting harmonies than the natural minor.
The seventh degree of a major scale is sometimes called the leading tone, since it is only a half stp below the tonic and leads very well into it melodically. The seventh degree of the natural minor sale, on the other hand, is a whole step below the tonic and does not lead nearly as well into it. Alhough the harmonic minor scale contains a leading tone, if you play that scale, you may note that th interval between the sixth and seventh steps (the F and G# in A harmonic minor) is awkward melodicaly. This interval is called an augmented second. Although it sounds just like a minor third, there ae no scale tones between the two notes. This interval was considered to be dissonant in classical hamony, In order to rectify this situation, the sixth can be raised a half step as well (from F to F#)to yield the melodic minor. In classical theory, this scale is often used ascending only. When desceding, since the G# is not used to lead into the tonic A, the natural minor is often used instead. Jaz harmony does not normally distinguish these cases, however. The melodic minor scale "A, B, C, D, E F#, G#" is used both when ascending and descending.
Both the harmonic and melodic minors outline a m-maj7 i chord, for example Am-maj7 ("A C E G#") in Aminor. Either of the harmonic or melodic minor scales can be used on this chord. The melodic minor i also used on chords marked simply m6, although, as was noted earlier, this symbol can also imply th dorian mode. Several of the modes of the melodic minor scale yield particularly interesting harmonis and are commonly played in jazz. These scales are not commonly described in classical theory, so teir names are less standardized than the modes of the major scale.
4.3.1. Phrygian #6
There is no common term for the second mode of the melodic minor scale. The second mode of A melodicminor is "B, C, D, E, F#, G#, A". This scale is similar to the phrygian mode except that it has a rased sixth. For this reason it can be called phrygian #6, although that name is not by any means stanard. It is most often used as a substitute for the phrygian mode.
4.3.2. Lydian Augmented
The third mode of the melodic minor scale is known as the lydian augmented scale. In A melodic minor a lydian augmented scale is built on C and consists of "C, D, E, F#, G#, A, B". This scale containsan augmented major seventh chord "C E G# B". There is no standard symbol for this chord, but Cmaj7#5is used occasionally, as is Cmaj7-aug or Cmaj7+. When this chord is called for, the lydian augmentedscale is an appropriate choice. The maj7#5 chord is mostly used as a substitute for an ordinary majo seventh.
4.3.3. Lydian Dominant
The fourth mode of the melodic minor scale is often called the lydian dominant or the lydian b7. If ou construct it, you should see why. In A melodic minor, a lydian dominant scale is built on D and cnsists of "D, E, F#, G#, A, B, C". This scale resembles the D major scale "D, E, F#, G, A, B, C#" bu with two alterations: the raised fourth characteristic of the lydian mode, and the lowered seventh haracteristic of the mixolydian mode. The mixolydian mode was described as a possible scale choice t use over a dominant seventh chord, but the fourth step was an avoid note. The lydian dominant scaledoes not contain this avoid note. As with the lydian scale and the raised fourth over a major sevent chord, the lydian dominant may sound unusual at first, but it is generally more interesting than th mixolydian when played over a dominant seventh.
This particular sound, the raised fourth over a dominant seventh chord, was widely used in the bebo era, and earned the early bebop musicians a lot of criticism for their use of such non-traditional ounds. This sound was also the genesis of the Thelonious Monk composition "Raise Four", which prominntly features the raised fourth in the melody. The use of this scale is often explicitly indicated b the symbol D7#11. Bebop musicians often called this a flatted fifth, writing the chord symbol as D75, although this normally implies the diminished scale, which is discussed later.
4.3.4. Fifth Mode
The fifth mode of the melodic minor scale has no common name, and is normally used only over the V cord in a minor key ii-V-i progression. This usage will be discussed later.
4.3.5. Locrian #2
The sixth mode of the melodic minor is often called locrian #2, since it is actually the locrian mod with a raised second step. For example, the F# locrian mode is based on G major and consists of "F# G, A, B, C, D, E", but the F# locrian #2 scale is based on A melodic minor and consists of "F#, G#,A, B, C, D, E". Since the second step of the locrian mode is an avoid note over a m7b5 chord, the lorian #2 scale is often used instead. This scale is also sometimes called the half diminished scale.
4.3.6. Altered Scale
The seventh mode of the melodic minor scale is often called the diminished whole tone scale, becauseit combines elements of the diminished and whole tone scales discussed later. Another name for this cale is the altered scale. To see why, recall the introductory discussion on chords. Chords are consructed by stacking thirds. Triads consisting of three notes were discussed, as were seventh chords cnsisting of four notes. In the key of C, G7 is the dominant seventh chord. It contains a root (G), athird (B), a fifth (D), and a seventh (F). If we add another third on top, A, we have a ninth chord 9. If we add another third, C, we have an eleventh chord G11. The C is the fourth of the scale, and s normally an avoid note. This symbol is normally used only when the fourth is explicitly required, s in a suspended chord. If we then add another third, E, we have a thirteenth chord G13. The C is nomally omitted from this chord. Another third would bring us back to G.
This chord can be altered by raising or lowering individual notes by a half step. The root, third, ad seventh are not normally altered, since they are in large part what define the chord. A change to ny of these destroys the dominant feel of the chord. The raised eleventh has already been discussed.The other interesting alterations are to the fifth and the ninth. For a G7 chord, this means the lowred or flat fifth (Db), the raised or sharp fifth (D#), the lowered or flat ninth (Ab), and the raisd or sharp ninth (A#).
So now let us return to the so-called altered scale. A G altered scale can be built from Ab melodic inor, and consists of "G, Ab, Bb/A#, Cb/B, Db, Eb/D#, F". First note that this scale contains G, B, nd F, the root, third, and seventh of the G7 chord. The rest of the notes, Ab, Bb, Db, and Eb, are rspectively, the flatted ninth, the raised ninth, the flatted fifth, and the raised fifth. In other wrds, all the possible alterations in a ninth chord are included in this scale. The chord implied by his scale is often notated simply G7alt, although G7#9#5 is used as well, as is G7#9. The b9 and b5 ymbols are not normally used in this context, despite being present in the scale, because they implythe diminished scale which is discussed later.
The sound of the altered scale and the chord it implies is much more complex than any other dominantseventh chord/scale so far presented, and it is one of the most important sounds in post bop jazz. Yu may wish to spend more time on this scale to get used to it. Try going to a piano and playing the oot, third, and seventh in your left hand while playing the altered scale, and lines based on it, inyour right. You may use this scale even when the chord appears to be an ordinary dominant seventh, bt you should do so cautiously in a group setting, because other members of the group may be playing ixolydian or lydian dominant sounds, and your altered scale will sound dissonant against them. This s not necessarily wrong, but you should be conscious of the effect produced.
4.4. Symmetric Scales
When a mode of given scale produces the same type of scale as the original, the scale is said to be ymmetric. Several of the important scales used by jazz musicians are symmetric. For instance, the chomatic scale is symmetric, in that every single mode of it is another chromatic scale. In this case,there is really only one unique chromatic scale; all others are just modes of it. In general, if N mdes of a given scale produce the same type of scale (including the first mode, the original scale itelf), then there are only 12/N different scales of that type.
One thing to watch out for in the scales discussed in this section is that they seem to lend themseles to playing patterns, and sometimes it is difficult to avoid sounding cliched when using these scaes. When you have several measures of a given chord, a common technique is to play a short figure inthe associated scale and repeat it transposed to several different positions. For instance, a possibe pattern in C major would be "C, D, E, G". This pattern could be repeated several times starting atdifferent positions, perhaps as "D, E, F, A" or "E, F, G, B". For some reason, many of the scales lited below invite this type of approach, and it is easy to end up with with a few cliches you use evey time you are confronted with these scales. Always be conscious of this. You should not feel that ascale is dictating to you what you can or should play.
4.4.1. Whole Tone Scale
A particularly easy scale is the whole tone scale, so called because all the steps in the scale are hole steps. A C whole tone scale consists of "C, D, E, F#, G#, Bb". It has only six notes, and all sx of its modes (including itself) form whole tone scales. There are thus only 12/6 or 2 different whle tone scales. The other one is "Db, Eb, F, G, A, B".
Since the first, third, and fifth degrees of this scale form an augmented triad, this scale can be b played over augmented chords. This scale also contains the note that would be the seventh in a domiant chord (that is, Bb in a C7). The chord implied by this scale is written either as C7aug, Caug, C+, C+, or C7#5.
4.4.2. The Diminished Scales
Another symmetric scale is the diminished scale. This scale is also called the whole step half step cale, or the half step whole step scale, because it is constructed from alternating half and whole seps. A whole step half step (abbreviated WH) scale on C consists of "C, D, D#, F, F#, G#, A, B"; a hlf step whole step (abbreviated
HW) scale consists of "C, Db, Eb, E, F#, G, A, Bb". These scales each contain eight notes. Note tha, in addition to the original scale, the third, fifth, and seventh modes of either a WH or HW scale in addition to the first mode) form another WH or HW scale, so there are only 12/4 or 3 different diinished scales of each type. Also, note that the WH diminished scale is just the second mode of the W diminished scale, so that in fact, there are only three distinct diminished scales in all. The WH nd HW versions of this scale are used in different situations, however.
The HW diminished scale outlines a dominant seventh chord with a lowered ninth and fifth. For exampl, C7b9b5 is "C E Gb Bb Db" and these notes, as well as the sixth, the natural fifth and the raised nnth, are all present in the C HW diminished scale. The HW scale is thus a good choice to use over doinant seventh b9b5 chords. John Coltrane used this sound a lot.
This scale is very similar to the altered scale, which you may recall is also called the diminished hole tone scale. The C altered scale contains the first five notes of the C HW diminished scale and he last four (overlapping the E and F#) of the C whole tone scale. Since both scales contain loweredfifths and lowered and raised ninths, they are sometimes used interchangeably over dominant seventh hords. Try going to a piano and practicing both scales in your right hand over the root, third, and eventh in your left. They sound very similar. Many fakebooks are inconsistent in using the symbols at, #9, b9, b5, #9#5, and b9b5. The lesson here is, you will have to depend on your ears and common snse to guide you in the use of these two scales.
The WH diminished scale outlines a fully diminished seventh chord and is thus used over diminished cords. For instance, the C WH diminished scale "C, D, D#, F, F#, G#, A, B" can be played over Cdim orCdim7. The classical symbol for diminished, a small circle, is sometimes used as well. Note that thi scale is the same as the D#, F#, and A WH diminished scales, and in fact Cdim7, D#dim7, F#dim7, andAdim7 are all inversions of the same chord. They may be used interchangeably.
More importantly, this scale is also the same the D, F, G#, and B HW diminished scales. These scalesare associated with their respective b9b5 dominant chords. The C, Eb, F#, and A diminished chords ar thus often used as chord substitutions for the associated dominant chords, and vice versa. In most laces where you see a diminished chord, you can substitute one of the related dominant chords. One prticularly common chord progression is Cmaj7| C#dim| Dm7. The C#dim chord here implies the C# HW dimnished scale, which is the same as the C, Eb, F#, and A WH diminished scale. In this case, the A7b9b chord can be substituted for the C#dim chord. Not only do A7b9b5 and C#dim share the same scale, bu the A dominant chord also resolves well to the D minor chord. Any of the scales associated with A dminant chords, such as A mixolydian, A lydian dominant, A altered, or A blues, can thus be played ovr the C#dim chord in this context.
4.5. Pentatonic Scales
There are a group of five note scales known collectively as pentatonic scales. Intervals in a traditonal pentatonic scale are normally limited to whole steps and minor thirds. Many performers use thes relatively simple scales to good effect, including McCoy Tyner and Woody Shaw. The two basic pentatnic scales are the major pentatonic scale and the minor pentatonic scale. A C major pentatonic scaleis "C, D, E, G, A", and a C minor pentatonic scale "C, Eb, F, G, Bb". Note that the C minor pentatonc scale is actually the fifth mode of an Eb major pentatonic scale. Other modes of the pentatonic scles are used as well, such as "C, D, F, G, Bb", which is the second mode of the Bb major pentatonic cale. This scale can be called the suspended pentatonic scale, although this usage is by no means stndard.
As their names imply, the major, minor, and suspended pentatonic scales can be used over major, mino, and suspended chords respectively. For instance, the C major pentatonic scale can be used over Cma7. Sometimes this chord is written C6 to imply more strongly that the major pentatonic scale is to b used. The C minor pentatonic scale can be used over Cm7. The C suspended pentatonic chord can be usd over a C7sus chord.
Other five note scales are used occasionally as well. For instance, the scale "E, F, A, B, D" is thetraditional Japanese "in sen scale". It can be used as a substitute for the E phrygian mode (note itin fact defines the E phrygian chord) to impart an Asian flavor to the music. Useful variations of tis scale include the second mode, "F, A, B, D, E", which can be used over a Fmaj7#11 chord; the fourh mode, "B, D, E, F, A", which can be used over a Bm7b5 chord; and the fifth mode, "D, E, F, A, B", hich can be used over a Dm6 chord. Since there are relatively few notes in a pentatonic scale, one pntatonic scale can often be used over several different chords with no real avoid notes. For instanc, the C major pentatonic scale "C, D, E, G, A" could be used over Cmaj7, C7, D7sus, Dm7, Em7b6, Fmaj, G7sus, Gm7, or Am7.
4.6. Derived Scales
The scales in this section are mostly derived from chord progressions rather than specific chords. Fr the most part, they can be used as bridges between chords, allowing you to play either the same orvery closely related scales over two or more different chords. This is sometimes called harmonic genralization.
4.6.1. The Blues Scale
The blues scale is often the first scale, after the major scale, taught to beginning improvisers, an is in some cases the only other scale they ever learn. This scale supposedly has its roots in Africn American music dating back to the days of slavery, but the exact origins of its modern incarnationare unknown. The C blues scale consists of "C, Eb, F, F#, G, Bb". The second degree of this scale, wich is the flatted third of the minor scale, is called a blue note. In vocal music, it is often sungsomewhere between an Eb and an E. In instrumental music, various techniques are employed to achieve he same effect, such as stretching the string while playing an Eb on a stringed instrument, lipping own an E on a wind instrument, or striking both the Eb and E simultaneously on a keyboard instrument The flatted seventh and fifth are also sometimes called blue notes, and are not always sung or playd exactly on the notated pitch. Variations on the blues scale that include the natural third, fifth,or seventh can be used as well. Also, note that if the flatted fifth is omitted, the resultant scaleis the minor pentatonic scale. The minor pentatonic scale can thus be used as a substitute for the bues scale, and vice versa.
The beauty of the blues scale is that it can be played over an entire blues progression with no realavoid notes. If you try playing lines based on this usage, for instance, a C blues scale over a C7 cord, you get instant positive feedback, since almost everything you can do sounds good. This unfortuately leads many players to overuse the scale, and to run out of interesting ideas quickly. There ar only so many phrases (licks) that can be played over a six note scale, and most of them have alread been played thousands of times by now. This is not to say you should never use the blues scale; on he contrary, it is vitally important to jazz. But do not become so enamored of the easy gratificatio it can yield that you practice blues licks over and over rather than expand your harmonic vocabular.
The language metaphor is a good one. It is hard to say interesting things with a limited vocabulary.Often players like Count Basie are offered as examples of musicians who manage to make a lot out of little, but there is a difference between saying few words because you are choosing them carefully,and saying few words because you have nothing to say or because your vocabulary is too limited to exress your thoughts. This advice transcends the blues scale, of course.
It is not always necessary to vary the harmonic content of your playing if you are sufficiently creaive with other aspects. One way to introduce added interest when using the blues scale is to use anyspecial effects at your disposal to vary your sound. This can include honking and screaming for saxohonists, growling for brass players, or using clusters on the piano.
4.6.2. Minor Scales
The harmonic minor scale is sometimes played over m-maj7 chords. Its modes have no common names, andthey are rarely used by jazz musicians except as bridges over a ii-V-i chord progression. For exampl, consider the chord progression Bm7b5| E7alt| Am-maj7|. An A harmonic minor scale can be played ove all three of these chords, instead of the traditional B locrian, E altered, and A melodic minor scaes. Another way of saying this is that the second mode can be played over a m7b5 chord, and that thefifth mode can be used over an altered dominant chord. Even when you are not using the harmonic mino scale over an entire progression, you may wish to use its fifth mode over the V chord in a minor ke ii-V-i progression. The advantage of using this scale in this example is that it differs from the Blocrian and A melodic minor scales by only one note each. The disadvantage is that the root of the sale is an avoid note in this context.
The melodic minor can be used in this same way; its fifth mode can be used over the V chord in a ii--i progression to keep some commonality between the scales used. Note however that the second mode o the A melodic minor is not an ideal choice over the Bm7b5 chord, because this scale has F# instead f F. This is the only difference between the harmonic and melodic minor scales. Your choice of whethr to use the fifth mode of the harmonic or melodic minor scales over a dominant seventh chord may patially depend on the key of the tune. If F# is in the key signature, then the melodic minor may soun more diatonic. You may choose that scale if this is the sound you are trying to achieve, or the haronic minor if you are trying to avoid sounding diatonic. Conversely, if F# is not in the key signatue, then the harmonic minor may sound more diatonic. Another issue to consider is which of these scals is closer to the scale you are using on the preceding or following chord. Depending on the sound yu are trying to achieve, you may wish to choose the scale that has either more or fewer notes in comon with the surrounding scales.
4.6.3. Bebop Scales
The major bebop scale is a major scale with an added raised fifth or lowered sixth. The C major bebo scale is "C, D, E, F, G, G#, A, B". This scale can be used over major seventh or major seventh augmnted chords. The C major bebop scale can also be used as a bridge between chords in a progression lie Cmaj7| Bm7b5E7| Am|; that is, the same scale can be played over the entire progression. Another wa of looking at this is to say that we are playing the C major bebop scale itself over the Cmaj7 chor, playing its eighth mode over the Bm7b5 chord, playing its third mode over the E7 chord, and playin its seventh mode over the Am chord. These modes closely resembly the major, locrian, altered and mior scales respectively. Note that we are using the C major bebop scale over a ii-V-i progression in minor. In general, we can use the major bebop scale in any given key over a ii-V-i progression in te relative minor to that key.
Other bebop scales include the dominant bebop scale, which is similar to the mixolydian mode but wit an additional major seventh. The C dominant bebop scale is thus "C, D, E, F, G, A, Bb, B". This scae can be used over dominant seventh chords. The major seventh is not really an avoid note if you useit as a passing tone between the C and Bb. It also serves as the raised fourth in the Fmaj7 chord tht is likely to follow the C7 chord. There is also the minor bebop scale, which is a dorian scale wit an added raised third. The C minor bebop scale is thus "C, D, Eb, E, F, G, A, Bb". This scale can b used over minor seventh chords, and is often used in minor key blues progressions to give more of adominant seventh feel to the chords.
4.6.4. Synthetic Scales
The blues and bebop scales are sometimes called synthetic scales, because they do not fit in well wih classical theory and appear to have been invented to fit a particular situation. In general, any nmber of synthetic scales can be constructed using just intervals of minor, major, and augmented secods. You may wish to try experimenting with developing your own scales and looking for opportunities o use them.
4.7. Chord/Scale Chart
The accompanying chart lists the most commonly occurring chords in jazz harmony along with the scale normally associated with each. The chords are grouped into the four basic categories of major, mino, dominant, and half diminished. In a pinch, any scale from any chord in any one of these categoriescan be used for any other chord in that category. There is an additional category for miscellaneous hords at the end. There are many more possible scales and chords. However, these are the most importnt ones in traditional jazz harmony.
5. Applying The Theory To Improvisation
The basis of traditional forms of improvisation is to create spontaneously and play melodies that ar built on the basic chord progression of the song. At the most basic levels, the notes you choose fo your improvisation are partially dictated by the scale associated with each chord. This is called paying changes. More advanced forms of improvisation give the performer more melodic and harmonic fredom, either by
reducing the number of chord changes, or by making the chords progressions more ambiguous in tonalit, to the point of eliminating these structures entirely. These approaches are discussed separately blow.
Pianists, guitarists, or other instrumentalists who accompany themselves while improvising should red the section on accompanying along with this section and try to apply both sets of concepts at oncewhen improvising.
C major, C lydian, C major bebop Cmaj7, Cmaj9, C6, C C major pentatonic, G major pentatonic
Cmaj7#11 C lydian, B in sen
C dorian, C minor bebop, C minor pentatonic Cm7, Cm9, Cm11, Cm F major pentatonic, Bb major pentatoic Eb major bebop, C blues, C minor
C dorian, C melodic minor, C minor pentatonic, Cm6, Cm F major pentatonic, Bb major pentatoni, C minor bebop, Eb major bebop, D in sen
Cm-maj7 C melodic minor, C harmonic minor, Eb major bebop
Cm7b6 C minor, Ab major pentatonic
Cm7b9 C phrygian, C phrygian #6
C mixolydian, C lydian dominant, C dominant bebop, C7, C9, C13, C C blues, C major pentatonic
C7sus, Csus, C11 C mixolydian Bb/C, Gm7/C C suspended pentatonic, F major pentatonic
C7#11, C7 C lydian dominant
C7alt, C7#9#5, C7#9 C altered, F harmonic minor, F melodic minor
C7b9b5, C7b9 C HW diminished, F harmonic minor, F melodic minor
C7aug, C7+, C7#5 C whole tone
Cm7b5 C locrian #2, C locrian
Cdim7 C WH diminished
C phrygian, C phrygian #6, C Spanish phrygian Cphryg C in sen
Cmaj7#5 C lydian augmented, C major bebop
C7susb9 C phrygian #6, C phrygian
5.1. Melodic Development
One of your prime concerns should be playing melodically. This does not necessarily mean playing pretily, but there should be some sense of continuity to your lines, and they should be interesting in hemselves. You should also be conscious of the rhythmic and harmonic development of your improvisatins; I include these concepts in the term "melodic development". This is hard to teach, and is probaby the aspect of improvisation that requires the most creativity. Anyone can learn chord/scale relatinships; it is what you do with this knowledge that determines how you sound. Hal Crook's book How ToImprovise has a lot of information on melodic development, especially on rhythmic variation, geared oward the intermediate player, while George Russell's The Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organizaion For Improvisation and David Liebman's A Chromatic Approach To Jazz Harmony And Melody contain adanced and very technical discussions on harmonic development.
You should be aware of the contour of your solo. A common way to structure a solo is based on the moel of telling a story. You start simply, build through a series of smaller peaks to a climax, and thn come to a concluding phrase. This works well in most situations. However, you may wish to vary fro this format occasionally. You can decide to start more strongly to introduce your solo, or you may ish to finish right at the climax and forego the denoument. You may wish to keep the entire solo at low intensity level to convey a lazy feel, although you probably don't want to bore the listeners, ither. You may wish to keep the intensity level at a controlled simmer. Much like a standup comic woking a room, you may want to alter your strategies as you assess the mood of the audience. You shoul strive to be in control of the emotional response you generate in your listeners.
There are some common devices that can be used in structuring your solo. One of the most important i repetition. After a soloist plays a phrase, he often repeats it, or a variation of it. Often the phase, or a variation of it, is played three times before moving on to something else. The variation mght be to transpose the phrase, or to alter key notes within it to conform to a new chord/scale. Thevariation might consist simply of starting the phrase at a different point in the measure, such as o beat three instead of on beat two. The phrase itself may be altered rhythmically, either by playingit faster or slower. Related to the idea of repetition is the concept of call and response. Rather tan repeat the original phrase, you can consider the phrase as a question or call, and follow it up wth an answer or response. This is the musical analogue to asking, "did you go to the store today?", nd then responding "yes, I went to the store today".
On most instruments, you can increase intensity by playing louder, higher, and faster; playing softe, lower, and slower usually reduces intensity. Playing simple rhythms such as quarter notes and eighh notes where the accents fall on the beats is usually less intense than playing more complex rhythm such as syncopated rhythms, where most accents fall off the beat. A hemiola is a particular type ofrhythmic device where one meter is superimposed on another. An example of this is the use of quarternote triplets when playing in 4/4 time.
One long held note can also generate intensity on most instruments, although pianists may have to us trills or rollings octaves to achieve this type of sustain. A single note or short lick repeated ovr and over can generate a similar sort of intensity. You have to use your judgement in deciding how uch is enough.
5.1.2. Phrase Construction
The relationships between chords and scales should not be seen as limiting or determining your choic of notes. They are merely an aid, a way to help you relate ideas you may have to fingerings on yourinstrument. Your ideas should not be dictated by the scales, however. Note that very few jazz singer use scales extensively; they generally are able to translate an idea more directly into their voice. For this reason, instrumentalists should practice improvisation by singing, in addition to practicng their instruments. No matter how untrained your voice may be, it is more natural to you than yourinstrument, so you may find you are able to develop ideas better by singing them than by attempting o play them. Singers also are usually limited in their ability to sing complex harmonic ideas, howevr, because they do not have well-practiced fingerings to fall back on. Scale theory can indeed be a ource of ideas; just make sure it is not your only source.
Try playing scalar lines that are based mostly on steps, angular lines that are based mostly on leap, as well as lines that combine these approaches. In addition to being concerned over your choice ofnotes, you try to vary the rhythmic content of your ideas. Beginning improvisers often unwittingly pay almost all their phrases with just a few underlying rhythms. Try playing lines that are based mosly on half notes and quarter notes, lines that are based mostly on eighth notes and triplets, as wel as lines that combine the two approaches.
5.2. Playing Changes
Once you have some idea of the association between chord symbols and scales, and how to develop a meodic line, you can start improvising over chord progressions. In performance situations, the rhythm ection will be outlining the chord progressions in tempo, while you play improvised lines based on te associated scales. Often the chords will change every measure, and you must keep changing scales t keep up. However, you should not think one chord at a time. You should be trying to construct linesthat lead from one chord to the next.
The third and seventh of each chord are the notes that most define the sound of the chord. If you emhasize these notes in your improvisation, it will help guarantee that your lines will accurately impy the changes. Conversely, if you emphasize the other scale tones, it can add a harmonic richness tothe sounds. You are also free to use notes not in the scale at all. Bebop players often use a devicecalled the enclosure, in which a target note is preceded by notes a half step above and below. This s related to the idea of a passing tone, except in the enclosure, the chromaticism is used to emphasze or delay a particular note rather than to connect two other notes. Other non-scale tones can be ued as you see fit.
While there are many possible chord progressions, there are a few basic building blocks that accountfor many of the chord changes you will see. If you become familiar with these basics, you will be wel on your way to being able to play over any set of changes that might come your way. Performers shold practice the chord progressions described below in all twelve keys to gain the most fluency. You ay wish to try out some specific patterns on these progressions, but more importantly, you should siply explore many different ideas on each progression in each key so you will be comfortable truly imrovising on them, rather than just playing the licks with which you are comfortable in that key. Youshould experiment with different approaches and learn how to tailor your note choices for a given chrd type in a given situation for the sound you are trying to achieve.
In addition to reading about these concepts you should try to listen specifically for these techniqus being applied by other musicians. The most popular jazz musicians of the 1950's make a good startig point. These include Miles Davis, Clifford Brown, Sonny Rollins, John Coltrane, Cannonball Adderly Art Pepper, Red Garland, Hank Jones, Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, Paul Chambers, and Ray Brown. Any albumsfrom that time period featuring one or more of these musicians are recommended for learning about plying changes.
The most important chord progression in jazz is the ii-V, which may or may not resolve to I. Most tues will have ii-V progressions in several different keys sprinkled throughout. For example, considerthe chord progression Cmaj7| Dm7G7| Em7| A7| Dm7| G7| Cmaj7. There are three ii-V progressions here.Bar two forms a ii-V in the key of C, although there is no actual C (I) chord in bar three. Bars thre through five form a ii-V-I in the key of D minor, and bars five through seven form a ii-V-I in C aain. There are many devices that can be used when playing over ii-V progressions. Some of these are escribed below.
18.104.22.168. Major Keys
In a major key, the ii-V-I progression consists of a minor seventh chord, a dominant seventh chord, nd a major seventh chord. The first scale choices you learned for these chords are dorian, mixolydia, and major. In the key of C, the chords are Dm7G7Cmaj7, and the associated scales would thus be D drian, G mixolydian, and C major. As you may have noticed, these are all modes of the same C major scle. Thus when you see a ii-V progression in a major key, you can play the major scale of the I chordfor the whole progression. This makes it somewhat easier to construct lines that lead from one chordto the next, or transcend the individual chords. This type of progression, where the scales associatd with each of the chords are all modes of each other, is called a diatonic progression. While diatoic progressions are easy to play over, they can quickly become boring, since you are playing the sam seven notes for an extended period of time. You can add a little variety by using one of the other cales associated with each chord, such as D minor, G dominant bebop, C lydian.
The most common way to add interest to a ii-V progression is to alter the dominant (V) chord. Often he alteration will already be specified for you, but even when it is not, you generally have the fredom to add alterations to dominant chords. It helps if the soloist and the accompanists are playing he same alterations, but this is not always practical when improvising unless your accompanist has icredible ears and can hear the alterations you are making, and in any case it is not actually all tht important.
In the key of C, you might replace the G7 chord with a G7#11, a G7alt, a G7b9b5, or a G7+ chord, allof which still fulfill the dominant function in C but imply different scales. For instance, if you coose G7#11, the progression then becomes D dorian, G lydian dominant, C major.
Another possible alteration to the dominant is called the tritone substitution. This means replacingthe dominant chord with a dominant seventh chord a tritone away. In the key of C, this would mean relacing the G7 with a Db7. This may seem a strange thing to do, but there are some very good reasons hy it works. The third and seventh of a chord are the two most important notes in defining the soundand function of the chord. If you look at a Db7 chord, you will see it contains Db, F, Ab, and B, whch are respectively the b5, 7, b9, and 3 of a G7 chord. The third and seventh of the G7 chord (B andF) become the seventh and third of the Db7 chord. Thus, Db7 is very similar to a G7b9b5 chord in soud and function. Furthermore, the melodic resolution of Db to C in the bass is very strong, functionig almost as a passing tone.
Once you have made the chord substitution, you can then play any scale associated with the Db7 chord for instance yielding a progression of D dorian, Db mixolydian, C major. Using a scale other than mxolydian will yield some surprising things. Try a Db lydian dominant scale, which implies a Db7#11 cord for the substitute dominant. Does this look or sound familiar? It should, because the Db lydian ominant and G altered scales are both modes of the same Ab melodic minor scale. When you play lines ased on Db lydian dominant, you are playing lines that are also compatible with G altered. Conversel, Db altered and G lydian dominant are both modes of the same D melodic minor scale, and can be usedinterchangeably. Furthermore, the Db and G HW diminished scales are identical, as are the respectivewhole tone scales. These are other reasons the tritone substitution works so well.
22.214.171.124. Minor Keys
ii-V progressions in a minor key generally do not suffer the problem of sounding too diatonic. Sincethe harmonic minor is normally used to generate chord progressions in a minor key, a ii-V progressio in A minor might consist of Bm7b5E7| Am-maj7. If we try to build a ninth chord from the E7, we see he that the F natural in the key of A harmonic minor generates an E7b9 chord. Without any special alerations, this progression could imply B locrian, E HW diminished, and A melodic minor. These scalesare sufficiently rich that further alterations are not necessary.
However, most of the same techniques from major keys can be used in a minor key as well. We can use he melodic or harmonic minor scales from the i chord, or the major bebop scale from its relative majr, over the entire progression. We can use a different variation of the E7 chord such as E7alt or E7, or even E7sus; we can make a tritone substitution to yield Bb7; and so on. We can also substitute or the ii chords, for example using the locrian #2 scale, or replacing the Bm7b5 with an ordinary Bm chord, where the F# comes from the key of A melodic rather than A harmonic minor. If we were to mak a ninth chord, the C natural in the key of A melodic minor generates a Bm7b9 chord, which implies aB phrygian scale. We can even replace the ii Bm chord with a II B7 chord, especially a B7alt chord, hich contains the D natural from the Bm chord. We can also alter the i chord, replacing it with a siple Am7 chord, and using any of the various possible scales associated with that chord such as A minr, A phrygian, A minor pentatonic, and so on.
The term "blues" is somewhat overloaded, describing a general style of music and a more specific catgory of chord progressions, as well as its colloquial meaning of a particular mood, as in the phrase"I've got the blues". The blues as a style has a rich history that is beyond the scope of this prime. The basic twelve bar blues form was mentioned earlier. In its original form, still played often inrock and R&B music, only three chords are used: the I chord, the IV chord, and the V chord. The basi blues progression is "I | I | I | I | IV | IV | I | I | V | IV | I | I |", which, in the key of F, ields F| F| F| F| Bb| Bb| F| F| C| Bb| F| F|. The chords are usually all played as dominant seventh hords, although they are not actually functioning as dominant chords in that they do not resolve to tonic. The F blues scale can be played over this entire progression. While the blues progression ca be played in any key, the most popular keys among jazz musicians seem to be F, Bb, and Eb, whereas ock musicians often prefer E, A, D, or G. This has a lot to do with the way instruments are tuned. Ppular jazz instruments such as the trumpet and the various members of the saxophone family are usualy tuned in Bb or Eb, meaning that the notated ``C'' played on these instruments actually sounds likea Bb or Eb respectively. Music written for these instruments is therefore transposed. The fingeringsfor the instruments favors playing in the key of C, which is actually Bb or Eb, depending on the insrument. Guitars tend to dominate rock music, and guitars are tuned to favor the keys containing shars.
Playing the blues scale over the basic three chord blues progression in a jazz setting gets old veryquickly. Starting around the swing era, and most notably in the bebop era, musicians began to make aditions to this simple formula. One common adaptation of the blues progression, which is still consiered the standard for jazz jam sessions, is F7| Bb7| F7| F7| Bb7| Bb7| F7| D7alt| Gm7| C7| F7| C7|. his progression offers a wider range of scale possibilities than does the basic three chord blues. Fr example, bars 8 and 9 form a V-i in G minor, and bars 9-11 form a ii-V-I in F.
The idea of adding ii-V's to the blues progression yields more variations. For example, consider F7|Bb7| F7| Cm7F7| Bb7| Bdim| F7| Am7b5D7alt| Gm7| C7alt| F7D7alt| Gm7C7alt|. This particular progressin is especially common in bebop and later styles. Note the substitution of a Bb ii-V-I in bars 4-5, G minor ii-V-i in bars 8-9, and a G minor V-i in bars 11-12. Also note the diminished chord in bar . This diminished chord is serving as a substitute for the dominant seventh, since both Bdim and Bb79 share the same Bb HW (B WH) diminished scale. This same substitution can be made for the second haf of bar 2.
Other variations can be made using tritone substitutions. For example, Ab7 can be played instead of 7alt in the second half of bar 8. You can also change the qualities of the chords, for instance replcing that Ab7 with an Abm7. Another common substitution is A7alt for the F7 in bar 11. This substituion works because the chords share several notes, including the tonic, F, and because the A7alt form part of a G minor II-V-i progression with the D7alt and Gm7 that follow.
Charlie Parker carried these types of substitutions to an extreme in "Blues For Alice". The chord prgression in that tune is Fmaj7| Em7b5A7b9| Dm7G7| Cm7F7| Bb7| Bbm7Eb7| Am7D7| Abm7Db7| Gm7| C7| FmajD7alt| Gm7C7|. This uses most of the techniques described above. You may wish to play with this progession for a while.
5.2.3. Rhythm Changes
The George Gershwin song "I Got Rhythm" is the source for one of the most popular chord progressionsof the bebop era, second only to the blues progression. This form is often called simply rhythm chanes. As with the blues progression, there are many possible variations on rhythm changes. Most tunes ased on rhythm changes are played in the key of Bb, and are played at very fast tempos, often well oer 200 beats per minute. These songs have a 32 bar AABA form based on the chord progression: Bbmaj7G| Cm7F7| Bbmaj7G7| Cm7F7| Fm7Bb7| Ebmaj7Ab7| Dm7G7| Cm7F7|| Bbmaj7G7| Cm7F7| Bbmaj7G7| Cm7F7| Fm7Bb7 Ebmaj7Ab7| Cm7F7| Bbmaj7|| Am7| D7| Dm7| G7| Gm7| C7| Cm7| F7|| Bbmaj7G7| Cm7F7| Bbmaj7G7| Cm7F7| F7Bb7| Ebmaj7Ab7| Cm7F7| Bbmaj7||.
This progression contains many ii-V progressions. Any of the standard alterations described under iiV progressions above can be used when playing rhythm changes. Many tunes contain slight alterations o this basic progression, especially in the last four measures of the A sections. Some of the commonalterations are to replace the second chord G7 with a diminished chord Bdim, or to replace the fifthchord Bbmaj7 with Dm7. The former substitution has already been described under the diminished scale The latter replaces a I chord with a iii chord, which has three of four notes in common, and the repective scales differ by only one note. Furthermore, the Dm7 and following G7 form a ii-V in C minor so this is an especially strong substitution harmonically.
The important characteristics of rhythm changes are the repeated I-VIii-V (or substitutes) in the fist four bars of the A sections, and the basic tonality movements by fifths in the bridge, leading bak to the original tonic in the last A section. If you intend to become an improvising musician, you hould become fluent in the basic rhythm changes, particularly in the key of Bb, and become familiar ith the particular variations associated with specific tunes. This is also a good opportunity to tryout what you have learned about ii-V's, and to work on your up tempo playing.
5.2.4. Coltrane Changes
John Coltrane, through original compositions such as "Giant Steps" and "Countdown" on the album Gian Steps, and arrangements of standards such as "But Not For Me" on the album My Favorite Things, becae known for using a particularly complex progression that is often called the Coltrane changes, althugh he was not the first or only musician to make use of it.
The primary characteristic of Coltrane changes is tonality movement by major thirds. The progressionto "Giant Steps" is Bmaj7D7| Gmaj7Bb7| Ebmaj7| Am7D7| Gmaj7Bb7| Ebmaj7F#7| Bmaj7| Fm7Bb7| Ebmaj7| AmD7| Gmaj7| C#m7F#7| Bmaj7| Fm7Bb7| Ebmaj7| C#m7F#7|. The first key center here is B, then G, then Eb and it continues to cycle through these three keys, which are a major third apart.
Coltrane was able to develop this idea in many ways. For example, he used it as a substitute for an rdinary ii-V progression. The progression to "Countdown" is loosely based on that to the Miles Daviscomposition "Tune-up". The latter tune begins with the four measure progression Em7| A7| Dmaj7| Dmaj, which is a vanilla ii-V-I progression in D major. The first four bars of "Countdown" are Em7F7| Bbaj7Db7|Gbmaj7A7| Dmaj7. Coltrane starts with the same ii chord, and then modulates to the dominant sventh chord one half step higher. From there, he launches into the cycle of major thirds, going fromthe key of Bb to Gb and finally back to D. The next four bars of the tune are identical harmonically except they are based on a ii-V in the key of C; the next four bars are the same in the key of Bb.
Soloing over Coltrane changes can be challenging, since the apparent key center changes so often. Yo cannot simply play a single diatonic scale across several measures. The tunes are usually played atfast tempos, and it is also easy to fall into the trap of playing nothing but arpeggios outlining th chords. You must try to be especially conscious of playing melodically when soloing over a progresson as complex as the Coltrane changes.
5.3. Modal Improvisation
A typical modal tune may have only two or three chords, and each may last 8 or even 16 measures. In ne sense, modal playing is much easier than playing changes, since it does not require your brain todo as much fast computation to constantly change scales. In another sense, however, it is more challnging, since you cannot merely string together rehearsed ii-V licks, nor can you rely on clever scal use and chord substitution to cover up basic problems thinking melodically.
Some music is often considered modal even though it follows traditional chord progressions such as te blues. The concept of modality has as much to do with what is done with the harmony as with its rae of change. In bebop derived styles, a soloist may sustain interest by his choice of notes over theharmony, including dissonances, tensions, and releases. For example, bebop players often enjoyed endng phrases on the raised fourth over a dominant chord, just for the effect that one note had. When sloing over modal music, there is less emphasis on harmonic choices, and more on melodic development.The ballad "Blue In Green" from Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue has as much harmonic motion as many other unes, and the chords themselves are relatively complex chords such as Bbma7#11 or A7alt. Yet the sols on this track do not exploit the harmony; instead they focus on melodicism of individual phrases. ebop improvisers may emphasize the chordal extensions in their solos, whereas modal improvisers tendto emphasize basic chord notes. Bebop players are often more inclined to fill up all spaces with nots to completely define the harmony, whereas modal players are more likely to use rhythmic space as amelodic structuring element. Both approaches are valid, but it is important to understand the differnces between them.
The Miles Davis tune "So What" on the album Kind Of Blue is the classic example of a modal tune. It ollows a basic AABA structure, where the A section consists of the D dorian mode, and the B section onsists of the Eb dorian mode. This yields 16 consecutive bars of D dorian at the beginning of each horus; 24 counting the last 8 of the previous chorus. You may find yourself running out of ideas quikly if you limit yourself to just the seven notes in the D dorian scale, but that is the challenge. ou cannot rely on the consciously hip sound of an F# over a C7 chord; you must play melodically withthe notes you are given.
You are not completely restricted to the notes of the scale, however. As with ii-V progressions, thee are some devices that you can use in a modal setting to add tension. One of the most popular of suh devices is called sideslipping. Over a D dorian background, try playing lines based on Db or Eb scles for a measure or two. This dissonance creates a tension, which you can release by returning to te original scale. You can also use chromatic passing tones. For instance, over a D dorian scale, youmight try playing "G, G#, A", where the G# is a passing tone.
You can also vary the scale used. For instance, instead of D dorian, try a D natural minor, or a D mnor pentatonic, for a few measures. You can also use alternate a tonic chord with the dominant sevenh chord in that key. For example, the chord associated with D dorian is Dm7. If you treat that as a chord, the V7 chord is A7. So you can use lines from any of the scales associated with A7, A7b9b5, 7alt, or other A dominant seventh chords, at points in your improvisation. This will create a kind o tension that you can resolve by returning to the original D dorian scale.
For the most part, however, you should try to stick to the modal philosophy when playing modal tunes and concentrate on being as melodic as possible with the basic chord and scale tones. Pentatonic scles are an especially appropriate choice in modal playing, since they narrow your choices to only fie notes instead of seven, and further force you to think about using space and playing melodically. similar sound is achieved by playing lines built from the interval of a fourth. This is called quaral harmony. It is particularly effective in modal tunes with few chord changes, although these typesof lines can be used in other situations as well.
Bebop styles were characterized above as exploiting the harmonies by choosing scales with a lot of clor tones, whereas modal playing was characterized as emphasizing the basic chord tones. Both of thee approaches still use chord/scale relationships in the traditional manner of choosing a scale that mplies the sound of the chord to some degree, and playing mostly within that scale. Another approachis to maintain the sense of chord progressions but play lines that lie largely outside the associate scales. This is sometimes called chromaticism. Eric Dolphy used this approach when playing with Chales Mingus and on some of his own albums such as Live At The Five Spot and Last Date. Woody Shaw andSteve Coleman are also chromatic players.
You have by now probably played some outside notes, say an Ab against a Cmaj7 chord, possibly by accdent. These notes may sound wrong when played in the context of an otherwise inside melody. By playig a melody derived from a scale, you establish a particular sound, and one wrong note will sound outof place. However, when playing a melody that lies mostly outside the scale, the same notes may fit n much more logically. That is to say, non-scale tones used melodically can often sound consonant (te opposite of dissonant).
The aforementioned musicians often play very angular melodic lines, meaning they consist of large orunusual intervals and change direction often rather than being primarily stepwise and scalelike. Thi often seems to establish a sound in which wrong notes sound perfectly natural. Interestingly, the oposite approach works as well: lines that contain a lot of half steps often sound right even though hey consist of many wrong notes. These lines are sometimes called chromatic.
You can continue to use your knowledge of chord/scale relationships when playing chromatically. For xample, you know that a Db lydian scale is not normally an appropriate choice to play over a Cmaj7 cord, and you probably have some idea why. These same wrong notes, however, if used melodically over he chord, create a sound that is not all that dissonant and has a harmonic richness that is very modrn sounding. In fact, even simple melodic ideas like arpeggios and scales can sound complex in this ontext.
You can practice these ideas with Aebersold albums, or Band-In-A-Box, or your fellow musicians, althugh you should be prepared for some strange looks. It has been said that there are no wrong notes, oly wrong resolutions. This certainly explains why passing tones and enclosures sound consonant, but feel it still places too high a value on playing the notes suggested by the standard chord/scale reationships. I would restate this; the only wrong notes are notes you didn't intend to play. Any noteyou play is right if it is in a meaningful context and it does not sound like an accident. There is ven value in making mistakes. The trick is in forming a coherent whole.
5.5. Non-tonal Improvisation
The terms pan-tonal, non-tonal, and atonal all describe the blurring or elimination of traditional tnality. The distinction between these terms is not always clear, so I will use most general of these "nontonal", to describe music that has no specific key center, or over which standard chord/scale rlationships do not always apply.
Although non-tonal music may appear to have chord progressions, the individual chords are often chosn for their overall sound rather than for their resolutions. Any chord from any key is likely to be sed if it has the right sound. For example, many of the tunes on Miles' albums E.S.P., Nefertiti, Mies Smiles, and Sorcerer have no specific key centers, nor do they contain many traditional ii-V's tht would indicate temporary key centers. Many of the chords are relatively complex, for example Abmaj#5, and each chord is chosen for its individual sound, not because the previous chord resolves to itnaturally or because it resolves to the next chord. A traditional functional analysis of the harmony(that is, analyzing chords in terms of their relationship to the key) is not always the best way to pproach this sort of music.
You may wish to treat this music modally, and let the chords themselves dictate the scale choices. Yu should be careful in doing this, however. Many of the standard chord/scale relationships were estalished with traditional resolutions in mind. Your phrases may seem random and disconnected if you blndly change scales according to the chord progression in non-tonal music. You should be prepared to reat the chord/scale relationships more loosely than you would when simply playing changes.
In tonal music, alterations to a chord are often considered merely color tones that do not affect th basic function of a chord, and improvisers are free to make their own alterations to the basic chor. For example, a G7b9 chord is likely to be a dominant chord, resolving to Cmaj7. Any other chord tht serves this function, such as G7#11, or even a tritone substitution like Db7, can be used instead ithout radically changing how the phrase is perceived, so tonal improvisers will often make this sor or alteration freely, either explicitly, or implicitly by their scales choices. In non-tonal music,however, a chord is often specifically called for because of its unique sound, and not because of ho it functions in a progression. The same G7b9 chord may have been chosen because of the particular dssonance of the G against the Ab, or because that happened to be the most convenient way to spell th chord voicing the composer intended (a voicing is simply a way of specifying the particular notes t be played for a given chord). Changing this chord to G7#11 may change the sound of the chord more rdically than substituting an otherwise unrelated chord that has the same G/Ab dissonance, such as Abaj7, or one that may be voiced similarly, such as E7#9. You may find scale choices associated with tese chords to be more appropriate substitutions than ones based on the traditional dominant functionof G7b9.
The real intent of non-tonal music, however, is to free you from the specifics of chord/scale relatinships and allow you to concentrate on the sounds themselves. The lines you play need not be analyze in terms of their relationships to the notated chords, but may instead be thought of in terms of ho they fit the sound of the phrase at that point. If the chord in a given measure is a maj7#5 chord, hen you should hear the sound of that chord, and feel free to play any lines that imply that sound. his is as much an emotional implication as a rational one. For me, that particular chord has an open questioning, sound that I associate with wide intervals and the use of rhythmic space. I would probbly tend to play lines that reflect this feeling, regardless of the actual notes involved. Furthermoe, the sound of that chord may also be affected by its context in the piece itself. For instance, a hord played for two measure in a ballad may sound entirely differently from the same chord used as a accent in a driving up-tempo piece. Chord scale relationships may still help define which notes ten to be more or less dissonant against a given chord, but you should try organize your thinking alonglines of sounds, and use the chord/scale relationships only as tools to help you achieve the desiredsounds. Even in tonal music, of course, chord/scale relationships can be considered as tools, and on could claim the goal is always to represent sounds. However, you may find tunes with many ii-V's inthem tend to "sound" the same in this respect. Non-tonal music was created to provide a more varied alette of sounds, to encourage thinking along these lines. As with chromaticism in tonal music, you an deliberately play lines that contradict the sound of the chord, if that is the effect you desire.The important thing is that you perceive a non-tonal chord progression as a recipe of sounds over whch you improvise, not as a specific pattern of chord resolutions.
5.6. Free Improvisation
The next of level of freedom in improvisation is to eliminate chords entirely. Depending on how far ou are willing to go, you can also dispense with traditional melody, rhythm, timbre, or form. There re many different approaches to free playing, but by its very nature, there are no rules. Instead oftechnical details, examples of other musicians will be used for the most part.
Many of Ornette Coleman's compositions have no chords at all. Most of his freebop quartet recordingswith Don Cherry for Atlantic fall into this category. The head consists of a melody only, and the soos are variations on the melody or on the feel of the piece in general, not on any chord progression For the most part, these recordings still show a very melodic approach and are accessible to many lsteners. A walking bass line and 4/4 swing drum beat are constant throughout, and the forms are the tandard head-solos-head forms.
Ornette's album Free Jazz, featuring a double quartet including Eric Dolphy and Freddie Hubbard, is ecidedly different. Here Ornette is not only putting aside traditional concepts of harmony, but alsoof melody. There is no definable head to the one performance that comprises this album, and the imprvisations are less melodic than on the quartet albums. The double quartet also experiments with formon this album, often having several improvisers playing at once. This idea is as old as jazz itself,but was largely forgotten with the advent of the swing era. The free players' idea of collective impovisation is much less structured that the dixieland players', and the results are more cacophonous.
John Coltrane made similar advances late in his career, in albums such as "Ascension". Coltrane alsoexperimented with rhythm, especially in albums like "Interstellar Space" that do not feature any defnable pulse. Both Coleman and Coltrane, as well as musicians influenced by them such as Archie Sheppand Albert Ayler, also experimented with timbre, finding new ways to get sounds out of their instrumnts, even to the extent of playing instruments on which they had little or no training, as Ornette dd with the trumpet and the violin.
Cecil Taylor plays the piano in a completely free manner, utilizing it as much as a percussion instrment as a melodic or chordal instrument. His performances generally do not contain any traditional hrmonic, melodic, or rhythmic structuring elements. He creates his own structures. When playing free usic in a solo setting, you have complete freedom to change the directions of the music at any time,and are accountable only to yourself. You can change tempo, you can play without tempo, you can varythe intensity of your performance as you see fit. When playing music with no set form in a group seting, communication becomes especially important, because there is no automatic frame of reference tokeep everyone together. Cecil Taylor does play in a group setting as well, and other groups such as he Art Ensemble Of Chicago are known for this type of freedom.
It is hard to analyze these styles of music in terms we are accustomed to using. The music must reac us on an emotional level in order to be successful, and each person's emotions may be affected diffrently. It often seems to be that the more free the music, the more intensely personal the statement You will need to decide for yourself how far you are willing to go in your own playing, as well as n your own listening. You should also be aware that this type of music is often more fun to play tha to listen to for many people. The challenge of the communication and the excitement of the free excange of ideas are things that some listeners are unable to appreciate. This a gentle way of saying tat your experimentation may alienate some of your original audience. However, there are audiences tht do appreciate this music. You should not be discouraged from playing as freely as you desire.
Accompanying, or comping as pianists often call it, is a vital skill for rhythm section players, becuse they usually spend more time comping than soloing. An understanding of accompanying is also usefl for other instrumentalists, because it can foster better musical communication between the soloistand the accompanists. Pianists are in the unique position of providing much of their own accompanimet, which allows especially tight interaction. Some of the musical devices used by accompanists can aso be adapted to be used more directly in solos by any instrumentalist.
6.1. Chordal Instruments
The main concerns for polyphonic instruments, or instruments that can easily play more than one noteat time, such as piano, organ, guitar, and the various mallet instruments, are voicing chords, reharonizing, and playing rhythms.
6.1.1. Chord Voicings
In jazz, when the music calls for a Cmaj7 chord, this almost never implies a pianist should play "C G B". Usually, the pianist will choose some other way of playing the chord, even if it is simply aninversion of the basic root position chord. There have been entire books written on the subject of cord voicings. The discussion here only scratches at the surface of the possibilities. I have looselycategorized the voicings described here as 3/7 voicings, quartal voicings, polychord voicings, closeposition and drop voicings, and other scale based voicings.
126.96.36.199. 3/7 Voicings
It is somewhat of a shame that the most common type of voicing used by most pianists since the 1950' has no well established name. I have seen these type of voicings called Category A and Category B vicings, Bill Evans voicings, or simply left hand voicings. Because they are based on the third and sventh of the associated chord, I call them 3/7 voicings.
The basis of these voicings is that they contain both the third and seventh of the chord, usually wih at least one or two other notes as well, and either the third or the seventh is at the bottom. Becuse the third and the seventh are the most important notes that define the quality of a chord, theserules almost always produce good sounding results. Also, these voicings can automatically produce god voice leading, meaning that when they are used in a chord progression, there is very little movemet between voicings. Often, the same notes can be preserved from one voicing to the next, or at most,a note may have to move by step.
For instance, consider a ii-V-I progression in C major. The chords are Dm7, G7, and Cmaj7. The simplst form of the 3/7 voicing on this progression would be to play the Dm7 as "F C", the G7 as "F B", ad the Cmaj7 as "E B". Note that in the first chord, the third is at the bottom; in the second chord,the seventh is at the bottom; in the third chord, the third is at the bottom. Also note that, when mving from one voicing to the next, only one note changes; the other notes stay constant. This is an mportant characteristic of 3/7 voicings: when they are used in a ii-V-I progression, or any progresson in which root movement is by fourth or fifth, you alternate between the third and the seventh at he bottom. An analogous set of voicings is obtained by starting with the seventh at the bottom: "C F, "B F", "B E".
Normally, you would use more than just the third and seventh. Often, the added notes are the sixth (r thirteenth) and ninth. For example, the C major ii-V-I could be played as "F C E", "F B E", "E B D, or as "F A C E", "F A B E", "E A B D". The added notes are all sixths or ninths, except for a fift in the first chord of the second example. When playing these four note voicings on guitar, any adde notes will usually be added above the third and the seventh, or else your voicing may end up contaiing several small intervals, which is usually possible to play only with difficult hand contortions.Thus, the C major ii-V-I might be played with four note voicings on guitar as "F C E A", "F B E A", E B D A".
Note that none of these voicings contain the roots of their respective chords. It is assumed that th bass player will play the root at some time. In the absence of a bassist, pianists will often play he root in their left hand on the first beat, and then one of these voicings on the second or third eats. Actually, you can often get away with not playing the root at all; in many situations, the earanticipates the chord progression and provides the proper context for the voicing even without the rot. It is not forbidden to play the roots in these voicings, but it is neither required nor necessarly better to do so.
These basic voicings can be modified in several ways. Sometimes, you may wish to omit either the thid or the seventh. Often, a minor of major chord that is serving as a tonic will be voiced with the tird, sixth, and ninth, and these voicings might be interspersed with regular 3/7 voicings. Also, voiings with the fifth or some other note at the bottom can be interspersed with true 3/7 voicings. Thi might done for any of several reasons. For one thing, when played on the piano, note the voicings dscribed thus far all tend to slide down the keyboard as the roots resolve downward by fifth. The noral range for these voicings is in the two octaves from the C below middle C on the piano to the C abve middle C. As the voicings settle downward, they will start to sound muddy, at which time you migh want to jump up. For instance, if you have ended up on a Dm7 as "C F A B" below middle C, and need o resolve to G7 and then Cmaj7, you might want to play these two chords as "D F G B" and "E A B D" rspectively to move the voicing upward while preserving good voice leading. Also, roots do not alwaysmove by fifths; in a progression such a Cmaj7 to A7, you might want to voice this as "G B C E" to "GB C# F#" to preserve good voice leading.
One thing to note about these voicings in the context of a diatonic iiV-I is that, because the chord imply modes of the same scale (D dorian is the same as G mixolydian is the same as C major), a give voicing can sometimes be ambiguous. For example, "F A B E" might be either a Dm7 with the seventh oitted, or a G7. In the context of a modal tune like "So What", it clearly defines the Dm7 or D doria sound. In the context of a ii-V progression, it probably sounds more like a G7. You can use this amiguity to your advantage by making one voicing stretch over several chords. This technique is especilly useful when applied to the more general scale based voicings discussed later.
Another thing you can do with 3/7 voicings is alter them with raised or lowered fifths or ninths. Fo instance, if the G7 chord is altered to a G7b9 chord, then it might be voiced as "F Ab B E". In genral, the notes in the voicing should come from the scale implied by the chord.
These voicings are well suited on the piano for playing in the left hand while the right hand is soling. They can also be played with two hands, or with all strings on a guitar, by adding more notes. his provides a fuller sound when accompanying other soloists. One way to add more notes is to choosea note from the scale not already in the basic voicing and play it in octaves above the basic voicin. For instance, on piano, for Dm7 with "F A C E" in the left hand, you might play "D D" or "G G" in he right. In general, it is a good idea to avoid doubling notes in voicings, since the fullest soundis usually achieved by playing as many different notes as possible, but the right hand octave soundsgood in this context. The note a fourth or fifth above the bottom of the octave can often be added a well. For example, with the same left hand as before, you might play "D G D" or "G D G" in the righ hand.
The 3/7 voicings are perhaps the most important family of voicings, and many variations are possible You should try to practice many permutations of each in many different keys.
188.8.131.52. Quartal Voicings
A style of voicing made popular by McCoy Tyner is based on the interval of the fourth. This type of oicing is used most often in modal music. To construct a quartal voicing, simply take any note in th scale associated with the chord, and add the note a fourth above, and a fourth above that. Use perfct fourths or augmented fourths depending on which note is in the scale. For instance, quartal voicigs for Cm7 are "C F Bb", "D G C", "Eb A D" (note the augmented fourth), "F Bb Eb", "G C F", "A D G",and "Bb Eb A". This type of voicing seems to work especially well for minor chords (dorian mode), ordominant chords where a suspended or pentatonic sound is being used.
These voicings are even more ambiguous, in that a given three note quartal voicing can sound like a oicing for any number of different chords. There is nothing wrong with this. However, if you wish toreinforce the particular chord/scale you are playing, one way to do this is to move the voicing aroud the scale in parallel motion. If there are eight beats of a given chord, you may play one of thesevoicings for the first few beats, then move it up a step for a few more beats. The technique of altenating the voicing with the root in the bass, or the root and fifth, works well here, too. On a longCm 7 chord, for instance, you might play "C G" on the first beat, then play some quartal voicings inparallel motion for the duration of the chord.
As with the 3/7 voicings, these voicings are convenient left hand voicings on the piano or three or our string voicings on the guitar They can also be made into two handed or five or six string voicins by stacking more fourths, fifths or octaves on top. For instance, the Cm7 chord can be voiced as " G C" in the left hand and "F Bb Eb" in the right, or "Eb A D" in the left and "G C G" in the right.The tune "So What" from the album Kind Of Blue used voicings consisting of three fourths and a majorthird. On a Dm7 chord, the voicings used were "E A D G B" and "D G C F A".
184.108.40.206. Polychord And Upper Structure Voicings
The basis of a polychord voicing is to play two different chords at the same time, such as one in th left hand and one in the right on a piano. The relationship between the two chords determines the qality of the resultant chord. These are always two handed voicings on a piano, or five or six stringvoicings on the guitar. They produce a very rich, complex sound compared to the voicings presented s far. The simplest style of polychord voicing is to play two triads; for instance, a C major triad i the left hand on a piano, and a D major triad in the right. This will be notated D/C. This notationis overloaded in that it is usually interpreted as meaning a D triad over the single note C in the bss; it is not always clear when a polychord is intended. Polychords are seldom explicitly called forin written music, so there is no standard way to notate them. You must normally find your own opportnities to play polychords.
If you take all the notes in this D/C voicing and lay them in a row, you will see that this describe either the C lydian or C lydian dominant scales. Therefore, this voicing can be used over any chordfor which those scales are appropriate. If you experiment with other triads over a C major triad, yo will find several combinations that sound good and describe well known scales. However, many of thee combinations involve doubled notes, which can be avoided as described below. Among the polychords hat do not involve doubled notes are Gb/C, which produces a C HW diminished scale, Bb/C, which produes a C mixolydian scale, Dm/C, which produces a C major or C mixolydian scale, Ebm/C, which producesa C HW diminished scale, F#m/C, which also produces a C HW diminished scale, and Bm/C, which produce a C lydian scale. These polychords may be used as voicings for any chords that fit the correspondin scales.
You may have noticed that Db/C, Abm/C, Bbm/C, and B/C also involve no doubled notes and sound very iteresting, although they do not obviously describe any standard scales. There are no rules for when hese polychords may be played as voicings. When your ear becomes accustomed to the particular nuance and dissonances of each, you may find situations in which you can use them. For example, the last plychord listed, B/C, sounds good when used as a substitute for Cmaj7, particularly in the context ofa ii-V-I progression, and especially at the end of a song. You may resolve it to a normal Cmaj7 voicng if you wish.
You can construct similar polychords with a minor triad at the bottom. Db/Cm produces a C phrygian sale; F/Cm produces a C dorian scale; Fm/Cm produces a C minor scale; A/Cm produces a C HW diminishedscale; Bb/Cm produces a C dorian scale; and Bbm/Cm produces a C phrygian scale. In addition, D/Cm prduces an interesting, bluesy sounding scale.
I mentioned before the desire to avoid doubled notes. One way to construct polychords that avoid douled notes is to replace the triad at the bottom with either the third and seventh, the root and seveth, or the root and third of a dominant chord. Voicings constructed in this fashion are also called pper structures. They always imply some sort of dominant chord.
For example, there are several possible C7 upper structures. A Dbm triad over "C Bb" yields a C7b9b5chord. A D triad over "E Bb" yields a C7#11 chord. An Eb triad over "C E" yields a C7#9 chord. An F#triad over "C E" yields a C7b9b5 chord. An F#m triad over "E Bb" yields a C7b9b5 chord. An Ab triad ver "E Bb" yields a C7#9#5 chord. An A triad over "C Bb" yields a C7b9 chord. You will find it takesa lot of practice to become familiar enough with these voicings to be able to play them on demand. Yu may wish to choose a few tunes and plan ahead of time where you will use these voicings. It is wel worth the effort. The richness and variety introduced by these voicings can add a lot to your harmoic vocabulary.
220.127.116.11. Close Position And Drop Voicings
The simplest voicing for a four note chord is the close position voicing, in which all the notes in he chord are arranged as close together as possible. For example, a C7 chord might be voiced in clos position as "C E G Bb". This is referred to as root position, since the root, C, is at the bottom. he chord might also be voiced in close position as "E G Bb C", which is also called the first inverson, since the bottom note has been inverted to the top. The second inversion is "G Bb C E" and the tird "Bb C E G".
A drop voicing is created from a close position voicing by dropping one of the notes down an octave.If the second note from the top is dropped, the voicing is called a drop 2 voicing; if the third not from the top is dropped, the voicing is called a drop 3 voicing. For a C7 chord in root position, " E G Bb", the corresponding drop 2 voicing is "G C E Bb". The second note from the top, G, has been ropped down an octave. The corresponding drop 3 voicing would be "E C G Bb". Drop 2 and drop 3 voicigs can be constructed from any of the inversions of the chord as well. On the piano, the dropped not must normally be played in the left hand, so these are almost always two handed voicings. The interals in these voicings make them perfectly suited for guitar.
Close position and drop voicings are effective when used to harmonize a melody, particularly in a soo setting. Each melody note may be harmonized by a different drop voicing, with the melody note on tp. Pianists and guitarists often use this type of approach in their own solos. A phrase in which evey note is accompanied by close position or drop voicings is said to be harmonized with block chords.Red Garland, Dave Brubeck, and Wes Montgomery all regularly played block chord solos.
18.104.22.168. Other Scale Based Voicings
There are other logical ways of constructing voicings; too many to describe individually here. Most pproaches are similar in that they they associate a scale with each chord and construct the voicing rom notes in that scale. By using a scale approach, you can devise your own patterns for voicings. Fr instance, a second with a third stacked on top is a somewhat dissonant but not too cluttered soundthat many pianists use extensively. For a chord such as Fmaj7, you can apply this format at any posiion in the associated F lydian or F major scale. Since the F major scale contains an avoid note (Bb)in this context, one would normally opt for the lydian scale and the B natural, so that none of the enerated voicings would contain any avoid notes. The particular pattern described above yields "F G ", "G A C", "A B D", "B C E", "C D F", "D E G", and "E F A" over the F lydian scale. Most of these vicings are very ambiguous, in the sense that they do not readily identify the chord. As with the 3/7and quartal voicings, however, you will find that the presence of a bass player, or just the contextof the chord progression being played, will allow almost any combination of notes from a given scaleto make an acceptable voicing for the associated chord.
You may wish to experiment with different patterns and different scales to see if you can find any vicings you particularly like. Often, the goal is not to find a voicing that completely describes a gven chord, but rather to find a voicing that conveys a particular sound without seriously corruptingthe chord. You may find that at a given point in the music, you may wish to hear the characteristic uthority of a perfect fifth, or the characteristic dissonance of a minor ninth or of a cluster of seeral notes a second apart, but without the characteristic wrong note sound of a completely random seection of notes. Thinking of the associated scale and putting your sound into that context gives youa logical and reliable way to get the sound you want without compromising the harmony.
An accompanist may occasionally reharmonize a chord progression to sustain interest, introduce contrst, or create tension. This involves replacing some of the written or expected chords with other unepected chords. Substitutions such as the tritone substitution are one type of reharmonization.
Some musicians spend a lot of time trying different reharmonizations when working on a tune. However unless they tell the soloist what they doing beforehand, many of the reharmonizations they may comeup with are not suitable for use in accompanying, since the soloist will be playing from a differentset of changes. There are some simple reharmonizations that can be used without disturbing the soloit too much. The tritone substitution is one example; at any time a dominant seventh chord is called or, the accompanist may substitute the dominant seventh chord a tritone away. This creates exactly te same type of tension that is created when the soloist performs the substitution. Another simple rearmonization is to change the chord quality. That is, play a D7alt in place of a Dm, and so forth.
Another common reharmonization is to replace a dominant chord with a iiV progression. This was alreay demonstrated when discussing the blues progression; one of the progressions replaced the F7 chord n bar 4 with a Cm7F7. This is especially common at the end of a phrase, leading to the tonic at the tart of the next phrase. Most of the scale choices the soloist may have been using over the F7 chordwill also work over the Cm7 chord, so this reharmonization doesn't usually create too much tension. his technique can be combined with the tritone substitution to create a more complex reharmonization Rather than replace the V with a ii-V, first replace the V with its tritone substitution, and then eplace that with a ii-V. For example, in bar 4 of the F blues, first replace the F7 with B7, and the replace that with F#m7B7.
Another type of reharmonization involves the use of alternation.
Rather than play several measures of a given chord, the accompanist may alternate between it and th chord a half step above or below, or a dominant chord a fifth below. For instance, on a G7 chord, yu might alternate between G7 and Ab7, or between G7 and F#7, or between G7 and D7. This is especiall common in rock based styles, where the alternation is performed in rhythm. If the alternation is peformed regularly, such as throughout an entire chorus, or even the whole tune, the soloist should beable to pick up on it and control the amount of tension produced by playing along with the reharmoniation or by playing against it. That is, the soloist can lessen the tension by changing scales as yo change chords, or increase tension by keeping to the original scale.
6.1.3. Comping Rhythms
Once you have decided what notes you want to play, you must decide when to play them. You do not wan to simply play whole notes or half notes; your accompanying generally should be rhythmically intereting, although not distracting to the soloist or listener.
There are few guidelines that can be given for playing comping rhythms. Because there is very littletheory to fall back on, the first piece of advice I can give is to listen to other accompanists. Toooften we tend to ignore everyone but the soloist anyhow. Be sure to choose albums that have solo insrumentalists other than the accompanist on them. Pianists to listen to include Bud Powell, Theloniou Monk, Horace Silver, Bill Evans, Wynton Kelly, Herbie Hancock, and McCoy Tyner. Pianists should als listen to guitarists and mallet players; often the constraints of those instruments can lead to ides you might not have thought of otherwise.
Guitarists should listen to pianists, but also to guitarists such as Herb Ellis, Joe Pass, and Wes Mntgomery. Often, guitarists work in tandem with pianists, and their style when there is a pianist inthe group may differ from how they play when they are the only chordal accompanists. For instance, sme guitarists play only short chords on every beat if there is a pianist providing most of the rhythic interest. Others will lay out (stop playing) entirely. For this reason, it is especially importan to listen to guitarists in several different types of settings.
You should also listen to recordings that do not have any chordal accompaniment, such as any of seveal Gerry Mulligan, Chet Baker, or even Ornette Coleman quartet albums. Try to play along with these.This will often be difficult, since the music was recorded with the knowledge that there was no choral accompaniment, so the soloist and other accompanists generally left little room for a piano or gutar. Practicing accompanying in this type of situation can help you avoid over-playing. Most beginnig accompanists, like many beginning soloists, tend to play too much. Just as space can be an effectie tool while soloing, it can be even more so when accompanying. Let the soloist work with only the bssist and drummer for a few measures, or longer, every so often. Laying out and leaving the soloist ith no chordal accompaniment is sometimes called strolling. McCoy Tyner, Herbie Hancock, and Thelonius Monk often laid out for entire solos.
Sometimes it helps to imagine yourself as a background part in a big band arrangement. When you are omfortable with a particular chord progression, and no longer are having to concentrate fully just o playing the "right" notes, you can concentrate on the rhythmic and even melodic content of your coming. Listen to the horn backings in some big band recordings, such as those of Count Basie, to see hw melodic accompaniment can be.
Certain styles of music call for particular rhythmic patterns. For instance, many forms of music befre the bebop era used the stride left hand pattern, which consists of alternating a bass note on oneand three with a chord voicing on two and four. Many rock based styles also depend on rhythmic pattens, often specific to the individual song. While the Brazilian derived styles such as the bossa novaand samba, as played by most jazz musicians, do not have well-defined comping patterns, other Latin azz styles, particularly the Afro-Cuban forms sometimes collectively referred to as salsa, use a twomeasure repeating motif called a montuno. A typical rhythmic pattern is "and-of-one, andof-two, and-f-three, and-of-four; one, two, and-of-two, and-of-three, and-of-four". These two measures may be reersed if the underlying drum pattern (see below) is reversed as well. A full description of the roleof the piano in Latin jazz and other styles is beyond the scope of this primer. A good discussion ca be found in Mark Levine's The Jazz Piano Book.
The most important aspect of accompanying in most styles is to communicate with the soloist. There ae several forms this communication can take. For instance, there is call and response, in which you ssentially try to echo back or answer what the soloist has played. This is particularly effective ifthe soloist seems to be playing short, simple phrases, with pauses between them. If the soloist is wrking on a repeated rhythmic motif, you can often anticipate the echo and actually play right along ith the soloist. Sometimes you can also lead the soloist in directions he might not have tried otherise. For instance, you might start a repeated rhythmic motif, which might encourage the soloist to eho you. Some soloists like this type of aggressive comping, and others do not. You will have to workout with each soloist how far you may take him.
The function of the bass in a traditional rhythm section is somewhat different than that of a chorda instrument. Like a pianist, a bassist must normally outline the chord changes, but the bass usuallyemphasizes the roots, thirds, and fifths rather than any extensions or alterations. In traditional jzz forms, the bass player also has a very important role as a timekeeper; as much as a drummer, if nt more so. That is why bass players so often play walking bass lines that consist almost exclusivelyof quarter notes or rhythms that strongly emphasize the beat.
In this respect, learning to play bass lines is often easier than learning to solo or play voicings.You do not have to worry much about what rhythms to play, and your note choices are more limited as ell. When you listen to great bass players like Ray Brown or Paul Chambers, you will see that a larg part of their playing is quarter notes and scale based lines.
When a pianist plays in a solo setting, he must often provide his own bass line accompaniment, so pinists should learn how to construct good bass lines as well.
6.2.1. Walking Bass Lines
There are some simple guidelines you can use to produce good sounding bass lines. First, you generaly should play the root of the chord on the first beat of that chord. The previous beat should be a nte a step away. For instance, if the chord F7 appears on beat "one" of a measure, then you would norally play F on that beat. You would normally play E, Eb, G, or Gb on the last beat of the previous masure, depending on the chord. If the chord was C7, then you might play either E or G, since they ar in the associated mixolydian scale. Or, you might think HW diminished or altered scale for the C7 ad play the Eb or Gb. The Gb is also the root of the dominant chord a tritone away, which has alreadybeen described as a good substitution, so Gb makes a particularly good choice. The note does not necssarily have to be justifiable in the context of the chord; it can be thought of as a passing tone t reach the first beat (the downbeat) of the next measure.
These first two guidelines take care of two beats for each chord. In some tunes, such as any song baed on the rhythm changes, that is all you get for most chords, so your bass line can be almost compltely determined by the chord progression. Of course, you will probably want to vary your lines. You re not required to play the root on the one, nor are you required to approach it by step. Remember, hese are only guidelines to get you started.
If you have more than two beats to fill for a particular chord, one way to fill the remaining beats s to simply choose notes from any associated scale in mostly stepwise motion. For instance, if your hord progression is C7 to F7, and you have already decided to play "C, x, x, Gb" for the C7 chord, ten you can fill in the x's with D and E, implying the lydian dominant scale, or Bb and Ab, implying he altered scale. Either of these choices might also imply the whole tone scale. Another popular patern would be "C, D, Eb, E", where the Eb is used as passing tone between the D and the E. You will pobably discover other patterns that you will tend to use a lot. Playing patterns is generally frowne upon when soloing, where you are expected to be as creative as possible. When accompanying, however patterns, like those given for voicings, can be an effective way to outline the harmony consistentl. As a bass player, you are expected to play virtually every beat of every measure for the entire pice. It is usually more important to be solid and dependable than to be as inventive as possible.
6.2.2. Pedal Point
The term pedal point, often shortened to simply pedal, refers to a bass line that stays on one note ver a changing harmony. Certain songs, such as John Coltrane's "Naima", from the album "Giant Steps" are written with explicit pedal point, either with the notation "Eb pedal" over the first four measres, or through the notation of the chords as Dbma7/Eb| Ebm7| Amaj7#11/EbGmaj7#11/Eb| Abmaj7/Eb. Whe you see a song explicitly call for pedal point, that is usually an indication to stop walking and istead play only whole notes.
You can also find your own opportunities to use pedal point. In a ii-VI progression, the fifth can oten be used as a pedal note. For example, you can play G under the progression Dm7| G7| Cmaj7, or jut under the first two bars. Under the Dm7 chord, the G in the bass makes the chord function as a G7ss chord. The resolution to the G7 chord then mimics the traditional classical use of suspensions, whch always resolve in this manner. This is also commonly done in progressions that alternate between he ii and the V, as in Dm7| G7| Dm7| G7| Dm7| G7| Dm7| G7.
Scott LeFaro started a small revolution in jazz bass playing in the early 1960's through his use of ounterpoint. His bass lines had almost as much rhythmic and melodic interest as the melody or solo h was accompanying. This can be distracting to some soloists, and to some audiences, but many find th effect exciting.
One opportunity to use counterpoint is in ballads or medium tempo swing tunes where the melody has lng notes or rests. One of the most famous examples of Scott LeFaro's counterpoint is on the version f "Solar" recorded by Bill Evans, Scott LeFaro, and Paul Motian on the album Sunday At The Village Vnguard. The melody is mostly quarter notes, with whole notes at the end of each phrase. Scott plays ong notes while the melody is moving, and moving parts where the melody is staying still.
Bob Hurst has a different approach to counterpoint. Rather than playing lines that sustain their ownmelodic or rhythmic interest, he plays lines that create rhythmic tension in their interaction with he beat. One technique he uses often is playing six notes against four beats, or two quarter note trplets per measure. It sounds like he is playing in three while the rest of the band is in four. Thistype of rhythmic counterpoint is difficult to sustain for any length of time, and may confuse inexpeienced musicians.
When experimenting with counterpoint, remember your role is usually still that of an accompanist. Yor goal is to support the musicians you are accompanying. If they are being thrown off by the resultat complexity, or are producing enough rhythmic tension on their own, then this may not be a good tecnique to use. You will have to use your own judgement to decide when the music will benefit from theuse of counterpoint.
6.2.4. Other Bass Patterns
The techniques described above are applicable to most styles of jazz. Some particular styles impose heir own particular requirements on the bassist, however. A two-beat or half-time feel means playingonly on beats one and three in 4/4 time. A two-beat feel is often used on the head for standards. Whn playing in 3/4 time, you may either play walking lines or just play on the first beat of each measre. Many of the Latin Jazz styles use a simple pattern usually based on alternating roots and fifths The bossa nova, a Brazilian derived style, uses the root on "one" and the fifth on "three", with aneighth note pickup on the "and-of-two" and either another pickup on the "and-of-four" or a quarter nte on "four". The samba, another Brazilian derived style, is similar, but is played with a double-tie feel, meaning it sounds as if the basic beat is twice as fast as it really is. The root is played n "one" and "three" while the fifth is played on "two" and "four", with a sixteenth note pickup befoe each beat. The mambo and other Cuban derived styles use the rhythm "and-of-two, four". The latter eat is tied over to the "one" of the following measure.
A full description of all the different styles is beyond the scope of this primer. There are a few boks that can help you in constructing patterns for various styles; one such book is Essential StylesFor The Drummer And Bassist. For now, all I can do is repeat Clark Terry's advice, "imitate, assimilte, innovate". Listen to as many different styles as you can and learn from what you hear.
As with the bassist, one of the roles of the drummer in traditional forms of jazz is to play a stead beat in the style of the song. By steady, I mean with regards to tempo, and do not mean to imply tht you should not be creative and vary your patterns. I cannot shed much light on the specifics of drm techniques, but I can describe some basic patterns and styles, and give you some hints on other asects of the role of the drummer.
The basic 4/4 swing beat consists of two components: the ride pattern and the hi-hat pattern. The fudamental ride pattern is the "1, 2 and, 3, 4 and" or "ding ding-a ding ding-a" pattern played on theride cymbal with swung eighth notes. The hi-hat is normally closed sharply on "two" and "four". Thisis what most simple drum machines will play when the "swing" setting is selected. This pattern is apropriate for many jazz songs, especially medium or up-tempo standards or bebop tunes. Slower songs lke ballads often call for the use of brushes on the snare drum rather than sticks on the cymbals as he main pattern. There are a few books that can help you in constructing patterns for other styles; ne such book is Essential Styles For The Drummer And Bassist. The most important of the styles you my be expected to play are described below.
The basic shuffle beat consists of eighth notes on the ride cymbal and possibly snare. The second an fourth beats are usually more strongly emphasized as well. The basic jazz waltz or 3/4 swing patter consists of "one, two, and-of-two, three" or "ding ding-a ding" on the ride cymbal, with the hi-haton "two". Other variations include using the hihat on "two" and "three", or on all three beats; addig the snare on the "and-of-two" or on the "and-of-one" and on "three".
Three forms of Latin jazz you should be able to play include the bossa nova, the samba, and the mamb. The essence of most forms of Latin jazz is the clave, which is a type of rhythmic pattern. The basc clave is two measures long, and consists of "one, and-of-two, four; two, three". There is also an frican clave or Rumba clave in which the third note is played on the "and-of-four" rather than on th beat. The bossa nova uses a variation of the basic clave in which the last note falls on the "and-o-three" rather than on the beat. These clave patterns can also be inverted, meaning the two measuresare swapped. The clave would usually be played as hits on the rim of the snare on a traditional drumset, although it is often not played explicitly by the drummer at all, in which case an auxiliary pecussionist may play it.
The clave is supplemented with other patterns on other drums. The bass drum may play on "one" and "tree" with eighth note pickups. The hi-hat is closed on "two" and "four". Other patterns may be playe on a cymbal or on a cowbell. Typical mambo patterns include "one, two, three, andof-three, and-of-fur; one, two, and-of-two, and-of-three, and-of-four" or "one, two, three, and-of-three; one, and-of-ne, and-of-two, and-ofthree, four". A simple pattern consisting of "two, four, and-of-four" is playe on the snare rim and the mounted tom instead of a clave. Bossa novas may use a pattern consisting o straight eighth notes on the ride cymbal. Sambas have a double-time feel. The cymbal pattern is usully straight eighth notes, and is often played on a closed hi-hat. The snare drum may be simply hit n "four" instead of playing the clave.
Certain compositions, such as Lee Morgan's "The Sidewinder" or Tony Williams' "Sister Cheryl", have nique drum patterns that are indelibly associated with the particular song. Listening to recordings f a song to be performed before trying to play it is probably more helpful for drummers than for anyother musicians, since fakebooks generally do not provide many hints for the drummer.
A good drummer will not simply play the same pattern over and over for an entire song. For one thing you may vary the pattern, perhaps by playing only quarter notes on the ride cymbal, or occasionallyvarying the rhythm to "ding-a ding ding-a ding". Or, you could play the hi-hat on every beat. You ma also want to use the other drums, such as the toms, as part of your basic beat for a song. Tony Wiliams is a master at varying his patterns in this way.
Often, a drummer will play a simple two-beat during the head, and switch to straight four for the soos. One of the easiest ways to change the feel of a piece is to simply switch cymbals for the ride pttern, for instance when there is a change in soloist, or to mark the bridge of a song. Marking the orm of a tune is another important role of the drummer. Most typical song forms have 4 or 8 bar phraes. At the end of each phrase, the drummer often plays a more complex pattern or fill to lead into te next phrase. Another tactic is to change the basic beat from phrase to phrase. As a drummer, you sould always be conscious of the form of the song, and know where any breaks, special introductions, r codas are. You should be able to sing to the melody to yourself during solos if necessary, so thatyou can outline the form for the soloist. This will help the soloist keep his place, by allowing himto recognize when you have reached the bridge, for example. Also, the soloist is usually structuringhis own phrases along the lines of the original form. By adhering to that form yourself, you will usally be supporting the development of his ideas. Art Blakey is a master of playing the form and supprting soloists in this way.
During a solo, an instrumentalist may leave deliberate breaks in his phrases. As with the pianist an bassist, the drummer may decide to fill those spaces with some sort of answering phrase or counterrythm. Drummers may also create tension through the use of polyrhythm, which is two or more differentrhythms superimposed on each other; for instance, three against four. A drummer can either try to ply two different rhythms himself, or work with the bassist or another accompanist, or the soloist, tocreate a polyrhythm between them. As with the use of counterpoint in bass lines, however, you need t balance the desire for rhythmic variation with the realization that clutter or chaos can result if ou go too far.
Since everyone depends on the drummer to keep acc t decide what to play. It helps if everyone in thegroup has access to the same fakebooks. That way, when a person calls out a tune, you can be reasonaly sure everyone will have it in their books. The New Real Book by Chuck Sher is recommended, since t is available in transposed versions for most wind instruments, and contains a good variety of tune. You may wish to agree in advance on the tunes to be worked on, so everyone has the chance to familarize themselves with the changes.
Although it is not necessary to designate a leader for a group, it does help if there is someone to hoose songs, decide on the order of soloists, pick a tempo, count the song off, and generally keep tings moving along. It is not essential that this person be the best musician in the group, but it shuld be someone with some leadership or organizational skills.
Once you have selected a song to play, you need to keep in mind the things we have observed about fom. Normally, the group would play the melody first. While learning a song, you may decide to have evryone play it in unison, but you should eventually give each performer a chance to play a head by hiself, to allow everyone to work on making a personal statement even while simply playing the melody.In performance situations, it is also usually more interesting for the listener to hear a melody intrpreted by one individual, rather than stated in unison. This is particularly true for ballads. Fastbop tunes are normally played in unison, however.
For songs with 32 bar forms, the head is usually played only once. For blues tunes or other shorter orms, it is often played twice. The melodies of many songs end on the second to last measure of the orm. For instance, Clifford Brown's twelve bar blues "Sandu" ends on the first beat of the eleventh easure. Usually the rhythm section stops playing for the last two bars of the form to allow the firs soloist an unaccompanied two measure lead in, or solo break. In some tunes, such as John Coltrane's"Moment's Notice", this break is traditionally observed on every chorus, but usually it is done onlyas a lead in to the first solo, or at most as a lead in to each solo.
Once you are into your solo, you are largely on your own, although you should listen to what everyon else is doing around you, feeding off what they are playing, and leading them with your own playing This is your chance to apply the techniques you have learned so far. Think melodically. Take chance. Have fun!
I have said several times that a solo should tell a story. This means it should have a clear expositon, development, climax, and release. If you were to chart the intensity level of a good solo, you wuld often find that it starts at a low level and slowly builds to a climax, after which it tapers of quickly to lead into the next soloist or whatever else comes next. Beginners often have difficulty eciding how many choruses to play. This is something that varies for each performer. Charlie Parker ormally took only one or two in recordings, although this was partially because of the limitations o the 78 RPM format. John Coltrane often took dozens of choruses, particularly in live performances. hen there are many soloists, you probably should try to keep it on the short side, to keep everyone lse from getting bored. In any case, when you are approaching the end of your solo, you should somehw convey this fact to the other musicians so they can decide who goes next, or whether they want to rade fours, or take the head out.
If you intend to trade fours after the last solo, someone usually indicates this by holding out fourfingers where everyone can see them. Usually, you will go through the soloists in the same order in hich they originally played, giving them four measures each. The bass player is often skipped; sometmes the pianist is as well. Often, the drummer will take four measures in between each of the other oloists. More so than during the original solos, the intensity of the four bar phrases will usually e at a consistently high level, and the soloists should try to develop and build upon each other's ieas. This cycle may be repeatedly as long as is desired; someone will usually tap their head to indiate when to return to the head.
The endings of songs are, without question, the most difficult to keep together. When you have playe a given song several times with the same group of people, you may have planned and rehearsed ending. But when playing a song for the first time with a particular group, chaos almost always results atthe end. There are a few standard tricks you can use to end songs, however. Once you are familiar wih the basic endings, then all it takes is one person to act as leader to get everyone to follow alon.
The easiest ending, used in fast bebop tunes, is to simply cut the tune off short after the last not. This works for rhythm changes tunes such as "Oleo", and other bop forms such as "Donna Lee". As a ariation, you may wish to hold the last note out. Or, you may cut the last note short, but then repet it and hold it out after a few beats rest. This is done especially on 32 bar forms in which the meody ends on the first beat of measure 31. This note is cut short, but then repeated and held on the irst beat of measure 32, or as an anticipation on the fourth beat or on the "and" of the fourth beatof measure 31.
Another ending commonly used on ballads and slow swing songs is the ritardando. Simply slow down ove the last two or three measures, and end on the last note of the melody, which may be held out as log as desired. A variation on this technique is to stop on the second to last note, or on any note ner the end that falls on the penultimate chord, and have one soloist play an unaccompanied cadenza, sgnaling the rest of the band to rejoin him for the last note.
When playing medium tempo or faster tunes, a popular ending is to play the last several bars three tmes before the last note. In a 32 bar form in which the last note is the first beat of measure 31, yu would play the form through the end of measure 30, then play measures 29 and 30 again, and then one more, before finally playing measure 31. This can be combined with the ritardando or the cadenza aproaches, or the last note can simply be played short.
Another approach is the III-VI-ii-V turnaround. If the song ends with a ii-V-I cadence in the last fur bars, then you can replace the final I chord with the four bar progression III-VI-ii-V, which maybe repeated several times. For instance, in the key of F, if the song ends Gm7| C7| F| F, then you cn replace this with Gm7| C7| A7alt| D7alt| Gm7| C7| A7alt| D7alt| Gm7| C7| You can also use tritone ubstitution on any of the dominant chords. In addition, you can use the I chord F instead of the A7at chord. You may continue this chord progression as long as you like, soloing or collectively improvsing on top of it. This is called a vamp. The song is finally ended with a I chord, usually precededby frantic hand waving to ensure that everyone ends together.
Another popular ending is sometimes called the Duke Ellington ending, because it is associated with rrangements of tunes like "Take The A Train" that were written by Duke or performed by his band. Thi ending assumes the song ends on the first beat of the second to last measure of the form, that the ast chord is a I chord, and that the last note is the root of that chord. Assuming the piece in in Cmajor, you simply replace the last two measures with "C, E, F, F#, G, A, B, C", where the second not is a sixth below the first, not a third above. If you try to play this line, I think you will recogize the intended rhythm, so I will not try to notate it.
7.2. Dealing With Problems
You should be prepared for any number of things to go wrong. If you lose your place in the form, or ense that someone else has lost theirs, do not panic. If you have become lost, stop playing for a litle while to see if you can hear where everyone else is. This should not be too difficult if you arefamiliar with the song and the other musicians are reasonably secure about their own places. Someonewho is sure of where they are may wish to call out changes, or shout out "BRIDGE!" or "TOP!" at the ppropriate times, to get things back on track. If one person is clearly in the wrong place, and everone else is sure of where that person is, they can attempt to move over to match the out of place peformer, but this is difficult to coordinate. Also, it is better to try to correct the person who is ut of step than to have everyone be out of step together, because ideally, you want the form to contnue uninterrupted.
Another thing that can go wrong is an unintended tempo change. Some people tend to rush, some tend t drag. Sometimes the interaction between two musicians with good time may cause the tempo to shift. or instance, if a pianist and bassist both play behind the beat, this may make the tempo appear to dag, and the drummer may slow down to not appear ahead of them. If you are convinced the tempo is movng, you may wish to try to conduct a few measures to right the tempo. A metronome can help keep you onest, but playing with a metronome will usually be hopelessly frustrating, because it is virtually mpossible to keep a group synchronized with one. For one thing, it is often difficult to hear a metrnome when several people are playing. For another, it is difficult to get everyone in the group to ajust at the same time and in the same way should the group collectively get ahead or fall behind. Noetheless, practicing with a metronome can be a useful way to solidify your concept of time. One partcularly sadistic band director I know used to start us off with a metronome, turn the volume down afer a few measures, then turn it back up a minute or so later to see if we had drifted.
8. Listening Analytically
Now that you have some idea of what it takes to play jazz, you should have a much more critical ear.You will be less likely to be impressed with mere technical facility, and can listen for melodic, hamonic, and rhythmic sophistication. On the other hand, if the music still reaches you emotionally, d not worry that it does not seem particularly adventurous when scrutinized closely. Do not let your nalysis of the theoretical aspects of music interfere with your reaction on an emotional level. The heoretical knowledge should be a tool to help you understand music you might not have otherwise apprciated; it should not detract from your enjoyment of any music.
As a performer, now that you have some idea of the things a jazz musician is expected to do, you canlisten to the great ones and learn from them. You can listen to the early Bill Evans trios and see eamples of interplay within a rhythm section, and try to develop ears as big as theirs. You can liste to Thelonious Monk and analyze the way he used dissonance and syncopation, and see if you can achiee the same effects. You can listen to the emotional outbursts of John Coltrane or Cecil Taylor and epand your concept of how directly you can express yourself.
9. Breaking The Rules
Charles Ives was a composer who wrote music that was considered avant garde in its day. His father i rumored to have taught him, "you must learn the rules first so that you will know how to break them. This is especially true in music like jazz, where you are constantly expected to be creative. Follwing the rules all the time would lead to predictable and boring music. Paying no attention whatsoevr to the rules could easily lead to music that was ultimately boring in its randomness.
There are many rules and conventions that have been presented here. There are no criminal penalties ssociated with breaking any of them, however. You should experiment as much as possible to find new ays of doing things. The rules of harmony presented here form a framework, but it is not a rigid one I have already suggested that the manner in which you utilize these rules will shape how you sound.How you break the rules will similarly help define your own style. Experimenting with the rules of hrmony is just the beginning of individuality, however. Look for other non-traditional ways to expres yourself. Try hitting the piano keys with your fist. Try overblowing your saxophone. Try removing te first valve slide on your trumpet. There are an infinite number of possible things you can do withyour instrument.
Also, expand your listening to include other types of music such as classical or reggae, and see if ou can learn from them and apply those lessons to whatever you play. It is severely limiting to thin that all jazz music should consist of 32 bar songs, walking bass lines, swing ride cymbal patterns,and head-solos-head forms. The world does not beat in four-four time.
10. Appendix A: Annotated Bibliography
My personal experience with other books on jazz improvisation is limited; my ears have been my best eachers. Here is a listing of some of the books with which I am somewhat familiar, or which have bee recommended to me. Most of the instructional books and legal fakebooks are available at any well-stcked music store, or can be ordered through Jamey Aebersold. The ordering information can be found i his ads in Down Beat magazine.
Chuck Sher, The New Real Book, Sher Music. This is probably the most popular legal jazz fakebook arond today, and perhaps the best in terms of broadness of selection, accuracy, and readability. Many o the most commonly played tunes from other popular fakebooks are included here. It is available in B and Eb editions for transposing instruments, and like all of Chuck Sher's books, it contains lyricswhere appropriate. It contains standards like "Darn That Dream", jazz classics like Sonny Rollins' "leo", and some contemporary pieces such as Michael Brecker's "Nothing Personal". It also contains soe pop songs like Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly". Because of its diversity, it does not contain s much straightahead jazz as most of the other books listed here, and therefore, while this book is till highly recommended, you may need to find something else to supplement it to fill out the selecton of mainstream jazz.
Chuck Sher, The New Real Book Volume 2, Sher Music. This is a good companion to the first volume, sice there is no overlap, and this book adds a good helping of classic jazz from the 1950's and 1960's including several tunes each by John Coltrane and Horace Silver. There are also arrangements of comlex modern compositions by Michael Brecker and others, as well as a few standards. It is available i Bb and Eb versions.
Chuck Sher, The World's Greatest Fakebook, Sher Music. This was Chuck's first fakebook, but it was nt as well received as The New Real Book since it contains even fewer jazz standards. It still makes good companion to his other books.
Herb Wong, The Ultimate Jazz Fakebook, Hal Leonard Publishing. This has hundreds of tunes in it, butis printed in very small typeset to fit them all in, and as a result is very hard to read. Many of te songs are old Tin Pan Alley songs not commonly played any more, so the selection of true jazz stanards is not as broad as it looks at first. It is available in Bb and Eb editions, and contains lyric.
The Real Book. This was the standard for many years. It contains a broad selection of standards and azz classics, and indeed helped define those terms over the last couple of decades. There are many erors in this book, and many of the recordings I hear of tunes from this book over the last twenty yers duplicate these errors, which shows that the Real Book has been a primary source of tunes for man professional musicians. It is only recently that The New Real Book has begun to supplant it. The orginal Real Book is not legal, however, since the authors did not obtain copyright permission for theselected songs, and they do not pay royalties to the copyright owners. For the most part, the originl authors do not make any money themselves from this book; most people obtain copies by photocopyinga friend's copy, or from someone who photocopies the books and sells them at a small profit under th counter. If you can find a copy, and your conscience does not bother you too much, it is worth pickng up. There are versions in Bb and Eb, and also a vocal version. There are several slightly differet editions, with the Pacific Coast Edition and the Fifth Edition being most common. Being of questioable origin, it is hard to tell how these differences evolved, or what exactly the differences are btween them, but be forewarned that not all copies will contain exactly the same set of tunes.
The Real Book Volume 2. This book, like the original, is illegal. It is not nearly as popular as thefirst volume, but it does contain a lot classic jazz.
Spaces Bebop Jazz. This book is actually available in several forms, none of which are legal as far s I know. The one I have is spiral bound and is printed on standard sized paper, although the music tself is printed small. I have also seen it printed on half size paper and separated into two or thre volumes. It contains mostly songs from the swing, bebop and cool eras.
Think Of One. I have no idea where this book came from, but someone apparently decided Thelonious Mok, Wayne Shorter, and Horace Silver were shortchanged in the original Real Book and produced this raher sloppily transcribed book that is equally illegal and consists almost exclusively of tunes not i the Real Book, many by the aforementioned composers. Very few people seem to know of this book, whih is too bad, because there are a lot of wonderful compositions here that are not in any other fakebok I've ever seen.
10.2. Instructional Books
There are dozens, if not hundreds, of books on practice methods, theory, and analysis methods out thre. I've only seen a handful of them, and no good, holistic, general purpose introduction to improviation, which is why I wrote this primer. The comments below vary in amount of detail included. Preditably, I have more to say about the books with which I am more familiar, while the ones with one senence summaries are, for the most part, books that I have never seen but that have been recommended t me.
The books below are listed in the following general order: background material; basic, intermediate,and advanced general instruction; instrument specific instruction; and composing/arranging.
Jerry Coker, How To Practice Jazz. This is not so much how-to book as a how-to-learn book. It has may practice tips, as the name implies, as well as many pointers to other books, mostly by David Bakeror Coker himself, that contain more specific information on improvisation.
Jerry Coker, Listening To Jazz. This book is a good introduction to jazz from a listener's perspectie. There is discussion of history, the roles of the various instruments, various styles and forms ofjazz compositions and performances. There is a straightforward discussion of common techniques and dvices. Coker also walks the listener through several famous recordings, pointing out how particular echniques or devices he has described are used. Since most of the available theory texts do a poor jb of putting their instruction into a broad context, this volume is recommended as a companion to whtever other beginning or intermediate method books you may read.
Dan Haerle, The Jazz Language. This book is concerned with the theory and terminology used in jazz, nd is not necessarily organized as a howto book.
Jerry Coker et al, Patterns For Jazz. This book presents a series of patterns based on particular chrds and scales, and has you practice them in all keys. The patterns are related to specific chord prgressions.
Dan Haerle, Scales For Jazz Improvisation. This book lists most of the scales used by jazz musiciansand writes them out for practice purposes. It is useful if you wish to see all the scales in one plae, but really does not contain that much information that cannot be found in most of the basic or inermediate instructional texts, or in this primer, for that matter.
Jerry Coker, Improvising Jazz; David Baker, Jazz Improvisation. These are probably the most widely ued introductory texts on improvisation. Coker and Baker are among the most respected authorities on azz pedagogy. They write from similar perspectives. The emphasis in both of these texts is on basic cale theory and melodic devices.
Mark Boling, The Jazz Theory Workbook. This is primarily a beginning and intermediate text.
Scott Reeves, Creative Jazz Improvisation. This book has been recommended as one of the most useful exts on improvisation. Like this primer, it places an emphasis on historical context, rather than siply presenting the theory.
David Baker, How To Play Bebop. This actually consists of three volumes that are mostly dedicated todeveloping the melodic line. The bebop scales are emphasized.
Hal Crook, How To Improvise. This is an intermediate to advanced level text in that it assumes some nowledge of scale theory. It stresses the use of harmonic and rhythmic devices in melodic developmen.
Steve Schenker, Jazz Theory. This is an intermediate to advanced text.
Jerry Coker, Complete Method For Improvisation; David Baker, Advanced Improvisation. These are more dvanced versions of their introductory texts.
Walt Weiskopf and Ramon Ricker, Coltrane: A Players Guide To His Harmony. This is an entire book dedcated to the Coltrane changes.
Gary Campbell, Expansions. This intermediate to advanced text goes through various scales, includingsome rather esoteric ones, and shows how to construct lines that take advantage of them over specifi chords. It assumes familiarity with the basic scales described in this primer.
John Mehegan, Jazz Improvisation. This is a series of several volumes published in the 1960's. At th time, they were considered quite comprehensive, but they contain very little information on developents since that time, or even on advances that were being made at that time, like the Coltrane substtutions and quartal harmonies.
George Russell, The Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organization For Improvisation. This is an advnced theory text that describes some unique applications of scale theory to improvisation. It uses sme unusual scales, and shows how to construct complex chromatic melodic lines using these scales as basis. The process is rather involved, and involves the use of a slide-rule-like device for associaing scales with chords. It was considered a landmark when it first came out in the 1960's, although he theories never really gained widespread usage except among a relatively small group of musicians,perhaps because they are so complex.
David Liebman, A Chromatic Approach To Jazz Harmony And Melody. This is a thorough discussion of meldic chromaticism and what I have called non-tonal music. It contains many examples of lines from recrded solos by John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, and other modern players.
David Baker, The Jazz Style Of . This is a series that include volumes on Miles Davis, John Coltrane Cannonball Adderly, Sonny Rollins, Fats Navarro, and Clifford Brown. Each volume includes a brief bography and summary of the musical style of the subject. Several transcribed solos and analyses of tem make up the bulk of each volume.
Martin Mann, Jazz Improvisation For The Classical Pianist. This is an introduction to jazz improvisaion aimed at the musician accustomed to a structured approach to learning. There is a lot of emphasi on scales and exercises.
Mark Levine, The Jazz Piano Book. This is the most complete book I have ever seen for jazz pianists.It covers scales, voicings, comping, and other topics also discussed in this primer, but it is able o go into greater depth. It contains many useful musical examples, which makes it much more readable It also contains a very good discussion of Latin jazz, including information that is of use to basssts and drummers. However, it does have its shortcomings. It glosses over the blues, not even listin the blues scale or describing a blues progression except in passing. Also, while it does attempt toput some of its content into a broad context of history and playing situations, this is done in a soewhat haphazard manner.
Dan Haerle, Jazz Improvisation For Keyboard Players. This was my favorite book on jazz piano until Lvine's came along a few years ago. Although it claims to flow logically from the beginner level to te advanced level, most of the information is really oriented toward the intermediate. It is not, to e, as entertaining as Levine's book, and it does an even less convincing job of putting its instructon into context. It is available either as three separate volumes (Basic, Intermediate, and Advanced or as a complete set.
Dan Haerle, Jazz/Rock Voicings For The Contemporary Keyboard Player. Most of the information here isduplicated in his book on keyboard improvisation, or in Levine's, but there is some value in having verything you wanted to know about voicings all laid out in detail in one place. However, it really oes not cover as wide a variety of voicings as one might expect for a book dedicated to that purpose
Frank Mantooth, Voicings. The emphasis on this book is on voicings one would use when comping, as oposed to voicings one might use when soloing. Most attention is given to quartal and other more conteporary voicings. It also has more explanatory material than Haerle's book on voicings.
Garrison Fewell, Jazz Improvisation. This is fairly broad text that covers some basic chord/scale thory, chord progression analysis, and construction of melodic lines. It contains many examples, and atempts to explain why the examples sound good. It is geared toward guitarists, but its methods can b applied to any instrument, as they are not concerned with techniques specific to the guitar, such a voicings, picking, or fretting.
Paul Lucas, Jazz Chording For The Rock/Blues Guitarist. This book is intended for the musician who kows how to play the guitar, but is familiar only with the five common open string chords used in roc music (C, A, G, E, and D). Other common jazz chords are then presented as variations on these pattens. Some more advanced material on voice leading, chord substitution, quartal harmonies, polychords,and scales is included as well.
Joe Pass and Bill Thrasher, Joe Pass Guitar Style. This book covers harmony and applications to imprvisation, including chord construction, voicing, substitution, and voice leading.
Steve Houghton and Tom Warrington, Essential Styles For The Drummer And Bassist. This book is a recie of basic patterns for 30 styles of music, from pop to funk to reggae to Latin to jazz. It includesa CD.
Peter Erskine, Drum Concepts And Techniques. This book explains the basics of drum set technique.
Frank Malabe and Frank Weiner, Afro-Cuban Rhythms For The Drum Set. This book describes the various frican and Latin American percussion styles and how to play them on the drum set.
Ed Thigpen, The Sound Of Brushes. This book explores techniques of brushwork for drummers.
Andy Laverne, Handbook Of Chord Substitutions. This book, useful for pianists and arrangers, discusss various ways to reharmonize songs. The substitutions are much more advanced than the tritone and Cltrane ii-V types discussed in this primer.
P. Rinzler, Jazz Arranging And Performance Practice: A Guide For Small Ensembles. This book is geare more toward group performance than individual improvisation.
David Baker, Arranging And Composing. The emphasis is on arranging for small groups, from trios to goups with four or five horns.
10.3. History And Biography
As with the instructional literature, my knowledge of the history and biography literature is also lmited. The following books are listed roughly from the more general to the more specific.
Bill Crow, Jazz Anecdotes. This book contains short stories told by and about jazz musicians.
Nat Hentoff, Jazz Is, The Jazz Life, Hear Me Talkin' To Ya. Nat Hentoff is a noted jazz historian an critic. These books include stories from his personal experience and anecdotes told to him by othermusicians.
Brian Case, Stan Britt, and Chrissie Murray, The Harmony Illustrated Encyclopedia Of Jazz. This boo contains short biographies and discographies of hundreds of musicians.
Joachim Berendt, The Jazz Book: From Ragtime to Fusion and Beyond. This book organizes its discussios by decade, by instrument, and by major musicians and groups. Each section can be read independentl.
Ian Carr, The Essential Jazz Companion. This covers the history of jazz throughout the 20th century,discussing many artists and styles, and describing specific recordings. Carr has also written biograhies of Miles Davis and Keith Jarrett.
James Lincoln Collier, The Making Of Jazz. This is an in-depth survey of jazz history.
Frank Tirro, A History Of Jazz. This is a relatively technical survey of jazz history.
Gunther Schuller, Early Jazz, The Swing Era. These books by noted historian, critic, and composer Sculler are considerably more detailed than most, as they are more focused on specific periods. There ay be more volumes in this series as well.
Richard Hadlock, Jazz Masters Of The . There are volumes in this series for different decades. Each ontains biographies of twenty or so major musicians of the era.
Leonard Feather, Inside Bebop. Feather wrote this book to try to explain bebop to skeptics back in te days when the music was new and controversial.
Valerie Wilmer, Jazz People. This book contains interviews with various legends of the 1950's and 190's.
Valerie Wilmer, As Serious As Your Life. This book concentrates on the avant garde and new music of he subsequent decades. It is highly political in nature.
Ross Russell, Bird Lives. This is an anecdotal biography of Charlie Parker.
Gary Giddens, Celebrating Bird. This book contains many photographs.
Dizzy Gillespie, To Be Or Not To Bop. This is Dizzy's autobiography.
J.C. Thomas, Chasin' The Trane. This is an anecdotal biography of John Coltrane.
Miles Davis and Quincy Troupe, Miles. This is a colorful historical perspective by the man who was prhaps the most influential jazz musician ever, with a career marked by innovations spanning almost hlf a century. However, be forewarned that the language is often crude.
Charles Mingus, Beneath The Underdog. Mingus' biography is even cruder than Miles', and is less inteesting as a historical document, except in as much as it documents Mingus' sexual history.
Graham Lock, Forces In Motion. Lock provides a fascination insight into the music and philosophy of nthony Braxton.
James Lincoln Collier, The Making Of Jazz. This is an in-depth survey of jazz history.
Frank Tirro, A History Of Jazz. This is a relatively technical survey of jazz history.
Gunther Schuller, Early Jazz, The Swing Era. These books by noted historian, critic, and composer Sculler are considerably more detailed than most, as they are more focused on specific periods. There ay be more volumes in this series as well.
Richard Hadlock, Jazz Masters Of The . There are volumes in this series for different decades. Each ontains biographies of twenty or so major musicians of the era.
Leonard Feather, Inside Bebop. Feather wrote this book to try to explain bebop to skeptics back in te days when the music was new and controversial.
Valerie Wilmer, Jazz People. This book contains interviews with various legends of the 1950's and 190's.
Valerie Wilmer, As Serious As Your Life. This book concentrates on the avant garde and new music of he subsequent decades. It is highly political in nature.
Ross Russell, Bird Lives. This is an anecdotal biography of Charlie Parker.
Gary Giddens, Celebrating, substitution, and voice leading.
Chuck Sher, The Improvisor's Bass Method. This book starts with the most basic instruction on playin the bass, including fingering charts and how to read music, and progresses to conventional jazz musc theory with applications to playing the bass. It also contains several transcribed bass lines and olos by well-known bass players such as Scott LeFaro, Charles Mingus, Paul Chambers, Ron Carter, andothers.
Steve Houghton and Tom Warrington, Essential Styles For The Drummer And Bassist. This book is a recie of basic patterns for 30 styles of music, from pop to funk to reggae to Latin to jazz. It includesa CD.
Peter Erskine, Drum Concepts And Techniques. This book explains the basics of drum set technique.
Frank Malabe and Frank Weiner, Afro-Cuban Rhythms For The Drum Set. This book describes the various frican and Latin American percussion styles and how to play them on the drum set.
Ed Thigpen, The Sound Of Brushes. This book explores techniques of brushwork for drummers.
Andy Laverne, Handbook Of Chord Substitutions. This book, useful for pianists and arrangers, discusss various ways to reharmonize songs. The substitutions are much more advanced than the tritone and Cltrane ii-V types discussed in this primer.
P. Rinzler, Jazz Arranging And Performance Practice: A Guide For Small Ensembles. This book is geare more toward group performance than individual improvisation.
David Baker, Arranging And Composing. The emphasis is on arranging for small groups, from trios to goups with four or five horns.
11. Appendix B: Annotated Discography
The best readily available jazz discography of which I am aware is the Penguin Guide To Jazz On Compct Disc, which contains listings and reviews of virtually all jazz albums that were in print in the arly 1990's. The book was edited in the United Kingdom, and there is a slight European avant garde sant to the ratings, but it is still the most complete, accurate, and generally useful discography ofall types of jazz available to the general public.
The following discography is included to supplement the history discussion. Many of the specific artsts and albums mentioned there are listed here, with a brief description of each. The albums listed re from my personal collection, and are listed in roughly chronological order, organized by style. Ihave tried to include mainly albums that I know are readily available, especially those that have ben reissued on CD.
11.1. Basic Recommendations
I encourage you to check out any album mentioned more than once by name in the text of this primer. hese albums include Miles Davis' Kind Of Blue and John Coltrane's Giant Steps. These two albums illutrate many of the ideas and techniques discussed in this primer, and are considered among the most iportant jazz albums of all time.
To supplement these classic albums, you should consider some recordings by the remainder of the musiians in the "Top Ten List". Most of Louis Armstrong's important recordings were made before the advet of the LP, so any album of his you buy today is probably a compilation. Look for something that cotains recordings made in the 1920's with the Hot Five or the Hot Seven. Duke Ellington led one of th greatest big bands ever, but also made many recordings in small group settings. Look for recordingsthat feature Cootie Williams, Johnny Hodges, Ben Webster, or Jimmy Blanton. Billie Holiday's voice dveloped and changed over her career; you may wish to check out something from early and late in her ife. Charlie Parker's greatest and most influential recordings were as the leader of a quartet or quntet; there are hundreds of compilations to choose from.
Art Blakey was the first musician on this list to record extensively in the LP format. Any of the alums by the Jazz Messengers from the late 1950's or early 1960's, such as Moanin' or Ugetsu, are goodchoices. The quintessential Charles Mingus album is Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus, which fetures Eric Dolphy. For Thelonious Monk, the compilations on Blue Note are excellent, as are albums fom the 1950's and 1960's such as Brilliant Corners and Monk's Dream. For Ornette Coleman, try one ofthe early quartet albums like The Shape Of Jazz To Come, and when you are feeling braver, Free Jazz.Ornette also leads a fusion oriented group called Prime Time; you may wish to check out some of thei albums as well.
Miles Davis can hardly be fairly represented by only Kind Of Blue; you should also consider The Birt Of The Cool, Miles Smiles, Sketches Of Spain, and Bitches Brew at the very least, as they representvery different periods in his career, all of them innovative. Similarly, John Coltrane is not sufficently represented by only Giant Steps; you should supplement this with something from the classic qurtet like A Love Supreme, and, if you are feeling adventurous, one of the later albums such as Ascenion.
Louis Armstrong, The Louis Armstrong Story, Columbia several volumes, including records with the HotFive and the Hot Seven, as well as recordings with Earl Hines and others
Art Tatum, The Complete Capitol Recordings, Capitol solo and trio recordings
Bix Beiderbecke, Bix Beiderbecke, Columbia several volumes, including recordings with various big bads
Duke Ellington, Duke Ellington, Laserlight a sampler including recordings from the 1930's through th 1960's, featuring Johnny Hodges, Cootie Williams, Ben Webster, and Paul Gonsalves
Errol Garner, Concert By The Sea, Columbia this was for a long time the best selling jazz album ever
Charlie Parker, Bebop & Bird, Hipsville/Rhino several volumes, including sessions with Bud Powell, Fts Navarro, Miles Davis, J.J. Johnson, Art Blakey, and Max Roach
Charlie Parker, The Quintet, Debut/OJC a famous live concert with Dizzy Gillespie, Bud Powell, Charls Mingus, and Max Roach
Bud Powell, The Amazing Bud Powell, Blue Note trio and small group recordings with Fats Navarro and onny Rollins
Thelonious Monk, The Best Of Thelonious Monk, Blue Note early boppish recordings
Miles Davis, The Complete Birth Of The Cool, Capitol nine piece group with Lee Konitz, J.J. Johnson,Gerry Mulligan, and John Lewis
Lennie Tristano, Wow, Jazz a sextet with Lee Konitz and Warne Marsh
Dave Brubeck, Time Out, Columbia featuring Paul Desmond and "Take Five"
Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, A Night At Birdland, Blue Note featuring Horace Silver and Cliffrd Brown
Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, Moanin', Blue Note featuring Lee Morgan and Bobby Timmons
Art Blakey And The Jazz Messengers, Ugetsu, Milestone featuring Wayne Shorter, Freddie Hubbard, and urtis Fuller
Clifford Brown, Study In Brown, EmArcy the quintet with Max Roach
Horace Silver, The Best Of Horace Silver, Applause several of his most well-known compositions
Miles Davis, Walkin', Prestige one of Miles' favorite albums; hard bop with J.J. Johnson and Horace ilver
Lee Morgan, The Sidewinder, Blue Note hard bop
Miles Davis, Workin' With The Miles Davis Quintet, Prestige the first great quintet with John Coltrae, Red Garland, Paul Chambers, Philly Joe Jones
Miles Davis, Kind Of Blue, Columbia the quintessential modal album, with John Coltrane, Cannonball Aderly, Bill Evans, and Wynton Kelly
Miles Davis, Complete Concert 1964, Columbia the forerunner to the second great quintet, with GeorgeColeman, Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Tony Williams, playing standards
Miles Davis, Miles Smiles, Columbia the second great quintet with Wayne Shorter, at its peak
Miles Davis, Sketches Of Spain, Columbia with the Gil Evans Orchestra
John Coltrane, Soul Trane, Prestige one of Coltrane's favorites of his early albums, with Red Garlan and Philly Jo Jones
John Coltrane, Giant Steps, Atlantic the album that established Coltrane as one of the most importan improvisers of his day
John Coltrane, My Favorite Things, Atlantic the forerunner to his long lived quartet with McCoy Tyne and Elvin Jones
John Coltrane, A Love Supreme, Impulse the crowning modal achievement of the quartet
Charles Mingus, Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus, Candid the classic album with Eric Dolphy
Charles Mingus, Mingus Ah Um, Columbia contains his most well-known compositions
Charles Mingus, Let My Children Hear Music, Columbia supposedly Mingus' favorite of his own albums; is music arranged for a large ensemble
Thelonious Monk, Monk's Music, Riverside with John Coltrane, Coleman Hawkins, and others
Thelonious Monk, Monk's Dream, Columbia his long-lived quartet with Charlie Rouse
Bill Evans, Sunday At The Village Vanguard, Waltz For Debby, Riverside available as a combined set; live recording from the trio with Scott LeFaro and Paul Motian
Wes Montgomery, Full House, Riverside an early hard boppish recording
Sonny Rollins, Saxophone Colossus, Prestige one of his most popular albums
Sonny Rollins, The Bridge, RCA with Jim Hall
Chick Corea, Inner Space, Atlantic an album of mostly straightahead jazz with Woody Shaw
Herbie Hancock, Maiden Voyage, Blue Note modal, non-tonal, and avant garde compositions with FreddieHubbard, Ron Carter, and Tony Williams
Wayne Shorter, Speak No Evil, Blue Note some of his best compositions, with Freddie Hubbard and Herbe Hancock
VSOP, The Quintet, Columbia live recording with Freddie Hubbard, Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, Ron arter, and Tony Williams
Eric Dolphy, Eric Dolphy At The Five Spot, Prestige with Booker Little and Mal Waldron
Eric Dolphy, Out To Lunch, Blue Note influential avant garde recording
Andrew Hill, Point Of Departure, Blue Note with Eric Dolphy and Joe Henderson
Max Roach, The Max Roach Trio Featuring The Legendary Hassan, Atlantic Hassan Ibn Ali is a little knwn pianist who combines aspects of Thelonious Monk, Cecil Taylor, and Don Pullen; this is his only kown recording, and is highly recommended
Ornette Coleman, The Shape Of Jazz To Come, Atlantic one of his best freebop quartet albums
Ornette Coleman, Free Jazz, Atlantic a collective free improvisation with Don Cherry, Freddie Hubbar, and Eric Dolphy
John Coltrane, New Thing At Newport, Impulse live concert; half of this album is the Archie Shepp qurtet
John Coltrane, Interstellar Space, Impulse free duets with Rashied Ali
John Coltrane, Ascension, Impulse free large ensemble improvisation
Albert Ayler, Witches & Devils, Freedom avant garde
Pharoah Sanders, Live, Theresa similar in style to Coltrane's A Love Supreme, but more free
Cecil Taylor, Jazz Advance, Blue Note relatively straightahead music, including some standards, but ith Taylor's sense of harmonic freedom
Cecil Taylor, For Olim, Soul Note free solo piano
Cecil Taylor, Spring Of Two Blue J's, Unit Core free group improvisation
Sun Ra, Out There A Minute, Restless/BlastFirst avant garde big band
Miles Davis, Bitches Brew, Columbia early, relatively free fusion with Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, Joh McLaughlin
Mahavishnu Orchestra, Inner Mounting Flame, Columbia heavy rock oriented fusion with John McLaughlin
Tony Williams' Lifetime, Emergency, Polydor heavy rock oriented fusion with John McLaughlin
Herbie Hancock, Headhunters, Columbia funk oriented fusion
Weather Report, Heavy Weather, Columbia pop oriented fusion with Wayne Shorter, Joe Zawinul, Jaco Patorius
Chick Corea and Return To Forever, Light As A Feather, Polydor Latin oriented fusion with Stanley Clrke and vocalist Flora Purim
Pat Metheny, Bright Size Life, ECM esoteric fusion with Jaco Pastorius
Steps Ahead, Modern Times, Elektra Musician tight modern fusion with Michael Brecker
Miles Davis, You're Under Arrest, Columbia funkier modern fusion
Ornette Coleman and Prime Time, Virgin Beauty, Portrait free modern fusion
Art Ensemble Of Chicago, Nice Guys, ECM post modern jazz, world music, and freebop with Lester Bowieand Roscoe Mitchell
World Saxophone Quartet, Dances And Ballads, Elektra Nonesuch a capella (unaccompanied) saxophone qurtet with David Murray
David Murray, New Life, Black Saint octet with Hugh Ragin on trumpet
Anthony Braxton, Composition 98, hat ART a post modern suite featuring Marilyn Crispell, Hugh Ragin,and Ray Anderson
John Carter, Castles Of Ghana, Gramavision a suite of post modern compositions
Willem Breuker, Bob's Gallery, BVHaast avant garde big band
Don Pullen / George Adams Quartet, Don't Lose Control, Soul Note blues oriented post modern jazz
Improvised Music New York 1981, MU energy music with Derek Bailey, Sonny Sharrock, Fred Frith, and Jhn Zorn
Oregon, 45th Parallel, Portrait New Age pioneers
Paul Bley, Floater, Savoy harmonically liberated trio doing compositions by Paul and Carla Bley as wll as Ornette Coleman
Abdullah Ibrahim, African Dawn, Enja solo piano with South African influences
Keith Jarrett, Mysteries, Impulse quartet with Dewey Redman doing relatively free post bop with worl music influences
Wynton Marsalis, Think Of One, Columbia adventurous neoclassic quintet with Branford Marsalis, KennyKirkland, and Jeff Watts
Wynton Marsalis, Marsalis Standard Time, Columbia standards with rhythmic twists, featuring Marcus Rberts
Branford Marsalis, Crazy People Music, Columbia adventurous neoclassic quartet with Kenny Kirkland ad Jeff Watts
Steve Coleman, Motherland Pulse, JMT acoustic M-Base
Steve Coleman, Drop Kick, Novus electric M-Base
Gary Thomas, The Kold Kage, JMT electric M-Base
Cassandra Wilson, Jump World, JMT vocal and electric M-Base with Steve Coleman, Gary Thomas, and Gre Osby
Dave Holland, Extensions, ECM mostly acoustic modern quartet with Steve Coleman, Kevin Eubanks, and arvin "Smitty" Smith
Tim Berne, Pace Yourself, JMT frenetic post modern jazz
Michael Brecker, Michael Brecker, Impulse modern acoustic and electric post bop
Charlie Haden, Paul Motian, Geri Allen, Etudes, Soul Note modern acoustic post bop
Steve Lacy, Live At Sweet Basil, Novus modern acoustic post bop
Phil Woods, Heaven, Blackhawk post bop with Tom Harrell
Gonzalo Rubalcaba, Discovery, Blue Note post bop with Cuban influences
Don Byron, Tuskegee Experiments, Elektra Nonesuch post modern, post bop
Don Pullen, Kele Mou Bana, Blue Note post modern with world music and blues influences
David Murray, Shakill's Warrior, DIW post modern blues with Don Pullen on organ
12. Appendix C: Jazz Standards
The following tunes are among those most commonly played by jazz musicians. I have made an attempt t categorize them based on how they are usually played. Most of the compositions are by jazz musician, except for the ones marked "standard".
You should try to become familiar with as many of these tunes as possible. Most of them can be foundin the Real Book or in Chuck Sher's books.
All Blues blues, modal
All Of Me standard
All The Things You Are standard
Anthropology rhythm changes, swing
Au Privave blues, swing
Autumn Leaves standard
Beautiful Love standard
Beauty And The Beast rock
Billie's Bounce blues, swing
Black Orpheus Latin
Blue Bossa Latin
Blue In Green ballad, modal
Blue Monk blues, swing
Blue Train blues, swing
Blues For Alice blues, swing
Bluesette 3/4, swing
Body And Soul ballad, standard
C Jam Blues blues, swing
Caravan Latin, swing
Darn That Dream ballad, standard
Dolphin Dance modal, non-tonal
Donna Lee swing
Don't Get Around Much Anymore swing
A Foggy Day standard
Footprints 3/4, blues, modal
Freddie Freeloader blues, modal
Freedom Jazz Dance non-tonal
Giant Steps swing
The Girl From Ipanema Latin
Goodbye, Pork Pie Hat ballad, swing
Have You Met Miss Jones standard
I Mean You swing
I Remember Clifford ballad, swing
I Thought About You standard
If I Were A Bell standard
In A Sentimental Mood ballad, swing
In Walked Bud swing
Joy Spring swing
Just Friends standard
Killer Joe swing
Lady Bird swing
Lullaby Of Birdland swing
Mr. P.C. blues, swing
Maiden Voyage modal
Mercy, Mercy, Mercy rock
Misty ballad, standard
Moment's Notice swing
My Favorite Things 3/4, modal, standard
My Funny Valentine ballad, standard
My Romance standard
Naima ballad, modal
A Night In Tunisia Latin, swing
Nica's Dream Latin, swing
Nostalgia In Times Square swing
Now's The Time blues, swing
Oleo rhythm changes, swing
On Green Dolphin Street Latin, swing, standard
Recorda Me Latin
Red Clay rock
Round Midnight ballad, swing
St. Thomas Latin
Satin Doll swing
Scrapple From The Apple swing
The Sidewinder blues, swing
So What modal
Some Day My Prince Will Come 3/4, standard
Song For My Father Latin
Speak No Evil modal, non-tonal
Stella By Starlight standard
Stolen Moments blues, modal
Straight, No Chaser blues, swing
Take Five 5/4, modal
Take The "A" Train swing
There Is No Greater Love standard
There Will Never be Another You standard
Up Jumped Spring 3/4, swing
Waltz For Debby 3/4, swing
Well, You Needn't swing
When I Fall In Love ballad, standard
Yardbird Suite swing
Another file downloaded from: The NIRVANAnet(tm) Seven
& the Temple of the Screaming Electron Taipan Enigma 510/935-5845
Burn This Flag Zardoz 408/363-9766
realitycheck Poindexter Fortran 510/527-1662
Lies Unlimited Mick Freen 801/278-2699
The New Dork Sublime Biffnix 415/864-DORK
The Shrine Rif Raf 206/794-6674
Planet Mirth Simon Jester 510/786-6560
"Raw Data for Raw Nerves"