In Part 1 of this series, we examined three strategies to spice up your practice sessions: 1) octave displacement, 2) rhythmic variation, and 3) sidestepping.
I’d like to suggest two more ideas: 1) playing your licks backwards and 2) utilizing inversions. We’ll use the lick from Part 1 and the previous variations discussed for both techniques.
By practicing these exercises in all 12 keys, you’ll be well on your way to expanding your harmonic and rhythmic vocabulary as an improviser.
Playing Licks Backwards
No explanation needed here. Just take your licks and play ‘em backwards. It’s almost like Pig Latin, but it sounds cooler. Here’s what the four variations look like from Part 1 played backwards:
An inversion involves choosing a pitch axis. From the pitch axis, where the original lick went up or down one or more intervals, you will do the exact opposite. If you’re playing a wind instrument, it’s usually safe to say you’ll need to start an octave or two up from your original lick to make this work. Also, be advised that playing the inversion of a lick that utilizes sidestepping will end up sounding more “out” than “in” harmonically.
Using the original lick and variations from Part 1, here is what all of the inversions would look like with C as the pitch axis:
I hope you have enjoyed this series. Be creative with your practicing and don’t be afraid to create your own musical vocabulary! For more practice ideas, continue to follow Jason’s blog, and feel free to check out thejazzdaddy.com as well!