Category Archives for Intervals

The Augmented Triad

I have been making edits so I can have short previews of the songs that will be on my Mountain, Move. album and heard something that I thought would be great to talk about. So, in this week’s post we will look at the augmented triad and how we can use it to creatively target notes in our improvisations. I love using the augmented triad because it does not have the typical triad sound. To many listeners it causes an unexpected, “whoa…what was that?” response. This makes it a great tool to have in your improv arsenal.

I know there are a number of beginner visitors, so we will take a brief look at the augmented triad itself. An augmented triad is simply a major triad with a raised 5th (see example below):

 

The augmented triad is a great candidate to use as a tool for targeting. I invite you to check out some of the many different previous posts on targeting on this site as well as my book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose to get a better understanding of how to fully utilize this concept. But, we will take a look at a few different ways you can use the augmented triad to target. The augmented triad is symmetrical. That means no matter which inversion you start on you will have an augmented triad. The examples below will be using the G (or B, or Eb) augmented triad over a V7-I pattern.

The first example takes the augmented triad in a descending order (starting on the “B”) and resolves up a half step to land on the root of the I chord (Cmaj9):

The second example is an infamous lick that you will hear many great improvisers using in their solos. In this case, the augmented triad doesn’t directly lead into the targeted note (D). Instead of continuing down to the Eb (continuing the triad), the line resolves up to the D (which is the targeted note of the line…the 2nd/9th of the Cmaj9):

 

Our final example uses the augmented triad with another targeting concept (the chromatic target) to target the 5th of the I chord (Cmaj9):

 

One of my favorite ways to use the augmented triad to target notes is over the V7-I harmonic movement. There are other ways to implement the augmented triad, but I wanted to share my favorite. For the V7-I movement you can think about it a number of different ways. For instance, you could think about using an augmented triad on the 5th of the I chord or the root of the V7 chord. You can think about using an augmented triad a half-step below the root of the I chord or the 3rd of the V7 chord. Or you can think about using an augmented triad a flat third from I chord or the b13 of the V7 chord. Whatever works best for you. One goal I try to reach with my students is to narrow things down so you have less to think about while playing.

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s tip and that it has added value and benefit to your and/or your students playing in some way!

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Fun with Arpeggios part 3

Hopefully by this point (if you have been following the series on Fun with Arpeggios) you get the idea of how we can creatively use arpeggios in our improvisations. Before we move on to another topic I wanted to continue the thought process, but introduce arpeggios of different chord quality then just major (which was used in part 1 & part 2). In this part we will use the minor 7th arpeggio to build some of our lines.

Below is the minor 7th arpeggio in quarter notes (Cmin7) along with a more extended eighth-note version both up and down:

Unlike the major 7th arpeggio that has the half-step between the 7th and the root, the minor 7th arpeggio has more of a pentatonic scale type feel to it with the combination of minor 3rd, major 3rds and the whole step between the 7th and the root. This can create some interesting combinations over different harmonies.

One obvious way you can use the minor 7th arpeggio is over minor chords, but I am pretty sure most of you can figure that out on your own. However, one really useful way to use the minor 7th arpeggio is over the V7 chord of a ii-V-I. Below is an example with a half-step chromatic target of the C minor 7th arpeggio over the  F7 which resolves into the Bbmaj7:

 

And the next example below takes the descending C minor 7th arpeggio at the beginning of this post and resolves it to the 7th (A) of the Bbmaj7:

 

I, for one, enjoy this sound over the V7 chord. It almost has a blues flavor to the line when you have the minor 7th arpeggio (a 5th away from the root) played over the V7 chord.

I hope you have enjoyed this series and that it has added value and benefit to your and/or your students. If you have not yet, I would invite you to check out my Digital Store today to take a look at my books and other services. Also, be sure to hit “like” on my Facebook Page as well as I will continue to give updates on my upcoming CD Mountain, Move.

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Fun with Arpeggios part 2

In this week’s post we are going to continue having some fun exploring improvisational options with arpeggios. In part 1 we looked at what were arpeggios and looked at one of my favorite major 7 arpeggio lines. In part 2 we are going to look at some practical options of how to use that major 7th arpeggio. As we continue along in this series we will look at other chord quality arpeggios and some effective ways to utilize them.

Below are the examples from last week on the major 7 descending arpeggio. The first starts on the root while the second starts on the 3rd of the arpeggio:

 

Now we are going to explore some ways to use the arpeggio in our improvisation. The first example below simply uses the descending pattern (starting on the 3rd) verbatim over a ii-V-I progression in the key of C:

 

For those that have been following this blog since the beginning, you know that I like to give you the tools to create your own lines. Now, let’s use the descending arpeggio as our skeleton and add some targeting principles:

 

If you would like more information on how to apply targeting principles, I would invite you to check out some of the other posts on this site as well as my book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose, which is available in printed and digital form (English and Spanish available) at my Digital Store.

Check back next week as we continue to look at other ways we can creatively use arpeggios in our improvisations!

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Fun with Arpeggios part 1

For some instruments, arpeggios are very easy to execute because you can keep the same finger pattern or hand position and move it up and/or down the instrument. As a trumpet player, they can be a little more difficult to perform. I have loved playing the major 7th arpeggio in my improvisations because of the half step motion between the major 7th and the root. And, like many arpeggios, it can be played over more than just one harmonic context.

Since we have a number of people who visit this site from all over the world as well as different ability levels-we are going to take a quick look at what an arpeggio is and then start executing some basic arpeggiated ideas.

An arpeggio is a musical device where notes in a chord are played in a sequence. Below is a Cmaj7 chord and then a Cmaj7 arpeggio in quarter notes:

I like descending arpeggios. I like their sound more so than ascending (not that I do not like ascending or do not use them). In part 1 we are going to look at a simple descending arpeggio pattern. The first below takes the root of the chord and arpeggiates down.

For my ears, I love the half-step movement between the root and the major 7th. However, it still has an arpeggio type sound to it when it starts on the root. So, let’s take the same arpeggio and start on the 3rd:

Maybe it is just me, but this sounds more like a line that I can use in an improvisation. If you like this sound, try playing through it in all keys and getting the sound in your ears and the technique under your fingers. I have listed the example above in all keys below:

In the next couple of parts we will look at some other arpeggios as well as how we can apply them to our improvisations. However, before we do that, you should probably start playing through your arpeggios this week!

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Lick of the Day Practice Routine

In this week’s post I wanted to show you how you can enhance your jazz improv practice routine by using the Lick of the Day here on this site. I believe you should practice the tools necessary to be successful in improvisation on a regular basis (if not every day). One of those tools is adding vocabulary.

If you don’t have an improv practice routine I’d invite you to try this out for a few weeks. You will have a noticeable improvement in just a few weeks. On the right hand side of the homepage there is a different lick/riff/motif posted every day. The instructions below the Lick of the Day talk about the different things you can do to add that lick into your vocabulary. I know for some of you that you like to have things laid out so here is a sample practice routine you can use with the Lick of the Day:

  1. Go to jasonklobnak.com and locate the Lick of the Day. Today is March 18th, 2013. So today is the 75th Lick of the Day. Play through it (slowly at first) a few times until you get the sound in your ears and the notes under your fingers. Spend around 10-15 minutes on this.
  2. All of the licks from the Lick of the Day are in the key of “C.” Transpose it into all keys as shown in this PDF:Lick of the Day 75. Even though the example is written out I would suggest trying to do this by ear instead of writing it down. Depending on how much you do this process it can take anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour.
  3. How many chord progressions could this lick fit over? There are 3 examples below (which is not all of them). This takes about 5-10 min. 
  4. Do this daily with each Lick of the Day. Over time you’ll find the ones that stick in your ear the most will be the ones that show up in your playing.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and that it has added value and benefit to your playing in some way. As most of you know-the Jason Klobnak Quintet was in the studio on March 14-15th and we finished the tracking session for our album Mountain, Move. We still need to finish mixing/mastering and then print the album. I need your help in getting us there. Every book sale, Skype Lesson, clinic and donation get us closer. Go to our Digital Store today to help us finish Mountain, Move!

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Improv for Kids-Part 2 Simplicity

Part 2. Simplicity is one of the key ingredients in teaching young children about improvisation. While some kids might soak up theory information…most do not. Most, in my experience, just want to play. They want to improvise. Try keeping the theory information as simple as possible (like the first 5 notes of a major scale or the major pentatonic scale)

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The more in-depth theory can be saved for later after they have had an opportunity to have fun improvising.

Play the scales with them so they can try and match your sound. It helps solidify their scales as well as their intonation and tone on the instrument. Have them play those scales while you play chord progressions on the piano (or some form of play-along if you’re not comfortable playing them yourself).

Something else I do with younger students is limit the number of note options they have to improvise. Limiting their palette of options can free up their creative mind. This is one of the big reasons I like teaching pentatonic scales. 5 note choices is less information to organize in real time then 7 or 8. For younger students I like to limit their options of notes down to 3 or 4. I like having groupings that are part scale and part leap (like the examples below):

Obviously these aren’t the only small note groupings that can be used. However, they do contain some step-wise motion (major or minor 2nds) and slightly larger leaps. Melodies aren’t 100% scales or leaps. They are a combination of the two. Giving a child the combination helps them understand that improvising is more then just running a scale up and down a chord change. Give them an opportunity to play around with those simplified note groupings with you on a chordal instrument or play-along. Let them make mistakes and figure some things out.

Once they start getting the hang of it, or start getting bored with 3 notes, then expand their options outward. Start simple and expand from there. I find this causes them to learn complex ideas faster and they retain the information longer.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and that it has added some value and benefit to you and your students! Don’t forget to check out my Digital Store today to grab one of my books, schedule a Skype lesson or get more information on how you can help be a part of my next album, “Mountain, Move.”

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Duets Part 3

Welcome to the 3rd part of this duets mini-series. I truly hope you have enjoyed them and that they have added value and benefit to your playing in some way. In Part 3 we are going to look at how doing call & response in a duet setting can help your personal improvisation development.

Part 3:

I’ve given a quick definition of what call and response is in previous posts (particularly in Key Fluency part 2). However, if you haven’t checked that post out, here’s a quick definition: “One person makes a call, or musical statement, and then another person (or group of people) make a response back.” This is really simple to do in a duet setting. One person plays an idea/phrase and the other person plays it back. However, in this post I want to talk about a few  different ways you can do this  beyond the standard call/response to enhance your duet experience:

  • Call and Response. The traditional form where Player 1 makes the statement and Player 2 plays it back verbatim. This works ear-training, phrasing, articulation and helps add vocabulary to your arsenal.
  • Call and Response Pitch Chasing. Player 1  makes a statement and Player 2 plays it back with a slight change at the end of the phrase. Then Player 1 has to play back what Player 2 just played verbatim. This is a great ear-training exercise, but it also forces you to anticipate what might be played. That’s a great skill to have on the bandstand when interacting with other musicians.
  • Call and Response (no accompaniment). This is the same as the traditional call and response without having an accompaniment. You rely on your collective time which improves your timing, phrasing and overall rhythm.
  • Call and Response Free Jam. This is call and response without any pre-determined progression or key center. A great challenge to your ear as Player 2 doesn’t have a key center to reference what Player 1 played. This can also free up your creative mind because you are not stifled by trying to make your line fit in a chord progression. You never know what phrase you could conjure up. It might just become one of your signature lines when playing over a progression.

These are all great ways to exercise your ears while having fun and developing your personal improvisation vocabulary. Playing duets allows you to draw from other people’s experiences and is a great way to keep the jazz community alive and active.

I truly hope this post has added value and benefit to you and your students. If you haven’t yet, please check out my Digital Store where you can find more information on two books that I have released (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony).

Improv Tip Week #26-Intervalic Series-4ths and 5ths

Here we are at week #26! If this is your first time visiting, thanks for stopping by! Take a look around, say hello and enjoy. If you’ve been following this blog…welcome back! We’re going to finish up our series on Intervalic improvisation this week by discussing what we can do with the 4th and 5th intervals and by looking at what we can do with them through the eyes of targeting (if this is your first time visiting, check out some of the older posts for my thoughts on targeting…or aiming at a goal note with purpose).

There are a number of different sources available that discuss using perfect 4th and perfect 5th intervals in your improvisation. Essentially, the suggestion is to build your melodic line (solo) based off series of stacked 4ths and or 5ths. Some instruments can easily maneuver these stacked 4ths/5ths with ease over their entire instruments range. Others…not so much. However, every instrument is capable of playing intervalic melodic lines in their improvisation. Simply adding in a half or whole step in between the stacked 4ths/5ths still give the line that angular sound, but an easier facility on certain instruments.

Our first example below is over an Fmin11 chord (on a side note, great voicings on piano or guitar are based off of stacked 4ths). You will notice that the first six notes of the line are a stack of perfect 4ths. The line is broken up halfway through the stack and then resolved down a half step (between the Db and C) before continuing the descending line of stacked 4ths.

This next example uses the stacked 4ths idea, but adds some chromatic targeting to the line (targeting the “C” on beat 4) to add a different color to the initial angular line.

The first two examples were stacked 4ths that fit within the harmony stated. The next example below uses stacked 5ths to accomplish the angular sound. Notice how the line is more accessible to instruments that might not be able to play stacked 5ths (or 4ths) easily by adding the half step between the D and Eb on beat 2.

Our final example is a combination of using 4ths and 5ths combined in the line. Again, the stacked 4ths/5ths are broken up by either half-step, whole step or chromatic targeting.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and the Intervalic Series! Please feel free to share this blog with your friends and colleagues by clicking on the links to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ below or by sharing this on another site that you’re a contributor. You won’t want to miss the next couple of tips as we close out this calendar year! We’re getting closer to Christmas (or other holidays that you might celebrate around this time of year) and if you haven’t checked out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose yet, it makes for a great gift for you or musicians and students that you know. Now is a great time to check out the link to the right or by going to Jason Klobnak Music for more information. E-book ($12.00) orders are instant downloads after purchase. If you’re wanting to get the physical book ($16.50) for a Christmas present, you will want to place your order by December 20th for U.S. orders and by December 12th for international orders. Due to some recent international demand, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose will be translated into a few other languages in early 2012!

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