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Category Archives for Rhythm

Duets Part 2

Welcome! I truly hope this post adds value and benefit to you and your students. Take a look around the tabs above, previous posts and my Digital Store where you can find more information on two books that I have released (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony).

We are continuing our discussion of Duets and how they can help your  improvisations. Last week we looked at the benefits of playing duets with another person without any accompaniment or written music (after deciding the chord progression, of course). In Part 2 we will look at the benefits of playing duets with written charts.

Part 2:

Playing duets with sheet music in front of you adds another layer of positive development to your overall playing. You may be wondering, “wait a second, Jason. How is playing written duets going to help my personal improvisation goals?” That’s a great question! As jazz musicians we grab ideas (melodic statements, motifs, licks, etc) and allow them to eventually show up in our improvisation. We grab those ideas from multiple sources: recordings, live concerts, jam sessions, patterns, books, etc. Written music (for example a book of duets) should not be discounted.

Playing written duets has similar benefits of improvised duets (without accompaniment), but does have some additional ones:

  • Timing and Phrasing. Even though you are reading music, the two of you rely on your collective time. This is a benefit of any type of duet playing (classical, jazz, etc).
  • Sight-Reading. Performing music in time is necessary for a wide range of musicians. If you have a desire to be a professional musician then this is an absolutely necessary skill.
  • Non-Verbal Cues. Playing with someone else requires you to pay attention to what they’re doing. Are they wanting to slow down? Speed up? Swing harder on a particular section? Play more legato on a particular section? Pay attention to what your partner is doing with their body and you can communicate musical ideas without saying anything. This is an imperative skill to have on any bandstand.
  • New Ideas. If you read something you like…remember it, keep and develop it!
  • Intonation. This is more for wind players. Tuning to a single pitch does not mean you are in tune as an ensemble. Adjustments need to be made depending on a note’s context in time. Another important skill to have when playing in any type of ensemble.

There are a few good jazz duet books written that are available. However, in my opinion,  The Ultimate Collection of Jazz Duets Complete by Rich Willey is one of the best out there. If you and a friend (or your students) need a good jazz duet book-this is it. They start fairly easy and get progressively more difficult so they’re perfect for any musician at any stage in their development.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip and that it has added value and benefit to you in some way. Go out this week and play some duets!

Duets Part 1

If this is your first time visiting this site-welcome! I truly hope this post adds value and benefit to you and your students. Take a look around the tabs above, previous posts and my Digital Store where you can find more information on two books that I have released (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony).

In this post we are going to start discussing Duets and how they can help your  improvisations. Each  part will look at different ways you can do duets and their benefits. The word duet means a performance by two people. Creativity is increased when you combine more then one source. When playing with another person-you bounce creative ideas off of each other.

Part 1:

All too often in today’s world of technology-students spend too much time practicing with pre-recorded or digital accompaniments. There’s nothing wrong with using them. However, too much practice with just those sources can cause you to interact selfishly when you do play with other human beings. I talk about this in Independence In Improvisation (a previous post on this site and in my book, Breaking the Monotony). We can use this same idea and apply it to playing duets.

Find a friend and pick a chord progression. Decide the tempo and start improvising without any accompaniment. Don’t use any reference (i.e. the changes written out in front of you). You will probably play over top of each other at first. Keep at it and strive to play ideas off of one another. Benefits of doing this exercise together:

  • A deeper understanding of the chord progression. You have to really know the changes if you’re improvising while listening to your partners ideas, responding and making new ones over top of the progression.
  • Timing and Phrasing. When you play without an accompaniment you don’t have a rhythm section “feeding” you the time. The two of you rely on your collective time. Your phrasing is also helped because you have to consider what the other player is playing and react to it.
  • You tap into a deeper level of listening. The focus isn’t on you and how hip you’re going to make this solo. It’s about working together to create something hip as a team.
  • You gain new ideas. This is a fun way to get fresh ideas because you’re tapping into someone else’s resource of creativity that you can use. If you notice something you like…remember it and keep it!
  • Community. Playing with others creates an undefinable bond that is becoming endangered in our ever increasing technology.

This week get together with someone and play some duets. Try doing some without any accompaniment or rhythm section and have fun playing!

Jazz Rhythm Solfege Part 2

Welcome back to my site…I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick series on jazz rhythm solfege! If this is your first time visiting this site, please feel free to browse around and check out previous posts or go to my Digital Store today where you’ll find great resources that will help you unlock your potential in improvisation and rhythm!

In this 2nd part of this series I wanted to give you more examples of how we can apply part 1’s solfege syllables/words to your jazz rhythms. This is simply an exercise that will help solidify your jazz rhythm time, phrasing and articulation. Check out last week’s post to get the general rules on how to apply the syllables.

Below are a few more examples of using that system. The first is a string of eighth notes that are tied in the center. Note the end of the first group uses Dah while the end of the phrase has Daht.

The next example shows the use of the syllables with the triplet as well as the end of the phrase that should NOT use the syllable Daht.

The next example shows an off-beat quarter note (which requires a Daht) and a dotted-quarter (anything longer then a quarter should use Dah or Doo).

The final example shows what you would use over sixteenths and sixteenth-note triplets.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip and series and that it has added value and benefit to your playing or teaching. I know the examples above didn’t cover every rhythm known to man, but I hope that it gives you a plan to implement. As I mentioned in last week’s post: if you have ways or tips that you use for jazz rhythm solfege-please feel free to comment and give your suggestion(s). We’re here to help each other!

If you’d like to learn more, I’d like to invite you go visit my online school.




jazz solfege

Jazz Rhythm Solfege Part 1

I had a recommendation from a new friend, George Martin, on our Facebook wall to write a post on using solfege rhythm in jazz. This has been something that I’ve used with students (especially beginners) and was something I was taught back in Middle School by my first teacher-Craig Swartz. I know there are a few sources out there that talk about this in book form. The first that comes to mind is a book by Mike Longo called How to Sight Read Jazz and Other Syncopated Type Rhythms. If you’re interested in learning more on that topic, it’s a good read.

In this first part of the jazz rhythm solfege series I want to talk about the syllable/words that I like to use and why (with a few examples). The next part will be some more in-depth examples that I hope will help you and your students.

This is a rhythmic solfege to help give a musician a greater sense of rhythmic time, phrasing and articulation. So the syllables/words below aren’t assigned to a specific pitch like it is in the standard solfege system (i.e. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, etc). Again, this is the way I like to use and present it. If you have a way that works for you and your students…great! Please feel free to comment and share! Below are the basic rules:

  • Anything that lasts longer then a quarter note is assigned a Doo or Dah. The majority of students I come across can count and feel whole notes and half-notes quite well.
  • In general (unless otherwise notated) any note that is off-beat or the last note before a rest it will use Daht.
  • Quarter notes are assigned DuDah or Daht depending on the accent or phrase. If the quarter note is intended to be short (i.e. staccato), if it’s off-beat or if it’s the end of the phrase they will use Daht. This helps give the appropriate feel for jazz articulation.
  • Single eighth notes use Du, Dah or Daht. If the eighth note is on the beat then it will use Du, if it is off the beat it will use Dah and if it is the end of the phrase it will use Daht.
  • Triplets are quite simple because they will use the word: Tri-pi-let. The same word can be applied to any type of triplet whether it be a half-note triplet, quarter-note triplet or eighth-note triplet like the example below.
  • Sometimes you will find triplets tied to an eighth in jazz. Mike Longo uses the term “Didulia” and I have found that works the best for that rhythm. If it’s the end of the phrase, I like to use Diduli-aht.
  • Finally there are sixteenths. In jazz, some improvisers use “doodle tonguing” on sixteenth notes. Whether you articulate this way or not, it’s a great way to express it in a solfege type of way. The syllable will be doo duhl oodle or ending in Daht if it’s the end of the phrase.

Those are the general rules. Let’s take a look at a simple example below:

Next week we will take a few more examples and apply the jazz rhythm solfege principles to them. I hope this tip has added value and benefit to you and your students in some way. If you haven’t checked out my books or courses yet, I’d like to invite you to go to my online school.

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog/post!





Improv Tip Week #37-Crossing the Bar

Week #37 is here! I can’t believe it’s been 37 straight weeks of these tips, but I truly hope you’ve been enjoying them and that they have benefited you to some degree. This week’s topic will explore two different ways we can make our lines cross over the bar line. Those that have followed along know that I’m big on targeting and how strong resolution points (in 4/4) land on beats 1 & 3. However, we want to always make sure we’re not doing the same thing over and over. One way we can break it up a little bit is by making our lines cross the bar line.

The first way we can cross the bar line is by anticipating beats 1 by an eighth note or quarter note. The first example below is a short ii-V-I with the anticipation going into beat one of each bar:

The second example is another short ii-V-I with anticipation by a quarter note:

Another way we can cross the bar line is by taking thematic material and displacing it by a unit of rest (i.e. eighth rest, quarter rest, etc). I mention this in the Motif series. Let’s take a look at a few examples below. Each example takes a theme or motif and displaces it by a determined rest.

Some forms of displacing our improvised line is also known as a hemiola (or implying a different meter within an implied meter. For example 3/4 over a 4/4). You can cross the bar line in a number of different ways, but the above are fairly common ways to do so.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip! Please be sure to share this tip and site with your friends and colleagues. There are buttons below that will allow quick access to share this on a number of different social networking sites. If you haven’t already, I would still like to encourage you to check out my book Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose as well as some of the other functions on this site (Skype Lessons, videos I’ve posted, etc).



Improv Tip Week #36-Triplets

Welcome everyone to week #36 where we’re going to talk a little bit about triplets! I truly hope you’ve been enjoying these weekly tips and encourage you to check out the past 35 weeks (they’re archived now at the bottom of the site) if you haven’t already. Also, as you can probably tell-I’m working on my 2nd book called Breaking the Monotony and hope to have it released later this year. Also, within the next couple of weeks Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose will be available in Spanish and French! So, for those of you that have been visiting this site/blog and have expressed interest in those versions…it is coming very soon!

Recently while playing over the changes to a new song I’m working on, I realized that I had been neglecting a particular rhythmic figure in my practice routine. Those that have been following along know that I’m big on two things: Targeting principles and not over-using tools. Part of not over-using tools we employ in improvisation includes making sure you’re not neglecting others (unless done on purpose). For me, I realized that recently I haven’t been using triplets very much in my improvisations. This wasn’t done on purpose, but out of unintentional neglect. For those that might be going through a similar “triplet slump,” I wanted to give a few practical ways we can interject triplets into our ideas.

Triplets can be placed anywhere in a bar. They can arpeggiate a chord (chord of the moment or super-imposed), they can be tied to other triplets or other note value lengths. One thing that may need to be adjusted are your note choices. When using targeting principles, you want to land on most of your targets at harmonic strong points (in 4/4 that is on beat 1 and 3). Doing this with triplets means you’re using three note groupings and you’ll want to adjust your line to make it fit. Rhythmically, it creates a nice break from the run-of-the-mill eighth note line.

The following examples show a couple of different basic ways we can use triplets and targeting principles together. All of this week’s examples use the eighth note triplet (but obviously you can use different valued triplets as well). The first couple of examples put the triplet as the intro to the line or towards the begining of the line. The last example is one that shows how you can creatively string eighth note triplets together while still keeping targeting principles intact.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip! Please be sure to share this tip and site with your friends/colleagues/students via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other site that you are a contributor.



Improv Tip Week #33-Extending the Line

Welcome to week #33! This week’s tip is one that I can remember working diligently on while studying with Andy Classen at Drake University. This tip probably isn’t for everyone. Advanced musicians who have strong improv chops have probably already worked on this and maybe even spent time learning how to control it so they don’t do it as much (I know I have). This week’s tip is about extending the line. If this is your first time here, welcome! I’d highly encourage you to check out some of the past week’s tips as some of them might be helpful for you. For our returning friends…welcome back and I hope you find this week’s tip beneficial to your playing! If you haven’t yet, I want to encourage everyone to check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and invite you to check it out by going to the link to the right or by going to Jason Klobnak Music for more information. The E-book version works great on mobile devices (which is an instant download available all across the globe) and the printed version is sturdy and sits nicely on a music stand. I’m currently working on having the E-book version available in a few different languages (I’ll keep you updated on those and which languages) as well as a full update on my website which will be combining this blog with my site.

Every improvisor, at some point in their development, get to a place where short phrases and/or licks are not enough to communicate their message. Can you imagine if you listened to an orator and every statement they made were short little one-liners? One-liners are necessary and add effect, but at some point you want the orator to connect his/her ideas. In improvisation, we need to move beyond the short musical statements and extend the line. We can extend the line a couple of different ways. One way is to combine our short phrases and/or licks to make them longer. Another, which is what is discussed below, combines targeting principles (in this case chromatic targeting) to help extend the line. Below is taken out of part of my book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose:

…Below is an exercise targeting the root, 3rd and 5th of a C-major tonality (or scale). Notice how either the root, 3rd or 5th lands on the downbeat of beat 3 of each measure (in 4/4 time):

Below is another example of targeting the root, third and fifth. However, this time the line is moving upward:

There are many different combinations that we can use to create a longer flowing line. The next example below is an exercise used to create a continuous eighth-note line. The targeted notes are the root (C), the 3rd (E) and 5th (G) of a C-major tonality. Again, notice how the root, 3rd or 5th will land on either the downbeat or beat 3 of each measure. The goal of this exercise is to mix the different types of targeting options, while still creating the continous line. For an additional challenge, create your own continuous line exercise and target the root, 3rd and 5th of every major scale’s tonality.

If you’d like to check out more, be sure to click the link above or on the right for more information. I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and would love for you to share this blog/tip with your friends and colleagues. For your convenience, you can use the links for Facebook, Twitter, etc below. As always, I hope some of you (or maybe even one of your students) have found some benefit from this tip and continue down your personal improv journey. We’ll see you next week!




Improv Tip Week #13-Delayed Resolutions

Welcome back! I hope everyone has been enjoying this blog and has found these tips useful in their improvisations. In this week’s tip, I’m going to be talking about Delayed Resolutions. For those that have checked out my book (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose) or have been watching this blog the past 13 weeks know that I’m really big on targeting, or aiming at a goal note with purpose. We can, as a soloist, adjust the timing of when we get to that goal note. I work with my students to first learn how to land on their goal notes on beats 1 & 3 (when they’re in 4/4 time). Once they’ve fully grasped that sound and concept then we will start working on delaying that resolution. Combining the two types of resolutions can help better communicate your improvisation to an audience by captivating their attention beyond what their ear is expecting 100% of the time. The ear gravitates towards the expected. But, if you do the expected all of the time-you can lose a listener’s interest. One tool we can use is delayed resolutions.

First, let’s look at a simple example of targeting a note on beat 1. The example below is a very simple ii-V-I in the key of G where the targeted note is the “B” in the final measure:

Now, let’s take the same ii-V-I and delay the resolution by one beat and change up the listener’s expectation:

The above is a simple example of delaying the intended resolution. It breaks up what the listener’s ear is expecting. When you change up the expected…it captures the audiences’ attention in a positive manner. If you use it too much then it loses the desired result and can sound like you’re fishing for what you’re really trying to communicate.

You can also delay the resolution with something completely unexpected. The example below delay’s the expected resolution, but does it by first landing on the #11 of the Gmaj7 before resolving to the targeted note of “B”. It’s also delaying the expected resolution to just before beat 3.

I hope this week’s tip has been helpful and encourage you to share this tip (and blog) with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, etc with the links below.