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).

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