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!
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog/post. As a thank you I wanted to give you a FREE MP3 from the JKQ. Simply click the button below and fill out the short form and you’ll have it in just a few short moments!
Jason Klobnak is a versatile trumpet player that has been performing as an active musician, author, clinician, composer and educator. His band, J's Ruckus, is Denver's blend of Post-Bop, Soul, Gospel, and Hip-Hop. They perform infectious and up-lifting originals for audiences hungry for a memorable live experience. J's Ruckus released their latest album, Suck Less, in March of 2020 and their first EP, Sermons, in July of 2019. Both were recorded live in front of an audience. Suck Less was recorded to a packed auditorium at Arapahoe Community College's Waring Theater in Littleton, CO. Sermons was recorded in front of a sold out crowd at the Soiled Dove Underground. The JKQ (the Jason Klobnak Quintet/Quartet) is Mr. Klobnak's Hammond B-3 centered groups. The JKQ released their third full-length album in March of 2018 called Friends & Family. It has been very well reviewed, on numerous Top 10 lists for Jazz radio stations across the country (including Denver's KUVO 89.3FM which named it May 2018's CD of the month), and in Jazzweek's Top 100. Each composition was written for specific family and close friends (that might as well be family). Their second album, New Chapter, was recorded in part thanks to the Pathways to Jazz Grant from the Boulder County Arts Alliance. In 2015 and 2016, New Chapter was in the Top 75 on the Jazzweek charts and on the Top 10 playlists for over a dozen radio stations worldwide. Their first album, Mountain, Move made the Best Recordings of 2013 list from AllAboutJazz.com by C. Michael Bailey. His very well reviewed Christmas single, Hark the Herald, in 2016 as part of a creative project with musicians James Roberson and Nathaniel Kearney Jr. Besides the JKQ, Mr. Klobnak is a B.A.C. (Best American Craftsman-custom trumpet), Denis Wick (mouthpiece and mutes) and Westone Audio endorsed artist (ES20 and Tru Customs). Mr. Klobnak has played and recorded for numerous groups ranging from jazz, soul/R&B, indie-rock/pop and gospel. In addition to performing, he has also written two improvisation-based books called Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony and is currently an adjunct professor and brass instructor at Arapahoe Community College. Mr. Klobnak holds a bachelor degree from Drake University (Des Moines, IA) and a Master’s degree from the University of Denver, Lamont School of Music (Denver, CO).
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