| |

Improv Tip Week #19-Using the Melody p2

Hey Everyone…welcome back to Week #19 where we’ll be going into the second part of our multi-week series on using the melody. But before we do that, I wanted to thank every one again that was at my clinic at Drake University’s Turner Jazz Center on Friday (Oct. 7th). I had a great time and met a number of great people. Thanks again to Andy Classen (Director of Jazz Studies and Professor of Trumpet) for being a great host! I look forward to hearing good things out of those students and the further growth of Drake University’s Jazz Department.

Last week we looked at using the essential melody notes and guide tones to use the melody as our guide. However, our musical example didn’t have a difference between the essential melodic notes and the guide tones (they were the same). So, this week I wanted to take another jazz standard and use the same process we did last week to construct a solo based off of the essential notes/guide tones found in the melody. This week, we’re going to use Miles Davis’ Solar. Below is the melody with chords:

So let’s take a look at the essential melody notes. Again, we will still find that a majority of our essential melodic notes are guide tones. However, there are a few 9ths and 5ths that I’ve decided to use because I thought they helped define the melody (remember that in some cases personal preferences are ok). You will also notice that I’ve decided to use in some measures multiple essential notes/guide tones so I have additional targets to aim for during the solo. If you play through this reduced version of the melody (just the half notes and whole notes)-you can still hear the song. Below are what I would consider the essential melody notes and/or guide tones:

Now, let’s take the above as our road map and use some targeting principles (covered in previous blog tips and in my book, (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose) along with some rhythmic creativity and build a solo:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip! If you’ve enjoyed this tip (and blog), please be sure to share it with your friends on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other site that you’re a contributor. There are even buttons on the bottom that will link you to your accounts. If you’d like more information on how we can creatively target notes, be sure to check out my book-Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose by going to Jason Klobnak Music. I look forward to hearing from you!

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!





Similar Posts


  1. The changes to Solar are wrong. This is the Real Book version. In the original recording Miles plays 3 bars of C minor and the G-7 to C7 don’t happen untill bar 4: | C- | C- | C- | G-7 C7| ………. Just to let you know. Best, Joep

    1. Hey Joep-thanks for the reply! You’re right, these changes are from the Real Book and Miles’ original recording on his album Walkin’ has the ii-V to F in the fourth bar. I’ve heard it played both ways and left it alone for the example.

      All the best!


    2. ….I think you are right about leaving it the way it is because that is the way almost everybody plays it since most players base their performance on a real book rather than an orginal recording. Too bad mistakes in the real books get copied rather than corrected but….it is what it is and there are more important battles to fight, right? Joep

    3. That’s a good point. I think they’re doing a better job of getting the mistakes corrected in the newer versions, but sometimes things get left out.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.