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).

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0 thoughts on “Improv Tip Week #37-Crossing the Bar

  1. Terry Brady

    Thank you for this very helpful and important musical insight. I have been studying jazz for many years and was fortunate enough to have had some great teachers, but In my experience the info that you shared is not widely taught or understood by jazz players.

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