Improv Tip Week #37-Crossing the Bar - Jason Klobnak Music

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).

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About the Author jasonklobnak

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).

  • Anonymous says:

    The rhythmic part of Schillinger System offers into the hands of good tools for Crossing the Bar

  • Terry Brady says:

    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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