Improv Tip Week #41-Analyzing Lines Series 3
I hope you’ve been enjoying this current series on analyzing lines. This week, after listening to Charlie Parker’s Scrapple From the Apple, there was one line that I kept hearing that to me is a definitive Charlie Parker lick. I heard it repeated at least twice in this solo, but have noticed him playing it in others as well. So this week I wanted to take a look at this simple line and hopefully reveal it in a new light so you can construct similar shapes and lines in your playing.
Below is the line that I’m talking about. In his first chorus on Scrapple From the Apple I hear him end two of his “A” sections with this particular line:
There are a few things that I notice right off the bat with this line that I wanted to share. Hopefully you’ll notice this as well and look for this fundamental shape in other lines that you hear. First, the essential notes of this line are a descending F-major triad:
The line, once filled with some rhythmic interest, is essentially built off of an arpeggio. The last four notes of the line (which works great as a short blues riff by the way) is a fragment of a Fmaj7 arpeggio (without the 3rd). I work with some of my younger students to find creative ways (whether that’s with targeting principles, rhythms, etc) to make a line based off of different inversions of a triad. That’s their skeleton structure that they can build upon.
For instance, you can see how Charlie Parker uses some chromatic targeting on the 3rd (the “A” of the F-major triad) to build off of the triad.
Now, I’m not saying that Charlie Parker was thinking in terms of connecting parts of a F-major triad together. However, when I break down this line-this is what I see. It’s also how I can simplify a harmonic passage in my mind while improvising over a set of chord changes. As an exercise, trying playing lines similar to this in different inversions of the triad. You’ll notice that this particular sound is used a lot by musicians!
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip! Please feel free to share this with your friends, colleagues and students via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other site that you’re a contributor. If you haven’t checked it out yet, be sure to click on the link on my book Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose for more ways you can creatively target notes in similar ways that were mentioned above. It’s available in an E-book format (English and Spanish) as well as nicely printed/bound version (English only).
How can you analyze this fragment without mentioning neighbor tones? To me the point of it is decorating chord tones with (mostly) chromatic neighbor tones. And as such is a hallmark of bebop.
Hey Michael-thanks for posting your question! Chromatic targeting is synonymous with neighbor tones (as well as other descriptive terms that mean the same thing). It was mentioned towards the end of the post.
Thanks for bringing this up as I’m sure others may be wondering the same thing!
All the best,
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