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Improv Tip Week # 48-Outside-In part 3

Welcome to week #48! We’re only a few more weeks before hitting the one year mark! I’ve got some exciting things to announce in the next coming days and weeks ahead so be sure to continue checking in. In this week’s tip, we’re going to continue in our series on Outside-In. We’ve been talking about how you can create outside lines with structure so they’re not random and have a flow of logic that connects with your audience. This week we’re going to look at tritone substitutions as well as superimposing a progression based off of a way Bill Evans often reharmonized ii-V-I’s.

Let’s first take a look at the often talked about tritone substitution. There’s been a lot of mystery associated with this term and I hope to clear some of that up to show that it’s not as complicated as some make it out. A lot of our recent examples have been in the key of C…so let’s switch it up this week and move to the key of Eb. Let’s start with the ii-V-I in Eb:

A tritone substitution is simply taking the V7 chord and replacing it with the same quality chord a tritone (sharp 4th or flatted 5th interval) away. Instead of having Fmin7-Bb7-Ebmaj7. You now have Fmin7-E7-Ebmaj7. Notice how the root movement descends chromatically. The reason why the tritone substitution works so well is that the Bb7 and the E7 (tritone away) share the same guide-tones (the 3rd and the flat 7th of the chord):

(Quick note: anytime you have a V7 chord that lasts a full measure…you can turn it into a one-bar ii-V. This holds true for tritone substitutions.)

This substitution is the same as what we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks in this series by superimposing chord changes. Tritone substitutions are commonplace in chord progressions and reharmonizations, but we’re going to look at superimposing the tritone substitution as a means of structuring our outside lines (i.e. the soloist plays the superimposed line while the rhythm section plays the ii-V-I). Below is a good example of how you can superimpose the tritone substitution over the standard changes:

The next example below is taking the idea of the tritone substitution a step further. The great jazz pianist, Bill Evans, was known for a lot of things in jazz. But, one of the aspects I admired of his was reharmonization techniques. Mr. Evans took an additional step in some of his reharmonizations with the tritone substitution. We can use that for our structure to go outside as well. In this past couple of weeks we talked about the 3-tonic and 4-tonic systems and how they’re connected by their V7 or iimin7 chords and also how they’re dividing the octave by major 3rds and minor 3rds. Bill Evans would take the tritone substitution (with the one bar ii-V, or Bmin7-E7 in our example above) and connect the iimin7 (Fmin7) to the tritone sub’s iimin7 (Bmin7) by ascending the quality of the chord up by minor thirds (Fmin7-Abmin7-Bmin7). That progression is below:

The final example is taking that superimposed progression above and playing lines based on that progression (while the rhythm section plays the standard ii-V-I):

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and this series. You should have a good idea now of what it means to superimpose a chord progression and how we can use the idea of superimposition to play “outside” in a structured way. Always remember: You need to know how to play inside before you can outside and to connect to your audience you need to make sure you’re coming back inside at some point. Please feel free to share this tip/site via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIN, Google+ or other sites you’re a contributor. For easy social media sharing access, there are easy buttons below!



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