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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!

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Clinic at Drake University 10-7-11

I wanted to let everyone know that I’ll be doing a clinic/master class at Drake University (Des Moines, IA) tomorrow (10-7-11) from 12:00-1:00pm at the Turner Jazz Center. The Turner Jazz Center is on the corner of Forest Ave and 25th st in Des Moines, IA 50311. I’ll also be working with the jazz band at North High School in the morning (7:40am-9:10am) at 501 Holcomb in Des Moines.

For more information about the clinic, you can send me an email at jason@jasonklobnak.com or by contacting the Drake University Department of Music at 515-271-2011. In the next couple of weeks, I’ll post a video of the clinic for those that wont be able to attend.

 

Improv Tip Week #18-Using the Melody p1

Hey Everyone-here we are again with week #18’s tip-Using the Melody. This is the first week of another one of our multi-week series. If you’ve done any studying of improvisation in jazz, you’ll hear or read at some point the suggestion of “use the melody as your guide.” This is an excellent suggestion, especially for younger musicians or those just starting out in improvisation. However, I know for myself, no one really talked about how we’re supposed to use the melody as a guide. I had a few ideas of what it might be (like quoting the melody or using little phrases of the original melody in my improvisation), but never really had any ideas that clicked. The next couple of weeks, we’re going to look at how we can use the melody in our improvisations. The composer of the song we’re playing took the time to create the main theme or melody and we should be using it (or some form or part of it) while improvising. One of jazz education’s pioneers, Dr. Ed Byrne, has a lot of great material on using elements of the melody. This week’s tip is based off of his research and I recommend you check it out.

In my very first improv tip (week #1-Guide Tones/Targets), we looked at what guide tones or targets are and how they’re great notes to aim for in improvisation. We’re going to look at the melody and find it’s essential pitches. Many times, these essential pitches will be guide tones. However, many times the melody may not have a guide tone (3rds and 7ths) in a particular measure. We’re looking for essential pitches, or those that are most important to the melody…and sometimes those are 9ths, 11ths, 13ths, etc. Half notes or greater become obvious choices because they’re taking up harmonic space. If they’re less than a half note (quarters, eigths, etc) then I believe it’s up to the personal intrepretation of the improvisor to determine if it’s essential or not. The ears are the ultimate judge. We first determine what those essential pitches are and use them as targets for our improvisation. Depending on the harmonic progression, there can be multiple essential pitches.

After finding the essential pitches, we can use different tools to get us to our targeted notes (or essential pitches). For our first week, let’s look at a jazz standard and give some examples.

This first week we’re going to look at a standard that just about everyone in the jazz world knows (All the Things You Are). Below is the first 8 bars of this standard that we’ll be using.

The graphic below shows what I believe would be the essential pitches to ATTYA. You will notice that in the case of this song’s first 8 bars, the essential pitches happen to be guide tones.

Now that we know what our essential pitches are, I’m going to use them as notes that I’m targeting. If you go back through some of our past week’s tips, you’ll find a few different tools of what we can use to get these targeted/essential pitches. This is a very big part of my approach and you can find out more about how to creatively get to these pitches by checking out my book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose. Adding creative rhythm along with the tools to get us to our essential pitches creates an improvisation that’s based off of the melody. If you play the example below, you can still recognize the original melody.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip. Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be looking at a few different standards and expanding what we can do to “use the melody as our guide.” Thank you again for checking this week’s tip out and I encourage you to share this tip (and blog) with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other music site that you’re a contributor. For more information on my book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose you can go to Jason Klobnak Music. Thanks again and I look forward to your thoughts/comments!

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!

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Improv Tip Week #17- Motifs part 3

Welcome back to week #17 where we’re going to finish up our current mini-series on motifs. We’ve looked at how we can develop motifs by changing up the rhythm and probably the most obvious: notes. This week we’re going to look at what we can do with changing the intervals and the shape/contour. For those that may be joining us for the first time, let’s look at our original motif that we’ve been developing along with it’s general shape/contour:


Let’s first take a look at what we can do with the intervals. There are 3 intervals in the above example. The C to G is down a 4th, the G to A is up a major 2nd and the A to Eb is down a tritone. Using the interval combinations of 4ths/5ths, major 2nds and tritones we can develop the original motif. This can lead to some interesting options and I would suggest that when you’re developing your motifs that you save this type of development for later as they often lead to lines that go outside of the stated harmony (unless that’s what you’re going for). Depending on the effect you’re going for, re-arrange the combination of intervals. Using targeting principles with this takes more thought, but can be done. Below is an example over the same first four bar blues that we’ve been using. The original motif is stated in the first measure, but over the next three bars a combination of those intervals is used to develop something new (along with a re-statement of the original motif).

The last way we can develop our original motif that we’re going to talk about is manipulating the contour/shape of the original motif. We can use the same shape and transpose the original phrase, reverse the shape (reverse the direction) or keep the same shape but accent it’s characteristics (i.e. if the shape goes down…how far down do you want to make it?). The example below will use all three ways just mentioned:

I hope you’ve enjoyed the Motifs series and find them beneficial to your improvisations! Feel free to share this tip (and blog) with your friends via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ or any other site that you’re a contributor. If you’ve enjoyed them or have found them beneficial, let your friends know and have them stop by. Also, if you haven’t checked out my book Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose yet, you can go to my digital store at Jason Klobnak Music or by clicking the link on the right. Thanks again and I look forward to hearing from all of you!

 

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