improvisation Archives - Page 2 of 11 - Jason Klobnak Music

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Using Drop 2 In Improv Part 1

 

Usually when people talk about using “Drop 2” they are typically referring to voicings (on piano or guitar) or an arranging technique. However, in today’s post I wanted to look at a creative way we can use the concept to spur ideas for your improvisations. Before we dive in to the idea I think it would be good to explain what a Drop 2 is for those that may not be familiar with that terminology.

The simplest way to explain what a “Drop 2” is to show you. If you take the 2nd voice from the top of a chord and lower it an octave you have a Drop 2 voicing. Below is a root position C7 chord. Beside it is the same C7 chord, but with the Drop 2 voicing applied.

There are a few concepts in arranging where using the Drop 2 voicing gives you a great sound (I especially like using it in the trombone section of a big band). However, I want to look at how using the Drop 2 idea can spur new creative ideas for your improvisations. We have all probably worked out arpeggios on our instruments (or at least should have/should be), but few seem to work on them outside of root position. Before you shut down thinking, “Oh, this is just an arpeggio rant” stick with me for a moment.

Those that have followed this site know how important I view the concept of targeting (aiming at a goal note with purpose). In this first part we are going to apply chromatic targeting principles (more info found in my book Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose) to the root position C7 chord and then again with the Drop 2 version. Play through these with your instrument and listen to the difference in line movement.

In this example the Drop 2 version is more angular then the root position version. While I might change the rhythm of the line up, I personally like the movement from the Drop 2 version with the overt tritone sound upfront. It does not sound like someone playing around with an arpeggio. Let’s use another example, but this time we wont start with a root position voicing. Below is a Bbmaj9 in a block chord voicing (which means all of the voices are within an octave) and then the same voicing applying Drop 2.

And a line utilizing chromatic targeting principles:

While the last two examples above used chromatic targeting on the “D,” you could use chromatic targeting on any of the notes found in the voicing. Next week we will expand the Drop 2 idea and look at some other ways we can use it for to enhance your improvisations. I hope you have enjoyed this tip and that it adds some value/benefit to you and your playing!

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Unexpected

 

You have probably heard the saying that “when life gives you lemons-make lemonade.” I know it is a cliché, but it is one that has some value to those that improvise. I wrote a post a few weeks back called Fight Through that talked about regardless of what circumstances life has given you; we still have to fight through and make music. In this post I wanted to talk about something similar and make the correlation between the unexpected things in life and how we can use that in our improvisations.

Let’s face it, there are some things in life we thought would be a “sure thing.” Ask a child what they want to be when they grow up and you will get a number of different answers. Follow those children 20 years later and ask if they are doing what they wanted to do. For some…maybe. For most…probably not. Life gives us some unexpected twists and turns. Improvisation has a way of doing the same thing. We can plan and plot, but when we finally get in the moment unexpected things can happen. Someone in the rhythm section plays something unexpected and before you know it your improvisation goes in a new direction.

Most of the time when this happens it is fun and exciting. Hopefully you know the song and harmonic progression well enough that you can go to that unexpected place together. Much like life; your attitude towards the unexpected will help determine your level of enjoyment and success. Remember you are involved in the improvisation process just as much as those you are playing with. Your input helps determine the destination.

A while back there was a video of Stefon Harris doing a TED talk floating around social media sites. He and his group of musicians did an excellent job of talking about how reacting to the unexpected creates (or detracts) from the art of improvisation. Check out the video below:

I hope you have enjoyed this week’s tip and that it has added some value and benefit to your playing in some way. The holidays are fast approaching and if you are looking for gift ideas for some musicians please go to my Digital Store today and check out my books and recently CD. I am very thankful to all of you that have made a purchase or download!

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Discovery-Brazil

 

This week’s Discovery location takes us to one of the most recognizable and largest countries in South America-Brazil! Brazil is the 5th largest country in the world with a booming economy. Most probably know that Brazil is the home of the Bossa Nova as well as other styles that are regularly incorporated into Jazz. Brazil has been home to some great jazz musicians born there as well as those who have made it their home. This wonderful country has not only embraced jazz in its various forms, but helped greatly influence the art form.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

Like a number of the other large cities that host live Jazz around the world, Brazil has live music venues too numerous to mention on this site. Someday, I would love to take my band (The JKQ) to the BMW Jazz Festival which is held in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. While I have not been, I have heard this is one of the most exciting Jazz Festivals on the planet. Take a look at their site to see who they had performing at this year’s festival.

Like mentioned with other great countries; Brazil has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Claudio Roditi– trumpet
Eliane Elias– piano
Nilson Matta– bass

These are just a few of literally hundreds of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from Brazil. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great Brazilian musicians and see what this great country has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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Discovery- Japan

 

In this week’s Discovery series we head over to Japan! Japan is made up of a series of islands (6,852 of them) in the Pacific Ocean just East of the continent of Asia. Like many of our other Discovery locations, Japan has been home to some great jazz musicians born there as well as those who have made it their home. This wonderful country has embraced jazz in its various forms and is home to a number of world-famous clubs, educational institutions and jazz festivals.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

Japan has a number of cities that offer live jazz whether you are in a large or small city. When I think of Jazz in Japan I immediately think of the Tokyo Jazz Festival. This is one of the world’s foremost Jazz festivals that bring talent from all corners of the globe. Check out their website to see who performed this last year and you will see a list of world-class musicians gracing the stages. It is possible that there are some Jazz festivals in the world that do this, but the Tokyo Jazz Festival is the only one that I have read about that offers child care for concert attendees. As a father of young children-that might just be a deal breaker!

Like mentioned with other great countries; Japan has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Takuya Kuroda– trumpet

Hiromi Uehara– piano

Erena Terakubo– sax

These are just a few of literally hundreds of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from Japan. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great Japanese musicians and see what this great country has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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Say That Again

STAHave you ever had a line in your improvisation that came up in the moment that you liked so much that you wanted to Say That Again? But, the progression keeps moving so you had to transpose the line. For some improvisers this scenario can be nerve-racking because you might only know that line in one or two keys. In today’s post I want to share an exercise I use regularly (and one that you should never stop doing) to help not only with ear training, but with confidence in playing in all keys. This exercise in the academic world has a number of different terms associated with it: sequencing, transposing, modulating, etc. However, when I work with younger students I like to not only teach the academic musical terms, but call them something they might find humorous so they remember it. In this case, I like to call this exercise: Say That Again!

It is simple. When you are practicing find a motif, riff or lick (perhaps the Lick of the Day here on this site) that you like. For this example we will use the lick below:

STAmotif

After playing the lick (motif, riff, etc) a few times as written…stop looking at it. Memorize it and play it without reading the notes. Once you have the lick down you are going to Say That Again, but by playing it a half-step up or down (see below):

STA.5down STA.5up

You can continue that pattern all the way up (or down) the chromatic scale. Not only have you played the lick in all keys, but you now can play the lick in half-step motions which can be used for taking a line outside. Another very popular way of doing this exercise is by going up in fourths which is often called playing around the cycle of fourths (see below):

STAup4

Practicing your lick this way gets you to start thinking about moving around one of the most common root progression movements (ex. iim7 – V7- Imaj7 all have root movements of a fourth). The next couple of examples move the lick around major 2nds (up or down the whole-tone scale) and minor 3rds (up or down the Diminished 7th chord):

Major 2nds

STAupM2

STAdownWT

Minor 3rds

STAupm3

STAupDIM

I hope this week’s tip has added some value or benefit to you or your student’s playing in some way. For a challenge this week take one of the licks from the Lick of Day found here on this site and take it through the Say It Again exercise. Over time you will be able to navigate your favorite lines through different harmonic progressions with ease!

Finally, be sure to pick up your copy of Mountain, Move today. Part of the proceeds of each album sale (physical or digital) help the Pearl Alliance and their fight against human trafficking. You can get one at our Digital Store along with both of my books: Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony.

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Targeting Using the Augmented Scale

Targeting Using the Augmented Scale

I wanted to share a fun sound that I have been experimenting with recently. For those that have followed this site the past 2+ years know that I am believer in the concept of targeting. This post will be looking at how you can use the augmented scale through the lens of targeting principles that I outline in my first book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose.

What is the Augmented Scale?

Since we have a number of people who visit this site from different levels and abilities we will take a look at what exactly an augmented scale is. An augmented scale is made up of two augmented triads that are a minor third apart. I have also heard an augmented scale called the “minor third, half-step scale,” but not very often. For most in the jazz community (or at least those that know about it) call it the augmented scale. Below is the C augmented scale:

Augmented Scale

Most Jazz educators will tell you that you can use this scale over any augmented 7th chord (for example a C7+) or a x7#11 chord (example would be a C7#11). I agree that the augmented scale works well over those so I am not disagreeing with that usage. However, like a lot of melodic/harmonic devices they can be used with targeting principles. Again, I am not going to outline what those are right now.

Targeting Using the Augmented Scale

However, let’s look at how using the augmented scale to target the “C” below in two different situations cause a unique and powerful sound over the listed progressions:

AugTargetEx1

AugTargetEx2

In my practice time I have been gravitating to this particular sound lately. I love the combination of the minor third and the half-step because of its melodic possibilities. I would invite you to try the above example in different harmonic situations where the targeted note would be a “C.” I hope you have enjoyed this week’s tip and that it has added some value and benefit to your playing in some way!

 

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Discovery- Canada

 

We head North in this week’s Discovery series as we take a trip to Canada. Canada, comprised of 10 provinces in 3 terrirtories,  is the world’s second largest country in total land area. It is so vast that it touches 3 of the world’s 4 oceans. While the majority of Canadians speak English there is a large population of residents in Quebec that speak French. Canada has a rich history in music, art, architecture and history.  Canada has been home to some great jazz musicians born there as well as those who have made it their home. As a trumpet player myself-there are a few jazz trumpet players that most have heard of including Ingrid Jensen and Guido Basso (to name few). The same could be said of a number of other instruments. This wonderful country has embraced jazz in its various forms and is home to a number of clubs, educational institutions and jazz festivals.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

Canada has a number of cities that offer live jazz, but one that stands out to me the most is Toronto. Toronto is home to a number of clubs as well as the Toronto Jazz Festival (which the JKQ hopes to play in the future!). It is held annually around the June/July months and has an outstanding roster each season.

Like mentioned with other great countries; Canada has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Brian Chahley– trumpet
Francois Bourassa– piano
Gabe Condon– guitar

These are just a few of literally hundreds of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from Canada. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great Canadian musicians and see what this great country has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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Discovery- Sweden

 

In this week’s Discovery series-we take a trip to Sweden. Sweden, a Scandinavian country in Norther Europe, is the third largest country in the European Union in land mass. Like many of the other European destinations we have visited with this series; Sweden has a rich history in music, art, architecture and history.  Sweden has been home to some great jazz musicians born there as well as those who have made it their home. This wonderful country has embraced jazz in its various forms and is home to a number of clubs, educational institutions and jazz festivals.

As with our past locations, the goal is to introduce you to 3 new musicians each week from different parts of the world. My hope is you will find some new discoveries, support them by buying their albums and by attending their concerts if you are in their area (or they in yours). Another benefit is for you to hear new musicians and how they approach their instrument and jazz. You never know where you might find your next favorite line!

Sweden has a number of cities that offer live jazz, but their capital city of Stockholm is home to a number of clubs as well as the Stockholm Jazz Festival (which the JKQ hopes to play in the future!). If you click on the link above it will show you who is playing at this year’s festival which will happen on October 14-20th.

Like mentioned with other great Western European countries; Sweden has been the home to a number of jazz musicians known and unknown. Hopefully the musicians below are people you will start checking out (if you have not already).

Johan Christoffersson– sax
Naoko Sakata– piano
Kristian Brink– sax

These are just a few of literally hundreds of great jazz musicians you can find in and/or from Sweden. If you have checked out these musicians above, be sure to check out their websites and albums to support them. I would also highly encourage you to look up other great Swedish musicians and see what this great country has to offer in terms of Jazz.

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