Analyzing Nica’s Dream. About a year ago I started a series on Analyzing Lines. We took a look at a few lines of some of the giants of jazz and broke them down to see why and how they worked. If we can uncover those questions we can learn to build our own lines. The jazz community recently lost a great jazz trumpeter, Donald Byrd. I remember the first time I heard him play was on Nica’s Dream on The Jazz Messengers album by Art Blakey & the Jazz Messengers (Columbia, 1956). I’ve included a YouTube link at the bottom if you haven’t checked it out.
I wanted to do a tribute analysis from one of my favorite lines in his solo on Nica’s Dream. Like I mentioned in the previous Analyzing Lines series-this is my breakdown of what I see him playing and how we can relate and build from it. I’m not inferring in any way that this is how Mr. Byrd played or thought about improvisation.
For those that have been following my posts, you know how much I dig targeting concepts. So let’s take a look at how Mr. Byrd targets specific notes in the line above. Bar 42 looks like he is thinking in the key of Db. You will then notice that he chromatically targets the “F” in bar 43:
Then he uses a diminished targeting concept to target the “F” in bar 44 on the Bb7(b9):
A similar targeting concept is used to target the Bb in that same bar:
I love the way this particular line flows. It has a great combination of targeting concepts, key centered playing and soul. If you’ve never checked out Donal Byrd’s playing, I would highly recommend it. If you would like to know more about how to construct your own lines with different targeting principles (like those mentioned above), I would suggest you check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose which you can find at my Digital Store available as a digital download or for only $15/month get access to everything (every course, book, PDF, album, etc).
Welcome to the last part of the Map It Out series. In today’s post we will finish looking at the song Stand Firm by completing the “B” section and then creating a route through the whole progression. If you haven’t looked at the earlier parts in this series, I highly encourage you to check those out (or any of the other past posts on improvisation, composition, etc).
First, let’s take a look at the “B” section to Stand Firm. We mentioned last week that the “A” sections were in Abmaj, yet had a quick minor 2-5 that went to C minor (or the 3rd of Ab). Instead of implying a C minor sound, like the “A” section, the “B” section goes to the C minor. It’s complimented by it’s 5 chord-the G7(b9).
As mentioned in the previous parts, we want to keep the map options simple through the first pass or two. So I’m listing different pentatonic scale options to simplify the thought process.
One option that I see that sticks out would be the Bb major pentatonic because it could be used over the entire “B” section. Again, this DOES NOT mean this would be your only option for improvising. It does, however, help provide a mental map of what your options are going through the changes for the first time. The more familiar you get with the progression, the more options you have available.
Now we have all of the different sections (intro/vamp, A section & B section) mapped out with some pentatonic options. Here’s how our map turned out:
The final stage is to take that map and chart out a route. You could do this in the moment if you are at a mature enough stage in your improvisation development. If you’re a beginner, I would suggest you do this before hand. Here’s one charted route based on the map above:
It may be hard to tell from the picture so here’s another version that may be easier to read:
This is ONE possible route you could take. There are a number of different route options. To hear which one I end up taking in the recording studio-be sure to grab my CD “Mountain, Move.” It should release in the Fall of 2013. If you’d like more information on how you can be a part of the CD project, you can visit my Digital Store today. Individuals and businesses that support the project not only get a copy of the album when it comes out, but they will have other benefits added along with it (including tickets to the CD release, their name/company logo on the jacket or CD, etc for certain donation levels). Be sure to stop by today and be a part of the project!
Welcome to part 3 of the Map It Out series. If this is your first time visiting this site I’d like to welcome you to check out the previous posts on this topic as well as a number of other categories you can find on my blog. Also, be sure to check out the Lick of the Day as well as my Digital Store.
Last week we finished mapping out a plan for the intro/vamp section. This week I wanted to take a look at the “A” section of Stand Firm.
The first chord of the “A” section is an Abmaj9. If that were the only chord to the “A” section then we could use just about anything that was in the key area of Ab major. However, you’ll notice in the 7th and 8th bar that there is a Dmin7(b5) and a G7(b9). Those are not in the key area of Ab major. When you see something out of the key area you know you need to do some quick investigating to find the relationship.
Any time you see a chord progression that looks like the two types listed below-they are some form of 2-5 (and the “5” chord can have any type of alteration applied). 2-5’s and 2-5-1’s outside of the original key area are temporary modulations or setups for key changes:
If we take that information and look at the Dmin7(b5) to G7(b9) in Stand Firm we know it is a minor 2-5. Where would it resolve? To some form of C (typically a C minor). How is the C minor related to the Abmaj9? It’s the 3rd of the Abmaj. So the minor 2-5 in bar 7 & 8 is a minor 2-5-1 of the 3rd scale degree of the original key area. Because we go back to the Abmaj9 we know we’re not changing keys so it is a temporary modulation.
Over the minor 2-5 itself we can use a number of different options. However, since we’ve been talking about simplifying our options in this Map It Out series and using pentatonics-let’s look at some pentatonic options over the minor 2-5. Over the min7(b5) you can use major pentatonics based off of the b6 or the b5. Each one gives a slightly different sound then the other. Another option is to use the F-insen pentatonic scale (insen pentatonic based off of the b3). For more information on that I would invite you to check out previous posts on pentatonics on this site.
Over the 7(b9) you can use major pentatonics based off of the b9, #9 or #11. There are a number of different pentatonic (and non-pentatonic) options you can use for these, but that could turn into a completely different topic altogether. You can use the melodic minor scale, pentatonic scale, diminished, etc.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s post on mapping it out. Next week we will finish mapping out Stand Firm and looking at the “B” section. For more information on how you can use various pentatonic scales to creatively target notes in your improvisations I would highly recommend you check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose which is available at my Digital Store.
Last week we looked at mapping out a plan of attack when looking at a new chart or chord progression. We’re going to take the same chart (Stand Firm which will be on my album Mountain, Move later this year) and go further into the progression mapping out a plan. Last week we looked at some different options on the first two chords of the vamp/intro. In today’s post we will take a look at the remainder of that section. Below is the part of the piano part:
We talked about how the first two chords of the intro/vamp are the same chord quality just a whole step a part. This continues until the 7th and 8 bar. It takes the same chord quality and moves up a half step then an additional whole step (Dmin11 to Ebmin11 to Fmin11). Similar to last week’s map we can take pentatonic pairs and move them up a half step and then another whole step as shown below:
From there you can develop a road map of where you might want to go. Below is the full intro/vamp:
You can use whatever tools you want. I’m using pentatonics for these examples because they’re simple and contain great melodic possibilities. I’ve listed two different option paths you could take through the vamp/intro section:
Obviously there are a number of different combination paths you could choose, but like I mentioned last week I think it’s best during your first run-through of a new chart to find the path that has a nice linear path.
Next week we will take a look at the “A” section of this chart and continue mapping out a plan. If you haven’t already done so, I’d like to invite you to check out my Digital Store where you can get more information on my books (Targeting: Improvisation with Purpose and Breaking the Monotony), Skype Lessons and information on how you can help be a part of the Mountain, Move recording project. Also, don’t forget to check back daily for the Lick of the Day that is in the upper right corner of the site!
Today’s post is simple, but one that might take a few moments of reflection if you haven’t thought about it in a while. Who has influenced the way you improvise? Who do you listen to the most? Who, when you listen to them, inspires you to grab your instrument and shut out the rest of the world so you can practice?
Maybe you already do this, but if you don’t-check out musicians that don’t play the same instrument as you. Not everything they play will translate over to your instrument, but you never know what might influence you. If you are a trumpet player…listen to some sax, piano or guitar players, etc.
Let’s take this a step deeper. When was the last time you listened to music that WASN’T jazz for the purpose of finding new influence? Exploring other styles is OK and might give you another perspective rhythmically, melodically or harmonically. Granted, not everything out there will inspire or influence the way you play. However, you won’t know unless you are exposed to some degree.
Go beyond music for influence too. Listen and watch great orators and public speakers. Great ones have a good sense of timing and rhythm in their delivery. If we connect what we do in improvisation to communication-then why don’t we let great communicators influence how we improvise?
I won’t give a full list of who influences me, but here are a few that have recently:
Tom Harrell (trumpet), Alex Sipiagin (trumpet), Wynton Marsalis (trumpet), Terence Blanchard (trumpet), Joey DeFrancesco (organ), Pat Martino (guitar), Lionel Loueke (guitar), Brice Winston (sax), Tim Warfield (sax), Bobby Sparks (organ), Michael Gungor (guitar/vocals), Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, etc.
Again, that’s not a full list so please don’t be offended if you’re not in the one above 🙂 However, maybe there’s a name in there you don’t recognize or is not in your “style.” That’s OK, but let me challenge you to go beyond your regulars and explore a little bit.
Let me here from you. Who influences and/or inspires you? Finally, please don’t forget to check out the Lick of the Day and my Digital Store. All purchases help go to funding my recording project that I’m starting in March called “Mountain, Move.”
Welcome back to my site…I hope you’ve enjoyed this quick series on jazz rhythm solfege! If this is your first time visiting this site, please feel free to browse around and check out previous posts or go to my Digital Store today where you’ll find great resources that will help you unlock your potential in improvisation and rhythm!
In this 2nd part of this series I wanted to give you more examples of how we can apply part 1’s solfege syllables/words to your jazz rhythms. This is simply an exercise that will help solidify your jazz rhythm time, phrasing and articulation. Check out last week’s post to get the general rules on how to apply the syllables.
Below are a few more examples of using that system. The first is a string of eighth notes that are tied in the center. Note the end of the first group uses Dah while the end of the phrase has Daht.
The next example shows the use of the syllables with the triplet as well as the end of the phrase that should NOT use the syllable Daht.
The next example shows an off-beat quarter note (which requires a Daht) and a dotted-quarter (anything longer then a quarter should use Dah or Doo).
The final example shows what you would use over sixteenths and sixteenth-note triplets.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip and series and that it has added value and benefit to your playing or teaching. I know the examples above didn’t cover every rhythm known to man, but I hope that it gives you a plan to implement. As I mentioned in last week’s post: if you have ways or tips that you use for jazz rhythm solfege-please feel free to comment and give your suggestion(s). We’re here to help each other!
If you’d like to learn more, I’d like to invite you go visit my online school.
I had a recommendation from a new friend, George Martin, on our Facebook wall to write a post on using solfege rhythm in jazz. This has been something that I’ve used with students (especially beginners) and was something I was taught back in Middle School by my first teacher-Craig Swartz. I know there are a few sources out there that talk about this in book form. The first that comes to mind is a book by Mike Longo called How to Sight Read Jazz and Other Syncopated Type Rhythms. If you’re interested in learning more on that topic, it’s a good read.
In this first part of the jazz rhythm solfege series I want to talk about the syllable/words that I like to use and why (with a few examples). The next part will be some more in-depth examples that I hope will help you and your students.
This is a rhythmic solfege to help give a musician a greater sense of rhythmic time, phrasing and articulation. So the syllables/words below aren’t assigned to a specific pitch like it is in the standard solfege system (i.e. Do, Re, Mi, Fa, etc). Again, this is the way I like to use and present it. If you have a way that works for you and your students…great! Please feel free to comment and share! Below are the basic rules:
Those are the general rules. Let’s take a look at a simple example below:
Next week we will take a few more examples and apply the jazz rhythm solfege principles to them. I hope this tip has added value and benefit to you and your students in some way. If you haven’t checked out my books or courses yet, I’d like to invite you to go to my online school.
Thank you for taking the time to read this blog/post!