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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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Improv Tip Week #5- Independence in Improvisation

Hey Everyone! Welcome to Week #5’s tip-Independence in Improvisation. Today (July 4th, 2011) in the U.S., we celebrate our Independence Day and what better day to talk about independence in improvisation than today? This is a topic that I don’t hear talked about enough in jazz education when discussing improvisation. This week’s tip is something that I try to work on at least once a week and encourage everyone to do the same.

Independence in improvisation could have a few different definitions, but the one that I’m applying refers to the ability to improvise effectively with no accompaniment. A few years ago I had the honor to take a lesson with jazz trumpeter, Ron Miles. We talked a lot about melodic considerations while improvising, but the topic that dominated the majority of our discussion was the ability to improvise when no one else is around (or when the rhythm section drops out for a chorus). This not only works on your time, but makes you focus on the melody and chord changes on a deeper level.

In our modern age of technology, we have become very dependent on our digital “rhythm sections.” Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE using Aebersold’s, Band-in-A-Box and my current favorite…iReal Book for the iPhone. As a matter of fact, I use them on a regular basis. However, we become dependent on having something else feed us the changes and dependent on it keeping time for us. It can cause our improvisations to become reactive instead of proactive. When we’re playing on the bandstand, we’re playing with other musicians who are making music with us. If we’ve spent all of our time with a digital rhythm section, it becomes more difficult to interact with the REAL musicians on stage. The more time we spend working on a song independently, the more freedom we have with that song. It’s become so ingrained that we don’t have to think about it on the bandstand and our focus can move from what I’m playing to what we’re playing.

For this week, take the song(s) that you’re learning and improvise with no backing track of any kind. If this is your first time utilizing this concept, it will probably be a little difficult for the first couple of times. However, after a short time of working on it, when you play it with a rhythm section you will feel a new level of confidence and a sense of freedom to interact with those around you.

I hope this week’s tip has been as helpful to you as it has been to me! There are 27 days left in July, so if you haven’t entered for the July $100 drawing yet, be sure to go to the link on your right or to Jason Klobnak Music to get the details on how you can win and the official rules for the drawing. On July 31st, 2011 a $100 Amazon.com (or a $100 pre-paid credit card) winner will be announced via video HERE on this blog!

Otherwise, we’ll see you next week for Improv Tip Week #6!

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