End of Phrases

Thanks again for stopping by and checking out the site! If this is your first visit here, I would like to welcome and invite you to browse around and take a look at some of our past posts as well as my book (Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and Breaking the Monotony) which are both available at my Digital Store.

Those that have been following know how big I am into the concept of targeting (or aiming at a goal note with purpose). In today’s tip, I wanted to talk about the concept of targeting and the importance of the end of the phrase. I believe if we focus on how we want our phrase to end before we start it-we will find that our ideas will not wander because we’re aiming at a goal ( in this case the end of the phrase) with purpose.

Students often struggle with wandering in their early stages of learning how to improvise. Their phrases/ideas start out great, but they aren’t sure how they will end it. Instead of making a musical statement, they have a run-on sentence (or paragraph for that matter) that lacks cohesiveness.

I find I have more creativity if I build my ideas backwards. If I know where and how I’m going to end my phrase, I now have different options of how I’m going to get there. Let’s take a look at a quick example. The idea below is what we will use as the end of our phrase:

The end of the phrase is targeting the 5th of the Cmaj7 chord. It has a definitive end. Now I have options of how I’m going to get to the ending phrase. Below are a few different options that you could choose from:

The above are just a few of the many options available going to the end of the phrase ( in addition, this tip opens up more creative options to the beginning of phrases too). This process is done in real-time and is something that you have to develop. However, the end result of this practice will pay off. You will find that you (and your students) will be making more cohesive musical statements and there will be less wandering. I hope you’ve enjoyed this tip and that it adds value and benefit to your playing in some way!

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Improv Tip Week #33-Extending the Line

Welcome to week #33! This week’s tip is one that I can remember working diligently on while studying with Andy Classen at Drake University. This tip probably isn’t for everyone. Advanced musicians who have strong improv chops have probably already worked on this and maybe even spent time learning how to control it so they don’t do it as much (I know I have). This week’s tip is about extending the line. If this is your first time here, welcome! I’d highly encourage you to check out some of the past week’s tips as some of them might be helpful for you. For our returning friends…welcome back and I hope you find this week’s tip beneficial to your playing! If you haven’t yet, I want to encourage everyone to check out Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose and invite you to check it out by going to the link to the right or by going to Jason Klobnak Music for more information. The E-book version works great on mobile devices (which is an instant download available all across the globe) and the printed version is sturdy and sits nicely on a music stand. I’m currently working on having the E-book version available in a few different languages (I’ll keep you updated on those and which languages) as well as a full update on my website which will be combining this blog with my site.

Every improvisor, at some point in their development, get to a place where short phrases and/or licks are not enough to communicate their message. Can you imagine if you listened to an orator and every statement they made were short little one-liners? One-liners are necessary and add effect, but at some point you want the orator to connect his/her ideas. In improvisation, we need to move beyond the short musical statements and extend the line. We can extend the line a couple of different ways. One way is to combine our short phrases and/or licks to make them longer. Another, which is what is discussed below, combines targeting principles (in this case chromatic targeting) to help extend the line. Below is taken out of part of my book, Targeting: Improvisation With Purpose:

…Below is an exercise targeting the root, 3rd and 5th of a C-major tonality (or scale). Notice how either the root, 3rd or 5th lands on the downbeat of beat 3 of each measure (in 4/4 time):

Below is another example of targeting the root, third and fifth. However, this time the line is moving upward:

There are many different combinations that we can use to create a longer flowing line. The next example below is an exercise used to create a continuous eighth-note line. The targeted notes are the root (C), the 3rd (E) and 5th (G) of a C-major tonality. Again, notice how the root, 3rd or 5th will land on either the downbeat or beat 3 of each measure. The goal of this exercise is to mix the different types of targeting options, while still creating the continous line. For an additional challenge, create your own continuous line exercise and target the root, 3rd and 5th of every major scale’s tonality.


If you’d like to check out more, be sure to click the link above or on the right for more information. I hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s tip and would love for you to share this blog/tip with your friends and colleagues. For your convenience, you can use the links for Facebook, Twitter, etc below. As always, I hope some of you (or maybe even one of your students) have found some benefit from this tip and continue down your personal improv journey. We’ll see you next week!

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