January 23, 2019

Jazz Style

Other Important Elements of Jazz

Trying to play jazz without knowing scales is like trying to speak English without knowing your ABC’s. You can get somewhere by copycatting grown ups (transcribing more advanced musicians), but without a conceptual context it’s hard to form original and interesting thoughts.

The goal is to communicate those interesting thoughts. The below videos explore what that looks like in a jazz context, given the idiosyncrasies of the jazz style and common harmonic schemes.

Beginner- Stomping at the Savoy

Various exercises on the piece “Stomping at the Savoy”, with an emphasis on Tonal ImprovisationIf you have not completed this module, I recommend doing so before trying this video. It may also help to review the Harmony module.

0:45- Simplify the chords as much as possible before adding complexity
1:05- Add V chords (dominants)
1:50- Demonstration
2:25- Basic turnaround
3:05- Addition of a bass line, demonstration
3:45- Soloing over this progression, adding harmonic interest with dominants
4:45- Adding ii-V movements
5:10- Adding Secondary dominants
5:38- Adding Secondary predominants
6:00- Further “back-cycling” (adding V chords before each chord), and elaborations
8:35- Linear demonstration over harmony with substitutions.
9:55- ‘Pick your battles’- you don’t have to play every chord in a playing situation!
10:22- Demonstration of major pentatonic over the whole progression
11:00- Call and response (play with strong rhythm and conviction)
13:53- Practice techniques for I vi ii V- voice led chord shapes
15:35- Adding complexity to chord stacks
16:55- Demonstration of voice leading
18:55- Elaborating on basic arpeggios with chromaticism or alterations

For more ways to use looping to your advantage while practicing, try Loops and Vamps

Please download the backing track from here. (MP3)

Intermediate- Play Along Swing with Christian Howes

Learn to play over a common jazz turnaround progression (I-vi-ii-V) by imitation. This concept is discussed in the previous All 12 keys are addressed with ideas of varying complexity.

If this progression or concept is unclear, please review the Tonal Improvisation module

Advanced- Unaccompanied Jazz Violin

Some ideas for practicing playing jazz pieces with no accompaniment. How to create a accompaniment part and how to play melody with it.

More on playing unaccompanied in the Violin Harmony Handbook, found in the Harmony module.

Advanced- Donna Lee

Donna Lee is a bebop tune composed by Miles Davis and first recorded by Davis and Charlie Parker. The melody of the tune (0:00-0:33 on the video) is famously complex; here, Christian models a way for violinists to navigate complex bebop melodies with the bow. Following the melody is relatively advanced solo which makes use of traditional bop language, as well as more modern licks and also some blues.

For more on some of the concepts used here, check out the Bebop Scale and Melodic Minor modules