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 Improvisation. If 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)
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
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.
This video is a demonstration of jazz soloing in a more harmonically open, modal context. It is a performance of the 2nd movement of John Coltrane’s famous suite, A Love Supreme (titled Resolution).