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Improvisation

In the Improvisation section:

  • Intro to Improvising Jazz

    There are many different schools of thought on how to teach or learn jazz improvisation. Some people recommend learning all the relevant scales and how they fit chord sequences, some recommend learning lots of established phrases, licks and patterns, some ... Read more…
  • Jazz Chord Symbols

    Chord Symbols Over the years there have been various different methods used to write chord symbols. Jazz evolved from using simple harmony back in the old days to quite complex harmony that was made popular by the bebop innovators, which used ... Read more…
  • Jazz Scales for Improvising

    When you are starting learn jazz impro, there is a great temptation to learn the appropriate scales that fit the chord changes, as with the chord/scale method. This approach has some merits, it can be a “kickstart” to improvisation: as ... Read more…
  • Jazz Scalechart

    I always hesitate before recommending the study of scales for improvising jazz. Although it can be very useful to know the some of the scales which “fit” a certain type of chord, you should always bear in mind that scales are there ... Read more…
  • Dorian Mode in Jazz Improvisation

    One Chord Jazz and Funk Grooves These are usually tunes or sections of tunes based on a one or two chord repeated pattern. A one-chord pattern in a minor key can imply an Aeolian, Dorian or Phrygian mode. As soon as ... Read more…
  • Jazz Patterns & Licks

    How many jazz improvisers construct a completely original solo? It may be fair to say that most players rely on scales and patterns (aka licks, phrase or in more academic circles, formulae). Jazz is an ever evolving language, the established patterns ... Read more…
  • Why You Shouldn’t transcribe

    OK, that sounds a bit radical. Transcribing is of course useful, but it can be so much more useful. One of the most common pieces of advice we see regarding learning to improvise is about the importance of transcribing. This means ... Read more…
  • Let The Good Timing Roll

    Timing in music means different things to different people. To me it sometimes means knowing when to play, and when not to play. Coming in at exactly the right time after a break, or when to make a solo relax or ... Read more…
  • Jazz Patterns for Tonic Chords

    Tonic Patterns and Cadences These are often more restricting for jazz improvisers than V7 or IIm7-V7 chords, as chromatic alterations do not sound good in many cases. The most useful chromatic alterations are blue notes, which should be used with care as the ... Read more…
  • Memorising Music

    Memorisation, whether it’s totally committing something to memory, or used to help with (sight) reading tricky music, can be seen as two almost separate techniques: Randomness and patterns. Memorising random bits of information is the hardest, for example if you can’t speak ... Read more…
  • Blues Riffs & Licks

    Riffs or Licks – What’s the Difference? Licks are short musical phrases used in jazz, blues and rock improvising. Some players have a memorised collection or repertoire of favourite licks that they will throw into a solo every now and then. Riffs, on the other ... Read more…
  • Jazz Resources

    Recommended Jazz Reading This is not a comprehensive list, just a few of the jazz books I recommend. These were all used on the undergraduate jazz & pop music performance programme when I was teaching at the University of Southampton. Useful ... Read more…
  • Jazz Repertoire

    Jazz Tunes & Standards Jazz and pop musicians learn tunes from records, other musicians  or from printed music. Jazz musicians sometimes specialise in a particular area but there are some tunes that everyone should know, if only to avoid embarrassment at a ... Read more…
  • Free Tunes & Backing Tracks

    This page has moved here Read more…

 

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