[Dixielandjazz] Improvisation was playing from the heart.
barbonestreet at earthlink.net
Tue Dec 7 11:28:37 PST 2004
As Larry Stated, improvisation is COMPLICATED. A blend of Linear, Vertical,
Technique and Soul (or heart, or feeling etc).
E.G. How else, while sitting in, would one be able to improvise on a tune
that one has never heard, other than vertically? Couldn't do it based upon a
melodic line if you don't know the melody. But you can do it on the chords
if you have a good chord man feeding them.
For the musicians on the List, here is some of the best advice on improv
that I have ever seen. For others, it is LONG & BORING so delete now.
Of course, even for those who master the advice and exercises below, you
still have to play from the heart, rather than mechanically else it all goes
SAXOPHONE JOURNAL - MARCH/APRIL 1994 - MILES OSLAND
CREATIVE JAZZ IMPROVISATION
LINEAR AND VERTICAL IMPROVISATION
Example 1 through 7--- Example 8 through 15
In my last four columns we have looked at improvisational devices that Iàve
defined as linear and vertical applications. I would now like to review how
we have reached this point, then discuss a few basic linear and vertical
concepts, and also look at several exercises for the beginning improviser.
LINEAR AND VERTICAL IMPROVISATION
The term linear improvisation can easily be translated to scaler or modal
improvisation. Since the saxophone is a single line instrument, linear
activity is the most accessible form of improvisation. Vertical
improvisation, or chordal playing, can be acheived on the saxophone by
creating the illusion of playing chords. This effect is acquired on a single
line instrument by using arpeggios. What I strive for in my playing and
encourage my students to develope is a good combination of both the linear
and vertical concepts. Some of the greatest jazz solos on record (i.e.,
Miles Davis' solo on So What, John Coltrane's solo on Giant Steps) blend the
linear and vertical concepts almost to a textbook case. We have looked at
the scale (linear) to chord (vertical) relationships of the dorian mode to
the min13 chord, the major scale and lydian mode to the MAJ13 #11 chord, the
mixolydian mode and mixture scale to the DOM13 #11 chord, and the altered
scale to the DOM7#11 #5 b9#9 and DOM7b5#5 b9#9 chords. We even discussed the
major pentatonic/dominant tritone application process. The terminology and
application of concepts have been quite complex up to this point. What all
beginners have to understand and all advanced players must be reminded is
simple is good!! Everything we play does not have to be complicated. With
that in mind, I would like to apply the linear and vertical concepts to some
very simple ideas. The first scale (linear improvisational device) everyone
learns is the major scale, or ionian mode. As a beginner, one should also be
aware of the basic chordal (vertical improvisational device) implications of
C major scale - linear exercise (see example #1)
CMAJ7 - vertical exercise (see example #2)
The next scale in the practice sequence is the natural minor scale, or the
aeolian mode, and itsà various forms (harmonic minor, melodic minor, and
jazz minor scales).
C natural minor scale - linear exercise (see example #3)
Cmin7 - vertical exercise (see example #4)
C harmonic minor - linear exercise (see example #5)
Cmin(MAJ 7) - vertical exercise (see example #6)
C melodic minor - linear exercise (see example #7)
Cmin(MAJ7)/Cmin7 - vertical exercise (see example #8)
The jazz minor scale is the ascending form of the melodic minor scale played
the same way descending. You can also think of it as a major scale with a
lowered third degree. The vertical aspect of this scale implies the
Cmin(MAJ7) chord, comparable to the harmonic minor scale.
C jazz minor scale - linear exercise (see example #9)
Cmin(MAJ7) - vertical exercise (see esample #6)
Please remember that you must become proficient with all of these exercises
in all twelve keys. After you have conquered the major scale, the natural
minor scale and itsà three forms, along with each scalesà coinciding
vertical arpeggio, you are ready to attempt the modes.
The mixolydian mode can be conceived as a major scale with a lowered seventh
degree (i.e., C major scale with a Bb). This modesà corresponding vertical
aspect is the dominant seventh chord.
C mixolydian mode - linear exercise (see example #10)
C dom7 - vertical exercise (see example #11)
The lydian mode can be conceived as a major scale with a raised fourth
degree (i.e., C major scale with an F#). This modesà coinciding vertical
aspect is the MAJ7 chord, comparable to the major scale.
C lydian mode - linear exercise (see example #12)
CMAJ7 - vertical exercise (see eample #2)
The dorian mode can be conceived as a major scale with a lowered third and
seventh degree (i.e., C major scale with an Eb and Bb), or a natural minor
scale with a raised sixth degree (i.e., C natural minor scale with an A
natural). I have found that the easiest way to think of this mode is to
borrow the major key (tonal center) from a whole step below (i.e., C dorian
mode = a Bb major scale starting on C). This modesà corresponding vertical
aspect is the min7 chord, comparable to the natural minor scale.
C dorian mode - linear exercise (see example #13)
Cmin7 - vertical exercise (see example #3)
The locrian mode is also known as the half-diminised scale. You can conceive
this scale as a major scale with lowered second, third, fifth, sixth, and
seventh degrees (i.e., C major scale with a Db, Eb, Gb, Ab, and Bb). That is
alot of altering to execute, so I have found that the easiest way to think
of this scale is to borrow the major key (tonal center) from a half step
above (i.e., C locrian mode = a Db major scale staring on C). This modesà
coinciding vertical aspect is the min7 b5 (or half-diminshed) chord.
C locrian mode - linear exercise (see example #14)
Cmin7 b5 - vertical exercise (see example #15)
If you practice all of these scales, modes, chords, and arpeggios in all
twelve keys, you will have shedded a voluminous amount of improvisatory
devices. About seventy-five percent of all the chords you will ever see on a
lead sheet you will have mastered. Along with that, you will have practiced
at least one corresponding scale or mode per chord. In my next article, we
will look at how to start puting all of this artillery to good use.
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