Jazz improv practice: A nice drill using “approach tones”

Here’s a nice jazzy drill, to give you practice on:

(1) Adding interest to your melody lines,  by sometimes preceding the “target tone(s)” of a chord with “approach tones;” and,

(2) increased mastery of any given scale, especially as it relates to the underlying chords.

As a result, the repeated act of mindfully (and not mindlessly) practicing this drill can increase your general facility with approach tones, as well as give you (possibly new) theoretical insights regarding chord-scale relationships. Dig? You’ll see.

Music Theory “Trivia” Time

Which interval is pictured above?

(a) Diminished Seventh.

(b) Minor Sixth.

(c) Augmented Fifth.

(d) Both A and C are correct, with name depending on the implied key center. They sound the same, by either name.

(e) Both B and C are correct, with name depending on the implied key center. They sound the same, by either name.

(f) The famous “Lost Interval of Egypt.”

THE CORRECT ANSWER  is….

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Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Sparks “Third Beat” Questions

THIS ARTICLE IS RATED GEEK+

In the film Bohemian Rhapsody, there’s a scene where Queen’s guitarist Brian May is pitching his song We Will Rock You to the band (film clip is below).

He says, “…now, I want you to clap on the third beat.”  Of course, this is a movie, and I have no idea if he really said it like that.

Regardless, I’m using this scene as a fun starting point to talk briefly about counting rhythm.

Fact is, when We Will Rock You is counted in the regular way, the beat looks like this:

The completely natural (and intuitive, and correct) way that most people would count this song is:

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Eastern Scales, Relative Minor, and The Educated Guess

Fellow Theory Geeks,

Even among some good musicians, music theory is occasionally regarded as more of a “nice to know” thing.  Interesting place to visit, but they don’t want to hang around too long.

By contrast, I am shameless enough – dare I say, proud enough – to put forth that I am a music theory GEEK. I like staying “all up in theory land,” and often.

Music theory teaches us WHAT works, and also what CAN WORK.  And, if it AIN’T WORKING, it’s usually easier to know WHY, because you possess a systematic command of how rhythm, melody, and harmony work together.

Notice I put rhythm first. Too often neglected — but I put it first in my musical thinking. More on that in other posts.

OK…If you’ve read this far, I guess we have a quorum! Two geeks is always a quorum in my experience. Partly because it’s so hard to find a third geek, on short notice. Anyway welcome, can I get you some coffee? Orange Julius?*

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New! Optional Sheet Music for “A Study in Blues Piano” (Blues Licks)

Hey!

In response to student requests for sheet music illustrating licks from my video course, A Study in Blues Piano: Focusing on 12 Licks, I have so far created notation for several of the licks.

Today, I have another sheet for you, which I hope will also be helpful.

Remember, sheet music materials are completely OPTIONAL for this class. Blues is an improvisational art form!

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Learn all 12 Major & all 12 Maj7 Chords by Pattern (not by rote)

Today I’m happy to present the next lesson in my ongoing series, Piano Chords 108.

Class Audience: Any musician who’s struggling to memorize the individual notes to all those dang chords on piano or keyboards, and looking for a solution.

Lesson Description: Learn how to immediately call up the notes to any of the twelve major chords — without having to rely on rote memory.  This lesson applies to all twelve major seventh chords as well.

Coming next: The minor and minor seventh chords.

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Sheet Music: Lick #10 from “A Study in Blues Piano”

I’m just churning out these little sheets…by request…

Here’s a downloadable PDF file of sheet music covering Blues Piano Lick #10, for optional use with my course “A Study in Blues Piano” (all on this site).

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Sheet Music: Lick #2 from “A Study in Blues Piano”

 

Here’s a downloadable PDF file of sheet music for Blues Piano Lick #2, for optional use with “A Study in Blues Piano.”

This is entirely optional material, as far as completing the above course is concerned. As I said yesterday, this is a supplement I’m putting together, in response to recent requests that  I’ve had from students who can read music.

Non-music readers:  This course was designed to require ZERO reading of music.  Fear not!

Sheet Music: Lick #1 from A Study in Blues Piano

 

Blues/Improv Students:

How’s yo blues?

I’ve had requests for piano notation covering the blues licks in my course, A Study in Blues Piano.

That course is video-based, and teaches from a chord-based improvisation point of view.

I sometimes resist providing notation for improvisation-focused courses, because it can almost promote blind imitation, rather than creative playing.

That said, I’ve had a couple of convincing requests lately from students who wanted to have sheet music to supplement this class. As a result, I’ve decided to provided some helpful notation for each of the licks. Ain’t no thing man, I feel you. (Wah?)

Okay! Here’s a downloadable PDF file for Lick #1, “Energy.”

After I finish the notation for all twelve licks, I plan to come back and add tutorial text to support the process of playing from each of these sheets.

FYI: All of these upcoming sheets will be directly downloadable from within A Study in Blues Piano – Focusing on 12 Licks.