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Swing Jazz Improvisation
Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 Topic Rating: 5 (1 votes) 
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polkat
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August 20, 2012 - 4:47 pm
Member Since: August 20, 2012
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I am a jazz fiddler at the early intermediate level, comfortable with improvising on simple jazz tunes, but not satisfied with my results. I prefer the playing styles of Jenny Scheinman and Julian Smedley of the Hot Club of San Francisco. I've watched all of Fiddlerman's videos here with limited results.

 

Since there are absolutely no jazz teachers in my area (especially jazz violin teachers), what books would folks here suggest for intermediate improvisation study in swing jazz? I have the Grappelli and the Norgaard Gypsy books, but while they are full of great scales and arpeggios and good notes, there's not much there about choosing which notes to play.

 

Any suggestions?

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tamlin
Denver, CO
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September 28, 2012 - 3:41 pm
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Hi Polkat,

I think you're asking how to match the scale to the piece? As in when to use Dorian vs Mixolidian scales? (I'm not familiar with those books - but I'm sick in love with jazz.)

If that's your question, then I'm working on learning the same thing: All Modes, All Keys.

I found the guitar players out there have tons of super great info on exactly this. Here are some links I learned a lot from...

BACKGROUNDY STUFF

*** A succinct, useful section demystifying modes (without a description of the last 1500 years of music) and a handy chart so you can figure out the mode scale quickly for any key.

http://evirtuoso.com/ScalesLesson2.aspx

**** A super lesson overview on modes and formulas…

http://www.thejazzchameleon.co.....page_id=24

PRACTICING

The first page of Fiddlerman's downloads for Jazz has the D Minor Dorian scale / Mode. The D Minor Dorian mode matches with jazz songs written in D Minor Dorian Mode. So I think this is the answer to your question - how to know which notes - play the notes of the mode. No reason to trust me - take the Fiddlerman D Minor Dorian, start the jam track, play any note, in any order, from the D Minor Dorian scale...

So What Backing Track - Funk Style Modal Jazz in D Minor:

UNDERSTANDING

Just for yucks, I thought this by the The Jazz Chameleon has a super awesome description of WHY choosing this set of notes will work - but I'm a math geek so I like a taste of the theory behind things

http://www.thejazzchameleon.co.....page_id=28

WHEN IN DOUBT

And for jamming with others, since I'm not experienced enough to play every mode and every key, when I don't really know the song or the mode scale well enough to BS my way through, I default to the Pentatonic. I got this advice from guitar player Leon Grizzard who has an improv book for fiddlers (he has a bunch of awesome jazz instructional videos on youtube). He recommends you play "hokum" until you get your chops for the scales down for more sophisticated improv.

This jazz guitar lesson on the pentatonic convinced me this was a solid strategy for a Go To Scale!!!!!!!

http://allegedartist.wordpress.....rt-1-of-3/

EVERYTHING YOU WANTED TO KNOW ABOUT JAZZ -- I'm pretty sure this dude has blogged it. IMHO, this site is entirely awesome. (I stumbled upon it looking for the transposition of David Gilmore's famous solo from Comfortably Numb.) And they do Skype lessons - I'm sure someone over there would start you off matching scales and modes… these guys are way super jazz geeky and seen super friendly, laid back - but also quite serious and knowledgeable.

http://allegedartist.wordpress.....-contents/

Hey, so I'm actively working on learning this stuff now. I would love to hear about your experiences! If you found even one thing in this post useful, it will make my day :)

BTW - following the repeated advice of the jazz guys -- my next goal is to learn all modes, all keys. Gave myself a year. crossedfingers

Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art. Charlie Parker

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tamlin
Denver, CO
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September 30, 2012 - 2:30 pm
Member Since: September 25, 2012
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a wee bit more - how to work a jam track...

list=PL3B4B8C275A1F8F50&index=44&feature=plpp_video

Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art. Charlie Parker

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tamlin
Denver, CO
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October 6, 2012 - 6:23 pm
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This was too useful not to post somewhere - even though nobody will likely read it...

"As explained in Fretboard Theory, in order to apply major scales properly you must examine a whole chord progression and determine which key all the chords fit into together. Then you can play that major scale over the whole chord progression. But when applying the pentatonic scale, you only need to identify the root chord (tonal center) in the progression and then play a pentatonic key that corresponds to it. Why do you play the pentatonic based off only the root of a song and not the whole key or parent major scale? Why is the pentatonic so special that this works?

The pentatonic scale can follow the root chord because it includes scale degrees common to all possible major scale modes. For example, let's say you have a progression revolving around a C major chord. Well, depending on the other chords involved the C could be the first (Ionian), fourth (Lydian) or fifth (Mixolydian). Each of these modes are slightly different and produce different chords, but they all include the notes in the C major pentatonic."

C D E F G A B - C Ionian (C is chord I in the key of C)

C D E F# G A B - C Lydian (C is chord IV in the key of G)

C D E F G A Bb - C Mixolydian (C is chord V in the key of F)

C D E G A - C major pentatonic

The same thing happens in minor keys. If you're playing a chord progression that revolves around an A minor then the three possible major scale modes are Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian.

A B C D E F# G - A Dorian (Am is chord ii in the key of G)

A Bb C D E F G - A Phrygian (Am is chord iii in the key of F)

A B C D E F G - A Aeolian (Am is chord vi in the key of C)

A C D E G - A minor pentatonic

You can see that the pentatonic scale is missing the intervals that complete the whole major scale. These same missing scale degrees are what make the modes different. Without them there is no conflict regardless of mode. In fact, if a chord progression changes keys (parent major scale/mode) but still revolves around the same chord, then you can still play the same pentatonic scale over it without needing to consider the key changes.

For example, "Moondance" by Van Morrison has a section based on A Dorian and another section based on A Aeolian. If you want to play full major scale patterns then you'll need to switch keys. But since both sections revolve around the same Am chord you can continue to play A minor pentatonic scale patterns."

Mr. Desi Serna
Website: http://Guitar-Music-Theory.com
YouTube: http://youtube.com/GuitarMusicTheoryTab
Twitter: http://twitter.com/MrGuitarTheory
Facebook: http://facebook.com/desi.serna
Myspace: http://www.myspace.com/guitarmusictheory
Podcast: Search Desi Serna at iTunes

http://guitarmusictheory.blogs.....chord.html

Music is your own experience, your own thoughts, your wisdom. If you don't live it, it won't come out of your horn. They teach you there's a boundary line to music. But, man, there's no boundary line to art. Charlie Parker

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