#1
It seems everytime I pick up a book about jazz or someone tries to teach me jazz stuff I get in a bit ahead of myself, there's always something I missed in the beginning I have to go back and review. I don't have a teacher, all I've got is a crappy guitar class in my school that only teaches shit i've already known for a year, how much would you expect me to know at this point?

The big thing that keeps being brought up is "target notes." Could anyone explain what these are, and how I can apply them to basslines, lead melodies (for guitar/piano), and improvisation (for guitar, bass, or piano)? I'd appeciate it, thanks.
#2
target notes, in a sense, are notes from chord tones that you should aim for when soloing. for example, if you were playing over a Cm7 chord, you may want to aim for a C,Eb,Bb, or D. The root and 3rd are the biggest (since they define the triad), and the 7th (Bb) and 9th (D) add that upper harmony that is desirable when playing with a group (to stand out).
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#3
Target notes are just chord tones, like TK1 said. Target notes are crucial in a jazz context, because you're often slipping in and out of key, which means you can't just use one scale for every chord. It's at times like these when you need to have a good picture of where the 1,3,5 and 7 of an approaching chord can be found, and what notes of the current chord can be used to lead into these target notes. If you simply jump to a target note without leading into it with a smooth melodic line, your soloing is going to sound disjointed and amateurish. Thus, utilizing target notes is a two-step process of visualizing the tones on the neck and then incorporating them in a rational manner.
#4
yeah just chord tones. they are particularly important in stuff like jazz where you might have passing notes or any other kind of ornament based around these notes.
#5
Hey, we did this at college today. I have a quick question. What is the best way to know how to find your target note? Know in advanced what every chord is and know your intervals brilliantly? Find the interval by recognising it ear?Or recognising the chord and move straight towards the root note, easily finding the chord tones around it? or some thing else?
#6
Quote by jkielq91
Hey, we did this at college today. I have a quick question. What is the best way to know how to find your target note? Know in advanced what every chord is and know your intervals brilliantly? Find the interval by recognising it ear?Or recognising the chord and move straight towards the root note, easily finding the chord tones around it? or some thing else?


never just go for the root note (well, not never). try to create a line and see the intervals. like if you see two chords and can visualise them, try to find a smooth line between them rather than just going for the root.

say you take the chords i-VI-iv-ii-V-i. you could play over that and target the root notes, but you'd get a disjointed melody. try target different notes of the chord. target them for one reason: line. try to target the chord tones (and you can use passing notes, aux, all that stuff as well) to make a line. like in that progression you could play the scale degree 1-2-3-4-5-6-5-5. it might not be the most interesting melody in the world, but targeting notes in the chord to make a smooth line can help to make a melody. this melody is still hitting chord tones (or working around them)

that's how i'd approach it anyway. if you want you could do the opposite for dramatic effect, i have a piece that has lots of chromatic movement and targets root notes and 5th to highlight false relation (A-E-Ab-Eb-G-D). false relations are nice. anyway hope that helps!

edit: just looked at your post about going to the root, i hope i didn't misinterpret it....
Last edited by gavk at May 7, 2011,
#9
Quote by jayx124
As everyone said they are the chord tones but they can also be the extension notes of the chord


well, those upper extensions are chord tones.


Target notes are simply notes of a chord, be it the notes of a triad, 7th chord or a chord with upper extensions.

I have to say, Im not a big subscriber to the target note "method".

If you play melodically, you'll be playing those notes anyway. But instead of mechanically "targeting" tones, you'll be playing musically.
shred is gaudy music
Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 7, 2011,
#10
Say you have a backing track with just a Cmajor chord.
Your target notes will be CEG since those are the chord tones.
You can land and start on those the best, but you can also not start on them by treating the tones differently.
#11
Quote by GuitarMunky
well, those upper extensions are chord tones.


Target notes are simply notes of a chord, be it the notes of a triad, 7th chord or a chord with upper extensions.

I have to say, Im not a big subscriber to the target note "method".

If you play melodically, you'll be playing those notes anyway. But instead of mechanically "targeting" tones, you'll be playing musically.

You shouldn't play them too often.
More as easy go to notes when you've ran out of ideas or your main notes.
But you should never ignore them, ofcourse you'll run by them but when you play against a C chord you shouldn't land on F or something and shouldn't be stating too often on them.
Actually alot of people feel where the chord tones are.
#12
Quote by liampje
You shouldn't play them too often.
More as easy go to notes when you've ran out of ideas or your main notes.


nooooooo! if you play melodically you'll be playing them very often.

And, no they are definitely not "easy go to notes for when you run out of ideas "or anything like that.

You don't pick notes because they are "easy go to notes".... you pick notes based on what they sound like.

It's very important to keep your studies tied to musical practice.


Quote by liampje

Actually alot of people feel where the chord tones are.


Well, you hear them.
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Last edited by GuitarMunky at May 7, 2011,
#13
Quote by GuitarMunky
nooooooo! if you play melodically you'll be playing them very often.

And, no they are definitely not "easy go to notes for when you run out of ideas "or anything like that.

You don't pick notes because they are "easy go to notes".... you pick notes based on what they sound like.

It's very important to keep your studies tied to musical practice.

Well, you hear them.


exactly, when you play melodically you will be playing them. what you shouldn't do is just target them on the beat every beat. this might be a good start, but try to add passing notes, auxiliaries, all those other forms of note.
#14
Well, you hear them.


unless you suck and you can't hear them, then you should go for the "easy to go to" notes.
#15
Quote by mseychel
unless you suck and you can't hear them, then you should go for the "easy to go to" notes.
If you suck and can't hear them, then you should practice so that you can.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#16
Quote by mseychel
unless you suck and you can't hear them, then you should go for the "easy to go to" notes.


Well, you have to learn to hear them. Playing music on your instrument, and listening to what you're doing is quite helpful in this regard.


What you don't want is a mentality of improvising where you're "targeting" notes. You should be thinking musically, not "can't hit that note, need to hit that note". You can't really express yourself if you're thinking that way.
shred is gaudy music
#17
do we all agree liampje should wear a "don't listen to me" sign around his neck? thanks everybody else!

edit: so would i use taget notes on any chord, or only the I? like in a 2-5-1 in the key of Cmajor, let's say i have a Dminor7 for 1 measure, a G#9 (hendrix chord :P) for 1 measue, then a Cmajor7 for 2 measues, at a medium tempo, then a key change to a 2-b2(tritone sub)-1 in Emajor that was F#minor7 for a measure, F7 for a measure, Emajor9 for 2 measures. would i be using the target note method correctly if i started playing the Cmajor scale over the Dminor7, then an altered scale over the G#9, then played the Cmajor scale in the first measure of the Cmajor7, continued for a couple beats in the final Cmajor measue then had a chromatic line lead into hitting C, E, G, or B in the final beat, then played the Eminor scale over F#minor7, then Fmixolydian over F7, then targetting E, G#, B, or D# for the end of the piece, or would it be more common to target notes of each chord as they come along? jazz improv is freakking tough when the changes just kep comin...
Last edited by TMVATDI at May 7, 2011,
#18
Does it help if when you learn a scale you take note of which notes go into the chord? Like if it was a C major scale, also check which notes are in the C major chord and remember this. Is that a worthy method?

I know if the progression is in the key of C your target note will not necercerelly be over a C chord. But obviously you would adjust accordingly for that.
#19
Quote by jkielq91
Does it help if when you learn a scale you take note of which notes go into the chord? Like if it was a C major scale, also check which notes are in the C major chord and remember this. Is that a worthy method?

I know if the progression is in the key of C your target note will not necercerelly be over a C chord. But obviously you would adjust accordingly for that.

well in the major scale the 1st, 3rd, and 5th note are the notes of the I triad, the 7th is the final note in the major7th chord, and the 2/9, 4/11, and 6/13 could be used as extensions, if you're targetting notes in the I chord it doesn't sound that tough.
#20
It would help to know what the key tones are also where they lie in the scale. C Major scale is played in the same pattern at D and so on. The III and V always are in the same relation to the tonic no matter what that happens to be. I may get flamed for that statement but it's true and makes things a bit more simplistic.
#21
I think you're taking the term "target tones" too literally. It's just a general term for notes that are "safe." If you're looking for a specific term, try "chord tones." If you're wondering when to use chord tones, use them whenever. Most melodies use chord tones and passing tones (in other words, they just use all the scale tones in general). Passing tones without chord tones are just unresolved tensions and chord tones without passing tones are just arpeggios.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#22
target notes are exact;y what they sound like--notes that get targeted--the note your line moves towards. one very common, good, pleasing to the ears and changes-playing-sounding target is the third. If you can approach a third by halfstep, with the third landing on a strong beat (or move from the seventh of one chord to the third of the next)--you can get a very harmonically clear line, even if you use a good deal of chromatisism. another good way to target a note is to use a chromatically delayed resolution--basically go from one chord tone, to another (the latter being the target), in half steps--and you can also wait to get to the target, until the chord whose third it is has passed. as far as figuring out what notes your targeting--be both able to hear them (practice singing the 3rd and seventh of each chord, when going through a tune), and know them (so yes, know how to spell chords well).
all the best.
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#23
Quote by TMVATDI
do we all agree liampje should wear a "don't listen to me" sign around his neck? thanks everybody else!

edit: so would i use taget notes on any chord, or only the I? like in a 2-5-1 in the key of Cmajor, let's say i have a Dminor7 for 1 measure, a G#9 (hendrix chord :P) for 1 measue, then a Cmajor7 for 2 measues, at a medium tempo, then a key change to a 2-b2(tritone sub)-1 in Emajor that was F#minor7 for a measure, F7 for a measure, Emajor9 for 2 measures. would i be using the target note method correctly if i started playing the Cmajor scale over the Dminor7, then an altered scale over the G#9, then played the Cmajor scale in the first measure of the Cmajor7, continued for a couple beats in the final Cmajor measue then had a chromatic line lead into hitting C, E, G, or B in the final beat, then played the Eminor scale over F#minor7, then Fmixolydian over F7, then targetting E, G#, B, or D# for the end of the piece, or would it be more common to target notes of each chord as they come along? jazz improv is freakking tough when the changes just kep comin...


Dear god, you're never going to play jazz like that. If I'm hearing you correctly, your progression would be:

Dm7-G7#9-Cmaj7-Cmaj7-F#m7-F7-Emaj9-Emaj9

This is a 2 key progression - simple as that. You'd play the C major scale over the dm7,G7#9, and Cmaj7 chords. I know you could theoretically apply the altered scale over the G7#9, but that's absolutely not the way to approach something like this. You're absolutely right to say that jazz improv is freakking tough when you're trying to apply an obscure scale to every slightly altered chord that comes your way, because that's the hardest way to do things. So you play the C major scale over the first 3 chords, and then the key switches to E major. You've got a 2-5-1 in E major with a tritone sub for the 5. I'm not sure why you said you'd play an E minor scale over the F# minor, but I'll assume you meant to say E major. You do NOT switch to the F mixolydian scale for the tritone sub - you play the E major scale over the entire 2-5-1 in E major. So you've basically got the C major scale over the first half, and the E major scale over the second half.

All right, so I know what you're thinking - I'm oversimplifying things, I'm not taking advantage of each chord's unique sound, etc. Well, let's look at how to fit all those odd notes in there without switching boxes all over the place. You start with a 2-5-1 in C major, but the 5 chord has a #9. Now just think for a second... if that #9 is the only "outside" note in this group of chords, then wouldn't it be simpler to use the C major scale and work in that outside note when it comes up than it would be to switch scales completely and risk hitting those 3 wrong notes in the altered scale? Don't you think it'd be much easier to use one scale than to try and switch back and forth between two scales over one little measure of a G7#9 chord? Of course it would. So what do you do? You visualize the G7#9 chord within the C major box you're working in and work in its chord tones, including the #9. Now, even a small alteration like a #9 might not sound good as a note in your solo unless you fit into a rational melody line. You can't just jump to that note and expect it to sound good - it's an outside note, after all. All right, so let's move on. You switch to the key of E major, and you've got a 2-5-1 with a tritone sub. The F mixolydian scale over that F7 chord would work in theory, but it isn't the most reasonable option. That tritone sub functions as a 5 chord, but it's leading down chromatically to the 1 chord. That chromatic note (the F) is the most characteristic note of the substitution, and everything else still functions similar to a regular 5 chord. Thus, would you really want to switch to an F mixolydian scale and risk hitting the 2, 4, 5, or 6 of that scale and sounding completely out of key? Or would it make more sense to retain the feel of a 2-5-1 by simply incorporating that F note into the E major scale? It's still got the 3 and 7 of the F7 chord in it, and you can find the F note without too much hassle. All you need to do is visualize the F7 chord within your E scale shape and target the chord tones in your melody line. But I'll reiterate - you have to incorporate them in a logical way that sounds good.

This is where the two most important sayings come into play:

1. Learn the changes, then forget the changes
2. Sing what you play

Once you have figured out how you're going to approach a set of changes, you should have no trouble figuring out what box to play where. You get all that down before you start, and get your "game plan" ready. In this case, your game plan would be "I'm going to use C major over the first half, see if I can work in that #9 on the G chord, and then switch to E major for the second half, minding the chromatic in the tritone sub." That's it - 2 boxes, some slight alterations to take note of. Heck, you don't even have to play the #9 and the b2 if you don't want to. You can just play right over them, just like charlie parker sometimes treated a whole long string of changes like a simple 1-4-5 progression. Okay, so now that you've got your game plan ready, your hands will automatically know what to do. The trick here is keeping them from doing whatever they want to do, and instead hearing what you want to play. Forget the changes, the altered tones, and the theoretical concepts that you want to try and apply. Just listen to the music, hear how it sounds, and hear what you want to play over it. This is where the singing comes in. Your hands want to do what comes naturally to them, and that usually involves playing licks. Licks are bad in most cases, and should only be used sparingly. You want original ideas - creativity. You should be able to sing what you want to play before you play it. Literally. One of the most valuable exercises you can do is sing along with your improvisation. You don't need a good voice, just a good ear. I heard many great guitarists suggest this exercise over the years, but never thought it would be all that beneficial. Once I tried it, however, I immediately saw the merit. It really does show you how little you think about what you're playing and what you want to play when you're just letting your fingers do their work. In your case, it will help you to realize when targeting altered tones is important and when it isn't.

Okay, I'm rambling, but this does bring me to the last point I was going to make. You mentioned whether or not you should visualize the target notes in a progression or if you just hear them when you play by ear. The answer to this is that you do both. When you're playing a scale, you should see where each note in the scale is located (1,2,3,4,5,6,7), and you should also be able to see a little box for each of those notes with the 1,3,5, and 7 in it. It sounds hard, but there's only 3 main types of boxes - major, minor, and dominant. You'll learn to see m7b5 and diminished boxes over time as well, but they don't come up as often. Anyway, this is something you should be able to see as you play more jazz. If you have to, sit down and work out the box shapes for those arpeggios going both to the right and the left of the root note on the first three strings. You'll start to see some very simple, recognizable relationships in a short amount of time.
That being said, when you know what scales you're going to play over what chords, you should be able to just hear what you want to play and play it. Melodies that sound good and familiar to you will automatically include those target notes, because those are the notes we like. Over time you'll begin to hear altered tones that you like the sound of, and you'll take advantage of them without having to sacrifice the fluidity of your lines. But you have to learn to walk before you can run. Any bookworm can learn all his scales, but it takes practice and patience to make good music with complex changes. Keep things as simple as you can, and take things one step at a time.
Last edited by Glen'sHeroicAct at May 8, 2011,
#24
Quote by Glen'sHeroicAct
A lot
Wow man. I can't say any of that is new to me, but the way you described it seems to be more comprehensive than I've ever seen it described in a forum post. Major props to you. A lot of people just go "you gotta listen, yadda yadda," but they never really seem convinced. You seem like you really get it.
Only play what you hear. If you don’t hear anything, don’t play anything.
-Chick Corea
#25
damn glen, lotta good info there! and i know what you mean with the shapes, i'm able to see notes' relationships to eachother to some extent, like i know where the chord tones are on the fretboard while playing the major scale and when i play chords i can see where the extensions, passing tones, altered notes, and inversions/other voicings of the chords are located. i think i could be decent with this on piano too, or at least it looks like it would make sense when i see it in my head, i can't try it out right now cuz im at my dad's place with no piano or keyboard.

and i think i understand most/all of what your saying, but then what's the point of altered scales if i'm not going to use them? or would i just use them over the altered chords if i'm at a slow enough tempo??

and i think it was somebody else who mentioned whether you would visualize the target notes or just hear them, i dont remember asking that haha.
#26
Quote by jkielq91
Hey, we did this at college today. I have a quick question. What is the best way to know how to find your target note? Know in advanced what every chord is and know your intervals brilliantly? Find the interval by recognising it ear?Or recognising the chord and move straight towards the root note, easily finding the chord tones around it? or some thing else?


Joe Pass always said he had a chord shape under his fingers as he was improvising.

Keep in mind he could improvise chord solos ... I think a detailed knowledge of the fretboard is required.
#27
Quote by GuitarMunky
I have to say, Im not a big subscriber to the target note "method".
If you play melodically, you'll be playing those notes anyway. But instead of mechanically "targeting" tones, you'll be playing musically.


I agree, but practicing the arps / chord tone targeting is a good practice routine to internalize the sound of the chord and its intervals
#29
Quote by TMVATDI
damn glen, lotta good info there! and i know what you mean with the shapes, i'm able to see notes' relationships to eachother to some extent, like i know where the chord tones are on the fretboard while playing the major scale and when i play chords i can see where the extensions, passing tones, altered notes, and inversions/other voicings of the chords are located. i think i could be decent with this on piano too, or at least it looks like it would make sense when i see it in my head, i can't try it out right now cuz im at my dad's place with no piano or keyboard.

and i think i understand most/all of what your saying, but then what's the point of altered scales if i'm not going to use them? or would i just use them over the altered chords if i'm at a slow enough tempo??

and i think it was somebody else who mentioned whether you would visualize the target notes or just hear them, i dont remember asking that haha.

There are obviously situations where you would use the altered scale, but there are a few things to look at when you make a decision like that. The first is how long you're going to hold on a chord. In a case like the one you presented, you only have one measure to work with, which is way too short a time to build on any "outside" ideas. The other thing to look at is the context of the song. If it's a fairly mainstream tune that an average person might enjoy listening to, you don't want to step outside the box. If the song stays in one key for a lot of chords but has a few slight variations, you don't want to step outside the box on those variations. However, if you're playing a song where every other chord has an altered 9 or altered 5 in it and the whole song is a bit "out there" compared to what most people are comfortable with, you can start to look at how you want to experiment with it. The key word is precedent. If a song sets a precedent of being fairly tonal and comfortable, you don't want to mess with that by playing too outside. However, if a song sets a precedent of being open to interpretation, then you can start working on an interesting interpretation. But in doing so, you have to set a precedent for your improvisation. In other words, if you're going to use the altered scale over one altered chord, you'd better be prepared to do it over all of the other chords that function that way. I'm doing my best to explain something that's really dependent on personal instinct, but I hope it's making some sense. The key thing is to always play what you want to hear. If you don't really hear the need for something outside, then don't play it - you'll end up sounding unsure of yourself, or you'll sound like you're accidentally hitting wrong notes. On that note, I should say that most jazz solos that we like as guitarists are likely to be fairly in key. Whenever you hear a solo and go "aww man, that was so smooth and cool! What scale was he using?" It's likely that they were using the major or minor scale and utilizing chromatics and good phrasing. If you want to play those types of solos, don't bother with learning new scales - just practice your phrasing and getting good at playing smart lines over more complex changes. However, if you hear a solo and say "woah, that was freaking weird... what the heck was he playing over that?" then it's likely that they were using a more exotic scale. It didn't sound "good" in a traditional sense, but it sounded interesting - it peaked your musical curiosity. If you want to explore those avenues and push the limits of what you find to be musically acceptable, then start experimenting over changes where you can really open things up a bit. That's what guys like Coltrane did as their careers got moving, but it didn't always make for enjoyable music in the most basic sense. It becomes more intellectual than intuitive.
#30
^
The melodic minor (jazz minor) is an important scale in modern jazz check out you tube there is a great video lesson by Emily Remler on the use of the MM over different dominants
basically there are 2 types of dominants the first resolves back to the I and the second which does not on each dominant the different MM will target the different alter notes the altered scale (which is the 7th mode of the MM) is used in dominants which resolve back to the I. in the second case you play the MM 5 steps up (I think this mode is called the Lydian dominant)
#31
Quote by jayx124
^
The melodic minor (jazz minor) is an important scale in modern jazz check out you tube there is a great video lesson by Emily Remler on the use of the MM over different dominants
basically there are 2 types of dominants the first resolves back to the I and the second which does not on each dominant the different MM will target the different alter notes the altered scale (which is the 7th mode of the MM) is used in dominants which resolve back to the I. in the second case you play the MM 5 steps up (I think this mode is called the Lydian dominant)

Right. Like I said, those scales do have their place. The problem is getting to a point where your ear actually expects to hear those sounds instead of something more traditional. Most modern jazz musicians (I should hope) have worked their way through earlier stuff to get to the point they're at today, where they're comfortable playing further outside. However, they weren't playing that stuff when they were first getting into jazz. They had to build up a foundation on which to apply that knowledge, or they wouldn't know how to fluidly utilize it. But hey, if you're at a point where you're utilizing those altered, lydian dominant, and mixolydian b6 scales over your dominant chords without sacrificing melody, I say more power to you. It takes hard work and a lot of quality listening to get to that point, and the people who make it there deserve their props.

And in response to the whole chord-tone soloing debate, I'd just say that it's important to know your chord tones all over the place, even if you aren't going to solo on a chord-by-chord basis. Trust me - I tried for almost two years to develop a soloing method that relied simply on various arpeggio shapes, and although I gained some invaluable knowledge of the fretboard and how to visualize chord tones and voicings, the soloing that this method produced was always a bit disjointed. When you're switching to a new mental picture with every new chord, you completely lose the ability to make coherent melodies and build on musical ideas. However, as I said, the knowledge that you gain from learning arpeggios all over the neck is absolutely worth the effort. I don't care if you're Steve Vai's illegitimate son with 8 inch fingers - if you can't find me the 1,3,5 and 7 of any note on the fretboard within 5 seconds, you've got some serious studying to do before you can call yourself anything more than a rock 'n roll guitarist.
#32
^
I agree, by the way I used to have the same problem as you described when I was studying bebop I had the same problem with constructing melodies which didn't sound like exercises of arps so I completely abandoned the chord tone approach and switched to the key center approach. but a few years ago I went back to the chord tone approach. I don't really think anymore when I'm playing I mainly rely on my ears to guide me.
#33
^ I can understand you going back to the chord tone approach after you worked with the key center approach, because even now as I use the key center approach I can still see lots of arpeggios to work with as I'm playing. It's always nice to throw an arpeggio based lick in now and then, because the larger intervals really do sound good when used sparingly. I think it's probably good to delve into both methods, because each one has its benefits and its pitfalls. It's a lot of work for someone to do, but I can't really see someone being a good jazz guitarist without a comprehensive understanding of both areas. As guitarists, I think we're always looking for a nice, all-encompassing soloing method that fits every situation and gives us a nice roadmap of what to do. Unfortunately, jazz requires several methods blended into one, which is why it's so hard to explain to people how to play it. Still, the most important aspect will always be utilizing your ears.
#34
Quote by jayx124
I agree, but practicing the arps / chord tone targeting is a good practice routine to internalize the sound of the chord and its intervals


yup, practicing the arps through tunes is a very helpful exercise.
shred is gaudy music