#1
Hi there. Ive learnt most of the chord scales and i was wondering how its common to approach jazz improvisation. Is it normal to use the same chord scales over minor chords and the same scale over dominant and the same over major chords? Having difficulty making this sound good as some of the notes sound dissonant. Is it more common to use the key-scale and use notes from the chords as well?
#2
I'm not a jazz guy and not a great improviser but I don't really see a point in thinking in chord scales all the time. I would use the key scale, chord tones and add accidentals if needed. And most importantly, follow my ear.
Quote by AlanHB
Just remember that there are no boring scales, just boring players.

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#3
There are many approaches you can take when learning jazz improvisation, or improvisation in general. Since i am mainly focused on jazz and fusion playing i might be able to give atleast some insight to what i do to maintain and improve my improvisation skills.

Chord scale theory-wise, a good thing to do when starting out is taking an easy standard and go through the chords, let's say there is one chord per bar, then practice playing the scale at quarter notes, and only change the notes that needs to be changed to fit the new chord. This is what they call the continues-scale exercise, and it's very good to develop the ability to switch to a sound that fits every particular chord. So for example if i were going Cm7, Fm7 and Dm7b5 (first 3 chords of blue bossa) i would go quarter notes C minor scale over the Cm7, quarter notes F dorian over Fm7 (F dorian = C minor), then over the Dm7b5 i would change the Bb in the scale to B natural, making it harmonic minor. However it is important to do as Maggaramarine said aswell, many times you can think one key over the whole thing, and then it's beneficial to do so over thinking chord scales. They both have their place in jazz.

Another thing that i can't stress enough is learn jazz tunes by ear. Jazz is ear music, you need to have a good ear to play jazz well. You also need to absorb language to be able to play jazz. Learning the chord scales and arpeggios is all fine and dandy, but that is like learning the letters of the Chinese alphabet without actually speaking any Chinese, it won't help you and it won't make sense. You need to find players you like and learn their lines. You need to get them into you head, so i recommend learning them by ear and then sing them as you practice them aswell. There is a saying that i believe Chick Corea coined, but i'm not sure. The saying was "As you practice, you play", if you practice scales all the time, that's what your playing will sound like. If you learn jazz tunes (the chords, the melody, the solos) by ear and practice that daily, you will start sounding more jazzy more naturally.

Some recommendations in terms of guitar players would be: Joe Pass, Andreas Öberg, Pat Martino, Martin Taylor, Jimmy Rosenberg, Django Reinhardt, Wes Montogmery, Barney Kessel, Grant green, Russell Malone and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

There are tons of things i could mention about jazz improvisation and how to go about it, it depends on what you want to know. I'll leave it at this and see if this was beneficial to you. If you wonder anything, just post a question. I apologize that this message might have been abit incoherent, i shouldn't post after i've giged.

Best Regards
Sickz
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#4
Quote by Sickz
There are many approaches you can take when learning jazz improvisation, or improvisation in general. Since i am mainly focused on jazz and fusion playing i might be able to give atleast some insight to what i do to maintain and improve my improvisation skills.

Chord scale theory-wise, a good thing to do when starting out is taking an easy standard and go through the chords, let's say there is one chord per bar, then practice playing the scale at quarter notes, and only change the notes that needs to be changed to fit the new chord. This is what they call the continues-scale exercise, and it's very good to develop the ability to switch to a sound that fits every particular chord. So for example if i were going Cm7, Fm7 and Dm7b5 (first 3 chords of blue bossa) i would go quarter notes C minor scale over the Cm7, quarter notes F dorian over Fm7 (F dorian = C minor), then over the Dm7b5 i would change the Bb in the scale to B natural, making it harmonic minor. However it is important to do as Maggaramarine said aswell, many times you can think one key over the whole thing, and then it's beneficial to do so over thinking chord scales. They both have their place in jazz.

Another thing that i can't stress enough is learn jazz tunes by ear. Jazz is ear music, you need to have a good ear to play jazz well. You also need to absorb language to be able to play jazz. Learning the chord scales and arpeggios is all fine and dandy, but that is like learning the letters of the Chinese alphabet without actually speaking any Chinese, it won't help you and it won't make sense. You need to find players you like and learn their lines. You need to get them into you head, so i recommend learning them by ear and then sing them as you practice them aswell. There is a saying that i believe Chick Corea coined, but i'm not sure. The saying was "As you practice, you play", if you practice scales all the time, that's what your playing will sound like. If you learn jazz tunes (the chords, the melody, the solos) by ear and practice that daily, you will start sounding more jazzy more naturally.

Some recommendations in terms of guitar players would be: Joe Pass, Andreas Öberg, Pat Martino, Martin Taylor, Jimmy Rosenberg, Django Reinhardt, Wes Montogmery, Barney Kessel, Grant green, Russell Malone and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

There are tons of things i could mention about jazz improvisation and how to go about it, it depends on what you want to know. I'll leave it at this and see if this was beneficial to you. If you wonder anything, just post a question. I apologize that this message might have been abit incoherent, i shouldn't post after i've giged.

Best Regards
Sickz



Really like the way you explained this, nice and clear with decent examples and material/influence references for further study... if this is your incoherent... then i'll definately keep an eye out for any future posts... Good Job!!
#5
I'd like to add Jimmy Bruno is also a great resource. His lessons are pricey, but worth it. He's a total master at Jazz and Improv. But he's a street level, no BS, guy.

He teaches a scale approach to improv, and then adds color notes, chord tones, arps, and a whole lot of great ideas. Sometimes, jazz players "overplay" a bit much for my tastes, but there's something in Jimmy's teaching bag for just about anyone who applies themselves.

Best,

Sean
#6
Start learning the jazz vocabulary, you will need to transcribe lines by ear to do that (that's mostly individual work, please don't look at tab books of transcriptions, you'd be wasting time and money). Ideally, you should write what you learn by ear on paper, with notes and chord symbols so you can analyse whats going on. This is when the chord-scale approach can come in handy, if you know theoretically which scale would go over each chord, you know the information available to you and can analyse more easily what the masters are doing over the changes.

Start to learn the vocabulary with blues tunes and Rhythm Changes (i got rhythm)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NtC2XDbE8Zo
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KWrhA4jpA7o
#7
Quote by Sickz
There are many approaches you can take when learning jazz improvisation, or improvisation in general. Since i am mainly focused on jazz and fusion playing i might be able to give atleast some insight to what i do to maintain and improve my improvisation skills.

Chord scale theory-wise, a good thing to do when starting out is taking an easy standard and go through the chords, let's say there is one chord per bar, then practice playing the scale at quarter notes, and only change the notes that needs to be changed to fit the new chord. This is what they call the continues-scale exercise, and it's very good to develop the ability to switch to a sound that fits every particular chord. So for example if i were going Cm7, Fm7 and Dm7b5 (first 3 chords of blue bossa) i would go quarter notes C minor scale over the Cm7, quarter notes F dorian over Fm7 (F dorian = C minor), then over the Dm7b5 i would change the Bb in the scale to B natural, making it harmonic minor. However it is important to do as Maggaramarine said aswell, many times you can think one key over the whole thing, and then it's beneficial to do so over thinking chord scales. They both have their place in jazz.

Another thing that i can't stress enough is learn jazz tunes by ear. Jazz is ear music, you need to have a good ear to play jazz well. You also need to absorb language to be able to play jazz. Learning the chord scales and arpeggios is all fine and dandy, but that is like learning the letters of the Chinese alphabet without actually speaking any Chinese, it won't help you and it won't make sense. You need to find players you like and learn their lines. You need to get them into you head, so i recommend learning them by ear and then sing them as you practice them aswell. There is a saying that i believe Chick Corea coined, but i'm not sure. The saying was "As you practice, you play", if you practice scales all the time, that's what your playing will sound like. If you learn jazz tunes (the chords, the melody, the solos) by ear and practice that daily, you will start sounding more jazzy more naturally.

Some recommendations in terms of guitar players would be: Joe Pass, Andreas Öberg, Pat Martino, Martin Taylor, Jimmy Rosenberg, Django Reinhardt, Wes Montogmery, Barney Kessel, Grant green, Russell Malone and Kurt Rosenwinkel.

There are tons of things i could mention about jazz improvisation and how to go about it, it depends on what you want to know. I'll leave it at this and see if this was beneficial to you. If you wonder anything, just post a question. I apologize that this message might have been abit incoherent, i shouldn't post after i've giged.

Best Regards
Sickz


Thank you for using your time to write this, it was helpful.
I used to only learn songs by using tabs, but as i didnt understand what i was playing, i started recently to learn by ear. Been playing rock for years, but started with jazz a couple of months ago.

I do what my ear tells me is right, but when i learn songs by ear and analyze them, I really want to understand what scales are being used. For example, why would you use harmonic minor over dm7b5?

I've been reading "ted greene jazz guitar single not soloing" which i use to memorize the arpeggios and chord scales. It's actually ted greene that "told me" i could use one scale per chord, but i see some problems with that. I would really like to know a way to be certain how to improvise when given ANY chord progression, and i am of course willing to work hard for it. I just need to be pointed in the right direction, as its not very fun using months on learning something that turns out not to be useful. The ted greene book has helped me a lot though
#9
Quote by jazzlp
Thank you for using your time to write this, it was helpful.
I used to only learn songs by using tabs, but as i didnt understand what i was playing, i started recently to learn by ear. Been playing rock for years, but started with jazz a couple of months ago.

I do what my ear tells me is right, but when i learn songs by ear and analyze them, I really want to understand what scales are being used. For example, why would you use harmonic minor over dm7b5?

I've been reading "ted greene jazz guitar single not soloing" which i use to memorize the arpeggios and chord scales. It's actually ted greene that "told me" i could use one scale per chord, but i see some problems with that. I would really like to know a way to be certain how to improvise when given ANY chord progression, and i am of course willing to work hard for it. I just need to be pointed in the right direction, as its not very fun using months on learning something that turns out not to be useful. The ted greene book has helped me a lot though


Well in the case of blue bossa i would use C harmonic over the end of the A section, which goes Dm7b5 G7alt Cm7 (a minor 2-5-1 in Cm). It's common (in atleast latin jazz) to play the harmonic minor scale of the 1 chord cause in the case of Blue Bossa that way of playing it sounds stronger than if i would play the normal chord scales (Locrian/Locrian #2 for m7b5 chords, altered scale for the altered dominant). I guess that might have been a bad example since it's a Bossa and differentiates itself abit from standard swing or bebop tunes.

On the point of pushing you in the right direction, i do have a few pointers.

1. Learn a ton of jazz by ear. This should be one of the main things you do, since it improves all aspects of your playing. There are a few things to note however. It's better to learn one phrase a day than to sit down one day and learn half a song, and then don't learn anything by ear for a week. Consistency will help you develop your ear. Secondly is note that you should learn all the parts of a tune, start with the melody, then the chords, then the solos. Thirdly, don't limit yourself. I had a period were everything i learned was stuff from Pat Martino, and i was stuck mentally after that for a while. It is important to look at all styles, since jazz is very diverse. Do you like Latin jazz? Bebop? Hard bop? Swing? Modern? Fusion? jazz-funk? Everything is fair game. If you need to, get a slow down software so you can slow down songs and learn them that way. Learning sixteen-note lines at 160 bpm is hard, even if you've been learning by ear for a long time, there is no shame in slowing it down.

2. Get a theory book focused on jazz in particular. I would personally recommend "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine, it's been my go to book for years now and it's used as a good source at the music school i'm attending. This is for the reason that you mentioned earlier, why does a harmonic minor scale work over a minor 2-5-1? This book is the most complete work i've found when it comes to analyzing jazz. Just make sure the ear comes first. I will often learn a solo, and only when i am done with it will i analyze the entire thing, and use this book as reference if needed. You want to know what you are doing, but sound always comes first. I am sure you can get the book pretty cheap online, maybe even free depending on how you go about it.

3. Sing what you play. It helps you improve the connection to your ear. Also, if you do it a lot you will get to the stage i've started to explore recently. I am able to hear a line, and most of the time accurately imitate it by singing, which in return helps me figure it out on the instrument instantly.

4. Continue your chord-scale practice were it's beneficial. So if you are learning the tunes by ear as i said in "1.", try to figure out which scale corresponds with that chord, then play the chord scales at a tempo were you can think about switching between the scales and play at the same time. If you have to, start with whole notes, one note per chord, then to half notes, quarter notes, eight notes and finally sixteenth notes. (Admittedly, eight and sixteenth notes can be very hard, especially at high tempos, that's why it's important you start slow and get them down for that tune).

5. Limitation exercises. This will help with improvisation immensely. Basically, limit yourself to what you can do. Let's say you can have to improvise over a 2-5-1 in the key of C, but you are only allowed to play eight notes without any rests. Or another limitation would be only playing chord tones for all the chords. Another would be that you can only use phrases of 3 notes, regardless of what rhythm they use. You could limit yourself to only doing legato lines or to play the chord tones of the chord a diatonic third up all the time. It's all about limiting yourself so that you develop these concepts, especially the phrasing ones.

6. Don't just learn from guitarists. Study saxophone players, pianists, bass players, yes even drummers! All the notes are your for the taking. You can also try to aim to imitate that instrument as close as possible when it comes to articulation and dynamics aswell. All my friends know that when i play a jazz line legato, most of the time i've knicked it from a sax player.

The most important though is without a doubt number one. All the masters learned jazz by listening, it's something we all should strive for.

If you'd like i could message you a list of players and groups of all kinds of different styles of jazz, inspiration is always great. And the more players you learn from, the easier it will be for you to find your own voice.

I hope that was helpful, cheers.

Best Regards
Sickz
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#10
Quote by Sickz
Well in the case of blue bossa i would use C harmonic over the end of the A section, which goes Dm7b5 G7alt Cm7 (a minor 2-5-1 in Cm). It's common (in atleast latin jazz) to play the harmonic minor scale of the 1 chord cause in the case of Blue Bossa that way of playing it sounds stronger than if i would play the normal chord scales (Locrian/Locrian #2 for m7b5 chords, altered scale for the altered dominant). I guess that might have been a bad example since it's a Bossa and differentiates itself abit from standard swing or bebop tunes.

On the point of pushing you in the right direction, i do have a few pointers.

1. Learn a ton of jazz by ear. This should be one of the main things you do, since it improves all aspects of your playing. There are a few things to note however. It's better to learn one phrase a day than to sit down one day and learn half a song, and then don't learn anything by ear for a week. Consistency will help you develop your ear. Secondly is note that you should learn all the parts of a tune, start with the melody, then the chords, then the solos. Thirdly, don't limit yourself. I had a period were everything i learned was stuff from Pat Martino, and i was stuck mentally after that for a while. It is important to look at all styles, since jazz is very diverse. Do you like Latin jazz? Bebop? Hard bop? Swing? Modern? Fusion? jazz-funk? Everything is fair game. If you need to, get a slow down software so you can slow down songs and learn them that way. Learning sixteen-note lines at 160 bpm is hard, even if you've been learning by ear for a long time, there is no shame in slowing it down.

2. Get a theory book focused on jazz in particular. I would personally recommend "The Jazz Theory Book" by Mark Levine, it's been my go to book for years now and it's used as a good source at the music school i'm attending. This is for the reason that you mentioned earlier, why does a harmonic minor scale work over a minor 2-5-1? This book is the most complete work i've found when it comes to analyzing jazz. Just make sure the ear comes first. I will often learn a solo, and only when i am done with it will i analyze the entire thing, and use this book as reference if needed. You want to know what you are doing, but sound always comes first. I am sure you can get the book pretty cheap online, maybe even free depending on how you go about it.

3. Sing what you play. It helps you improve the connection to your ear. Also, if you do it a lot you will get to the stage i've started to explore recently. I am able to hear a line, and most of the time accurately imitate it by singing, which in return helps me figure it out on the instrument instantly.

4. Continue your chord-scale practice were it's beneficial. So if you are learning the tunes by ear as i said in "1.", try to figure out which scale corresponds with that chord, then play the chord scales at a tempo were you can think about switching between the scales and play at the same time. If you have to, start with whole notes, one note per chord, then to half notes, quarter notes, eight notes and finally sixteenth notes. (Admittedly, eight and sixteenth notes can be very hard, especially at high tempos, that's why it's important you start slow and get them down for that tune).

5. Limitation exercises. This will help with improvisation immensely. Basically, limit yourself to what you can do. Let's say you can have to improvise over a 2-5-1 in the key of C, but you are only allowed to play eight notes without any rests. Or another limitation would be only playing chord tones for all the chords. Another would be that you can only use phrases of 3 notes, regardless of what rhythm they use. You could limit yourself to only doing legato lines or to play the chord tones of the chord a diatonic third up all the time. It's all about limiting yourself so that you develop these concepts, especially the phrasing ones.

6. Don't just learn from guitarists. Study saxophone players, pianists, bass players, yes even drummers! All the notes are your for the taking. You can also try to aim to imitate that instrument as close as possible when it comes to articulation and dynamics aswell. All my friends know that when i play a jazz line legato, most of the time i've knicked it from a sax player.

The most important though is without a doubt number one. All the masters learned jazz by listening, it's something we all should strive for.

If you'd like i could message you a list of players and groups of all kinds of different styles of jazz, inspiration is always great. And the more players you learn from, the easier it will be for you to find your own voice.

I hope that was helpful, cheers.

Best Regards
Sickz


Thank you very much. This is really helpful. It would be great if you could message me some recommended jazz songs (any style really) to learn by ear. My ear is still in a "beginners stage" so it would be very useful to know which songs are the easiest to learn. I found the book on kindle store! thank you again!
#11
there are rules, play a minor pentatonic a b3 or 4th above the root chord and hope for the best, I heard street talk about playing out side, never got it working.
#12
in my ventures ive discovered allot changes depending on what kind of jazz improv you're attempting. are you looking at straight up jazz standard approach or bebop or some other denomination, the best thing ive done (which was mentioned) was learning other solos by ear but more importantly charting out what chords they're ontop of. guys like Metheny, Martino, Pizzarelli, etc
#13
Sickz has got it down
as a person who is pursuing the jazz style, here is my 2c.

any of the big jazz cats, no matter their instrument, will be able to tell you what they played where if you ask them. Contrary to the name, improv is 80% practice. Anyone who tells you that you don't need to know theory or scales and just feel the music is full of crap - don't believe a word of that. And there is no such thing at 'taking it outside'. For a person starting out jazz on guitar, Wes Montgomery is the man. Also check out Charlie Christian and Freddy Green - they were before Wes or his contemporaries IIRC. All the modern guys check out the original pioneers- and it will help you understand the modern players.
Get jazz into your ear. Jazz is ear music. Being able to read charts is also very important, but don't rely on it in a jam. Listen to it and play it. You're gonna suck at first. I still suck But so does everyone. I heard a story of Monk teaching Coltrane. Monk would just play chords not tell him anything and let Coltrane figure it out. He sucked at first...but look where he ended up. One of the most burning tenor sax players ever.
Hang out at the local jazz jams if there are any in your area. See what they're doing and play with. It's daunting at first, but you won't get better unless you do.
#14
Quote by UnmagicMushroom
Sickz has got it down
as a person who is pursuing the jazz style, here is my 2c.

any of the big jazz cats, no matter their instrument, will be able to tell you what they played where if you ask them. Contrary to the name, improv is 80% practice. Anyone who tells you that you don't need to know theory or scales and just feel the music is full of crap - don't believe a word of that. .


I agree with what you are saying, but it is important to note that theory aspect you mentioned is relative, it depends on the player.

As someone who also studies and pursues jazz, i have played with a lot of jazz players. Some of them play purely by ear, some of them rely more on their theory knowledge.

If we go back and look at the early gypsy jazz players they played almost exclusively by ear. And it's also important to note that "jazz theory" or even "jazz education" didn't become an established thing until the later half of the 20th century.

I am not saying theory is wrong, quite the opposite, i also analyze what i do. But i am saying that some players don't need to learn theory, they craft their own. (Like Holdsworths wierd symbol for chords, or that many early jazzers didn't know the name for what they were playing, they just knew it sounded good).

My point still stands though, study the masters. Start simple and build up, rely on your ear and analyze afterwards. Play the notes, sing and play the notes, sing and ghost the notes, then just sing the notes, you want to get jazz into your head.

Best Regards

Sickz
Fusion and jazz musician, a fan of most music.

Quote by Guthrie Govan
“If you steal from one person it's theft, and if you steal from lots of people it's research”


Quote by Chick Corea
"Only play what you hear. If you don't hear anything, don't play anything."
#15
Quote by jazzlp
Thank you very much. This is really helpful. It would be great if you could message me some recommended jazz songs (any style really) to learn by ear. My ear is still in a "beginners stage" so it would be very useful to know which songs are the easiest to learn. I found the book on kindle store! thank you again!

If you want to learn jazz, you probably listen to it (you should anyway) Just learn whatever you like. Learning your favorite songs is much more interesting. I personally can't stand most 40s-60s jazz but Japanese jazz fusion is my favorite style.
#16
all the above is a variety of good advice...the one thing you cant study or practice is time and patients...much like an exercise program results will come slowly and gradually...you cant rush it..

finding your own voice is what you are trying to develope..and that takes time...for many players..music and jazz in particular is a life long study..im still learning some "basic" steps while learning advanced symmetrical harmony .. you won't learn it all..and you will find that you learn and re-learn the same basic steps in new ways..

yes scales and arps and a must to learn..they are the base on which you will build everything else..

enjoy the journey...play well

wolf