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#1
Ok as you all may know, I am auditioning for Berklee on Jan. 20th, and I thought it would be impressive if I played a shred piece (Bad Horsie), a metal piece (dont know yet), and an improvisation over the famous jazz masterpiece, Giant Steps. The reason for these 3 choices is so I can show them that I love to rock out to metal, I have good technique to use, and I am also smart about music, and not close minded, and pay respect to history. So far, Ive done it all by ear, and I think the chords are:

B D7 G EbMaj7 Am7 D7 F#m7 Fm7 Bb7 and C#m7, not in the order that they are played, but the general pool of chords in this song. I was listening to it, and I know it plays around with the Circle of Fifths, but it sounds like it is switching into the 3rd of every other note, so while improvising, this is really confusing to me. It switches keys so fast, I have no idea what to do.

My question is, what do you guys recommend I do, to be able to improvise in a way that I can smoothly change keys this fast?
#3
yeah man...but watching you on you tube...your pretty good...but you really need to practice with a metronome...u have the technique down...but the rythm just isnt there...it's really hard to keep the beat when listening to you. Try it yourself...tap your foot while listening to yourself ...it's not even...but besides that man pretty good
#4
Quote by HonestyFails_Jo
yeah man...but watching you on you tube...your pretty good...but you really need to practice with a metronome...u have the technique down...but the rythm just isnt there...it's really hard to keep the beat when listening to you. Try it yourself...tap your foot while listening to yourself ...it's not even...but besides that man pretty good



That totally didnt help me at all, . I dunno about you but I can keep the rythm, though I usually play it alittle or alot faster than the actual song, out of boredom.
#5
Yeah - you're correct in saying that it moves in 3rds, but if you look at it closely, it only changes keys 3 times and moves either up or down in major thirds, and all the chords are simple V - I and ii - V - I in three keys (B, G & Eb).

I'll go through the first 6 or so bars with you, so you can see the simplicity of the changes...

Bar 1 starts with BΔ and goes to D7. So we can look at this as being I in B, and then V in our next key. G.

Bar 2 goes GΔ (D7 - GΔ is a ii - V in G) which is followed by Bb7, the V of our next key, Eb.

Bar 3 is just one chord, EbΔ - which completes are V - I in Eb.

Even in the first three bars he changes key three times with major thirds. B a major third down to G, then G a major third down to Eb. So, here - whatever lick/phrase/scale you're playing with, can be used again a major third down each time he changes key - and you can look for common tones that connect all three keys to tie in all your scales with the changes.

If you start with B Ionian on the first chord and anticipate the D7 - you'll find that B Major has 3 notes in common with D Mixolydian (for example - assuming you use D mixolydian, which you don't have to if you find something you like).. the three notes are F#, E and of course B.. there's three notes right there you can land on the change and smoothly go into the ii - V in G by playing D Mixoldyian - G Ionian, and you can apply the same thing with G Ionian to Bb Mixolydian in time for the the key change to Eb.

So, anyway - the first three bars look like this.


|BΔ - D7 | GΔ - Bb7 | EbΔ |

BbΔ = I in B.
D7 - GΔ = V - I in G.
Bb7 - EbΔ = V - I in Eb.


Bar 4 starts with Am7 (ii in the key of G) moves onto D7 (V in the key of G) and brings us to the 5th bar which lands on GΔ (I in the key of G).. voila, a simple ii - V - I in the key of GΔ.

Again here, you'd play in G Ionian and go A Dorian over Am7, D Mixolydian over D7 and G Ionian over GΔ - no key change here, just a nice straight ii - V - I (you might want to start improvising your own ii - V - I licks in the same manner I described above with common tones (okay, all the tones are common within the tonal center, but with emphasis on sounding like you're following the changes (playing F# when you move into D7 for example) instead of just playing one scale over 3 chords).

After GΔ, we change key again from G down a major third again to Eb and we have a Bb7 in bar 5 (V in Eb) which takes us to EbΔ (I in Eb).. and again you notice, another V - I a major third down from our last key.

So we've gone like this from bar 4 to 6 with the key changes, started in G, down a major third to Eb, then down another major third again to B (or enharmonically D# down to B, D# being the major third of B) - that's another three key changes in another three bars, but still is relatively simply because it's only V - I and ii - V - I progressions in all three keys.

After the EbΔ, we have F#7 which starts another V - I in the key of B (the sixth key change), but I won't go that far.

So now, we have this (Bar 1 - 6).


| BΔ - D7 | GΔ - Bb7 | EbΔ | Am7 - D7 | GΔ - Bb7 | EbΔ |

BbΔ = I in B.
D7 - GΔ = V - I in G.
Bb7 - EbΔ = V - I in Eb.
Am7 - D7 - GΔ = ii - V - I in G.
Bb7 - EbΔ = V - I in Eb.


If you can master playing over ii - V - I changes, you can pretty much nail Giant Steps without too many problems - so what I suggest you do is practice ii - V - I progressions in every key (not just G, Eb & B), and then practice changing into key changes by using the common tone method I was talking about earlier to find how you can connect different scales by landing on any common tone and anticipating the key change.

If you want me to go into more detail on all 16 bars for you - then I will carry one from where I lef off, but I haven't got time at the moment and am hoping you can digest this first.

Oh and btw, get in here and answer some questions!

Last edited by Johnljones7443 at Dec 30, 2006,
#6
and berklee isnt exactly known as having a tough entrance no-nonsense approach. i know a guy who got in and didn't even know what an eighth note was.


ofcourse he dropped out within one semester
#7
Quote by splice
and berklee isnt exactly known as having a tough entrance no-nonsense approach. i know a guy who got in and didn't even know what an eighth note was.


ofcourse he dropped out within one semester



I want to pass with flying colors, im not satisfied with just passing. And John, do you think you could please go over the rest of the bars with me? That was quite helpful
#8
^Of course mate - I'll start from where I left off.

So, we're in the 6th bar and just done a V - I in Eb, the second chord of the 6th bar is F#7 (the V chord in the key of B) which goes into the 7th bar and we land on BΔ - giving us another V - I progression in the key of B.

Bar 8 starts with the ii chord in the key of Eb, Fm7 and continues a ii - V - I progression into the 9th bar. So we go Fm7 - Bb7 (8th bar: ii - V in Eb) and lands on EbΔ in the 9th bar. Yet another ii - V - I progression, this time in a key a major third down from our previous key.

Bar 10 now takes us back to bar 4, a ii - V - I in the key of G (another major third down from Eb).. so bar 10 goes Am7 - D7 (ii - V in G) and lands on GΔ in the 11th bar.

Just do a quick recap here to make sure you're following, so from where we left off, we now have..


([I]Starting from the 2nd chord in the 6th bar.[/I])
  
 [size="1"]Bar 6...[/SIZE]

| F#7 | BΔ | Fm7 - Bb7 | EbΔ | Am7 - D7 | GΔ |

F#7 - BΔ = ii - V in B.
Fm7 - Bb7 - EbΔ = ii - V - I in Eb. 
Am7 - D7 - GΔ = ii - V - I in G.

B an M3 down to Eb.
Eb an M3 down to G.


In bar 12 we introduce a new chord, C#m7, the ii chord in the key of B.. so from bar 11 in the key of G, this time - we go up a major third to the key of B. Bar 12 goes C#m7 - F#7 (ii - V in the key of B) and again, bar 13 completes our ii - V - I with a BΔ chord.

Bar 14 & 15 is again, another ii - V - I progression, but this time a major third down from the preceding key (Eb - B), Fm7 - Bb7 - EbΔ. The ii - V in the 14th bar, and the 15th bar completes it with the I chord (EbΔ.

In the last bar, 16 - we go back to the key we started the whole thing in, B Major - the first chord in the first bar is BΔ, so I bet you can guess what the 2 chord in bar 16 (the last bar) are, right? A ii - V in the key of B major, C#m7 - F#7.. which takes you right back to the top to land on I (BΔ. Another ii - V - I!

Those are all the chords (I'll write up a diagram for you in a minute to show them properly).. now you might be thinking, that's a lot of chords and a lot of key changes, but when you really look at it, all those V - I and ii - V - I progressions only make up 10 key changes - 10 key changes in 26 chords, sure - the chords move pretty fast, and Giant Steps is always a challenge for improvising (I'll mention a nice way you can get to grips with it in a minute, that my teacher taught me - and I think Mark Levine mentions in his Jazz Theory Book, which involves playing the V pentatonic over each tonal center) - but with only 10 key changes in those chords, there's a lot of things you can do to make getting your head around the changes easier.

Okay - before I go on to describing a couple of ways you can go about tackling this, I'll give you a whole diagram of the chord changes. (I've made the text a bit bigger than normal so you can see it without squinting, on my resolution the text in code is tiny!)


[size="3"]| BΔ  -  D7 | GΔ  -  Bb7 |     EbΔ    | Am7  -  D7 |

| GΔ  -  Bb7| EbΔ - F#m7 |     BΔ     | Fm7  -  Bb7|

|    EbΔ    | Am7  -  D7 |     GΔ     | C#m7 - F#7 |

|    BΔ     | Fm7  -  Bb7|     EbΔ    | C#m7 - F#7 |[/size]


Okay - now you have the changes down, I'll go through a couple of ways of playing on them.

The first one, I've already mentioned (and ties in with the second, but the second is a more specific approach, and easier)... I mentioned playing common tones on each key change, and gave F#, E and B of common tones within B Ionian and D Mixolydian in changing from the key of B (BΔ to G (D7 - GΔ.. I'm not sure if you grasped this, so I'll give you an example on the changes of Giant Steps, and a way to practice becoming quicker at connecting these scales.

So, my example is going to be over BbΔ - D7 in the first bar of Giant Steps, just to make sure you've understood and can actually 'see' what I'm saying.



    BΔ            D7
|-----------------------|
|-----------------------|
|----------6------------|
|-------6---------------|
|-6--9------------------|
|-----------------------|


In that example, we have an eighth note melody over the BΔ chord starting on it's major third, D# and ascending up to C# before we change key. Now, if we go on ahead and play the next scale tone in B Ionian as we change into D7, we're going to hit a D# again, the minor second (minor ninth) of D, or augmented fifth of our key change, G. Sure - that's going to give you a nice Ionian augmented tonality in the grand scheme of things, but if you're looking to impress with your knowledge of theory/jazz, you don't want to be hitting a minor ninth in a consonant tune like Giant Steps. Now, I'm not saying you can't use it - I'm just saying that with your limited experience of the tune, it's going to sound much more like a 'Oops, wrong note' as opposed to intentional dissonance with complete detachment a la Monk.

So, to avoid that dissonance, what can we do? We can hit one of our common tones as we change into D7 (B, E or F#) to make that change noticable, but smooth, effortless - if you will.

You might change by going like this... using B Ionians perfect fifth and D Mixolydians major third, F# - to connect each chord, and the continuing with D Mixolydian.



   BΔ          D7
|-------------------------7-|
|--------------[B]7[/B]--8--10-----|
|----------6----------------|
|-------6-------------------|
|-6--9----------------------|
|---------------------------|


So there you have an eighth note run in B Ionian, and an eighth note run in D Mixolydian with that one common tone, F# connecting them both - that's an example of how you might go about using common tones. Now, I know what you're probably thinking is this is supposed to be improvising, and I only have X amount of time before I perform it.. and sure, you can go in there all guns blazing and just have a rough idea of what you're going to play scalar wise.. but with something like common tones, you have a general idea of what's going to sound good at the right time, as opposed to hit and miss, and that one 'wrong' note might cost you the placement. So it's vitally important you practice this method in every key with every possible key change (okay, start with the changes in Giant Steps so you've done the work for the audition).. once you've practiced it, and done it for a couple of weeks, patiently writing out the notes and showing yourself the options.. things become a lot more visually in integrated on the fretboard, so you can see the available common tones for each change right in front of you without checking your scales on paper.

Okay - I'm running out of time here, so I'll discuss the second method quickly, which involves playing the V pentatonic scale (that is the major pentatonic scale of the V in your key) over V - I and ii - V - I changes.. the get this into your head, I'll give an example with the ii – V – I changes from bar 4 & 5 of Giant Steps in the key of G.

In the key of G Major our ii - V - I progression goes Am7 - D7 – GΔ. I’m sure you’re aware of ‘avoid notes’, or notes that cause a dissonant interval within a chord/scale.. such as playing F over Cmaj7 making a minor ninth interval. This is what the whole playing V pentatonic thing revolves around, and why it works. By playing the V pentatonic over the ii – V – I you automatically get rid of all the ‘avoid notes’ you’d normally have to think about.

Let’s take this apart in our key of G and see what we have… our first chord is Am7 – on this chord, we don’t have any avoid notes as such, any note from G Ionian (A Dorian) we play over this is going to sound okay, no major dissonance. Now, over D7 – the avoid note is G, our perfect fourth which makes a minor ninth interval between it and our chords 3rd (F# - G)… on our tonic chord we have another avoid note, C. Which again creates a minor ninth interval between it and our major third (B – C).

So, take away those two notes from G Ionian, and what do you get? D – E – F# - A – B. Notice what that is? The D Major pentatonic scale – the V pentatonic of our key, it’s our major scale, but without the ‘avoid’ notes – this means you don’t have to worry about hitting a ‘wrong note’ if you’re stuck for time.

Just as an example of where to play what I’ll show you an example on Giant Steps and the V pentatonic to play over them… bar 1 we have BΔ – so over that we play F# major pentatonic, move to D7 in the key of G, we play D major pentatonic, move to Bb7 in the 2nd bar, we have the key of Eb, play Bb major pentatonic.. and you get the idea.

That’s a brief synopsis of a couple of ways to tackle this tune, and I hope you understand them and do well in your audition – if you don’t understand, you know the drill.

#9
i was just saying, its not that hard. trying to make you less nervous i suppose.
#10
Umm, John basically said what I was going to say.
Quote by funkdaddyfresh
justin, that was easily the most inspiring, helpful piece of advice anyone has ever given me in regards to my musical pursuits.


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#13
What part don't you understand, insideac? I assume you understand what I said about the chord progression, and at least understood what chords to play, at least that way you know the progression.

I'm sorry if I went too deep and assumed you'd understand me, if you tell me what you didn't understand, I can go over it at a slower pace with you - making sure you know what I'm talking about, before I go further.

Edit: Oh, he's banned again, lol
Last edited by Johnljones7443 at Dec 31, 2006,
#14
Yo, Johnljones7443.
can you please explain what you said again, insideac's having a hard time to understand it.
books have knowledge, knowledge is power, power corrupts, corruption is a crime, and crime doesn't pay..so if you keep reading, you'll go broke.

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#15
I didnt read your post Johnljones as it would've gone straight over my head, but much respect to you for writing a 1780 word post to help a random on the internet.
#16
Yes, John. Quite a nice analysis so far.
He who joyfully marches to music in rank and file has already earned my contempt.
He has been given a large brain by mistake, since for him the spinal cord would fully suffice.


Remember: A prudent question is one half of wisdom.

Click.
#17
Quote by Johnljones7443
What part don't you understand, insideac? I assume you understand what I said about the chord progression, and at least understood what chords to play, at least that way you know the progression.

I'm sorry if I went too deep and assumed you'd understand me, if you tell me what you didn't understand, I can go over it at a slower pace with you - making sure you know what I'm talking about, before I go further.

Edit: Oh, he's banned again, lol



lol not banned again, for now. Well, the way that you were talking about the modes, and the few notes that they all had in common, is what threw me off. I understood everything else, but Im still pretty foggy on the modes and all that, I mean, I didnt think a mode was a scale till a few days ago
#18
The best advice that I can give you is since the entire song is ii-V's and ii-V-I's changing tonal centers every once in awhile. What you need to do is start your recording of Giant Steps, I imagine it's John Coltrane's not McCoy Tyner's later version well it could also possibly be Jimmy Bruno's or Pat Metheny's but yeah, listen for the first three changes and transcribe the lines that the soloist is playing during the solo on the ii-V's and kind of ignore what the inside notes their playing and focus on where they place the outside notes of the key from that ii-V. Possibly confusing but I hope it helped. Giant Steps is pretty harmonically advanced for its speed so I imagine if you can pull it off you'll be a shoe in. Maybe you could record a version with you soloing on it and post it in the thread.

EDIT: This might also help, there are a lot of intelligent jazzers there http://www.playjazzguitar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2109">http://www.playjazzguitar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2109
Co-Founder of the Jazz Guitarist Community. PM me or Zeppelin256 to join.

Come listen to Zeppelin256 and I jam over some jazz tunes! Unit 7
Last edited by VR2005 at Jan 1, 2007,
#19
Quote by VR2005
The best advice that I can give you is since the entire song is ii-V's and ii-V-I's changing tonal centers every once in awhile. What you need to do is start your recording of Giant Steps, I imagine it's John Coltrane's not McCoy Tyner's later version well it could also possibly be Jimmy Bruno's or Pat Metheny's but yeah, listen for the first three changes and transcribe the lines that the soloist is playing during the solo on the ii-V's and kind of ignore what the inside notes their playing and focus on where they place the outside notes of the key from that ii-V. Possibly confusing but I hope it helped. Giant Steps is pretty harmonically advanced for its speed so I imagine if you can pull it off you'll be a shoe in. Maybe you could record a version with you soloing on it and post it in the thread.

EDIT: This might also help, there are a lot of intelligent jazzers there http://www.playjazzguitar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2109">http://www.playjazzguitar.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=2109



Or do you think I should copy the original Giant Steps note for note? Ill try the improv tomorrow, everyones asleep now
#21
I'd atleast give improv a shot, and if you can't (which would never put across that you're bad) then go for the solo note for note and just change a few things up. Best of Luck.
Co-Founder of the Jazz Guitarist Community. PM me or Zeppelin256 to join.

Come listen to Zeppelin256 and I jam over some jazz tunes! Unit 7
#22
Playing the solo note for note is an option - but I was under the impression you wanted to improvise the whole thing to show that you can be 'smart about music'. Playing it note for note would be fine by anyones standards and impressive, but having only 18 days to perfect it might be a problem.

Anyway - I'll try and explain what I said again, just incase you do decide to improvise it - you said you got lost as soon as I started mentioning modes, so I'll go from there.

If you look at a major ii - V - I progression we're using the second (supertonic), fifth (dominant) and first (tonic) chord of the major key - and what people tend to do is play the corresponding mode over the chord. The second mode over the ii chord, the fifth mode over the V and the first mode over the I chord. The second mode of any major scale is Dorian, the fifth mode of any major scale is Mixolydian, and the first mode of any major scale is Ionian. So what we have this..

ii chord - Dorian.
V chord - Mixolydian.
I chord - Ionian.

You could look at it as just playing the major scale of the key you're playing (i.e playing C Ionian over a ii - V - I progression in C major).. but because we're playing the major scale over the ii and V chords, we call them Dorian and Mixolydian in reference to the chord they're being played over.

So, in C major - our progression goes Dm7 - G7 - Cmaj7 (Sorry I assumed you knew a major 7th chord is notated with a Δ, I'll call it maj7 from now on to avoid confusion).. Dm7 is our ii chord, G7 is our V chord and Cmaj7 is our I chord. If we play the C major scale over each one of those chords, we get..

ii - Dm7 = C Major over Dm7 = D Dorian.
V - G7 - C Major over G7 = G Mixolydian.
I - Cmaj7 - C Major over Cmaj7 = C Ionian.

This is where what I called common tones comes in.. playing the major scale over the ii - V - I progression is fine when we're in only one key, because we're never going to hit a 'wrong note' as such (That could be argued - which I'll get to in a bit), but when we change key, the notes we play over a progression in one key aren't going to fit when we change key, so we have to change the scale we're playing.. and you'll notice sometimes, people struggle when they change key because the chords might change smoothly, and almost go un-noticed - but you'll notice that the improviser sometimes struggles to make that change 'natural' - it sounds forced and jagged, because they're jumping from one key to another and will more often than not hit a 'wrong note' when they change because they haven't thought it through to the point where they don't have to think about it - they haven't got a 'plan' if you will, just a basic idea of what notes you can hit (or can't hit) will help make the key changes feel & sound natural, and not sound as if you're changing key.

One way I described was using notes that both chords/scales have in common to connect them - look at our example in C major again, and we'll change key a major third down to Ab Major. Our ii - V in C major goes Dm7 - G7, and instead of going to Cmaj7, we're going to go to Abmaj7 instead, and change key.

So, over Dm7 we're going to play D Dorian, and over G7 - G Mixolydian.

ii - Dm7 - D Dorian: D - E - F - G - A - B - C.
V - G7 - G Mixolydian: G - A - B - C - D - E - F.

to Ab...

I - Abmaj7 - A Ionian: Ab - Bb - C - Db - Eb - F - G.

Look at the notes we have in D Dorian and G Mixolydian, and compare them to the notes in Ab Ionian. How many of them are the same? Or what notes do they have in common? C, F and G - the fact that these three notes occur in the key of C Major and Ab Major is going to help us connect the two keys by making it sound like the change was thoughtless and effortless.

Imagine this scenario - we've played on bar of Dm7 in D Dorian, and are in the middle of our G7 chord and the change is coming up. We land on the last note in our G7 bar, let's land on D - our chords fifth. Now what note can we use that occurs in both G Mixolydian and Ab Ionian? You can play either C, F or G as the first melody note over the Abmaj7 chord and the change from G7 to Abmaj7 will sound effortless and smooth, not as if you were lost. Doing this can have a beautiful effect in your progression, where one note holds together all your chords and gives your solo structure.

There are no rules to say you must play either C, F or G to connect G7 to Abmaj7 - it's just an option you can use, a tool in your toolbox to help you think about how to change key - when you practice this over and over, using these common tones becomes natural, you don't have to think 'G Mixolydian and Ab Ionian have C, F and G in common' because you already know, that's when you can improvise over key changes and make it sound as effortless - without even having to think about it!

The second method I gave you mentioned pentatonic scales - I put that briefly because I was running out of time, but I'll go into more detail here in the hope you understand it.

So, we know that playing Dorian over the ii chord, Mixolydian over the V chord and Ionian over the I chord is, in general going to sound good because all of our notes are inside the key - but, there are certain notes, when played against a note in a chord that make what might be considered dissonant, so we tend to avoid them - we call these 'avoid notes'. At this point, I'm going to mention that an interval of a minor ninth is considered an unstable and dissonant interval, so what we want to do is avoid playing a note in our melody that is going to create an interval of a minor ninth in this case, with our chord.

If we look at our Dm7 chord (D - F - A - C) and our D Dorian scale (D - E - F - G - A - B - C), what note from D Dorian gives us an interval of a minor ninth with any of our chord tones?

D to Eb is a minor ninth. Eb isn't in D Dorian.
F to Gb is a minor ninth. Gb isn't in D Dorian.
A to Bb is a minor ninth. Ab isn't in D Dorian.
C to Db is a minor ninth. Db isn't in D Dorian.

Thus, there is no 'avoid note' to worry about when we play D Dorian over Dm7. Now, let's do the same with our G7 chord (G - B - D - F) and G Mixolydian scale (G - A - B - C - D - E - F).

G to Ab is a minor ninth. Ab isn't in G Mixolydian.
B to C is a minor ninth. C IS in G Mixolydian.
D to Eb is a minor ninth. Eb isn't in G Mixolydian.
F to Gb is a minor ninth. Gb isn't in G Mixoldyian.

In, G Mixolydian - the note C gives us an interval of a minor ninth with our chord major third. So, instead of having having to worry about not playing that note, we take it out of our scale. Now we're left with D - E - F - G - A - B, and we're going to do the same with our Cmaj7 chord (C - E - G - B) and C Ionian (C - D - E - F - G - A - B).

C to Db is a minor ninth. Db isn't in C Ionian.
E to F is a minor ninth. F IS in C Ionian.
G to Ab is a minor ninth. Ab isn't in C Ionian.
B to C is minor ninth. C isn't in our scale anymore. (This isn't to say you can play that C note over Cmaj7, of course you can, seeing as we're not playing over G7 anymore, so C is once again 'safe' to play.)

The next note we're going to get rid of is F - because it creates a minor ninth interval with out chords major third again (E - F). So, if we take C and F out of C Ionian, what are we left with? D - E - G - A - B. If we rearrange these notes, starting on G, we get: G - A - B - D - E. These notes make up the G Major Pentatonic scale. In C, G is our V chord, thus we'll call the G Major pentatonic, the 'V Pentatonic'.

If we play the V pentatonic over our ii - V - I, any note that could perhaps, not used in the right way make you sound horrible, isn't there anymore. So, if this applies to C, it will apply to a ii - V - I progression in every key - seeing as there's an abundance of ii - V and ii - V - I progressions in Giant Steps, it makes sense to suggest this is another way you could go about it. Granted, Giant Steps probably isn't the best starting point to using a method like this, but that's what practice is for. If you can practice this in every key, using the V pentatonic over the ii - V - I progression, your fingers and mind learn what notes you can and can't play over this or that chord until again, it becomes effortless and thoughtless. Once you learn to not play these notes, you can learn to play them and use them to your advantage, instead of them being something to avoid (For example, playing F over Cmaj7 as a passing tone and not holding it on the chord can sound beautiful).

Hopefully going into a little more detail has helped you understand the methods I wa describing, if not - you know the drill, and I'll keep going over it with you.

#23
Thanks so much John. This is really helping me alot. I printed out your posts and I was looking it over in school. Tomorrow Ill go more in depth in it and try to finally absorb it all. I'll let you know how it goes

I really appreciate your effort to help me, thanks
#24
Just an extra little tidbit to what John said, another thing a few jazz guitarists use in a ii-V-I situation is use one of the three modes that they're most comfortable with position-wise, and just figure out the chord tones from each of the chords in that position, you can find a lot of interesting lines by doing that.

Ex. Say you're most comfortable with the G mixolydian of the ii-V-I in C then just look at the chord tones of each chord.

Dmin7- D-F-A-C
Gdom7-G-B-D-F
Cmaj7-C-E-G-B

Now in the G mixolydian position look for those notes and keep them in your mind when going over each chord.

Very important in improvisation is movement, so look for the most common movements ala halfsteps. You've got the B-C and the E-F.

Ex. When you're going through the improv focus on those movements first when the chord changes so that it sounds to the listeners ear that it is changing.

Again I wish the best for your audition and unfortunately since i'm not good at typing a lot and staying on subject maybe John can elaborate on what i'm saying (if he agrees of course. )

Cheers!
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#25
Sir John, I congratulate you with a nice post!

I also want to share my views on Giant Steps. I haven't discussed much of it, so if something is unclear, feel free to ask.

I find Giant Steps very sequence-friendly. The song keeps switching keys by a major third, so one can play a lick in the key of G and play it a major third up, so it comes in the key of B. Also, one can play it a major third down, so it comes in the key of Eb. There are nice things to do with this! I'll share some of my ideas. I'm not sure if insideac can apply these ideas in two weeks, but heck.

You'll see the | Bmaj7 - D7 | Gmaj7 - Bb7 | changes. For this lick idea, I use the first three chords of those. What we see is a I in B, and a V-I in G. Let's try something with that. The Bmaj7 will be played as an arpeggio. After that, the key will change to the key of G. In the key of G, there are two maj7 arpeggios. One of them is Gmaj7, of course, and the other one is Cmaj7. Wow! Cmaj7 is only a half step away from Bmaj7!

So what happens when we play Cmaj7 over D7? We have the b7, 9, 11 and 13 intervals. That creates some nice dissonance, that can be nicely resolved to the Gmaj7 that comes up next. Below is an example of this. All notes are eighth notes.

 Bmaj7   D7       Gmaj7
|----------------|--------
|----------------|--------
|----3-4-5-4-----|------4-
|1-4---------5-2-|--4-5---
|----------------|5-------
|----------------|--------


For the next V-I (Bb7 | Ebmaj7) we're going to try a new idea, again with arpeggios. Let's use the ii chord of Bb Mixolydian: Cmin7. We play a Cmin7 arpeggio. This contains the 9, 11, 13 and 1 notes of Bb7, so it contains roughly the same tensions as the D7 of last lick. Quite handy, because both the D7 and Bb7 are on the last half of the bar. It creates something to hold on to.

The Cm7 arpeggio can be continued over Ebmaj7, creating the 1, 3, 5 and 6 notes of Eb. I'm adding a 9 (F) here, because I like that note. Again, all notes in eighth, and the ~ sign is a 'hold note' sign with a eighth note value. Every note from now on is an eighth.

 Gmaj7   Bb7      Ebmaj7
|----------------|3-6-3---------6-|
|--------------4-|------6-4-~-~---|
|--------5-3-5---|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|


The next progression is a ii-V-I in the key of G. Am7-D7-Gmaj7. Last lick ended on a quick Bb, so let's resolve the Bb to the A and finish this off with a simple lick that I like to use. It's a Am7 arpeggio over Am7, and a Bm7 arpeggio over D7. End with G over Gmaj7.

 Am7     D7       Gmaj7
|5---5-3-2-------|--------
|--5-------3-----|--------
|------------4-2-|------2-
|----------------|5-~-~---
|----------------|--------
|----------------|--------


Next lick: V-I in Eb. It starts with a Bb arpeggio with an E passing tone from the F to the Eb of the next bar, which is the I of that chord. Ends with an Ebmaj arpeggio.

 Gmaj7   Bb7      Ebmaj7
|----------------|--6-~-3-
|----------3-6-5-|4-------
|--------3-------|--------
|----------------|--------
|----------------|--------
|----------------|--------


Oh noes, another V-I, this time in B. Just a nice lick, with chord tones on every downbeat.

 Ebmaj7  F#7      Bmaj7
|--------2-------|------4-2-------|
|----------5-2---|--2-4-----5-4-2-|
|--------------3-|~---------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|


The last lick I'm going to do today is the ii-V-I lick in Eb. Last lick ended on a C#, so let's keep that downward motion to the nearest chord tone of F-7, which is C.

 F-7     Bb7      Ebmaj7
|--1---3---1---3-|~-
|1---1---3---3---|--
|----------------|--
|----------------|--
|----------------|--
|----------------|--



There it is, the first part of my licks over Giant Steps. If you like these things, post so and I'll post more of them.
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#26
This is off topic-ish, but what do you mean by bars? Does that mean measures? What else, because I'm sure there are more than 16 measures in that whole song.
#27
Unfortunately since my computer freezes up everytime I try to edit i while have to double post, hopefully the mods will excuse this.

EDIT: Very important, focusing on the chord tones like I mentioned is all well and good but you have to find some outside tones to put across chromatic movement, you don't have to go chromatic crazy but put a few in to make some interest. The bebop dominant scale can help with this. And quite a good article for this can be found here

http://www.jazzguitar.be/bebopscale.html
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#28
Quote by elvenkindje
Sir John, I congratulate you with a nice post!

I also want to share my views on Giant Steps. I haven't discussed much of it, so if something is unclear, feel free to ask.

I find Giant Steps very sequence-friendly. The song keeps switching keys by a major third, so one can play a lick in the key of G and play it a major third up, so it comes in the key of B. Also, one can play it a major third down, so it comes in the key of Eb. There are nice things to do with this! I'll share some of my ideas. I'm not sure if insideac can apply these ideas in two weeks, but heck.

You'll see the | Bmaj7 - D7 | Gmaj7 - Bb7 | changes. For this lick idea, I use the first three chords of those. What we see is a I in B, and a V-I in G. Let's try something with that. The Bmaj7 will be played as an arpeggio. After that, the key will change to the key of G. In the key of G, there are two maj7 arpeggios. One of them is Gmaj7, of course, and the other one is Cmaj7. Wow! Cmaj7 is only a half step away from Bmaj7!

So what happens when we play Cmaj7 over D7? We have the b7, 9, 11 and 13 intervals. That creates some nice dissonance, that can be nicely resolved to the Gmaj7 that comes up next. Below is an example of this. All notes are eighth notes.

 Bmaj7   D7       Gmaj7
|----------------|--------
|----------------|--------
|----3-4-5-4-----|------4-
|1-4---------5-2-|--4-5---
|----------------|5-------
|----------------|--------


For the next V-I (Bb7 | Ebmaj7) we're going to try a new idea, again with arpeggios. Let's use the ii chord of Bb Mixolydian: Cmin7. We play a Cmin7 arpeggio. This contains the 9, 11, 13 and 1 notes of Bb7, so it contains roughly the same tensions as the D7 of last lick. Quite handy, because both the D7 and Bb7 are on the last half of the bar. It creates something to hold on to.

The Cm7 arpeggio can be continued over Ebmaj7, creating the 1, 3, 5 and 6 notes of Eb. I'm adding a 9 (F) here, because I like that note. Again, all notes in eighth, and the ~ sign is a 'hold note' sign with a eighth note value. Every note from now on is an eighth.

 Gmaj7   Bb7      Ebmaj7
|----------------|3-6-3---------6-|
|--------------4-|------6-4-~-~---|
|--------5-3-5---|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|


The next progression is a ii-V-I in the key of G. Am7-D7-Gmaj7. Last lick ended on a quick Bb, so let's resolve the Bb to the A and finish this off with a simple lick that I like to use. It's a Am7 arpeggio over Am7, and a Bm7 arpeggio over D7. End with G over Gmaj7.

 Am7     D7       Gmaj7
|5---5-3-2-------|--------
|--5-------3-----|--------
|------------4-2-|------2-
|----------------|5-~-~---
|----------------|--------
|----------------|--------


Next lick: V-I in Eb. It starts with a Bb arpeggio with an E passing tone from the F to the Eb of the next bar, which is the I of that chord. Ends with an Ebmaj arpeggio.

 Gmaj7   Bb7      Ebmaj7
|----------------|--6-~-3-
|----------3-6-5-|4-------
|--------3-------|--------
|----------------|--------
|----------------|--------
|----------------|--------


Oh noes, another V-I, this time in B. Just a nice lick, with chord tones on every downbeat.

 Ebmaj7  F#7      Bmaj7
|--------2-------|------4-2-------|
|----------5-2---|--2-4-----5-4-2-|
|--------------3-|~---------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|


The last lick I'm going to do today is the ii-V-I lick in Eb. Last lick ended on a C#, so let's keep that downward motion to the nearest chord tone of F-7, which is C.

 F-7     Bb7      Ebmaj7
|--1---3---1---3-|~-
|1---1---3---3---|--
|----------------|--
|----------------|--
|----------------|--
|----------------|--



There it is, the first part of my licks over Giant Steps. If you like these things, post so and I'll post more of them.



DUUDDE this was SO SO EXTREMELY helpful! Haha I think its easy like this. If you want you can post a few more riffs, thisll gimme grounds to make other riffs from. Thanks man!
#29
thanks, john and elven. I dont post a whole lot in these forums, but am often looking over theory discussions in here. You guys really know your stuff. Im going to try out for berkely in a couple years too, (im only in 9th grade), and i really hope i make it, and have already started thinking about my audition. Some of this stuff goes over my head, but if i read each section carefully, i can usually absorb most of it. It is also harder without knowledge of the song you were talking about (i just listened to it once), and without a guitar in my hand. But still, i've noticed a huge difference in my playing and understanding ever since i've joined these forums. Thanks a lot for all the useful posts
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#30
So, some more licks it is.

Oh, and before I forget, in response to insideac: When you're a god like me, you make everything look easy

So, I'll just pick up where I left.

Bar 9 and 10: We begin with a nice Eb arpeggio that's going down a long way. Next bar is a ii-V in the key of G. First four notes are just an Amin arpeggio. Second four notes are 1, 9, #9 and 3 of D. A chromatic movement upwards, leading (as you can see in the next lick) nicely into the 1 of the next (Gmaj7) chord!

 Ebmaj7           A-7     D7
|~-6-3-----------|----------------|
|------4---------|----5-----5-6-7-|
|--------3-------|--5---5-7-------|
|----------5---5-|7---------------|
|------------6---|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|


Next one is a nice descending thing. I start and end the licks on a chord tone, which I think is something you should focus on, especially when beginning with jazz. If you can't learn anything else before your audition, learn that you SHOULD end a lick on a chord tone. Know what chord's being played, always. The chord > the key for now. If you know the chord, you can always play arpeggios. If you know the key, you can play scales. Whoopdiedoo, scales are cool, but you should focus on chord tones for now.

But the lick: It's a descending run through a scale, starting and ending on chord tone. The next bar is C#-7 F#7. The lick there is also descending, and where the long note is, notice how that long note is the third of the chord being played. Hurray, it rules.
 Gmaj7            C#-7    F#7
|----------------|----------------|
|8-7-5---------7-|5-4-------------|
|------7-~-~-~---|----6-4-3-~-~-6-|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|


Next up is a nice lick over Bmaj7. Notice how there's a chord tone on every number, if we divide the measure into 4 beats and moreso into eighth notes, so we get the eighth note feeling (1 eh 2 eh 3 eh 4 eh) Every number has a chord tone, and that's pretty important stuff too. Learn to do that, too! You can't learn to do that in two weeks, so that's why arpeggios are so important right now! Find your own little licks that you like, that you can start everywhere, anywhere, on any chord. They could be as small as (say, over an Cmaj7 chord) CDE. If those are all eighth notes, and you start them on one of the number (1eh2eh thingy) you get a chord tone on the beat. Now I remember what they're called, btw. So, a chord tone is on the beat and an (ex)tension is on the offbeat. Notice? C and E are 1 and 3 of C, while D is the 9. So, make up some of those sort of licks! 123, 321, 345, 543, 567, 765 are some very basics that you could use as filler (If this is not clear, please ask). I once restricted myself to just making a solo around that. Sounds pretty nice, but veeeeery basic. Cool if done right and not overdone, though.

Anyway, the other lick is basically the same principle as bar 10. Next bar is a ii-V in the key of B. First four notes are just an C#min arpeggio. Second four notes are 1, 9, #9 and 3 of F#. A chromatic movement upwards, leading (as you can see in the next lick) nicely into the 1 of the next (Bmaj7) chord! Haha, copy+paste ftw.
 Bmaj7            F-7     Bb7
|----6-9-7-------|-----------8-910|
|--7-------9-----|-------911------|
|8-----------8-9-|10-810----------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|



That leads us to the last two bars! The first bar is a nice maj9 arpeggio. The second bars are just arpeggios of the underlaying chords.
 Ebmaj7           C#-7    F#7
|11~-~-131110----|------121412----|
|------------11--|--1214------14--|
|--------------12|13------------15|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|
|----------------|----------------|


Btw, when it says stuff like --111311--.. In this case, it means --11-13-11-. I just didn't bother to change the lay-out of the tab. Just though I point it out in case we were misunderstanding eachother.

So, in short, you have some nice licks. I hope you like them, and if you want more.. Make your own and try to follow my guidelines a bit. Remember, they're just guidelines, not set rules. It's just (like) music theory!

Edit: Before I forget, my old guitar teacher kept telling me that, in order to make your solos flow, you should keep practicing at 8th notes. Make a Giant Steps backing track in Guitar Pro, or something like that. Put the tempo to 100 bpm and try playing straight eighth notes over it. Keep playing, never stop. Also, NEVER INCREASE THE TEMPO. If you do, you WILL fail the next couple of alineas. Trust me, I doubt that anyone here will be able to do these exercises perfect with a piece like Giant Steps, if they'd have never seen it before. This is no offense to any of you, sorry if it came out that way. It just indicates the level of difficulty that you've set yourself on, with a hard piece of jazz like Giant Steps. Seriously, something like Autumn Leaves would be so much better for a nice welcome to jazz. Don't dare switching to that one now, though. I'm not into typing a whole chorus of licks out again

Focus on the chord tones first. First couple of times, only play arpeggios of the underlying chord. When a chord switches, your arpeggio switches too. Learn to do it all over the neck (you can even try position after position and at the end connect positions, although you should watch out for thinking in positions, they suck). If you can play through all the changes four times in a row without stopping and/or mistaking, go to the next alinea.

Next thing: Playing an arpeggio in the first half bar and in the second half bar, play a scalar run. Example in all straighth eighths (over Cmaj7): CEGBGFED. This could be repeated forever and ever. It has chord tones on all the onbeats (focus on that, too) and the last two 'eh's' have an extension on them. So, first four eighths are arpeggio, last four eighths are scalar run, but with chord tones on the beat. If you can play through all the changes four times in a row without stopping and/or mistaking, go to the next alinea.

When you can do the chord-scalar run exercise (which is awful with Giant Steps) it's time to make it a bit harder. You know the thing I said about chord tones on the onbeat and nonchord on the offbeat? Keep doing that. Just keep ramming the scales up and down as high as possible per position! You might have to switch a fret back and forth while the keys switch, but not too much. You should learn the scales, whenever, wherever, not matter where you are and what the chords are doing. Keep hitting chord tones on the onbeat and non-chord tones on the offbeat. Keep switching positions until you know every scale and every arpeggio at every position. But like I said, please watch out that you don't start thinking in position box patterns. If you start feeling like you do that, try using two positions next to each other and switch them back and forth. That even opens up options for more hammeron, pulloff, slide options! If you can play through all the changes four times in a row without stopping and/or mistaking, go to the next alinea.

So, you've been through all that stuff? Next stop is the almighty all-position test. Blast on the backing track and play all the way through, switching positions like a mad man, while keeping chord tones on the beat and switching with the chords. When you finally achieved this, you feel like god. I hope you'll succeed with this in time for the audition, but in truth, I highly doubt it. No hurt to try, though, and every step you come closer to that ultimate goal is some more points for you at the audition.

Oh yeah, when you succeeded at 100 bpm, you're still relatively beginner, especially with Giant Steps since it's faster paced than 100 bpm Begin from the start, try anywhere from 120-140 bpm. I recommend. If you fail, keep trying again. If you keep failing, set the speed lower and try again. Repeat, forever and ever.

Once you hit the 200 bpm eighth note mark. Start over, with 100 bpm 16th notes. Switch to 110 bpm 16th notes. After that, do 220 bpm 8th notes. Than, 120 bpm 16th notes. 240 bpm 8th notes. See the pattern?

Byebye, social life
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#31
Oh yeah, this should be in a separate post because it's pretty important, and you might forget to be able to do this with all the focus on improvisation:

Learn to play the melody. Learn to play the chords. There's nothing as terrible as knowing how to solo over a song but not knowing the melody or chords.

And if the ii-V-I changes are to hard for you, you may also think of the ii as the V. That makes it a bit easier for you. Only do this if you can't manage to think of it as ii-V-I though. As pointed out in this thread (or the name that chords thread, not sure), you can play the V pentatonic all the way through.

So, example: If the progression is Dm7-G7-Cmaj7. Think of it as G7-Cmaj7 and play G Major Pentatonic on top of the whole thing.

And good luck with the audition. If you have any questions, feel free to ask them.

Edit: At the end, your ultimate goal is to know all this stuff without having the sheet music in front of you. You should know the song by heart. Just like all the good jazz guys, someone should shout out GIANT STEPS and you can instantly play it. So, if you keep learning songs like this, you can play hundreds of them in the end
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#32
This thread has grown so much since last time i looked at it - i figgered everyone had said their piece, but alas, there's more to digest. I'm looking over this in the jazz theory book (m levine) at the same time, and it's nice to have it all synch up.
#33
^Oh yes, there's a bit about Giant Steps in the Mark Levine book. I'll check it out tonight.
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#34
I would say that if you haven't worked on Giant Steps until this thread that it will be a questionable idea to audition it. It's really a showcase for masters.
I would guess that the faculty would be more impressed hearing someone improvise over a simple progression (like a blues or a standard) in an expressive way rather than hear someone blowing over Giant Steps just because it's a showcase.

FWIW if you insist on doing it I think the place to start learning how to improvise over it in a way that is musical would be to learn and understand as much of Coltrane's original solo as you can, and branch off of that.
Last edited by Ben Jammin at Jan 6, 2007,
#35
I think this thread would make Mark Levine proud.

Cheers
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#36
I just auditioned at Berklee early last month (on a Wes tune) and I would say don't play 3 tunes. Mainly because there's just not enough time. Giant Steps is a great audition piece, if you can play it well. I don't know how you play, but play what you would normally play on a daily basis (if that is jazz, then by all means go ahead). When I talked to an auditioner before I had even scheduled my audition, he told me to play what I was comfortable with and not to play jazz just because I think it would impress my audition panel.

Anyway, I know this isn't what you asked but I'll give you a heads up. My audition was relatively easy; played my piece, played the sight-reading, and had a short blues jam with the guy doing my audition. I would say if you want to play more than one piece, limit it to two for time's sake. The sight-reading is required and they'll probably want to have you do some other stuff (scales or chords, perhaps--there's a list of things they might ask for on the website). Remember, your audition only lasts 15 minutes, and it goes by quickly.

So yeah, sorry that I don't really have too many theoretical words of wisdom on Giant Steps, the others here have done a pretty good job already anyway. Just thought I'd share some experience for a fellow Berklee hopeful. Good luck with your audition!
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#37
just to tell u, my guitar teacher used to work at berklee, and the thing they want to see the most is ur compositions so maybe u should write the metal song.

and im gonna be auditioning there next year so i guess i might see you there in two years
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#38
Quote by gogita21
I just auditioned at Berklee early last month (on a Wes tune) and I would say don't play 3 tunes. Mainly because there's just not enough time. Giant Steps is a great audition piece, if you can play it well. I don't know how you play, but play what you would normally play on a daily basis (if that is jazz, then by all means go ahead). When I talked to an auditioner before I had even scheduled my audition, he told me to play what I was comfortable with and not to play jazz just because I think it would impress my audition panel.

Anyway, I know this isn't what you asked but I'll give you a heads up. My audition was relatively easy; played my piece, played the sight-reading, and had a short blues jam with the guy doing my audition. I would say if you want to play more than one piece, limit it to two for time's sake. The sight-reading is required and they'll probably want to have you do some other stuff (scales or chords, perhaps--there's a list of things they might ask for on the website). Remember, your audition only lasts 15 minutes, and it goes by quickly.

So yeah, sorry that I don't really have too many theoretical words of wisdom on Giant Steps, the others here have done a pretty good job already anyway. Just thought I'd share some experience for a fellow Berklee hopeful. Good luck with your audition!



Can you go into more detail about what they asked you and stuff?
#39
Well, they give you 15 minutes to warm up and look over the sight reading material. I would assume they change it per audition date, but mine had 4 8-bar things: a simple one in C (which ended up being the melody I was asked to read), a Latin jazz one (I had to play the chords on it), and two swing ones (wasn't asked anything on these). When I got into the audition room, I took out my guitar and plugged in to one of the many amps along the wall and handed them my accompaniment CD. After I played through my piece, the guy took out the sight reading material and told me which ones to play. Then he sat at the keyboard and asked me what key I'd be comfortable with for a short 12-bar blues improv. Once that was done, so was the audition.
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#40
Quote by gogita21
Well, they give you 15 minutes to warm up and look over the sight reading material. I would assume they change it per audition date, but mine had 4 8-bar things: a simple one in C (which ended up being the melody I was asked to read), a Latin jazz one (I had to play the chords on it), and two swing ones (wasn't asked anything on these). When I got into the audition room, I took out my guitar and plugged in to one of the many amps along the wall and handed them my accompaniment CD. After I played through my piece, the guy took out the sight reading material and told me which ones to play. Then he sat at the keyboard and asked me what key I'd be comfortable with for a short 12-bar blues improv. Once that was done, so was the audition.

]


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