Improvising Jazz
eBook - ePub

Improvising Jazz

Jerry Coker

  1. 128 pagine
  2. English
  3. ePUB (disponibile sull'app)
  4. Disponibile su iOS e Android
eBook - ePub

Improvising Jazz

Jerry Coker

Dettagli del libro
Anteprima del libro
Indice dei contenuti

Informazioni sul libro

With musical scores and helpful charts, noted jazz educator and featured jazz soloist, Jerry Coker, gives the beginning performer and the curious listener insights into the art of jazz improvisation. Improvising Jazz gives the beginning performer and the curious listener alike insights into the art of jazz improvisation. Jerry Coker, teacher and noted jazz saxophonist, explains the major concepts of jazz, including blues, harmony, swing, and the characteristic chord progressions. An easy-to-follow self-teaching guide, Improvising Jazz contains practical exercises and musical examples. Its step-by-step presentation shows the aspiring jazz improviser how to employ fundamental musical and theoretical tools, such as melody, rhythm, and superimposed chords, to develop an individual melodic style.

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the Improvisor’s Basic Tools

Five factors are chiefly responsible for the outcome of the jazz player’s improvisation: intuition, intellect, emotion, sense of pitch, and habit. His intuition is responsible for the bulk of his originality; his emotion determines the mood; his intellect helps him to plan the technical problems and, with intuition, to develop the melodic form; his sense of pitch transforms heard or imagined pitches into letter names and fingerings; his playing habits enable his fingers to quickly find certain established pitch patterns. Four of these elements of his thinking—intuition, emotion, sense of pitch, and habit—are largely subconscious. Consequently, any control over his improvisation must originate in the intellect. While the intellect is limited in its capacity for control over intuition and emotion, it can be responsible for the training of the ear and for establishing a variety of helpful finger patterns, in addition to its function of solving technical problems.
It would be difficult to place these five factors into proportionate values. Some improvisors rely more heavily on certain factors; others will depend on other factors. A few gifted players are able to perform adequately by relying completely on the subconscious elements. All but the rare genius, however, are eventually limited in their development. They need special study, due to the problems of deeply ingrained habits, the unaccustomed rigors of working up to every potential, and, in some instances, an inability to admit or evaluate shortcomings. The ability to evaluate is important and will be discussed in Appendix A.
Since the intellect is the only completely controllable factor, we will approach the problem of learning to play jazz almost solely through this factor, and hope that the other four (intuition, emotion, the sense of pitch, and habit) will progress at the rate established by the intellect. If, in the first lessons, the approach seems cold and calculated, remember that most artistic accomplishment requires academic training. This training is the foundation upon which to build, and it will strengthen your capacity to enjoy fully your own work and the work of others.
Let us now look more deeply into the problems of the intellect. The improvisor must know, for his own musical security, the general framework on which he bases his improvisation. This, in most cases, is a song form, either twelve or thirty-two measures in length, which is repeated as many times as necessary so that maximum temporal freedom is allowed to each of the individual improvisors in a jazz ensemble. The player’s knowledge of the material must include: (1) the length of the tune; (2) its thematic and harmonic construction, in a general sense (A-B-A, A-A-B-A, etc.), and the length of these sections; (3) the tonality of the tune and any temporary modulations to other keys; (4) the individual chords of the progression and how they are related to one another; (5) the scales which fit the various chords and sections of the tune; and (6) the emotional equality or mood of the tune.
These are by no means the only considerations confronting the improvisor. Rather, they comprise the basic minimum of his needed working knowledge of the material. Additional considerations will be discussed after you have grasped the more general techniques for improvising.
Let us examine and analyze, in the light of the previously mentioned aspects, an example of a typical tune used by improvisors, the “blues” tune. (The terms tune and song are used in a liberal sense here, since the original melody is largely ignored and obscured by the jazz player’s improvisations. His creative endeavor is enriched by his own melodies, based on the chord progressions of the tunes he uses.) The blues progression shown in Figure 1 is only one of many existing chord progressions to that tune and is an example of one of the more basic and simple patterns.
The slanted lines below each chord symbol represent the beats. The first letter of each of the chord symbols indicates the pitch upon which the chord is built, called the root. A capital “M” signifies a major triad and a small “m” indicates a minor triad. A triad is a three-note chord made up of the first, third, and fifth degrees of a scale, a major scale for a major triad and a minor scale for a minor triad. The number “7” indicates that the seventh degree above the root has been added to the triad, transforming it into a seventh chord. If the symbol for the seventh contains a capital “M,” the chord is constructed from the first, third, fifth, and seventh degrees of a major scale built on the root of the chord. A natural minor scale is used to determine the correct spelling of the first, third, fifth, and seventh scale degrees of a chord having the symbol, “m7.” If the symbol includes only the root name and a “7,” without the “M” or “m” to indicate whether the chord is major or minor, it is understood that the triad is major, but the seventh is lowered a half-step from its position in the major scale. The written names for these types of seventh chords are:
M7—major seventh chord
m7—minor seventh chord
7—seventh chord or dominant seventh chord
Examples of the construction of these chords would be as follows:
A clearer projection of the harmony of the blues progression of Figure 1 would now be:
In further analyzing the blues, we find the tune to be twelve measures long, and in the key of C major. (For the present, let it suffice to say that we guess it to be in C major because it starts and ends on a C major seventh chord.) Since there is no given melody in Figure 1, we cannot determine the motivic construction; however, notice that the progression seems basically to contain four measures in C, then an implied feeling of F for two measures, followed by six measures of C chords and chords which are closely related to the key of C. These sections might be labeled A-B-A. We will discuss key modulations in a later section, when you have digested the terminology and information needed for such analysis. The term blues, in jazz, usually denotes a chord progression twelve bars in length, and also describes its mood.
Since melody ordinarily moves by steps, rather than from one chord tone to another, it would be helpful to decide what notes can be played between chord tones. For the major seventh chord we shall use a major scale built on the root of the chord; hence the scale for the CM7 chord would be a C major scale. This gives us the additional notes D, F, and A to act as melodic joiners between the more import...

Indice dei contenuti

  1. Cover
  2. Dedication
  3. Introduction
  4. Chapter 1: The Improvisor’s Basic Tools
  5. Chapter 2: An Introduction to Melody
  6. Chapter 3: The Rhythm Section
  7. Chapter 4: The First Playing Session
  8. Chapter 5: Development of the Ear
  9. Chapter 6: Further Study of Chord Types
  10. Chapter 7: Swing
  11. Chapter 8: The Diminished Scale
  12. Chapter 9: Analysis and Development of Melody
  13. Chapter 10: Chord Superimposition
  14. Chapter 11: Functional Harmony
  15. Appendix A
  16. Appendix B
  17. Appendix C
  18. Appendix D
  19. About Jerry Coker
  20. Endnotes
  21. Copyright
Stili delle citazioni per Improvising Jazz

APA 6 Citation

Coker, J. (2010). Improvising Jazz ([edition unavailable]). Touchstone. Retrieved from (Original work published 2010)

Chicago Citation

Coker, Jerry. (2010) 2010. Improvising Jazz. [Edition unavailable]. Touchstone.

Harvard Citation

Coker, J. (2010) Improvising Jazz. [edition unavailable]. Touchstone. Available at: (Accessed: 14 October 2022).

MLA 7 Citation

Coker, Jerry. Improvising Jazz. [edition unavailable]. Touchstone, 2010. Web. 14 Oct. 2022.