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Jazz / Commercial Discuss Keeping track of the form in the General forums; Hey all, I'm trying to learn to improvise and have been spending a lot of time with Aebdersold's Maiden Voyage. ...
  1. #1
    Forte User Jimi Michiel's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2005

    Keeping track of the form

    Hey all,

    I'm trying to learn to improvise and have been spending a lot of time with Aebdersold's Maiden Voyage. The problem I run into is that I often lose track of the form. I think part of the problem is that for most of the tunes you can play a single scale over the whole thing. I'm trying to stay away from that by listening and trying to play off each chord, but I do better following the chord progressions with my ears than my eyes. Am I nuts? Should I stick to my orchestra excerpts?


  2. #2
    Artist in Residence
    Mezzo Forte User

    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    new york
    NO ... don't just stick to your excerpts! I would encourage everyone to learn to improvise. Any harmonic knowledge gained will only help you in an orchestra setting.

    I would start out just playing the roots of the chords (whole notes) - just to get the form in your ears. Then try root & third (1/2 note each). Then root, third, fifth (quarter, quarter, half). Finally: root, third, fifth & seventh (4 quarters). I've found this to be a pretty good way to get players to "follow the form".


  3. #3
    New Friend
    Join Date
    Oct 2006
    Hi Jimmy,
    I live in Anoka and am a jazz trumpeter also.
    Larry (612) 817-6375

  4. #4
    Mezzo Forte User
    Join Date
    May 2006
    Morelia, Mexico
    Tony's advice is right on the mark. If you can play quarter notes on the chord tones of any tune you'll have the form in your head pretty quick. Even better than a play along (which I don't really like because they never listen, change, or interact) just take out your metronome (remember, if you don't use your metronome you have no advantage over someone who doesn't have one) set it on 2 and four, and just play quarter notes on chord tones. Root, third, fifth, seventh, or seventh, fifth, third, root, or mix it up. Once you're comfortable with that, try playing eighth notes on the chord tones. If you can do that, you know the tune. Then just stick in some of the non-harmonic tones (passing tones, neighbor tones both diatonic and chromatic, suspensions, anticipations, etc.) and voila, you're soloing and hitting the changes. Girls will be impressed. Your life will improve.

    Michael McLaughlin

    Each has his past shut in him like the leaves of a book known to him by his heart, and his friends can only read the title.
    Virginia Woolf
    Morelia MM

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