Introduction: Jazz Line No. 2 Part 1: Intervalic Thinking

Jazz Line number 2
As always, we will first analyze the line and then you will play a series of self evaluating exercises viewing the lick from different perspectives. This line works well over a b9 and/or #9 dominant chord, usually in a minor key and it is based on the altered scale.

Practice at slow tempos until you can play along with our demos with ease. Practice consistently and be patient. If at first the line seems too hard to play, do not give up, remember our ears and minds have a way of working these things out anyway.

Ok let’s get started.This time, we are going to analyze and study the line using two different perspectives. An intervalic approach and a harmonic or chord-scale approach. You should practice the line using both techniques since they will help you acquire different skills for improvisation.

Also note that this line works by reinterpreting the IIm7b5 and the V7b9 in the first bar as a dominant altered chord

The line starts on the b3 or #9.

Here’s your first challenge. We will play the 1 for reference so C in C7 Then we need to target the b3 or #9 So we will use the b9 as a passing tone

To think intervalically you play the 1 and then go up a half step, then a whole step and then you come back So in C it would be C Db Eb (or D#)

I created a dominant workout with the V7s from the minor mode in Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro with 1 bar per chord which goes around the circle of fifths.

Practice challenge 1 until you can play along with the piano player in our demo.

Step 1: Challenge 2

Picture of Challenge 2

So how did you do? OK, let’s keep analyzing the line then.

Now the next part of the lick is a descending line major second or whole step, and then two perfect fourths with a chromatic approach to the last note. As you can see in order to use this technique to practice licks, you must really know your intervals in all keys

So here’s Challenge 2. Play this line in all twelve keys. We left the chromatic approach out so you can think intervalically. Start on 1 and leap to b3 or #9 then play a descending line using a major 2nd and two perfect fourths. Notice that the interval from the first note of the descending line to the last is a perfect octave. Remember we are starting on the one as reference. We will use a 1 bar dominant workout around the Circle of Fifths, see if you can play along.

Step 2: Challenge 3

Picture of Challenge 3

OK. Let’s add the chromatic approach. In this exercise you will practice thinking on a target note, which is the last one in this example. Remember you get to play Eb by approaching it chromatically from above. So you must think leap of a perfect 4th but actually play a chromatic approach from above to that note.Try playing along.


Step 3: Challenge 4

Picture of Challenge 4

The last part is just another major second and a minor second. It is as if the lick was going to repeat an octave lower but this time resolves to the 1 by a half step.

So that’s the entire lick viewed from an intervalic perspective. Before you try playing along let’s try a new progression. We’ve been practicing over the circle of fifths, which is very useful since many progressions follow it. But there’s another important sequence that is essential to understand in jazz, which is moving by 3rds, majorand minor. Keys that are related by 3rd share many properties which we can use in substitutions and re-harmonization.

Let’s take a look at major 3rds movements. So, if we move by thirds from C, we get C to E to Ab (or G#) These 3 keys they belong to a symmetric structure called the augmented triad in which any of these notes could be the root. Because of its symmetry there are only 4 possible augmented triads we can build. So we can move a half step above our last note which is Ab and we get the next group when moving by thirds A Db and F Another 1/2 step up and we get F# Bb and D and then Eb G and B

We have used all the keys in groups by major thirds So we can now practice the lick starting on a G7 altered for example, and follow the pattern and we get: G7 B7 Eb7 that’s the first group. We move by a half step and get E7 Ab7 C7, then Db7 F7 A7, and finally Bb7 D7 F#7

Watch our instructable called Circle of Fifths Magic where we explain the concept of symmetric structures

Remember we are constructing the modulations going two major 3rds up and then link using a half step up.

That’s it!

We’ve analyzed and looked at the lick from an intervalic perspective using and defining many concepts that are essential in the jazz language such as:

  • Reinterpreting a II V just as a V
  • Scale degree #9 which is the b3
  • Playing shapes by intervals Major 2nd, Perfect 4th
  • Approaching a target chromatically from bellow
  • Circle of fifths and using a modulation pattern by major 3rd with a link a half step up

So we are ready to play the entire lick. In the process we’ve done lots of ear training and clarified all those concepts So lets try to play along. Remember we are using a two bar workout IIm7b5 V7#9 resolving to a I major7 modulating by major thirds and then linking by 1/2 step

Pay attention to the starting key. The track sounds a whole step bellow what’s written. If you play a non-transposing instrument the track starts with the lick in F7 Let’s do it!

You should also check Part 2, where we look at this line from a harmonic perspective using chords and chord-scales.

Also check Mapping Tonal Harmony Pro app which is an incredible tool to study, practice and learn music theory and improvisation by mDecks Music

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