Welcome to the first edition of jazzView – the Visual Jazz Newsletter! When you subscribe to this free newsletter, you’ll get the latest in articles and tips on important topics in jazz, such as improvisation, combos, performance, sight-reading, and more.
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The jazzView newsletter is produced by Bob Taylor, owner of Visual Jazz Publications. Bob has taught Jazz Studies courses at Brigham Young University, California State University Los Angeles, Pasadena City College and Westminster College. He is the author of The Art of Improvisation, Sightreading Jazz, Sightreading Chord Progressions, and many other popular jazz education methods.
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top new at Visual Jazz
If you haven’t yet checked out the Visual Jazz web site, here are some of the products you’ll find there …
The Art of Improvisation CD-ROM
Visual Jazz in your Classroom
Discover the difference that Visual Jazz Materials can make in your classroom – both in improvisation and sight-reading. The Classroom Method of The Art of Improvisation, and Sightreading Jazz are the difference-makers!
Melodic Memory, Part 1 – The Basics
This first article in a two-part series gets you started with an approach that helps you see, remember, and re-use melodic elements in your solos. Make the most of your ideas by following the melodic threads you create.
Melodic Memory, Part 2 – Development Tips
In this follow-up article, learn how you can use powerful development tools to convert your melodic memory into creative improvisation lines.
The End is in Sight – An Approach to Solo Phrases
Most soloists suffer from “too much of a good thing” … their ideas are often too long and cluttered. Here’s an approach that helps you grab hold of solid endpoints in solo phrases, helping your ideas breathe and your rhythms click.
Improvisation Warm-ups – Increasing Your Payoff
Is your jazz ensemble getting the most out of warm-ups? The answer may surprise you …
The Three ‘Ilities’ of Improvisation
Learn how the key values of stability, agility, and humility can guide your growth as an accomplished improviser. And they’re great life skills to have, as well …
top tips for players & teachers
Tip #1 – from Sightreading Jazz …
In the swing style, dotted quarter-note values on the page are not always equal. That’s because they include an eighth-note with a quarter-note, and swing eight-notes, by definition, are variable. If quarter-notes are equal to three triplets, then swing eighths can be 2 triplets long (on the downbeat) or one triplet (on the offbeat).
Therefore, a downbeat dotted-quarter value gets a total of 5 triplets (three for the quarter-note plus 2 for the downbeat eighth-note). An offbeat dotted-quarter gets a total of 4 triplets (three for the quarter-note plus 1 for the offbeat eighth-note).
Although the difference between 5 and 4 triplets is slight, it’s hugely important in getting an authentic swing feel, especially at medium and slower tempos. Work on clearly distinguishing dotted quarter values in your swing music and enjoy the feeling!
(See Sightreading Jazz, pages 10-11)
Tip # 2 – from Sightreading Chord Progressions …
When you improvise on a new chord progression you haven’t seen before (or one you haven’t seen for a while), eliminate the “alteration distraction.” It can be tempting to get caught up in worrying about the dominant alterations (b9, +5, and b13’s, etc.) in the chord symbols, but these have only a small effect on the total character of the progression. Instead, focus on your priorities in this order:
1) Knowing what key you’re in at any given moment
2) Getting the right chord qualities (major, minor, or dominant)
3) Connecting smoothly from chord to chord (melodic resolution)
4) Attending to the alterations
(See Sightreading Chord Progressions, page 13)
Tip #3 – from The Art of Improvisation …
Non-harmonic tones – those “wrong notes” we sometimes stumble into when improvising – can actually be turned into “right notes” with a little practice.
For example, we avoid playing a C# during a C Major 7 chord because it sounds awful. But that same C# can sound great in C Major, if it’s resolved properly. Here’s an example of several non-harmonic tones being resolved to color tones in a phrase:
Avoid the temptation to go right from a C# to a C – that’s pretty jarring in C Major. Instead, go from a C# to a D in C major. Why? Because the C# is extremely colorful (dissonant), and the D is moderately colorful. Resolving a non-harmonic tone (such as a C# in the key of C) to a color tone (such as D) gradually lessens the tension and provides a welcome change of pace from the same old 7 notes in the scale.
(See The Art of Improvisation, pages 167-171)
top improvisation q+a
Heads up! Send us your questions on improvisation or other jazz education topics to jazz-view, and see them answered in the next issue of jazzView!
top jazzView Spotlight
Coming next issue: jazzView shines the spotlight on Lone Peak High School, in Cedar Hills, Utah. They are developing a great high school jazz education program at the school – stay tuned for the details!
To feature your school in a future issue of jazzView, send us the details on your ensembles, upcoming concerts, and what makes your program unique!
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