I've been working on bebop scales (8 notes to the scale) and adapting them for blues.
E natural minor bop: E F# G A B C D Eb e
A bluesy bop: A B C D Eb E F# G a
C major-ish swingy bop: C D Eb E F# G A B c. this one has a bit of a Lydian kick with the F# being the raised fourth
the thing is, all these scale notes are inversions of each other, so the patterns are the same over 4 strings in the first position, and this 'formula' for these 3 can, of course, be transposed.
I'm catching on to this quicker than expected, and already working them in at the jams.
I figure if I can't play jazz, I can at least make my blues more jazzy.
Couldn't quite get my head round it till I did this:
I Would ask what it is you re trying to do with those scales. Imo , practicing that way is inefficient at best , useless at worst if your goal is to sound jazzy.
Bud: it looks like you've put the notes in groups, yes? Cool. whatever works and let's you 'hear' them.
The so called bebop scale is a result of analysing certain bebop phrases that contained certain chromatic notes. It s a mathematical invention, but the artists improvising the lines are not thinking of the phrases in that way at all. If you say it does wonders to practice scales like that for you then i say congratulations but i dont teach that way and the vast majority (if not all) of the best bebop players (or improvisers in general) use a completely differenr approach that is more organic whereas the scalar approach is mathematical. The difference is that most people with educated ears will hear the latter as sounding , well, mathematical.
Jazz is one of those things where how you get started doesn't necessarily have to define or confine what you do in the long run. Your "bebop scales" may be useful if they get you off the ground. I do agree with Denis somewhat in the sense that thinking about where those scales come from will help liberate you from such a formulaic approach. After a year or so, if you find yourself still thinking about which scale you're playing when, then you might want to work on breaking yourself free from that, so that you're just playing what's in your mind's ear. Initially that can be very daunting but also very satisfying, even if it's only a couple of bars at a time.
I certainly agree that there are many approaches to learn improv, and there is no wrong or right way. Different people have different ideas of what improv is as well, and that's totally fine. The kind of improv that I like is the one that's based on playing what you hear. In order to play what you hear, you have to have certain vocabulary that you acquire from lots of listening to your favorite musicians. It's an organic approach.
Denis, I also teach (keyboard) improv, but I'm much less experienced at doing do. My experience is that people readily accept that they can't learn to play the violin properly without a teacher, but somehow feel that improv is something they should be able to teach themselves. The Aebersold chords-scales-and-patterns approach is okay for the self-taught but very soon you will hit a brick wall. I know how much I benefited from the jazz lessons I had, and I only wish I had time to do more of that. There's also no substitute for playing in jam sessions with better players. Solo transcriptions are valuable too -- especially the ones you write yourself.
I personally think it's possible to learn improv on your own if you have a heightened sense of awareness and are surrounded by a community of high level improvisers. After all, many of the early improvisors didn't really take lessons in improvisation.
Denis do you have certain tunes that you start your students out with?
Well, for me, in an ideal world, the student already comes to me knowing what he/she likes in jazz, and therefore already listens to it and is aware of the repertoire. I think that's important because then you start to naturally gravitate towards a "natural" and organic path . I think that's the biggest difference between classical and jazz education. In classical music, the student goes to the teacher and expects to be told what to listen, what to play, how to play , etc...
thanks for the input, I understand what you're saying. I liked Denis's statement: artists playing those passing tones were thinking about embellishing melodies/swing/dynamics/phrasing. but I'm not trying to play jazz, it's too late for me and I'm not good enough. I am, however, pretty good at shredding hard drivin' blues like say ZZ Top or maybe Buddy Guy. At different times and from different people, I've had my playing described (unsolicited) as dangerous, deadly, wild, fiery and "I've never heard a violin played like that before". You know you've done well at the blues bar jams when the crowd applauds your solo. Doesn't happen all the time, but every so often when I'm in the Zone.
PS: the 2 last posts came in while I was typing. I don't mind hijacking, I've been known to do it myself. feel free to hijack away. any discussion about improv is ok with me cuz that's all I do. well, besides the 20 or so busking tunes which include some jazz standards like All of me, Fly Me to the Moon, When You're Smiling, Sunny Side of the Street, Summer Time, Lets Get Away from it All, Stardust. But I play them very close to the vocal melody with just a bit of embellishment.
Denis, okay just curious. With a new violin improv student I would probably start with a latin tune like Black Orpheus (A minor), a minor blues like Equinox (C minor) and a swing tune like Satin Doll.
Dave, you're doing something that works for you and is moving you forward, so I don't want to get in your way. But here are a couple music theory tips - straight from the Eastman School of Music jazz professors where I play. The sequence you are playing - C D Eb E F#G A B C - is a modified 'sweet' blues scale. The 6th, in this case an A, turns the regular blues scale into a sweet blues scale. No wonder you like the bluesy sound. The correct 'sweet' blues scale is - C D Eb E F# G A Bb C. The Bb matches the dominant 7. But B works in solos because it is dissonant like the dominant blues chords themselves, and leads to the C note in a pleasing half step. The other chords, E minor and A minor, have related explanations, but I won't go there now.
Hi Mike :-) ...once again... long time. Good to know you're still out there swingin'. and yes, I really like the 'modified' blues scale and prefer it over the other ones.
Over the years I've played (piano) in so many jam sessions and gigs with other jazz players. They were mostly serious amateurs and small-time pros, so I don't know how many of them were "college trained" to use Mike Laird's term. I suspect most of them, at some point in their lives, were exposed to the Aebersold jazz-chord-scale method, which is virtually inescapable.
Paul, my experience is that improvising solo musicians talk about modes, chords, and scales to zero in on things to experiment with and practice. That's what Dave is doing with the 'sweet' blues scale. Giving it a name and a definition makes it easy to transpose, modify, communicate, etc.
I can see both sides of the discussion, but for me, I lean toward Mike. "Giving it a name and a definition makes it easy to transpose, modify, communicate, etc." really strikes home with me. Not to beat a dead horse, but back to these 3 scale inversions that I laid out in my OP. (I'll now call them a modified blues scale)....one scale pattern over 4 strings with 3 distinct flavors, depending on the tonic. I've given them 'pet names' and put it on paper transposed to some different tonic's. if I'm fuzzy about a pattern in a different key with a different tonic, if refer to the chart to remind me of the pattern in the key with the tonic that I'm not as fuzzy about
Paul, re: mixo being a b7. I'm more of a pattern player and less of an interval player. It's easy for me to visualize the major scale patterns over 4 strings in 12 keys (pretty much) much easier for me to think of
All this talk of note selection! I say LISTEN to the masters and then just PLAY! My improvisations are intuitive and not based on anything other than what sounds "right" to me in the moment. I think people tend to overthink this stuff in order to quantify for mediocre musicians how to do something they're clearly not equipped to do!
my signature 'motto' on another fiddle/violin web-site is 'striving to attain mediocrity' ;-)
This is a huge philosophical debate!
I want to add one more story. I once went to see a jazz violinist. I went with a friend who wasn’t much of a musician.
I must be getting old, no wait, I'm the same age as you.......
Henry, I see you've caught up with me (recently found out that Henry and I were born in the same month of the same year) so are you saying you're too old for this Video? Well, not me! This guy seems to me to more of a pattern player. I like it a lot, but partly because it's in Lydian, which is my favorite mode. I could show the acoustic guitar players I jam with some Lydian friendly chords, such as 11th's and such, but they can't learn them.
When I hear a "Jazz Professor" explain why he can play this or that scale over this or that chord change, it often sounds like,,, scales.
I guess the title of my thread was wrong. it should have been 'inversions of the modified blues scale'.
Dave, learning turnarounds that you can play over ii-V7-I changes is a great idea. My teacher back in high school assigned that kind of work.
Paul: a friend of mine Pete Hartley, lives in England, posts on Fiddle Forum, does a great blues turnaround on on a vid he calls 'blues in E'. Pete is a great player.
...some further thoughts...I've been hearing a lot of 'scales sound like scales'. Isn't the end game for scales to mix the notes up, mix the timing up, use scale fragments. run them thru an octave and a half, merge one scale into another scale etc. etc. to make the scales sound like music. I think this should be obvious when talking about scales, no?
Goodman knows how to produce a really beautiful sound on the violin, no question about it. I knew he played for movies, but unfortunately that means you have to watch the movie if you want to hear it. And I don't like most popular movies, especially not with actors like Steve Martin.
That would be soooo great to see a vid. Thanking you very much in advance. maybe you know this, Goodman also did a couple of albums long time ago with a band called The Flock. They had a full line-up with horns.