The other members of the group usually accompany the solo, except for some drum solos or bass solos in which the entire band may stop while the drummer or bassist performs. When a singer improvises a new melody over chord changes, it is called scat singing. When singers are scat-singing, they typically use made-up syllables "doo-bie-bo-ba" , rather than use the lyrics of the song. Soloing is often associated with instrumental or vocal virtuosity; while many artists do use advanced techniques in their solos, this is not always done. For example, some s and s-era bass solos consist of the bassist playing a walking bassline. There are a number of approaches to improvising jazz solos.
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Tweet on Twitter Jazz Piano Improvisation I clearly remember first hearing a piece of jazz music as a young and curious child and wondering how this music was put together. I was even more surprised to discover that what these musicians were playing was not written down but made up on the spot, or improvised. This whole idea fascinated me and in many ways continues to do so as the craft and sheer creativity of many jazz artists is almost beyond comprehension.
In this article, I am going to place jazz improvisation on the piano under the spotlight to attempt to explain some of the approaches to this mysterious art. Jazz Piano Improvisation There are many different approaches to jazz improvisation as there are different types of jazz. A Bebop jazz piano solo will differ considerably from a Dixieland solo or a Cool Jazz solo. What they do have in common is the starting material, or in other words, the tune.
The tune for many jazz pieces is in a 32 bar format that often includes an A section followed by a B section. The A is usually repeated giving a kind of ABA structure. Not all jazz songs confirm this but quite regularly this is a useful starting point to plot your way through jazz improvisation. As you would expect the jazz song consists of a written melody and supporting harmony or chords. The majority of pieces are tonal, key-based, but there are more contemporary works that have stretched the harmonic framework to include aleatoric concepts and the use of atonal systems too.
As such I will limit my exploration to tonal ones. For this type of jazz, the pianist will base their improvisation on the melody, harmony, and rhythms of the given song. This allows for a vast range of options when improvising and encompasses the simpler approach through to the advanced.
One of the ways of beginning to improvise, if you have not tried it before, is to vary the rhythm of the original melody. This could be by extending or shortening notes in a bar or two that makes a subtle change but is a beginning to changing or developing the material. What you are doing in effect is altering the given tune and creating one of your own.
This is the start of improvisation. This may appear a little simplistic at first but if you try this idea for an entire jazz song, you will soon discover that you are improvising. The next step is to carefully listen to what you are playing to hear if it makes harmonic sense. By this I mean do the notes of the melody that you have added sound good with the chords that accompany the tune? This in itself can be a rather subjective consideration as what you feel sounds good may not resonate with what others feel sounds good.
As a very broad rule of thumb, if the notes of the tune are in the chord, they will work together. Keep in mind that this is an idea to try out and will not sound like Art Tatum or Oscar Peterson, but it provides a start. It helps enormously to have a good working knowledge of keys and chords with their related scales and arpeggios to improvise confidently in jazz.
Without this then it is likely that your improvisations will reach a stopping point beyond which it is difficult to know how to proceed.
If you listen to some of the early piano players of the s much of the improvisation orientated around the arpeggios of the original melody without significant deviation from the original chord patterns. This is a simplistic analysis but one that serves a purpose. There are other key factors to consider when improvising. Altering the rhythm of an existing tune can be effective as a starting point but so can changing or adding a rhythmic emphasis. This in effect means drawing attention to a weaker beat of a bar by emphasising the rhythm.
If it is used to highlight a note that is just outside the chord pattern this can add interest to an improvisation. The blues scale has many forms but the most common involves flattening the 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of a major scale. What you frequently hear in the solos of Oscar Peterson are well-rehearsed blues riffs that can range from fast running blues scales two octaves apart in the hands, to rapidly descending chordal figurations.
It takes great skill and a finely tuned ear to accomplish this but practising riffs or pre-existing figurations is a useful skill to acquire. Instead of a C for instance, play an F , or substitute an Ab for an E. Instead of simply playing the scale related to the chord that is given, play the scale a tone higher. The key is to listen to the great jazz pianists, study the available transcriptions, patiently practice your instrument and have fun.
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