The Dorian minor blues offers up a palette which some consider to be richer and more emotionally expressive than the major blues. Below is a simple step-by-step method for mastering this fun to play genre.
Author: Craig Buhler
There are so many great phrases in this classic solo. This one deserves attention because of its rhythmic & melodic vitality and its effortless harmonic insinuation. Click below to see the phrase in all 12 keys. However, it is better to practice your ear training by figuring out the lick through melodic extrapolation. Click here to purchase the Charlie Parker Omnibook with its 142 pages of heads & transcribed solos by Bird. Click here to hear a play-along version. (To slow it down or change the key, download the free program “Best Practice.”)
This arpeggio is very useful over a V7 (or a V9) chord. Notice that the iteration beginning on A# is actually in the key of C major. The A# is LI (sharp 6) in the major scale. For “New Ears Resolution” students, also note that the key change is indicated by the presence of a “pivot note.” Marked as (TI=LI), this notation is understood to mean “The note B natural, (TI in the old key of C major) will now become LI in the new key of Db major.” Once grasped, this understanding of modulation as described by a pivot note is a very powerful concept when one attempts to navigate the changes of a song with many internal key changes (such as “All the Things You Are.”)
You can play along with the background track to this lick. It’s an enjoyable & useful figure. Note that the background track starts with a count & a 4-bar introduction before you begin playing. Please email me, if you want a complimentary MIDI file or the Band in a Box file (to change tempo, style, or key). The background track is available here in 2 formats:
For “New Ears Resolution” students, listen for the II-V progression in the background track (Cm7-F7, etc.). The lick is easier to learn, if you hear it as: ti do li ti so fa la mi re so mi fa la li ti mi di re so .
This lick is in the John Coltrane solo to “I Love You.” Coltrane used this lick throughout his career. Many of his disciples also picked up on the lick. i work on it in 8 keys (the range shown for the first lick is 8va). For variety, try playing it in retrograde (backwards) as shown in the second example below.
For those studying “New Ears Resolution,” this blues lick is in the mixolydian mode. (See the chart showing the modes at the end of your book.) Try thinking of this melody first in mixolydian and then in ionian. Both sets of syllables are shown. Which ever set of syllables feels more comfortable to your ear, that is the set you should use. Try to play the melody as smoothly as possible, in order to realize the underlying swing. As with all exercises, start slowly and smoothly, gradually increasing the tempo. I play this at dotted quarter = 150.
Improvisation (or “improv”) is the art of creating a unique, new musical statement on the spur of the moment. This does not mean that your utterance is entirely without precedent. Jazz improvisation is a product of the individual’s history, temperament, technical facility, and mood, as well as the thrust of the composition which houses the performance, the history and legacy of jazz as a whole and ones chosen sub-genre in particular.
Here is a lick you can practice which fits nicely over the V7 – I (“five to one” or “SO7 to DO”) chord progression in major. I like to swing it, but you can also play it straight. You can experiment with different combinations of articulation, phrasing, and accent. I always start these exercises slowly and gradually increase the tempo. Right now, i am playing this one at quarter note = 115. The range of starting notes for sax is given below the exercise. If you are studying the “New Ears Resolution” ear training method, think of this lick in terms of: Li Ti Re Ra Ti Do Ri Mi La Fi So Fa Le So Do.
Practicing these exercises in all 12 keys will help strengthen your ear and build your “ear / finger co-ordination.” Try to play them withOUT looking at the chart whenever possible. Start with the metronome at a slow tempo and execute the notes as cleanly as possible with smooth finger motion. Gradually increase the tempo, as you become comfortable with the notes.
“Renewed Hope” offers a wonderful
selection of new worship music
composed by Craig, backed by HONK,
and featuring vocals by Rick Tatum.
(Click here for more info.)
Can pop hits grow up to be
Skykomish offers 10 of them, recast
in fresh new settings, along with a
pair of original blues charts.
Here is a new resource for jazz fans. Check out http://jazzbreak2.blogspot.com:80/
From a quick viewing of YouTube video footage, it appears that Coltrane’s fingers may move further from the keys than do Bird’s. Do you agree?
WHY should real musicians – the ones who can actually play their instruments – have all the fun?
You can now download MP3 copies of our 2 best-selling CDs from CD Baby for $9.00 per CD.
Music Makes You Smarter. Continue reading “Music, Brain Function, and Intelligence”
Is it possible for an older jazz musician to influence younger players in a constructive way? Continue reading “Jazz Musicians as Role Models”
Have you tried reading the charts in the Charlie Parker Omnibook? I find that some of them require a level of focused attention that is quite difficult to maintain over a 3-hour practice session.
There are so many wonderful phrases that Bird created. When one phrase in particular captures my imagination, i try learning it in all 12 keys. Continue reading “Cool uses for the Charlie Parker Omni Book”
Do you ever grow attached to a key and find yourself resisting modulation into a new key?
Written by noted woodwind artist & teacher Signe Crawford for the “Keys to Music” collection of jazz etudes.
Think of tone as your material for creating music.
If you can create a good tone, good pitches will follow.
If you can create a good pitch, a good tone will follow.
New Ears Resolution has helped hundreds of musicians learn to play by ear over the past 15 years. And now, the Second Edition offers scores of new innovations designed to make your learning experience more enjoyable, effective, and thorough.
i’ve taught this method for years and have used it in my own performances. i’ve researched extensively in order to improve its design and have thus developed a comprehensive approach to the art of playing by ear.
HOW IS “NEW EARS” DIFFERENT FROM OTHER METHODS?
“New Ears Resolution” is a hands-on method. Learn to play by ear by playing, rather than studying abstract theory! It’s fun, and it’s practical.
The audio contains 26 enjoyable play-along tracks in many different styles: swing, bossa, bop, rock, folk, country, jazz waltz, ballad, and fusion.
The 78-page book includes charts for each of the 26 exercises along with clear, simple instructions and lots of handy tips on how to succeed on the gig or in the jam session.
HIGHLIGHTS OF THE SECOND EDITION
Learn to use these scales:
- Natural Minor
- Harmonic Minor
- Melodic Minor
- Blues Scale
- Extended Blues Scale
Learn to use the following modes:
Learn to improvise over these chords:
- Major Sevenths
- Dominant Sevenths
- Minor Sevenths
- Minor 7 Flat 5 (Half Diminished)
- sus b9
Learn how to navigate key changes (modulations) smoothly and effortlessly.
Learn techniques for improvising.
Learn about harmonic context.
Understand how to play over these progressions:
- The ii-V-I progression
- The I-vi-ii-V progression
- The 12-bar blues progression
Learn the art of melody embellishment.
Learn how to play polytonal passages.
Master rhythm and learn to swing!
You can also download the New Ears Resolution course from FastSpring for only $9.99USD. Click here for details.
CAN YOU LEARN TO PLAY BY EAR? YES YOU CAN!
How do i know? Because I have taught over 100 musicians to do it over the past 15 years. These are musicians of all ages and levels of ability on various instruments, and you can be one of them.
Playing by ear is a thrilling experience. With this skill, your instrument can reproduce any song you can whistle or imagine, in any key. You can write down melodies while sitting on an airplane, without consulting a piano. How is this wonderful feat accomplished?
There are two ways a person plays by ear. Either you are born with perfect pitch or you learn to play by ear using relative pitch.
One in 10,000 people is born with perfect pitch. These rare individuals can hear any note and tell you what that note is. Some folks say perfect pitch can be learned, but I am very skeptical of these claims.
Relative pitch – by contrast – is the ability to name any note once you have been given a reference pitch. You figure out the second note by calculating its distance from the given note. I can teach you to do this.
In order to improvise, you must be able to transfer any melody you hear (on the radio, in your memory, or in your imagination) to your fingers and your instrument.
How do You Do It?
My “New Ears Resolution” ear training method is based on the “movable Do” system as elaborated by my teacher, Alvin Learned. Al was Dean of the legendary Westlake School of Jazz, which trained many of the leading Los Angeles musicians of the 1950’s, including Paul Desmond, Les McCann, and Billy May.
By playing along with the “New Ears” audio tracks, you learn to discern the relative position of various notes in a scale, and you become adept at finding any scale degree on your instrument in any key. The difference this makes in your playing is immediate & dramatic!
Visualize two typists, one laboriously “hunting & pecking” for each letter, the other effortlessly “touch typing,” spinning out error-free paragraphs. Now imagine two musicians, one painstakingly searching for each note (by trial & error), the other soaring through a melody as if it had been carefully memorized.
A very talented and ambitious young student told me he was trying to memorize one tune per week in all 12 keys. I responded, “That sounds like a mountain of work, and it will take you 10 years to build a repertoire!”
When you play a song by ear, you do NOT memorize the sheet music. Rather, you hear the tune in your imagination, calculate the tune’s formula in real time, and translate the formula into actual notes in any desired key on your instrument, also in real time.
This may sound like it would consume a staggering amount of brain power, but the process becomes amazingly simple, once you have worked through the exercises contained in the “New Ears Resolution” package. The 26 exercises on the CD (or mp3 download) start out quite simply and grow increasingly complex as your ability and confidence grow.
You will play along with the 72-minute audio a minimum of three times.
- The first time, you read through the charts given in the “New Ears” book while you play along with the audio track. This also helps refine your sight reading ability.
- The second time, you play along with the recording without looking at the book. You are now playing the exercises by ear. This increases your confidence.
- The third time through, you improvise variations as you play along with the recording. This builds your improvisatory vocabulary.
While this method is primarily designed to teach you to play by ear in all 12 keys, many other benefits are derived from practicing with the “New Ears” recording.
- Your sight reading grows stronger.
- Your tone develops.
- Your intonation improves.
- Your rhythmic sense increases.
- You begin to develop an improvisational vocabulary.
- Your confidence blossoms.
While the majority of my students incorporate the “New Ears Resolution” ear training method within a series of 12 or more one-hour private lessons, scores of self-motivated students have found they can learn on their own from the book & audio tracks.
The brand new, comprehensively redesigned Second Edition answers numerous questions which more than a hundred students have asked me over the past 15 years. Its 26 audio tracks and 78-page book are packed with helpful tips to prepare you for the gig & the jam session.
Students who encounter questions or road blocks along the way need only send me an email, and the issue will be promptly addressed.
You can also download the New Ears Resolution course from FastSpring for only $9.99USD. Click here for details.
I’m not by nature a fast player. I don’t do anything fast except breakfast.
Every sax player I have ever known struggles with the G# key sticking in the closed position. updated May 15, 2008
How can you choose songs you love to play, the band loves to play, AND the audience loves to listen to? Continue reading “Choosing repertoire for a working jazz combo”
You spent a lot of money on that horn. How can you make sure it will give you great service for many years to come?
Written by Daniel “Dr. Dan” Parker
Continue reading “SWAB IT! How to Keep Your Saxophone Clean”
How you can develop an effective practice routine and get the most benefit from your practice time
My church already has a pastor. Why would they need a worship leader? Why would I want to take on such a role? Continue reading “The Purpose of a Worship Leader”
Welcome to my site!
If you want to learn how to play by ear and improvise jazz solos OR get started playing clarinet, saxophone, or flute OR hear the latest from the HONK Band OR discuss issues faced by Christian worship leaders OR schedule a Jazz for Youth workshop in your school, then we have something to talk about! It would be my pleasure to get to know you.