SID JACOBS JAZZ GUITAR IMPROVISATION PDF

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As a teenager he became serious about playing jazz and would practice by day and sneak into jazz clubs at night. When the Jacobs family moved to Nevada, he obtained a position as guitar instructor at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas.

While living in Nevada, Sid found work in hotel pit orchestras and as a touring accompa- nist for various popular singers and jazz artists. Through his involvement in educa- tion and his associations with jazz artists, Sid Continues to gain recog- nition as an educator and perform- ing artist.

Sid Jacobs uses Thomastic-Infeld strings and plays a Borys guitar. As with any language, the more vocabulary you have, the better prepared you are to express yourself. The concepts of dynamics and use of space are readily understood by the intellect, yet rarely are they effectively applied.

Whenever you are listening or playing, observe the lengths of the phrases, the articulation, the accents, and the spaces between phrases. Become more aware of your breathing and sing your phrases as you play them, even if only the rhythm and articulation. This allows the idea conveyed to be acknowledged. The same holds true in ensemble improvising, where the use of space also allows for interplay among the musicians.

All of the great masters of jazz improvisation have made artful use of space. Begin to build a repertoire of standards and jazz tunes.

There are literally thousands to choose from, and the ones you choose to lean and commit to memory reflect who you are as an artist. Spend time just listening to music, particularly the music you wish to play.

Total immersion is the most effective way to leam any language. Transcribing solos is also highly recommended. Choose highlights from your favorite solos and learn to play them accurately. This will develop both your ear and your technique. The music you listen to is the nourishment of your musical life, and like the food you eat, will come out with or without your blessing.

You are what you eat, what you listen to, and the sum total of your life experiences. The musical path is not so much a matter of sharpening the tools as it is awakening the creative mind. We are dealing with the creative process and not merely a set of licks, techniques, and exercises. There is no formula for art.

Music is your own experience, your thoughts, your wisdom. Root oth 3nd Sth 6th maj7th b7th i [ Root Oth eee Sth wai, Columns show the function of the above note within the chord at left. You may be surprised how easily these scale fingerings transpose to all keys. The first fingering starts on the fifth degree of the scale with a position shift. Each time we artive at the fifth degree of the scale, we repeat the same fingering pattern.

This next fingering starts on the sixth degree of the scale A. There is a position shift between the sixth and seventh degrees A and B.

This fingering is identical in each octave. An experienced improviser will naturally avoid conflicting notes or artfully deal with them. The only difference between the C major scale and the A harmonic minor scale is the G found in the A harmonic minor scale. The first fingering starts on the seventh degree G of the A harmonic minor scale. This next fingering for A harmonic minor is based on the second C major scale fingering. The first fingering starts on the fifth degree of the scale.

However, in real playing situations, the harmonic environment created by the bass or chordal instrument actually starts the scale. Therefore, you are free to begin your melodic idea or scale on whichever note you choose. Factors to consider might be rhythmic placement or continuing the previous phrase. One phrase should naturally follow another. You should be able to connect your chord scales at the closest available note. Jazz improvising has been described as a combination of athletics and aesthetics.

A musician who improvises must be fiuent and articulate. Obviously there is more than one place on the guitar to play the same phrase. To be a proficient improviser we must be able to name and play the chord tones, extensions, and alterations of any given chord. One must be able to start an idea from any note in the chord or chord scale , in any position.

Sometimes we learn a melodic idea and it might start on the ninth of the chord or the eleventh or thirteenth and so on. When we improvise over a chord progression, we need to know where the chord tones are and be able to access this information instantaneously.

It takes time for this to occur, but ultimately it becomes intuitive. For example, by now we all know a few movable shapes of a minor seventh chord, which we can play automatically. Similarly, we may have a few melodic fragments under our fingers that suggest a given chord.

We combine these fragments to make longer phrases The next example is a common jazz phrase, and several fingerings are offered If you play this phrase over a Dm7 chord, it starts on the ninth.

If you play this phrase over G13, it starts on the thirteenth. Two fingerings from the starting note E are given from the first string, two fingerings on the second string, and two fingerings on the third string.

Two simple major triads and their inversions can create interesting lines. Along with scales and chord tones which outline the harmony, improvisers use motifs and sequences as melodic devices in developing a solo. As few as two notes may form a motif if their melody or rhythm is distinctive. In the third measure, we see it repeated sequenced down a scale step, this time starting on the fifth degree of the scale. In the fifth measure, we see the same phrase diatonically sequenced down another scale step.

In measure seven it is sequenced again, this time altered to fit the transition to relative minor. This illus- trates the concept of motif repetition as a unifying element—a common practice in blues tunes.

It is altered slightly with each repetition to imply the harmony occurring at the time. The phrase in measure 1 is repeated without alteration down a whole step a real sequence in measure 2, and down another step in measure 3, followed by a new phrase in measure 4.

Measures are a repetition of the first four measures down a half step. In the first two measures of letter A, a new phrase is introduced and repeated with a slight alteration in the next two measures. Then the phrase is repeated up a fourth. The phrase in measure 18 echoes the phrase in measure 17 by sequencing down a step and following the blues progression.

This melodic device is used extensively by improvisers, songwriters, and composers. While walking, your arms move in a reverse rhythm to your legs, and an attempt to force a change or maintain a constancy in this natural and always subtly changing counter-rhythm results in a stiffer and more labored step. Jazz has always been music of artful syncopation. The use of a three pulse against two pulse helps to create rhythmic tension and is often used in contemporary music.

If we break this up into groups of three, we get ten groups of three and one group of two. As previously mentioned, it is important to know the chord tones, extensions and alterations of the harmony you are dealing with. For example, some of the phrases you choose to put into your vocabulary might start on the ninth of the minor seventh chord or the sharp-ninth of the dominant seventh chord.

Often you will connect the smaller phrases together to make longer lines. Other fingering possibilities were covered in Chapter 2. This common phrase is often played over Dm7 and starts on the ninth of the chord. Another way to look at this phrase is as a G13 with the phrase beginning on the thirteenth. It is common to precede a V7 chord with the iim7 chord. In sections where the harmony stays on the dominant chord static harmony you will often hear a ii-V7 occuring to maintain interest in the accompaniment.

For Db7 alt. We can see the flatted-seventh of ii resolving to the third of V, or sus in relation to V. These are common phrase fragments that suggest the motion of Dm7-G7. B49 Fig. Try starting these lines at different spots for a shorter phrase. The advanced improviser can play a single-note solo through a series of modulations and you will hear the changes. Having a vocabulary of phrases that suggest the V resolution will facilitate this process.

In this chapter we will focus on jazz lines that suggest the V resolution. Figure 6 in Chapter 4 is another good example of third to flat-nine motion. This line has the fourth resolving to the third in a major setting. It is useful to have your ideas in a rhythmic unit that is accessible. Begin to practice your lines in a rhythmic context, like one-measure or two-measure phrases—just as if you were comping chords.

This example goes through the cycle of fifths cma Faiz SS These melodic fragments outline a major sixth chord. You might practice these lines in a rhythmic context up and down the neck to get a feel for playing them in an actual performance. This example is based on a common Charlie Parker phrase. In other words, play the A blues scale over a C major sound, Fig. Here are a few typical bebop phrases that work over a major seventh sound.

In the beginning, we have to know the chord tones in order to make the changes.

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