Skip to 0 minutes and 8 secondsWe’ve met two new routes to improvisation in this session, namely chordal and motivic.

Skip to 0 minutes and 15 secondsSo far, therefore, we have met three: scalic - where you use the scale associated with the chord and you typically climb up it and down it starting and ending anywhere, chordal - where you climb up and down the notes which make up the chord - you can arpeggiate it, you can take a shape using those notes and move the shape up and down; and finally motivic. So far we have only looked at motivic improvisation where we have used the tune as the source of our motifs. Later on we are going to look at how we produce motivic elements ourselves which we’re then going to improvise upon. Actually, there’s a fourth route, and the fourth route I call “Special Devices”.

Skip to 1 minute and 8 secondsWhat are Special Devices? Well we are going to look at this later on as the course progresses, but to give you an example one mechanism is called “locked hands” or “chording”. It’s where you improvise in the right hand, but you lock the chord in the left hand to the right hand, like this. So every note has locked to it the chord in the left hand. Actually, I have been using a special device - some people may think that I overuse it - and its called a “crushed” note. You remember “Things Ain’t What They Used To Be”?

Skip to 1 minute and 56 secondsThat last thing - is a crushed note. I couldn’t play. It just doesn’t sound right. You can crush the note with - two grace notes - getting you onto the note you are interested in or, maybe, just one grace note. But like most of these things, in the end, you have to exercise discretion. You have to exercise judgement. You have to decide when enough is enough. I had a student once who really overused crushed notes and I couldn’t cure him of it. I think his playing was deficient as a consequence. In the end you have to use your own judgement about special devices and we will meet those as we progress through the course.

Skip to 2 minutes and 52 secondsWell, not surprisingly, your exercises are going to be now using the three routes

Skip to 2 minutes and 59 secondsto improvisation: scalic, chordal and motivic for our 3 blues.

Skip to 3 minutes and 3 secondsWe have 3 blues: one in C, one in F, one in B flat. See how you get on now expanding your route to improvisation to include motivic improvisation where you use the tune as the source for your motivic elements. We haven’t really said what improvisation is about - but we’ll get there, I promise you.

The 4 routes to improvisation: scalic, chordal, motivic and special devices

You will learn about my 4 routes to improvisation: scalic, chordal, motivic and special devices.

Share this video:

This video is from the free online course:

Learn Jazz Piano: I. Begin with the Blues

Goldsmiths, University of London