Skip main navigation

£199.99 £139.99 for one year of Unlimited learning. Offer ends on 28 February 2023 at 23:59 (UTC). T&Cs apply

Find out more

The McCoy vamp in two positions

The McCoy vamp in two positions
So I’d like you to be able to improvise on our minor sequence, making use principally of Dorian scales for C minor 7 and F minor 7. I’d also separately like you to be able to improvise on the John Coltrane variant, and the only thing that’s different there really is this ninth bar of A flat 7. So with A flat 7, there’s our 13th shape, there’s our thickened shape. The scale that goes with it is the scale of D flat major rooted on A flat. In other words, if I include C and F, it’s all the black notes. In the same way that when we get to G seven, it’s all the white notes.
And then when we get to C minor seven, finally, it’s the Dorian scale.
I’d also separately like you to see if you can improvise over the McCoy Tyner vamp. By the McCoy Tyner vamp, I mean …
We’ve found it hard enough to play the tune against that, so it’s equally hard to improvise over it. But it’s a good exercise to start you to get the idea of the independence of the two hands – of the left hand and the right hand playing different things.
That’s C minor 7 with a lower voicing. We could actually do a vamp with C minor 7 using the third inversion. And what we do is we take the top two fingers, move them up a tone, and use that to play the vamp.
I have a feeling that that’s closer to what McCoy does on one of the recordings anyway. And then we keep the F minor 7 as it was. And then for A flat seven, we’ll take the ninth voicing, we’ll thicken it with the third finger in the left hand playing F and then we’ll do exactly the same thing down a semitone of G 7 using the third finger to thicken the chord playing the E. And when I attempt it I’ll start off by just playing a couple bars of the vamp, so that you get the idea of adding the right hand over the top. The right hand must not interfere with the accuracy of the left hand.
So if that means all you can manage is a couple of notes here and there, that’s OK. The left hand is sacrosanct.
This article is from the free online

Learn jazz piano: Improvising on Jazz Standards

Created by
FutureLearn - Learning For Life

Our purpose is to transform access to education.

We offer a diverse selection of courses from leading universities and cultural institutions from around the world. These are delivered one step at a time, and are accessible on mobile, tablet and desktop, so you can fit learning around your life.

We believe learning should be an enjoyable, social experience, so our courses offer the opportunity to discuss what you’re learning with others as you go, helping you make fresh discoveries and form new ideas.
You can unlock new opportunities with unlimited access to hundreds of online short courses for a year by subscribing to our Unlimited package. Build your knowledge with top universities and organisations.

Learn more about how FutureLearn is transforming access to education