This is a public version of the members-only Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal, at ArtistWorks. Functionality is limited, but CLICK HERE for full access if you’re ready to take your playing to the next level.

These lessons are available only to members of Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal.
Join Now

Basic Saxophone
Intermediate Saxophone
Advanced Saxophone
Exercise of the Week Archive
Lick of the Week Archive
30 Day Challenge
«Prev of Next»

Jazz Sax Lessons: “Simple Blues”

Lesson Video Exchanges () submit video Submit a Video Lesson Study Materials () This lesson calls for a video submission
Study Materials Quizzes
information below Close
information below
Lesson Specific Downloads
Play Along Tracks
Backing Tracks +
Written Materials +

+Basic Saxophone

+Intermediate Saxophone

+Advanced Saxophone

+Exercise of the Week Archive

+Lick of the Week Archive

Additional Materials +
resource information below Close
Collaborations for
resource information below Close
Submit a video for   
Jazz Sax

This video lesson is available only to members of
Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal.

Join Now

information below Close
Course Description

This page contains a transcription of a video lesson from Jazz Sax with Eric Marienthal. This is only a preview of what you get when you take Jazz Sax Lessons at ArtistWorks. The transcription is only one of the valuable tools we provide our online members. Sign up today for unlimited access to all lessons, plus submit videos to your teacher for personal feedback on your playing.

CLICK HERE for full access.
Now, it's
time to play a blues.
I've written the tune for
you called Simple Blues.
I've got my tenor here in my hands so I'm
gonna be playing it on the tenor chart.
I want you to pay attention to one thing.
Hopefully, I'm remembering on my end,
but as I'm talking to you and
I'm holding my horn,
always got my mouthpiece cap on.
It's a great habit to be into,
to keep your mouthpiece cap on.
It protects your reed,
it protects your mouthpiece,
it protects the reed's moisture content so
it keeps the reed nice and wet.
But it's not by accident that I've got
my horn here showing you like that,
with the cap on it.
So take note, and follow suit.
So with our blues,
let's check out this chart,
because there's a couple of
things that I wanna point out.
First of all,
if you look at bar five, again,
I'm reading the B flat ten soprano chart,
so all the bars
are gonna correspond if you're reading
on the alto/baritone, the E-flat chart.
But the notes will be different,
but see this little thing here,
it's called a turn, and so unlike our
lip turn it's an actual finger turn and
so what it is, it's basically just,
whenever you see a little turn like that.
Now, this is how it appears in
the program that I use to print this
out called Finale.
Sometimes you might see that as more of a,
[NOISE] little sideways s or
whatever, but
that's how it looks in Finale.
So basically it really just
doesn't affect the target note.
If it's written correctly, you're gonna
see the turn between the two notes
that the turn is gonna be in between.
But it really does take, if you can
think of this, rhythmically speaking,
it takes rhythmic value away from
the first note not the second note.
So if I play that figure,
just I'll play pickups here.
In the middle of bar four.
If I play it without the turn,
it will sound like this.
One, two.
And with the turn,
it's gonna sound like
So all you're really doing
is taking this note and
going up to one note diatonically,
and coming back to it.
Dah, dilly dah dah, dilly dah dah.
So you're turning it into a triplet.
You can write out the triplet, and
you most assuredly will at some point
see plenty of written-out turns.
But in jazz it's sometimes meant to
be an indication rather than a real
specific thing.
And especially when you have a turn
like that because of the feel that
you're playing over.
The turn can be played in
different sorts of ways.
But what I was gonna say is it does
not take rhythmic value away from
the second note or
the target note of this B-flat chart.
We're looking at the C.
[NOISE] So without the turn.
With the turn.
So in both cases the C landed on the and
of two right where it should.
You don't wanna make that late.
So I'm playing the note, I'm going
up to the next note diatonically.
So in my key of C it's gonna be an F,
and then back down to the note.
And that is our turn.
Check this out now.
Between bar seven and
bar eight we have this.
It looks like nothing, but
it's more than nothing.
It's a big something.
The something is that
there is no indication
of the fact that this note is an E
natural when all the notes prior to it,
especially the note right before it,
is an E-flat.
You have this, we're talking about bar
seven, we have this E-flat on your,
if you're reading on the E-flat
chart it would be a B-flat.
We have this accidental, this flat sign
here on this note, means that all the rest
of the notes that accidental is on,
which are the Es, are gonna be flat.
But then the accidental is canceled
out as soon as we get to the next bar.
So this note here, the first note
of bar eight is an E natural.
I didn't indicate that on purpose.
Not because I'm a jerk,
because I want you to be used to knowing
that every time you start a new bar,
you start anew, in terms of accidentals.
So be aware of that.
Sometimes people, it's smart if
you're writing a piece of music to
indicate a courtesy accidental.
In this case you would see a natural
sign prior to it in parentheses.
That's a courtesy accidental.
But it's really important to make
sure you're used to not seeing that,
because very often you don't,
as in the case of this chart here.
So always be thinking about the fact
that every time you get to a new bar,
you're starting a new all
the accidentals prior to it.
And the bar before it gets cancelled out.
So everything else you've seen until you
get to our crescendos in bar 11 in beat 3,
I'm sorry beat 1 and beat 3.
So the accidental, im sorry articulation
is legato to marcauto, Legato, Marcauto.
Marcauto is the short accent, but
we're gonna start off each one that's
inquired and it's gonna build.
These crescendos only last one beat.
Beat one and beat three so they're quick.
It's played like this.
A lot of times you'll see this kind of
a chart where at the end of the crescendo
you're gonna see a dynamic.
You might write an f for forte.
Or write mf for mezzo forte.
So if you have any questions, if you
haven't seen these kinds of things before,
again, refer to the music theory
workshop in the school here,
and they'll answer all those questions and
much more.
And then, same thing at the beginning, the
whole crescendo in this case, lasts for
one beat.
So it's not like it's gonna
be something you're gonna start up
mezzo piano like a medium soft, and
then go to a medium loud it will be a very
subtle dynamic change, in this case it's
gonna be more drastic because it
all has to happen within one beat.
Very often you'll see that kind of dynamic
over a much longer amount of music.
And one other thing I wanna point out
that a lot of times throughout this song
I have three quarter notes where the first
one is long with this like as in bar nine.
But the first note is legato,
next two notes are staccato.
Buh, buh, buh.
And yeah.
But, so you're gonna kind of be used
to hearing that sound in your head,
it's kind of a common sound.
But I did not write any
indication of a note in bar 13.
Is that right?
Yeah, so on beat two, that note is
unindicated with an articulation.
So in those cases, whenever you see
an unindicated articulation on a note,
the note gets full value.
It's not gonna be short.
It's not gonna be accented,
it's not gonna be anything.
It's gonna be, it's not slurred two so
you're going to articulate it,
not attack it.
We call it an attack actually but it's
not an attack in terms of a marcauto or
an accent.
But it is, it's played full value.
So as I was writing this I thought,
well let's leave it alone so
that when we get to that note you
know that it's meant to be played
full value and don't put a staccato
on it when it's not indicated.
That's important.
Same thing with that quarter note on
the next bar, in bar 14 on beat 1.
So everything else is hunky dory.
We'll play it from here to here.
This song is two choruses long.
So follow along.
You've got the mp3 on your end, and
you've got your corresponding charts.
I've got my tenor on this one.
So I'm playing my B-flat chart.
If you're playing alto or
the baritone, play the E-flat sharp.
Here we go with the simple blues.
Got a question for you,
you got to answer me honestly.
How did you do with the change
of accidental in bar eight.
Did you play the E natural?
B natural if you're playing alto.
Did you?
Tell me the truth, tell me the truth now.
That is a super common pitfall.
If you, you know accidentals.
It's all about key signatures and
accidentals and courtesy accidentals or
not having courtesy accidentals.
But just being aware of
those kinds of things.
Whenever we're reading music its all
about paying attention to everything.
Normally you'd say pay
attention to the details.
That's true.
you've gotta pay attention to everything,
macro, micro,
macro things like the time signature, key
signature, those things that are constant.
The micro things like,
dynamics, accidentals.
And articulations and things like that.
So as you're reading through any piece of
music, it's like you're a computer and
you're taking in information,
take it in, take it in, take it in.
You've always got certain things flashing.
The key signature boom boom boom boom,
no sharps, no flats.
One sharp, no flats, whatever.
That's always a flashing
theme in your mind.
And then just keeping your place,
staying wherever you are.
Don't look too far forward when
you're sight reading because then
don't look too far ahead because
then you're going to be distracted,
you're not going to be in the moment,
and you're going to make a mistake.
I know this from a lot
of personal experience.
Okay, so that's cool.
It's a fun little head and
its a slower tempo too, so
don't rush it, stay right with the groove,
listen to the backbeats and
the different things that
the drummer's doing and
all the different little rhythmic
things that everybody is doing,
not just the drums, but
the piano, even the bass.
And justify your nice swing
feel along with those.
All right, have fun with this track.
The simple blues.