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Jazz Piano Lessons: Practicing the F7 Bop Scale as Jazz

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Let's talk about getting our exercises
sounding like Jazz because
as I've mentioned,
there's a lot of things
that we can work on in
the absence of improvising a line.
A lot of things that
are really critical to Jazz.
And the two most important things I would
say are the time, we're gonna start
swinging our exercises which means playing
them with kind of a rolling triplet feel.
And our ability to articulate different
notes to accent different notes,
or maybe play them a little more detached,
or a little more attached.
And we wanna keep the time
consistent as we do that.
So what we're basically doing
here is we're isolating all
the aspects of playing jazz except
the element of improvising the line.
And as we continue to evolve
in the next couple levels
of lessons we're actually going to get to
where we are improvising the exercises.
But for now let's talk about
playing With kind of a swing feel.
And that means instead of
we're gonna play it as a triplet.
Now, there's a couple things about
what I just did that you probably noticed.
One of which is that I'm playing with a
rolling one, two, three, one, two, three,
one, two, three, one, two, three, one,
two, three, one, two, three, like that.
That's the swing feel, and
it's important in jazz to get to where
you can play with a hard triplet feel.
If you get lazy and it's not really a two
to one ratio but it's kind of a 60/40.
Generally that's not as swinging
a thing as playing a hard triplet feel,
especially at a slower tempo.
In our future,
our forthcoming ear training exercise
we're gonna transcribe some Wynton Kelly.
And Wynton Kelly really played
with a rolling triplet feel.
Great drummers like Elvin Jones and
Art Taylor, you can
almost set your watch by it
it's such a hard triplet thing.
The other thing is that I'm
accenting every other note.
And that's an aspect of jazz that
I find also kind of overlooked.
You can hear that it's the second
do da do da do da do da, like that.
And part of the thinking there, I think,
part of the reason that feels good and
feels natural is that those notes
are kind of the tension notes.
The notes that we're putting on the beat
because of our eight note scale.
Those are more the relaxation notes.
And there's something about jazz that
wants to have the tension accentuated,
and the relaxation to be
that much more relaxed.
And I think it's just instinctive,
almost to do that with the volume
that we're putting into each note.
So, what we're after as
the focus of this exercise is to
play the same thing that we were playing
but play it as a jazz feeling thing now.
If you can, start working on putting
your notes a little bit on the back of
the beat, a little bit behind the beat,
I guess a little bit after the beat.
That just kind of adds
weight to what you're doing,
it's almost like it
makes it more important.
If you're playing ahead of the beat,
what musicians call on top,
that has a real kind of a nervous feel.
It's the opposite of a confidant feel,
and jazz, like it or
not, is kind of a confidence game.
People don't listen to
it to be made anxious.
And playing in front of the beat
has kind of an anxious sound.
So, this theory, this philosophy,
we're gonna continue to evolve this.
But we wanna work on this as
we play our exercises as we
play our transcriptions and
there's an etude I'm calling it
which is basically a transcript
of something that I've played.
A solo that I played and
we want to apply this to all those things.
So let's now get our metronome going and
I'm gonna play this exercise for
you but we want our metronome
only on two and four.
Beat two and beat four.
Jazz is backbeat music,
as is most other worthwhile music.
And we need to get use to hearing
the backbeat on two and four.
When musicians snap their fingers
it's always on two and four.
One, two, three, four,
one, two, three, four.
Part of the rest of the philosophy though
is that we're working to develop our
time so that we play as consistently
as we can, and having the metronome
only occur half as often means that
we have to carry the time ourselves.
For twice as long.
It was on one, two, three, four.
Well, it's pretty easy to
stay regimented with that.
It's just a touch more difficult if
the metronome is on two and four.
So this is a good exercise for
that as well.
One, two, one, two, three, four.
So there's
the exercise
in its most basic
swinging form.
Play it from all four degrees.
Play it from the F, from the A,
from the C, and from the E flat and
try to start with,
the finger that's in the chart.
It's just a good habit to develop.
I mean, you can start the one
from the A with your thumb, but
it really is gonna be more consistent
if you start with the two,
which is what it would be as you play
up the scale, there is the two again.
So let's work on that.
Let's play the next degree here.
One, two,
three, four,
Now from the five,
[SOUND] one, two, three, four.
And then
from the seven,
we start with
the third finger.
One, two, three, four.
And that is
how we're gonna
practice this and
pretty much all our exercises.
As we develop, we're gonna start to
integrate other things into this.
We're gonna work on various
other ways to articulate.
For example,
we'll accent every third note.
Like that.
And the idea is to get it to
where we can articulate any note.
We can accent any note in the line.
But the time will stay consistent.
And keeping that rolling triplet going,
even as we are accenting different
notes in the beat and so forth,
is really important to playing
jazz that's consistently swinging.
So the next
thing we're gonna do let's play this we're
gonna put up our first play along track.
This first play along track you
want to put up the f7 dominant
modal track, which means that it's
just a track that's gonna play you
an F7 baseline for four and
a half or five minutes.
It's great for
working out on this kind of thing.
It has a baseline under it.
It has a live drummer.
So this way, we can start to get our
feet wet playing with a rhythm section.
And we're basically just gonna do
the same thing that we already did.
For me it's kind of instinctive to want
to try to lay back against the beat,
to really put the notes behind the beat
and you'll probably hear that as we go.
But let's just give you
a taste of what this is like.
You'll hear one, two, one,
two, three, four on an Hi-hat.
The little drum on, little cymbal set
on the left and then the time kicks in.
So this is how we would do it.
So there's our F seven bebop
scale over the rhythm section.
You probably noticed that a part from
the fact it is a little monotonous,
that it just goes up and down.
Its sounds like jazz and
the reason why is that,
we're putting the good notes on the beat.
That's what the eight
note scale is about and
we're starting to swing it and this is
actually a very fun way to practice.
So let's do that same thing as
I illustrated with the metronome except
now play it with the play along tracks.
And we have a really slow
one that's 80 bpm that
gives you time to really brain it in
there's one at a 110 beats per minute,
that's the one I just did, and
there's one of 140 beats per minute.
So maybe if you need to start
with the 80 beats per minute, and
then as you get more
facilities speed it up.
And I will see for the next lesson in
which we're gonna start to discuss our
little hinge pattern, the approach
pattern and, between these two tools,
you'd would be surprised
how much jazz you can play.