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Jazz Piano Lessons: Ear Training: Transcribed Solo in Different Keys

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In our Ear Training in our earlier level,
I assigned the Miles Davis
solo on Freddie Freeloader
from the great classic
record kind of blue.
When I think of jazz, if it brings
any piece of music into my head,
it's gotta be that, or maybe so what.
Miles's playing is so
incredibly simple but
so, just so full of possibilities.
One of the things I love about what he
does in there, he's just gone ahead and
playing quarter notes.
I mean it starts out.
There's not
really anything fancy about that but he's
stating it so simply but it's so swinging.
And part of what we're listening for
when we work with this is that
it's a great first thing to
transcribe if you haven't done a lot of
transcribing because it's pretty findable.
And also if you can absorb
any of this energy, and
this ability to play so
simply but perfectly,
then that makes it a great exercise even
if we didn't do anything more with it.
As it happens we are going
to do more with it.
And what we're gonna do,
I think in the first exercise
I said transcribe this solo.
Transcribe a bunch of it and
then work on memorizing it.
If you can even just get it
to where you can sing it or
whistle it, that would be great, because
what we're gonna do is, we're gonna start
taking that, and we're gonna start
finding it in a different key now.
And there we have the essence
of what we're looking for
when we work on ear training.
Is the ability to hear something and
get it out on the keyboard.
This way we're taking some of the greatest
phrases in the history of jazz and
we're learning to find
them where they are in
relation to the harmony where
playing on and so forth as we go.
Very simple exercise, I recommend
kind of taking it a phrase at a time.
Let's start with the first phrase.
There it is in B flat the original key.
In G, let's use these 13th voicings here.
It's just the tonic.
You can go down to E seven.
Back up to B flat.
The second phrase.
an elegant little thing.
This solo is an absolute
masterpiece of motivic playing.
Every single phrase is a response
to the phrase before it and
the way that it builds and the way
that he's so patient with it that it
never does get to the high notes or
to a bunch of fast runs or any of that.
Just a perfect story told.
There it is in B flat.
Let's find that now in G let's say.
Let's go to D flat [SOUND],
one of the least popular keys.
This is how we're gonna work this.
The next phrase in B flat,
in the key of B flat,
it's basically a B flat blues with
a little alteration at the end.
And we'll cover that when we get there.
So now the harmony has
moved to E flat seven in the solo,
and that's how Miles deals.
He's anticipating a little bit that we're
going to have a B flat in
there instead of our D natural
from the B flat seven
,let's play up to there and
then we'll start a break and
we'll start with the next phrasing.
So let's go to D seven.
Really covering the chord tones there,
on the beat and off the beat.
Pick another key here.
Let's go to B.
You'll notice that, in the left hand,
just to give myself a point of reference,
I am playing the guide tones but
truth be told, it's really enough.
If you don't have those under your
fingers yet, just go right ahead and
just play the root.
Where were we?
We're in B.
if you can swing it like Miles,
which is not possible by the way.
But let's do our best with it.
Back up to B flat for
the next phrase.
Again, look at the quarter notes there.
It couldn't be simple [SOUND].
There's no fancy syncopation in there or
anything like that.
It's jazz at its most elemental,
and that really,
to be honest, in some many
ways is just jazz at its best.
So, [SOUND] there's that [SOUND] Let's
play that in F sharp seven.
So now the whole thing in F seven,
F sharp seven.
This is how
we're gonna practice
these things.
It's such a great exercise.
You don't even have to do it in time.
If you want
to start out,
If you have to find it kind of offline
while your not playing in time,
then go ahead and do it that way.
But when you get it going,
play it in time.
Put your metronome on two and
four at this nice
relaxed jazz tempo.
So, that in itself is a tremendous
ear training exercise.
The other thing about this,
that's really a great place to go,
when you have something cool transcribed.
Because eventually, you're gonna
want to transcribe any favorite solo
of yours to see what the heck
is going on in there.
Is to take these things and
use Miles' motif as your
opening bid and
then adapt that in your own way.
So let's take even just
that first
This is where I would go with it.
Little harmonic rhythmic
displacement there.
Quarter notes,
same note.
Let's go somewhere different.
Like this, so
this is such a perfect way
to internalize the language,
the feel, the sensibilities
of a soloist that we admire.
You can use this at any point in your
practice when you're playing motivically,
start, throw in some of Miles' stuff.
You'll notice that
when I'm playing here,
I'm trying to roll
the triplets.
The demeanor is quiet.
The shoulders are down, and I'm waiting
for the music to come to me as best I can.
That is our ear training exercises for
This business will carry you a really,
really long way.
I've transcribed extremely
complex solos and bit by bit,
usually with the metronome off,
found them in all the different keys.
It's a great exercise for figuring out how
in the heck are you going to finger all
this stuff cuz if it's hard enough for
you to do in the original key,
think how hard it's going to be in B.
So I really, really,
I can't say it enough,
this is the essence of learning
to play jazz in so many ways.
We absorb the feel of the player.
We absorb his harmonic sensibilities,
his shapes, his character, and so forth.
And then if you take it and
expand it into this business where
you're using his thing as a motif but
going after it yourself with your
own interpretations of his motif.
That is a tremendous developer of your
own sound because everybody is gonna hear
something different.
If we start out with,
somebody's gonna hear this,
or whatever.
Whatever you come up with,
that's your original thinking in action,
and yet you're taking in
the DNA of a great player.
That's our ear training series for
right now.
I will see you on the next lesson.