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Cello Lessons: Jazz Improvisation: Around the Melody

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[MUSIC]
Our first step,
to becoming a Jazz improviser
is to memorize the melody.
So we need to play the melody
of Autumn Leaves so
many times,
that not only can we have it memorized,
but that we know it so well that
we're actually kind of bored of it.
Okay?
I have this philosophical belief that
improvisation should
organically come from boredom.
You should be so bored with this
melody that you have no choice but
to play it differently every time just for
your own sanity.
Okay?
So, I'm just gonna demonstrate a few ways
that you can start to vary the melody.
You can use the PDF download of the chart
for Autumn Leaves to learn the melody.
And just play it through with the backing
track as many times as it takes to
memorize.
And once you feel like you
can play it from memory,
without looking at the chart,
then we can start varying it.
I'm gonna start by varying
the melody just rhythmically, okay?
So I'll use actually a slightly
more straightforward
backing track of a guitarist
copying quarter notes for us.
[SOUND]
[MUSIC]
The melody is written.
[MUSIC]
It's just straight quarter notes.
[MUSIC]
It's not the most
[MUSIC]
captivating thing ever.
[MUSIC]
Even though the notes are nice.
[MUSIC]
After
playing this
through,
[MUSIC]
I'm gonna
focus on
varying the rhythm.
[MUSIC]
Like a singer might.
[MUSIC]
I don't even
need to change the notes.
Just changing the rhythm.
[MUSIC]
There's
a lot of
expression
just by
varying
the melody.
You know, this is one of many jazz tunes,
the standards that come from
the American song book.
So there's a strong vocal tradition for
this song as well.
And you know that opening line,
those autumn leaves,
you could find a million
different ways to sing that line.
Those autumn leaves.
Or, those autumn leaves.
Or those autumn leaves.
The idea is that you want to take the
natural rhythmic variation that we have
when we're speaking and we want to do
that with the rhythms of the melody.
The next step of that is once you
feel comfortable varying the rhythm,
you can also feel free to just add
a few notes or change a few notes so
that we're really actually starting
to create melodic variations.
Let me just demonstrate what
that might sound like for you.
See if you can still hear the core
melody amidst my variations.
[SOUND]
[MUSIC]
Alright,
so just for
what it's
worth, if you
can identify
the key of
the song,
this melody
is in E minor,
actually E
natural minor.
Which has the same pitches as G major.
Any notes that you add in the G major or
E natural minor aeolian scale
are gonna sound great in this tune.
So once you memorize the melody and
get so bored of it, that you have
to vary the rhythm and add a few pitches
just to keep yourself entertained.
Make sure you're staying in the key
with the notes of G major slash E minor.
[MUSIC]