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over key changes
One difficulty that many beginning jazz guitar players have,
is to improvise on a tune that changes keys. Guitar players do
not usually start out playing jazz. They usually migrate to jazz
from other styles like rock or blues. In a rock or blues setting,
it is not as common to change keys during a solo. Most of the
time you could simply just play out of one scale and be safe.
In a jazz tune, you may only be safe with one scale for one or
two measures. The ability to change keys easily is going to be
a very important skill.
What we are going to talk about in this lesson, are some ideas
to make changing keys a little easier for the rookie jazz guitarist.
in major keys
The first key change that we are going to take a look at is C
to Bb. One reason, is that moving down a whole step (2 frets)
is a very common key change. The other reason is that we are going
to be using 2 hopefully familiar scale shapes to do it. In the
simplest sense, you could just take the same scale fingering and
move it down and up between the two keys. The disadvantage is
that making a smooth transition between keys is more difficult.
At first, the easiest scales to learn to improvise with, are
pentatonic scales. Here are 2 different fingerings for the major
pentatonic scale. The blue dots represents the root of the scale.
C for the C major pentatonic and Bb for the Bb major pentatonic.
these scale charts are from the same prospective as a
In our first attempt at changing keys in a solo, lets make it
simple. There will be 2 measures of C, and 2 measures of Bb. You
are only going to improvise on the 1st and 2nd strings. By playing
only on 2 strings you are going to get used to the sounds of the
notes you are playing much quicker. Your goal in improvisation
should be to play what you hear in your head, not just playing
out of a scale fingering. Playing only on 2 strings will also
give you a little less to think about when it comes time to switch
Listen to the example first, and then try improvising with the
one of the MIDI background tracks. Try to play very simple, rhythmically
strong melodies. Do not play fast. You only have 4 notes in each
key you can use for this exercise, so get as much mileage out
of them as possible. At the key change, concentrate on emphasizing
the notes that are different between the two fingerings. One common
habit to stay clear of, is stopping your phrase right before the
key change. Then starting the next phrase at the beginning of
the next key. Try to make your phrases flow through the key change.
|Note: There is
a difference between improvising, and practicing improvisation.
When you are practicing improvisation, you are working on
developing specific skills. Working with certain limitations,
helps you learn those specific skills at a faster rate. Don't
feel that playing on only two strings is stifling your creativity.
In the long run this will increase your creativity by, forcing
you to do more with less.
The next step is to move on to other 2 string combinations. Then
work on 3 string combinations, and then free yourself up a little
and use the full range of each scale fingering.
Page 2, improvising in minor
17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF - Free Download