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Charlie Parker Tutorial - Part 1
Guest teacher series
Joey Jenkins

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Charlie Parker Tutorial - Part 1
by Joey Jenkins

The great misconception of a classic improviser like Charlie Parker is that everything he played was new and spontaneous. A careful study of his playing, shows that he used many stock phrases , but created different sounds by imposing them over different tonal centers. Below is a classic Parker Major 7 phrase. The logical chords to superimpose this phrase over is A-7 and D-7. After all, they are diatonic chord substitutions for The FMaj7 chord. But, what is to stop you from playing it over a F7 chord. Nothing! Parker did it. The chromatic descent of the line invites the dominant 7 sound.

tablature example


Play MIDI File

Let's examine how we might finish off this phrase over FMajor7 and F7.

Over the FMaj7,we resolve the line by going up an octave C - C, then down a fifth to F using that as an approach note to G, the 9 of the chord.

tablature example

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Over the F7, chord we allow the phrase to lead us to F# (b9) and Eb (b7). These tones emphasize the fact that we are on a Dom7 chord. We resolve the phrase again on the G the 9 of the chord.

tablature example

Play MIDI File

This phrase is so common in Parker's soloing, it warrents a little more study. Let's take this F Major7 phrase and superimpose it over a G7 and an Eb7. This is where we really begin to create tension and release.

Over the G7, we create more tension by playingy the E (13),. Eb (b13), A ( 9), Db (b5), and Bb( b3). These are strong notes to play against the chord, and create a sense of movement that would not otherwise be heard if you played only the chord tones found in the G7.

tablature example

Play MIDI File

Over the Eb7, we again create tension by playing the E (b9), F (9), A (b5), D (7), and C (13). These notes are not in the Eb7 chord, so by playing them we create a sense of movement, melody and tension. The E, A, and D are a half step away fom chord tones so they ache to be resovled.

tablature example

Play MIDI File

It should be noted that this line works well over these two chords, because you are playing so many notes not found in the chord. When soloing, if you stick to the chord tones you will never be wrong, but you will not be able to maintain anyone's interest for long. Playing notes outside the chord tones is essential to creating strong melody and movement.

Commit this phrase to memory. Use it over other tonal centers not mentioned. Remember, you can play any line over any chord as long as it sounds good to you...JOEY



17 Essential Strum Patterns PDF - Free Download








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