Feb. 23, 2021

Diatonic Melodic Exercises


Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!

Every JazzPianoSkills weekly podcast episode introduces aspiring jazz pianists to essential Jazz Piano Skills. Each Podcast episode explores a specific Jazz Piano Skill in depth. Today you will discoverlearnplay Diatonic Melodic Exercises. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:

Discover
Essential Diatonic Melodic Exercises
Learn
How to use Diatonic Melodic Exercises to improve Harmonic Vision
Play
Diatonic Melodic Exercises designed for developing Jazz Language

For maximum musical growth, be sure to use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while studying and practicing Diatonic Melodic Exercises.

Download Podcast Packets
Illustrations
(detailed graphics of the jazz piano skill)
Lead Sheets
(beautifully notated music lead sheets)
Play Alongs
(ensemble assistance and practice tips)

EPISODE OUTLINE:
Introduction
Discover, Learn, Play
Invite to Join JazzPianoSkills

Demo 1:
Ascending Motion from Root
Key of C Major

Demo 2:
Descending Motion from Root
Key of C Major

Demo 3:
Ascending Motion from 3rd
Key of C Major

Demo 4:
Descending Motion from 3rd
Key of C Major

Demo 5:
Ascending Motion from 5th
Key of C Major

Demo 6:
Descending Motion from 5th
Key of C Major

Demo 7:
Ascending Motion from 7th
Key of C Major

Demo 8:
Descending Motion from 7th
Key of C Major

Conclusion
Closing Comments

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Thank you for being a JazzPianoSkills listener. It is my pleasure to help you discover, learn, and play jazz piano!

Warm Regards,
Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
JazzPianoSkills

AMDG

Transcript

Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are going to discover diatonic melodic exercises. You're going to learn how to use diatonic melodic exercises to improve your harmonic vision. And you're going to play 10 diatonic melodic exercises designed for developing jazz language. So regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner an intermediate player, an advanced player, or even an experienced professional, you are going to find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring diatonic melodic exercises to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills, I want to take a minute to invite you to become a member. jazz piano skills members have access to the entire library of evergrowing educational content found at jazz piano skills.com, the educational podcast packets, the illustrations, lead sheets and play alongs that help you successfully study and master the jazz piano skills explored in the weekly podcast. The sequential courses that make up a comprehensive jazz piano curriculum using a self paced learning format, with educational talks, interactive media and video demonstrations that are found in each course. All of it provides you a stimulating, effective and efficient educational experience. members also enjoy a weekly, one hour online masterclass, hosted by me every Thursday evening, which is basically a one hour jazz piano lesson. You will also have access to the jazz piano skills private community, the podcast and course specific forums. Last but certainly not least, as a jazz piano skills member, you will have access to private personal and unlimited professional educational support, jazz piano help, anytime and as often as you need it. Visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about becoming an active jazz piano skills member. If you have any questions, please do not hesitate. Reach out to me. I'm happy to help. Okay, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano. Last week, we pulled back the curtain on diatonic harmonic exercises, which we can use to help us solidify various harmonic shapes voicings. I used three note contemporary shell voicings last week with each of the diatonic harmonica exercises, but again, you can practice any type of voicing with diatonic harmonic exercises to successfully get essential shapes under your fingers. This week, we are tackling diatonic melodic exercises. So what the heck are diatonic melodic exercises? Well, I like to describe them as exercises that help you improve your harmonic vision. In other words, exercises that help you see harmony as melody and melody as harmony. exercises that help you see harmony and melody has been one and the same. No different than ice and water. Ice being the equivalent of harmony, a solid and water being the equivalent of melody of liquid linear motion. diatonic melodic exercises help illuminate this relationship between harmony and melody B forgo any further I want to make sure that everyone understands what the word diatonic implies. The word diatonic simply means that we are going to use only the notes found within the scale within the key. No chromaticism, no notes outside of the scale. So the notes C, D, E, F, G, A and B are the diatonic notes of the key of C major, or the C major scale. That's it. That's what the word diatonic is referencing the seven notes of any given major or minor scale. So today, I am going to share with you 10 diatonic melodic exercises that I use when practicing these exercises will not only help you develop better linear technique, they will help you develop Standard Jazz vocabulary used by every professional jazz musician on planet Earth. And I'm not kidding. So we have a lot to discover, learn and play today. So let's dive in. To begin, I am going to be discussing and playing everything today in the key of C major and all exercises will use all seven chords of the key of C major, C major, D minor, E minor, F major, g dominant, a minor and B half diminished. Also, I am going to play all exercises at a temple of one. Okay, exercise one ascends through all seven chords of the key launching from the root of each chord. I'm going to play each chord over counts one and two of each measure the four notes of each chord, the root, the third, the fifth, and the seventh, will be played as eighth notes. I like this configuration, because it gives me the final two beats of each measure to assessed what I just played the good, the bad or ugly that I just played on counts one and two. And it gives me the time to make any necessary adjustments before playing the same pattern with the very next core. Now, the goals for this exercise and for every exercise that I play today are as follows. Number one, I want to see the chord melodically number two, I want to play each four note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. And number three, I want each for note phrase to sound musical as if it is part of an improvised solo. So far so good, but I am sure you are wondering what am I going to be playing in my left hand? Well, remember those three note contemporary shells I played last week when exploring the diatonic harmonic exercises. Yep, you got it. I am going to play those shells in my left hands to support the diatonic melodic phrases. I am playing in my right hand and like last week, I want to make sure that my voicings are felt and not heard. They are playing in an accompaniment role. They are supporting actors, not the main actor. So they need to be felt and not heard. Okay, enough talking. Let's bring in the ensemble and play exercise one and then we can talk about it. Here we go. Let's check it out. Very nice. Hopefully, now that you've heard exercise one, it's all starting to make sense what we are doing today, I played all seven chords of the key of C major, melodically. I launched from the root of each chord and ascended to the seven. Well, As the old saying goes, What goes up, must come down. And that is exactly what we are going to do an exercise to, instead of ascending from the root, we are going to descend from the root. So instead of launching from the root and ascending to the seventh, CEGB, we're going to launch from the root and descend to the third. So we're going to go see, B, G, E. Yep. If you are not comfy with inversions, exercises two through 10 may be a little uncomfortable. But seriously, all kidding aside if you are indeed uncomfortable or unfamiliar with inversions, then spend some time with jazz piano skills courses two through six, which thoroughly explore the inversions of all of the major dominant minor half diminished and diminished chords. There are excellent courses that will get you up to speed quickly. Check them out at jazz piano skills.com. Alright, exercise two, descends through all seven chords, the key launching from the root of each chord. And just as I did in exercise one, I am going to play each chord over counts one and two of each measure the descending four notes of each chord, the root, seventh, fifth, and third will be played as eighth notes. And once again, why do I like this configuration, because it gives me the final two beats of each measure to assess what I just played on counts one and two, The Good, the Bad the handling, and it gives me the time to make any necessary adjustments before playing the exact same pattern with the next chord. The goals for every exercise I played today are as follows. One, I want to see the chord melodically. Two I want to play each four note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. Three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical, as if it is part of an improvised solo. Okay, let's play exercise two descending arpeggios launching from the root of each core to the key with a destination point of the third. This should be fun. Let's bring in the ensemble and check it out. Here we go. Wow, how important is it? To be able to see chords melodically in inverted shapes? I think we all know the answer. It's monumentally important to be frank. If you cannot play chords melodically in root position and inverted shapes, you will never develop improvisational skills. But no worries. If you seriously begin practicing these 10 diatonic melodic exercises that I am sharing with you today, you will indeed see chords melodically and you will hear significant improvement with your improvisational skills, I guarantee it. Okay, on to exercises three, and four. So now we are going to repeat the same process we just did with exercises one and two, ascending and descending from the root of the chords within the key. But now we are going to launch from the third of the chords. Exercise three uses ascending motion from the third to the root of each chord. This is the same inverted shape we just played in exercise two using descending motion. Once again, I'm going to play each chord over counts one in two of each measure the ascending four notes of each chord, third, fifth, seventh root will be played as eighth notes. And once again, resting on counts three and four gives me an opportunity to assess what I just played on counts one and two. The rest and assess time allows me to make any necessary adjustments before playing the same pattern with the next court. The goals of course, remain the same one, I want to see the chord melodically two I want to play each four note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. Three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical, as if it is part of an improvised solo. Okay, well let's play exercise three ascending arpeggios launching from the third of each chord of the key with a destination point of the root. Let's bring in the ensemble and check it out. Here we go. Pretty cool. When you begin practicing these diatonic melodic exercises, you really begin seeing and hearing the shapes and sounds of jazz. And not only will you begin seeing and hearing the shapes and sounds in your own plane, but y'all see and hear the shapes and sounds in the plane of other jazz musicians. In fact, you will be listening to other jazz musicians play and you'll say I know that shape. I know that sound, I played them. So now let's play exercise four, we will launch from the third again, but D send through each of the chords, C major will be E, C, B, G, D minor, F, D, C, A, and E minor will be G, E, the NB, and so on. same format. I'm playing each chord over counts one and two of each measure, and resting on counts three and four, so I can assess what I just played and make any necessary adjustments. Likewise, the goals of the course remain the same as well. One I want to see the chord melodically. I want to play each for note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. And three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical, as if it is part of an improvised solo. Okay, let's play exercise for descending arpeggios launching from the third of each quarter the key with a destination point of the fifth wants to bring the ensemble back in and check it out. Here we go. Love it. Such a great way to learn the shapes and sounds of jazz. I want to take a moment to talk about repetition. And why it is so vitally important. You notice that with each of these exercises, I play through them several times. And when practicing for real outside of the podcast, I will repeat the same exercise a whole lot more than just a several. In fact, I repeat exercises hundreds of times for real. Why would I be so obsessed with playing the same exercise over and over and over again? Well, there are a couple very good reasons. Number one, repetition builds muscle and oral memory. The shapes and sounds of jazz must become muscle and oral memory. So that when you perform you can't instinctively resist respond to the musical stimuli you're hearing musical stimuli either from other musicians or from what is playing out in your mind. And keep in mind, instinctive responses, spawning from muscle and aro memory are often referred to as artistry. Number two. Repetition allows you to accurately measure consistency. You must be able to execute and play the same shapes and sounds over and over again in time with proper feel, articulation and accuracy. Did you hear that? You must be able to execute and play the same shapes in sounds over and over and over again in time with proper feel articulation and accuracy Just a side note along this same line. I recently listened to an interview of baseball great Derek Jeter, who was asked this question. What is the difference between pro ball players and minor league ball players? His answer one word consistency. Derek Jeter said pro ball players go out night after night and produce the same results. The minor league ball players struggle to consistently repeat good performances. Well, the same can be said about music. The difference between a pro and amateur musician is consistent execution. All of that to say play these 10 diatonic melodic exercises over and over again. The payoff is huge. All right. So now we have repeated the same process of ascending and descending through the chords of a key launching from the root and the third of each chord. Can you guess what's next, of course, you can. We are going to repeat the same process but now launch from the fifth of the courts. So on to exercise five, here we go. We launched from the fifth using ascending motion, C major will be G, B, C, E, D minor will be A, C, D and F, E minor will be B, D, E and G and so on. same format, I'm playing each chord over counts one and two of each measure and resting on counts three and four. So that I can assess what I just played and make any necessary adjustments. The goals of course, remain the same one I want to see the chord melodically I want to play each four note phrase with proper jazz articulation. Three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical as if it is part of an improvised solo. Okay, let's play exercise five ascending arpeggios launching from the fifth of each chord of the key with the destination point of the third. Let's bring the ensemble back in and check it out. Here we go. Nice at the risk of sounding like a broken record, you really have to know inversions inverted shapes in order to play through these diatonic melodic exercises. In fact, that is the only way I am getting through these exercises. I am seeing the inverted shapes and plain those shapes over each chord. I am not and let me repeat I am not thinking notes. That would be so difficult. Let me give you an example of what I'm talking about. Oftentimes, I will ask students to spell a scale backwards. For example, the C major scale spelled backwards is b A, G, F, E, D and C. Typically when the student attempts to recite the scale backwards, they fail. And then after several failed attempts, They look at me and say, How do you say the alphabet backwards so fast? My answer is because I'm not spelling the alphabet backwards. Instead, I am seen in my mind, the C major scale shape, and simply reciting the notes of the scale or of the shape. I'm not thinking about the alphabet. This same approach must be used when playing these diatonic melodic exercises. As you are ascending and descending through the chords of the key, you should be seeing the shape you want to play, and then move that shape through the key. With that being said, let's move on to exercise six. We will launch from the fifth using descending motion, C major will be G, E, C, and B, D minor, a, f, d, and C, E minor, B, G, E, and D. and so on. same format, I'm playing each chord over counts one and two of each measure and resting on counts three and four. So that I can assess what I just played and make adjustments. The goals you should be able to recite them by now they're the same one, I want to see the chord melodically. Two I want to play each four note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. And three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical, as if it is part of an improvised solo. Okay, let's play exercise six descending arpeggios launching from the fifth of each chord of the key with a destination point of the seven. Let's bring the ensemble in and check it out. Here we go. Very, very cool. We have now launched from the root the third and the fifth of the seven chords within the key using ascending and descending motion. The last target note for today is the seven. So let's get to it. Exercise seven we'll launch from the seventh using ascending motion. C major will be B C, E and G. D minor will be c d f and a. A minor will be D, E, G and B and so on. same format. ascending arpeggios played over counts one and two of each measure and resting on counts three and four for assessments and adjustments. The goals say them with me. One, I want to see the chord melodically. Two I want to play each four note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. And three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical as if it is part of an improvised solo. Okay, let's play exercise seven ascending arpeggios launching from the seventh of each chord of the key with a destination point of the fifth. Let's bring the ensemble in and check it out. Here we go. Wow, what a great shape that I can literally find in practically every transcription that I have ever done or studied in my life. This shape and sound is classic jazz vocabulary. Repeat, repeat, repeat, repeat and repeat some more make it a staple in your jazz vocabulary. Just as I tell every young man, you need to have a classic blue sport coat in your closet. Well, every jazz musician needs to have this shape and sound in there jazz vocabulary. Okay, exercise eight launches from the seventh. And of course is going to decent, C major will be BG E and C, D minor, C, A, F and D, E minor, D, B, G and E and so on. same format. I'm playing each chord over counts one and two of each measure and resting on counts three and four so I can assess what I just played and make the necessary adjustments. The goals of course remain the same. Say them with me please. One I want to see the chord melodically. Two I want to play each four note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. And three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical, as if it is part of an improvised solo. Okay, let's play exercise a descending arpeggios launching from the seventh of each chord of the key with a destination point of the root letter. Let's bring in the ensemble and check it out. Here we go. Wow, that's a pretty thorough approach to developing ascending and descending melodic shapes. Using the various sounds major dominant minor and half diminished of a major key. Launching from the root, third, fifth and seventh not only makes sense musically it's awesome ear training as well. I can't stress enough Be sure to download and use the podcast packets, the illustrations lead sheets, they they lay out all of these iconic Jazz shapes in all 12 keys, invaluable materials to have at your side when studying and practicing. Also use the play long tracks that I provide as well. They too are available in all 12 keys. I guess what I'm trying to say is that you have no one to blame but yourself. If you are not maximizing your musical growth, by using the podcast packets, they're there, download them and use them. Okay, the final two exercises for today, use alternating ascending and descending motion through the seven chords of the key and extra dots in exercise nine, I am going to begin with C major ascending from the root to the seventh, and then descending through the D minor from the fifth, the note a to the seventh, the note C, then I ascend through the E minor, launching from the root and then descend through the F major. And then do the same for G seven or G dominant and a minor and then B half diminished, and C major. So basically, I'm thinking I'm using harmonic pairs, C and D, E and F, G and A and B and C different type of exercise in comparison to the first eight. But guess what's not different. You got it. same format. I'm playing each chord over counts one and two of each measure and resting on counts three and four. So I can assess what I just played and make any necessary adjustments. The goals to remain the same as well. One I want to see the chord melodically to I want to play each for note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. And three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical, as if it is part of an improvised solo. So okay, let's play exercise nine, alternating ascending and descending arpeggios. Launching from the root of one chord and descending from the fifth of the next chord. Let's bring in the ensemble and check it out. Here we go. How cool it channel challenging is this diatonic melodic exercise. Very, you have to really know the inverted shapes of these sounds of these chords. You have to clearly see them in order to move in and out of them. I want to point out that when I work on developing jazz vocabulary using ascending and descending motion, I always use the closest note on the descending side of the top note of the previous shape. You may have noticed that when I ascend through the C major chord launching from the root I ended Of course on the note B, C eg b i started my descending motion on the D minor chord with the note a. The note a is the closest D minor note On the descending side of the note, be the last note of my C major line. Study the lead sheets and you'll see this approach in writing, a picture's worth 1000 words, I am going to utilize the very same tactic. When playing exercise 10. I'm going to use alternating descending and ascending motion in this exercise, launching from the root of the C major and descending to the third, the note E and then ascend on the D minor, starting with the note f, y f, because it's the closest note on the ascending side of the note E, which is the last note of my descending C major line. Again, check out the lead sheets and you'll see this approach laid out using musical notation. It's nice to know that something's however, never changed. Once again, same format and playing each chord over counts one and two of each measure and resting on counts three and four. So I can assess what I just played and make any necessary adjustments. The goals remain the same. So for one last time, let's say these together one, I want to see the chord melodically. Two I want to play each four note phrase with a proper jazz articulation. And three, I want each four note phrase to sound musical, as if it is part of an improvised solo. Okay, let's play the final exercise of the day. Exercise 10 alternating descending and ascending arpeggios, descending from the root of one chord and ascending from the third of the next chord. Let's bring in the ensemble and check it out. Here we go. I don't know about you, but I'm tired. That was a packed lesson as always. And I cannot stress to you enough how important it is to practice these diatonic melodic exercises on a regular basis. Not only will your technique your ears, and jazz vocabulary grow exponentially, you will begin to truly see melody and harmony and harmony and melody. You will see them as being one in the same well I hope you found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring diatonic melodic exercises to be insightful and of course, beneficial. Don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass at 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode less than exploring the diatonic melodic exercises in greater detail and to answer any question you may have about the study of jazz in general. Also, as a jazz piano skills member, be sure to use the educational podcast packets for this podcast lesson and the jazz piano skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant of the jazz piano skills community. Get involved and contribute to the various forums. Most importantly, make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website, and the jazz piano skills courses. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the diatonic melodic exercise, enjoy the journey, and most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano