This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores Harmonized Major Scales using Contemporary Two-Handed Voicings.
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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 harmonized major scales. You're going to learn how to harmonize major scales using contemporary two handed voicings. And you're going to play major scales harmonized from the root through the seventh of the sound. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner and intermediate player, an advanced player or even if you are inexperienced and seasoned professional, you will find this jazz panel skills podcast lesson, exploring the harmonization of major scales to be very insightful, and to be very beneficial. If you are a new listener to the jazz panel skills podcast if you are new to jazz piano skills, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about the abundance and abundance of jazz educational resources and services that are available for you to use. For example, the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets the play alongs that are available for every podcast episode available for you to download, to print and to use while practicing at home. As a jazz panel skills member you will also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is loaded with comprehensive jazz piano courses. Using a self paced format, educational talks, interactive media, video demonstrations, play alongs and much more. You will also as a jazz panel skills member have access to the online weekly masterclasses, which are in essence, a one hour lesson with me every single week. 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When we talk about any scale, any scale our minds immediately think of a sequential line of notes played 123 or four octaves in both hands ascending and descending. And why wouldn't we think like this, what why wouldn't this be the imagery we have when discussing or thinking about scales after all, that is precisely how skills are taught 99 plus percent of the time if not 100% of the time. And of course, the opposite is also true. When we talk about any scale, our minds never think of the scale as being played harmonically. And why. Well, because scales are never taught harmonically. Therefore we never think of scales being played in this manner. Now this is very unfortunate because as jazz pianist, we need to be able to approach melodies harmonically. We need to be capable of copying melodically. I want to say that again, because it's so very important as jazz pianist, we need to be able to approach melodies, harmonically. And how do we develop this jazz piano skill? We do so by practicing, scales harmonize. And why do we have to invest the time practicing scales harmonized. Because, as I have said, time and time again, our hands and our ears will never, ever go where they have never been. It's just that simple. Now, of course, there is more than one way to approach the harmonization of scales. But today, I want to share with you how I like to approach harmonizing scales, using two handed contemporary voicings and contemporary in that the voicings are constructed using primarily intervals of a fourth rather than the traditional interval of a third. If you are unfamiliar with quarter voicings, then I would suggest checking out the entire podcast series I did on the shapes and sound starting back on November 10, last year 2020 starting with the primary major voicings, and even better yet, if you are a jazz piano skills member, you have access to the jazz piano skills curriculum, the jazz piano skills courses, so be sure to study courses 21 through 26. That deal those courses deal specifically with these contemporary voicings. You can watch video demonstrations of me playing the major dominant minor half diminished and diminished shapes and sounds in all 12 keys. Now these contemporary voicings, chord or fourth e voicings, are my go to voicings for harmonizing melodies, and for comping behind instrumentalist and vocalist. I'm also going to share with you a way to methodically effectively and efficiently practice this essential jazz piano skills so that again, you maximize your musical growth. So the agenda for today is as follows. Number one, I am going to present seven, two handed contemporary voicings one for each note of the major scale. Number two, I am going to present 10 exercises that focus on compact scale and arpeggio motion to minimize linear movement. Number three, I'm going to present one exercise that spans the entire scale from the root to the seventh. And one exercise that plays the scale as an arpeggio spanning from the root to the 13th of the sound. All in all, I will be presenting a total of 12 exercises for you today. Number four, I will be constructing all of my voicings today based on the C major Lydian mode. Yes, I could have chosen the C major Ionian mode, the standard major scale, but Personally, I prefer I prefer the major Lydian sound that has a sharp 11 sound. I prefer this sound when composing melodies, which of course is the whole point of today's podcast piano lesson to be able to play melodies. harmonically. In number five, I will be playing all demonstrations today all exercises today using a temple of 120 and as always, I highly recommend using slower tempos 6575 85 whenever you begin to physically explore a new jazz piano skill. This jazz piano skills lesson today is a biggie. It will forever change how you think about scales. It will forever change how you play, how you practice and play scales and it will dramatically change Here's your jazz piano sound. So let's get started. If you are a jazz piano skills member take a few minutes right now to download and print the illustrations and the lead sheets. You have access to all of the podcast packets and you should absolutely be using them when listening to this podcast, and of course when practicing if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories Apple, Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio, Pandora, etc. Then be sure to go to jazz panel skills podcast.com to download the podcast packets, you will find the links the download links in the show notes. One other little but extremely important side note. If you are thinking harmonized major scales, are you kidding me? I don't even have my scales under my fingers. I would say to you, okay, continue to listen, continue to grow intellectually and conceptually, by listening to this podcast episode. So often, students are concerned about a jazz piano skill being over their head. And to that point, I say, Well, every jazz panel skill is over your head when it is first introduced to you heck. At one point, the major scale itself was over your head. Remember, it is your conceptual awareness and understanding that ultimately determines your physical development. In other words, all musical growth begins upstairs mentally, before it can come out downstairs, physically in your hands. So listen to this podcast lesson now. And be ready to physically explore and develop the harmonized major scales later. Bottom line, you always want your jazz piano understanding to be way out in front of your physical skills always. In doing so, you will literally have a dangling carrot that you're chasing, no dangling carrot, nothing the practice, nothing the practice, no improvement, jazz stagnation. Okay, so let's dig in. All of the voices today are going to be five note structures. I always play two handed voicings utilizing five notes, two in my left hand and three in my right hand. Always. Of course there are other ways to approach this. For me, this makes conceptual sense. It keeps things physically, mentally and physically organized. And that is so important when studying voicings because voicings as I like to say, Can voicings or like fishing line, they can get tangled up really, really quickly. So you have to have an organized and systematic a formulaic way of approaching voicings to avoid the fishing line. tangles. Okay, so for me, five note structures to the left, three in the right now when we harmonize a scale any scale, but today, the major scale, our melody note is always going to sit up on top, that's going to be the last note that we play. So I'm always going to build my voicings from the bottom up. So for example, the very first voicing that's going to have C, the notes C as My Melody. I'm going to start in my left hand, I'm going to play the notes E and A. And in my right hand, the notes D, G, and C. So I have five notes to the left, three in the right, and a on my left. My right, I played together. Very nice. If you notice the space, the interval between each of those notes is the distance of a fourth. Now the second voicing with the note D The second note of the scale A note D is going to be on top. So on my left hand, I'm going to have two notes, F sharp, and B. Again, I'm using the C major the Lydian mode. So I'm going to have F sharp and b in my left hand. And then my right hand, I'm going to have the notes E, A, and D. So I want to play that together sounds like this. Nice. So again, the distance, the interval between each of those notes that I have the five notes, is the interval of a fourth. So now I'm going to put those two voicings together with my C as the melody. And now my D is the melody. Again, C is the melody. And D is the melody. So I have a little scale motion going here, right C to D scale motion. So I want to bring the ensemble and I'm going to practice those two shapes, I'm going to practice moving from shape one with C on top as the melody to shape two, with the D, the note D on top has the melody. And that's it. I'm going to practice moving from one voicing to the next voicing, and then I'm going to do some copying. Right, I'm going to try to create some little melodic ideas using some rhythmic variation. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go. Pretty cool, right? It's amazing how much music you can make with just two voicings with a melody line that consists of only two notes, the notes C in the note D. But when you harmonize those two notes, it sounds pretty darn hip, it brings another dimension to your plane, then just playing a melodic line using a single note. So now let's look at our voicings with the third on top as the melody, a third of the scale and also with the fourth on top as the melody with the F sharp. And again, I'm playing the C major scale the Lydian mode, which includes that F sharp. So in my left hand for the melody note me in the note E I'm going to play in my left hand, the two notes are going to be the note a the note D. in my right hand, I want to play the notes, G, C, and E. Very nice voicing all fours with the exception of that last interval, the C to the E is our traditional third. Now I'm going to move to the F sharp as the melody and my voicing is going to have in the left hand the notes B and E. And in my right hand, the notes a D and F sharp. Again, five notes and total, two in the left, three in the right. When I play that of those five notes together. Here's what my voice sounds like. Beautiful. Now I want to practice moving from my third as the melody to my fourth as the melody. Again, scale motion moving from my E to my F sharp and I want to practice moving from one voice into the next voicing with ease and once I feel comfortable with that. I'm going to begin utilizing rhythmic variation to create some melodic ideas. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble in. And let's listen to these two shapes these two voicings side by side and see what we think. Here we go. Again, pretty amazing write two notes, the third and the fourth, harmonized, adding some rhythmic variation. And I'm creating melodic ideas that are supported by harmony. It's very nice. So now let's move on to the fifth and the sixth of the scale. So now our melody note is going to be the note G. In my left hand, I'm going to start with two notes B and E. So I have the seventh and the third of C major and my left hand and my right hand, I have the notes, A, D, and G are those five notes played together? Classic voicing. Starting with the seventh in my left hand, moving in all fourths, all the way up to my melody note the fifth and my little finger in my right hand. Now, for the six for my note a the melody note. I'm going to have in my left hand, the notes C and F sharp. And again, Lydian mode. So the F sharp is present. And my right hand the notes B, E, and a. I love that sound just a little bit of bite to it. I love it. So here are those two voicings side by side I voicing with the fifth as the melody voicing with the sixth as a melody. So what I want to do is practice those two shapes going back and forth. And once again, once I get comfortable with that movement with that sound, I'm going to start employing some rhythmic variation to create some melodic ideas. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go. Nice, great sounds they work right even with that six B and harmonize that F sharp in there with a little bit of a bite to it, it's beautiful. So we're going to start with that voice. And because the only note that we have left to harmonize out of the scale is the seventh the note B, so we're going to start with our six again that that chord was seen F sharp in the left hand and then B E and A and the right hand a up on top as our melody, we're going to take that voice in that shape and move it to our seventh with our B as the melody. So in our left hand we're going to have the notes E and A. And in our right hand, my right hand I'm going to have the notes G and B. So again, all fours with the exception of the last interval GTB being a third. Now those two sat those two voicings side by side sound like this. And the sixth as the melody the note Hey, the seventh is the melody the note B. So once again, I want to get comfortable, moving back and forth from those two voicings and once I'm comfortable with each boy scene, I'm going to create some melodic ideas using rhythmic variation. So let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's check this out. Here we go. So we have now harmonized, the entire C major scale, when we put it all together sounds like this. Coming down. Very cool. But before we get going crazy playing the entire scale, what I like to do is go back to the, to the root again as My Melody. But now I like to play instead of just two melody notes pairings. You know, from C to D, I want to include the third. So I want to go as My Melody. Right. Because by going to the third, we now can include arpeggio motion, so I can go right from my C. Back to my D to my C. So I have scale motion, I have arpeggio motion that I can now utilize to create melodic ideas melodic motifs. So I want to approach practicing it the exact same way right, I want to get comfortable moving from one shape to the next shape to the next shape, ascending, and of course, descending. Once I get comfortable moving, including those three shapes, side by side moving from shape to shape to shape, now I can start experimenting with some rhythmic ideas to create some melodic ideas. So let's bring the ensemble in. And let's check this out and see what we think. Here we go. Wow, now we're starting to get somewhere right. As soon as we can begin to incorporate scale and arpeggio motion into our melodic ideas. Wow. Now it's starting to sound very real. So we're going to continue with the exact same process. This time however, our entry point is going to be the third so our melody is going to start on the E. We're going to move to the F sharp and into the G. So again, we have a three note melody. And because we have a third moving in third three notes, we also can incorporate arpeggio motion, moving from the third to the fifth. We have our sharp at Arthur. So again, we want to practice moving from one voicing to the next voicing to the Next Sunday, and of course does Sunday want to get comfortable with all three of those shapes and sounds, those voicings, then we can begin to incorporate some rhythmic variation to develop some vocabulary, some melodic motifs. So let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's play around with the notes E, F sharp and G harmonized and see what we can come up with. Let's check it out. Here we go. Absolutely love it. Not only does it sound great, it's fun. It's just fun. You'll see, as soon as you start to get these shapes into your fingers, you know, sorted out in your mind acclimated to your ears, and under your fingers, you will see how much fun you can have with playing melodies harmonized. So now let's make our entry point the fifth. So we're gonna start with our G as the melody. Then going to our a, and then to our sub. rb. So again, we want to practice these shapes and sounds, these voicings ascending and descending. And once we get comfortable with those voicings, we can now begin again incorporate some rhythmic variation to create melodic ideas, I can move in straight scale motion, I can jump the third from the melody note G up to be to create arpeggio movement in motion. So let's do the exact same thing that we have been doing. Let's bring the ensemble in. And let's see what we can come up with, with our harmonized melody notes of G, A, and B. Here we go. Let's check it out. Pretty darn cool, right? But now it's going to even get cooler because we're going to get into our upper extensions. So now we're going to start with our melody note being the seventh. gonna move to the root and out to the ninth, seventh, root and back down. Beautiful. So once again, get comfortable with those three voicings side by side, we can move in scale movement, scale motion, we can utilize arpeggio motion from the B up from the seven up to the ninth to the note D. So let's employ the exact same process that we have been doing. Bring the ensemble back in. Let's get comfortable with those three voicings first and then start to add some rhythmic variation to create some melodic ideas. So here we go. Let's check it out. I absolutely love it. Again way too much fun. So now let's make our entry point the ninth. Alright, so now our melody, the D, up on top, then going to our third, our E on top, a 10th, I guess or third, right, and then to the F sharp or to the 11th. So we got nine, jumping. So, as always get comfortable with those voicings first moving side by side ascending and descending, then you can start jumping around you some rhythmic variation to create melodic ideas. So now let's see what we can come up with utilizing the ninth, the third and the 11th. That's sharp 11. Let's see what we come up with melodically over the top of C major seventh. So here we go. Let's check this out. Only one more grouping of three notes to explore from the sharp 11 from the 11th to the fifth to the 13th. So now our entry point is our 11th or our F sharp. Go to our fifth g the melody to our 13 again, practice ascending descending and you can move in arpeggio motion. Once again get comfortable just moving, ascending, descending through those voicings before you start utilizing arpeggio motion from the sharp 11 to the 13th. Utilizing rhythmic variation to create melody, right, so there's a there's a process here that I'm hopefully hopefully you've picked up on as we go through each of these exercises. So now let's bring the ensemble and let's get comfortable with our shapes our voicings and then add some rhythmic variation to create some melodic ideas. So here we go. Let's check it out. Very, very nice. So what have we done so far? We started off with just utilizing melodic pairs, right, the route to the second, the third, the fourth, the fifth to the six, the six to the seventh scale mode, scale motion, right utilizing just two notes. Then we did three note grouping so that we could incorporate arpeggio motion. So we went from the root to the third. So root, second third. So we have both scale and arpeggio motion within that three note grouping. Then we went from the third to the fifth, third, fourth, and fifth, again, scale and arpeggio motion within that three note grouping. Then from the fifth to the seventh, fifth, sixth seventh, then from the seventh to the ninth, seventh, eighth, or the octave, wrote to the ninth, then we made our entry point, the nine, the upper extensions 910 to 11, or the ninth to the third, if it's easier to think of it that way to the 11th. And then finally, from the 11th, to the 13th. So from the 11th to the fifth to the 13th. Wow, those three note groupings allow us to incorporate arpeggio motion. And if we put that arpeggio motion, just listen to this, this is just straight arpeggio motion from the root through to the 13th. Beautiful. Awesome. So now we're capable of playing our scale, harmonizing our scale from the root to the seventh, and actually harmonizing it as an arpeggio from the root to the 13th. So the final two exercises I want to share with you today are doing exactly that. Let's start with just practicing harmonizing the scale ascending and descending, you're going to notice I start off playing basically, the voicings as whole notes, then ascending and descending, of course, then I move to half notes. And then I finally moved to play in the entire scale, utilizing quarter notes. So what I'm doing is just I'm, I'm proving to myself that I can move easily comfortably through the scale ascending and descending, using these voicings playing the scale harmonize the major scale harmonized, so let's bring in the ensemble. Let's check this out and see what we think. Here we go. Pretty cool. All right. Now again, I wouldn't start there. Notice that this exercises at the end of the lesson, I started with just two note groupings, and then three note groupings. Right, this is at the end, not at the beginning. Likewise, I do the exact same thing for the arpeggio. So I'm going to practice moving through the arpeggio from the major sound as an arpeggio from the root all the way to the 13th. ascending and descending. Again, starting off playing each voicing, as whole notes, and eventually half notes, and then eventually, quarter notes. So let's bring the ensemble back in and let's check this out and see what we think. Here we go. Awesome, simply awesome right. And again, this was the last exercise of the day right I did not start off with trying to play the entire scale or arpeggio at the very beginning of the lesson again, start small to note groupings. Three note groupings, get comfortable with the voicings, get comfortable with the shapes, get comfortable with the sounds. Wow. As always, as always, we have covered a ton of ground today, within a very short period of time within an hour harmonized major scales without that in essential jazz piano skill that will require a much thought, intense study and of course, relentless practice. But here is the cool thing. All of the voicings being used to harmonize the major scales are voicings that you already know already have under your fingers if you have listened to and practiced the primary major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished voicings. And once again, be sure to listen to the podcast series that I did to introduce you to these amazing shapes and sounds. Starting with the November 10 2020 episode, dealing with the primary major voicings and also login to jazz piano skills and study courses 21 through 26. Check out the video demonstrations for all 12 major dominant minor have to manage the diminished contemporary voicings. Those are the very shapes that you're going to utilize to harmonize major scales, not just the major scales, but the dominant scales the minor scales, the half the many scales and the diminished scales. I also want to encourage you to map out these voicings on paper. Use the podcast packets, the illustrations and the lead sheets that you can download, which I hope you already have, that you can download, use those illustrations and lead sheets to guide you. The illustrations include a paper practice template that you can use for mapping out the harmonization for all 12 major scales. Most of all, be patient. This is a big time jazz piano skill that will take time to digest both mentally and physically. structure your physical practicing after the plane demonstrations that I just modeled for you in this podcast episode and you will begin to see you will begin to feel you will begin to hear your progress. Well I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the harmonization of major scales to be insightful and of course to be very beneficial don't forget if you are a jazz piano skills a member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz piano skills masterclass 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the harmonization of major scales in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. And again, as a jazz piano skills member Be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets to play alongs for this podcast lesson, as well as the jazz piano skills curriculum, the jazz piano skills courses to help maximize your musical growth and likewise make sure you are an active participant in the Das panel skills community get involved, contribute to the various forums and most importantly, make some new jazz piano friends. Always a great thing to do. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com that's Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there's my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the harmonization of major scales. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano