This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores Harmonized Minor Scales using Contemporary Two-Handed Voicings.
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Harmonized Minor Scales
How to Harmonize Minor Scales using Contemporary Two-Handed Voicings
Harmonized Minor Scales from the Root through the 7th of the Sound
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Dr. Bob Lawrence
President, The Dallas School of Music
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 minor scales. You are going to learn how to harmonize minor scales using contemporary two handed voicings and you are going to play harmonized minor scales 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 an intermediate player, an advanced player, even if you are an experienced and seasoned professional, you will find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring the harmonization of minor scales to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills if you are a new jazz piano skills podcast listener, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Visit jazz piano skills.com to learn more about the abundance of jazz educational resources, materials 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 developed and published and available for download each and every week for each and every podcast episode. As a jazz panel skills member you will also have access to the sequential jazz piano curriculum, which is loaded with comprehensive courses using a self paced format, educational talks, interactive media video demonstrations, play alongs all all of that laid out in a sequential learning process. You also as a jazz piano skills member have access to the online weekly master classes which are which are one hour lessons with me every week. And also as a jazz piano skills member you have access to the private jazz piano skills community, which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast specific forums, course specific forums, and of course, General jazz piano forums for you to enjoy as well. And last but certainly not least, you as a jazz piano skills member have unlimited, private, personal and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. Again, just visit jazz panel skills comm to learn more about all the educational opportunities, and how to easily activate your membership. If you have any questions. Any questions at all, please let me know. I'm always happy to help in any way that I can. Okay, let's discover, learn and play jazz piano let's discover, learn and play harmonized minor scales. Okay, I brought this up the last two weeks. And I want to bring it up again today because it's simply that important. When we talk about any scale our minds immediately think of a sequential line of notes. And as pianists we play those notes, those scales 123, or even four octaves, typically in both hands ascending and descending. And why wouldn't we think about scales like this as pianos? Why wouldn't this be the imagery that we have when discussing or thinking about scales? Because that is precisely how scales are taught. Literally 100% of the time. I'm not exaggerating, I think I think I'm safe to say that right that 100% of the time. That's how scales are taught on the panel. And of course, the opposite is true to that. When we talk about any scale our minds never ever ever think of that scale as being played harmonically. And why? Well because scales are never ever ever taught harmonically. Therefore we never think Scales being played in this manner. And this as I stressed the last two weeks is very unfortunate because, as jazz pianist we need to be able to approach melodies. harmonically, we need to be capable of comping melodically. And how do we develop this jazz piano skill? We do so by practicing scales, scales and arpeggios by practicing them harmonized. And why do we have to invest the time practicing scales and arpeggios harmonize, because as you've heard me say this a gazillion times, our hands and our ears will never ever go where they have never, ever been. In fact, it's naive to think that your hands will go where they have never ever been. Think of this if what are the odds of me getting in my car and driving to your home without any kind of roadmap instructions, guidance to get there, the odds are zero, it's not going to happen. And likewise, the odds are zero that my hands without any kind of methodical, systematic or formulaic way in which to approach harmonizing scales and arpeggios. If they if that systematic, methodical and formulaic way is not put into action, conceptually and physically dirt through practicing, then the odds are zero that scales mountain melodic lines are going to come out harmonized underneath my fingers, my hands when playing, it's just naive to think otherwise. So the last two weeks, two weeks ago, we dealt with the major sound major scales harmonized. Last week, we looked at the dominance scale, scales harmonized. And this week, we're going to do the same thing for the minor scales. And the whole objective is to actually put into place a systematic and organized formulaic way for you to begin harmonizing scales and arpeggios that will then lead to the harmonization of melodic lines in your plane. Now, I brought this up the last two weeks as well. And of course, it is important to state it again today. There is more than one way to approach the harmonization of scales but I'm sharing with you how I like to approach harmonizing scales, using two hand contemporary voicings and again contemporary and that the voicings are constructed using primarily intervals of a fourth rather than the traditional interval of a third. And if you are unfamiliar with quarter voicings, then I would suggest checking out the entire podcast series that I did on the shapes and sound starting back on November 10 of last year 2020. Start starting with the primary major voicings and then I went on to the dominant the minor the half diminished and diminished the entire series on these sounds. These shapes these quarter voicings and even better if you are a jazz panel skills member you have access to the jazz panel skills curriculum, the jazz panel skills courses, so be sure to check out courses 21 through 26 that specifically deal with contemporary voicings and you can watch the video demonstrations of me playing these major and dominant minor half diminished and diminished shapes and sounds these shells and in all 12 keys. Okay, so these contemporary voicings these quarter or fourth the voicings are my go to voicings for harmonizing melodies, and for comping behind instrumentalist and vocalist. I am going to also share with you a way to methodically and effectively and efficiently practice this very essential jazz piano skill, the harmonization of scales of minor scales, so that again, you maximize your musical growth when practicing. 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 minor scale and number two, I'm going to present 10 exercises that focus on compact scale and arpeggio motion to minimize linear movement. And we minimize linear movement to actually maximize musical growth. Number three, I'm going to present one exercise that spans the entire scale from the root to the seven, and one exercise that plays the scale as an arpeggio, from the root to the 13th. All in all, I will be presenting the total of 12 exercises today. Number four, I will be constructing all of my voicings today, based on the C minor Dorian mode. And number five, I will be playing all demonstrations today all exercises using a temple of 140. Now I always recommend using slower temples. When practicing 6575 85. Use these slower tempos whenever you begin to physically explore a new jazz piano skill. I'm playing it today at 140 which is a snappy tempo, but I'm doing that literally just for the sake of time. Okay to keep this podcast is up within the hour. Okay, so this jazz piano skill lesson, as were the last two podcast episode lessons dealing with harmonizing the major and dominance scales. This jazz panel skills lesson harmonizing the minor scale 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 your jazz piano sound. If you are a jazz piano skills member, I want you to take a few minutes right now to download and print, the podcast packets, the illustrations and the lead sheets. You have access to all of the packets, podcast packets, you have access to them. And you should absolutely be using them when listening to this podcast episode. And of course, you should be using them when practicing. So if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, I Heart Radio, Pandora and so on, then be sure to go to jazz piano skills podcast.com. To download the podcast packets, you will find the links the active links for these podcast packets within the show notes. Now one other little but extremely important side note. If you are thinking that these lessons on harmonizing scales are over your head, then please, I want to encourage you to continue to listen, who cares if it is over your head, or jazz piano skills when initially introduced are over our heads. But we press forward right? We want to get our conceptual awareness, our conceptual understanding of any jazz piano skill, we want to get that understanding way out in front of our physical development. In other words, our musical growth always begins upstairs mentally before it can come out downstairs in your hands. So listen to this podcast lesson now. And be ready to physically explore and develop the harmonized minor scales later, right. Bottom line, you always want your jazz piano skill, your piano understanding to be way out in front of your physical skills always. In doing so, as I always like to say you you establish that dangling carrot that you are chasing. So very important. So do not feel intimidated in the least, that you may be listening to content that may be beyond where you are physically. That's how we begin the growth process. So hang in there and listen and enjoy. Okay, so let's begin. voicing number one, we're going to voice the melody the root, the C the note C as our melody up on top. So on my left hand I'm going to play E flat and a In my right hand, D, G, and C, up all force, okay, so I again, I have five notes, I use five note voicings to the left three in the right. So again, I have my E flat a, and my left hand my D, G, C, and my writing and treating C as My Melody note. So, now the second voicing treating the note D, the second note of the scale, as My Melody note, I have in my left hand, G and C. In my right hand, F, B flat, and D. Nice. So those two voicings side by side sound like this. Again, really nice, and again, five note voicings to the left, three and the right. So what I want to do is bring the ensemble in place these voicings within a musical context to see how they sound. So I'm going to start off by just playing each voicing, shifting from one shape to the next shape, and back and forth. Once I get comfortable with both voicings and moving back and forth, I'm going to begin applying various rhythmic motifs, rhythmic ideas to create some melodic vocabulary. So let's check it out. Let's see what we think that we can talk about it. Here we go. For every now nice, it's always amazing to me how you can take two voicings with a specific melodic note up on top and move those two shapes back and forth rhythmically. It's always amazing to me how much vocabulary is hidden within those two voicings utilizing those two shapes. So we're going to continue that process. But now we're going to pair up our third and our fourth of the minor scale. So we're going to put our E flat, the third up on top. So our voicing is going to be G and C and the left hand and the right hand I'm going to play F, B flat and E flat, My Melody note up on top classic minor voicing. For my fourth or my f as the melody, I'm going to play in my left hand a D in my right hand, G, C and forced straight up. So now those two voicings side by side sound like this. Again, really nice. So we want to once again bring the ensemble back in place these two voicings within a musical context, a musical setting and see how we like them. Once we get comfortable with the voicings moving from one shape to the next shape and back, back and forth. Then we're going to start I'm going to start applying some rhythmic variation to help develop melodic vocabulary. Okay, so let's check it out. Let's see what we think. Here we go. Very nice. Wow. Okay, so we're going to continue to march up the scale. Now we're going to place our fifth and our six together up here, our G and our A. So the voice and I'm going to use with my G as the melody in my left hand, I'm going to play the notes C and F. And in my right hand, B flat, E flat, and G. So it sounds like this. Again, another classic minor voicing. Now the melody note a the next note in the scale, I'm going to play in my left hand D, G, and then my right hand, I'm going to play C, F, and a sounds like this. Place those two voicings side by side. Again, great sounds indeed. So we're going to apply the exact same approach, we're going to bring the ensemble back in place these two voicings, the shapes within a musical context, I'm going to get used to first just playing the voicings side by side back and forth. Once I'm comfortable with the shapes, then I'm going to begin adding rhythmic variation to help me develop some melodic ideas. Alright, some jazz vocabulary. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out. And let's see what we think. Here we go. Okay, so we have now harmonize the first six notes of the C minor scale, the C Dorian scale. So we've harmonized the notes, C, D, E flat, F, G, and a, only one note left the seventh, a B flat. So I'm going to pair up pair the seventh with the six right so I'm going to use that voicing we just did, where we have D and G i have DJ my left hand and my right hand I have CF N A, for My Melody note a the voicing to support that note a and all I'm going to do is move that a up one half step everything remains the same. Just going to move the a one half step up to be flat. And now I have my seven voice. So those two, those two voicing side by side sound like this. Very nice, very easy, but yet very nice. So we're going to bring the ensemble back in place these shapes these two sounds within a musical context. Once I get comfortable with each shape, each voicing moving back and forth, you know the routine I begin to add some rhythmic variation to help me develop some melodic ideas using those two notes those those the note the six And the seventh harmonize. So let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out. And let's see what we think. Here we go. Wow. So cool. So now we've harmonize the entire C minor Dorian scale, which when we put it all together sounds like this. Come back down. We're going to deal with the scale a little later on in the podcast, but I just wanted you to quickly hear it all put together one long line, right. So now, you know after I pair up my voicings, right, I paired up the root with the second, third with the fourth, fifth with a six and a six with the seventh. I now like to create a three note grouping. So I want to go to my root, my second and my third. And in doing so, I've created a nice scale motion from the root up to the third. But I also now have arpeggio motion, if I skip from the root up to the third. So I have both types of motion, melodic motion, I have scale motion, and I have arpeggio motion. So my first three note grouping is going to be my C with my D, my E flat and back down. So I'm just going to get used to that motion. And I'm also going to get used to jumping from my seat for arpeggios. So I bring the ensemble back in and I do the exact same thing that we have been doing. I placed these shapes the sounds these voicings into a musical context, I get used to moving through all three voicings side by side. Then I begin to experiment rhythmically using scale motion and arpeggio motion to create melodic ideas and to develop jazz vocabulary. So let's see what we think. Let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out and see what we think. Here we go. Very nice. We don't have to travel farther than a third to create both scale motion and arpeggio motion. So we're going to do just that. Now continue to do just that. We're going to start with our third now. And we're going to group together a third, E flat to our fourth, our F to our fifth up to the note G so there's nice scale motion, arpeggio motion, scale arpeggio so you know the routine. Bring the ensemble back in. I'm going to play with those three voicings side by side. Get used to playing those shapes. Once I'm comfortable with each of the voicings side by side, I'm going to begin exploring rhythmic I is using both scale motion and arpeggio motion to create and develop the to discover, really to discover and develop jazz vocabulary. So here we go. Let's check it out. Wow, you know what's so great about the process that I'm laying out here right to note groupings? Three note groupings. Right, we've already we've already gone through this process with harmonizing the major scales. We've already gone through this process with harmonizing the dominant scales. Now we're doing the same process with the minor scales. How cool is How cool is this right that we have this formulaic? The systematic this methodical way to practice the harmonization of the scales, a formulaic way that can be replicated from scale to scale, and from a chord to chord within each scale. So again, I've stressed this many times throughout many of the podcast episodes, if you do not have a way of practicing, that can easily be replicated. From scale the scale from key to key from chord chord, then you have a flawed practice approach that will produce minimal, if any musical results. Okay, so now let's move on. Okay, so we've created a three note grouping from our root to our third, and then from our third to our fifth. Now we're going to move from our fifth to the sixth to the sub, my scale motion from the fifth up to the seventh. And then arpeggio motion from the fifth to the seventh. Again, we have scale and arpeggio motion. So we're gonna bring the ensemble back in, we're gonna place these voicings within a musical context, we're going to add some rhythmic variation, using scale and arpeggio motion to help us discover and develop some jazz vocabulary. So here we go. Let's check it out and see what we think. So now that we've explored the lower half of the sound, from the root to the seventh using three note groupings, we are now going to begin getting into the upper extensions into our 911 and 13. So we're going to, we're going to start with our seventh with our B flat, move to the root up to the ninth. So we get scale motion or arpeggio motion. Very nice. So same process, right, same methodical process, formulaic process. We're gonna bring the ensemble Back in Pisces voicings within a musical context within a musical setting, apply some rhythmic variation, some rhythmic motifs, to see what vocabulary, we can melodic vocabulary that we can discover and develop. So here we go. Let's check it out seventh to the ninth. Here we go. Not too shabby, right? It's pretty cool once we get into these upper extensions. So now we're actually going to begin with the knife. So our D is going to be our first melody note. Going to our third, our E flat, going up to our 11th, a note F, scale, or arpeggio motion. What to work with here, right? So, same process, bring the ensemble in, we get used to these shapes, moving in scale motion moving in arpeggio motion, applying various rhythmic ideas, rhythmic motifs, to do what discover melodic ideas that interesting have to apply rhythmic ideas in order to discover melodic ideas. No rhythm, no melody, just that simple. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's check it out. Let's see what we can discover and learn and play. Here we go. Only one more three note grouping to explore. This grouping has us beginning with the 11th. Note F on top of our voicing going to the fifth going to the 13 with the note a up on top. So we're on 11 nice scale motion and nice arpeggio motion. Again, tons to work with here. And we're floating up there on top of the sound, the 11th the 13th crate sounds. So we're going to apply our rhythmic variation again to discover some melodic ideas. So bring the ensemble in place these voicings within a musical context and let's have some fun. So here we go. Let's check it out. Very, very cool. We have now established three note groupings from the root to the third from the third to the fifth, fifth to the seventh, seventh to the ninth ninth to the 11th, and the 11th to the 13th. So we have now the ability to play an arpeggio from the root of the sound through the 13th 13th. We're gonna deal with that here shortly as well. But before we jump to the arpeggios, I want to focus on scale motion. So here's an exercise I like to do once I get comfortable with all of these voicings, and I get comfortable by placing them in two note groupings. And in three note groupings, just like I demonstrated and modeled here today, once I get comfortable with all the shapes, I then like to turn my attention to just technical development, technical skills, muscle memory. So now I'm just gonna practice playing the scale ascending. coarse, decent goes up must come down. So I'm just going to play an exercise where I move up and down the scale using whole notes, and then I'm going to reduce to half notes, and then two quarter notes. And of course, I would do this for an extended period of time. But for the sake of the podcast, and for the sake of time, you're going to hear me run through this rather quickly. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble in. And here's how I would practice my two handed harmonization voicings of the C minor scale, ascending and descending. Here we go. Let's check it out. Pretty darn nice right? fact you've been doing this type of practicing you find out rather quickly how well you know these voicings how quickly you can process the shapes and the sounds. under your fingers ascending and descending, it will illuminate for you rather quickly. Any weak weak voicings, any weak points that you need to focus on. I do the same thing using arpeggio motion. So I'm going to practice just from a technique perspective ascending through the arpeggio root starting with the root to 13th and then coming back down. So I'm going to do the exact same thing where I play the exercise when you start off playing each of the voicings using whole notes. Then I'm going to reduce it to half notes, and then reduce it once again to quarter notes. And once again, you'll find out rather quickly. Any weak voicings, any areas that need your immediate attention. So let's bring the ensemble back in and let's check out arpeggio motion from the root to the 13th of the sound using two handed contemporary voicings. Here we go. Let's check it out. It never fails. We always, always unpack a ton of information and each and every podcast episode. And each and every jazz piano lesson and today was certainly no exception, harmonized minor scales, as are the harmonized major and dominant scales that we covered the past two weeks. The harmonized minor scales without doubt, they are an essential jazz piano skill that will require much thought, intense study and of course relentless practice. But I want to remind you here is the cool thing, all of the voicings I use today to harmonize the minor scale, are voicings that you already know and have under your fingers. If you have listened to and practice the primary major dominant minor, half diminished and diminished voicings that I presented in the jazz podcast series as that I launched and started back in November of 2020 November 10 2020. Also, if your jazz panel skills member, I would encourage you to take some time and study study courses 21 through 26, as well check out the video demonstrations for all 12 major dominant minor half diminished and diminished contemporary voicings. I always want always want to encourage you to map out these voicings on paper as well use the podcast packets, the illustrations and the lead sheets to guide you. The illustrations that you have in your hands that you've downloaded and that you have in your hand, include a paper practice template that you can use for mapping out the harmonization of all 12 minor scales. Most of all, I want to encourage all of you please be patient. This is a big time jazz piano skill that will take time to digest both mentally and physically. structure your physical practice after the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you today in this podcast episode. And I promise you you will begin to see you will begin to feel and you will begin to hear your musical progress. Well I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the harmonization of minor scales to be insightful and of course, beneficial don't forget if you're a jazz panel skills member I will see you online Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the harmonization of minor scales in greater detail and to answer any question that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, as a jazz panel skills member Be sure to use the educational podcast packets download them the illustrations, the lead sheets, the player logs for this podcast lesson and for all of the podcast lessons. Also be sure to use the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community get involved and contribute to the various forums make some new jazz piano friends. Always a fantastic thing to do never forget the greatest thing about music is the people that you will meet through it. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my office extension is 211 can reach me by email Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com that's Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills calm or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano Handle skills website. Well, there's my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the harmonization of the minor scales. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano
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