This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores using Inverted Melodic Major Shapes melodically for improvising.
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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 discover, learn, play Inverted Melodic Major Shapes. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
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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 inverted melodic shapes for the major sound. You're going to learn how to construct inverted melodic major shapes using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion. And you are going to play inverted melodic major shapes, using enclosures in all 12 keys to develop jazz vocabulary for improvising. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner and intermediate player and advanced player or even if you are inexperienced professional, you will find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring inverted melodic major shapes to be very beneficial. If you are a new listener to the jazz piano skills podcast, I want to personally invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. 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Again, visit jazz piano skills comm to learn more about all of the educational opportunities, and how to easily activate your jazz piano skills membership. If you have any questions, 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 the inverted melodic shapes for the major sound. To begin, I want to address one of the biggest hurdles that all aspiring jazz pianists have to jump both mentally and physically. The ability to establish a Nexus a link between harmony and melody and to do so in such a way that the two harmony and melody actually become one. Now, if you haven't yet made a correlation between harmony and melody, then do not panic. This is actually a big time skill that begins with simply being consciously aware of this inseparable relationship. And that is exactly what this podcast episode this podcast lesson is going to do. Today we are going to discover, learn and play harmony as melody as one. Here is an important musical fact that you must know all musical sounds can be played harmonically and melodically. In other words, all major dominant minor half diminished and diminished sounds can be played harmonically as a chord and melodically as an arpeggio or scale. spend time thinking about this musical fact and let it sink in because we should be practicing in such a way that we are developing this essential jazz piano skill to be able to play all musical sounds, harmonically and melodically. Here is an analogy that you may find helpful if I went into a classroom, of kindergarten students, with a block of ice in one hand, and a jug of water, in my other hand, and then I asked those kindergarteners, if I had the same thing in both of my hands, they would emphatically answer No. And why? Well, because first of all their little ones and, and they have not yet developed the cognitive skills, the cognitive abilities, to understand that the same thing can appear in two different forms. So just as water can be both a solid and liquid, musical sound can be both a solid and a liquid. Harmony is a solid, a chord, and melody is a liquid arpeggios and scales. Once you understand music in this way, you begin to see harmony and melody as being one and the same. You see harmony and melody as the very same thing. However, in this is a big, however, to solidify this relationship, you must practice this relationship. And that is exactly what we are going to do today. So let's get started. Okay, today, I am going to deal with the major sound only. Of course, I'll deal with the other primary sounds of music in future podcast episodes, but for today, it's all major. Also, I will be modeling everything today using C major, C major and root position, C major and first inversion, C major and second inversion, and C major in third inversion. Now, if you are not familiar with inversions, or simply need to do a little brushing up, then I would recommend spending time with the jazz piano skills course. Two, that deal specifically with each of the 12 major chords in root position, and inversions. You can watch video demonstrations which you will find to be very helpful, and they will get you on track quickly. So let's begin with C major in root position, C E, G, B. I'm going to play the C major sound melodically in my right hand using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion. Let's stop here for a second. Let's just let's just stop here for a second and think about what I just said. What an odd comment. I said I'm going to play a chord in root position melodically. Typically, when we hear of anyone speaking of chords in root position, or any inverted shape, we tend to immediately begin thinking harmonically. This is an assumption of a habit that needs to come to an end and do so quickly. And that is the entire point of today's jazz piano skills podcast episode. Today's lesson, I want you to begin thinking about harmonic shapes, root position, first inversion, second inversion third inversion melodically because if you do And you will, your improvisational skills will skyrocket. Just a quick FYI as I am playing harmonic shapes melodically today, I will be using contemporary shell voicings in my left hand. You can choose to use any voicing you wish because our focus is going to be completely on our right hand and plain inverted melodic shapes. However, if you need to do some voicing study, then spend time with jazz piano skills courses 17 through 26. those courses are going to help you with traditional shell voicings and contemporary shell voicings. I'm going to approach playing the C major sound melodically as an exercise only, I am not going to improvise. I'm not going to try to do anything fancy at all. I want to focus on playing the shape the harmonic shape melodically in time, no rushing and using a proper jazz articulation and feel. So I am going to begin with ascending and descending arpeggio motion. I will repeat the shape several times. So I can accurately assess my consistency. And then I will begin to play ascending and descending scale motion. Again focusing on playing the shape the harmonic shape melodically in time and using the proper jazz articulation and feel. And once again, I will repeat the shape the melodic shapes several times. So I can accurately assess my consistency. So let's bring the ensemble in and check it out. Then we can talk about it. Here we go. Now my initial approach to playing each of the major shapes melodically should begin making sense to you. I always begin the process of practicing. The shapes have a sound melodically using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion from the bottom note of the shape to the top note of the shape. Again, as an exercise, allowing me to digest the sound and the shape conceptually, orally and physically. All three, all three conceptual, oral and physical must be actively engaged and in sync with each other in order for progress to occur. Okay, with that being said, let's move on to the next harmonic shape, C major and first inversion it's going to be E, G, B, and C. Now, I just said that I practice the harmonic shapes of sound melodically using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion from the bottom note of the harmonic shape to the top note of the harmonic shape. So in this case, my first inversion arpeggio will begin with the note E and end with the note C. And my scale motion with two the same. Begin with the note E and in with the note C. So my arpeggio is going to sound like this and my scale is gonna sound Unlike this, both begin with E and end with C. It's important for me to note that I'm always going to remain faithful to the harmonic shape when playing the arpeggios, and scales. In other words, my scale Well, my scale will use only the notes that fall in between the bottom note of the harmonic shape, and the top note of the harmonic shape. In doing so I illuminate the Nexus, the link between harmony and melody, I begin to see them as one. So let's bring in the ensemble and play the C major sound melodically in first inversion. And again, as I did with the C major sound and root position, I am going to begin with ascending and descending arpeggio motion. I will repeat the melodic shapes several times, so I can accurately assess my consistency. And then I will begin to play ascending and descending scale motion. Again, focusing on playing the shape melodically in time, and using a proper jazz articulation and feel. And once again, I will repeat this shape several times, so I can accurately assess my consistency. So let's check it out. And then we can talk about it. Here we go. Pretty cool stuff. My approach should really begin making sense to you now. We have four major harmonic shapes, root position, first inversion, second inversion, third inversion. I want to get a handle on each of these shapes each of these harmonic shapes melodically using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion. We're focusing on the harmonic shape. hope that makes sense, right? Again, trying to see both as one I want to do so by playing in time, no rushing and using a proper jazz articulation and feel. Now we have looked at C major and root position and first inversion, two melodic shapes down and two to go. So let's tackle C major in second inversion, G, B, C, and E. And again, as I did with the C major sound and root position first inversion. I'm going to begin with ascending and descending arpeggio motion. I will repeat the shape several times so I can accurately assess my consistency. And then I will begin to play ascending and descending scale motion. Again, focusing on playing the harmonic shape melodically in time using a proper jazz articulation and feel. And once again, I will repeat the shape several times the melodic shape several times. So I can accurately assess my consistency. And just a reminder, my arpeggio is going to begin on the note G and end on the note E. My scale is going to begin on the note G and end on the note E so my arpeggio and my scale. Right? So let's check it out. And then we can talk about it here. Here we go. Again, I want to stress that I practice the harmonic shapes of sound of logically using ascending and descending arpeggio and scale motion from the bottom note of the harmonic shape to the top note of the harmonic shape. So in the case of the second inversion, which I just played arpeggio motion started with the note G and ended with the note E, and the scale motion did the exact same. It began with the note G and ended with the note E. Remember, always remain faithful to the harmonic shape. When playing the arpeggios and scales, scales will use only the notes that fall in between the bottom note of the harmonic shape and the top note of the harmonic shape and in doing so, illuminate the correlation between harmony and melody. We need to see them harmony and melody as one. The final harmonic shape is C major in third inversion, B, C, E, and G. Different harmonic shape, same melodic approach. I begin with ascending and descending arpeggio motion repeating the shape several times. In order to accurately assess my consistency, that I will begin to play ascending and descending scale motion. Again, focusing on playing the harmonic shape melodically in time and using a proper jazz articulation and feel. And once again, I repeat the shapes several times so I can accurately assess my consistency. And again, the bottom note of my arpeggio will be the note B. The top note of my arpeggio will be the note G. The bottom note of my scale will be the note B. The top note on my scale will be the note G. So my arpeggio B to G, my scale B to G. Okay, so let's check it out C major in third inversion, and then we can talk about here we go. Now that we have practiced each of the C major harmonic shapes melodically it's time to musically camouflage the arpeggios and scales. And why is this important? Before I answer that question, let me stress the importance of two A very important musical facts, there's a lot of important stuff. Right? So listen to these two important musical facts number one. There are only two types of melodic motion found in music, arpeggio and scale. I'm going to say that again, there are only two types of melodic motion found in music, arpeggio and scale. A number two, there are only two directions. A melodic line can travel up or down. So important that these two musical facts that you know these two musical facts and that you allow them to govern your practicing. In other words, your practice approach should always illuminate harmony and melody as one. And it should always encompass ascending and descending arpeggio and scale, motion, arpeggio and scale motion that travels up and down. But, but when improvising, we cannot just simply go up and down arpeggios and scales right? Well, in essence, in essence, that's exactly what jazz musicians do. But you would never know it. And why? Because professional jazz musicians who are proficient improvisers know how to artistically camouflage, arpeggios and scales so that they do not sound like arpeggios and scales. One way professional jazz musicians do this is with the insertion of enclosures, lower and upper neighboring tones and closures around specific target notes. And that is exactly what I want to do right now. I want to add lower and upper neighboring tones and closures to the first note of each of the four melodic shapes. root, the third, the fifth in the summit. But before we dig in, it's important that I take a second and explain enclosures. enclosures approach the selected target note, the root the third, the fifth is seven using a lower neighboring tone, one half step below the target note followed by an upper neighboring tone, the closest diatonic note above the target note and then followed by arpeggio and scale motion. Or I should say arpeggio or scale motion of the sound. So back to the beginning, we go back to C major. With focus being placed on the root of the sound. I'm going to add an enclosure around the note C, which will use the lower neighboring tone one half step below the note C, which is the note B and the first diatonic note above the note C, which will be the note D. I am going to practice playing the enclosure around the note C followed by an ascending arpeggio just like that. And then I will play some space. I will play silence and then repeat the pattern a couple more times. Then, I will begin playing the closure followed by a descending arpeggio followed by space. And yes, I will repeat the pattern a couple more times. Remember, repetition allows us to accurately measure accurately assess our consistency, articulation, feel and time. So this shouldn't be fun. So let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's check it out. Here we go. Love it at this point I can really begin seeing and hearing how my harmonic vision, my ability to see harmony as melody is starting to pay off. I am beginning to develop some very nice jazz vocabulary for improvising. So now let's utilize the same formulaic process however this time. Let's exit the enclosure using scale motion. Right? I cannot wait. The ensemble is ready. So let's get to it. Here we go. How awesome is this approach? Yes, we are using a formulaic approach to creating patterns to help us develop jazz vocabulary, formulas, to patterns to improvisation. It's an incredible 123 punch. Another way of stating this process is conceptual understanding, to physical development, to musical creativity. Yep. If you are a regular listener to jazz piano skills, you know that I have been preaching this process from the very beginning. Your conceptual understanding determines your physical development, and thus your musical results. It all begins upstairs mentally, before it comes out downstairs physically. Ultimately, it is your mind your mental approach to music that escorts your hands in your ears, to new musical ideas. And this is precisely why I constantly remind all of you all jazz piano skills listeners, that if your conceptual understanding of music is incorrect or skewed in any way, your physical development, your musical results will be severely limited or simply non existent. Another important point I want to make having a formulaic approach to creating patterns to help us develop jazz vocabulary allows us to easily replicate the process not only from sound to sound from chord to chord, but within the harmonic structure itself. And that is what I am going to model right now. I am going to apply the very same formulaic approach that I used with the root of the sound being my entry point. And now apply it to the third of the sound. I am going to begin with an enclosure around the third followed by ascending and descending arpeggio motion. So let's do this. Here we go check this out. Pretty darn cool, right? You know what is next, the exact same approach but now we are going to exit the enclosure with ascending and descending scale motion. So without any further ado, let's do this. Here we go. Simply awesome. What do you think I'm going to do next? You should be feeling pretty good about yourself because you're starting to conceptually understand a legitimate process to practicing jazz piano. You are starting to move away from random practice sessions to organized and methodical practice sessions that produce real musical results. So congratulations. So now let's apply the very same formulaic approach of playing harmonic shapes melodically with the fifth of the major sound being our entry point. The enclosure is placed around the fifth followed by ascending and descending arpeggio motion. So here we go. Let's check this out. What can I say? At this point I, I don't need to say anything. Let's continue on and play our enclosure around the fifth followed by ascending and descending scale motion. All right, here we go. Again, I need not say anything, and you know exactly what is next same formulate process applied to a different entry point. The seventh arpeggio motion is first, followed by a scale motion in the following exercise. So let's do this. Here we go. enclosures placed around the seventh arpeggio motion first, and then scale motion. Let's check it out. See, you got it. Your job now is to apply everything I just walked you through to the remaining 11 major courts. Now, before you freak out, I want to make this a very important point. Think of this like furniture that you have to put together which by the way, I strongly recommend that you never buy furniture that you have to put together. And here's why. I don't know about you. But whenever I purchase furniture that I have to put together it takes me all day. And once I am done, I always say to myself, Well, too bad I don't have additional items of this same piece of furniture because I can now actually put it together in 10 minutes instead of 10 hours. Because I now know what the heck I'm doing. Well the same holds true in music, especially when you are using a formulaic approach to practicing jazz piano skills. That can easily then be replicated. It gets easier, easier, faster and faster. From chord to chord, from sound to sound. Now, I want to take just a few minutes to pull back the curtain for you just a little bit so that you can hear where all of this pattern practice is going. To do this I am going to play a 251 progression D minor seven g7 to C major seven so that you can hear these melodic shapes these patterns within a musical context. I am going to begin with arpeggio motion. When playing the 251 progression, I am going to play nothing over the two chord, nothing over the five chord and then play the melodic shapes patterns over the one core. Why? Because I want your undivided attention to be placed on what is happening on the one chord. So here we go to five one in the key of C major with ascending and descending arpeggios. Launching from the root, from the third from the fifth, and from the seventh of the sound using enclosures to help me camouflage the arpeggio motion. This is going to be a ton of fun. So check this out. Here we go. I could literally do this. I'm not kidding, I could literally do this all day long. Nothing more fun than practicing improvisation. Nothing more fun than practicing creativity. Now let's do the same to five one progression, but use ascending and descending scale motion, launching from the root, third, fifth and seventh of the sound. And once again, using enclosures to help camouflage the scale motion. So here we go. Let's check this out. Wow. Have we covered a ton of ground today? We always do. But today, we covered a ton of ground. But before I wrap things up, I want to share with you some pearls of wisdom from jazz educator legend Jerry Coker from his book titled complete method of improvisation. On page 23 pot halfway down the page. Mr Coker says this about practicing harmonic shapes melodically about practicing patterns, patterns, and then sales are not very creative. Mr. Coker says though they often serve as springboards for creative melodies. Yet a casual glance at virtual Li ne transcribed improvise solo. Did you catch that a casual glance? At virtually any transcribed, improvise solo will quickly reveal a notable presence of patterns and other common cliches. The patterns were acquired by the improviser in practice, rather than performance. That is to say the pattern was practiced apart from any specific song in preparation for improvisation, and repeated a sufficient number of times in practice. So, the pattern becomes a habitual aural, memory and physical experience that carries over into performance naturally, and not as contrived practice. Wow. Such pearls of wisdom from jazz legend, Jerry Coker. practicing these harmonic shapes melodically as patterns will take you very very far in developing your jazz piano skills, and skyrocket as I mentioned earlier, your ability to improvise like a jazz pianist, like a professional jazz pianist. Well, I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring inverted melodic shapes for the major sound 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. 8pm, central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson, inverted melodic shapes in greater detail, and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Again, 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 in the jazz piano school skills community. Get involved and contribute to the various forums 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, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz panel skills website. Well, there's my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the journey. Enjoy the inverted melodic shapes. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano