This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores a Key of C Major Melodic Workout (C Major Modes plus inverted Melodic Arpeggios from various entry points)
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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 a Key of C Major Melodic Workout. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
A Key of C Major Melodic Workout
How to "think" within the Key of C Major, Melodically
The Modes of the Key of C Major plus Inverted Melodic Arpeggios from various entry points (Root, 3rd, 5th, 7th).
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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. Last week, we tackled a pretty extensive workout in the key of C major, focusing on harmonic development. Well as promised, this week, we are going to dive into another extensive workout in the key of C major This time, however, melodically so today you are going to discover a key of C major melodic workout, you're going to learn how to think within the key of C major melodically and you're going to play the modes of the key of C major plus inverted melodic arpeggios from various entry points the root, the third, the fifth, the seventh. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner an intermediate player, and advanced player, or even if you are an experienced and seasoned professional, you are going to find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring a key of C major melodic workout to be very beneficial. If you are new to jazz piano skills. If you are a first-time jazz panel skills podcast listener I want to take as I always do just a couple of minutes here at the beginning of the podcast to invite you. To become a jazz piano skills member. All you got to do is visit jazz piano skills.com. You'll learn more about all the abundance of jazz educational resources and materials and services that are available to help you become an accomplished jazz pianist. For example, all of the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets to play alongs that I developed for each and every weekly podcast episode are available for all jazz panel skills members. These are invaluable educational tools that you want at your fingertips when listening to the podcast and while practicing at the piano as well. Also, as a jazz piano skills member, you have access to the online sequential jazz piano curriculum. Now this is a curriculum loaded with comprehensive courses, all of them using a self-paced format. Educational talks there are interactive media video demonstrations and all 12 keys of the jazz piano skills being taught. Also, play alongs and much much more. Also, as a jazz piano skills member, you have a reserved seat in the online weekly masterclasses, which I host every week. And in essence, each masterclass is a one-hour online lesson with me. And also as a jazz panel skills member you have access to the community the jazz panel skills community which hosts a variety of engaging forums, podcast-specific forums, course-specific forums, and of course just general jazz piano forums as well. And as I always say, last but certainly not least, you have as a jazz panel skills member you have unlimited, private, personal, and professional educational support whenever and as often as you need it. So take a couple of minutes to visit jazz panel skills.com To learn more about all the educational opportunities that await you. Activate your membership there are several plans to choose from I'm confident there's one that's going to fit you perfectly. If you have any questions or need assistance at all, please do not hesitate to let me know. I'm always happy to help in any way that I can. Okay, so let's discover learn to play jazz piano Let's get after this key of C major melodic workout. Last week we tackled an extensive key of C major harmonic workout where we strategically looked at various ways to methodically practice voicings within the framework of the key of C major. We took the seven chords of the key C major D minor, E minor, F major G dominant,
a minor B half diminished, and we played them using standard block shapes and root position plus first, second and third inversion versions. We then explored the traditional three notes shell structures the 379 and 735 voicings along with the contemporary chordal shells. And on top of that, I also outlined my primary two-handed voicings for each of the chords of C Major as well. So not only did we take a close look at each one of these voicing types, we then applied them to the most common to the two most common chord progressions in all of jazz the 251 progression and the 36251 progression. Without a doubt, it was a pretty extensive and exhaustive harmonic workout. Well, today we are going to get after it again, but do so melodically. You know, when it comes to mo Hadik development, I have discovered that most students do not even know where to begin. In fact, students typically begin at the end of the process instead of the beginning, which is of course, backwards. Or as my dad always used to like to say you got the cart ahead of the horse. And what I mean by this is that students typically grab transcriptions to begin developing their melodic plane, before they even have a command or grasp of basic and fundamental diatonic shapes. Now, don't get me wrong, transcriptions are fantastic. They are as I'd like to say windows into the minds of great players that unveil creative ideas that help us develop jazz language. But if we are unable to think and play in a key if we are not familiar with the diatonic shapes of a key both harmonically and melodically and we are jumping into transcriptions, then I would have to quote my dad and say, Whoa, we've got the cart ahead of the horse. So the whole point of last week's podcast lesson and this week's podcast lesson is to make sure that we have things in proper order to make sure that our priority first and foremost, should be about gaining a functional command of keys, harmonically and melodically. And that is precisely why I'm going to throughout 2022, I'm going to present to you a harmonic and melodic workout for each of the 12 keys. So the educational agenda for today is as follows. Number one, we are going to explore the key of C major melodically. Number two we are going to play essential melodic shapes that you need to discover learn and play. In other words, we are going to discover learn and play the modes and arpeggios from various entry points from various perspectives. Number three, we are going to play two absolutely essential harmonic progressions using the various melodic shapes we're going to play the 251 progression and the 36251 progression. And number four in total, I am going to introduce to you 26 Key specific melodic exercises that you can use to help you gain a melodic mastery of the key of C
major. If you are a jazz piano skills member I want you to take a few minutes right now to download and print the illustrations and the lead sheets packet right hit the pause button. Access the lead sheet and the illustrations podcast packet. Now you have access to all the podcast packets. And as I remind you every week you should absolutely be using them when listening to this podcast episode. And of course when practicing at the piano. And if you are listening to this podcast on any of the popular podcast directories such as Apple or Google, Amazon, Spotify, iHeartRadio, Pandora, and on and on and on, then be sure to go to jazz piano skills podcast.com to download the podcast packets, you will find the download links within the show notes. And one final but extremely important note that I mentioned every week that if for some reason you are thinking that The key of C major melodic workout that we are about to discover learn in play is going to be some way in some way over your head. Or even if you think it's going to be all the way over your head, then I would say to you just relax. It's okay. Continue to listen, continue to grow your jazz piano skills intellectually, by listening to this podcast episode, the fact is, all skills are over our heads when first introduced, and that is precisely why the first step in growing as a jazz musician is, is listening. Right all musical growth begins upstairs mentally, conceptually, before it can come out downstairs physically in your hands. So sit back, relax, and listen to this podcast lesson now to discover and learn. And I promise you, the play will come in time. Okay, so I want you to grab your lead sheets packet and printed them out. If printed it out, you see that you have 26 exercises in your hands. And I want you to pull up and look at exercise number one ascending modes with route entry. So as you see there on your lead sheet, there are rehearsal markings, right, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. So the way this is set up and structured is that you should be practicing each one of those sections, right isolated, and repeat several times. But for the podcast, I'm going to actually play through the exercise, I'm actually going to play through it as written there on the on the lead sheet right each section I'm going to repeat twice, but you'll see that I'm ascending through the chords of the key C major to D minor, to E minor, to F major and so on. And I'm playing the entire mode from the root to the seventh, right, my entry point is the root my destination point is seven. And I want to play this mode this scale. For each of the chords I want to play with a nice relaxed and relaxed jazz feel, I'm going to use a Basa groove at one tempo 130 It's going to be nice and relaxed. In fact, when I say nice and relaxed, you know if you've been practicing, I would recommend as you've heard me say many times slower tempos. But I'm going to play today demonstrate everything at a tempo of 130. So what I want to do right now is I just want to bring the ensemble and you got the exercise one in front of you follow along. And listen as I play these modes through the entire key of C major I'm gonna play each mode twice. So here we go. Let's check it out.
Nice, right, nice and relaxed, nice feel on each mode. Now in your left hand. Remember the harmonic workout that we did last week, you can be playing a traditional block type of voicing in your left hand if you'd like play one of the traditional shells if you'd like or contemporary shell. The voicing you can choose whichever voicing style that you'd like, right, but you're gonna play the voice in your left hand you're gonna play the mode or the scale in your right hand. Now look at exercise two, three, and 423, and four, you'll see their setup and structure the exact same way. However, the entry point shifts. So an exercise to the entry point is going to be the third your destination point is going to be the ninth of each mode of each sound, right C major D minor, and so forth. In exercise three, the entry point shifts to the fifth and goes to the 11th of each sound. And then an exercise for the entry point is the seventh of the mode or of the scale and goes To the 13th of each sound. Alright, so same process for exercises one through four, I'm only going to play out plane one, exercise one today, but it's the same approach for exercises two, three, and four, as well. So now look at exercise five, grab that lead sheet, we're back to a Root Entry, everything should look the same. But notice the direction of our melodic line. We start with the root, but it's descending. So our C major is started on the root of the sound and descending down to the ninth of the sound. And then the D minor mode, the Dorian mode starting on the root, the D, and descends down to the ninth, the note E. So again, same process, right, I'm going to repeat each one of these sections twice, using descending scale motion for each one of my modes. And again, I would encourage you to isolate each section and repeat several times, it's not just about getting the mode or the scale under your hand or seeing the motor scale from a different perspective. It's also playing with the correct time and the correct feel, need to sound like a jazz pianist. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble and let's listen to exercise five descending modes. With a root entry here we go check it out.
I love it. Now some of you might be thinking that this is way too easy. Which everybody always does, it's too easy. It's always easy until you have to play it. It's always easy to play, it's always easy to think that just straight-up moves playing straight up the mode or straight down the mode or the scale is easy, until you have to do it in time. So again, as I did last week, I would encourage you do not bypass these exercises, thinking making the mistake and thinking that they're too easy. Because the reality of it is they're not. So now look at your lead sheet seven, I'm sorry, six, seven, and eight, exercises six, seven, and eight. Again, as we did with our ascending motion, we're going to shift our entry point to the third to the fifth and to the seventh of the sound or the scale or the mode. Right so in exercise six, we have a third entry. Exercise. Seventh are the fifth is our entry point. And then an exercise eight, the entry point is the seventh of the sound. Okay, so I'm not gonna play through for the sake of time, I'm not gonna play through each one of these, but it's gonna follow the exact same structure that I just demonstrate for you with exercise five, descending root movement, okay. So now grab exercise nine, right, we've already learned in with our scale motion that what goes up must come down. Well, the other type of motion that we have in jazz is melodic motion is arpeggio motion. So in exercise nine, we're going to start with us sending snd motion using arpeggios. So now, each one of our sections, section A, B, C, D, and E. So on, each section utilizes arpeggio motion. So the arpeggio is going to consist of the root, third, fifth and seventh of each sound of the C Major, the D minor, E minor, F major and you can see that notated here on your lead sheet. So once again, I want to bring in the ensemble I'm going to focus on practicing and playing these arpeggios with a nice relaxed jazz feel ascending from the root entry of each one of my chords of each one of my sounds. So here we go, let's check it out and see what we think.
Again, may sound simple on the surface until we have to play it. So do not bypass this exercise nice and relaxed arpeggio motion from the root to the seventh of the sound for each chord of the key. So now look at exercises 1011 and 12. Again, all ascending arpeggio motion, but our entry point changes, and exercise 10 the entry point is the third. And it moves up to the root where using these inverted shapes, inverted shapes. So you're you're moving eg B and C. Right, D minor, E minor. So from the third up to the root on each chord, and exercise 11 We're going to be traveling from the fifth, up to the third, and exercise 12 from the seventh, up to the fifth. Again, these are your inverted shapes, root position first, second and third inversion. So now look at exercise 13 Grab that lead sheet. And as I mentioned earlier, what goes up must come down. So we are going to start with our descending arpeggios with a Root Entry. So C major starting from the root the C and coming down to the third of the sound, the note E and then doing the same thing for D minor Root Entry. Coming down to the third the note F E minor Root Entry coming down to the third the note G and so on. So let's bring the ensemble and let's listen to exercise 13 descending arpeggio motion Root Entry from each chord found in the key of C major here we go let's check it out.
And I suppose you already know what's coming right? different entry points going to do the same descending arpeggio motion but now exercise 14 has us descending from the third of each sound. Alright, exercise 15 has us descending from the fifth of each sound, and exercise 16 has us descending using descending arpeggio motion from the seventh of each sound or each chord within the key of C major. Great workout indeed. Okay, so we have now thoroughly looked at each chord found in the key of C major and we have utilized scale motion, ascending and descending from the root, third, fifth, and seventh of each mode, each chord. And we've also done the same ascending and descending arpeggio motion from the root, third, fifth, and seventh of each chord found in the key of C major. So now that we've explored our ascending and descending scale motion, it's time to drop our skills into the context of harmonic motion. So of course, what better progression to turn our attention to other than the iconic 251 progression. So grab exercise 17 And you will see each section for rehearsals sections here a B, C and D 2512. Quarters lasting for a measure five chord four measure the C major the one chord for two measures. Notice in section A, the Root Entry is the is the root entry. The entry point is the root on our D minor chord, section B, the entry point is the third section C, the entry point is the fifth, and Section D, the entry point is the seventh of our two-chord. Okay, notice the direction of the line. Ascending motion on the minor are the two-chord descending motion on the five, the dominant chord and ascending motion on the one on the C major right so getting used to using our scale motion playing these modes using ascending alternating ascending, and descending motion. After all, that's what great melodies do they have a balance between ascending and descending motion. So we're going to practice that so let's bring the ensemble and I'm going to play each line each section twice through just as written there on the lead sheet so here we go let's check it out.
Nice, absolutely love it starting to sound like music now right since we dropped this scale motion these modes into the context of a 251 progression using methodically using ascending and descending motion, we're starting to get somewhere. So now look at exercise 18 going to do the exact same thing but instead of using ascending descending ascending motion through our 251 progression, we are going to do the opposite. We're going to go descending, ascending descending motion through our 251 progression, we're still going to utilize our the route as our entry point for Section A, section B, our third becomes the entry point Section C. The fifth is our entry point and Section D. The seventh is our entry point. So let's bring the ensemble and let's check it out. See what we think here we go.
Now that we've used ascending and descending, and descending ascending arpeggio, I mean scale motion through our 251 progression. Now let's ratchet it up a little bit, let's let's look at our 36251 progression and do the same thing. So I want to draw your attention to exercise 19. You'll see there again, four sections A, B, C, and D, the progression is a 36251 progression in the key of C major. And Section A, our entry point is going to be the root of our E minor or our three chord section B's going to be the third is our entry point, Section C. The fifth is our entry point and Section D. The seventh is our entry point. But again, we're using ascending and descending of alternating ascending and descending motion as the 36251 progression unfolds, right. So I want you to follow along I'm going to bring the ensemble back in and listen to these lines as I play these modes through the 36251 progression, ascending descending ascending motion, here we go.
Very nice. So now look at exercise 20. Right, we're going to just reverse the process instead of ascending descending snd motion, we're going to reverse it just like we did with the 251 progression. We're going to start with descending motion, ascending, followed by descending. And we're going to use the same format again, route entry Section A on our E minor, section B third entry Section C, fifth entry, and Section D. The seventh entry is our entry point right, the root third, fifth and seventh of our E minor seven are our three chord and we're going to play our 36251 Using our voicings and our left hand while we play this alternating descending and ascending descending motion and our right-hand scale motion are you utilizing the modes right so here we go. Let's have a little fun with this let's check it out and see what we think here we go.
So we have now looked at the 251 progression and the 36251 progression utilizing scale motion alternating ascending and descending scale motion and alternating descending and ascending scale motion. So thorough workout. So what we've what we do for the scales for scale motion we must do for arpeggio motion as well. So I want to draw your attention to exercise 21 Grab that lead sheet. So we're back to our 251 progression. And again four sections to the exercise Section A B C and D, section A or Arpeggios are going to start with The route movement, our route entry on our two-chord, our D minor, section B, our entry point will be the third section C, our entry point is the fifth and Section D, our entry point is the seventh, we're going to use alternating ascending and descending arpeggio motion. So here's where you really kind of get the test your skills with how well you understand these basic harmonic structures, these block structures for each of these chords and root position first, second, and third inversion because we're gonna have to draw upon that knowledge to play these exercises. So let's pull the ensemble back in and let's listen to exercise 21 And then we will talk about it here we go.
Nice and just so you know the way I structure these arpeggios when I ascend when I'm at the top note of an arpeggio, ascending motion, I will descend to the nearest chord tone, I will select the chord tone and nearest chord tone on the descending side. And then I always select the nearest chord tone on the ascending side to start each one of my arpeggios whether they're ascending or descending. I hope that makes sense, right, I'm always moving to the note, closest chord tone of the next chord on either the ascending and descending side depending on which direction I'm moving. So now look at exercise 22. Now we're just going to reverse our motion instead of ascending descending, we're going descending ascending or descending motion through our 251 progression. But what remains the same section A, the route is our entry point Section B. The third is our entry point Section C. The fifth is our entry point and Section D. The seventh is our entry point. So it kind of creates a domino effect how these arpeggios unfold is dependent upon the entry point of our two-chord. Okay, so let's bring our sample back in. Let's check this exercise out here we go.
Only two more exercises to go and they are doozies. They are going to test your skills. So grab exercise 23 Now we move to the 36251 progression move back to the 36251 progression except this time we're going to use our ascending and descending arpeggio motion. And again four sections Section A, B, C, and D. Root Entry section a third entry Section B fifth entry Section C and seventh entry Section D for based on our E minor seven chord or Three chord, you really have to know your root position chords and their three inversions. Well, this is a tricky exercise. I'm playing it at 130. But I strongly encourage you to work it out at much slower tempo. So you can see these chords unfold melodically. Right. You want to be able to see these chords melodically I call it harmonic vision. How well do you see the harmony in the melodic line? So let's bring out Sutherlin let's check it out here we go.
I told you tricky very tricky. Likewise, the very last exercise today exercise 24 Grab that lead sheet is just as tricky. All we're doing is reversing our arpeggiated motion or instead of ascending descending, we're going to be going descending ascending motion through our 36251 progression. Again, section A Root Entry Section B third entry Section C. fifth entry Section D seventh entry Wow Here we go. Let's check it out.
Wow, what a workout. And as always, we have unpacked a ton of information, right within an hour always. And certainly, today was no exception, no exception at all. As we explore the key of C major melodic workout I cannot. I cannot stress to you enough how important it is that you spend time becoming familiar with the diatonic melodic shapes of a key. Alright, the seven chords of a key and their diatonic melodic shapes and having a command of ascending and descending scale motion, and arpeggio motion within the framework of a key modes is a huge step towards developing mature improvisation skills. Having a command of ascending and descending arpeggio motion outlining the harmonic shapes of a key, which we also frequently reference as melody is equally important. Then being able to easily apply the ascending descending scale and arpeggio shapes of a key to common chord progressions within the key such as the 251 in the 36251 progression. It's a big-time jazz panel skill that must be strategically studied and practiced if you are serious about becoming an accomplished jazz pianist. Now combine last week's key of C major harmonic workout with this week's key of C major melodic workout. And you have an incredible one-two punch that will have you well on your way to mastering the key of C major. And not only that, it will solidify for you a practice blueprint that can be replicated in the other 11 keys, which is exactly what we are going to what we're going to do throughout 2022. I said it last week, and I want to stress it again today. If you hang in there with me this year, as we do this serious grunt work, you're going to experience a ton of jazz piano growth, and you will love where you are musically a year from now. That's absolutely, for sure. And once again, I want to encourage you to use the podcast packets, the illustrations, the lead sheets that we walk through today, right use them the illustrations have some beautiful templates to use to be able to map out, sketch out these scales, these modes, these arpeggio, this arpeggio motion that we walk through today, and as you've heard me say over and over and over again, conceptual understanding determines your physical development. So the time that you invest in studying and mapping out using the illustrations to map out the melodic exercises that we explored today is time very well spent. The return on your investment can not be adequately expressed. And as always, always be patient. Developing mature professional jazz piano skills takes time. Begin structuring your practicing your development after the plane demonstrations that I modeled for you today in this podcast episode in this podcast lesson, and you will begin to see feel and hear your progress. Well, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring a key of C major melodic workout 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. 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring the key of C major melodic workout in greater detail, and to answer any question that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Likewise, be sure to use the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lychee play alongs for this podcast lesson, as well as all the podcast episodes. Also, the jazz panel skills courses be sure to use them to maximize your musical growth. And also make sure that you are an active participant in the jazz panel skills community. Get out there, get involved and contribute to the various forums, make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 My office extension is 211 by email Dr. Lawrence, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com
or by SpeakPipe filed throughout the jazz piano skills website. Well, there is my cue. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy your key of C major melodic workout. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano
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