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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 Upper and Lower Neighboring Tones. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
Lower and Upper Neighboring Tones
How to use Neighboring Tones as Harmonic Ornamentation
Neighboring Tones from various Harmonic Entry Points
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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, I am totally pumped up because we are going to begin exploring how to disguise scales and arpeggios. And yes, you heard that correctly. We are going to begin the process. of disguising scales and arpeggios. And to set the stage for this journey today, there are some musical facts that you must be aware of, that you must give significant thought to. And you must logically process them so that they become the mantra you live by. When studying and practicing music, the mantra that you have for the rest of your life. Do you think I'm being a little dramatic? Well, I'm not. This is big stuff. So I want you to dial in because I want you to pay very close attention to what I am about to share with you. Okay, you ready? Here we go. Musical Fact number one in music There are only two directions. A musical line, a melody can travel up or down. That's it up or down. I can take any piece of music from any genre. And I can circle all ascending motion and all descending motion. And guess what? When done the entire melody, and I mean the entire melody of the entire piece would be circled as either going up or going down. You're probably thinking, Okay, well, that's pretty simple stuff. pretty logical stuff. Pretty basic stuff. Well, it's not. Most people never think about this musical fact. And because they never think about it. They never practice it. Do you? Do you intentionally and methodically? Practice ascending and descending melodic lines? Are you even aware of when you're ascending or descending? And why are you aware of the direction that your musical lines are traveling? You should be. So let me state this musical fact. Again. In music, there are only two directions. A musical line, a melody can travel up or down. That's it. Musical Fact number two. In music, there are only two types of motion. A musical line a melody can use when traveling up or down the two motions Either scale motion or arpeggio motion. And again, I can take any piece of music from any genre, and circle all scale motion using a red pencil, and all arpeggio motion using a blue pencil. And when done dissecting the entire piece, the melody, from start to finish would be highlighted in red or blue circles. Again, an important musical reality that most people give very little thought to, if any, at all. Now, it's important for me to define what an arpeggio is. And I'll begin by telling you what it is not. It is not a series of ascending and descending thirds only Unfortunately, that is how music teachers typically define the term arpeggio. And as a result, the term has now become synonymous with the phrase ascending and descending thirds. It's unfortunate because you can build an arpeggio
using fourths, fifths, even octaves. When you have a melody, moving in leaps greater than a minor, and major Second, you have an arpeggio. And this is why I can boldly proclaim and so can you after today that all melodies and all music from any genre are composed using ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion. This is so important to understand So I want to say it again. All melodies and all music from any genre are composed using ascending and descending, scale and arpeggio motion. So once again, I must ask, do you intentionally methodically? Practice scale and arpeggio motion? Do you intentionally and methodically practice ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion? You should and if not, don't panic. Today, we are going to begin our exploration of both of these musical facts along with a few more. So buckle your seat belt this There's going to be a lot of fun. I want to take a second and remind everyone that this Thursday and every Thursday evening at 8 pm Central time I am live online using the zoom platform. I know you're familiar with this. This online masterclass is an open discussion and deeper dive into the current week's podcast episode. So this Thursday, we will be looking at neighboring tones in a much more profound Believe it or not a much more profound and detailed way. And of course, I always leave room within the hour-long class for some Q and A as well. You know, it's funny. The catalyst for today's podcast topic neighboring tones actually came about from The conversation that the masterclass participants shared last week. It was awesome. So mark it on your calendars, Thursday evenings 8 pm Central Time join me and others online. It is definitely a value-added educational opportunity that you do not want to miss. The Zoom link is posted on my Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook pages so be sure to follow me if you're not already doing so. Plus it is posted on the homepage of the jazz piano skills website. See you Thursday evening. 8 pm Central time. Okay, here are a few more musical facts that you must give significant thought to that you must logically process and make a centerpiece Your musical mantra. Musical fact. Number three, there are five primary sounds of music, five, Major, dominant, minor, half-diminished, and diminished. And make no mistake about it. You must have a command of these five primary sounds conceptually, physically and or aurally. Of course, the million-dollar question is, how do I efficiently and effectively accomplish a command of these five primary sounds? How do I do that? conceptually, physically, and orally. Here's the answer. Ready? Listen. Very carefully.
The most efficient and effective way to accomplish a command of these five primary sounds is to practice them using a systematic and methodical approach to playing them using ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion. Goodness, where have you heard that? Where have you heard that before ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion? So again, the most efficient and effective way to accomplish a command of the five primary sounds of music is to practice them using a systematic and methodical approach to use ascending and deep Sending scale and arpeggio motion. So I guess what I'm trying to say is that you better understand musical Fact number one, and musical Fact number two if you hope to achieve musical Fact number three, musical Fact number four, there are only 12 notes in music. That's it. No more, no less. Each of the primary sounds of music, Major, dominant, minor, half-diminished, and diminished can be constructed from each of those 12 notes. Which brings us to musical Fact number five. There are 60 chords in music 12 notes times five primary Sounds equal 60 chords, that's it 60 chords, not three, not 1000, not infinity 60 if you learn one a day, in 60 days, approximately two months, you will have learned the 60 chords of music. So, the five primary sounds of music can be played harmonically as a chord 60 of them and melodically as a scale or arpeggio. Let me say this again. It's important. The five primary sounds of music, major dominant, minor half-diminished, and diminished can be played harmonics. As a chord, there are 60 of them. And they can be played melodically as a scale or arpeggio. A scale or arpeggio, doing what? Going up, or going down. Now we are right back to where we started this conversation. There are only two directions a musical line, a melody can travel up or down. And he can only do so using scale and arpeggio motion. Guess what we're going to do today? We are going to take a musical sound and begin the process of constructing a systematic and methodical approach to developing jazz vocab. Using ascending and descending, scale, and arpeggio motion. Okay, before we jump in before we begin our exploration of the neighboring tones. I want to remind you that the educational guides for this jazz piano skills podcast episode devoted to the neighboring tones are available for immediate download at jazz piano skills.com. As all of my regular listeners know, I develop three educational guides for every jazz panel skills podcast episode, which can be downloaded individually or as a bundle, or as a subscription guide one, the illustration guide helps you discover the jazz panel skill conceptually, the imagery The graphics
are amazing. You've heard me say this 1000 times I say at every podcast episode, your physical growth as a jazz pianist depends 100% on your mastery of jazz piano skills, mentally, it's your conceptual understanding that drives your physical development. And to help you with that conceptual understanding, imagery, graphics are invaluable. They help you get a mental visual of the shapes and sounds of jazz, which in turn, fuels your physical and oral mastery guide number two, the lead sheets. Use traditional music notation to help you successfully learn the jazz piano skill physically, right. If you're a reader, and you like seeing the concepts placed upon the musical staff, the lead sheets are perfect to have sitting around Piano is a reference a quick reference when you are getting the various harmonic shapes and melodic lines under your fingers. I produced 12 lead sheets for each Podcast Episode One for each of the 12 keys of music, not just for the key that I demonstrate within the podcast, but for all 12 keys. The lead sheets are fabulous. Guide number three, the play-along guide, and the play-along guide provide you with again 12 keys play long tracks for all 12 keys and if you are not using play-along tracks while practicing then you are not developing a strong sense of internal time. You're not developing a proper jazz feel and articulation. A teacher cannot teach you These essential elements of playing jazz piano you must experience them in order to properly develop them and experience them. There is no better way to do this than to use quality play-along tracks. I cannot stress enough how beneficial that educational podcast guides are for expediting your discover, learn, and play process. Be sure to check them out at jazz piano skills.com go to the homepage, click on the podcast link in the menu bar that runs across the top of the page. And you'll be good to go. You'll see the podcast episodes that you can click you know there's a menu there that you can click on that page of the various podcast episodes. They're all at your fingertips. If you download the educational guides and have questions you can always send me a quick voicemail message using the speakpipe widget That is nestled directly beneath each podcast episode or you can post your question in the jazz panel skills forum and let the jazz piano skills community help you. Or you can attend the Thursday evening jazz piano skills masterclass at 8 pm Central Time and get your answers, get your questions answered face to face. So, so many ways to get help. And again, my entire goal always is to provide you with the best jazz piano lessons the best jazz piano educational materials and support available anywhere today. So this week, we are going to explore neighboring tones. You're going to discover lower and upper neighboring tones. You are going to learn how to use neighboring tones harmonic ornamentation and you are going to play neighboring tones from various harmonic entry points. So regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner, an intermediate player, an advanced player, or even an experienced professional, you're going to find this podcast this lesson to be enormously beneficial. So let's get started. Okay To begin, let's do a quick recap of the five musical facts that you must adopt as your musical mantra
if you are serious about becoming an accomplished jazz pianist, so here they are. Musical Fact number one music lines melody can only move in two directions up or down. Musical Fact number two music lines melodies. Use only two types of motion scales and arpeggios. Music Fact number three, there are five primary sounds of music, Major, dominant, minor, have diminished, and diminished. Music Fact number four, there are only 12 notes in music and music Fact number five, there are only 60 chords in music. Now, accomplished musicians for the past 400 years in every genre of music, have been aware, familiar, and intimately come Trouble with these musical facts, so much so that their ability and creativity in disguising ascending and descending scales and arpeggios is nothing short of miraculous. How do they do it? How do the musicians of today do it? How do musicians have today? And in the past, how do they disguise scales and arpeggios? Well, there are several tricks of the trade, if you will, that musicians love to use, but none more popular than the use of neighboring tones. So we now have our goal for today. And actually for next week to our goal. We want to begin constructing a systematic and methodical approach. to developing jazz vocabulary using lower and upper neighboring tones to disguise ascending and descending scale and arpeggio motion. Whoo, let me say that again. Because this is an awesome goal. We want to begin constructing a systematic and methodical approach to developing jazz vocabulary using lower and upper neighboring tones to the skies, ascending and descending, scale, and arpeggio motion. So today I am going to use the C minor sound. We're going to explore that C minor sound from the root all the way through the 13th the entire sound and there is a specific reason This, which will be revealed. As this lesson is unwrapped, right. The first thing we want to do is establish the lower and upper neighboring tones for the root, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth of the C minor sound. Before I go any further, I want to stress that when establishing lower and upper neighboring tones, you can choose to be faithful to a chord scale relationship, a mode or you can choose to be faithful to a pattern and today, I am choosing to be faithful to a pattern and the pattern that I'm going to use is this. Lower neighboring tones will be one-half step below our target note and the other neighboring tones will be one whole step above our target note. Let me repeat that lower neighboring tones will be one-half step below our target note and the upper neighboring tones will be one whole step above our target note. By choosing to remain faithful to a pattern instead of a scale or mode, I significantly increase the occurrence of outside harmony. notes right outside notes, which in turn increases the occurrence of tension.
If you're hearing this for the first time, you're thinking man, this is crazy talk. Right? Sounds weird. You're thinking why in the world. Would I want to create tension in my music? The answer is even crazier. Because tension is good. In music tension is good. It creates interest. It creates excitement as long as we move through the tension to resolution. Good music always has a balance between tension and release, tension, and resolution. So now that I have established the lower and upper neighboring tone formula that I'm going to use today, let's actually establish the lower and upper neighboring tones for C minor. So, target note, our first target note the route the Notes See The lower neighboring tone will be one-half step below that see right which will be B. And the upper neighboring tone will be one whole step above the note C, which is the note D. Okay, so we get b followed by D, and then landing on our target note C. So the B is actually outside ornamentation. We're playing a B natural against the C minor sound, which has a B flat in it, right? So we have a little outside tension here, right? The note D is inside ornamentation and then that resolves to our target note C. Okay, for the root I mean for the third target note number two Third, our lower neighboring a lower neighbor note neighboring town is going to be the note D. It's one-half step below our third which is a flat our upper neighboring tone, it's going to be a whole step above our target note E flat which is going to be the note F. And then that's going to take us to our E flat. So we get so our lower neighboring tone D is inside ornamentation. Our upper neighboring tone F is also inside ornamentation. Okay, target note number three is our fifth. The note G. Our lower neighboring tone will be one half-step down, which is F sharp outside ornamentation Our upper neighbor Intel will be the node A, a whole step above RG which is inside ornamentation. And then that will take us to our target node G. So we get this. Our fourth target note is the seventh of the C minor sound, which is B flat. The lower neighboring tone one half-step below will be the note a. Our upper neighboring town will be one whole step above our B flat, a note C which will take us to our B flat so we hit that and our fifth target note the ninth which is the note D. The lower neighboring town C sharp Outside ornamentation does not belong in the C minor sound, our upper neighboring town a whole step above our ninth, our D, E natural, which again is outside ornamentation. And then that takes us to the note our ninth D. So we get this so we get to outside ornamentation resolving to our knife. So we got a little bite here got a little tension. So let me go through each target note again and the neighboring towns. So on the route, we have
B, D and C. Target note the third E flat we have D, F, and E flat. Our target note the fifth G, F sharp, A and G. Target note the seventh B flat. We have a, C and B flat and then our target note nine D. We have C sharp, E, and D. Pretty cool. FYI if you're hearing some yakking in the background, right, I'm recording here in my studio in my office here at the Dallas School of Music. And we have faculty in teaching which is fantastic. We have teachers back in the hallways here and their studios teaching, but you can hear them maybe in the background. You might hear some notes some pianos, you might hear some yakking as I like to call it, so just ignore that, right? Just know that that is what's going on here. Okay, so for the first demonstration, I want to bring in the ensemble, we are going to simply play C minor. We're going to sit on C minor, and I am going to practice kind of like a warm-up, right, I'm going to move through the C minor sound, the root, the third, the fifth, the seventh and the ninth, surrounding each one of those target notes using my lower and upper neighboring tones. So let's check it out. Let's listen to this. And then we'll, we'll talk about it. So here we go. Let's check it out.
Pretty cool hey just FYI I am playing the demonstrations today using a classic swing row and a temperature of 140 simply for the sake of time, right because this is actually a pretty quick temple. It's a great goal. However, I encourage you to practice this exercise and all the exercises today at slower tempos in order to get the data, the lower and upper neighboring tone patterns under your fingers. Awesome. Did you hear the tension at the top of our minor sound, the lower and upper neighboring tones for the ninth? Both neighboring tones fall outside the C minor sound and of course, creates some serious bite. This can take some getting used to especially when we are learning the neighboring tones by using an isolation technique. In other words, we're practicing the pattern apart from a musical idea, a musical line a melody, or not moving into the outside notes from inside notes. And we're not relieving the outside notes, but by resolving to inside notes. our ears can play tricks on us and make us think of these notes, initially, at least, as wrong notes. And theoretically speaking they are. But remember, we use them to intentionally create tension that will actually end up sounding great. Once we placed the sound into a legitimate musical context, all of this to say Don't worry about it. We'll get there. You'll see, by the end of next week's podcast episode, you'll be saying, Man, I love tension. I promise you. Okay, now that we have established our lower and upper neighboring towns for the root, third, fifth, seventh, and ninth of our C minor chord. Let's isolate each grouping and begin using our ornamentation to the skies. scale. And our PEGI emotion. So what we are going to do is practice playing each group, followed by an ascending arpeggio and an ascending scale. We are going to keep this simple and travel only the distance of a fifth for both the arpeggio and the scale. So in this next demonstration, I am going to circle the root of my C minor chord with the lower and upper neighboring tones several times, right. So you're going to hear me do this several times.
Then you're going to hear me move to attaching an arpeggio to the end of that motif. So you're going to hear me go like this. I go right up to the fifth And then I'm going to come out of it going using a scale up to the fifth. Just like that. So let's bring in the ensemble. And let's listen to how this sounds. Again, listen for three parts. Part One, I'm just circling the root using my lower and upper neighboring tones. Part Two, I come out of that encircling ornamentation of the route with the lower and upper neighboring towns with arpeggio motion to the fifth. And part number three, I come out of that ornamentation, the circling of the root using lower and upper neighbor tones using scale motion, ascending to the fifth. So here we go. Let's bring in the ensemble. Let's listen to this and then we'll talk about it. Check
Wow, pretty awesome. It's amazing, right? It sounds like jazz because it is jazz. It's a classic jazz approach to disguise and arpeggio and a scale. If you're like I was when being introduced to this approach for the first time, you're saying No way, no way this is way too simple to be jazz. When setting out to discover, learn, and play jazz, we do so typically with a mindset that it's not going to be easy. It's going to be difficult. We think the things that we hear jazz musicians playing sound incredibly difficult, and of course, some of the things you hear are indeed difficult, however, at the base of any incredibly difficult musical idea that you hear jazz musician Plain is always a fundamental thought that spawns and supports that incredibly difficult idea of fundamental thought or approach that holds it all together. And sometimes, in fact, most of the time actually, the fundamental thought or approach is all you need to be incredibly musical. Which by the way, having your plane being musical is always a much better goal than trying to have your plane be difficult. Okay, let's now apply the same approach the exact same approach to the third of the C minor chord. I am now going to circle the note E flat with the lower and upper neighboring tones several times. Then you'll hear me move to adding the arpeggio to the B flat the seventh. Again, and then you'll hear me add the scale motion to the B flat or to the seven. Just like that. Okay, so let's bring the ensemble back in. Let's sit on that C minor. I'm going to focus on the third circling the third with my lower and upper neighboring tones, then adding my arpeggio and scale motion to it. So let's check it out. Let's see what the sounds like.
Amazing write the exact same musical approach applied to a different region the chord producing an entirely different sound. I love it. Again, having you're playing being musical is always a much better goal than trying to have your playing be difficult always when playing these exercises after you have the patterns under your fingers focus on being musical focus on playing with a relaxed feel a jazz feel laid back, good articulation, jazz articulation swing in eighth notes. And again, this is why we spent three entire weeks three entire podcast episodes, playing various quarter eighth-note patterns with a proper jazz articulation. If you need to check out podcast episodes 18,19 and 20 - May 12th, 19th, and the 26th of season two to tighten up your jazz sound and do so you'll be glad you did. I mentioned earlier the educational guides, the illustrations the lead sheets, and the Play-alongs that are available for you to download, and I strongly suggest that you do. They're invaluable. They will maximize your musical growth and help you successfully digest today's lesson. But I also want to want to have you check out jazz piano skills courses. This is a tremendous sequential jazz curriculum that utilizes a self-paced format that is packed with all kinds of goodies, detailed instruction illustrations, in-depth, educational talks, interactive learning media, traditional guides and worksheets that you can download of course, high definition video demonstrations that I do in all 12 keys, play-along tracks, and lead sheets, professional and personal educational support and of course, mobile access to all of the courses in the lessons using any of your smart devices, laptops, desktops, cell phones. tablet's TV watch, you name it, right? So be sure to check out the jazz piano skills courses at jazz piano skills.com. Okay, now let's continue our exploration of disguising arpeggio and scale motion using lower and upper neighboring tones. Again, we're going to use the exact same approach. However, this time we shift our attention to the fifth of the C minor chord. I'm now going to circle the note G with lower and upper neighboring tones several times. So I get my F sharp ag. Then you'll see me add the arpeggio motion. Again, up to the ninth, right, I'm going up to the note D, then you'll hear me add the scale motion. Up to the up to the ninth, up to D. Okay, wow, we have a lot of flute playing going on here today at the Dallas School of Music, so just try to tune it out if you can. Alright, so let's bring in our ensemble. Let's check this out, circling the fifth, traveling up to the ninth using arpeggio and scale motion. So here we go. Let's check it out.
What can I say? Good stuff. Now I want to stress notice that I am not trying to get fancy with these patterns I am not trying to improvise. I am keeping everything rhythmically simple. I am playing eighth notes and not trying to modify my rhythm in any way. Students want to move through this process Way too quickly. They play a pattern once, maybe twice. And then they're off to the races, playing all kinds of rhythmic ideas that become fragmented and oblivious to time. Count one is now count three, count four is now count one, they quickly realize that they do not sound good. They didn't get frustrated. And then they turn to me and say, these guys, these ideas don't sound good to me. I'm playing the patterns that you want me to play, but they're, they're not doing it for me. I'm not digging. And they're serious. They're serious with these comments. Now I have to say to them as kindly as I possibly can, dude, you're not even close to plan these patterns. You wanted to expedite the process so badly that you didn't even take the time to learn the process. What I am saying to you is this Be patient. Learn how to play these patterns like a jazz pianist before you attempt to explore new horizons. In fact, the implementation of rhythmic variations will happen naturally. Once you truly master these patterns, let it evolve naturally do not force it. Okay, time to move on time to the skies arpeggio and scale motion using lower and upper neighboring tones for the seventh of the C minor chord. So now I'm going to circle the seventh, the note B flat with my upper with my lower and the upper neighboring towns, a C and B flat. You're gonna hear me do that several times. And then you're going to hear me come out of that traveling up To the 11th, which is the note F. Using arpeggio motion. You're gonna hear me do that several times, then you're gonna hear me come out of it using scale motion, up to the 11th up to the note F. Just like that. Right. So I start with just the actual circling of the target note followed by arpeggio followed by scale. Wow. So let's bring the ensemble in. Let's listen to this. Let's check it out and see what we think. Then we'll talk about it. Here we go.
Wow, we are now beginning to really spotlight the upper extensions of the minor sound, the ninth and the 11th rich A rich sounds indeed, jazz sounds, only one more upper extension to add to complete the entire minor sound. And that's the 13th. And here is where we are going to experience I'm excited, experienced some serious tension, not because of the ninth or the 11th or the 13th. But because of the neighboring towns, the lower upper neighboring towns that I am going to use. Both of them fall outside the C minor harmony. So I'm going to use a C sharp, e natural to circle my nine. Right, I'm going to do that several times. You're going to hear some bite. Then I'm going to come out of that with an arpeggio up to the 13th right so I'm going to decide it's going to sound like this. Right 911 13 You'll hear that several times, and then you'll hear me come out of it with the scale to the 13th to the note a.
Right? Your ears are our sensory overload right here, right? This is going to be some bite, there's going to be some tension with this. So, so don't panic, right? Don't Don't freak out. Believe me by next week. In fact, by the end of the podcast episode next week, you're going to be saying, Man, this is so cool. I love this tension. So let's bring in our ensemble. Let's see what this is going to sound like. With our C minor sound. So don't Don't panic. Right. Here we go. So C minor, circling the nine us The lower and upper neighboring tones that are outside the harmony, and then moving up through the upper extensions up to the third team. So here we go. Let's check it out. Then we'll talk about
Yes, indeed, some serious bite. Again, keep in mind that we are isolating this motif we are practicing the pattern apart from a musical idea, a musical line a melody. Next week when we begin to extend and connect our musical lines using ascending and descending movement, you will begin to hear all of these motifs that intentionally disguise scale and arpeggio motion in an entirely different light in an entirely different context. Next week, how's it going to be super fun? So, I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcasts lesson The neighboring tones, use the disguise, scale, and arpeggio motion to be insightful, and of course, beneficial. Don't forget I will see you Thursday evening jazz piano skills masterclass at 8 pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about this lesson or the study of jazz in general. Also, download the educational guides for this podcast lesson at jazz piano skills.com. They're a tremendous resource that will expedite your discover learn and play process. They will expedite and maximize your musical growth I guarantee it. While you're there, you should check out the jazz piano skills courses as well. And the jazz piano skills forums, join the community get involved, make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can reach me by phone at 972-380-8050 extension 211 or by email, Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found on the jazz piano skills website, in the educational guides, and the jazz panel skills courses. So, that's it for now. And until next week, enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano.