New podcast episode now available! It's time to Discover, Learn, and Play Jazz with Dr. JB Dyas
May 12, 2020

The 8th Note, Pt. 1

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Welcome to JazzPianoSkills; it's time to discover, learn, and play Jazz Piano!

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 the all-important 8th Note. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:

The Importance of the 8th Note

How to methodically approach studying the 8th Note 

Various Quarter/8th Note combinations common in jazz literature

For maximum musical growth, be sure to use the Jazz Piano Podcast Packets for this Jazz Piano Lesson. All three Podcast Packets are designed to help you gain insight and command of a specific Jazz Piano Skill. The Podcast Packets are invaluable educational tools to have at your fingertips while studying and practicing the all-important 8th Note.

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Lead Sheets
(beautifully notated music lead sheets)

Play Alongs
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Episode Outline
Discover, Learn, Play
Invite to Join JazzPianoSkills
Exploration of Jazz Piano Skills
Closing Comments

Visit JazzPianoSkills for more educational resources that include a sequential curriculum with comprehensive Jazz Piano Courses, private and group online Jazz Piano Classes, a private jazz piano community hosting a variety of Jazz Piano Forums, an interactive Jazz Fake Book, plus unlimited professional educational jazz piano support.

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Thank you for being a JazzPianoSkills listener. It is my pleasure to help you discover, learn, and play jazz piano!

Warm Regards,
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. I hope everyone is doing great and as excited about life returning to some sense of normality. Here in the Dallas and North Texas area businesses are starting to open up in fact, I actually got a haircut on Friday. was wonderful. Never been so excited my whole life. Everyone I encountered was happy, respectful, and actually bending over backward to make sure everyone felt comfortable. It was awesome. It was just fantastic to get out, breathe some fresh air, interact with folks see some joy, and hear plenty of laughter it was music to my ears. So I hope you are starting to experience the same signs of life in your neck of the woods as well. Before jumping into this week's jazz piano lesson, I am excited to let you know about another new jazz piano skills program starting this Thursday, Thursday evening at 8 pm Central Standard Time. Every Thursday evening. I am going live and holding an online jam Piano masterclass. How cool is this, the classes free and open to the public. It's open to everyone. I'm going to be using Zoom, the Zoom meeting platform, which I'm sure many of you if not everyone is already familiar with this technology. It seems like everything is happening on zoom today. The meeting link will be posted every week on my social media sites Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and it is easily available on the homepage at jazz panel Once you get to the homepage, just simply scroll down to section three. And you'll see the button there for the Thursday evening. online class. So just had Thursday evenings at eight o'clock just simply go to the homepage, scroll down to Section three, click on that button at eight o'clock central standard time and it will take you right to the course and we'll meet online in person. Join the club join the fun, it's going to be fantastic. Now, it's important to stress the class is for everyone. Regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, it makes no difference. Whether you are a beginner, intermediate player, or advanced player come and enjoy the class, I guarantee that you're going to learn something invaluable, every class, and something invaluable about the study of jazz piano. If you're shy, no problem comes to the class and just listen. You do not have to ask questions you do not have to answer questions. I promise you will not be randomly called upon to participate. Just come listen and enjoy. On the other hand, if you have a ton of questions about jazz piano, you can fire away. I am looking forward to interacting with you live and discussing various jazz piano skills. in detail, so spread the word. let folks know about the class and encourage them to join us on Thursday evenings at 8 pm. In fact, feel free to invite any of your jazz or friends not just pianists, jazz horn players, guitarist drummers. Well, maybe not drummers. Just kidding. Yes, even jazz drummers are invited. The bottom line, the more the merrier. So spread the word. Thursday evenings 8pm Central Standard Time. jazz piano skills live. Please spread the word. Okay, quick reminder, there are three educational guides available for this jazz panel podcast lesson to help you discover learn and play the jazz piano skill. We are about to explore The illustration guide again helps you discover the jazz panel skill conceptually, the imagery The graphics are amazing. You've heard me say this 1000 times. Your physical growth as a jazz pianist depends 100% on your mastery of a jazz piano skill, mentally, your conceptual understanding imagery, graphics allow you to mentally visually digest the shapes and sounds of jazz,

which in turn, fuels your physical and aural mastery. So the illustration guides invaluable. The lead sheets, right, the lead sheets used traditional music notation to help you successfully learn the jazz piano skill physically. If you're a reader, and you like seeing the concept place upon the musical staff, the lead sheets are perfect to have sitting on your piano as a quick reference You are getting the various harmonic shapes and melodic lines under your fingers. There are 12 lead sheets for each podcast episode, one for each of the 12 keys of music. Again, priceless. And finally the play along Guide, which are play-along tracks right again for all 12 keys. And the play long tracks are perfect to help you successfully play the jazz piano scale being taught in the podcast episode. So the play long tracks will help you develop a strong sense of internal time, right, plus the proper jazz feel and articulation which we're going to talk about a lot today. A teacher cannot teach you these essential elements of playing jazz piano, you must experience them in order to properly develop them. And there's no better way to do this than to use quality play-along track. Bottom line, I cannot stress enough how beneficial the educational podcast guides how beneficial they are for expediting your discover, learn, and play process. Be sure to check them out at jazz piano skills comm 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. All the podcast episodes and the educational guides will be at your fingertips. And don't forget 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 post your question in the jazz panel skills forum. And let the jazz panel skills community help you or attend the Thursday evening jazz piano skills class at 8 pm Central Standard Time and get your questions answered, face to face. Wow. So many ways to get help. And again, my entire goal at jazz piano skills is to provide you with the best jazz piano lessons, the best jazz panel, educational materials, and the best jazz piano education support that's available anywhere today. This week, we are going to explore the eighth note, part one, the eighth note and I want to stress that regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, again, whether you're a beginner and intermediate player, advanced player or even an experienced professional, you will find this podcast lesson to be beneficial. So in this lesson, the eighth note you are going to discover The importance of the eighth note, you're going to learn how to methodically approach studying quarter eighth-note patterns. And you are going to play various quarter eighth note combinations that are common in jazz literature. So let's get started. I think that if I was pressed to identify, to single out one aspect of playing jazz piano, that was the most important aspect of playing jazz piano. It would have to be the proper treatment, the proper articulation of the eighth note. Why? Because it's your treatment and articulation of the eighth note That ultimately determines whether your music is labeled as hip or cheesy. It's that simple. It basically comes down to how you play what you play. Did you catch that? It's not what you play. It's how you play it.

You'll see and hear the truth of this statement. In my demonstrations today. Every student in their jazz journey eventually gets to the point where they have to sincerely and seriously confront the eighth note. I remember in college in the jazz program at the University of North Texas, we had to perform at the end of every single semester, a jazz jury. This was basically a private performance for the faculty, for the jazz faculty, where they would assess your musical and jazz skills. Each faculty member would have a form in their hands. And that form had an outline of various jazz skills. And next to each jazz skill, they would give you a grade based upon your performance. The grade was always some numeric number, like, one for excellent. Two for good. Three for Okay, for four. You may want to try law as a profession instead of music and so on. I'm just kidding. Okay. I have several lawyer friends, and they're all nice people. And they're pretty darn good musicians too. Anyway, One of the jazz skills that they assessed you on was, yes, your eighth note feel and articulation. In fact, it was number one on the list of jazz piano skills you were being graded on, which I believe speaks volumes on the importance of the eighth note. I believe it is safe to say that if you are not articulating the eighth note correctly, then all listening jazz ears will turn off your music. Likewise, I would even venture to say that when you turn off a pianist, you do so because you are not enjoying their eighth note interpretation, their eighth note feel you may not realize that This is the reason but more than likely, the eighth note is the determining factor of your overall enjoyment of the jazz being played. Just a quick side note, to magnify even further the importance of the eighth note, take a look at virtually any jazz standard, especially this the standards from the Great American Songbook. The Gershwin Cole Porter's right. What do you see? The melodies of these classic tunes are primarily quarter notes and eighth notes. I would actually go as far as saying 99% of the melodies are made up of quarter notes and eighth notes, only quarter notes and eighth notes. What does that tell you? It tells you that you better learn how to play, quarter notes and eighth notes This fact leads us perfectly to the obvious question. And that question is this. How should I practice eighth notes to help me develop the correct jazz feel and articulation? Well, the answer is not so obvious. Because the answer is you begin mastering the eighth note by correctly practicing the quarter note. That's right. You have to learn how to play to swing. The quarter note before you can begin developing a proper eighth note feel. This is where it gets hard. This is where it gets challenging. And not because the quarter note is hard, and it's not because the eighth note is hard. or difficult? It's because you think that practicing quarter notes and eighth notes is remedial material. That's right. You think it's basic information. You think quarter notes and eighth notes are introduced in the beginning for the beginner and you are not a beginner.

Oh how quickly we want to distance ourselves from that classification. Don't worry, you are not alone. We all think like this, at least initially. And it is precisely this mentality that makes practicing quarter notes and eighth notes so very difficult. It's because we have to swallow some pride and get over ourselves. It's called humility which comes directly from wisdom. So, once we become wise and keenly aware of the most fundamental aspects of mastering any skill, any discipline, music, or otherwise and therefore understand their importance, the importance of the fundamental aspects. It is then and only then, that we willingly embrace the reality that there is no way to circumvent the fundamentals. In fact, once we obtain this invaluable wisdom, we then find ourselves experiencing great joy when we spend time with the most fundamental aspects of our craft. Why is the soul it's because we truly know the treasure hidden within the fundamentals. We know the huge dividends that we will gain by investing our time in the fundamentals. Ironically, a common characteristic found in all advanced players is an understanding that they're still a beginner. So today, we spend our time at the beginning. We focus on developing a jazz eighth-note feel and do so using the most fundamental note of all the quarter note. So sit back, relax, turn on your ears. This is going to be fun. Here we go. Okay, let's start with the quarter note, the simple quarter note. And one exercise that I practice. And that I stress to students is your ability to actually play the quarter note in time on count one of every measure in time on count one of every measure. Sounds simple. You would be amazed at how difficult people the difficulty people have in doing this. So let me give you a demonstration. We're going to turn the metronome on here, a simple metronome, marking time for time. And it's at 120. And all I'm going to do is focus on playing a quarter note. On count one And I want to do so in such a way that I feel this quarter note, swing. Okay. So let's, let's do this and then we'll talk about Okay, here we go.

Wow, not that easy. I was trying to play that quarter note. I was trying to nail the downbeat of count one didn't want to come in too early, didn't want to come in too late. I wanted to play it with a nice feel. I wanted to settle in into time, and I wanted to swing. And you notice I put some chord voicings in between, you know, accounts two, three and four, just to fill in some space a little bit, but still focusing on count one. Not an easy exercise, I want you to try that. And you'll see what I'm talking about. Now, what I also like to do is take that quarter note and use the quarter note to outline the various sounds of music of jazz, right, the primary sounds major dominant, minor, half-diminished, and diminished. So what I'm going to do now is I'm going to bring in my metronome again, and I'm going to take the C dominant sound, and I'm going to play a quarter note, ascending one on counts 123 For. Again, I don't want to get out in front of the beat. I don't want to be too far behind the beat, but I want it to swing. I want it to be relaxed and comfortable. Okay, I'm just going to practice ascending on that sound. Let me demonstrate. You'll see what I mean. Here we go

wow. Little more challenging, right? Make that swing four quarter notes, ascending. And of course, practice it descending as well and do it on the major sound, minor sound, have too many sound, diminish sound, right? quarter notes, ascending or descending in time, swing. You practice with a metronome. In that way, it will expose a lot very quickly. It will give you a lot of answers to questions you have regarding your sense of time, and your sense of feel. Now let's talk about the eighth note. The eighth note, right can be interpreted two ways, what we call a straight eighth note versus a swing eighth note. Now straight eighth notes are equal the eighth notes have equal value. So it's one and 2341 and 234, right, the one and one and have equal value. The straight eighth note is typically found in the musical genres classical music, right? Rock, rock and roll, right straight, eighth feel. Now, in jazz, there's a swing eighth. So now instead of having equal value, a lot of times you'll hear it described as a long short relationship. The first eight eighth note is long, and the second eighth note is short. So you get a long short, so it's like this 123423434 slight difference. It's a huge difference, but it's a slight difference. So what I want to do is I'm going to bring the metronome back in and I'm going to play a straight eighth note, and a swing, eighth note, side by side. So you can hear a straight eighth note on count one, and then a swing, eighth note on count eighth notes on count one. I'm going to alternate back and forth. Straight eighth notes on count one, swing eighth notes on count one. Here we go.

Even long, short, right?

Right, like I said, slight difference, by huge difference in a way those eighth notes are articulated. So now I'm going to do the same exercise that I did with the quarter note when I use my metronome again, and I'm going to play the swing eighth notes on count one, the long-short articulation of the eighth notes. And I'm going to just play that articulation those eighth notes on count one only. And I'm going to make that swing from measure to measure to measure using just the metronome. I want. I want that transparency when I'm practicing, I want to hear any flaws that I'm having in my sense of time, my sense of feel my sense of my articulation. Okay, so here we go. Let's bring the metronome back in Let's play this swing eighth notes on count one. The long-short articulation Here we go.

Wow. Not only hard, exhausting, right? It's a challenge. So real challenge, like I said, very transparent way of practicing, it exposes Is any in all flaws very, very quickly. Okay, so now we have looked at the quarter note, we have looked at the eighth note. And we've looked at each one using a metronome. Nope, no play-along tracks, just the metronome right to practice our sense of time, our feel our articulation of the quarter note and the eighth notes and we did so by zeroing in on count one of each measure. Now what we want to do, what I want to do is demonstrate bringing those two together, using the quarter eighth notes together, combining them to practice developing the correct form. feel an articulation of both right of the quarter note and of the eighth note coexisting side by side. So how we're going to do this is have five different demos that we're going to go through, I'm going to use the C dominant chord as the sound. And we're going to first just start with four quarter notes. That's it, four quarter notes. And I'm going to practice swinging those quarter notes. ascending and descending through the sound. I'm going to ascend up my dominant sound, the root, the third, the fifth, and the seventh. And then I'm going to descend from the seventh, down to the fifth to the third to the root. So I'm going to bring in my rhythm section by ensemble want to hear this and practice this in a musical context in a musical setting. I'm just going to practice swinging for quarter notes, ascending and descending through the dominant sound. So let's check it out and then we'll talk about here we go.

Wow, how cool is that right? Man, I'm telling you this right now if you can do that on each of these Primary sounds all 60 chords right, your 12 Major 12 dominant 12, minor 12 half-diminished, if you can ascend in decent through those sounds from the root to seventh back down, and you can do so in a way that has a great feel great articulation that those quarter notes swing, you are on your way to becoming a very good jazz pianist. Say you cannot overlook or dismiss the fundamentals. Just simply being able to play quarter notes. so important. Now, let's bring in the eighth notes, right. So now what we're going to do, we're going to continue with our C dominant sound. And this time, however, I'm going to put two eighth notes on count four. So I'm going to move up my dominant sound, my route, my third, my fifth in quarter notes, and I'm going to play count four with eighth notes. So I'm going to get the right eighth note articulation right long short. So three quarter notes on counts one, two, and three, and then eighth notes on count four. And when I come down, the same thing, I'm going to come down, three quarter notes on count one, two and three from the seventh to the fifth to the third, and then eighth notes back on my route. So I get so going up from And then descending. That's it. I want to play with the right feel the right articulation on those quarter notes or the eighth notes. I want to make it swing. So let's bring in the ensemble. Let's hear this quarter note, eighth notes combination in musical context, and let's make it swing. Here we go check it out.

Wow. Right, that's starting to sound like something there, right? When you can take quarter notes, eighth notes, start putting them together, and a musical line and a phrase. And you can play it with the right feel and the right articulation. Remember when I said earlier on, I said, it's not what you play. It's how you play it. Here's a great example of that. We're just playing quarter notes, and eighth notes, quarter notes on three beats, eighth notes on one beat. And look at how it sounds. All right. Good stuff. So now, let's just shift our eighth notes. We're going to shift our eighth notes from count four, to count three. So now we're going to play quarter notes on counts one and two eighth notes on count three, followed by another quarter note on count four. So we're going to get this. So 123 and four, and then coming down same way. Right, those eighth notes are on Count 3123 and four. So then coming down, make sure we articulate the quarter note correctly. Let's make sure we articulate the eighth notes correctly. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back in. And let's hear how this quarter note eighth note combination sounds. When we shift those eighth notes over to count three. Here we go.

What can I say? Right? In fact, I don't need to say anything. I think I think the musical line I think the phrase, I think the I think it speaks for itself, right? You can see that if you can do this if you can start putting together quarter note eighth note combinations and make them swing. You are on your way. So now, let's continue with this whole approach this methodical approach that we're incorporating here. To explore quarter notes and eighth note combinations, we're going to now shift our eighth notes from count three. We're going to now place those eighth notes on count two of the measure. So quarter notes are going to fall on count one, and then eighth notes on count two quarter notes on count three, and on count four, so we get this and then coming down, going up, and then coming down. Very nice. So now let's hear what this combination. This combination sounds like when we place it in a musical context. So let's bring our rhythm section back in. And let's take a listen. Here we go.

Good stuff, good stuff indeed. So look what we've done. Now you can kind of see the approach I'm taking here, right I'm using my quarter notes and eighth notes on all I'm doing is shifting the placement of the eighth notes. Right, we started with, we started with just four quarter notes. Then we placed eighth notes on count four. Then we shifted the eighth notes to count three. Then we shifted the eighth notes to count two. And now we're going to shift the eighth notes one more time, or we're going to place the eighth notes on count one of the measure So now it's going to sound something like this. And then coming down, going up, coming down. That's it. So now let's bring our rhythm section back in. And let's listen to this rhythmic pattern with eighth notes on count one, followed by quarter notes on counts two, three, and four. So here we go. Let's check it out.

Very cool. Very cool. here's the best part. Very cool and very methodical. Right? There's a method to the madness here. We're taking the quarter note fundamentals right, the beginning starting at the beginning using quarter notes to help us develop an eighth note feel. So what we're doing is we're methodically shifting eighth notes from counts four to count three to count to count one. And then surrounding those eighth notes with the simple quarter note. So we have to navigate in and through quarter notes and eighth notes, which, as I mentioned earlier, make up all the math 99% of all the melodies that you're ever going to play. In any of the jazz standards, especially those from the Great American Songbook, so, a great way to practice this week, start practicing quarter note, eighth note combinations on any sound I demonstrated today on the dominant sound, but you can use major, minor, half-diminished or diminished. In fact, use them all right. So, I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson. Part One on the eighth note to be insightful, and of course, I hope you have found it to be beneficial. Right. Don't overlook the importance of the fundamentals of practicing quarter notes and eighth notes ascending and descending through a musical sound. so incredibly important, and it will pay huge dividends for you. Once again, be sure to check out the educational guides the supplemental educational guides that are available for this podcast right the illustrations, the lead sheets the play-along tracks that are ready for you. To begin using to master your articulation feel of the eighth note, visit jazz piano and again, click on the podcast link in the menu bar that runs across the top of the homepage. You'll find this episode, this podcast episode along with the educational guides, the bundled subscriptions as well that are now available for this podcast episode and for all the podcast episodes so be sure to check it out. Also while you're there, the jazz piano skills courses are available as well. can't say enough about them. Check those out as well detailed instruction and illustrations, in-depth educational talks, and interactive learning media's traditional guides and worksheets that you can download high definition video demonstrations and all 12 keys along with play-along tracks and lead sheets, and of course professional educational support as well. And with all my courses, easy and mobile access from your, from your computer, from your laptop, from your tablet, from your phone, from your TV, and yes, even from your watch. Don't forget to register and join the jazz panel skills forum. Right these forums are specifically out there for you to engage and interact with other members of the jazz panel skills communities. There's a forum that is specifically in place for each podcast episode so you can zero in on the jazz panel skill that you Want to focus on and need assistance with. So check out the jazz panel skills forums as well. Don't forget about speakpipe. It's a great little fancy widget that you can use to send me a voicemail message. And I in turn will return your voicemail message with a voicemail message of my own right back at you. So it's a great way for you and me to engage in conversation with one another, and for you to get help. And also, don't forget, Thursday night 8 pm Central Standard Time, jazz piano skills live right using the zoom platform. You will be able to get the URL for this online free online class through any of my social media sites, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, but you'll also be able to access it right at the homepage at jazz panel as well. So I look forward to meeting somebody folks on Thursday evening at eight o'clock. 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