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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
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Dr. Bob Lawrence :
Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. This week, we are going to continue our exploration of the eighth note. As I mentioned last week of all the jazz panel skills that an aspiring jazz musician must have a command of mentally, physically orally, the eighth note, at least, I believe, is the most critical, the most important. And here's why. Because it is our interpretation of the eighth note that determines whether or not we are playing jazz, or some other kind of music. It's our interpretation of the eighth note that will either keep people listening to our music or provoke them to turn it off. What's amazing to me is that even with the interpretation of the eighth now, being the critical component of our plane, that our success as a jazz pianist hinges upon. We typically give very little attention to it, if any at all when practicing. That's the sad the good news, however, is I'm talking about aspiring jazzers in general I'm not talking about us. I'm not talking about you and me. No, no, not us. That is why we spent last week focusing on the eighth note in we're right back at it again this week. Right back at it again today. You know, it's funny. Human Nature is that we want to practice things that sound fancy. Things like Georgia. can't even say it right? some fancy I can't even say it. Things like Georgia Russells Lydian chromatic concept or advanced chord substitutions and harmonic alterations, or pentatonic scale patterns for improvisation. See, any one of those topics serves as a much more impressive answer to the question. What are you studying? Practicing. Right who wants to answer the eighth note? Are you kidding me? It's much better to answer when asked, What are you practicing to say, Hey, I'm practicing. I'm practicing and studying George Russell's Lydian chromatic concept. That sounds impressive, especially to, to family members and to neighbors. But we're not going to fall into that trap, right? We know where the huge dividends are paid. We know that acquiring a performance command of the eighth note. Proper feeling articulation in time is jazz gold. And again, this is why we are continuing our exploration of the eighth note today. As you all know, at least those of you who are regular listeners, I started a Thursday evening masterclass last week, it was awesome. About a dozen folks join me online to try to figure out how best to utilize the zoom platform for jazz piano skills. I got some great feedback. And here's what we basically came up with. Every Thursday evening, I will be online at 8pm Central Standard Time to go over with you in person, the Tuesday podcast lesson to give you some additional information, insight, and practice tips, ideas and suggestions that will help you successfully discover, learn and play the jazz piano skill that I teach today. At the end of the Thursday evening masterclass, I'll open it up for a general q&a question and answers that will allow you to ask me any questions about jazz piano that you have on your mind. I think this format will be a nice complement to the jazz panel skills podcast, and a definite value added experience for all of us. So mark it on your calendars Thursday evenings at 8pm Central, Standard Time. Join me online. For jazz panel skills masterclass. The link will be posted every week on my Twitter, Instagram and Facebook pages. Plus, in the homepage, it's on the homepage of the jazz piano skills website. Last week's introduction to the eighth note started with playing quarter notes, playing for quarter notes, ascending and descending in time with a great swing feel. And yes, quarter notes swing. In fact, if you can't make four quarter notes sound and feel better Good, going straight up and down using the root, third, fifth and seventh of a chord, then you should not be trying to play eighth notes, right? Let's not get the cart ahead of the horse. It's really that simple. Heck, if you if you think it's embarrassing to tell people, you're practicing eighth notes, try telling them that you're practicing quarter notes. You know what, I want to make this point. I want you to know this. And I want you to remember this. This reality. If you told an accomplished jazz musician, that you were practicing your articulation of quarter notes and eighth notes, they would be thoroughly impressed. They would actually be thinking, wow, this cat is the real deal. They're serious about learning how to play jazz. This is the absolute truth. So the only person you have to worry about when telling them that you're practicing quarter notes and eighth notes is your goofy uncle Fred or, or your neighbor Fred. Who knows, right? Uncle Fred knows very little about music and absolutely nothing about jazz, and so who cares what he thinks. So, we took the C dominant chord and practiced ascending and descending through the sound, playing the root, third, fifth, and seventh, right, it was simple, just root, third, fifth and seventh ascending, and then we just came right back down descending. Once we felt comfortable with swinging four quarter nodes, we added the eighth note. In fact, we added a pair of eighth notes and we placed The pair of eighth notes on count four have the measure on the on on the note B flat, preceded by our quarter notes. On counts one, two and three have the measure on the notes C, E, and G. In doing so, our focus, then turn to how we interpret and play those eighth notes. I spent a few minutes trying to explain and demonstrate how eighth notes and jazz are played uneven. Right with a with a long short articulation and not an even or straight articulation. Easy, no way to play a relaxed, long, short, articulated eighth note, maybe the most difficult thing you attempt to do while learning how to play jazz piano. In fact, there is only one element of music that presents Even a more difficult challenge. And that is the development of your internal clock, your development of time. These two jazz piano skills time, and the eighth note articulation are not only the most difficult of all jazz piano skills, and again, this is just my opinion. They are also the most ignored and neglected jazz panel skill, perhaps because they are somewhat abstract and difficult to adequately explain. So, after we placed the eighth notes on count four, we then move them around from count three to count two to count one. What a fantastic way to zero in on the eighth note and methodically practice development Be your authentic jazz, eighth note articulation. A quick side note if you have not checked out the three educational guides that I put together to help you successfully discover, learn and play the eighth note patterns that I demonstrated in last week's podcast lesson that I strongly urge you to do so. I develop the educational guides for each podcast episode. The illustration guide helps you discover the jazz panel skill conceptually, the imagery, the graphics are simply amazing. You've heard me say this 1000 times and I'm going to say it again. Your physical growth as a jazz pianist, depends 100% on your mastery of the jazz piano skills, 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 oral memory. The lead sheet guide uses traditional music notation to help you successfully learn the jazz panel skill physically. If you're a reader, which I like to do as well, you'd like seeing the concept placed upon the musical staff. The lead sheets are perfect to have sitting on your piano as a quick reference. When you are getting the various harmonic shapes, the melodic lines the concepts under your fingers. There are 12 lead sheets I developed 12 the 12 lead sheets for each Podcast Episode One for each of the 12 keys of music, simply invaluable, and the play along guide which are the plate which are play along tracks right. Again, those are developed for all 12 keys and they're perfect to help you successfully play the jazz panel skills. being taught in the podcast episode. The play along tracks will help you develop a strong sense of internal time. Internal time. I just mentioned it earlier, right? Plus the proper jazz feel in articulation. And remember, I've said this before as well, 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 long tracks. So again, I cannot stress how beneficial the educational podcast guides are. For expediting your discover, learn and play process. Be sure to check them out at jazz piano skills comm if you 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. Okay, this one week, we are going to expand our exploration of the eighth note, right part two, you're going to discover eighth note groupings. And you're going to learn how to methodically use quarter eighth note groupings for developing a jazz articulation and you will play various eighth note groupings strategically placed throughout the measure. So regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, beginner, intermediate player, or even an experienced, advanced player or professional, you will find this podcast lesson to be beneficial. So, sit back, relax, turn on your ears. Let's get started. Just like last week, we are going to begin at the end of the measure We are going to begin with counts three and four. We are going to place a pair of eighth notes on count three and count four, while playing quarter notes on counts one and two. Now, before I play this pattern, I want to stress the importance of singing it rhythmically internally as you play it. In other words, if you are articulating the rhythm upstairs in your mind, then it will come out correctly downstairs in your hands. I'm going to say that again. If you are articulating the rhythm, upstairs in your mind, then it will come out correctly downstairs in your hands. The opposite is true too. If you are not articulating the rhythm upstairs in your mind, then it will not come out correctly downstairs in your hands. Your hands must take dictation from somewhere right? They have to take dictation from your mind. If your mind is not actively engaged, singing the rhythm and feeding your hands accordingly. Then there is nothing going on in your hands. You have for all practical purposes, you have fed them to the musical wolves. They're completely lost. And they can all they can do at this time is fake it for survival. You will not be able to hide or disguise their confusion. Your music is doomed. So if you're not not comfortable with rhythmically singing, you need to do so quickly. And by the way, did you catch the fine details of what I just said? I said, you need to get comfy rhythmically singing not melodically singing rhythmically singing. You do not need to sing melodically You do not need to become Pavarotti. So don't panic. By rhythmically singing, I mean, attaching some kind of verbal syllables to the rhythm. In this first demonstration today, where we have quarter notes on counts one and two, followed by eighth notes on counts three and four. I would recommend using the syllable da da right da da For both quarter notes, and Rudy, Rudy, VOD e Rudy for the eighth notes on count three and Ruda. VO o da for the eighth notes on count four. So you end up with da da, booty Buddha. Right? Da da vous de vous de. If you prefer a short attack on the last eighth note, you can do that as well. That would be dada da vous de vous dot kind of like a do D do t right. I'm going to use Dada booty vous da it's funny. Somebody tuned in right at this moment of the podcast that being on what the heck. So just be careful not to get too heavy on the last eighth note, eighth note, if you do the short articulation at the end the blue dot, right, you want you want to maintain a nice musical balance of sound, so not too heavy on that attack. So it's going to sound like this, right? I'm saying da, da, da, da. Right? So I'm internalizing, I'm saying I'm sitting there thinking da, da, da, da. Alright, so let's bring in the ensemble. Let's listen to the first demonstration. Let's check out our quarter, quarter, eighth, eighth pattern, right, quarter, quarter, eighth, eighth pattern. Here we go and sing along right. Be singing when I'm playing. Here we go. Awesome, very nice. See how important rhythmic singing is? Better yet Did you hear Hear how important rhythmic singing is? quick story when I was studying at the University of North Texas, I was playing at the time. I remember I was playing in the three o'clock lab band at that time. And the great late rich Madison, man, what an awesome dude. He was. He was. He taught improvisation there at the university. And he was our guest performer. He was going to be our guest performer for a concert we were preparing for. And so he came to one of our rehearsals to go through his charts. I remember specifically that with one of the tunes we were playing, the brass section simply was not articulating the musical phrase correctly. And rich was a big guy, and he emphatically waved his hand in the air. And with his gravelly, loud voice Whoa, the band came to a screeching halt. He looked at all the brass players. And he said, gents, will you please play that phrase? Like this? Da da spit it do wha he said at one time. That was it. He said da da spit it. Do wha he said it once. He started the band again. And the brass nailed it. Rich gave us all his huge smile and a big thumbs up. He fixed the problem with one simple phrase, da da spit it do. The ensemble the brass players got it immediately. And they had no problem articulating it correctly from that moment. On and it was from that moment on that I realized how important it is to sing rhythmically saying if you want to nail your jazz articulation. Okay, let's move on to pattern two. Now we are going to move our eighth note grouping to count two and three. So we now have a quarter note on count one, followed by eighth notes on counts two and three. With another quarter note ending or phrase on count four. I am going to be singing this pattern using the syllables da, booty booty da, right. So it's going to be By the way, I'm doing all of this on C dominant, C dominant seven. So let's bring the ensemble in and check it out. Right? Sing that. Sing that along with me, right? Ah, booty booty da Here we go. Let's check it out. Very cool. Remember last week I stress that it's your treatment and articulation of the eighth note that ultimately determines whether you're labeled as hip or cheesy. I hope this is starting to really sink in, that you are beginning to realize that it's how you play, what you play. That makes all the difference in the world. It's not what you play. It's how you play it. A simple pattern, like the ones we are playing today can sound amazing when articulated correctly. Heck, we're not even doing anything magical with regards to the notes that we're playing. We're simply using chords, straight up and straight down. You see We do not need to overcomplicate the process of learning how to play jazz piano. Okay, let's take a look at our next pattern. We are now going to shift our eighth note grouping to counts one and two and place the quarter notes on counts three and four. I am going to sing this pattern using the syllables vodi vodi da, da. Okay, so now it's going to go Okay, so, let's bring in the ensemble and take a listen. And again, I would strongly suggest that you You sing this pattern, why play it? Right? Sing it while I'm playing it. Tons of musical growth will occur for you. In other words, take this opportunity to grow musically. All right. All right, here we go. Let's check it out. Very cool indeed You're right. Wow. Again, it's amazing How quarter notes and eighth notes sound so hip when articulated correctly. How important is all this? That you develop a strong quarter note, eighth note feel how important right? Well, again, I mentioned last week that the fact is the melodies of any jazz standard, and especially the standards from the Great American Songbook. They're all composed primarily of quarter notes and eighth notes. So you better learn how to play quarter notes and eighth notes and learn how to play them. Well. I mentioned earlier the educational guides, the illustrations, the lead sheets, the play alongs that are available for you to download and I strongly suggest that you do. They're invaluable resources that will maximize your musical growth and help you successfully digest today's lesson. But I also want you to check out The jazz piano skills courses as well. This is a tremendous sequential jazz curriculum that utilizes a self paced format packed with all kinds of goodies, right? The courses and the lessons and inside the courses have detailed instruction and illustrations and in depth educational talks. There's interactive learning media, traditional guides and worksheets, high definition video demonstrations of me playing the concepts and all 12 keys, right all 12 keys and play along tracks and all 12 keys as well as lead sheets course I include in their professional and educational support inside the courses. And I think it's fantastic these courses. The jazz piano skills courses are easily accessible mobile access right through your desktop computer, your laptop, your tablet, Your phone your TV. And yes, I even have some people telling me they they access it on their watch. So what what times we live, it's amazing. So be sure to check out the jazz panel skills courses at jazz piano skills calm as well. Alright, on to pattern for. Now I want to split up the eighth note groupings. I'm going to place a quarter note on count one, a pair of eighth notes on count two, followed by another quarter note on count three, and a pair of eighth notes on count four. So we get quarter, eighth, quarter eighth. I'm going to sing this pattern like this. Deja Vu dee da, da. So it's gonna go like this. So, let's bring in the ensemble and take a listen and again, I would strongly suggest, right that you saying this pattern, da booty Da Fu da, sing it while I play it. Tons of musical growth will occur for you. Okay? So let's check it out. Let's bring in the ensemble. Let's take a listen Love it a classic pattern and traditional fill, simply jazz. I also mentioned last week that the treasures of any discipline are always found in its fundamentals. This is definitely true when it comes to music to jazz. huge dividends are gained when investing time in the fundamentals. And there is nothing more fundamental to jazz than quarter eighth note rhythms. I cannot stress this enough. Keep in mind, I am modeling everything today. Using the root, the third, the fifth and six Seven have the dominant sound, you could apply these same patterns as you should, to the major minor half diminished and diminished sounds to you should also apply these patterns to different regions of the sound from the third to the ninth, from the fifth to the 11th, from the seventh to the 13th. I call these harmonic sound fragments, right from the root to the seventh, third to the ninth, fifth to the 11th seventh to the 13th. Again, check out the jazz piano skills courses for a deeper dive into exploring the primary sounds of music from the root through the 13th. Okay, our final pattern for today. I'm going to split up the eighth notes again, however, This time, I'm going to place an eighth note pair on count one, followed by a quarter note on count two. Another eighth note pair on count three, with a quarter note, on count four. I'm going to be singing this pattern using the syllable combination. Booty da, booty da. So it's gonna sound like this. Video, booty da, booty da. So let's bring in the ensemble and take a listen. And, once again, I would strongly suggest that you saying this pattern while I play it. Tons of musical growth, it's going to take place, take advantage of the opportunity to grow musically, even while you're listening to The podcast right? So Rudy da, foodie da. Okay, here we go. Let's bring in the group. Let's check it out. To cool man way too cool. Another classic pattern found in I don't know a million standards. It never ceases to amaze me how great quarter notes and eighth notes can sound When played with a good groove, and proper articulation, Far too often, aspiring jazz pianist focus on the notes they are playing. They are searching for the magical notes that are going to make them sound really good. Way too much emphasis is placed on notes when studying music. Interesting, right? way too much emphasis is placed on notes when studying music. When doing so you end up excluding harmony and rhythm, which in my opinion, is the most important dimension of music. rhythm. In fact, the word notes has unfortunately become a synonym for music. The two words are are used interchangeably as if they're one in the same and the reality is They are not the simplest model of a musical sound is a sine wave. It's not hip. It's not cool. And it's definitely not jazz. Well, I hope you have found this jazz piano skills podcast lesson, exploring the eighth note. Part Two to be insightful, and of course, I hope you found it to be beneficial. Don't forget, I will see you Thursday evening at the jazz panel skills masterclass 8pm, central standard time to discuss this podcast episode in greater detail, and to answer any questions you may have about this lesson, or the study of jazz in general. Also, download the education No guides for this podcast lesson at jazz piano skills calm. There are a tremendous resource that will expedite your discover, learn and play process exponentially. And while you're there, you should check out the jazz piano skills courses, and the jazz piano skills forums. Join the community when you're there, right get involved, and make some new jazz piano friends. As always, you can you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 my extension 211 that number again is 972-380-8050 extension 211 or you can reach me by email Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills.com or by speakpipe found on the jazz piano skills A website, in the educational guides and in the jazz piano skills, courses, plenty of ways and opportunities to reach out to me to get help and to get assistance with your jazz journey. 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