This JazzPianoSkills Podcast Episode explores the Form, Melody, Harmony, and Function of the Miles Davis standard "Tune Up".
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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 classic jazz standard by Miles Davis, Tune Up. In this Jazz Piano Lesson you will:
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Welcome to jazz piano skills. I'm Dr. Bob Lawrence. It's time to discover, learn and play jazz piano. Today you are going to discover a classic Miles Davis standard tune up, you're going to learn the melody chords and harmonic movement of tune up and you are going to play arpeggios and scales for improvising, over tune up. So as I always like to say regardless of where you are in your jazz journey, a beginner intermediate player, an advanced player or even if you are an experienced professional, you will find this jazz piano skills podcast lesson exploring the classic standard by Miles Davis tune up to be very beneficial. If you are a new listener to the jazz panel skills podcast, I want to welcome you and invite you to become a jazz piano skills member. Visit jazz panel skills.com to learn more about the plethora of jazz educational resources and services that are available for you to use. For example, the educational podcast packets, the illustrations the lead sheets the play alongs that are available for every podcast episode, the sequential jazz piano curriculum with interactive comprehensive courses that use a self paced format. You also have access to the online weekly master classes that I host every week. And also you have access to the private jazz piano community. And last but not least, unlimited, private, personal and professional educational support. Again, visit jazz panel skills comm to learn more about activating your membership. If you have any questions, let me know. I'm always happy to help in any way that I can. Okay, let's discover learn and play. jazz piano in the last few weeks we have been doing some serious grunt work exploring a variety of diatonic exercises, harmonic diatonic exercises, melodic diatonic exercises, and 251 diatonic exercises. Today we are going to enjoy the fruits of our labor as we explore and dissect the melody chords, harmonic movement, arpeggios and scales of the classic Miles Davis standard tune up. tons to get done today. So let's jump in. And begin by listening to Miles Davis. Play the head of tune up from the 1953 54 blue haze album. Fasten your seat belt. Here we go. Such a great, such a great album. If blue haze is not in your jazz collection it should be the entire album is awesome. So many great musicians playing with Myles john lewis from the modern jazz quartet who is actually playing piano on tune up. You got Horace silver Art Blakey, Charles Mingus, Max Roach to name just a few, so many great tunes as well. In addition to tune up I'll remember April for old devil moon blue haze when the lights are low miles ahead. Again, this album should be in your jazz collection. I also want to quickly mention that I included a transcription of miles Solo on tune up in your lead sheets, podcast packing. And even though we are not studying the transcription today, I thought it would be nice for you to have for future reference. So enjoy. Okay, so now that I've taken a few minutes for us to discover the Miles Davis tune tune up, it's time to learn and play it. Our approach that we are going to use today for gaining a functional command of tune up is very thorough and is as follows. Number one, we are going to learn and play the melody. Number two, we are going to learn and play the chord progression. Number three, we are going to learn and play left hand shells. Number four, we are going to learn and play two handed voicings. Number five we are going to learn and play hands together melody shells and voicings. Number six we are going to learn and play arpeggios. As an exercise. We are going to learn and play arpeggios as improvisation. We're going to learn and play scales as exercise. Number nine we're going to learn and play scales is improvisation. And finally, number 10. We're going to learn and play arpeggios and scales when improvising. Whoo. That was a mouthful. So you can see that this is a pretty extensive agenda that provides you a method an approach to truly learning tune up. And honestly, it's the same approach you should use to learn any tip period. So let's dig in with step one. Let's learn and play the melody. Here are a couple of do's and don'ts to adhere to when learning a melody. Number one, don't use a real book or any fake book to learn the melody. do use your ears. In other words, pick out the melody by listening to a recording. In fact, pleasant to lots of recordings. Number two, don't give up. If it is not easy for you to initially do this. Remember, you're training your ears to listen in an entirely new way. do listen to the recording over and over and over again. So that you can hear the melody in your head without the recording actually being played. Think about this. If I told you to pick out the melody The Happy birthday, you would not need a recording to assist you. You know Happy Birthday because you have heard it over and over and over again. Do the same for any melody you're wanting to learn. Don't use the most difficult recording of a tune to learn the melody by ear. Typically, I like to find a rendition performed by a vocalist where the melody is going to be performed without a ton of ornamentation. In other words, if I had to choose between Charlie Parker recording, or Frank Sinatra recording of a song, I'm more than likely will choose the Sinatra recording. The melody will be much easier to pick out. Do be patient it is okay to hunt and peck as I like to say when learning a melody by ear. Keep this in mind. The more you hunt and peck with the tune you are currently learning by ear The less you will have to hunt and peck. With the next tune you learn your ears will grow and get better with each and every two. Okay, I am going to play the melody of tune up right now. At a tempo of 140 half the speed that miles is playing on the recording that I just played for you earlier. In fact everything I played today will be at 140 half the tempo. The play long packet that I put together for you to use when practicing has tune up at various temples 101 2141 60 and 180. You do not need to play tune up at 281 Wait a minute, let me let me rephrase that statement. You should not play tune up, or any other song at 280 when you are trying to learn it, that would be ridiculous and very counterproductive, to say the very least. So listen to the melody of tune up, and feel free to use this rendition to pick out the melody. Instead of the miles recording. I'm going to bring in the ensemble, play at a relaxed tempo of 140. And play melody only. No courts, just simply the melody, making it as easy as possible for you to hunt and peck, and to figure out the melody. So let's check it out. Here we go. Nice, very straightforward. No chords, and no ornamentation to get in the way. If the miles recordings a little too confusing to pick out the melody, then use the one I just played. spend a little time with it. And before you know it, you will be playing tune up by using your ears and not notes on a piece of paper. Now, if you feel you are ready to tackle even more with your ears, then we can and should do the same thing with the chord changes. Listen to the recording, and figure out the progression. The changes. If you are at this very moment thinking Whoa, this is too much, then don't worry about it. Skip it at this time, use the lead sheet that I put together with the chord changes only that is included in the lead sheet packet that you can download. It's okay to take one step at a time. Get used to learning melodies first with your ears, before worrying about learning the chord changes with your ears. Again, one step at a time is a very good approach. But for those of you who feel you are ready to begin this process of learning the progression by ear, I am going to play for you right now the core changes of tune up using simple block chords, block chords that are played using root position and inversions. No fancy schmancy voicings. So here we go. Let's bring the ensemble back in and play the chord changes of tune up at a temple of 140 using simple block chords. Let's check it out. Here we go. Very nice. Here are a few tips for you. Number one Try to find root movement. First, number two, think 251 progressions, and number three, think various key centers. Just as I mentioned earlier that it is okay to hunt and peck on the piano. When learning a melody by ear, it is also okay to hunt and peck when trying to figure out the chord changes of a tune by ear. And likewise, the more you hunt and peck at the piano, when learning a melody, the easier it will become. The same holds true for learning the chord changes. So don't be afraid to hunt and peck. It's all part of the process that everyone and I mean everyone goes through when developing professional jazz piano skills. One last quick point before moving on, I included in the lead sheet packet, a harmonic analysis of tuna. Be sure to spend some time with this lead sheet as well. You want to understand the harmonic function of the progression within any tune you learn. In doing so your ears will develop the skill of hearing movement 25116251 etc. Alright, right now that we have looked at the melody and chord changes, and have the chassis of tune up in place, let's begin to decorative or artistic process of playing tune up. We'll begin with our left hand shell voicings, grab the leash sheet out of your lychee packet that has the contemporary three note shells notated. If you are not familiar with these shells, check out my December 16 2019 podcast episode that deals specifically with these essential shapes and sounds. Okay, so with your lead sheet in hand, you can follow along as I play the chord changes of tune up using these voicings. And by the way, these voicings I use extensively when playing either the melody or improvising in my right hand. They are very supportive of the sound while at the same time very transparent. In other words, they do not get in the way of the melody or improvisation being played in my right hand. Okay, let's bring the ensemble back in and check out these three note left hand shell voicings. Here we go. See what I mean? very supportive the sound while at the same time very light, very transparent, in a nutshell, non obtrusive. Now, let's move on to my five note two handed voicings. If you have not done so already, I want to encourage you to listen to my March 3 and march 10 2020 podcast episodes that focus entirely on constructing contemporary two handed voicings. I use these shapes and sounds when I am playing behind an instrumentalist, or vocalist. I also use these shapes and sounds when playing solo piano. I guess what I'm trying to say is these voicings are essential you will use them in every plane situation. Again, what I love about these voicings is their versatility not only with regards to various plane and performance but also their repurposing versatility. In other words, the same shapes can be used to satisfy satisfy various chords. And because of this versatility some jazzers refer to these voicings as a miracle voicings. So grab the two handed voicings lead sheet from the lead sheet, pack it to follow along. Let's bring the ensemble back in and listen to these five note voicings two in the left hand three in the right hand. Let's listen to these miracle voicings played with tune up. Here we go. Pretty cool stuff. Indeed. You can never go wrong with either set of voicings, the three note left hand shell voicings, or the five note two handed voicings. So you're probably asking yourself, Well, how does all this sound, the melody, shell voicings and two handed voicings when it is all played together? That is a great question that needs to be answered and answered right now. So without any further ado, let's bring the ensemble right back in and listen to tune up melody plus shell plus two handed voicings. And once again, I'm going to play this pretty straightforward. I'm not going to try to get fancy. I want you to hear all three of these components working together. The melody, the left hand shells and the two handed voicings. Okay, all right. Let's check it out. Here we go. Nice. And again, I was playing everything straight forward. And I would recommend that you do exactly the same when putting it all together. The melody left hand shells and two handed voicings. You want to gain a functional command of these skills before you attempt to cross over into the artistic realm. Alright, now that we have dealt with the melody and harmony, let's spend a little time exploring improvisation. You have heard me say this many times in previous podcast episodes, that every melody, whether it is composed or improvised, consists of a balance between arpeggio and scale motion, moving in either an ascending or descending direction. So with that being said, I want us to dive into into some good old fashioned arpeggio and scale work. We spent the last three weeks studying diatonic harmonic exercises diatonic melodic exercises, and last week the diatonic 251 exercises. If you recall, in last week's episode, I outlined several ways to arpeggiate through the 251 progressions to begin developing jazz language. Well now, we are going to put some of those exercises to work and tune up is the perfect tune to do just that, considering that the entire tune is basically the linking together of three to five one progressions. Three to five one progressions, not three to 513251 progressions. So I am going to take the jazz piano skills we developed last week and use them right now to play through tune up. I am going to use alternating ascending and descending diatonic arpeggio motion to play through tuna. Even though this is an exercise, I am still going to play musically. I want to use a good jazz articulation and of course, play with with a good jazz feel, playing slightly behind the beat. Definitely not out in front of it. In other words rushing. I want to play relaxed. Okay, let's bring the ensemble and check out these alternating ascending and descending arpeggios. Moving through the three to five one progressions found in tune up. Let's check it out. Here we go. To funny, plain, simple ascending and descending arpeggios, constructed with the root, third, fifth and seventh. Using an eighth note feel can sound pretty darn good when played musically. And once you have a functional command of this jazz piano skill, you can begin manipulating the arpeggios rhythmically which makes them sound even better. So now I am going to do just that. I am going to play through tune up again and improvise using arpeggio motion. Only. No chromaticism, no altered tones. Just the root, third, fifth and seventh of each chord. That's it for let's bring the ensemble back and check it out. Here we go. Wow. I don't know about you. But I think it's amazing how much jazz vocabulary you can develop using simple us and Dean and descending arpeggios. And even though this is true, so many students that I have taught over the years want to quickly move past this jazz piano skill, if not bypass it entirely in order to get what get to what they perceive as the good stuff, constantly searching for the pot of gold, which is actually right in front of them to funny. Okay, now that we have played tune up using arpeggios, first as an exercise, and then as a form of improvisation, we are now going to use the very same approach with scales. I'm going to play through tune up using alternating ascending and descending scale motion through each of the 251 progressions. And of course, that little funky first ending which has an altered dominant at the end. And once again, I'm going to play this exercise as musically as possible, with a good jazz articulation, and a good jazz feel. Alright, it's time to hear these scales in a musical context. So let's bring our ensemble back in and play tune up using alternating ascending and descending scale motion. Check it out. Here we go. Very, very cool. This is a big time jazz piano skill. So be patient as you begin playing through chord changes, using alternating ascending and descending scale motion. And just like alternating ascending and descending arpeggio motion sounds pretty darn good when played musically, and even better women manipulated rhythmically. The same holds true for scale motion. So now I'm going to do just that I am going to play through tune up again and improvise. Using scale motion only. Once again, no chromaticism, no altered tones, just the notes of the scale, period. This should be fun. So let's check it out. Here we go. Wow. Once again, so much jazz vocabulary can be developed using scale motion only and yet, we all want to move beyond scales and get to the good stuff. The pot of gold that is right in front of us. How many times have you heard practice your scales and arpeggios and how Have shook your head in total agreement, only to completely ignore the advice once you sit at the piano, right? Guilty human nature too funny. So don't fall into this trap. Practice your scales and arpeggios for real and then apply them as I just did to tune up. So now what does it sound like if I improvise using a combination of scales and arpeggios with no chromaticism, no alterations, just diatonic scale, and arpeggio motion with a balance of ascending and descending movement? I'm guessing that will sound pretty darn good. Let's see. Let's check it out. Here we go. What can I say? Actually, I don't need to say anything. I think the proof is in the plane. Today, I walked you through 10 crucial steps for not only learning a tune, but learning to tune in such a way that number one, you are truly learning the tune. And number two, you are developing essential jazz piano skills as you actually learn the tune. The 10 steps again, are one learn and play the melody. Number two, learn and play the chord progression. Number three, learn and play left hand shells. Number four, learn and play two handed voicings. Number five, learn and play hands together. Melody, shells and voicings. Number six, learn and play arpeggios as an exercise number seven. learn and play arpeggios as improvisation. Number eight learn in play scales as an exercise. Number nine, learn and play scales as improvisation and number 10. learn and play arpeggios and scales when improvising. Wow, that was a packed lesson as they all are. I hope you have found this jazz panel skills podcast lesson exploring the classic jazz standard tune up by Miles Davis 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 at 8pm Central time to discuss this podcast episode lesson exploring miles Davis's tune up in greater detail and to answer any questions that you may have about the study of jazz in general. Also, as a jazz piano skills member Be sure to use the educational podcast packets for this podcast lesson and the jazz panel skills courses to maximize your musical growth. Likewise, make sure you are an active participant in the jazz piano skills community. Get involved and contribute to the various forums make some new jazz piano for As always, you can reach me by phone 972-380-8050 extension 211 by email Dr. Lawrence Dr. Lawrence at jazz piano skills calm or by speakpipe found throughout the jazz piano skills website, and throughout all of the jazz piano skills courses. That's it for now. And until next week, enjoy tuna by Miles Davis. Enjoy the journey. And most of all, have fun as you discover, learn and play jazz piano