Chord Tone Patterns

I continue giving my son occasional jazz exercises as an add-on to his regular trumpet lesson material. Building upon our previous exercise of arpeggiating the chords of a 12-bar blues, we are currently jumbling the order of the chord tones, to create a variety of patterns to play through the blues progression.

In the video below, we played a 3-5-1-7 pattern on the blues form, first in quarter notes, and then with swung eighth notes.

The last two measures of the blues’ harmonic progression are referred to as “the turnaround” by jazz musicians. In this spot, the chords change at a rate of every two beats, rather than every four beats (a half measure vs. a full measure). When playing the quarter note version of this exercise, we can only play the first two notes of the 4-note pattern here, as we are limited to two beats per chord.

Once this was learned, we moved on to the following swung eighth-note rendition, which I jokingly call “the ba-ba-doo-dah version.” With eighth notes, one can now play all of the notes in the turnaround; however, I simplified it slightly, so he’s playing only 3, 5, 1. Here’s how it looks, notated:

I am quite certain Logan would lose interest if I started explaining the intricacies of chordal construction at this point, so I’ve been staying clear of the subject. For now I just want him getting the sound of the progression in his head, and to have some fun. He’s becoming familiarized with the 12-bar blues form and the notion of outlining chords. Deeper connections and a more thorough understanding may come later.

This exercise can be done will all the combinations of the 1-3-5-7 chord tones:

1357, 1375, 1537, 1573, 1735, 1753,
3157, 3175, 3517, 3571, 3715, 3751,
5137, 5173, 5317, 5371, 5713, 5731,
7135, 7153, 7315, 7351, 7531, 7513

Am I missing any?

Trust me; I have no plans to work through all of these combinations with Logan, but it’s worthwhile to do several, and then see all the possibilities.

Moving forward, I hope to get him actually improvising with chord tones. Perhaps I will add some rhythmic restrictions or other parameters so he doesn’t become overwhelmed with possibilities. I like thinking of these restrictions as rules in a game. I’ll keep you posted with how it goes.

Terry Deane – the Enigma

Posted on March 20th, 2017   Comments

I keep thinking, if I wait a bit longer, Sean Drabbit will post a […]
Read More
What Do You Want From Me?

Arranging for Big Band

Posted on February 16th, 2017   Comments

Having just completed a big band commission, I thought I’d take a minute to […]
Read More
Big Band Jazz Arranging

Arpeggiating the Blues

Posted on January 21st, 2017   Comments

Logan and I have been arpeggiating our way through the 12-bar blues progression over […]
Read More
Beginning Jazz Improv

Jazz Improv – Where To Begin?

Posted on December 30th, 2016   Comments

Where does one begin when teaching jazz improv? This question, and the enormity of […]
Read More
Beginning Jazz Improv

Fear of Improvising

Posted on December 20th, 2016   Comments

This is the start of a new blogging series where I will be sharing […]
Read More
Beginning Jazz Improv

Set List from Toronto’s Old Mill (10/21/2016)

Posted on October 23rd, 2016   Comments

I had the pleasure of playing in Toronto this past weekend, in the band […]
Read More

12 Jazz Albums That Made A Lasting Impression On Me:

Posted on August 28th, 2016   Comments

Bret Zvacek, the Director of Jazz Studies at the Crane School of Music, asked […]
Read More

New Orleans Jazz: The Music of Freedom

Posted on August 16th, 2016   Comments

Two Mansfield (CT) Middle School students interviewed my UConn colleague Marvin McNeill and me […]
Read More
Michael Brecker

Even Michael Brecker Questioned Himself

Posted on August 3rd, 2016   Comments

A couple of weeks ago, I played a concert with Avery Sharpe as the […]
Read More