Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Private Instruction - (Week 13) SPRING 2015 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Private Instruction Lesson

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2015 Semester

Private Instruction Teacher: Sheryl Bailey

[Week 13]

Concepts/content covered in class:
-Real book tune "Out Of Nowhere" 

               ~Analyze key changes throughout the tune 
                           -Best to make it a habit to do so for every new piece of music you come across, as the awareness of key changes helps in scales/arpeggios choices for improvisation.

                           -The song transitions from the key of G major, to Ab major, back to G major again, then to A minor, to Ab major, and then to G major. After the first repeat of the song and back to the head of the song, the key again transitions from the key of G major, to Ab major, back to G major again, then to A minor, then to Bb major, and then finally to G major again. 

                           -It is important to note and be aware that the key changes in the song represent a lot of chromatic movements & are close to each other, i.e. 1/2 step movement from G major to Ab major to G major, 1 step movement from G major to A minor, and 1/2 step movement from A minor to Ab major to G major; and then for the second repeat it is a 1/2 step movement from A minor to Bb major, and then finally a 1 & 1/2 step movement from Bb major to G major. 

[`Awareness of the many stepwise motions in the key changes for the song helps in planning the various scale patterns & positions for use for soloing throughout the entire song.]  

                           -The concept "Key of the moment" illustrates the G major key for this song with its 2-bar only duration right at the start of the song before it transitions to another key. 

                           -The concept of key signatures may not necessarily apply when it comes to a lot of jazz tunes. For example, the tune for this lesson "Out Of Nowhere", though the key signature signified right at the top of the lead sheet shows one sharp for G major (and for a pop song, most of the time one can pretty much safely assume the song will be in the key of G), there are numerous key changes present throughout this jazz tune and the G major key center isn't applicable for a majority of the tune as well. In a similar note, my teacher mentioned that she doesn't use key signatures when writing songs & it's learning and drawing ideas from how a lot of jazz tunes from the Real Book are constructed. 

[`This concept introduced in class provides an inspiration that, as musicians if it's not what we typically do, we can always try writing songs without a strong key center or basing our compositions on a specific key or even starting the song writing process by fixing a key center. This concept is definitely applicable to me as fixing songs into specific keys has always been one of the very first steps I take when I write anything at all.]

               ~Soloing & improvising over the song 
                           -Throw a "dice", as a way to inject fun into the process of practicing, to determine the fretboard position to solo in for the song. 

[`For example, in class I was asked to throw the dice and the number I got was "5", referring to the 5th position on the guitar. 

`For the key of G, playing the G major scale is possible on the 5th fret with the fingering pattern that denotes the root note "G" played with 1st finger on 4th string, i.e. Playing G major starting on the 2nd scale degree on 5th fret. 

`For the key of Ab, it is possible to use the same fingering pattern as for key of G just by shifting the fingering 1/2 step up the fretboard to the 6th fret.

`For the key of A minor, we can use the fingering pattern with the root note "A" played with the 1st finger on the 6th string. i.e. Playing the A Harmonic Minor scale in root position starting from the 5th fret. 

`For the key of Bb, we can use the fingering pattern that denotes the root note of the scale, the "Bb" note played with the 2nd finger on the 6th string. i.e. Playing the Bb major scale starting from the 7th scale degree, the "A" note on the 5th fret.]

                           -To play dim7 arpeggio a 1/2 step above a dom7 chord whether the dom7 chord resolves to a I major or a I minor chord. 

[`Recap: A concept from a previous lesson about playing a dim7 with root a 1/2 step higher over the dom7 chord if the chord is resolving to a I minor because the notes of the dim7 arpeggio will be diatonic to the minor key. 

`An addition to this concept however, is that you can play a dim7 with root a 1/2 step over the dom7 chord even if the dom7 chord resolves to a I major chord. This is done as a way to introduce tension and because the dom7 chord can be treated like an accent. With the tension introduced, a chance will then be present as well for the tension to be resolved as the chord progression continues into the I major chord. The analogy my teacher used in class was that you can compare the dom7 chord in a resolving II-V-I progression as the main chemical ingredient that makes all the biggest difference when added to the mix in a chemistry experiment/formula. 

`Similarly when playing the dim7 arpeggio, always be aware that the particular dim7 arpeggio is synonymous with 3 other dim7 arpeggios with different root names. That due to the consistent minor 3rd interval between every note in a dim7 arpeggio, a dim7 arpeggio played starting with other notes in the same arpeggio would yield the dim7 arpeggios with roots starting with the notes within that arpeggio. 
For example in "Out Of Nowhere", one can play a Ebdim7 arpeggio over the D7 arpeggio at the 3rd bar of the last turnaround bar in the lead sheet that resolves to a Gmaj7 chord. The synonymous arpeggios in this case to Ebdim7 would be Gbdim7, Adim7 and Cdim7 arpeggios, which are all arpeggios starting with a root note that are notes contained within an Ebdim7 arpeggio.]

                           -For a start, you can choose to play major scales for all the major keys present in the song and A harmonic minor scale when the A minor key center comes by in the song. 

[`A practice tip: If you have been practicing the 12 key grip for major and minor scales in various positions of the fretboard, and since the song contains only 4 keys out of the 12 keys, it should feel more manageable. Although of course, it always becomes much harder when other factors come into play such as groove of song, exact duration of the different keys and creating melodious lead lines.] 

               ~Possibilities to further explore and maximize learning of the song 
                           -Listen to the song and pay very close attention for the key changes within the song and how it sounds like for every instrument for solo parts, melody parts and accompaniment parts. 

                           -Explore and play the song in 8-bar and 4-bar trades, as it ensures even greater familiarity with the form and chord progression of the song.  

                           -Explore the possibilities of substitute chords and/or additional chords for the song beyond what is shown and written on the lead sheet. 

[`For example in the lead sheet for "Out Of Nowhere", for the last 2 bars in the turnaround, the second last bar contains only a G major triad chord for the entire duration of the bar, while the last bar contains a II-7 and V7 for each of the 2 beats in the bar. My teacher mentioned that if you see that, it is great to develop an automatic intuition that makes you want to play a I-VI-II-V, a very common turnaround grouping in jazz, in place of what you actually see on paper. And for the turnaround resolving to Gmaj7, that means instead of playing a G major triad chord in the second last bar, you can change it to Gmaj7 for the first 2 beats and then E7 for the next 2 beats. 

`I had a little discussion with my teacher as well on the chord quality of the VI chord in question here. From my theory studies in school a few years ago, the VI in a I-VI-II-V had always took on the chord quality of minor7th as diatonic to a major scale. For this however, my teacher said that there can be a degree of flexibility as she would instead choose to play the VI as a dom7 chord as she feels that the dom7 chord is one with greater impact.]

                           -To be aware of certain 'unique' chords when analyzing the song, such as the dual-functioning B-7 chord in the 7th bar of the song. The B-7 chord in this case functions as a III-7 chord diatonic to the G major key, whilst also functioning as a II-7 in a II-V grouping resolving to A minor, i.e. B-7 and E7(b9) resolving to A-7. 

                           -Sometimes just to make the entire process of practicing improvisation to any song less daunting, you can develop the habit of writing the key changes down and scale/arpeggio positions you are contemplating to use clearly down on paper. The effect of that almost always makes you feel that the song is much more manageable and the information much more digestible. 

                           -Another interesting point of inspiration I've gotten during the class is that even though I have been practicing the 12 key grip, I realize that all I've been doing is practicing it in the 5th fret position - the fretboard position I'm most comfortable with and play in the most. The learning point is that since I'm most uncomfortable and unfamiliar playing at high positions in the fretboard such as the 14th or 15th fret, I should practice playing the 12 key grip right at those frets. 

                           -Practice both technical and actual song for sight-reading. Technical sight-reading would refer to notes that are placed very sequentially, also with very specific fret positions, for example the 11th fret. Actual song sight-reading could refer to reading any song from the Real Book. 

                           -Also for those who have not yet gotten used to 'seeing' the fretboard in your head, it will be good practice to do so. As my teacher says it, being able to mentally practice will come really useful if you have a really busy schedule and have limited time to learn certain material. Having the ability to practice when traveling home by bus or by car for example, will allow you to be able to immediately put your fingers in the correct fingering the moment you get home. And that is because you would have figured out possible fingering patterns during the journey home. 

                           -Last but not least, a fun joke introduced in class. The slow tempo that music students typically need to be able to sight-read a piece he/she has not seen before, my teacher call it the "tempo di reado" or the "tempo di learno", and I contributed one more "tempo di slowo". It was hilarious. 

Class Handouts/Materials:

Fretboard Position;
Scale Fingering Patterns for Keys in "Out Of Nowhere"

Leadsheet for "Out Of Nowhere" 

Sunday, 7 June 2015

Sapphire Ng | [Guitar TAB & VIDEO] Alternating Amaj7 & Bbdim7 Arpeggios - Chord Changes Improv Exercise (4 Fretboard Positions, 6 Bars Per Position)

Guitarist: Sapphire Ng

Chord Changes Improvisation Exercise
For "Desafinado"

Alternating Amaj7 chord and Bbdim7 chord per bar
Playing Bbdim7 / Dbdim7 / Edim7 / Gdim7 arpeggio over Bbdim7 chord

{4 Fretboard Positions, 6 Bars Per Position}


[Guitar TAB]