Sunday, 17 April 2016

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz (Week 5) SPRING 2016 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2016 Semester

Class Teacher: John Baboian

[Week 5]

Class started with all students having to play through the licks in the handout "II V I Improv Lines" as given last week. We then proceeded on to play as a class all the arpeggio lines in the material "Lady Bird turnaround arpeggios". 

Then it came the time to improvise to the tune "Lady Bird" and demonstrate that we could apply the turnaround arpeggios in the actual context of the song. I had fun, and was given feedback by John that it seemed that I was soloing and then it felt like a "sudden flip of the page" when I incorporated the 3-bar lick right at the turnaround. I was advised to work on the smooth transition between my own improvised lines and the learned turnaround arpeggio line. I was aware that part of the reason that contributed to the stark difference between my lines and the turnaround line was because the entire time when I was improvising through the form of the song, I was actually waiting for the turnaround to come by hahaha. With more practice, this problem should be able to be minimized. I was also told to continue working on my articulation. 

Concepts/content covered in class:

~ John was talking about as musicians, we would need to figure out and discover what would compel people to want to watch our performances. Specifically for himself, John mentioned that scatting along with his guitar improvisations is one of his unique selling points that makes the audience go crazy about his performance. John further illustrated the point by citing examples such as Pat Metheny who has something unique about his playing that make people in awe with his performance. 

[John demonstrated scatting by soloing to four choruses of "Lady Bird". He solo-ed in the usual manner for the first and second choruses and thereafter incorporated scatting in the third and fourth choruses.

[The idea of scatting was introduced in class because a guitar student was hurt and could not play his instrument. John then asked the student to scat an improvised solo to the tune in contrast to the other guitarists in the classroom.]

~ First handout given in class is "Modes of the Real Melodic Minor Scale". Our attention was first drawn to the symbols of stars and pluses at the left margin of the page, whereby it is said that the modes marked with stars are considered the most important modes, whilst the remaining modes marked with pluses are considered important but they are not the most important. 

[A comment given regarding the Lydian b7 mode of the melodic minor, in other words, the 4th mode of the scale, is that when you encounter a chord progression where mixolydian would seem the most straightforward and obvious choice, a quick way to spice it up would be to add a #11 and turning the mode used to Mixolydian #4.

[Moving onto Mixolydian b6, we were asked why is this mode important. The answer is that it is because the mode represents the 5th degree of the melodic minor scale, and the 5th degree is always important in any scale discussed. John also drew our attention to the fact that for this particular mode, it represents the co-existence of the natural 9th and b6.

[For the 6th mode of the melodic minor scale, Locrian nat9, an example was given to illustrate the meaning of "implied nat9" as indicated in the handout. John wrote the chord progression towards the ending of the tune "Stella by Starlight" by Victor Young, where the progression goes E-7(b5) to A7(b9), D-7(b5) to G7(b9), and then C-7(b5) to F7(b9). 

[In the case for this tune, we would play a regular Locrian mode over the chord E-7(b5). As for the chord D-7(b5), it is said that the 9th note of the scale, the "E" note is actually the root of the preceding E-7(b5) chord, and is the 5th of the preceding A7(b9) chord, therefore there would be an "implied" natural 9th for the D-7(b5) that follows those two chords. Thus in this case, we can play the Locrian nat9 mode over D-7(b5). Similarly, for the third pair of-7(b5) and dom7(b9) chords, because the 9th of C-7(b5), i.e. the "D" note is actually the root of D-7(b5), and is the 5th of G7(b9), there is thus an implied natural 9th and so, a C Locrian nat9 mode should be played over the C-7(b5) chord. 

["Stella by Starlight" is thus a recommended tune if a student wants to practice using the mode Locrian nat9 to improvise.

[Moving onto the last mode of the melodic minor scale, the altered scale or the Super Locrian scale, we were first "quizzed" on the equivalent of the b5 and the #5, i.e. b5 is also known as #11, and where #5 is also known as b13. John went on to elaborate that any scale with altered 9ths, 5th and 13th can be called an altered scale, however if a scale for example only has altered 9ths and 5ths, it would not be able to be referred to as an altered scale, or could probably be called "semi-altered". John continued by playing some chords on his guitar, and asked the class to call out names of modes that can be played over the chord sounded. There was a "trick question" at the end whereby the appropriate scale to solo using would be the diminished scale, but that is not covered under the modes of the melodic minor scale just went through in class.]

~ We were given a handout titled "Minor II V I Improv Lines", and were told that for the same licks, if you can play it in major, you can play it in minor. John went on to demonstrate all the licks on the handout as we played the bassline for the progression. The 5th lick was specially pointed out for its 2nd bar where triplets were played throughout the bar over a G7 altered chord. 

~ The lead sheet "All Blues" by Miles Davis was given out and we were also asked to flip to page 12 on the book "Jazz Conception" by Jim Snidero, which is titled "Total Blues". The difference was pointed out that while "All Blues" is in the key signature of 6/8, the Transcription in the book is notated as 3/4. John went on to explain that the two time signatures are essentially the same, depending on whether you are seeing the tune as eighth notes or quarter notes. 

[John went on to draw note rhythms including quarter notes, eighth notes, dotted quarter notes and dotted eighth notes on the board. We were then asked to engage in a rhythm exercise by clapping the corresponding rhythm as our teacher pointed to the specific note value.] 

~ Transcription given this week is "Just Friends" by Pat Martino. I chuckled at this one because Pat Martino is one of my most favorite jazz guitarists. The audio of the solo was played for us in class and we were asked to pay attention to the sweeps, tensions and chromatics utilized by Pat. It is again reiterated that for our mid term exams, we can choose to play our chosen tune in whichever way we like, be it with our own backing track, along with the song or with our teacher. 

Class Homework:

~ Learn all the licks in "Minor II V I Improv Lines" and be ready to play them in the following class.

~ To practice improvising over the tune "All Blues" by Miles Davis by using four types of note rhythms, specifically quarter notes, eighth notes, dotted quarter notes and dotted eighth notes. 

~ To play as notated, "Total Blues" in page 12 of Jazz Conception

~ To start preparing for the mid term exams by learning one of the transcriptions given and to practice improvising over one of the tunes played in class from the start of the semester (and that is not blues). 

Class Materials/Handouts:

Modes of the Real Melodic Minor Scale




Minor II V I Improvisation Lines




"All Blues" by Miles Davis




"Just Friends" Solo by Pat Martino




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