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jazz improv exercises centered around the melody of the tune?

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by DuluthDank, Jun 14, 2020.


  1. I posed this question first on the BG side, but remembered that I tend to get better answers to these sorts of questions here.

    I've tried some different methods of learning tunes, but all of them more or less stem from scale or arpeggio exercises. How about a method that stems from the melody, and embellishes, or builds off this melody in some sort of systematic way that could be turned into an exercise? Yes I know this would be more of a soloistic way of learning a tune and less of a comping approach. I'm curious what ideas are out there.

    i guess this could either be a way of learning a tune, or perhaps a more general improvisation exercise centered around the melody of a tune.
     
    Papageno likes this.
  2. Jim Dombrowski

    Jim Dombrowski Gold Supporting Member

    Jan 16, 2002
    Colorado Springs, CO
    MikeDavis and DuluthDank like this.
  3. M0ses

    M0ses

    Sep 11, 2009
    Los Angeles
    Well, transcribe the melody first then. Learn to sing it, play it, embellish it, and pretty soon you'll have a feeling for what chords could work too, yeah. Learning the melody is a great way to prevent getting lost in the changes.
     
    DuluthDank likes this.
  4. AGCurry

    AGCurry Supporting Member

    Jun 29, 2005
    St. Louis
    Once you know the melody well (and can play it), a useful exercise is to, in a sense, invert it. Where a melody line goes up, take it down. This can be done both harmonically and rhythmically.
     
    DuluthDank likes this.
  5. jjqq123

    jjqq123

    Aug 16, 2017
    The-original-Real-Book-version-of-Solar.jpg

    Hope this helps!
     
    mtto and DuluthDank like this.
  6. lurk

    lurk

    Dec 2, 2009
    Lee Konitz was all about this. It's a main reason his playing is so fresh and cliche free.I'm not sure it's an ideal approach for a bassist because others rely on us for harmonic info, but what do I know. I'm sure a internet search for Lee Konitz improv advice or transcriptions of his solos will turn up some of what you're looking for. Brilliant guy. The book Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improvisors Art is great.
     
    mtto, DuluthDank and olliebass like this.

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