Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

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ttf_peteriley
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_peteriley » Fri Nov 17, 2017 8:44 pm

Hi,

I'm trying to learn some of the mode scales. I can do the maths, so I know, for example, to use the notes of the C major scale starting on B to get the B locrian. Is this OK, and I just need to engrain the "shape" of the scale in my memory (I'm getting the idea of a "shape" from a keyboard teacher who suggests that each scale has a unique "shape"...which I can see on a piano...but not sure about the trombone). I've obviously not practiced enough to "see" this shape. I can feel the notes for major, dorian, and mixolidian, but there's several more, so I was looking for some hints to make them easier (plus the diminished, WT, and altered). For the modes, I could see a cheat: Just remember the relationship to the major key it comes from and make sure you anchor to the 7th note - but that seems like it's a kludge.

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.
ttf_BillO
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_BillO » Fri Nov 17, 2017 9:38 pm

I'm looking forward to reading the replies to this.

The questions you are asking do not align with the way I play when improvising, but I'll keep an open mid on this because there are far better players out there than me.
ttf_Pre59
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_Pre59 » Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:14 am

Rick Beato on YouTube demonstrates modes and scales by playing a sustained chord on a keyboard and playing over the top on a guitar or other keyboard. I'm a fan of learning about improvisation from pattern based instruments, and I started with some early Joe Pass DVDs.

This knowledge has to mean something to you, and you have to be able to place it in a context, otherwise it's just stuff. Some people have the kind of mind where they can understand and more importantly retain it, and even more importantly use it in a musically valid way. Others have to have a context and then wonder how to play in it; I'd put myself in this one.

The Rick Beato site is a great resource and worth checking out.
ttf_Andrew Meronek
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_Andrew Meronek » Sat Nov 18, 2017 4:49 am

Think of all scales, whether major or minor or lydian or locrian or octatonic or whatever, as a set of intervals instead of as a set of pitches. That will reduce the amount of information you have to organize, and we all really hear these scales by interval relationships, not notes in of themselves. For example, here are a few scales described in the amount of half-steps per interval:

Major: 2-2-1-2-2-2-1
Minor: 2-1-2-2-1-2-2
Lydian: 2-2-2-1-2-2-1
Locrian: 1-2-2-1-2-2-2
Octatonic: 2-1-2-1-2-1-2-1
Harmonic Minor: 2-1-2-2-1-3-1

and so on.

I also recommend Rick Beato's Youtube content. The guy has a nice approach to music theory - more "experience smart" than "book smart".
ttf_peteriley
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_peteriley » Sat Nov 18, 2017 6:17 am

Hi Andrew and Pre59,

Thanks for the suggestions. I've watched some of Rick Beato's stuff in the past and I like it. Learning the intervalic relationships is a great idea Andrew. I actually did this to get through an audition last year (they wanted 2-octaves of major, natural, melodic, and harmonic minors). For the minor key's I just learned the three different patterns and it saved me a lot of time. But I didn't develop a sense of what notes were in each collection. I guess I'd ask the same question for the mode learning - is that important.

Cheers, Pete
ttf_Andrew Meronek
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_Andrew Meronek » Sun Nov 19, 2017 7:35 am

Quote from: peteriley on Nov 18, 2017, 06:17AMHi Andrew and Pre59,

Thanks for the suggestions. I've watched some of Rick Beato's stuff in the past and I like it. Learning the intervalic relationships is a great idea Andrew. I actually did this to get through an audition last year (they wanted 2-octaves of major, natural, melodic, and harmonic minors). For the minor key's I just learned the three different patterns and it saved me a lot of time. But I didn't develop a sense of what notes were in each collection. I guess I'd ask the same question for the mode learning - is that important.

Cheers, Pete

The other half of that equation is learning the piano key layout. This is required even if you don't intend to ever really play piano, because our notation system is based on the piano keys. Learning that layout learns you where all the accidentals fall in music notation, so you know how to translate a written interval into an actual, heard interval. Once you have that, scales by intervals are easy.

A slight variation on learning intervals like I described above is learning the intervals relative to the root of the scale instead of relative to the next pitch in sequence. Both approaches are nice.
ttf_EdGrissom
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_EdGrissom » Mon Nov 20, 2017 3:55 am

I do things the "wrong way" according to many of you, but I only think in terms of the major scale.  Then I just start them on other scale tones than the tonic to play all the different modes.  For example, if I have to play in D minor Dorian, I just play the C major scale starting on D.   If I have to play over an Bb dominant, I'll use the Eb major scale starting on Bb.
If you only memorize the 12 majors and can start them on all 7 degrees, then all you have to do is figure out which one to use in each situation.   
ttf_Matt K
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_Matt K » Mon Nov 20, 2017 5:09 am

Quote from: EdGrissom on Nov 20, 2017, 03:55AMI do things the "wrong way" according to many of you, but I only think in terms of the major scale.  Then I just start them on other scale tones than the tonic to play all the different modes.  For example, if I have to play in D minor Dorian, I just play the C major scale starting on D.   If I have to play over an Bb dominant, I'll use the Eb major scale starting on Bb.
If you only memorize the 12 majors and can start them on all 7 degrees, then all you have to do is figure out which one to use in each situation.   


I think that's how a lot of people do it.  After doing that for a certain amount of time though, you do stat to think of ones you frequently use more handily than ones you don't. D dorian for me is every bit as natural as C major for me.  D# minor less so!

The important part to me is that you not just do the scales, but the arpeggios and chord outlines. As in, you can play 7,5,3,1 or  b9, 5, 7, 3, etc. and the various permutations. I did a little studying with a saxophone player this year and it occurred to me that saxophonists tend to do a lot more intervals in their improvising rather than scalar stuff.  Makes sense, the instrument is setup to be able to do that a little more easily than trombone in some ways.  (Best demonstration that comes to mind is Coltrane's solo on Giant steps.

In other words, in my experience, the best way isn't to think of scales as scales per se but to think about the important parts of a chord and fill in the gaps.  Think of a ii-V7-I in Bb for example. If you just get the 4 chord tones for each of the three chords, you only really need to remember 12 notes total. But you can play some pretty convincing licks over them:

Cm -> F7 -> Bb

[Eb, G, C, Bb] -> [A, C, F, Eb] -> [D]

Then as you get good at getting these "important" notes, fill in with the notes in between. That's where the scales come in.  In this example, the Cm is really C dorian, so A is natural.  So you can arrive at the A while still in the Cm chord and do an anticipation to the third of the F7 chord. Etc.

Cm -> F7 -> Bb

[Eb, F, G, A] -> [A, Bb, C, D] -> [D]


This approach is a lot easier for me since you only have to really know the 3,5, 7 of any chord to compute the rest of the notes.  The 9th is easy since its just the next whole step.  (Or +1/2 if its a b9 chord.)  Once you can compute these 5 notes easily, work on 11ths (4ths).  Then do your 6ths(/13s). Voila! You have the whole scale now! No memorization required either, but eventually you will memorize them.


Diminished scales are a little bit different:
I think of fully-diminished chords as being #1,3,5,b7.  So B dim is a Bb7 chord starting on B.  (B, D, F, Ab) That's a little backwards, but I learned it from Matt Niess. So if its good enough for him, its good enough for me  Image  The scale you play over this are the halfsteps below the arpeggio. So A#, B, C#, D, E, F, G, Ab. Note that the intervals in a diminished chord are fully symmetrical, meaning that any of the notes in the chord can be root.  That means that there are really only two scales you have to learn.  Bdim and Bb dim.  Every other diminished chord is one of those two scales, but starting on a different note.

Half diminished is just the 7th scale degree of the relative major, so B half-dim is B, D, F, A.  I don't have an expedient. BUt I will say that when I see a half-dim, I generally will arpeggiate until I can be a step away from the 3rd of the next chord.  So if its like, B half-dim -> C I'll do [D, A, G, F] -> [E]

Or tl;dr, if you get the arpeggios down first, all you have to do is memorize what the 3rd, 5th, and 7th are.  The root should be obvious from the scale you're playing.  So memorize those three. Then you can compute the other 2 notes and eventually those will be memorized too if you use them enough.
ttf_peteriley
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_peteriley » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:53 am

Quote from: Andrew Meronek on Nov 19, 2017, 07:35AMThe other half of that equation is learning the piano key layout. This is required even if you don't intend to ever really play piano, because our notation system is based on the piano keys. Learning that layout learns you where all the accidentals fall in music notation, so you know how to translate a written interval into an actual, heard interval. Once you have that, scales by intervals are easy.

Hi Andrew,

Thanks - that's what I was wondering about. I am studying piano as my second instrument so this is useful. And it does help to see things like B major on the piano and not have to think about the notes as a serial thing. I've not got to the point where I can translate/visualize this for the modes, but I'll give it a try.
ttf_peteriley
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_peteriley » Mon Nov 20, 2017 8:56 am

Quote from: EdGrissom on Nov 20, 2017, 03:55AMI do things the "wrong way" according to many of you, but I only think in terms of the major scale.  Then I just start them on other scale tones than the tonic to play all the different modes.  For example, if I have to play in D minor Dorian, I just play the C major scale starting on D.   If I have to play over an Bb dominant, I'll use the Eb major scale starting on Bb.
If you only memorize the 12 majors and can start them on all 7 degrees, then all you have to do is figure out which one to use in each situation.   

Hi Ed,

I'm guessing there's no "wrong way" just the way that works best for each person. This is how I've been thinking of them, and it's helped just this week learning the scales for "What is this thing called Love". I can get the two half diminished 7 chords (G and D) by playing Ab and Eb major but starting on the semitone below. If I repeat that a bunch of times, I can keep it in memory for when those chords appear.

Cheers, Pete
ttf_peteriley
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_peteriley » Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:00 am

Quote from: Matt K on Nov 20, 2017, 05:09AMThe important part to me is that you not just do the scales, but the arpeggios and chord outlines.

Hi Matt,

Thanks for the detailed info- really useful. I am also doing the chords...the question wasn't really about just trying to improv over scales. In fact, from an improv perspective, I'm still at the 1-2-3-5/1-b3-4-5 level of the Bergonzi book! I'm taking the Berklee Coursera Jazz course, and this week, it's about learning the jazz scales. So, I'm trying to just get them into memory as best as I can. Obviously, it's a longer process than a week, but I knew you guys would have some great insight.

Pete
ttf_Matt K
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_Matt K » Mon Nov 20, 2017 9:54 am

Quote from: peteriley on Nov 20, 2017, 09:00AMHi Matt,

Thanks for the detailed info- really useful. I am also doing the chords...the question wasn't really about just trying to improv over scales. In fact, from an improv perspective, I'm still at the 1-2-3-5/1-b3-4-5 level of the Bergonzi book! I'm taking the Berklee Coursera Jazz course, and this week, it's about learning the jazz scales. So, I'm trying to just get them into memory as best as I can. Obviously, it's a longer process than a week, but I knew you guys would have some great insight.

Pete

No problem! Even if the purpose is just to memorize chords, I still recommend the approach of starting with memorizing chords and then figuring out the rest. From a memory perspective, your brain only has a limited amount of objects it can store simultaneously. If you think of each scale as two smaller chunks, one of the chord tones and the other of mom chord tones, you'll be able to memorize faster. At least that's been my experience!
ttf_peteriley
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_peteriley » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:24 pm

Hi Matt,

Yes, that makes sense. There's a piano teacher on YouTube that suggested you could make up decent scales by just adding a whole tone to the 1st, 3rd, and 5th, which is almost a full scale, but that doesn't seem to work well for all of the scales.

I've filled in the rest of Andrew's scale patterns, so here they are for completeness (hopefully I've got the altered scale right):

Ionian (major): Root-2-2-1-2-2-2-1
Dorian: Root-2-1-2-2-2-1-2
Phrygian;Root-1-2-2-2-1-2-2
Lydian: Root-2-2-2-1-2-2-1
Mixolydian: Root-2-2-1-2-2-1-2
Aolean (natural minor): Root-2-1-2-2-1-2-2
Locrian: Root-1-2-2-1-2-2-2
Harmonic Minor: Root-2-1-2-2-1-3-1
Melodic Minor: Root-2-1-2-2-2-2-1
Altered 7 Scale: Root-1-2-1-2-2-2-2 (e.g., F Gb Ab Bbb Cb Db Eb,F)

-Pete

ttf_peteriley
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Memorizing jazz scales on trombone

Post by ttf_peteriley » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:24 pm

Hi Matt,

Yes, that makes sense. There's a piano teacher on YouTube that suggested you could make up decent scales by just adding a whole tone to the 1st, 3rd, and 5th, which is almost a full scale, but that doesn't seem to work well for all of the scales.

I've filled in the rest of Andrew's scale patterns, so here they are for completeness (hopefully I've got the altered scale right):

Ionian (major): Root-2-2-1-2-2-2-1
Dorian: Root-2-1-2-2-2-1-2
Phrygian;Root-1-2-2-2-1-2-2
Lydian: Root-2-2-2-1-2-2-1
Mixolydian: Root-2-2-1-2-2-1-2
Aolean (natural minor): Root-2-1-2-2-1-2-2
Locrian: Root-1-2-2-1-2-2-2
Harmonic Minor: Root-2-1-2-2-1-3-1
Melodic Minor: Root-2-1-2-2-2-2-1
Altered 7 Scale: Root-1-2-1-2-2-2-2 (e.g., F Gb Ab Bbb Cb Db Eb,F)

-Pete

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