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TOOLS OF THE COMPOSER
LESSON 1: Finding the Money Note (b13) on a Diminished Seventh Chord
In this video lesson, I explore what I call a “money note” over a diminished seventh chord. I call it this because I consider it to be a high harmonic value note.
I have always loved the sound that the major composers utilize in their great melodies. Jobim, Porter, Jerome Kern, Johnny Green…they all have this one note choice in common when it comes to their melodic choice over a diminished chord.
This video lesson is given from the piano to provide you with the full harmonic context of the sound. Includes an echo game working with the sound.
LESSON 2: Using Maj7#5 Chord Structures Over Minor ii v i Progressions
n this video lesson, I share my system for applying the Maj7#5 chord structure over a ii mi7b5 / V+7+9 / i mi(maj7) progression.
This approach uses sounds that highlight the extensions of each chord, resulting in a very rich harmonic flavor. Since the chord structures are all the same (maj7#5) and applied to three different chord types, there’s also a beautiful symmetry to the sound.
I demonstrate the concept using the four directions. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSON 3: Articulation – Playing with a Fast Airstream
In this video lesson, I discuss one of the common reasons that many aspiring players have difficulty with high-speed articulation. They’re inadvertently slowing down their airstream whenever they move their tongue.
This causes the reed to vibrate at a slower speed and the tonguing feels slow and labored. I demonstrate several phrases with and without articulation and include suggestions for ways that you can practice with these concepts to improve your articulation with a fast airstream.
LESSON 4: Listening Recommendation: Gerry Mulligan – What is There to Say
In this video, I discuss one of my all-time favorite albums, Gerry Mulligan’s “What is There to Say.” This album is great on so many levels…the writing and arranging is superb. Incredible counterpoint and such creative use of the textures in the group.
The solos have a feeling of crackling energy and life to them. It almost feels like a live recording, rather than a studio date. In addition, the engineering is outstanding…it’s like you’re in the room with the group. I also discuss certain aspects of the time feel and how to achieve a relaxed effect at a fast tempo.
LESSON 1: Tools of the Composer – Jerome Kern’s “I’m Old Fashioned”
In this video lesson, I share my interpretation of a very powerful editing device used by Jerome Kern on the bridge of his famous standard, “I’m Old Fashioned.”
Kern takes something that would have been a very ordinary scale two-note pattern in thirds and transforms it into a memorable melody by editing out one of the notes in the pattern. T
his lesson explores this editing technique and shows you how to apply the concept in your own playing. Includes PDF practice notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments.
LESSON 2: Tools of the Composer – Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “One Note Samba”
In this video lesson, I share my interpretation of Jobim’s use of common tones in the melody over the first four measures of his hit song, “One Note Samba.”
Jobim uses what I call “dual citizen notes” (common tones) to bring out four different flavors from the same repeated note. He achieves this effect by maintaining a repeated pitch in the melody while the chords move downward in half-steps.
I explore this sound and share my approach to transfer this very cool sound to the saxophone. Includes PDF practice notes for Bb, Eb and C instruments.
LESSON 3: Maj7#5 Chords w/Echo Game
In this video lesson, I share my strategy to help a student to the first two chords on the bridge of the popular Brazilian tune, The Girl From Ipanema. I use two upper structures to bring out the sound of the progression.
The first is the very familiar mi7 chord. I use the mi7 chord over the maj7, acting as a 3-5-7-9. Then, I simply lower the root of the mi7 chord to achieve a maj7#5 chord shape. I use the maj7#5 chord shape as 7-9-#11-13 over a dominant chord.
While this may sound complex, it’s very easy for your ear to hear the musical logic of this approach. Includes PDF practice notes for C, Bb and Eb instruments. Echo Game starts at 7:48 into the video lesson.
LESSON 4: If You Can Hear It You Can Have It
In this video lesson, I share a story about a new Skype student who has a music degree and great reading skills, but his ability to play what he hears is not yet fully developed.
After speaking with him about his training, he revealed to me that his former teacher told him to never listen to the sounds in his head and instead, to play by memorizing numbers for the notes. This is contrary to what I learned from Joe Henderson, James Moody, Mark Colby, and all of the many incredible teachers who shared their knowledge with me.
I explain in the video that it’s not just about hearing the sounds, but developing your musical memory and improving your ability to focus on the music.