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 Books for key changes
Author: Deliberate53 
Date:   2010-06-19 20:29

I play in a big band, lead tenor mostly. But I am a clarinetist at heart. I have developed a very good ear over the years. So long as I can hear the piano, I can lay down a decent melody on top. But when the changes get unpredictable or muddled, it gets a bit rugged.
I was never taught to read changes. Seems to me that a good place to start would be to get a book that has scale studies and arpeggios in every key. If I can memorize, or at least internalize them, I will have better command in those situations. Resource suggestions?

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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: grifffinity 
Date:   2010-06-19 21:19

Baermann Book III is probably your best bet for Scales (major and minor in all keys, different scale patterns, thirds, fourths, fifths, 6ths, arpeggios, etc.) It's great because most exercises extend beyond the tonic of the key, through the extended range of the instrument. I prefer the David Hite edition.

I do not know of an etude book that prepares one for reading a piece with multiple key changes (every 10 bars or so like a few modern shows i've played) and awkward fingers that you would not come across in the standard Baermann. Sometimes its not just the fingers, but the spelling that gets me tied up in site reading these works. You are in a key of B Major - for example, but have accidentals like flats and double sharps all over the place. By the time you figure out what key you are in it's time to change to Eb major. (Headache)

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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2010-06-20 00:21


I'm not sure the technique is the only thing you need. Perhaps more ear training to "strengthen" your already very good ears. Just learning scales and arpeggios as a way to refine your improvisation could end up being a very mechanical solution.

Sometimes less is more so consider some messing around with piano and get yourself a good fake book. Just playing some of the more unusual changes, even as block chords, could be helpful.

But I am assuming you have a little basis in music theory. If not, that may be part of your developmental program.

HRL (a pretty good improviser with very good ears)

Post Edited (2010-06-20 11:44)

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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: am0032 
Date:   2010-06-20 01:53

The Technique of the Saxophone by Joseph Viola is a great book for learning to play in different keys and moving from key to key rather quickly. It comes in 3 volumes: Scale Studies, Chord Studies and Rhythm Studies. In the scale studies, an exercise is worked in every key. Then, it is followed by a section called polytonal variations. In this section, each exercise changes keys very quickly. I found the exercises in this book to be quite beneficial in what you are wanting to focus on.

I used these books while learing the saxophone but use the exercises on the clarinet as well.


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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: Deliberate53 
Date:   2010-06-20 02:02

Grifffinity, thanks for the resource suggestions. Just what I am looking for.

And Hank, appreciate your thoughts as well. Agree that ear training is where the magic happens. And I do a lot of it. I recently discovered the jazz channel on my satellite tv rig. I spent two hours today just playing with whatever came on. Other than that, I been "playing" with Brubeck, Bill Evans, Sonny Stitt and Gene Ammons (among others) for years. With a killer sound system and digital quality, jamming with the masters is one of my great joys in life. It has helped me enormously when playing live. And I am always whistle improvising. Indeed, I wish I could put down the lines with my horns that I can with my lips. For years I have wanted to be able to look at changes in a chart and immediately get the notes that are available beyond the root. There is always room for more magic. Now I need a bit of mechanism. I figure that studying the scales and permutations will help me get there.
Warm regards,

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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: Hank Lehrer 
Date:   2010-06-20 02:22

Hi David,

I've played with some of those masters as well. Get some MIDI jazz files and jam along with them. If you have Finale, you can always import the MIDI and have the music (sometimes pretty complex). But a fake book may be easier if the MIDI is in the standard key.

Whistling is always good. You may want to try to pick out the notes (the sight singing & dictation course I went through so many years ago really helped) and get them on paper.


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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: William 
Date:   2010-06-20 16:07

Check out some of Jayme Aebersold's play-along series of books and CDs. He has something for just about every style of improv and transcriptions of some famous jazz muscians so that you can not only hear what they do, you can see as well. This is an older series of stuff, but nonetheless, among the best there is. He includes very definative spellings of chords and their various symbols that is consistant and easy to understand--may be what you are looking for.......

However, bottom line, jazz is like learning to swim--you just need to jump in and do a lot of it. Listening and experiance are your best teachers.

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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: RoBass 
Date:   2010-06-21 08:16

Look here:

It's short, structured...


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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: Deliberate53 
Date:   2010-06-22 01:37

I am obliged to all of you for the suggestions. Off to the woodshed.

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 Re: Books for key changes
Author: Katrina 
Date:   2010-06-22 03:16

Sounds to me like you have the mechanical skills, but not the "names" of what those are...

I'd suggest using a fake book filled with charts you already "know" and have played. Then look at the page while you're jamming with the recording. Being able to look at "C-7" while playing the fingerings you hear and know will probably help!

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