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The Woodshed: More on Improvisation,Jumping Intervals

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JJ Rocks Article # 150:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 30 March, 2009
This month I would like to discuss the improvisational technique of jumping intervals. Too many of us see phrases as a kind of staircase that is always going up and down. Even many of our favorite licks seem to have an ascending and descending pattern. So lets go back to a simple minor pentatonic scale to start with and then you can adapt this idea to any lick that you want.

Starting with low root, b3rd, 4, 5, b7, high root, lets start to mix things up. Try 5, b3rd, 7, high root. As you can hear you have a phrase with a whole different color. Now try mixing them up on your own. After that apply some of last months Woodshed ideas like multi striking and duration. Now you will hear even more possibilities.

After that you should choose one of your favorite (short) licks and use the same technique. You should now have many different versions of the original phrase that you started with. These jumps in intervals along with last months ideas can separate you from the every day lick copier and add new dimensions to your playing, no matter what instrument you choose.

Please remember to use these techniques with any of the scales, and more importantly, any of the licks that you already know. These elements of improvisation along with simple mathematics are the foundation of my teaching system. They can be written down on paper in many ways (even Chinese), but the most important thing is that you learn the math first. And try to remember that there is a DNA to all living things including music which in my opinion has a life of its own. So breaking your music down to the bare essentials is the best place to start.

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