Today we will look at applying the simple half step chromatic scale to jazz improvisation. This in turn will be reflected in the alternate picking guitar technique:
So, we will look at two parts,
1] Harmonic Aspect-Set-UP-Theory
2] Technical Execution-Set-Up-Instrument
The analysis will be detailed through this 2 5 1
MUSIC THEORY: Chromatic Scale:
If we look at the first bar we will see 4 note groupings “Tetrachords”. These groupings are made of semitones [chromatic scale].
What you will notice is that they “Outline” the Chord DmMaj7. This makes the ear follow the direction of the line in relation to the harmony so that it is not just aimless semitones strung together, but a connected line with a definite direction that resolves into an arpeggio.
These chromatic semitones in groups of 4 are “Even” Patterns and hence easy to alternate pick as the are all the same “Down Up Down Up”.
In the next bar we see the same technique: The chord is outlined again with 4 note chromatic scale groupings.
Finally we come to the last bar. This time we employ outlining by moving the chromatic scale up in minor 3rds [Diminished 7th].
In order to execute this type of playing it is essential to accent the 1st and the 3rd notes of each 4 note grouping. This will create a fluid rhythmic sound and hold the tempo tight.
If you watch the video at the top of the page you will see how the fretting hand works:
Here is the fretting technique that I employ in the video that sync’s the left hand with the right hand alternate picking:
Today we will have a look at setting up “Jazz Target Tones” with alternate picking guitar technique for fast fluid improvising lines.
The example above is the most common and best example of how target tones work and how they are set up. Notice that the weak beat or off beat is the starting note. So, we have  e and a as an “Up Beat” [or Anacrusis]. This leads to the strong beat 1 in bar 1.
Now, for alternate picking we need to be aware of what picking stroke we will start on for this weak “Off” beat. Being the “Off” beat and syncopated it will be the “Up Stroke” as in [Down] Up down Up.
In the Exercise below we will now employ Target Tones within the improvised line itself from the second beat. Again, notice that the target tones start on the “Up Stroke” and resolve to the on [1st] beat of the next chord smoothly with the down stroke.
With this method you will always know where you are in the bar rhythmically, when you are on the off beat [Up Stroke] and what stroke you will start the next “On” beat with [Down stroke].
Here’s another example:
It’s also helpful to accent the 1st note in each four note grouping as this will create the jazz feel and thrust the target tones along rhythmically whilst moving your fretting hand into position.
Exercise 1: Ascending Line:
Exercise 2: Descending Line:
Exercise 3: Extended Line: [Ascending and Descending]
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