In this blog we will look at improvising over one chord. This will be D minor [D Dorian].
The key is to use chromaticism, tertian harmony, superimposition and outside harmonic content in order to create interesting improvised lines and move away from the cliches of scales and modes to create originality.
The key for smoothness is to be aware of where the 1/2 steps [Semitones]are in the “Connections”.
If we look below we can see where the 1/2 steps connect and how to play off of the tonic note with this. In this case we play off of the tonic D note resolving straight into the Eb note for Eb melodic minor. We can then resolve down a half step to C#m and back down into D Dorian
So as you can see it is easy to weave in and out of the harmony and get back to D Dorian via the 1/2 step.
Below is a line that beautifully weaves in and out of D minor
In this next example we will use tertian harmony and exploit superimposition. We will employ D melodic minor and and keep extending via C melodic minor.
Now we will extend the whole line:
As another idea, there are still useful concepts like “Target Tones”. These can be manipulated without resorting to cliches.
Lastly we will exploit the use flat 5 concepts. In this case there is an Abmaj7/D and a Cmaj7/F# with which we can be creative.
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[These are my own concepts taken from Dave Liebmans Brilliant Book A chromatic approach to jazz]
This first idea is a simple way of weaving in and out of unrelated harmony.
Here the C natural slides into the C# and then into an F# arpeggio which then revolves by letting the C# fall back into the C natural of the F major arpeggio with a flat 5 resolving to the fourth.
The next example is an extended line with a substitution of a substitution creating chromatic interest.
Below we see a concept of weaving through two different key centres. Thinking F for D minor and then through F# and sidestepping back to resolve the line.
Flat 5 substitution. D minor and A flat major.
Dave Liebmans book is an excellent and inspiring means of absorbing chromatic improvisational knowledge and ideas for your own playing.
I am not promoting this book. But I am very grateful for its existence and for its powerful inspiration to me on a daily basis. Anyway, below is a brief overview.
This book should be seen as a method to help the artist to develop his or her own way when trying to improvise chromatically. Through the concepts and examples offered, the improvisor should be able to use this material alongside already familiar tonal ideas. Specifically, the book serves as a guide for organizing chromaticism into a coherent musical statement meant to satisfy both the intellectual and emotional needs of artistic creation.
The reader will be introduced to more than one way of conceiving chromatic lines and harmonies. There is nothing theoretically complex or new in the text, it is the organization of the material as well as many musical examples and transcriptions (Bach, Scriabin, Coltrane, Shorter, Hancock, Beirach, Liebman a.o.) which should serve to inspire musicians to expand their usual diatonic vocabulary.
This book also provides insight into the style of playing that David Liebman is known for. In addition the book contains 100 assorted solo lines and 100 chord voicings.
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