Practicing Jazz Improvisation
Lesson 2





Click Here To Download Lesson 2 Files

The files that you just downloaded will be used for this lesson. The folder contains several PDF Files that you may print out and an MP3 Play-a-long file.


The Mixolydian Scale

Now that you have mastered your major scales, it is time to start learning the major modes. For this lesson we are going to learn the Mixolydian scale. This is one scale that can be used when improvising over a Dominant 7 chord.


The Dominant 7th Chord

To construct a Dominant 7 chord, number the notes in a major scale:

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 1.18.16 PM

Now lower the 7th scale degree 1/2 step from B to Bb

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 1.19.49 PM

If we take the 1, 3, 5, b7 and play them on piano at the same time, we will be sounding a
Dominant 7 chord. The symbol for a Dominant 7 chord is
7

If a pianist sees the chord symbol C7, he/she will play the following chord:

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 1.25.10 PM


Building a Mixolydian Scale

It is important to remember that the Mixolydian scale (or mode) is part of the Major Mode family. If we take any Major scale and play from the 5th note of that scale stepwise up to an octave, we will be playing a Mixolydian scale.

If we start on the 5th note (G) of the C Major scale, we will be playing a scale from G to G in the key of C Major or the G Mixolydian scale!

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 1.38.35 PM

This is called the G Mixolydian scale because it starts and ends on G and is in the key of C Major.
Notice that our b7 from the Dominant 7 chord is built right into our scale.

Tip! The most important thing to remember is that although we are playing a G
Mixolydian scale, we are still playing in the key of C Major!

In the
first example, a C Mixolydian scale, we are playing in the key of F Major!
This is an important concept to remember as we begin to study the Major Modes.

Look at the
Mixolydian Scale Sheet that you downloaded at the beginning of this lesson.
I have written out each Mixolydian scale along with the Major key they are derived from.

So when you start to memorize the Mixolydian scales, you are really just playing a Major scale
starting on the 5th note of each Major scale. There is no new tonal material to learn. This concept of
key will become more and more important as we move further along in our study of
jazz improvisation.

When I see a
C7 chord symbol, I am improvising in the key of F Major! I am playing an
F Major scale starting on C or a C Mixolydian scale Just like in the first example!

The Next Step


Look at your
Mixolydian Scale Sheet. You are now going to number each scale degree just like you did for lesson 1. A lot of the scale exercises will be very similar to exercise one. I am only introducing one new note here, the b7!


Next, you are going to print out the file titled
Dom 7 Chord Changes
found in the Lesson 2 File Folder that you downloaded at the start of the lesson. Be sure to download the correct file for your instrument Eb=Alto/Bari sax, Bb=tenor/soprano sax, C=Flute, guitar etc. Just like you did for lesson 1.

Exercise 1: Playing The Root of Each Chord

You know the routine! Just like in Lesson 1, we are going to start by playing the root of each chord. This will get the sound of the progression in your head and under your fingers!

Using the
Dom 7 Changes Sheet and the MP3 Play-a-long titled Dom 7 Chord Progression, you are going to begin by just playing the root (1) of each chord. First you will play them as whole notes then you will improvise different rhythms using only the root of the chord.


Exercise 2: Playing pattern 12, 12, over each chord.

For exercise 2, we are going to be playing a pattern of 1,2 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 2.14.00 PM

Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1,2 1,2 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.



Exercise 3: Playing pattern 1232, 1232, over each chord.

For exercise 2, we are going to be playing a pattern of 1232, 1232, in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 2.18.53 PM

Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1232 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.



Exercise 4: Playing pattern 1235, 1235 over each chord.

For exercise 4, we are going to be playing a pattern of 1235, 1235 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 2.20.52 PM

Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1235 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.


Exercise 5: Playing pattern 135b7, 135b7 over each chord.

For exercise 5, we are going to be playing a pattern of 135b7, 135b7 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 2.23.52 PM

Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
135b7 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.


Exercise 6: Playing pattern 135b7,6543 over each chord.

For exercise 6, we are going to be playing a pattern of 135b7, 6543 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-03-01 at 2.29.05 PM

Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
135b7,6543 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.


Exercise 7: Playing a Mixolydian scale over each chord.

For exercise 7, we are going to be playing a Mixolydian scale in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-03-02 at 7.41.05 AM


Play the above scale pattern over the entire chord progression.


Exercise 8: Starting To Improvise!

For exercise 8, we are actually going to being to improvise, but...with some restrictions. For this exercise, you are only going to be improvising using Quarter Notes.


Exercise 9: More Improvisation

For exercise 9, we are actually going to being to improvise, but...with some restrictions. For this exercise, you are only going to be improvising using only Eighth Notes.


Exercise 10: Improvise!!

For exercise 10, you can now improvise with no restrictions! Remember to keep it simple and know at all times where you are in the changes. You don’t need to play every note in the Mixolydian scale for every chord! Also, be thinking about the key that you are playing in! This is VERY important, especially when we start moving ahead to other lessons!

Real Book Tunes

Get to The Real Book I Sixth Edition (Available on Amazon) and look at the following tunes:

Straight No Chaser Pg. 386
Sweet Georgia Bright Pg. 395
Freddie Freeloader Pg. 151

These tunes contain only Dom 7th chords. Go through each tune using the exercises from lessons 1 and 2. Memorize the head and the changes.

Go to the Real Book Tunes page and download the play-a-longs for both tunes located in the Lesson 4 Play-A-Long Folder.

Real Book Tunes Link


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