Practicing Jazz Improvisation
Lesson 5






Click Here To Download Lesson 5 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 Locrian Scale

For our next lesson we are going to learn the Locrian scale. This is one scale that can be used when improvising over a half-diminished 7th chord. This half-diminished 7th chord can be notated two ways:

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Screen shot 2011-06-07 at 5.39.38 AM


The half-diminished 7th or minor b5 chord (both mean the same thing)

To construct a half-diminished chord, we are going to start on the 7th scale degree of a major scale and play up one octave. We will be creating a Locrian scale. In this case I am starting on the 7th scale degree of a C major scale, as notated below, and playing from B to B up one octave:

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If we combine the 1, 3rd, 5th and 7th notes of the above Locrian scale we will now have
constructed a half-diminished or minor b5 7th chord:


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Notice that this chord is very similar to a minor chord, except that the 5th is now
lowered 1/2 step. Let’s compare the two chords:


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The 5th of the minor 7 chord (F#) is lowered 1/2 step to (F) for the
minor 7 b5 chord.


Building a Locrian Scale

It is important to remember that the Locrian Scale (or mode) is part of the Major Mode family. If we take any Major scale and play from the 7th note of that scale stepwise up to an octave, we will be playing a Locrian scale.

If we start on the 7th note (B) of the C Major scale, we will be playing a scale from B to B in the key of C Major or the B Locrian scale!

Screen shot 2011-06-07 at 5.47.48 AM

This is called the B Locrian scale because it starts and ends on B and is in the key of C Major.
Notice that our Minor 7b5 or half-diminished chord is built right into our scale.

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

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

So when you start to memorize the Locrian scales, you are really just playing a Major scale
starting on the 7th 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
Bm7b5 chord symbol, I am improvising in the key of C Major! I am playing a C Major scale starting on B or a B Locrian scale Just like in our example!


The Next Step


Look at your
Locrian 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 your previous lessons.

Next, you are going to print out the file titled
7b5 Chord Changes
found in the Lesson 5 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 the previous lessons.

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! Remember that you will be using the Locrian Scale for all of the following exercises.

Using the
7b5 Changes Sheet and the MP3 Play-a-long titled 7b5 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:

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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 2011-06-09 at 5.52.46 AM

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 2011-06-09 at 5.56.21 AM


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 1357, 1357 over each chord.

For exercise 5, we are going to be playing a pattern of 1357, 1357 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

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Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1357 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.


Exercise 6: Playing pattern 1357,6543 over each chord.

For exercise 6, we are going to be playing a pattern of 1357, 6543 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

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Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1357,6543 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.


Exercise 7: Playing a Locrian scale over each chord.

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

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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 Locrian 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 The Real Book I Sixth Edition (Available on Amazon) and look at the following tune:

Autumn Leaves Pg. 39
Note that there is a B7b9 chord in a couple of places, for now, just play it as a B7. We will learn b9 chords later! Or you may play the following scale over that chord:

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Go to the Real Book Tunes Link and download the play-a-longs located in the Lesson 5 Play-A-Long Folder.

Real Book Tunes Link




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