Practicing Jazz Improvisation
Lesson 6






Click Here To Download Lesson 6 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 Phrygian Scale

For this lesson we are going to learn the Phrygian scale. This is one scale that can be used when improvising over a 7sus (b9) chord. This chord is notated as follows:


Screen shot 2011-06-13 at 7.40.48 AM


The 7sus (b9) Chord

To construct a 7sus (b9) chord, we are going to start on the 3rd scale degree of a major scale and play up one octave. We will be creating a Phrygian scale. In this case I am starting on the 3rd scale degree of a C major scale, as notated below, and playing from E to E up one octave:

Screen shot 2011-06-13 at 7.44.55 AM


If we combine the 1, 4th, 5th and 7th and 2nd (9th) notes of the above Phrygian scale we will now have
constructed an 7sus(b9) chord:

Screen shot 2011-06-13 at 7.48.33 AM


Building a Phrygian Scale

It is important to remember that the Phrygian Scale (or mode) is part of the Major Mode family. If we take any Major scale and play from the 3rd note of that scale stepwise up to an octave, we will be playing a Phrygian scale.

If we start on the 3rd note (E) of the C Major scale, we will be playing a scale from E to E in the key of C Major or the E Phrygian scale! This scale may sound a little strange to your ears because it starts with a 1/2 step interval.


Screen shot 2011-06-13 at 7.44.55 AM


Tip! The most important thing to remember is that although we are playing an E Phrygian scale, we are still playing in the key of C Major!

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

So when you start to memorize the Phrygian scales, you are really just playing a Major scale
starting on the 3rd 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 an
E7sus(b9) chord symbol, I am improvising in the key of C Major! I am playing aC Major scale starting on E or an E Phrygian scale Just like in our example!


The Next Step


Look at your
Phrygian 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
7sus(b9) Chord Changes found in the Lesson 6 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 Phrygian Scale for all of the following exercises.

Using the
7sus(b9) Changes Sheet and the MP3 Play-a-long titled 7sus(b9) 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 2011-06-13 at 8.01.33 AM

Exercise 3: Playing pattern 1242, 1242, over each chord.

* Note that this exercise will be somewhat different. We are going to be playing 1, 2, 4, 2 and avoid the 3rd note of the scale since this chord is a Sus Chord and does not contain the 3rd note of the chord.

Screen shot 2011-06-13 at 7.48.33 AM

While it is OK to use the 3rd note of a Phrygian scale in your improvisations, don’t sit on that note!
It is much better to land on the 4th (sus) of the chord.


Our pattern will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-06-13 at 8.06.26 AM

Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1242 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.



Exercise 4: Playing pattern 1245, 1245 over each chord.

For exercise 4, we are going to be playing a pattern of 1245, 1245 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-06-13 at 8.16.39 AM


Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1245 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.


Exercise 5: Playing pattern 1457, 1457 over each chord.

For exercise 5, we are going to be playing a pattern of 1457, 1457 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-06-14 at 1.54.26 PM

Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1457 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.


Exercise 6: Playing pattern 1457,9754 over each chord.

For exercise 6, we are going to be playing a pattern of 1457, 9754 in eighth notes over each chord. It will look like this:

Screen shot 2011-06-14 at 1.58.10 PM

Play the above pattern over the entire chord progression and then improvise using only the
1457,9754 pattern. After you have done the pattern, improvise using only those notes from the
pattern.


Exercise 7: Playing a Phrygian scale over each chord.

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

Screen shot 2011-06-14 at 2.01.42 PM

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 Phrygian scale for every chord! Remember to not sit on the 3rd note of the scale as it is not a chord tone. The fourth is a much better resting place! Also, be thinking about the key that you are playing in! This is VERY important, especially when we start moving ahead to other lessons!


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