How To Improvise a Solo A Workshop for Beginners

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1 1 How To Improvise a Solo A Workshop for Beginners 10:00-10:30 am Arrival, Setup and Performance 10:30 to 12:00 pm Interactive Workshop 12:00 to 12:30 Lunch 12:30 to 2:00 pm Workshop 2:00 tp 3:30 pm Open Jam 1. Improvise a solo over a single major 7 th chord. a) Use a major scale b) Use a pentatonic scale Workshop Objectives 2. Improvise a solo over a major 7 th and dominant 7 th chord. a) Identify diatonic chords built off the notes of a major scale b) Analyze a song that has a 1 Major 7 th and Dominant Seventh Chord c) Improvise a solo using a single major scale d) Improvise a solo using a single pentatonic scale e) Improvise a solo using chord tones and scales built off the root of each chord 3. Improvise a solo over a song that uses minor chords. a) Identify relative major and minor scales b) Analyze a song for major key centers c) Improvise a solo using major scales d) Improvise a solo using pentatonic scale 4. More advanced concepts such as II-V-1 progressions

2 2 Chord-Scale Relationships Musicians improvise solos by associating scales with chords. Notes sound right when they are from a scale that fits the chord the band is playing These scales provide the available notes soloists can use in their solo The C major scale associates with the chord. Most chords have a root, third, fifth and seventh that defines its sound. The th chord has the notes C E G B as its root, third, fifth and seventh The Cmajor scale provides the available notes over a th chord. Some notes from the major scale sound very strong over the th chord. (Such as the root, third, fifth and seventh). Other notes, like the fourth notes of the scale (F) are called tension notes. If you emphasize them too long, they don t sound right. The C Major Scale Exercise 1 Improvise a Solo Using a C major scale over this progression: : : The Pentatonic Scale The pentatonic scale is similar to the major scale, but has only five distinct notes It provides a different sound than the full major scale You can solo over a chord with a C major pentatonic scale Switch between a Cmajor scale and the C major pentatonic scale in your solo to add variety to your sound. Improvise a solo over Exercise 1 using the pentatonic scale Create a solo that uses notes from both the full major scale, and the C major pentatonic scale

3 3 Soloing using Key Centers A song may have multiple chords and look really complicated. You can simplify the song for soloing by identifying chords built off the notes of a major scale Beginning soloists can play a single major scale over the family of chords Figure 1 shows the C major scale with triads (chords with a root, third and fifth) built off each o note of the C major scale This is called diatonic harmony. Figure 1: Triads of the C Major Scale vii o can also be called viim7b5 You can also add the a fourth note to triad, which create 7 th chords, shown in Figure 2. iim7 iiim7 IV V7 vi viim7b5 Figure 2: Seventh chords built off the C Major Scale Exercise 2 shows a progression with 2 chords the Cmajor 7 th Chord and the chord. Both chords have notes from the C major scale as their root, third, fifth and seventh. Therefore, you can use a C major scale over the entire progression to solo. You can also use a C major pentatonic scale. Try soloing over the progression using these two scales. Exercise 2 : :

4 4 Practice Exercise A Gmaj7 Gmaj7 Gmaj7 Gmaj7 : D7 D7 Gmaj7 Gmaj7 : Practice Exercise B : : Soloing over Minor Blues Sometimes the song doesn t start with a major chord. In that case, you can look at the chart below and see which major key center applies to the song. The relative major scale starts 3 semi-tones UP from the root of the minor scale. Figure 4 shows all the minor scales and their relative majors Minor Am7 Bm7 Cm7 Em7 Fm7 Gm7 Relative Major C major D major Eb major F major G major Ab major Bb major Figure 4: Minor chords and their relative major scales Exercise 3 Analyze the following song for relative majors of the minor chords. 1. What is the relative major of the Am7 on which the song starts? 2. Does the belong to the family of chords in that key center? Why or why not? 3. Notice the E7 chord on the third line. What is the key center of that chord? What key center scales fit over that section of the song? Am7 Am7 Am7 Am7 : E7 E7 Am7 Am7 :

5 5 Exercise 4 Try soloing off this key center chart. The chart uses three different key centers. These key centers represent the scales that apply to a chord progression. (The chords are not given) Do you recognize the chord progression implied by these centers? C major scale C major scale C major scale C major scale : F major Scale F major Scale F major Scale F major Scale A major Scale A major Scale C major Scale C major Scale : Practice Exercise C Cm7 Cm7 Cm7 Cm7 : Fm7 Fm7 Fm7 Fm7 Cm7 Cm7 : Practice Exercise D Em7 Em7 Em7 Em7 : Fm7 Fm7 Fm7 Fm7 Em7 Em7 Em7 Em7 :

6 6 The II-V-I Progression A common progression is the II-V-I progression. This progression uses the iim7 V7 - chords from the diatonic harmonization of the key you are in. The generic position of each chord in the major scale is below each chord. Try soloing over this chord progression that is based on the C major scale. Use C major and C pentatonic scales. Exercise 3 iim7 : iim7 V7 V7 : Practice Exercise E Gm7 : Gm7 Practice Exercise F : : Cm7 F7 A7 : Practice Exercise G Em7 : Cm7 Cm7 A7 F7 F7 Dmaj7 Dmaj7 B7 :

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