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JAZZ THEORY (BeBop Drills)

The Language of BeBop      

In the 1940's a small group of jazz musicians in New York City, including Charlie Parker, Dizzy Gillespe and Kenny Clarke, evolved a new sound, which became known as BeBop. Since that time almost every jazz style has been affected by the musical techniques they created.

For musicians who wish to express jazz on their instrument these stylings have become a fundamental. Listening to, writing and transcribing bebop solos must be done by the musician. Several drills will help open the ears and fingers to the sounds they will be experiencing in this pursuit. We will begin our study with the chord tones.

BeBop uses the seventh chord as its basic tool. The four notes in each of these chords, called the chord tones, must become thoroughly familiar. To accomplish this, learn the notes in every major seventh, dominant seventh, minor seventh, minor seventh flat fifth [half diminished] and diminished seventh chord. I suggest the cycle of fifths [C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, F#, B, E, A, D, G] as a practice order. Advanced students can also include mj7#5, mj7b5, +7, 7b5, -mj7 and 7sus4.

First learn the chord through the full range of your instrument. Ascend from the lowest possible chord tone [ct] to the highest, then descend back to the lowest. If this is difficult at first, begin with the lowest possible root, ascend to the highest ct, descend to the lowest ct, and ascend to the low root, if the lowest ct is below this. String players should do this exercise one string at a time, piano players use two hands in octaves.

Next, play the chord tones [R-3-5-7] in a comfortable range, in an eighth note [1-&-2-&] rhythmic pattern. The goal here is to do this once from each note in the cycle of fifths without breaking rhythm, then twice from each note the same way.

To put these chord tones to work, try writing an eighth note solo over your favorite chord progression, and learn to play it. Remember to use your ears and listen to what you practice. Happy drilling! [top]
- Frank Singer 2002

I originally learned these concepts from Charlie Banacos, private instructor.



The Language of BeBop
The Use of Tensions 1
The Use of Tensions 2 
The Use of Tensions 3 
The Jazz Sub-Dominant Chord - II-7 
The Jazz Dominant Chord - V7  
The II-7 V7 Progression - II V series  
The Key of the Moment  
"Watch out for those chromatics!"    
Ear Training  


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