JAZZ THEORY (BeBop Drills)
"Watch out for those
Parker, one of the great BeBop creators, was once accused of
playing "chromatic scales up and down all the keys"
[Ross Russell, Bird Lives, p. 173]. For years afterwards, he
warned his sidemen to "watch out for those chromatics,
"[ibid.] In actuality, Parker and the other BeBop musicians
used specific techniques to achieve much of the chromaticism
found in this important jazz style. The two we will explore here
are chromatic approaches from below [ch], and
step scale approaches from above [ewssa].
chord tone can be preceded by a note a half step below, the two
notes usually played within an eighth note of each other.
Chromatic approaches from below for a C major seventh chord are
as follows: b-c, d#-e, f#-g, and a#-b. To
practice this technique, approach the root, 3rd, 5th and 7th of
each major seventh, minor seventh, and dominant seventh chord,
moving through the cycle of fifths [C, F, Bb, Eb, Ab, Db, F#, B,
E, A, D, G]. Use a 1-&-2-&-3-&-4-&
rhythm, as in || b-c, d#-e, f#-g, a#-b [Cmaj7] || e-f, g#-a,
b-c, d#-e [Fmaj7] ||, etc. A rhythmic variation is achieved by
beginning the sequence on the & of four, so that the
chord tones fall on the beats instead of the &s.
exploring scale approaches from above, you may have observed
that some are a half step above the target, and others are a
whole step above. For ewssa, we are concerned with the whole
step scale approaches. The root, 3rd and 5th of major seventh
chords can be targeted this way, as in d-c, f#-e, and a-g
[Cmaj7]. All chord tones in minor sevenths have whole steps
above in the appropriate scale, as in d-c, f-Eb, a-g, and c-Bb
[Cm7]. Dominant sevenths have scale tones a whole step above the
root, 5th and 7th, as in d-c, a-g, and c-Bb [C7]. To create the
embellished whole step scale approach, insert a half step in
between the scale tone and the chord tone it is targeting. The
examples are: d-Db-c, f#-f-e, and a-Ab-g [Cmaj7], d-Db-c, f-e-Eb,
a-Ab-g, and c-b-Bb [Cm7], and d-Db-c, a-Ab-g, and c-b-Bb [C7].
Learn and play the ewssa's for all major seventh, minor seventh
and dominant seventh chords.
for these two techniques in recorded and live jazz solos,
identify them in BeBop melodies and transcriptions, and create
your own solos with them over your favorite tunes and chord
progressions. As always, use your ears, and happy drilling!
- Frank Singer ©2002
I originally learned these concepts from Charlie Banacos, private
TO THEORY DEN
Language of BeBop
Use of Tensions 1
Use of Tensions 2
Use of Tensions 3
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