Posts Tagged ‘theory’

Do you find yourself at a loss sometimes for how to practice your scales?  Or, are you just on the look out for more approaches and exercises?

When practicing scales, it is important to be clear with the reason and relevance.  If you are like me, you have spent many hours on what you “should be doing” with technical scale exercises, but in the end was not really clear on why.

The problem many of us have had is that we end up playing certain exercises that we feel will keep up physical technique, but when it finally comes time to practice ideas in developing our improvisation, the session is over, and / or the chops are fatigued and fine motor work is sacrificed at that point.  Or, we say that we’ll wait until tomorrow when there’s more time.  But, tomorrow never comes . . .

Relevant and dynamic scale practice can be a great solution.  Let’s use our dominant scales as an example.  Rather than stopping at just playing the scale up to the 9th and back down in all keys, what about plugging the scales into a song form?

What are one or two song forms that we gain quite a bit of mileage from and can be a lot of fun?  You guessed it, Blues and Rhythm Changes!  If you are unclear regarding the chord changes or are looking for ways to become more comfortable improvising over the Blues progression, be sure to sign up for our Newsletter from the main page.  When you sign up, you will receive a free 7-day eCourse, and two of the lessons will directly help with this.

Feel free to click on the URL below to download two Dominant Cycle scale exercises.

Click here to download

Both exercises in the key of Bb are designed as four bar chord substitutions, thinking ahead to the 5th bar.  The dominant scales are played two chords per bar.

The first exercise starts on the raised 5th of the key of Bb, which is F#7.  This can be used in a Bb Rhythm Changes, where it resolves to a Bb7 in the 5th bar.  An excellent example is Don Byas’s solo with Slam Stuart recorded in 1945.  You can check it out below.

The second exercise uses the same logic as the first, but can be used with a Bb Blues. The four bar substitution starts 1/2 step up from the root on B7, and outlines dominant scales every two beats leading to the Eb7 in the 5th bar.

Next time you are looking to practice your scales, consider what scales are used in songs that you are excited to work on. First, learn the basic scale up and down. Then, take the next step and figure out how to apply them within the context of the song. Feel free to post or contact us if you have questions or ideas.

Happy practicing!