Lesson II

Learning the harmony of the tune.

Assignment #1

Play two octave arpeggios of each chord change. Create exercises using each chord. Practice the arpeggios using different rhythms and bowings. I've given two examples for each of the first three chords of the tune. Continue in a similar manner through the tune. The next chord would be D-7, then G7, etc. It's important to be creative as possible in your practicing, make it interesting for yourself. Find bowings and patterns that challenge, or if these examples seem over your head, create simpler exercises. The idea is to learn the sound of the chords and to be able to execute all the primary chord tones of each chord within at least two octaves.



Note: For those of you who are unsure of what notes constitute a Major Seventh or a Minor Seventh consult one of the many jazz harmony books out there. The Jamey Aebersold "Play-a-longs" are good, check out the early volumes.

Assignment #2

Play the scales associated with each chord change. There are many ways to approach scales and harmony. I'm using just one basic approach. If you go to a good music book store you will find many different jazz scale books which you can use to keep things interesting when you practice. Practice these scales much as you would any other scales. Be creative, use as many different bowings and I would suggest not playing open strings as you will develope greater facility playing in different keys. I've given examples here for the first three bars of the tune. You should apply these scales to each chord appropriately. For instance, the next chord is C minor. Use the same scale intervals that are found in the D minor scale, transpose it down a whole step. This scale is called the Dorian and you can always remember the intervals by thinking of a scale from "D" to "D" in the key of C major. So Dorian is essentially a major scale starting on the second degree and ending on the second degree. For C minor you would use a Bb major scale and play from 'c' to 'c' (C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb, C). For a dominant 7th chord (without a b9) use what is called a Mixolydian scale which is a major scale starting and ending on the 5 degree. The next chord in the progression after C minor is F dominant. F is the 5th degree of Bb so the scale would be a Bb scale starting and ending on 'f' (F, G, A, Bb, C, D, Eb, F)


The scale for A7b9 chord is called the "diminished whole tone scale." It is a particularly "altered" sounding scale which hits on many of the notes which can make a dominant chord sound even more...dominant! For those of you who know jazz harmony you can see that this scale has both the b9 (Bb) and the #9 (C natural), the #11 (D#, this could also be though of as the b5), the #5 (F or E#) and of course the 7 (G). If this means nothing to you, don't worry. At this point it's better to just learn the scale and get it in your ear.

Assignment #3

Sing bass notes (here, in this case, the roots of each chord.) Learn the whole tune, start by concentrating on each interval. Spend some time and get it in your ear then as you did with the head of the tune work it up slowly until you can sing the bass notes in time (metronome on 2 and 4. This is very important. If you can hear the basic structure of the tune in your head then you will be able to solo more freely, more convincingly. Unlike horn players we cellists can sing and play and the same time, we'll take advantage of this later.....


Question: What is it that sax/trumpet players do that you as a cellist don't have to do in order to play?

To Lesson III.