THE LOW DOWN
ROCKSCHOOL
rockschool
Applied Impiovisation with
PLEASE MIND THE GAPS, SAYS NIK
PRESTON IN ROCKSCHOOL'S NEW COLUMN
Ab
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Gb
Cb
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C#
T F
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Rockschoo
EXAMPLE 1
Cycle of fourths
L
eading on from Joe's column
last month, we're going to take
a look at an exercise designed
to improve your knowledge
of intervals and fretboard
familiarity.
First, it is worth acquainting
yourself with the cycle of fourths
as notated in
Example 1
Many
musicians' introduction to the cycle
of fourths is through learning the
order of flat keys, but it has many
more practical applications. One of
these is to use the cycle to practise
any new vocabulary and thus
ensure you are always developing
any new idea in every key.
Now, through using the cycle
as a device over which to practise
any new, pitch-specific vocabulary,
you can specifically target areas
that you know to be most in need
of attention: intervals, arpeggios,
inversions, chromaticism, enclosure
and so on.
Example 2
shows how you can
use the cycle to practise intervals.
For illustrative purposes we're
going to use major 9ths, but my
strong advice would be to target
those that you know you're least
familiar with.
With the metronome set at a
slow tempo, say around 40BPM to
begin with, you simply need to look
at the chord, play the interval and
then play the root note. This will
go some way to help free you from
any motor or pattern orientated
cliches referred to in Joe's first
column. If you were to play from
the root first, you could soon fall
into the trap of seeing and playing
patterns on the fretboard without
truly thinking and hearing the
interval first.
Once you feel comfortable with
your ability to think, hear and
play the interval in every key,
through the cycle, then progress to
EXAMPLE 2
M ajo r 9ths through the cycle of fourths
_____
Q.
___________________
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____________________ , ___________________
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EXAMPLE 3
Applying 9ths to progressions
EmaJ7
CStm
7
FW
39<SUS4)
applying to a context. This could either be the chords to a whole tune, or just a section of it, as in
Example 3
, which
is an abridged version of the chords to Marvin Gaye's 'What's Going On'. Alternatively, it could be a more difficult
sequence from a contrasting genre such as John Coltrane's 'Giant Steps' as in
Example 4
, where you can see that
we're using a mixture of major 9ths and minor 9ths.
Try to dedicate as many short, focused practice sessions to this concept as possible. Joe's back next month!
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