Document for Prague International Summer Jazz Workshop

I put together a PDF document with a lot of my articles on harmony and improvisation, as well as key material from other books. This will be the material that I'll be having my students work from during the International Prague Summer Jazz Workshop, which begins this coming weekend.

I will continue to add to this document in the future, but there's a lot of useful material here already.

Casa Valdez Jazz Workshop Document


Canoxa said...

I haven't had the opportunity to read it all, it's so big! So much info! Thanks a whole 4-story parking lot.

Canoxa said...

Would you mind explaining what the first page's second point means? A b9 implies a #9?

David Carlos Valdez said...

Sorry, this is a sheet I use to teach chord/scale theory and needs some explanation. Those first rules are to show you how to derive a scale for any given Dominant or Major chord.

If you have a C7b9 then you would play a scale that has a #11 (because of rule #1), b9 (notated in chord symbol), and a #9 (rule #2). This works out to be a C# whole-half Diminished scale.

You would end up with the same resulting scale if the chord was a C7#9 because of rule #2.

Make sense?

Klemen Kotar said...

I've been following your blog for some months and I thank you for it, you really share a great amount of information through it.

Just a smallish plea, could you put the latest pdf up as a downloadable pdf?



Klemen Kotar said...

eh...found it. It was obvious enough (just a bit on a small side) :)

David Carlos Valdez said...

Yes, they could have made the download link a little bigger...

TimF said...

Hello David,

I've followed your blog for some time now (several years) and I've found your various posts extremely helpful in my own studies. On this latest post, I am extremely grateful that you have been so kind to share with us so much of your information on jazz improvisation.

I wanted to ask you a question about your third point on the first page: b13 implies no 5th.

I understand when creating rules for improvisation there really are no hard parameters, but I feel this rule ignores one of my basic chord-scale choices over dominant chords, the 5th mode of harmonic minor, sometimes referred to as Phyrgian Dominant. This scale has both the b6th (b13) and the natural 5th, and is extremely common in bebop lines (Bird).

Key Of c min: V7 - i min

8th note line starting on downbeat of measure:

F-Eb-D-C-Bnat-Ab-G-F | Eb

While this scale/line contains the natural 4th, often taught as an "avoid note" in chord/scale theory, this passage is part of jazz history. It would be left in the dust if all we did as students of jazz thought of chord/scale theory. If the improviser takes into account proper voice leading and understands the impact of how the individual notes in 8th note lines are emphasized by where they occur in relation to down/up beats, melodic leaps, and the shape of the line, it seems to me a lot of chord scale theory goes out the window (I think of musicians like Rich Perry in this regard, who can seemingly make any note sound 'right' in any context and I first heard of through your blog).

Now, when trying to teach the beginning improviser, chord scale theory is obviously an easier method to use. These are the rules, follow them and hopefully sound "good". But I have found in my own experience as a player and teacher that following chord/scale theory hardly results in the improviser sounding "good".

I am curious your thoughts on the subject and how you tackle these types of problems in your own playing/teaching.

Thanks again for your wonderful blog!


David Carlos Valdez said...

Great point Tim. This is usually something that I qualify when teaching in person. The Harmonic minor mode is the exception to the third rule. I do need to update this sheet to reflect that exception.

These three rules are how I learned chord/scale theory from Ray Brown. There are plenty of other scales that can be played over the same chords as the sheet addresses, but there are usually one or 'avoid notes' in these scales. The natural 11 is the main avoid note on a dominant scale without question. I usually tell my students that if a Dominant 7th b9 chord is preceded by a minor 7th b5 and followed by a minor chord that is down a fifth of is an strong indicator that you should be playing a Harmonic minor up a fourth.

These rules are really just provisional rules to get you oriented to which scale are going to 'fit' and sound inside. We need to first figure out what is 'inside' before we work our way to more daring scale choices.

This is the first page in this document because it is the material that I cover the first lesson with new students. Everything in my later curriculum builds upon this first foundation.

Canoxa said...

It does make sense. I don't really adhere to chord/scale, so I didn't even think about what the context of the tips. And you don't even need to apologise, the sheer amount of great info you post.