Sunday, May 24, 2009

Dave Stryker's Jazz Guitar Improvisation Method

In this book, New York-based guitarist Dave Stryker breaks down the elements of jazz guitar improvisation into bite-sized pieces. And best of all, he delivers it from the perspective of a working musician who needs to employ these concepts quickly and easily on the bandstand.

In his opening chapter on the minor substitution approach, he discusses what he would play over dominant 7th chords. Thinking in terms of dorian as his primary minor scale of choice (as opposed to aeolian or the natural minor scale), he substitutes the dorian a 5th above the root of the dominant 7th he is playing over.

Thinking in terms of dorian minor as opposed to mixolydian, both of which contain exactly the same notes, give a slightly hipper tendency as one is no longer inclined to blatantly overstate the root note of the dominant.

For example, using the minor sub concept, D dorian would be played over a G7. We would be playing the notes D, E, F, G, A, B, C (D dorian). If we played G mixolydian over G7, which is the more conventional scale to use, we would be playing G, A, B, C, D, E, F. If you look closely they are exactly the same notes as D dorian but starting on the note G instead. Personally, I would also experiment with the natural minor scale (gotta watch that b6) and minor 7th arpeggios using this same concept.

Interestingly, Stryker peppers the book throughout with little nuggets of various substitution concepts, but he does so in fine print, so it pays to read every bit of text.

Stryker also gives the melodic minor, whole-tone and diminished scales a cursory glance.

Finally, he puts these ideas into practice with solos over Autumn Leaves, Well You Needn't, Song For My Father, All The Things You Are, Cherokee and Giant Steps as well as blues and rhythm changes, all of which are fully transcribed.

All notated examples in the book are recorded on the accompanying CD which makes going through the book as easy as reading and listening.

Highly recommended as a basic text for the player who is just starting to explore some of the more in-depth concepts of jazz improvisation.

The complete home study jazz guitar course

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