Targeting Notes with Slonimsky Patterns

I had an interesting question by email today that I thought was worth addressing here. The question was, how do you integrate Slonimsky-style patterns into a "target note" approach to improvising? I should say up-front that I don't do much of this myself, and the solution I've come up with here is just a suggestion for your own experiments: let me know what success you have with it and whether you discover any "hacks" or alternative approaches that make it easier.

Making Exotic Scales with Familiar Arpeggios

Struck by a bout of insomnia, I decided to figure out all the 7-note scales that can be made by combining a pair of common triad or seventh arpeggios, one at the root and one somewhere else. Here are the results.

Barry Harris's Sixth Diminished Scale

Here's a great excerpt from a Barry Harris workshop where he introduces an interesting diminished concept, which he (jokingly) calls his "personal scale". It produces a very cool jazz sound by a quite unexpected means. The video is a bit piano-focussed so I thought it might help some guitar players to have a summary from our point of view of the main idea.

Root notes are for wimps: An invitation to hypermodes

There are seven major scale modes, which you can think of as major scales built on 7 different tonics suspended over a single root note. So over a C root we can play the notes from C Major (Ionian), Bb Major (Dorian), Ab Major (Phrygian), G Major (Lydian), F Major (Mixolydian), Eb Major (Aeolian) or Db Major (Locrian). But there are 12 notes in music; what happened to the other five? Step inside...

The Maj7b5 Arpeggio

The Major 7 arpeggio (1 3 5 7) has many uses; it can be superimposed over harmonies in all kinds of ways and I use it a lot. If you flatten the fifth (1 3 b5 7) you get a new sound with different applications. Here I'll talk about some of the possibilities.

Some Dissonant Scales for Minor Chords

I've been exploring some choices for minor chords that don't contain the b3, which give a rather open, not-very-minor quality to your lines. They can work over other chord types too. So if Locrian just isn't doing it for you any more, step inside.

I'm Running a UReddit "Course" on Scale Theory

I've committed to delivering a free mini-course called "Introduction to Scale Theory with Applications", starting in February 2013. The course will cover a lot of ground and if you're registered during the time it's going on I'll be running Q&A / discussion threads alongside the video lectures. If you come too late you can still watch the videos and drop me a line on Reddit if you need help. Now, I suppose I'd better get down to writing the lectures...

Graphs of Scales... a Sneak Peek

I've been experimenting with drawing graphs of scales for a while now, and have a few ideas on the subject; maybe even enough for an ebook one day. I'm particularly pleased with my latest batch, some selections of which I thought I'd share with you here. Consider them your Christmas present, valued reader.

Something to Celebrate

Just wanted to say that with the launch of Spectral Analysis of Scales, downloads of my three ebooks have whizzed past 20,000 since the first one came out nine months ago. Many thanks to everyone who read one or more of the books and helped spread the word; rest assured there's more in the pipeline for 2013!

Implementing "Deliberate Practice"

Next year the term "deliberate practice" will be twenty years old; in that time it has gradually moved out of the academic world and become a phrase uttered in hushed tones in musical, sporting and other spheres. What does it mean and how can we use it?