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Navigating the Be-boppers’ Harmonic Galaxy

Jazzed Magazine • Basic TrainingMarch 2008 • March 11, 2008

The be-boppers’ harmonic galaxy is based on the Diminished 7th arpeggio. It is the axis upon which all is built. #149; For this reason, the first thing I do when I look at a new set of changes is to look for diminished relations. #149; These relations quickly define key centers, dominant relationships, and significant harmonic movement. In 30 seconds I am able to gain the necessary insight for improvisation. #149; However, from an educational standpoint, my 30-second perusal took half a lifetime to learn. #149; Let me try and retrace my some of my steps. Remember, you are going to have to “connect some of the dots.” #149; Also remember, if you move to a new step without understanding the previous one, proceed with caution because leapfrogging doesn’t work for long.

The beginning of my be-bop study started with be-bop scales. These 8-note, rhythmically symmetrical scales, served many purposes. The first purpose was to my get chord tones on the beat, which proved to be an essential part of be-bop playing.


The 8-note, rhythmic symmetrical scale also facilitated back-phrasing which is a very important element of swing and be-bop phrasing.


The be-bop scale also made harmonic anticipation easy to execute. For example,


But, most importantly, the be-bop scale delivered something harmonic. It sounded the “I” chord and the V7 chord at the same time. For me this was particularly significant.

Training(I had to think of an inverted, rootless D7#153;

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