Bebop Bible: Verse I

Finally, a pretty normal day. Not exceptionally tired, not too pressed for time. Felt good and made some decent headway.

The Short Version:

45 Minutes Pentatonics


20 Minutes Donna Lee

25 Minutes ii-V licks


I spent a lot of time on pentatonics. Seems like every day I love the idea of slow, deep practice more than the day before. Things take longer in the moment, but I feel like my rate of progress continues to increase. I sometimes feel like I'm addicted to taking my time.


In any case, I started play pentatonics in a polyrhythm since I finally felt comfortable doing so. I put the metronome in 4/4 at 110bpm, which felt a bit slow, but I took the opportunity to practice really sticking to the beat (instead of just going for max speed). I played 8th note triplets on top of the 4/4, you've heard it before but here it is in pentatonics:

When I switched to minor pentatonics, I added a little V-i at the end of each scale. Because the minor pentatonic requires a heavy cognitive load (it takes me a lot of conscious thought and effort still) to move to the appropriate V7, I wanted to practice not just the scale but where it leads harmonically.


After a break, I started up with the Donna Lee harmony. Similar to yesterday, I played all the chord tones bottom to top, and top to bottom in time. I also made sure to land on thirds and sevenths.


Then I incorporated a voice-leading exercise (previously explained here). I moved several 1-3-5 and neighbor licks through the entire progression of the tune.


When I improvised, it felt way easier than ever before to retain full command of harmony; so many options became immediately accessible to my brain and fingers that I found it easy to navigate the changes, employ licks, and embellish/extend/sequence ideas according to whatever whims I felt.


The idea of taking one lick or melody throughout an entire tune (instead of through the circle of fifths in exact transpositions) has been incredible for my improvisation in just a few days' time.


I only spent a few minutes on Donna Lee though. I wanted to finally practice some standard licks over ii-V's (instead of shorter licks over one chord). I'm fortunate enough to own a copy of The Bebop Bible; a huge compendium of bebop licks over a variety of chords, which includes long lines over entire ii-V-I progressions.


I spent some time playing through passages at random just to inform my general concept of the bebop language and style. Then I chose to focus on one passage and learn it in several keys. Below is a screenshot of the line I chose. (the bottom of the three).




After getting it tight in the original key (up-tempo, swingin', good tone, the right fingering), I analyzed it to understand how each note functioned, and I figured it out in F, then Bb. I could have progressed to more keys, but I wanted to make sure I was practicing deeply and without mistakes, so I only made it so far before it was time to go.


Planning to post my second interview tomorrow. Also coming soon is a significant re-design of the site. Same address, much better look.


Happy practicing!

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