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An introduction to the "Harmonic Pocket" for soloing; getting your solos in sync!

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Ever wondered why some improvising musicians seem never to play a "wrong" or "weak" note, and their lines are consistently strong and compelling? How some soloists sound like they're effortlessly surfing the harmony, and others sound like they're constantly getting tripped up by it?

 
This lesson is an introduction to the most important thing anyone ever showed me about improvising a line, and a look at why the Modes we all learn are fatally flawed as a basis for improvisation (which is why most great jazz players have always instinctively modified them in the way we'll discuss in this lesson). The essence of this lesson isn't to make you play the "right notes", but rather to understand how our choice of which scale tones go on the beat, and which are likely better between the beats can dramatically impact the clarity and propulsion of our soloing; it's one key difference between soloists who play with power, using the harmony as great leverage, and those who sound like they're kind of fishing and skating around on the chords, often face-planting into the harmony they're blowing on even though they're playing "legal notes on that chord". We're then going to take what I think is the shortest path to an approach to putting notes ON the beat that lock in the harmony and notes BETWEEN that create moments of tension, something that puts you IN SYNC with the harmony you're blowing on.  In the exact same way that there's a rhythmic pocket with which you're either in sync or "blowing the groove" , there is a HARMONIC POCKET, and playing with an awareness of that gives you great leverage and clarity, an "in sync", focussed sound to your blowing even when you're way outside the harmony on the page.  So let's dig in with an explanation of the principle and a look at 8-note scales over MAJOR chords...

Here's the PDF for the MAJOR-KEY 8-NOTE SCALES in all 12 keys, with my recommended fingerings for piano (RIGHT CLICK, or Control-Click on the Mac, on the link to download the file rather than display it in a new page.)  These fingerings might look a little odd at first (why is he starting with the 4th on the tonic?), but these fingerings are REPEATABLE; you can play all the way up and down the keyboard, repeating these all the way.

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