Improvising Early Jazz

In an earlier blog I outlined the common chord types found in Early Jazz and Swing. Here are the typical ways that those common chords are elaborated through melodic improvisation. You will need a reasonable understanding of scales, chords and intervals to follow these illustrations. Naturally, these examples may be transposed to any key.


Note that adding 6 and 9 to a major chord creates a major pentatonic scale.
Adding a flat 3 creates the major version of the blues scale.



As jazz developed after the 1930s, improvisation increasingly relied on techniques based on scales. But other styles of music continued to use the same elaborations of chords, as outlined above. So, the following phrase would work in Boogie Woogie of the 1940s, or in later Rhythm & Blues, Rock & Roll, Skiffle and Country, etc.


These extracts are taken from the author’s free iBook: Early Jazz Theory, David Burnand, 2013.



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s