Bill Dobbins: A Comprehensive Approach to Keyboard Improvisation. Available at YOUR online Sheet Music Library.
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Pianist Bill Dobbins is a professor of Jazz Studies and Contemporary Media at the Eastman School of Music. He has been the recipient of jazz composition grants from the Ohio Arts Council as well as the National Endowment for the Arts. Dobbins was instrumental in designing the graduate and undergraduate curricula for Eastman’s jazz studies program, and many of his students have become successful recording artists, having been heard in the big bands of Maynard Ferguson, Chuck Mangione, Buddy Rich, Count Basie, Woody Herman, Thad Jones/Mel Lewis, and Maria Schneider
Dobbins has performed and recorded with such jazz artists as Clark Terry, Al Cohn, Red Mitchell, Phil Woods, Bill Goodwin, Dave Liebman, Paquito D’Rivera, Peter Erskine, and John Goldsby.
This invaluable series is designed as a comprehensive method to help jazz pianists learn and refine their improvisation skills. The set covers topics including harmony, voicing, melody, rhythm, musical development, and various jazz styles, as well as providing transcribed solos for the students to study and imitate.
Volume 1 Chapter Contents: I. Diatonic Seventh Chords and Their Corresponding Modes II. Voicing the Five Basic Seventh Chord Types for the Left Hand III. Diatonic and Chromatic Embellishing Chords IV. Building a Chord Line for the Left Hand V. Basic Chord-Scale Relationships VI. Understanding Jazz Rhythm VII. Basic Principles of Accompaniment for the Left Hand VIII. Basic Principles of Harmonic Substitution IX. Diatonic Exercises X. Pentatonic Exercises XI. Diminished Exercises XII. Chromatic Exercises XIII. Melodic Embellishments XIV. Principles of Melodic Development XV. Special Effects XVI. Exercises for Beginning Improvisation XVII. Transcribed Solos XVIII. Tunes for Further Study Conclusion Appendices and Discography
Volume 2 Chapter Contents: I. Preface II. Two-hand Voicings III. Building a Tow-hand Chord Line IV. Two-hand Embellishing Chords V. Technics for Melody Harmonization VI. Blues in Major Keys VII. Blues in Minor Keys VIII. Rhythm Changes IX. Popular Song Forms X. Contemporary Ballad Styles XI. Jazz-Rock Styles XII. Contemporary Jazz Forms XIII. Free Jazz XIV. Comping XV. Improvisation as Communication Conclusion Discography
Volume 3 Chapter Contents: (Suggested listening follows each chapter) I. Stride Piano Styles: • Cantankerous Chromatics • Blues for Fats • Basie’s Beat • Blood Brother II. Boogie Woogie Piano Basie’s Boogie • Prickly Pete • Wobbly Waltz III. Gospel Piano Sanctified • I’m In His Hands • Holy Roller IV. Bebop Piano Styles A 624 • Red’s Blues • “T” Time • The Thing • Yardbird Conversation V. Solo Ballad Styles For Art’s Sake • Song for Bill Evans • Ballad VI. Harmonic Styles of • 1960’s and 1970’s Centrifuge • Waltz for Clare • Memories • Liberation VII. Latin and Ostinato • Styles of the 1970’s Autumn Song • Winter Song • Spring Song • Summer Song VIII. Free Jazz Bent • Vortex • Mobile • Anticipation Conclusion Appendix I Solo Piano Recordings of Interest Published Solo Piano Jazz Music Appendix II Published Solo Piano Jazz Music
All of you: Theme
Variation I – Scott Joplin
Variation II – Jelly Roll Morton
Variation III – James P .Johnson
Variation IV – Willie “the Lion” Smith
Variation V – Earl Hines
Variation VI – Fats Waller
Variation VII – Teddy Wilson
Variation VIII – Duke Ellington
Variation IX – Art Tatum
Variation X – Meade Lux Lewis
Variation XI – Pete Johnson
Variation XII – Jimmy Yancey
Variation XIII – Thelonious Monk
Variation XIV – Bud Powell
Variation XV – Oscar Peterson
Variation XVI – Erroll Garner
Variation XVII – Lennie Tristano
Variation XVIII – Bill Evans
Variation XIX – Clare Fischer
Variation XX – Jimmy Rowles
Variation XXI – Cecil Taylor
Variation XXII – Chick Corea
Variation XXIII – Keith Jarrett
Variation XXIV – Richie Beirach
Preface of Volume 1
The true value of jazz lies in its ability to provide the musician with a means of expressing the absolute limits of his imagination within lhe framework of certain harmonic, melodic and rhythmic principles. These principles are voluntarily agreed to by the individual or by the members of a group, but they may vary a great deal depending on the style of jazz
which is being played.
In this respect playing jazz is quite similar to speaking a language. There are two essential directions in which the student of jaz.z must work if he is to master this new language. The first is academic study in the form of analysis and musical exercises. This is analogous LO the study of grammar and vocabulary.
The second is practical usage in the form of playing or experimenting
with other musicians and listening to live performances and recordings of professional musicians who have already mastered a mature jazz style. This is analogous to speaking the language with other students while learning proper pronunciation, context and colloquial expressions from the natives. Just as there arc different colloquial expressions and dialects in different regions of the country, there are distinct melodic and harmonic characteristics which define the various styles of Jazz.
The major difficulty facing the student is that of achieving the proper balance between the study of theoretical principles and the practical application of these principles to playing and improvising. A musician may play a scale as a technical exercise thousands of times, but be doesn’t really understand the scale until he can create melodies with it and construct harmonies from it. At the same time, a musician might search for months, by ear, for a melody which is compatible with a given chord when, by applying a simple principle of chord-scale relationships, he could invent a number of appropriate melodies in a matter of minutes.
It is, therefore, extremely important that the mind and the ear be developed equally. The ear must be equipped to use the mind’s information with good musical sense, while the mind must be equipped to lead the ear into unexplored territory and suggest new musical possibilities. To best achieve this important balance, a musician with only minimal understanding of theory and harmony must emphasize this size of his development until he understands the theoretical basis for what he
Likewise, a musician with a poorly developed musical ear must emphasize ear training and listening until he can use his theoretical knowledge in a truly musical way.
Leading the analogy of improvised music and language to its logical conclusion, it may be said that the principles of Jazz improvisation reach the highest level of creative expression when a musician plays jazz as naturally as he speaks his native language. A musician who can only recreate someone else’s music is like a language student who can read clomics of French literature without being able to express his own ideas with that same vocabulary. He has the intellectual knowledge but no real
depth of understanding.
Improvisation provides the musician with a personal and vital experience in the laws of harmony, melody and rhythm. As in the study of a language, where the student’s basic vocabulary is largely determined by his principal teacher, the jazz player begins acquiring his vocabulary by imitating established artists. He later uses the same basic vocabulary in a more personal mode of expression. Finally, he may expand the vocabulary as he wishes until his style becomes largely his own. Few players reach this level of development but the possibilities arc limitless.
Within this text I have attempted to outline a method of study which will ultimately enable the student 10 think for himself and to make musical decisions in an intelligent way. This book should be no more than a point of departure. When the material has really been absorbed the student should be able to extend what is here rather than merely conforming 10 it. That is the point at which real creativity begins, and the only limitations
are the imagination and curiosity of the student.
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