I’ve been studying with Tim Price for almost five months now and the results in my playing are astounding! I’ve noticed that my statements are much more clear and my thoughts are more organized. I can attribute these positive changes to Tim’s teaching method – check my previous posts for my thoughts, as well as Tim introducing me to pentatonic scales.
Previous to these lessons, I thought of pentatonic scales to be a cop-out. When I heard the players that I was working with use them, they seemed ambiguous – the easy way out of passages that were not harmonically familiar to them. My experience had led me to avoid using and learning them. I didn’t want to sound the same as those players.
Tim has shown me many pentatonic scales of which I wasn’t aware. He showed me how to use them – really apply these to practical musical situations. Tim has grids, exercises, patterns and much more to explain exactly how these work.
At first, I saw the value of the scales while I was playing in blues and rock bands. I could scare guitar players away! They thought I was crazy – but using them with conviction added so much colour and a totally different sound to the bands that they urged me to continue experimenting with them.
Over the last few weeks, I have really been trying hard to integrate pentatonics into standard material. It’s working. By drawing from the scales, I am able to add more colour and personality to these tunes.
To me, it’s incredibly important to be able to apply these concepts to standard material. As far as I’m concerned, it’s much easier to write your own music, sound like yourself and apply the concepts that you want to apply. The challenge is taking a tune that has been recorded thousands of times and making it your own. Standard material is the benchmark of jazz playing and is the common ground in which all jazz players communicate.
The first page is a pentatonic sketch or idea. The lines are long and rhythmically uninteresting. This is the first step. The pentatonic scale that I applied is 1, b2, ,b3, b4, b5. I don’t always use it exactly, but the colour of the chorus is consistent. For me, I take some liberties when I want to voice-lead into a chord or emphasize certain tensions, but the colour is the most important aspect for me. I left most of the major chords blank for some time to breathe. Also, this particular pentatonic doesn’t really fit in its basic form over major chords. It can, but I was trying to make the theory work over the functional harmony.
The second page is a solo that I’ve written out based on the original pentatonic line that I wrote (page one). In this example, I’ve shown how you could use the original as a template with rhythmic variations.
The goal (as with any concept) is to internalize it to the point of the idea revealing itself subconsciously. As you apply this concept to more material it will become second-nature.