The Four Elements of Bebop

For the past couple of months, I’ve largely put aside my regular jazz practice routine in order to learn music for gigs. In order to focus myself back onto working on jazz, I’d like to briefly outline something that I learned from Dr. Steve Anderson.

(Please take this with a grain of salt, as this is simply one small part of one person’s method of teaching jazz. It just happens to work very well for me.)

Bebop lines are built of four major building blocks:
1. Arpeggios – commonly the 3, 5, 7, and 9th degrees of a chord,
2. Scales – the scale(s) associated with a chord,
3. Chromaticism – Chromatic notes between, or surrounding, scale or arpeggio tones,
4. Deflections – a tension and release usually, but not always, based on resolving the b5 of a chord to the natural fifth.

A large part of my practice routine is to practice these four building blocks over the form of a jazz standard, so that I can execute each quickly and naturally. Then, I spend some time slowly integrating them together into a bebop* line.

I hope to write about this in a little more detail soon!

*bebop in this case means a ‘modern jazz’ line, as opposed to trying to learn to play a line in the style of a bebop master such as Charlie Parker or Dizzy Gillespie. That is very important too, but something which I work on seperately.

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