This course follows JAZZ MASTERCLASS: Step-by-Step: Preparing to Play in All Keys. After you have developed your ability to play in all keys, then explore creating a Tune Chart. Once you have created a Tune Chart . . . you can practice many exercises in this course designed to master any tune. It's important that you study "one step-at-a-time". You learn bass lines, Roman Numerals, Melodic Construction, Chords, Melodic Soloing, Modes, Grooves and applying different Time Signatures.
Just to mention: The video numbers start with Video #5. This follows the last video in "Preparing to Play in All Keys".
The subconscious will play the tune for you. You will have the FUN.
- Bass line that you loosely create.
- Roman Numerals - so that you can play the tune in all keys.
- Melody and Lyrics:Lyrics tell you what the tune is about.Lyrics also help you to phrase.
- Chords and Inversions in a specific key.
- Scales and Modes of the Chords.
- Tempo markings:You can choose what tempo to play the tune.
- Groove Markings:You can change the grooves.
- Understanding the Form of the tune.This includes measure numbers.
- Key Signature:We want to be able to understand and play the tune in all keys.
- Time Signature:We can change the time signature.
Step #23:Developing a Bass LineWhen I learn a new tune, the first thing that I want to do is develop a bass line through the tune.I want to be a bass player, moving through the tune.This teaches me the tune as a “flow”.First, I learn and play the bass line in “two”, or a “half-time feel.Set up a metronome (try quarter note at 50).You hear the beats on 2 and 4.This is like listening to the high hat of a drummer.I learn and play “lead-ins”.For instance:if you are moving to Dm7, you should try many different approaches or lead-ins to D.You might step up from a C . . . or down from an E.Or, you could consider using a chromatic approach.Listen to bass players to learn how they do this.Ask yourself:“How many ways can I get from, let’s say, Dm7 to G7”?Continue from chord to chord through the tune.
Step #24:Play a bass line through the tune using a half-time feel.A “Half-Time Feel” is used for ballads and “easy” jazz.It has a relaxed feel.It is recommended that you place the metronome on beats two and four.
Step #25:Play a bass line through the tune using a quarter-note feel.Playing a bass line in quarter notes is often called a “walking bass”.This has a more “driving” feel.Again place the metronome on beats two and four.I’m always “leaning forward”.Everything is a “lead-in”.
Step #26:Learning the Roman NumeralsOne of the most important elements of studying a Tune Chart is to analyzethe Roman Numerals through the tune.Once we know the Roman Numerals, we can play the tune in all keys.Autumn Leaves is almost entirely constructed of II V Is in major and minor.Therefore, make sure you have completely studied the II V Is in major and minor in all inversions.
Step #27:Playing the Melody and Half-Time Bass Lines.Now play the written melody of Autumn Leaves with a half-time bass line through the tune.You don’t need to play every note of the melody as written.You can interpret the melody loosely.
Step #28:Playing the Melody and Walking Bass Lines.Now play the written melody of Autumn Leaves with a quarter-note walking bass line through the tune.Again, don’t try to “lock-in” the bass with the melody.The melody phrases “over” the bass.
Step #29:Playing the Melody in all keys.Playing a specific melody, such as Autumn Leaves, can be either difficult or easy.It depends on your approach.A more difficult approach would be to try to remember all the intervals throughout the melody.An easier method, which I recommend, is to sing the melody.Many pianists don’t want to sing, don’t think they can sing, or can’t play the notes on the piano that they are singing.But this is an important skill to learn.If you are interesting in developing your singing voice, I recommend an excellent course, “Singing for the Stars” by Seth Riggs.You can find this course on my Resources page on JazzSkills for Piano or Musicmann sites.Or you can order it from Amazon.com.The first step in learning to play the melody in all keys is to analyze the starting note of the melody.Autumn Leaves is analyzed in either major or minor.In the key in the video, the tune is either in C Major or A Minor.The easy way to decide is to say:“The starting note is an “A”.It is in A Minor”.Second, sing the song.Do not play the melody as it is presented on the printed page.Play it the way you have heard singers sing it.You don’t have to be a great singer.The best way that I know to develop good phrasing is to sing the lyrics.Experiment with many ways of conversationally saying/singing each phrase.The phrase will change according to the emphasis that you place on the meaning of the lyric.Don’t let the fingers phrase.The fingers should follow your singing.Last, you don’t have to play the melody as it is written, note-for-note.It’s better if you take lots of liberties with notes and timing.Just imagine a great jazz vocalist singing the melody.
Step #30:Play the melody with a bass line in all keys.The main element here is to not “link it” to the bass line.Start playing a “half-time” bass line with the metronome on 2 & 4.Play the bass line and conversationally sing the melody.Don’t try to link it.Once you are comfortable singing it with the bass line, then play what you are singing on the piano.Once you do this in one key.Take it to all keys!!!
Step #31:Learning the Chords in Inversions.Most of the chords in Autumn Leaves are based on the Major/Minor Jazz Progression (that we learned in a prior lesson).That consists of the IIm9, V9/13, IMaj9 and IVMaj9.These are played in all inversions.In the key of C, these are a Dm9, G9(13), IMaj7 (or Maj9), IVm9,Bm7(b5) (or Bm11), E7(b9), and Am7 (or 9).
Step #32:Learning the Chords in LH Inversions.Practice all the chords in Autumn Leaves in the left hand in all inversions.Play the chords through the entire tune.Play in all keys, too.
Step #33:Walking Bass Line w/Bouncing.When you are comping or playing chords in general, you always want to think of the top note as the melody note.Bouncing through the intervals creates many different potential melody notes.Play a simple bass line with bouncing comping chords.Play a walking bass line with bouncing comping chords.
Step #34:Bounce Chords w/LHBounce around using the left hand using all the chords of Autumn Leaves.The left hand will probably be bouncing while the right hand is playing a solo.Bounce in the left hand through Autumn Leaves in all keys.
- It is recommended that you study "Preparing to Play in All Keys" before studying "Preparing to Learn a Tune".
- You will be able to set up your own Chord Chart. This will enable you to learn any tune more deeply.
Martan Mann is a highly respected jazz pianist, teacher and author. He is the author of an intensive online jazz piano course, JazzSkills for Piano. He also presents individual jazz piano courses under the title: JAZZ MASTERCLASS: Step-by-Step.
Martan has a Master's Degree in Music from San Jose State University and has authored three books on jazz piano improvisation, including: "Jazz Improvisation for the Classical Pianist", "New Age Improvisation for the Classical Pianist", and "Improvising Blues Piano". He has extensively performed solo and trio jazz piano in California and Hawaii. He has been teaching jazz and classical privately for 50 years. Martan has been musical director for many musicals and is a frequent accompanist for top jazz vocalists. Martan performed for 25 years at The Garden City, San Jose's premiere jazz club.