Learning Giant Steps For The Jazz Pianist

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41 час курса
Курс от Udemy
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Develop an approach to learning and improvising on the John Coltrane tune, Giant Steps.
О курсе

Giant Steps by John Coltrane has always been considered as a difficult tune for jazz pianists to understand, learn and play. Of course, adding to the complexity is that the tune is usually played very fast. I think, what we really need is a simple, step-by-step approach to studying this tune . . . then developing the tune into our subconscious. Once this tune is totally subconscious, we should be able to freely improvise on it.

This lesson on Learning Giant Steps contains four videos, downloadable PDFs, graphics of examples, and text. Video #4 contains backup tracks for your practice. You can practice soloing over Giant Steps in different styles and tempos. Have fun learning Giant Steps.

Step-by-Step Step #1: Basic Understanding of Giant Steps Let’s take a look at Giant Steps. The tune is 16 bars. All of the principle chord relationships are based on the major third. In the original key, there are only three principle chords: B, G, Eb. Look down the first row and notice the keys: B, G, Eb and B. Also look down from the third measure: Eb, B, G and Eb (See Example 1). This is great for understanding the basic structure Giant Steps, but not helpful in creating a method to play it. Step #2: Make a Practice Chart for Giant Steps. The Practice Chart should contain the melody, bass note, chord changes, comping chords, and scales for each chord. You can also include any helpful analysis. I suggest that you use a music notation app. For a freeapplication, go to Finalemusic and download Notepad http://www.finalemusic.com/products/finale-notepad/.
  • Bassline
  • Closed position chords and inversions
  • Melody
  • Chord names
  • Scales for every chord
  • Analysis
Step #3: Practice in chord flows. For “Flow #1”, say: “B, D, G, Bb, Eb” over and over until the chords are completely in the subconscious. Then For “Flow #2”, say: “G, Bb, Eb, F#, B” over and over. Then for “Flow #3”, say: “Eb, G, B, Eb” over and over (When you play this flow, you will play the II V before each chord). Just to mention: notice that flows #1 and #2 are descending major thirds and flow #3 is ascending major thirds. (The return to the top of the tune on measure 16 is descending.)Step #4: Practice flows with bass and melody. Just play through GS with a single note in the bass and a single note in the melody. This helps to establish the basic melody and form of the tune in your subconscious. Step #5: Practice scales for each chord.
Take a look at each of the scales for all the chords in Giant Steps. Make sure you can play the scales fluently. Step #6: Practice flows with closed position left hand chords. Play each of the flows using the closed position chords in the left hand, in all inversions through the tune. Then, play the closed position chords in all inversions through the entire tune.
Video Two
Melodic Development
Step #7: Continuous Melody Exercise
Practice the Continuous Melody Exercise using quarter notes, quarter-note triplets, eighth notes and eighth-note triplets through the tune. The left hand plays a single bass note or chord .
  1. Scales
  2. Triads
  3. Seventh Chords
  4. Pentatonics (1,2,3,5,6)
  5. Then, play melodies which use a combination of scales and chords (arpeggios). Be musical. Think forward.
Step #8: Slowly play each of the flows in the right hand as a complete melodic idea.
Practice making up melodies from one chord to the next chord. For instance, take the first chord, "B" and play melodic ideas forward to "D7". Always think and resolve ideas forward. Do this until you learn the "flow". Then practice playing slowly over the entire flow. Do this for all three flows. Step #9: Play Giant Steps as a ballad Start playing GS slowly through the tune as a ballad. Take your time. Allow yourself time to think. Try to play the ideas emotionally. Resolve all your melodic ideas.
Developing Up-tempo Soloing
Step #10: Tune development for faster playing.
  • Practice Hanon, scales and arpeggios.
  • Simplify the chord changes
  • Practice in chords
  • Practice with triads
  • Practice with seventh chords
  • Practice with Pentatonics
  • Think of melodic rhythm
  • Breathe in your playing
  • Play musically w/phrasing
  • Play GS in all keys
  • Play GS with others
  • Listen to recordings and transcribe solos
Video Four
Practicing Giant Steps
Practice Time. Step #11: Video #4 Giant Steps Practice This video contains Band-in-a-box backup practice tracks. Enjoy practicing your Giant Steps improv.
  1. Bossa Nova - Starts at 15 seconds
  2. Easy Swing - Starts at 2m 40s
  3. Fast Swing - Starts at 5m 05s
  4. Very Fast Swing - Starts at 6m 50s
  • Have a good general knowledge of jazz harmony.
Martan Mann
Martan Mann
Jazz Pianist
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