Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams: The first golden rule
Studying Jazz Piano with Paul Abrahams
Golden rule number 1 when studying jazz piano:
1 When studying jazz piano, learn all your major and minor scales.
Major Major scales run horizontally through major II – V – I sequences.
Don’t avoid the flat keys; they come up all the time!
Minor Although there are three minor scales, you should focus on the harmonic and melodic minor. Here they are in A. Note the difference.
The harmonic minor can be used horizontally over minor II – V – I sequences.
The melodic minor is your building block for scales that can be played over a dominant 7 chord. Here are two of them: the Lydian Dominant and the Altered, both based on A Melodic minor.
Note that the two following scales, D Lydian Dominant, and Ab Altered, share the same notes.
The Lydian Dominant scale, with its #4, works well when a dominant 7 chord is static (not pointing to its tonic). Here’s an example where I’m playing the D Lydian Dominant scale over a D7 chord.
The Altered scale works well over a dominant 7 when it resolves to the tonic.
This scale contains all the altered notes: b9, #9, #11 and b13.
Here’s a II – V– I sequence in Db major.
I realize that Db major is not the friendliest of keys but there are tunes, such as Body and Soul, that are usually played in this key. Remember that brass players like playing in the flat keys. Guitar players often play In A and E. Us keyboard players have a tendency to opt for C, G and F so get out of your comfort zone.
So when studying jazz piano ensure that you are familiar with all major and minor keys.
Find out more about the II – V – I sequences here.
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