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So What with Annotations

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Published on Nov 17, 2007

Visit my website at www.lot2learn.com for midi files, backing tracks and solo transcriptions.

"So What" is a modal song using D dorian and Eb dorian modes. D dorian was one of the first modes I learned because it was easy to improvise in - just play all white keys. However, as my playing and listening skills advanced, the need for tension and resolve (such as in a II-V-I progression) were not met by sticking with this approach, so my task became finding ways to avoid boredom and repetition during a modal solo. To this end, I followed the lead of so many great players who have thoroughly explored this idiom.
Here are some of the techniques I learned from listening to the greats:
1. Changing rhythms, speed and dynamics throughout the solo.
2. Leave plenty of "breathing room" - 8 measures with nothing but chords.
3. Make your own II-V-I progressions - notice I use E7-A7-D-7
4. Simple repetitive phrases can be taken outside the tonal center and brought back in.
These are just a few of the techniques I use during modal soloing to try and make it interesting for the listener and challenging to the player.
In keeping with the spirit of Doug McKenzie (Jazz2511), who has done more for the advancement of jazz education than anyone on YT, I have added annotations to parts of the solo.
Also, a tip-a-the hat to Volvoxburger and his video of the tune "Invitation" showing me it's all about the blue shirt. ;-)

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