10,000 ways to play the C major scale:
Patterns are a great tool to increase your language in improvisation. I've heard people say "This guy is just a pattern player". If you listen to any music, player, composition from Bach to today, you will hear melodic development through patterns. Was Bach just a pattern guy? Well, you know the answer to that.
Young players tend to think they have their major scales together just by practicing them in scale-wise fashion. I like to teach my students to play the "C major sound" rather than "scale". Many jazz players including me have delved into playing scales in 3rds, 4th's, 5th's, 6th's 7th's, 10th's and more. Here are some other ideas:
-Play in alternating cell direction (for more on this, you can contact me) Now you have 4 ways to play a scale in just 3rd's! Add to that 4th's (x4), 5th's (x4), ect, and you can see how the many ways add up.
-Play in triads. There are 3 inversions of the triad. Add to that alternating cells, and you have 12 ways.
-Play in 7th chords. With 4 inversions, alternating cells, Now we have 16 more ways
-Play in consecutive intervals, like 4th's. I like this sound. It's very modern sounding. Example: C, F, B, D, G, C, E, A, D, ect.
-Add chromatic approaches, diatonic approaches, ect.
You can see that it is very easy to conceive of 10,000 ways to play the "C Major sound". What I've mentioned here is just the tip of the iceberg. Add to that all of the other scales (12 in all, modes of the major, melodic minor, whole tone, pentatonic, diminished, ect.) and you have a lifetime of practice.
This may seem daunting for most, so keep this in mind: I have only so much time in my life to practice, and since the things to practice are endless (which is why the journey is so enjoyable with new discoveries), I will try something new, and if I don't like the sound of it, I throw it away. Only practice the patterns that are musically solid to your ears, and don't bother with the others. The ones you pick to practice will eventually creep into your playing (provided you've given it enough time in the shed) and will become YOUR VOICE!
Good luck with this, and if you have any questions, I'm available!
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