Review: Coursera Introduction to Improvisation

Week 4 of Gary Burton’s Introduction to Improvisation course introduced three new topics for improvisers.

The first is the concept of guide tones. Guide tones are chord tones that are a step or half-step from a chord tone of subsequent chord. These are used both as connective devices, but also as a crutch during fast chord changes.

Contrasted with guide tones is the use of common scales over multiple chords. These are used when one scale is applicable to a diatonic chord progression.

A third approach to playing over the harmony is applicable to constant structure chord progressions. Constant structure refers to progressions in which the same type of chord (i.e., major, minor, dominant) is played from different roots. Here, the improviser may simply transpose a melodic figure from one harmony to the next.

The assignment for this week was to improvise on Keith Jarrett’s “Memories of Tomorrow.” Here is a link to my improvisation.

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