Why Do We Use Target Notes? (Podcast Episode #27)

Posted by: JAZZEDGE on April 27, 2021

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00:05 Hey guys, Willie Myette, creator of jazz edge and I want to welcome you to Episode 27 of the confident improviser Podcast. Today we're going to be talking about why we use target notes. And I'm going to show you why target notes will make your improvisation sound better. So remember, this podcast is designed as a companion podcast for the confident improviser program, which is part of jazz edge core, you can find more information back at jazz edge calm. And remember, this is an audio only podcast. So if you happen to be catching me on youtube or something, and seeing this in a video form, it's only going to show you, you're only gonna be able to hear me, alright, but if you want to get the video and you want to get the sheet music, all of that is available for jazz edge members. Alright, so why do we use target notes? So first of all, the first question is, what is a target note and a target note are notes that help to define the court and they're usually going to be notes from the core, like the third and the seventh, or the root and the fifth? So usually part of that court. Now why do we want to define the notes of the chord? Well remembered that songs are, you know, melodies are built on top of chords, right? So if I have 01:27 I have like, you 01:28 know, just some simple little melody going on there. And that's just built on top, of course, so C to A minor to D minor to g, in this particular case, alright, so that those chords are what we call our chord progression. And when we're going to improvise over a chord progression, right, which is literally just a progression of chords, moving from one chord to the next. But when we're going to improvise over that chord progression, we want to make sure that we hear the chords because if we don't, then it's then our improvisation sounds very floaty, right? So let me show you an example. And it might be easier for you to hear it. So here is an example just going from D minor, seven to G seven to C. And all I'm doing in the left hand is very simple shells, root third for the D minor, so D and F, G and F in the left hand, that's root seven chord shell, and an A C and E chord shell, which is a root and third, now listen to the improvisation. 02:30 Okay, so it doesn't sound terrible. But it also doesn't sound great. Let me play it again for you. 02:44 We play it without the chords in the left hand it's kind of hard to hear that. That is my progression underneath. Now if I take a look at what's going on here, on the strong beats, okay, so I have D minor seven for one, Measure G seven for one measuring and C major seven for one measure. And on the first beat here on the D minor seven, I'm playing a B, which is the sixth of the chord, not a very strong note, when I get to the G, I'm playing the 11th, right or the four which is not a strong note, either. And when I get to the C, I'm playing my ninth, which, okay, it's not terrible. But again, it doesn't really help to define that chord. Alright, so let's take a look at a different example. Listen to this one now. 03:39 Now when we play it without the chords now, it still might be kind of subtle for you to be able to hear that progression underneath. But you probably at some level, even sense that that line just sounds just a little bit better. I'm going to play them both back to back for you. So here's the first one. And here's the next one. So now let's talk about what we're using here. Right, so we're using all of the C Major scale. Why? Well, this is a 251 progression. And typically on a 251 progression, we could use the major scale over all three chords. And again, if I take my C major scale and I put it starting on D one, that's my D Dorian scale. If I play it starting on G well that's my G mixolydian scale. And if I play it starting on C, that's my C major scale or what we would call our C Ionian scale. Alright, so we know that on a minor chord, we could use the Dorian mix on a dominant chord we can use a mixolydian and on the major chord, the one Before we can use our Ionian or major scale, we've heard all of that before, right? And I've even said to you, hey, you go, you can use the major scale to improvise over a 251 progression. But when we just thinking about the raw materials, just simply saying, hey, look, you can use the major scale to improvise over a 251. All right, now, that's a really good piece of information there. But we're still missing a lot of information. Let me give you a for instance, that would be like me, piling up a bunch of wood outside, and then simply saying, there you go, here's all this wood, you can build a house. Alright, well, if you've never built a house before, and you don't know what structural key points you need to hit, then it's going to be very difficult for you to build something that's going to be good, right? It's just going to probably not like it's not going to work and might fall down. Same thing happens with improvisation if we just simply say, hey, look, you can use this scale to improvise over these chords will short that's great. It's nice to know that, but the missing piece of information is that that scale is not yet defining the chord. Okay? Let me give you another for instance, let me just take my D minor. And in fact, what I'm going to do is, I'm going to play my full D minor seven chord right here. And now I know that I could use that D Dorian scale, right? And I could play any of those notes. And remember, D Dorian is the same thing as a C major scale starting on D, right? But anyway, I could I could run from D up to D, playing all white notes, D, F, G, A, B, C, D. Alright, so I'm gonna play my chord over here, and I'm just gonna improvise around 06:48 Does that sound good? No, it really doesn't sound good. Now, at first blush, you might say, Well, wait a second, I'm using all the quote unquote, right notes. Why doesn't it sound good? If I'm using the right notes? And the reason it doesn't sound good, is because you're not targeting the key notes from the court. Listen, now when I play this. 07:22 Now it sounds much better, doesn't it? Because now I'm starting to target and clue into those key notes of the chord again, what are those key target notes? The root, the third, the fifth, the seventh, they are the just the notes of the block chord, right? Just the regular seventh chord, the root three, five, and seven. And then to really hone into it, I usually say, why don't you start with the third and the seventh first, okay, because the third and the seventh really defines a chord, because those are what we call our guide tones, right? I send out here is another example. So now what I've done is I've written out here, just the third for D minor in the first measure, and then I'm going to the seventh for G seven in the next measure. And I'm going to the third of the C Major in the last measure. Okay, so what I'm going to show you here is a way in which you can kind of do a fill in the blanks, right? And it's really, I find it to be kind of fun, because it's kind of interesting that you can kind of weave these lines around, and you get to try and figure out like, alright, well, what notes do I want to play? And how am I going to approach and get into these different target notes. So again, what I have in front of me here is three measures, a measure of D minor seven, a measure of g7, a measure of C major seventh, and then the very first beat on the D minor seven, I have the note F, which is the third and I have nothing else written. Okay, on the very first beat of the g7, I have the F right. So same thing as the D minor seven measure. But in this case, it's not the third. Now it's the seventh, right? Because remember, f is three and three on a D minor. And an F is then becomes a seventh on g7. And then the last measure, I have the key on the C major seventh chord. Alright, so all I've done is I have three measures, three chords, and three target notes. Everything else is completely blank. I need to fill it in for myself. So now what notes do I use to fill it? Well, that's where I could use those notes from that C major scale. I can use chord tones. I can use it in closures, all of this other stuff that that we've talked about before right now let's just talk about let's just think about using notes from the C major scale and rhythmically, we're going to keep the same rhythm just all eighth notes in the D minor measure all eighth notes in the G seven measure and a whole note once you get to the C major measure. Alright, so now this is what I came up with. Take a listen 10:00 There's my finish line. So I started on the third, and I arpeggiate this up. So D, I'm sorry, F, A, C, E, D, C, de G, and then come down to the F for the G seven, then he D, G, B, D, F, then down to E. Now, for those of you who have been following my lessons, the podcast we've talked about enclosures, you can kind of see that enclosure right here at the very end of the g7. I go from D to F, then to eight, right, so the D is a whole step below the target, F is a half step above the target, and then resolving to the target note, which is E. Now, if you like to try more of this, write this out on your own. Okay, just put out three measures D minor, seven, g7, C major seven, pick a target for each one of those chords, and then fill in the line from there. If you're a member of jazz edge, don't worry, the sheet music for podcast episode 27 has some fill in the blanks for you. So you can go ahead and just fill in the sheet music that you download right off of the site. Okay. All right. So now if you need more help on this, if you're a member of jazz, remember, every Thursday I'm sorry, every other Thursday, I do my confident improviser q&a session. So be sure to join in, right. If you're not a member of jazz edge, and you're interested in signing up, just go back to jazz edge comm I can tell you that jazz edge comm features the most complete set of lessons that you're going to find. You end up getting weekly coaching, you get weekly office hours, you get the special classes like the confident improviser standards by the dozen. So if you haven't checked out jazz edge and you're really serious about wanting to learn the piano, I would suggest taking a look at it. Don't get scared off by the name jazz. Yes, it is very much jazz and blues heavy, but we also have a lot of lessons and funk, Latin rock, classical and many other styles. Right? So anyway, that's it for me. Thanks, guys. And I will see you in the next episode.

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