This lesson describes a way to get diatonic approach notes into your playing by guiding you through certain exercises and progressions. It also gives you some prefabricated licks you can use directly in you soloing.
Diatonic notes are the notes belonging only to key which you are playing in. Fx. if you are playing in C major the diatonic notes would be the notes of the C-major scale.
Using a diatonic approach to improvising you will achieve a very clear sound in your lines without outside the key notes of course. I play for tenor saxophone in the scale of C-major.
The approach notes works as follows: they are the surrounding notes of a target note.
In this example my target note is G and my surrounding notes are A and F which are also the approach notes
when i use the approach notes on a II-V-I it could fx sound like this:
Here you see i approach the F of the Dm7 first with the E and the G, my second group of approach notes are in the G7 bar where i play the target note C and uses approach notes B and D, and the third approach group to the end note, A where the approach notes are G and B.
Another example of the clear sound you achieve with only using diatonic notes.
The first diatonic approach group is to the G on the G7 with the approach notes F and A. The second group of approach notes are to the D on the G7 with the approach notes E and C.
An exercise in getting the approach notes in your fingers could be.
This exercise spells all notes out of the scale with their surrounding notes/approach notes in front.
Try to play around with the exercise and approach different notes in this way.
Approach of the G, the A, the C, the E, the high G and the high A.
If you alter the rhythm of the approach note exercise you can play it more continuously.
In this way you approach all the notes in the C-major scale all the way to the high D – the 9th of the scale.
If you play the approach note exercise moving down you will need to repeat the target note and use this as the first approach note.
now we have worked a bit on the whole scale you can get down to the approach notes of the chords of the II-V-I in C. Dm7 – G7 – Cmaj7.
We start with the Cmaj7 chord – the target notes are C E G B D.
start with this exercise but try as soon as its in your fingers to alter the exercise and randomize the target notes to get flexible in the execution.
The target notes of the Dm7 chord are D F A C E
the same rules apply, learn the basic approach notes and order, then start to experiment.
The G7 chord – target notes: G B D F A
To get some more functionality with the approach notes its important to use the method over basic chord changes.
These following II-V-I lines will show some ways to use the approach notes.
First on the Dm7 chord i run down 5321 pattern to make a jump to the G of an Am7 chord on the Dm approaching F of the G7 with E and G of the Am7 chord.
I then play a 1235 of F on the G7 going up to a high E running down the G7 scale to G on the Cmaj7 playing 5321 ending on B and G as approach notes to A.
The next line of II-V-I:
Starting with a run up a Am7 chord using the approach notes E and G to land on the F, going down the Dm scale skipping down to an A and making a double approach, A-C-A, to B on the G7 chord. Going down the G7 scale to approach the F on G7 with the G and the E. Going up the G7 scale to the Am7 chord on the Cmaj. Running up the Am7 chord to the 11th (D) using the B and the last mentioned D to approach the C on the C chord, ending on a B – over the barline to bar 4.
The third and last II-V-I example:
Beginning with an upbeat approach B and G going to the A on the Dm7 chord. Playing down the wellknown Coltrane/pentatonic run 5-3-2-1 of Dm7 approaching the F via the approach notes G and E. Going up the scale to the G7. Starting the G7 playing a subdominant Am arpeggio using C and E to get to the D. The D and B is the approach notes to the following C leading to the D. Going down the scale from the B ending on the G of the Cmaj7. Coltrane pattern 5-3-2-1 on Cmaj ending on B and G surrounding the A, jumping to D, playing in the last bar an Em pentatonic/blues fragment – B-A-G-E.
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