Jazz Motifs with Common Tones

by | Jazz Improvisation

An important resource that great jazz musicians use in order to tell a story when improvising, is the element of repetition. This is often done by stressing a note that is common to various consecutive chords in a progression. And it is effective because it creates a motif which the listener can identify with throughout the development of your solo.

To show you how to to apply said concept, in this week’s lesson I want to show you how to “pivot off common notes” when improvising through various changes. Throughout the video I show you 3 etudes that demonstrate the use of this procedure over Stella by Starlight, Rhythm Changes and even some Jazz Blues!


The Jazz Motifs with Common Tones lesson files, can be downloaded for $8.50 . Your contribution is much appreciated, as it helps support the site and allows me to keep investing the long hours required to produce these lessons. The download includes the following files:  PDFs with both regular notation and TAB of all the examples, The Stella Etude, Rhythm Changes Etude, Pivot Blues Etude, MP3s & Band in a Box files of All the Etudes, and Midi files of everything so you can practice using the free downloadable notation app: “Muse Score”.

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1 Comment

  1. Duncan Herring

    Ah, yes, pivot notes. I have used this concept in my playing; however, I am much more likely to repeat entire phrases with similar rhythmic and often similar melodic structure. I like repeated structures, and I probably repeat phrases of this sort too often. I liked seeing your examples using Stella, Rhythm Changes, and Blues.

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