Jazz & The Zen of Playing Wrong Notes

by | Jazz Improvisation

Have you ever transcribed or simply tried to analyze a solo by one of your favorite players and found that in more than one measure, there were notes that absolutely did not relate to the prescribed chord?  Strangely enough, you listen to the recording in context and it doesn’t sound wrong. However, you just don’t understand why!!!

I think it was Miles who said “there are no wrong notes…which I believe is true as long as you’re listening to a master jazz improviser. Now, for those of you who are not yet master improvisers, does that mean that we can play anything over any chord? Yes and No….. I’m NOT talking about playing free jazz here! Instead, I’m talking about the use of all 12 notes over any chord, in a way that you have full control over the degree of dissonance you desire to create against the harmony of the moment. But I want to make it clear that first you have to learn how to play according to the rules of functional harmony. Only after you are comfortable doing so will you be ready to break those rules. And that’s what I want to teach you in this lesson….how great improvisers successfully break the rules!


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  1. Lou Minn

    Richie, I rate your latest video worthy of ten stars!
    Five stars for the musical content and five stars for your sense of humor and
    video production skills. Thanks!

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