Monday, December 27, 2010

How to Make Your Own Jazz Etude

It's been awhile, but I'm back to teach you how to make a jazz etude of your own.  If you haven't already read Jazz Improvisation: Two Types of Etudes make sure you do.  This article explains why making your own jazz etude is more beneficial than using someone else jazz etude.  After writing that post I figured I should give you some tips and show you how to make your own jazz etude.

To get started you need to decide on what your jazz etude should focus on and teach you.  The best way to come up with a good focus for you own jazz etude is to think about the aspects of jazz improvisation that you feel weak in and would like to improve upon. You can also think about varying elements that you would like to add to your saxophone playing too. I suggest making a list of the areas that you would like to work on.  What this will do is give you a resource of topics for future jazz etudes.  Once you have your list look it over and see what area seems most fitting to focus on right now.  Remember your jazz etude should be something meaningful to you so choose a focus that really speaks to you personally.

Now that you have your focus for your jazz etude it is time to come up with a harmonic background to base your jazz etude around.  To start with choose a chord progression your familiar with such as a blues or jazz standard you enjoy.  Later you can choose chord progressions from songs you want to work on, or progressions that you find to be challenging.

Once you have the harmonic foundation for you jazz etude it is time to start composing.  First make a basic sketch of the melody or ideas that you are focusing on.  Once you have a basic sketch figure out the best way to incorporate the main lesson you want to learn from your jazz etude into the etude in a convincing manner.  You want to write your jazz etude in such a way that it sounds natural and organic.  Most likely you will have to do some experimentation before your etude sounds just right.

While writing your jazz etudes keep in mind the harmonic structure.  This really is your guide to building a melody that fits.  Also remember to have varying rhythms, and don't be afraid of space either. Remember your jazz etude can be as long or as short as you want it.  The etude could cover one chorus or many.  Have fun with it and be creative.

There is one last thing concerning how to make your own jazz etude.  Depending on the topic or focus you choose for your jazz etude you may have to do some research.  This shouldn't be hard though.  There are many resources online that can help you.  Don't let this scare you.  Think of it as a great learning opportunity.

So lets sum it up, the steps to making your own jazz etude are as follows
  1. Choose a topic to Focus on
  2. Do any necessary research
  3. Build a harmonic structure
  4. Start composing
There you have it four simple steps to developing your very own jazz etude.  Have fun.