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Playing outside

Playing ‘outside’ is a technique in jazz where you intentionally play notes that are not in line with the underlying chord progression or harmony. The resulting effect is great for building tension and adding excitement to your solos.

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  • Playing outside the changes →

    Playing ‘outside’ or ‘outside the changes’ is a cool sound that builds tension and adds additional interest and excitement to your soloing.

    Example 1. Jungle/drum and bass • 2. Chilled Latin • 3. Straight-ahead bebop • Jungle/DnB and chilled Latin backing tracks to jam along to • Exercise 1. Jungle, minor 3rds ascending • 2. Medium swing, major 2nds descending

  • Playing outside: Dorian mode exercises

    Example exercises of playing outside the changes with the Dorian mode.

    The C Dorian scale • Example: 16th notes, inside-outside-inside • 8th notes, chords ascending a semitone every two beats • 8th notes, descending line • 8th note triplets, descending line • Playing against a swing beat, ascending • Playing against a swing beat, descending • Fourths pattern • Fourths pattern: ascending chromatically • Fourths pattern: adding rhythmic interest over a swing beat

  • Mining Bud Powell: an applied analysis →

    This tutorial takes eight bars from Bud Powell’s solo on ‘Oblivion’ from The Genius of Bud Powell and works with it in different keys, at different tempos, and in different contexts.

    Transposing a few bars of Bud’s solo from E flat major to G major: how I think when transposing, in terms of key, chord progression, and scale degrees • Transposing just a single phrase • Taking phrases and using them in other contexts: in another jazz standard, over a rhythm changes bridge, and in a contemporary jazz context

  • Playing outside: more exercises

    More examples of taking a phrase and playing it outside the changes.

    Exercise 3. Bebop, ascending in minor 3rds • 4. Jungle/DnB, ascending in major 2nds • 5. Jungle/DnB, descending in minor 3rds • 6. Jungle/DnB, descending in minor 3rds (variation) • 7. Medium swing, ascending in major 2nds • 8. Bluesy-rock groove, ascending in major 2nds • 9. Jungle/DnB, playing outside by moving around the left-hand voicing