My new ebook gives saxophone students a tool for improving several aspects of their saxophone playing at once while having fun at the same time. Pentatonic Patters for Improvisation is on sale now. Get the ebook and 12 backing tracks in all keys today.
the new Patterns eBook extends our work with the versatile pentatonic scale into all 12 keys. But I still want you to use your ear!
Play By Ear
There are over 60 patterns in this book and they are all written out in the key of C (no sharps or flats). Other books of this sort will often provide their patterns and exercises written out in all 12 keys. This makes for a longer book, but doesn’t help the student actually learn anything. What ends up happening if you read the patterns off the page, is you may improve your reading ability, but the musical information will not stay with you. You will always need to read it to get the sounds to come out of your instrument.
I have purposely provided each pattern in only one key to force you to use your ear, memorize the patterns, and develop the ability to transpose a pattern into several keys. This may seem like I’m just making you do a lot of unnecessary work, but I assure you that this is the fastest way to learn and get solid results on your saxophone or any other instrument.
This approach is also the gateway to developing improvisation skills and is the same method that professional soloists in all styles of music use. If you want to see meaningful progress that stays with you, this method is the fastest way to go.
About the Patterns
The patterns in this book range from very easy to quite difficult, but it is all relative to the tempo you choose to practice them at and your facility in different keys. There is enough information in here to keep you busy for a very long time. Don’t think that I expect you to learn all of the 60+ patterns though. As you go through the book, you will find some patterns that appeal to you more than others. Focus on these and strive to add them to your kit of improvising tools.
Many of these patterns can be heard throughout solos of some of your favorite players. Once you start learning some of them, listen out for similar phrases played by soloists on recordings. Some of the patterns come directly from popular song melodies as well. Since the pentatonic scale is used so universally, these patterns can literally be found everywhere you listen. Learning, practicing, and adding them to your bag of tricks will quickly elevate your playing to another level.
Follow the instructions in the book on how to practice the patterns. You will be developing valuable saxophone technique, and training your ears at the same time.
12 Backing Tracks
I have spent a lot of time, over the years, practicing (and sometimes just noodling) over backing tracks. They are a fun and effective tool for learning to improvise. The Pentatonic Patterns eBook comes with 12 backing tracks representing each of the key centers. These tracks are designed to be used together with the patterns or to practice improvising using one pentatonic scale at a time.
Each track follows an AABA form. I composed the chord progressions to alternate between a major key and it’s relative minor key. For example, the track for C major, goes to A minor at the B section. This is a very common harmonic device used in songs from every musical style, and is great to get your ears accustomed to hearing, and playing over it.
You can also play other scales to improvise over these tracks of course. For the purposes of this book though, I focus on the pentatonic scale.
Check out the video below. In it, I am improvising over the first 16 bars of the G minor/B flat Major backing track. Afterwards, it’s just the backing track on its own. Feel free to give it a try. If you play alto sax use your E minor/G Major pentatonic scale over this. If you play tenor or soprano saxophone, use your A minor/C Major pentatonic scale.
If you are not sure how to build your pentatonic scales or what a relative minor is, you can learn all of that in some of my free Play Sax by Ear Crash Course. Download the backing track from the video above and a preview of the Pentatonic Patterns for Improvisation eBook here. In the preview PDF, there are a few of the patterns to try out from the book, as well as an overview of the music theory you must know to be able to build and play all the pentatonic scales from memory. Enjoy!