Monday, September 10, 2012

Lesson #25: Charlie Parker Inspired Line

In this week's lesson we'll be taking a look a melody I wrote out inspired by a Charlie Parker transcription I've been working on.  I've always enjoyed listening and working on Parker's music.  When I was first starting out, one of my teachers recommended that I purchase the Charlie Parker "Omnibook" sold by Jamey Aebersold.  I followed his suggestion and promptly "learned" (i.e. forgot the instant I stopped working on them) many of the transcriptions from the book.  Since then, I've gradually started moving away from written transcriptions.  Most recently, have tried to implement a more aural approach based on the teachings of Lennie Tristano.

I hope you enjoy this week's lesson!  Feel free to leave a comment or send me a message with any questions you might have.

View the .pdf (purchase to download and print):  View the PDF on
- note voicings in video were improvised and may not be the same as the .pdf
View the Video:  YouTube


Progression:  Em7-A7b9 |  Dm7-G7b9  | FMaj7

We can think of this progression in two ways.  The simpler of the two would be simply a iii-VI-ii-V-I.  However, since Parker uses the harmonic minor scale over the first bar, the implication of the Em7-A7b9 would actually be Ehalfdim7-A7b9.  This means this first bar is not actually the iii-VI (in the key of F).  It is instead the ii-V in the key of D minor.

The Melody:

The first bar contains a descending melody based on the Harmonic Minor scale.  The D Harmonic Minor scale is used since the first two chords can be used to imply a ii-V in the key of D Minor.  The second bar contains mostly arpeggiations of each chord.  On beats one and two of the first measure Charlie plays the 3rd-5th-7th-9th of the Dm7.  On beat three we have another descending diatonic scale resolving perfectly to a quick arpeggiation of the 3rd-5th-7th-b9 of the G7 chord.  The b9 of the G7 resolves chromatically down a half step to the 5th of the CMaj7 chord in the next bar.  In the final bar, the descending arpeggio is of the 5th-3rd-7th-6th of the CMaj7.


1)  Play through each key.  Work out fingering as needed.
2)  Play and sing.
3)  Play LH voicings while singing RH melody and "ghosting" with the RH.
4)  Play LH voicings while singing RH.
5)  Sing the melody away from your instrument.

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