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Beginning Bebop: Connecting The Lines

Are you new to playing jazz, and not sure where to start? Here are 8 great bebop lines to get you started on improvisation, complete with a step-by-step-step guide on how to use them! 

The above-shown lines are short melodic fragments starting on every degree of the major scale, and they are to be played over a Cmaj7 chord. For simplicity, let’s label the melodic fragment starting on 1 as L1, the melodic fragment starting on 2 as L2, and so on.

The way to use these melodic fragments is to connect them one after another to form a line. For example, you can connect L1 to L5 to  L3a to L3b, to form the following line:

As you may have observed, some of these lines have a prescribed ending note or a “fixed target note” (e.g. refer to L1; target note marked in parenthesis) while others are “open ended” and do not have a prescribed ending note (e.g. L3a). For fragments that are open ended, they may be followed by any melodic fragment without regard for which scale degree it starts on; the only requirement is that it must be pleasing to your ears! For fragments that have fixed target notes, they have to be followed by fragments starting from the same scale degree. For e.g. L9 must be followed by L3 because it’s fixed target note is E, the 3rd scale degree of the scale. Here are some more examples of how to connect the lines:

Try coming up with some of your own lines by connecting the melodic fragments and have fun with them! Here's a video demonstration of how to apply some of the lines!

Be sure also to check out our lesson on How To Play The Blues as well! 

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