Lesson 13: Building Intensity - Pitch and Dynamics
Focus on Sound

Index - Introduction - Lessons

Building Intensity through Increased Range of Pitch and Dynamics

Jazz is a very lively and energetic music, and great jazz musicians are able to build intensity in their solos through several different means.  One very basic way that you can develop energy in your playing is to start your solo at a softer dynamic level in the lower register of your instrument, and gradually play higher and louder as you progress through the solo.

Use this exercise to develop greater range and flexibility of pitch and dynamics in your solos. When you perform an improvised solo, planning out how high and how loud you will play can sound predictable and even stagnant, if it’s not done well.  Therefore, make sure that you feel the energy of the music that you are playing.  As you ascend in pitch and dynamics, feel the increased intensity.  The better that you feel the energy, the more that your audience will feel it.

Example of an eight-measure solo that uses increased pitch range and dynamics to build intensity


Lesson 1 Assignment

Part 1: Compose

Compose an eight-measure solo on the sustained B flat 7 chord using chord tones.  Start the phrase in the lower range of your instrument and play at a softer dynamic level of mezzo piano or mezzo forte.  Gradually increase the dynamic level of your sound and play higher in pitch as you progress through the eight measures.  By the eighth measure, you should be in the higher range of your instrument and playing at a loud dynamic level of forte or fortissimo. (For free blank staff paper, visit www.Music-Paper.com)

Part 2: Memorize

Memorize that solo and play it many times.  Feel the energy increase as you play higher and louder.  If you do not feel it, try writing another solo.

Part 3: Improvise

Improvise in that same style over all of our sustained chords of the B flat blues.

Lesson 15: Building Intensity through Repetition


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