Saxophone Forum


by threetenors
(18 posts)
8 years ago

Voice leading drills?

I have been wondering. My teacher is always talking about voice leading chourds, and how important it is to do that in a solo. It is possible to sit down and drill chourds, and drill scales, and woodshed tunes, and licks, but... how do you practice voice leading? If anyone has some good excersies or ideas, they would be much apreciated.

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  1. by The Insomniac Saxman
    (141 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Voice leading drills?

    The tendency tones (some people call them "guide tones") in a chord are the 3rd and 7th, and the resolution of these tones is what needs to be practiced to maximize the chord's effect within a progression. For example, say you are playing in the key of C and you are given a G7 chord preceding a C chord (V7 leading to I) . . . the B in the G7 chord is the leading tone of the key of C and leads up to the tonic (C) in this dominant cadence. The F in the G7 chord is the subdominant of the key of C and leads down to the mediant (E) in this cadence. Let's say you are still in the key of C and moving from IIm7 to V7 (Dm7 to G7) . . . the 7th of the Dm7 is C and leads down by step to the 3rd of the G7 chord (B) . . . the 3rd of the Dm7 chord is F and remains the same moving to the G7 chord (the 7th of the G7) . . . Check out the book "The Art of Hearing" by Dr. Thom Mason. Also I believe there is a book by Shelly Berg called "The Goal Note Method." Both address this issue. Best of luck!

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    1. by saxmachine777
      (57 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: Voice leading drills?

      Insomniac provides excellent summary of rudiments of voice leading (especially given the abundance of the ii-V7-I progression and variations thereof). This concept is essential in voice leading. The tension/release of chords and what notes facilitate that are what it is. When you're learning to improvise over a chord form, plan out the arpeggios of the chords and play in time just as you would to woodshed memorizing the chords. However, while doing so, plan out where leading tones will run into their respective resolutions. Example: While in the key of C, playing the beginning of a ii-V7-I, start with quarter notes and play the d minor (ii chord) arpeggio with the seventh of the chord (C) resolving to the third of the G (V7) chord (B). In sequence, it would be | D F A C | B... etc. This solidifies the motions of voice leading from ii to V7 in the key of C. Innovate new combinations of resolutions in different parts of the progressions and in different keys. It sounds daunting because that is, essentially, the technical crux of jazz. You will be learning it the rest of your career. As you practice, try it in different keys and rhythms. When you're bored of quarter notes, move on to eighth notes. If quarter notes feel too hectic, try slowing it down a bit or go to half notes. Don't get discouraged. Voice leading will begin to come more naturally once you get a bit of a handle on it; as your ear develops and your aural instinct synthesizes with your fingers.

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  2. by mattMrozinski
    (35 posts)

    8 years ago

    Re: Voice leading drills?

    well from my novice understanding, the tritone or devil's interval in a major scale between the 4th and 7th degrees is what creates tension in music. and in the dominant sevents V chord, the tritone exists in the third and dominant seventh of the chord, which resolves to the one chord. the basis of music is just tension/release, tension/release between the chords. this is just what my high school band teacher taught us two weeks ago so my grasp on it is in no way complete but i hope it helps.

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    1. by saxmachine777
      (57 posts)

      7 years ago

      Re: Voice leading drills?

      I just remembered after posting that another good resource for learning a bit of voice leading and chord functions is "The Music of Miles Davis" by Lex Giel. It breaks down a bunch of Miles' compositions and solos into their theoretical components, teaches some basic theory, and you get a little Miles Davis fake book out of it as an added bonus. Find it at a music shop or online.

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