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What Is Parallel Harmony And Sequencing

Parallel Harmony

One of the exercises that can help you improve your improvisation skills is playing over parallel harmony. This means playing chords of the same type, such as all dominant sevenths. When playing over parallel harmony, you need to follow the movement of the bass line.

To practice this, you can use the arpeggio studies exercise provided in the handout. The exercise consists of arpeggios and phrases that will help you get through the sequence of chords. The key to playing over parallel harmony is to repeat your phrase and transpose it to fit the chords. This is called motivic playing.

Motivic Playing

Motivic playing is a technique that involves repeating a musical idea and transposing it to fit the chords. When you repeat your phrase and transpose it, it can be very effective.

To use this technique, start by playing a phrase using only the chord tones. Then, rearrange the chord tones to create a motif. Repeat the motif and transpose it to fit the chords. You can also add chromatic passing notes to create a more complex sound.


Woodshedding is the process of practicing a specific musical idea until it becomes automated. It involves repetition and muscle memory, so when you're improvising, you don't have to think about what notes to play. Instead, they come naturally to you.

When practicing these exercises, make sure to do it away from the performance. This is like doing press-ups and sit-ups before a match. It's essential to do the preparation work separately, so when you're improvising, you don't have to think about the theory behind it.


Improvisation is a crucial part of Jazz music, and it requires a lot of practice and understanding of music theory. By practicing exercises such as playing over parallel harmony and motivic playing, you can improve your improvisation skills. Remember to woodshed your ideas until they become automated, and you don't have to think about them when you're improvising.

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