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FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Cissy Strut and Soloing Over One-Chord Vamps

Contributing Member

Toronto, Canada

Nov 4th, 2018 10:56 AM   Edit   Profile  

I play this song with friends at casual jams. It's a favourite, and I especially like the C9 vamp for solos. It's a great groove for experimenting with my limited knowledge of modes, rhythmic ideas and so on. Building a coherent solo is another matter. How do you guys approach the challenge of building a solo over a one-chord vamp?

Contributing Member

A sore

for sighted eyes
Nov 4th, 2018 12:52 PM   Edit   Profile  

I'm no expert on this stuff, but over an extended stretch of a single chord like this tune, I usually play chromatically and try hard to develop a little theme or melody.

Sometimes it works, and sometimes it doesn't work so well because I don't practice enough!

Contributing Member

U.S. - Virginia

Nov 4th, 2018 02:03 PM   Edit   Profile  

Hal Galper once said that during a time he worked for Dizzy Gillespie playing piano. Dizzy posed the question to the young blood "do you think of a pitch first and put a rhythm to it, or do you think of a rhythm first and put a pitch to it."

He just walked away and let Hal stew on that for years. Dizzy eventually answered that he thought of rhythm first and then the pitch. This is very interesting and proves the fact that jazz(and closely related music like Cissy Strut) are rhythm based styles of music. Very much so. In fact, if you take away the unique rhythms of jazz and still apply a minor 2-5-1 or some such standard jazz progression, to a large degree you then have classical music. Music moving in 4ths.

All this to say, maybe you don't have to think so much about what notes to play. Maybe this type of song sits on the C9 so long and singularly because they want to inspire *rhythm*.

I would start with something simple like C mixolydian, but practice different scale patterns and apply different rhythms to the patterns. As many as you can muster. William Leavitt's "Melodic Rhythms" from the Berklee Press is a great resource for this exact thing.

You could always go outside on the notes, but I think the key in this instance, among many others, is rhythm.

(This message was last edited by Achase4u at 04:05 PM, Nov 4th, 2018)

Contributing Member

Toronto, Canada

Nov 4th, 2018 03:29 PM   Edit   Profile  

Thanks for the tip on Melodic Rhythms, Achase. Rhythm is one of things that makes Cissy so much fun to play.

FYI. I got onto to this subject after idly watching a Rick Beato video on substitutions for pentatonic scales. At the end, he talked about starting with the familiar tonalities and then moving to increasing outside sounds before bringing it back. It got me thinking about the whole tension/release, which is the core of any kind of storytelling. Lots of different to create that. So I'm curious how other people approach it.... melody, rhythm, tonality and so on.

Contributing Member

U.S. - Virginia

Nov 4th, 2018 04:24 PM   Edit   Profile  

Beato has forgotten more about music than I will ever know in my lifetime.

Those videos will not steer you wrong!

Adam Neely is another good one.

Have fun!

As for melodic mechanisms, I'd have to try soloing over that to see what I liked. The blues scale comes to mind with it's chromatics, and of course playing diminished over a 7th chord is a good way to get the alterations...


LA-la-land, CA

Insert clever comment here
Nov 5th, 2018 11:51 AM   Edit   Profile  

Storytelling is a good way to approach it! On something like Cissy where I can stretch out a little bit, the thing I probably pay most attention to is dynamics. Building up and falling down. Rising to a climax. (enough double-entendre there for you?) That's what gets the rest of the band, and the audience, riled up. If you start out slowly or softly or sparsely, and then build from there, if the other players have any ears at all, they will follow you. Then you can look ahead and see where you're trying to end up. That's one of my favorite things ever about playing music. When everyone gets up there together.

FDP Forum / The Chop Shop / Cissy Strut and Soloing Over One-Chord Vamps

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