Four note group
Four note group patterns are one of many ways used to formulate improvised solos in jazz. "Four-Note Grouping is an improvisation technique that uses major and minor triads along with specific passing notes as a means of generating lines. The concept of Four-Note Groupings allows the lines to be more 'out' and stretch the possibility of available notes over a chord due to the structural integrity of the triad-based line."
Jazz standards are typically two quarter beats per change (or four eighth notes). In order to play fluidly in double time it is necessary to develop practice strategies to fill out eighth note patterns. Patterns that are employed heavily in bebop and modal playing involve playing scale fragments in the key of the chord change, arpeggiating the current chord change, or playing a bebop pattern or "lick". When scales are played they typically line up odd (strong) beats with chord tones and even beats with non-chord tones. These patterns are very obvious in the early solo career of John Coltrane and in reharmonized tunes from the bebop era. The Miles Davis tune "Donna Lee" is composed almost entirely of four note groups over its chord changes.
Four note group patterns can also be doubled into 8 note patterns over the same time duration. Playing at quadruple time over the tempo requires many hours of solo practice and tune analysis. The solos of Charlie Parker contain many examples of four and eight note group patterns.
Four note group devices
- Scale fragment
- Arpeggio fragment of current chord, can be altered harmony
- Bebop pattern or lick
- Chord tone/non-chord tone pattern
- John Coltrane: "Blue Train"
- John Coltrane: "Giant Steps" solo
- Charlie Parker/Miles Davis "Donna Lee" head
- "Four Note Groupings Part 2", EdSaindon.com (351 KB PDF) - Ed Saindon
- "John Coltrane - Harmonic Substitutions", LucasPickford.com: "Extending the Coltrane Changes" by David Baker
- Javier Arau. "Augmented Scale Theory", Javier Arau.
- Michael Leibson. "Giant Steps, Central Park West and Modulatory Cycles", ThinkingMusic.ca.