Improvising Using Passing Tones
The art of improvising is exactly that, an art form. There are many rules you can follow, and many scales you can use. In the end there are twelve notes you use, thousands of harmony interaction and thousands of rhythmic availability. In this video I am going to concentrate on chord tones of one fingering of the A dominant 7th chord. I am also going to concentrate on the passing notes or tones that surround that fingering.
My interpretation of how I interact these two ideas is very simple. I think of the chord tones as (safe) notes, meaning if I play any one of those notes at any given time (in this case an A7th chord) I know it will sound pretty good. Where the passing tones come in is when I want to add different notes to the melody. These outside notes can be very effective and unexpected and will add a lot of dimension and color to your solo. When using these passing tones you need to be careful not stay on them for very long and try to resolve them to a chord tone. Jazz players tend to bend these rules a bit and really push the limits of these passing tones which gives jazz its unique sound and style.
The other reason I like this concept is that it frees me up from thinking about scales and all the possible choices that be used. My main concern is the chord tones of whatever chord I am playing at that time and all the other notes are slight distractions.