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Perpetual Motion Exercises

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Here are two perpetual motion exercises to give your fingers and brain a workout. These are probably best intended for an intermediate or advanced player and someone wishing to branch into swing and jazz styles.

Question: So what exactly is a 'perpetual motion' exercise?

Answer: It's a pattern that continues to move into different keys and returns to the same starting point. The pattern typically remains the same from key to key and can be played endlessly (if desired).

The purpose? They force you to learn set patterns in many keys and with different fingerings. That can be a painful experience. Yet the rewards are tremendous. Keep in mind that patterns aren't necessarily what you want to use in solos. Really learning to use the fingerboard and embedding the sounds in your mind are what provide the real benefit.

These are two patterns made up on my own although I'd be surprised if someone somewhere hadn't done these before. They move in full steps or into six different keys before repeating. To repeat I found it necessary to jump up an octave at a given point. Then I noticed a similar pattern with a starting point a half step below the first one. These are great for warming up and I find them particularly good for squeezing some quality playing when time is limited.

But don't stop with these. I highly recommend a music workbook entitled "How to Play Be-Bop," by David Baker. Were it not for the copyright I'd reproduce them here (they're in standard notation). Try the two provided here and keep in mind that the ones in Baker's book are quite a bit harder. One concentrates on a series of II-V-I moves and the other on connecting a typical bop scale in all keys using diminished arpeggios.

About These Exercises

I put chords to these to give them a bit of structure. I've spelled a diminished chord, but it's essentially a dominant so we could spell the exercise D7/G7/C7/F7 etc. In general, for any b9 chord, you can substitute any dim chord that contains the b9. Sounds like a typical bridge to the rhythm changes. I love to substitute a diminished for a dominant chord. Remember, the important part is teaching my hands and ears the sounds. Enjoy.

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