One of the key concepts of improvisation in bebop and subsequent jazz eras is targeting, a technique used by Charlie Parker. The main idea of targeting is landing on the tones of a chord. A chord is built up of a root (1st) and the notes a 3rd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 11th and 13th above the root in the scale. There are a number of ways to target a chord tone. The first is by ascending or descending chromatic approach (chromatic targeting). This means playing the note a semitone above or below one of the chord tones. In the key of C, the notes in the tonic chord are C(1), E(3), G(5), and B(7). So by playing an E flat at the end of a line then resolving to an E, this would be one basic example of targeting and would be targeting the third of the chord (E♮). This may be used with any factor of any type of chord, but rhythm is played so that the chord tones fall on the downbeats.
In bebop melodic improvisation, targeting often focused on the 9th, 11th and 13th of the chord – the ‘color tones’ – before resolving later in the phrase to a 7th chord tone. In bebop the 9th, 11th and 13th notes were often altered by adding sharps or flats to these notes. Ninths could be flatted or sharpened. Elevenths were typically played sharpened. Thirteenths were often played flat. Enclosure is the use of scale tone(s) above the targeted note and chromatic tone(s) below, or scale tone(s) below and chromatic tone(s) above.
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