“Giant Steps” Licks and Patterns

After posting a couple days ago on how to use the augmented scale with “Giant Steps” changes, I’ve experienced a renewed interest in woodshedding John Coltrane’s high-hurdle chord cycle.

There was a time in my musical life, maybe ten years ago, when I became moderately obsessed with “Giant Steps.” I painstakingly wrote down my practice material in a music notebook, which I continued to add to until I had a veritable blizzard of ideas to work with.

Today, looking through the web, I see plenty of resources that explore the theory behind the changes to “Giant Steps.” However, I don’t see much in the way of licks and patterns, of application-oriented stuff that a sax player can actually wrap his or her fingers around. So, since I’m presently re-exploring my “Giant Steps” notebook, I thought I’d share a page with you.

Click on the image to the right to enlarge it. It’s all hands-on stuff. If you want to study Coltrane’s theory involving key centers moving by major thirds, you can find plenty of information on the Internet, such as this excellent Wikipedia article. But understanding the “Giant Steps” cycle isn’t the same as playing it, and that’s where this article can help.

One caveat: since I’m an alto sax player, I wrote out the changes in my key. If you play an instrument pitched in Bb or C, such as tenor sax or flute, you’ll need to transpose.

The patterns shown here are for the first four bars of the tune’s A section. With it’s lopsided arrangement of V7-I cadences–which would be simple enough in themselves to negotiate if Coltrane hadn’t placed the bar lines so inconveniently–this section is the one that can be hard to master. I wrote out material for the B section as well, but what I’ve shown here will probably be more to your immediate interest.

Enjoy the material, practice hard, and have fun!

UPDATE: My entire “Giant Steps” practice notebook is now available for sale in C, Bb, Eb, and bass clef editions. Using music notation software, I transcribed all of the handwritten material (including the above image) into a clear, easy-to-read format; wrote a front section that discusses the basic theory of Coltrane changes and gives tips and insights for practice; and had a cover professionally designed.

The Giant Steps Scratch Pad is available as

* PDF download–$9.50

* Print edition–$10.95 plus shipping

The PDF will provide you with the full contents of the book instantly and save you money. The print edition gives you the complete, finished production complete with glossy cover. If you enjoyed the licks and patterns on this page, then The Giant Steps Scratch Pad is for you. View page samples from the Bb edition and order your copy today!

If you enjoyed this post, make sure you subscribe to my RSS feed!

Speak Your Mind