Review of “How To Play Bebop 3” by David Baker

This post is the third in a series of my posts that review David Baker’s “How To Play Bebop” series. I am reviewing the third volume in this post.

This volume is all about techniques for learning and utilizing bebop tunes. This book consists of the following eight chapters:

  1. The Contrafact
  2. A Technique for Learning Tunes
  3. A Technique for Learning and Internalizing a Composition Using Bebop Tunes
  4. Using Bebop Compositions and Arrangements As a Means of Learning to Play Bebop
  5. The Use of Quotation in Bebop Solos
  6. An Approach to Developing Thematic Fluency Using the “Piggyback” Technique
  7. Another Approach to Learning to Improvise on The Blues
  8. An Approach to Improvising on “Rhythm” Tunes

The author also includes “A List of Essential Bebop Tunes for Memorization” in the appendix.

Chapter 1 provides a definition and historical perspective of the contrafact and then lists 15 bebop songs and other songs that are contrafacts of those songs. The most important thing to take of from this description is that next to the blues there are more bebop songs that are contrafacts of “I Got Rhythm” than any other bebop song. The author lists 48 bebop songs that are contrafacts of the “Rhythm” changes. This explains the importance of spending a great deal of time on the “Rhythm” changes.

Chapter 2 provides a detailed method for learning tunes. Guide tones and example exercises are provided.

Chapter 3 describes ways to internalize bebop tunes. For example learn the melody, learn the roots, use of root-based digital patterns.

Chapter 4 provides a list of tunes that will aid in the learning of bebop.

Chapter 5 discusses the use of quotes from other songs in bebop.

Chapter 6 discusses constructing lines that have a smooth flow.

Chapter 7 disccuses a different approach to improvising on the blues. The author provides a list of riff blues and asks that you learn them in all keys. Examples are provided.

Chapter 8 provides an approach to improvising on the “I Got Rhythm” tunes. Different variations are provided along with some model lines.

David Bakers bebop books are well written. In my opinion this series is best approached by an intermediate or higher level jazz improvisor.

How to Play Bebop – Volume 3

Review of “How To Play Bebop 2” by David Baker

David Baker has written three books on how to play bebop. This review will take a look at volume two.

The book begins with a preface that traces the beginning of bebop.

The book is divided into the following 8 chapters:

  1. The Use of the II,V7 Progression in Bebop
  2. The III, VI, II, V Progression in Bebop
  3. The Major Chord
  4. The II, V7 Progression in Minor
  5. The Cycle in Bebop
  6. The Use of the Turnback in Bebop
  7. Other Important Formulae in Bebop
  8. A New Approach To Constructing Bass Lines Based on the Bebop Scales

Chapter 8 is followed by an appendix entitled “A List of Essential Bebop Tunes for Memorization”.

The author includes a 101 bebop era II, V7 patterns in chapter 1.

Chapter 2 consists of a list of songs that contain the III,VI,II,V patterns followed by 100 III,VI,II,V patterns.

Chapter 3 contains 101 major patterns.

Chapter 4 provides a number of II,V7 patterns in Minor.

Chapter 5 provides a number of Cycle patterns.

Chapter 6 includes a number of turnback ( or turnaround ) patterns.

Chapter 8 begins by stating that the blues and “I Got Rhythm” chord changes occur most often in bebop and perhaps in all of jazz. The chapter lists several different formula and a list of songs that use the same formulae.

Chapter 9  provides a discussion on constructing bass lines using the bebop scale.

If you are serious about the bebop scale – this book should be in your library.

David Baker’s How to Play Bebop 2 for All Instruments – Learning the Bebop Language: Patterns, Formulae and Other Linking Materials

Review of “How To Play Bebop 1” by David Baker

David Baker has written three books on how to play bebop. This review will take a look at volume one.

The book consists of two parts. Part one begins with a brief background of the bebop scales and then begins with the bebop dominant scale. In the most basic terms the bebop scales takes a 7 note scale and adds an extra chromatic note. The addition of the extra chromatic note creates an 8 note scale with all of the chord tones occurring on the downbeats.  Mr. Baker provides numerous examples of the following:

  1. Starting the scale on any note of the scale
  2. Bebop endings
  3. Extending the Bebop line
  4. Using enclosure ( adding a half step above the target chord note, a half step below the target chord note and then the chord note )
  5. Joining the bebop scale with other scales
  6. The bebop major scale
  7. An example Bebop Solo

Part two of the book is a scale syllabus.

If you are looking for a series of books with a serious study of the bebop scale you should consider this series.


How to Play Bebop – Volume 1

Digital Patterns in Jazz Improvisation

Dr. David Baker is credited with originating the phrase “Digital Patterns” .  Many great jazz improvisors use digital patterns in their solo’s.

Digital patterns are groups of notes usually numbering four to eight notes.  A digital pattern is constructed  by assigning a number to each note of a scale.

A good digital pattern to begin with is a 1235 pattern.

The 1235 pattern for a C major chord would be:



The first note is C, the second note is D, the third note is E and the fifth note is G so the 1235 pattern for a C major chord would be C-D-E-G

The 1235 pattern for a C minor chord would be C-D-Eb-G.

Here are some additional patterns you can work on:





You should also create your own digital patterns.  As always practice the digital patterns in all 12 keys. You can use my jazz standard workout in 12 keys post to practice your digital patterns. In the future I will post a bebop tune for you to practice over that will be a much faster tempo and shorter chord durations.

John Coltrane’s Giant Steps and Countdown songs are full of digital patterns.

Giant Steps (LP Version)

Countdown (LP Version)

Have fun with “Digital Patterns”!