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:

CDEFGAB

1234567

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:

5-3-2-1

3-5-2-1

5-6-7-9

1-3-5-3

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”!