Acquiring Speed in a Slow Way

According to Hal Galper and his book, Forward Motion, one of the secrets of all those great jazz masters when improvising over fast bebop chord changes, is to count in half time.

Here’s an example of the first few bars of popular jazz bebop tune Donna Lee, notated in its usual form.


Here’s another example of the same few bars, notated in half time.

Notice that both examples above sound the same to the listener (note the tempo marking)

But for the musician playing it in half time, the speed of the song is reduced to half.

The end result is a more relax feeling while improvising. Imagine yourself improvising over a ballad, but actually sounding like a fast swinging bebop tune. 

This video demonstrates Hal Galper’s point perfectly, with Bud Powell improvising over a tune titled “Get Happy”


Besides being totally relax even while improvising at such tempo, notice also that there is a legato feeling to all the lines executed by Bud.

As mentioned by Hal Galper, this is one of the result from counting in half time, a skill that Bud Powell had inevitably mastered.

This entry is part of a series of posts dealing with Hal Galper’s Forward Motion Concept in bebop jazz improvisation.

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Until then, Have fun and Enjoy.. 😀

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