Transcription and Analysis of Charlie Parker on Yardbird Suite

This post analyzes solo techniques of Charlie Parker on the tune Yardbird Suite, with the help of a transcription / sheet music.

As Charlie Parker once said,
‘You’ve got to learn your instrument. Then, you practice, practice, practice. And then, when you finally get up there on the bandstand, forget all that and just wail.’

You can see that, great jazz musicians may seem to be just playing from their heart, and having fun on stage, but few could even imagine the hours they spent practising.

Some fun facts,

  • Charlie Parker was known to have practised up to 15 hours a day.
  • Charlie Parker once worked as a dishwasher in a restaurant, making $9 a week, just to learn from listening to the great jazz pianist Art Tatum.
  • When Charlie Parker was too young to be in clubs, he was always found in the yard outside clubs listening to the bands inside. For him, this is ‘practising’. 

here’s a nice clip of Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie jamming away on the tune Hot House.


As promised, here is the transcription of Charlie Parker’s solo on Yardbird Suite, in PDF format.

Here’s the video Ray Brown’s band jamming away with this tune we are analyzing today, Yardbird Suite. Amazing musicians performing in there.


Harmonic and Melodic Minor Scale
Look at these 3 bars cut out from Parker’s solo transcription.


Any keen observer would notice the difference in the way both ii-V-I differs.

  • the first F#m7 and B7#5 actually hinted for the existence of a C# note in that bar, which actually constitute to a E melodic minor ascending scale, where the raised sixth note is exactly the C#.
  • the next F#m7b5 and B7b9 on the contrary requires a C natural, thus suggesting the E harmonic minor scale.

With the raised 6th note, the E melodic minor has a “brighter” feel compared to the harmonic minor scale. Play both scales on your instrument to hear the difference.
Notice how Charlie Parker use this idea in building his solo line through these three bars, a change from ‘bright’ to ‘dark’ feel. Cool isn’t it? 😀

Half Diminished Scale
The half diminished scale is a scale used a lot especially by bebop musicians. Here is how Charlie Parker applied it over this G dominant 7th chord in this song.


The Ab and Bb in this solo line is the b9 and #9, respectively, of the G7 chord. The half diminished scale has always been a cool way to add some interesting tensions to your improvisation. 😀

You may also like to learn some Advance Reharmonization Technique on Charlie Parker’s Confirmation

Or learn a very cool song with Pat Metheney Mp3 and Transcription

Want to learn some nice jazz solo piano techniques, here’s some nice transcription together with video and analysis to help you.

I Love You Porgy Advance Reharmonization Technique

Round Midnight Advance Reharmonization Technique

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