Tutorial on Forward Motion Application with Transcription and Video

Since the publication of Hal Gaper’s book on Forward Motion, much has been discussed in the jazz world regarding the use of this concept especially in bebop improvisation.

This is a tutorial on the application of some basic Forward Motion concept, based on a transcription of Joe Pass’s solo improvisation on the song “All the Things You Are”.

Here’s the video of Joe Pass and his band doing a wonderful rendition of this popular jazz standard. 


Here is the transcription of the guitar and bass part from 1m06s to 02m01s of the video above.


Forward Motion Application

STEP 1 Tension and Release beats

Hal Galper continuously stress the importance of starting a line on a tension beat and resolving it on a release beat.

Quoted from Galper,
The Release beats of a bar (“one” & “three” and the “on” beats of every quarter-note) are the strong beats of the bar. The Tension beats of the bar (“two” & “four” and the “ands” of each quarter note) are the weak beats of the bar.

One glance through the whole transcription, I found that of ALL the lines in Joe Pass’ solo, only TWO of them started on a release beat, located in bars 34 and 35.

Almost all of the other lines played began on a tension beat and ended on a release beat. Here are a two examples cutout from the transcription:

Bar 5


Bar 13


The two lines above both began on a “and” beat, the tension beat.

Notice how both lines resolve beautifully with a strong chord tone onthe strongest Release beat, the “one” of the bar. Which leads us to thenext step of our tutorial.

STEP 2 Aligning Chord Tones

Quoted again from Hal Galper,
A strong line is a line that spells out the chord changes(either basicor superimposed) so clearly you can hear the harmony without a chordbeing played behind it. And the best way to do it is by synchonizingthe strong beats of the bar with the strong chord tones.

One of the most obvious demonstration of this concept can be found inbar 12-13 of the transcription,


you can see how the Fm7 and Bb7 chord tones were nicely arranged on thestrong beats of the bar. Playing this line on your instrument, you canclearly hear the chord progression brought out by the line.

A more complete review on Forward Motion theory will be written infuture posts, together with more transcriptions. Subscribe to Pianologist RSS Feed to be updated automatically.

Before I leave you, try to see whether you can spot the harmonic forward motion around bar 31 of the transcription.. 🙂

More and this next time, stay tune, have fun and enjoy….


  • Knotty

    Reply Reply January 28, 2008

    great post man!

  • rewsnat

    Reply Reply January 29, 2008

    Thanx Knotty.. don’t stop posting your videos on youtube.. 🙂

  • 7notemode

    Reply Reply February 1, 2008

    This is an interesting theory I have not heard of. I hope you post more on it.

  • Jens Larsen

    Reply Reply February 2, 2008

    Great Article! This is an approach that I use and teach. I’ll refer some students to this article as a reference.


  • rewsnat

    Reply Reply February 3, 2008

    Don’t worry guys, a lot more coming up soon.. 🙂

  • Andrew

    Reply Reply August 25, 2008

    Thank you!

  • Gina

    Reply Reply October 14, 2010

    Thank you. Nice transcription work. Is there anymore trancription videos?

  • Guto Santana

    Reply Reply September 30, 2012


    Where the pics? (with scores!)

    Please check this.

    Thanks for the post!

  • Mike Lipinski

    Reply Reply March 18, 2015

    The links to examples are all broken.

  • mehran

    Reply Reply April 7, 2016

    hi i’m mehran and from iran.i very very much like jazz & i want to learn.But I do not have any source for practice.please help me…i’m so sad …thanks all

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