Fun musical backdrops

Over the past couple months, I’ve been focused on writing Trombone Improvisation Savvy and I’m happy to report that it is finished. I’m in the process of proofing it and plan to make it available within the next week.

I’ve sent out advanced copies to a few trombone players for suggestions and testimonials and have gotten some early enthusiastic responses. I truly think this book and the 150 associated audio files will go a long way to helping players become much better improvisers.

A few of the audio files associated with the book are crafted for a variety of purposes. For example, the first three audio files in the book start things off by asking the reader to simply sing, hum, or whistle along in order to hear their inner improviser. After all, once the trombone is engaged, improvising is made more complicated by the mechanics of the horn.

Those audio files, however can be used for much more. I frequently use them to warm up my intonation, articulation or my ear for improvisation. I think there’s something to be said for simple static harmonies in several keys and styles that provide a fun musical backdrop for pretty much anything one might wish to work on.

As an example, here’s the first file in the book. It’s called Groovy Jazzy.


Nothing fancy. Simple a vamp from Bb7 to Ab7. Maybe start by checking your intonation with some long tones, then play some simple melodies and evolve to more complex phrasing in and out of the harmonic base of the track.

The next audio file in the book is called Stabbing the Drama. In contrast to the above jazz feel, a string section plays a steady rhythm over a G pedal. Perhaps practice your scales starting with G major, working your way up and down the circle of fifths. How does C major sound over this? D? Bb? Don’t be bothered by the dissonance. Instead hear it within the context of the music. Within the book, by the way, I challenge the idea of “wrong” notes.


The third file is called St. Thomas Block Party. This is a fun backdrop using steel drums going from the I chord to the IV chord in C major. I’ve even included crowd ambience making it feel more like a party. Again, explore various scales and melodic phrases in and outside the main harmony.


I may write a collection of these within a book and associated Soundcloud playlist. Speaking of Soundcloud, these files are available on Soundcloud within the section one playlist of Trombone Improvisation Savvy:

Let me know what you think of these and of the idea of creating a collection of these types of simple harmonies and styles for fun and practice.

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