Welcome to Scooby-Sax!
The Website of Jeff Rzepiela
This page examines Sonny Stitt's tenor saxophone solo on Tune Up from the Verve
First, you need to learn the solo. Not just the notes -- you need to learn the phrasing, the
dynamics, breath when Sonny breathes, ghost notes when Sonny's ghosts them, etc.
There's no way a written transcription can capture all the nuances of the performance. To
learn it to this level of detail, you need to listen to the solo over and over. Put it on your
iPod, listen to the CD in the car, listen to it when you go to bed, listen to it when you
wake up, etc. Once you can sing along with the solo, then you are ready to play it on your
To facilitate learning the solo, I recommend that you use a program to slow the solo
down to a comfortable tempo. My favorite is Transcribe! You can loop sections of the
solo, increase the tempo as you become more familiar with the solo, etc.
Once you have learned the solo, look for phrases that you like. I have extracted 13
phrases from the solo that I particularly liked. The challenge is to learn these phrases
in all twelve keys.This worksheet summarizes the phrases (all phrases have been
transposed to C major). The worksheet should be used to remind you of the phrases.
Don't write the exercises out in all twelve keys -- use your ear to learn the phrases in
the other keys.
A program such as Band-in-a-Box is an excellent tool to learn the phrases in all twelve
keys. Again, you can adjust the tempo as you learn the exercises. This file contains the
Band-in-a-Box files for each phrase in all twelve keys. The keys descend
chromatically in these files. Of course, you should practice other root movements
(ascending chromatically, around the cycle of fifths, etc.). For those without access to
Band-in-a-Box, this file contains MIDI files for each phrase in all twelve keys.
As with learning the solo itself, listening to these exercises over and over is essential
to internalizing the vocabulary. You should be able to sing along with the exercises.
Great vocal ability is not required, but you want to strive for accurate intonation,
hearing the chromaticism and resolution, etc.