Welcome to Scooby-Sax!
The Website of Jeff Rzepiela
This page examines Sonny Stitt's tenor saxophone solo on Tune Up from the Verve recording,
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 horn.
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.