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Marc Sabatella

What's jazz got to do with it?

published13 days ago
2 min read

Hello! I've been focusing on jazz a bit this month in my teaching. Some of you might not realize this, but jazz education was what I was actually "internet famous" for before MuseScore was ever a thing. I talk a lot about jazz In my Harmony and Chord Progressions course, but this month in the Musicianship Skills Workshop, I've been focusing on improvisation specifically. Not exclusively in a jazz context, but of course, that's my background, and that comes through a lot. If you've been curious to learn more about the topic, I highly encourage you to check out the workshop!

MuseScore Café

This week in the MuseScore Café with Marc Sabatella, we look at entering a lead sheet into MuseScore and how to handle formatting and other issues that come up.

The MuseScore Café is live on Wednesday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

Tip of the Week

One of the most common questions people ask about using MuseScore is, how to have a staff that only appears for part of the score. The trick is to go ahead and add the staff normally and enter the music for it, but then tell MuseScore to hide it where empty. There are two slightly different ways to go about this, depending on whether you want *all* staves hidden when empty or just *some* staves.

To hide all empty staves, go to Format / Style / Score and select the "Hide empty staves within systems" option. By default, all staves are still shown on the first system, but you can also disable the option that does this.

To hide just a single staff when empty, right-click it and go to Staff/Part Properties. Then set "Hide when empty" to "Always".

Music Master Class

This week in the Music Master Class with Marc Sabatella, we take another look at improvisation.

The Music Master Class is live on Thursday at 12:30 PM Eastern (16:30 GMT), and you can access past episodes in the archive.

In Theory

In this week's lesson for the Musicianship Skills Workshop, I focus on creating melodies that help outline the transition between the I and V chords. I think talking about these transitions is often more valuable than talking about the chords themselves. People - especially "horn" players (jazz slang for all woodwinds and brass) - often practice arpeggiating each chord as a way of learning the chord progression. This has its value, but to me the real story is in the voice leading from a given note over one chord to a given note in the next. In the lesson I just posted, I focus on scale degree 4 over the V chord resolving to 3 over the I chord, and scale degree 7 resolving to 1. These are the half steps in the major scale, and that's where so much of the tension and release inherent in the major scale comes from. Eventually, we'll also see how the use of chromaticism from outside the key adds interest.

This is all incredibly useful information not just for jazz improvisation but for relating melody and harmony in any context. I think these topics are well worth studying for all creative musicians!