Jingle Bells

Tuesday, 18th December 2018

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One of the main concepts we’ve unpacked in these sessions is the fact that everything in music is relative; there are no absolutes. Here’s a really fun example of this, to finish the year in style!

The song that every new learner is desperate to try at this time of year is Jingle Bells! Depending on the instrument that the student is learning and the ability level they’ve reached by Christmas time, there’s an almost unending number of versions that they can be taught. Most beginner sax players will learn a version starting on B (B B B, B B B, B D G A B) or A (A A A, A A A, A C F G A) whilst some others will learn it starting on F# (F# F# F#, F# F# F#, F# A D E F#).

But how can there be so many versions? What do they all have in common?

The answer – they all start on the 3rd note of a scale. You see, what actual notes we use to make up a tune is largely irrelevant, but instead it’s all about where those notes fit within a scale. Jingle Bells (just like any other tune) can be played starting on literally any note, so long as that note is functioning correctly within the context of a scale.

So, if there is no definitive way to play Jingle Bells then what makes it what it is? What makes it Jingle Bells?

Instead of a specific set of letters, any tune can actually be better described in a kind of “numerical code”, showing how each note relates to a scale. This allows the player to play it on any instrument and in any key, so long as they know the scale that’s being used. This literally applies to every tune we might ever want to play!

So here’s Jingle Bells in it’s simplest, bare bones form:

3 3 3--- 3 3 3--- 3 5 1 2 3---
4 4 4 4 4 3 3 33 3 2 2 3 2--- 5---
3 3 3--- 3 3 3--- 3 5 1 2 3---
4 4 4 4 4 3 3 33 5 5 4 2 1---

This can be played using the notes of any major scale (or a minor scale if you fancy giving it a rather sombre twist!), and this allows the player total freedom to transpose it how they wish. It also makes for a fun way to practise scales (hint, hint!).

This is the last #Sax #Tips #Tuesday of the year as we’ll all have more important things to do next week! I’ve also got a pretty heavy workload lined up for the new year, so future updates won’t be quite as regular as we’ve been used to. You can always connect with me on social media to stay up-to-date with what’s going on, and you’ll also be able to enjoy my regular #WorkoutWednesday and ‘Back To Bass-ics’ series as well.

I hope you have a wonderful Christmas and I’ll leave you with the first line of a few more festive classics … have fun!

Rudolph: 5 6 5 3 8 6 5--- 5 6 5 6 5 8 7---

Silent Night: 5 6 5 3--- 5 6 5 3---

Frosty: 5 3 4 5 8--- 7 8 9 8 7 6 5---

Little Donkey: 3 3 5--- 3 4 4 6--- 4 3 3 5--- 3 2---

Chestnuts Roasting: 1--- 8--- 7 6 5 4 3 3 3---

#Sax #Tips #Tuesday

A post shared by Dave Brazier (@davebraziersax) on

 

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