Books by Ed Saindon

The Complete Guide To Improvisation by Ed Saindon

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The Complete Guide To Improvisation

by Ed Saindon

The Complete Guide To Improvisation codifies and explains the principal concepts and techniques used by leading improvisors past and present.


  • The guide is presented in a series of four volumes with 21 chapters total. All the material is set out in a clear, concise and concentrated format which is easy to understand, absorb and assimilate.
  • Written explanation of concepts, techniques and practice suggestions are balanced alongside relevant examples, practical routines and written out solos.
  • The material in this series offers practical improvisational techniques and concepts which will help musicians of all levels to expand and refine their skills in the art of improvisation.

Volume One (162 pages)

Chapter 1 - Chord Tone Soloing

This is an important and fundamental approach to improvisation. The technique involves only using chord tones as a means of note selection. The challenge lies in the fact that chord tones are stable notes. Topics addressed in this chapter include: use of motives, editing, phrasing, suggested exercises, guide tone lines, chord tone solos with designated intervals and chord tone solos on well-known standards.


Chapter 2 - Tension Resolution

Tension Resolution (TR) allows the improvisor to utilize any twelve notes over a chord. TR prevents stagnation in the melodic line as the constant back and forth of tension and release keeps the line moving.


The Tension Resolution Principle: Chord tones are stable notes that outline and sound the harmony. Any notes other than chord tones create tension, which can be resolved up or down to an adjacent chord tone. Along with chord tones, any non-chord tone may be sounded during a measure and resolved to an adjacent chord tone at some point in the measure. Non-chord tones fall in the categories of Passing, Approach and/or Tensions.


The following TR techniques are addressed in this chapter:


  • Chromatic and Diatonic Passing Notes
  • Diatonic Approach Notes
  • Chromatic Approach Notes
  • Combining Diatonic and Chromatic Approach Note
  • Combining Passing and Approach Notes
  • Tensions

Also addressed in this chapter: step by step method for creating solos based upon Tension Resolution and written out solos (using TR) on well-known standards.


Chapter 3 - Chord Scale Theory

The application of chord scales in improvisation is an important topic since many improvisational techniques such as the use of Upper Structure Triads and 7th chords, Four Note Groupings, Intervallic Playing and Pentatonics are chord scale based.


The chapter begins by listing available chord scales based upon every chord type. The chapter addresses the many options of chord scales along with the criteria for choosing a specific scale over a chord. Criteria addresses chord scale selection in the both the context of conventional and non-conventional harmony.


The Advanced Chord Theory Section addresses more advanced scale options such as cross-referenced scales, synthetic scales (including Double Harmonic Major, Double Harmonic Minor and Symmetrical Tritonic), Hexatonic and Ethnic/Exotic scales.


Chapter 4 - Chord Scale Application and Practices

Ways of practicing chord scales as well as various application techniques in using chord scales will be addressed in this chapter. While it is important to have knowledge of chord scales, the techniques of how chord scales are applied are crucial in effective improvisation. Too often, improvised solos sound like the soloist is randomly running up and down scales. The chapter addresses ways of practicing scales that will enable the improviser to better handle various application techniques of chord scales.


Additional topics addressing the application of chord scales include Note Deletion, Adding Chromatic Notes, Note Deletion/Adding Chromatic Passing Notes, Change in Direction of the Line, Use of Space and Use of Syncopation.


Additional topics covered in this chapter include: Practice Routines, Scalar Patterns, Use of Motives/Patterns and Breaking Down the Scale into Two Groups.


Chapter 5 - Harmonic Practices

A comprehensive and in depth knowledge of jazz harmony is indispensable to the improvisor. Many improvisational concepts are based on harmonic principles that allow the improvisor to deviate from the original underlying harmony of a standard tune progression. The application of these harmonic concepts as a means of creating lines results in chromatic lines that have a strong sense of logic and direction. Such players as innovator John Coltrane and pianists such as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea have utilized advanced harmonic techniques in their lines. With Coltrane, we get his “sheets of sound” and advanced superimposed harmony. With players like Hancock and Corea, the harmony is altered, reharmonized and superimposed thereby creating lines that are intriguing as a result of the harmonic deviations.


The utilization of these harmonic techniques are not relegated to the players of today. Sax players like Coleman Hawkins and Don Byas were using reharmonization and substitution in their solos. Pianist Art Tatum was a master with harmony, substitutions and reharmonization. Within the language of Be Bop, players like Charlie Parker and Sonny Stitt were using a variety of these harmonic devices on a consistent basis in their solos. Contemporary sax players such as Dave Liebman, Michael Brecker and Bob Berg have incorporated many harmonic techniques that have resulted in unique and interesting chromatic lines that weave in and out of the underlying changes.


There are many concepts, techniques and topics on the subject of jazz harmony as well as many books that address jazz harmony. However, in this chapter we will limit our scope of jazz harmony to specific approaches and concepts that can be applied to improvisation.


Future Volumes:

Volume Two
  • Upper Structure Triads
  • Four Note Groupings
  • Motivic Playing
  • Cyclic Patterns
  • Major 7th #5 Superimposition

Volume Three
  • Upper Structure 7th Chords
  • Pentatonic Scales
  • Side Slipping
  • Symmetrical Diminished Scale
  • Symmetrical Diminished Superimposition

Volume Four
  • Triad Pairs
  • Intervallic Playing
  • Melodic Sets
  • Approach Concepts & Techniques
  • Symmetrical Augmented Scale
  • Symmetrical Augmented Superimposition


Exploration in Rhythm, Volume 1

Exploration in Rhythm, Volume 1

Rhythmic Phrasing in Improvisation


Exploration in Rhythm, Volume 1, Rhythmic Phrasing in Improvisation is written for all instruments. Exploration in Rhythm was written to help develop and expand the rhythmic palette and vocabulary of the improviser and composer. The book focuses on playing “over the bar line” rhythms and long melodic phrases based upon rhythmic cycles that stretch over multiple measures. The material in the book has been used for Ed Saindon’s improvisation course at Berklee College of Music in Boston where he has been a professor since 1976.


The book specifically addresses the concept of over-the-bar line phrasing via rhythmic groupings of 8ths, triplets, 16ths and polyrhythms in 3/4, 4/4, and 5/4. Working on these concepts, players should begin to “hear” rhythms that “float over the barline” as well as develop the ability to execute phrases over longer periods of time. The end result will be a sonic erasing of the bar line and an enhanced sense of freedom with regard to rhythm and phrasing.


“Finally, a comprehensive and organized approach to getting out of the eighth note rut – valuable advice from Ed Saindon on how to vary one’s rhythmic approach.” - David Liebman, saxist, educator, author, composer


“Ed Saindon gives us a new book, Explorations in Rhythm, containing tons of useful information and great ideas to work on. This is a great resource for enhancing one’s rhythmic facility and expression, something that gets overlooked all too often. In the search for personal expression, this new book is an additional way for the practicer to further his or herself.” - Dave Douglas, trumpeter, composer, Greenleaf Music


Ed Saindon’s new book provides all the essentials for a contemporary rhythmic tool box. A “must have” for the modern improviser. It puts the “mmmm” in rhythm. - Hal Crook, trombonist, educator, author, composer



Berklee Practice Method Vibraphone

Berklee Practice Method Vibraphone


This is a new book that I authored and was recently published by Berklee Press. It is being distributed by Hal Leonard. The book features a cd that contains some of my vibe solos which have been transcribed and are included in the book. The book is part of a series which was designed by Berklee College of Music faculty along with Dean of the Performance Division, Matt Marvuglio.


This is the first-ever method that teaches you how to play in a rock band. Learn what all the great musicians seem to know intuitively—how to listen, interact and respond, improvise, and become part of the groove. The book and play-along CD will help improve your timing, technique, and reading ability. Become the great player that everyone wants to have in their band. Lessons throughout this book guide you through technique that is specific to playing vibraphone in a contemporary ensemble. When you play in a band, your primary concern is chords—how to read and play them, how to progress from one to the next, and how they interact with other instruments, melodically and rhythmically. Daily practice routines are designed for practicing by yourself or with other musicians. The accompanying CD features outstanding Berklee players and covers a variety of styles including rock, funk, jazz, blues, swing, and bossa nova.


Topics Include:

  • improvisation
  • establishing a practice routine
  • learning by ear
  • theory and technique
  • rhythmic interpretation
  • comping
  • reading
  • song form
  • interpreting lead sheets

This series coordinates methods for many different instruments, and all are based on the same tunes, in the same keys. If you know a guitarist, bassist, drummer, keyboardist, sax player, etc., have them pick up the Berklee Practice Method for their own instrument, and jam together!