What’s the difference between Bebop and Modal jazz improvisation?
This is an important topic, and I’d like to clear up a lot of common misunderstanding about it, especially among beginning and even intermediate jazz musicians.
Basically, the difference is that in bebop, the improvisations are
chord-tone based while in modal styles, they are scalar-based.
To understand this, let’s take the great Miles Davis as an example:
When Miles Davis played “Confirmation” during his bebop period, he was basing his solos around the chord tones for each harmony as they rapidly changed from one to the next.
And when he played ventured into modal playing with “So What” and similar tunes, he gave roughly equal weight to all of the scale tones.
Let this sink in, and then learn both approaches. The key is to know which approach to use on each type of tune.
Good luck, and “let the music flow!”
Learn the 5 Essential Left Hand Techniques with my free ebook: Left Hand Techniques for Jazz Piano
You’ll also get my weekly jazz newsletter with practice tips and inspiration