Do you picture the IFR Tonal Map in Exercise 1?

Hi David,

Do you picture the IFR Tonal Map when you are practicing Exercise 1? Specifically, do you define the first note you play in your daily meditation exercise to be a note of the major scale, and then try to be aware of where you are in this scale while you play? Or do you leave out that awareness of the tonal map for this exercise?


David's response:

Hi Clemens,

Both exercises are fantastic. In the beginning, the purpose of Exercise 1 is just to learn to move around our instrument. So when you're doing the daily meditation in the beginning, you can just think of these five consecutive half steps in the abstract, without any relationship to any particular key.

But once you've mastered that, then it's easy to invent your own more advanced exercises to keep growing. Your idea is a great one! You would just go back to the very same daily meditation but this time you would imagine yourself to be starting on some note of the major scale (for example note 4). Then as you expand your focus outward, you would eventually be improvising with the following five half steps: b3, 3, 4, #4, 5.

When you add this tonal awareness to the Exercise 1 Daily Meditation, you not only strengthen your knowledge of this region on your instrument but you also strengthen your knowledge of this particular region on your tonal map.

So this is a great example of the kind of exercise that we should always be inventing for ourselves. Two things you want to learn to see with absolute clarity are the musical terrain on your instrument and the IFR tonal map. So any exercises that you can invent to really challenge yourself in these two areas is going to give you so much more ability as an improviser.

All the best,