Learning Charlie Parker

Charlie Parker's Solo Technique - "Ornithology Arpeggio"

One of Charlie Parker's solo licks from Ornithology
This lick is located in measure number 9 of Charlie Parker's Ornithology solo.

The Theory behind the Practice

Chord Progression


This lick and all of Charlie Parker's Ornithology solo can be found in the
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This arpeggio is an example of Parker's stylish use of the most basic musical tools. Very characteristic of bebop, this arpeggio traverses the basic C7 chord and then extends the harmonic height of the chord to the ninth scale degree before coming back down in stepwise motion. Bird's choice of thythm in this lick is also indicitave of his style as well as the bebop style as a whole. Instead of using strictly eighth-notes beginning on the downbeat of the measure, his entrance is delayed followed by the hurried but smooth pick-up to beat two and a triplet figure. This rhythmic flair gives this lick a feeling of flight or lift-off as Bird arrives on the high D. It is a fun spin on a very basic musical concept, the arpeggio, and figures very similar to it occur throughout Charlie Parker's improvisations.