802 Bookshelf: “Forward Motion, from Bach to Bebop, a Corrective Approach to Jazz Playing”

by Hal Galper, available at, 139 pages, $16.97, e-book

Volume CIII, No. 7/8July, 2003

Aimed at the intermediate to advanced jazz musician, this book assumes that the reader has a basic familiarity with jazz. The author’s goal is to help musicians improve their perception and conception of musical possibilities.

In the course of many years as a performer and teacher, Galper has devised some theories about the way master jazz improvisers create their music. His term “forward motion” began as a sense of phrasing that leads rhythmically forward, but he has come to also apply it to a way of thinking about scales, arpeggios, appoggiaturas, intervals, harmony and pentatonic playing.

He explains each concept thoroughly and gives copious examples, which, through the magic of the computer, can be listened to as you read.

Jazz musicians who already instinctively apply these principles while playing will still find valuable ideas in this book. Galper is good at defining problems, analyzing them, and offering techniques for approaching solutions. He disagrees with the tendency toward developing a uniform pedagogy for teaching jazz, encouraging each musician to find his own voice. He says, “Forward motion may not answer the question, ‘How do I want to play?’ but it will at least give you another point of view to consider.”

Galper says, “Your instrument is not the instrument. You are the instrument.” He suggests a refocusing of the way we practice, and offers many different strategies for changing the way we think about music. He says, “You can’t play anything unless you can hear it first,” and “If you want to change the way you play, you have to change the way you hear.”

This remarkable educational text is presented in e-book form, available online. After downloading the free software that makes it possible to read the text and hear the musical examples, one can purchase the book online at and download it. The play-along musical examples can be accessed online through Microsoft Internet Explorer on either a Mac or a PC. Galper says that a CD-ROM version and a print version of the book will soon be published.

–Bill Crow