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Sage Wisdom

"Good improvisation communicates harmonic progression melodically. Effective melodies manipulate harmonic content through the use of guide tones and preparatory gravity notes, masterfully woven in systematic tension, release, and transparent harmonic definition."



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April 26, 2006 | Axis of the 3rd & 7ths

In previous articles we've pondered the significance of choosing meaningful melodic material. Scales and modes are one way to perceive and conceptualize the linear facets of creating melodies. It's a good approach, but one that often eludes the harmonic impact of good soloing.

Just as in choosing (comping) chord tones that bear the meat of harmonic progression, you can apply the same principles in what notes to emphasize, linger, or land on. In our Chord Economics page, we mention the 3rd and the 7th, plus any extended chord voicings (-9, +11, 13, etc.)

Don Stiernberg describes a user-friendly concept in highlighting the harmonic meat in his "Axis of the 3rd and 7th." It's as simple as notating the chord names of a song and writing down the 3rd and 7th of each (either staff notation, TAB, or note letters) for a chorus. If you're first two chords of a song are Cmaj7 and A7, you'd write E and B for the first chord and C# and G for the next.

Continue on throught the rest of the song this way and you get a roadmap or graph of where your soloing should take you, communicating effectively the inherent harmonic progression.

It's only two notes... But it's the BEST two!

Posted by Ted at April 26, 2006 8:39 AM


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