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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."



« How do they do that: Transpositions | Main | Blue Night Records »

July 11, 2006 | Harmonic Implication

"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"

You may have noticed this quote on the bottom of the page. It is the central charter and core strategy to creating what we at JazzMando consider good music. What that means is understanding scale degrees and modes are helpful, but it's not until the focus on to the vertical, the chordal aspects of music a musician is capable of mastering "composition."

Listen to (and analyze) the great solos of Charlie Parker and other Bebop artists. It can be argued the genesis of their soloing is not modes, but chords connected by passing or leading tones. It's a different way to skin a cat, but the musical "completeness" to this tactic is essential to understand.

Think "chord arpeggios with a few connecting notes" and you get the idea. Take a Fakebook and pencil where chords are spelled out in the melody. Note where these chords are, how they reinforce the comping chords and what connects them. This can be a whole new way of understanding improvisation if you've never thought of music in this way.

This is one reason we aren't wild about Pentatonic Scales. They really don't imply anything but the key center. ONE key center. It's not until you step off into Leading Tones and Gravity Notes that you really imply chord function.

Grab a lead sheet of Charlie Parker's "Donna Lee" and see what we mean. What may have been a complex and unmanageable set of chromatic notes to you can become a strategic, attainable piece of music when you unravel the chords and put all the rest of the embellishing notes in context. Plus, there's some terrific melodic fodder for you to steal and put in other solos!

Posted by Ted at July 11, 2006 7:34 AM


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