Giant Steps

February 19, 2008

2/19 Music Lesson

Filed under: Uncategorized — B Ray @ 11:55 pm

Music Lesson w/Derek

Lesson went real well tonight – better on my part than the previous one. My “assignment” was to create a melody – then determining “what all the things each of the notes can be.” Essentially take it note by note and figure out what chords could be played over each note. Pretty much take each note and look at it from some sort of a guide tone perspective (i.e. either b3, 3, 7, b7 note) and do this for every note. I hadn’t really come up with anything I was pleased with, but in the time before my lesson – I managed to pick up out a nice chordal melody with a cheap nylon string guitar in the next room using inversions, embellishments, chromatic movement, arpeggios all as tools for voice leading.

The lesson consisted of me playing over a ii-V-I progression in C (Dm, G7, C) but with various embellishments. I had a pretty good handle on it and came up with some nice themes on the spot, superimposed some chords, and even got outside using tritone substitutions over the dominant chords. Hell I was even a bit proud of how it went – and even got some props from him in the middle of some of the phrases. Then I jammed over a I-vi-ii-V (in C as well) with the instruction of using chord-soloing…this is something I gotta work on and isn’t something that comes easy.

We then went over a print out showing the idea of plurality – the idea that one entity can have multiple functions. The example used was a Dm13 chord broken out in an interesting fashion. Basically the Dm13 is broken out in 5 triads (Em, C, Am, F, Dm) then four 7th chords (Cmaj7, Am7, Fmaj7, Dm7) three 9th chords (Am9, Fmaj9, Dm9) and two 11th chords (Fmaj9+11, Dm11) -> the diagram breaks it out as a sort of triangle figure. This sort of thing I find extremely helpful since I’m very mathematical minded.

From here we apply plurality:

Base Chord: Dm11 -> D, F, A, C, E, G,

Then take any of the 5 triads for example – Em -> E, G, B

Em can be used diatonically as either the ii (key of D-2 sharps), ii (key of C-no sharp/no flats), or vi (key of G-1 sharp)

Using just the one example of Em – the possible expansion of harmonies includes C# and F#, thus creating two additional avenues one can go…this idea can be applied to all the chords composed within the Dm11 chord -> eventually achieving a true 12 tone harmonic basis.

The thought process to focus on here on out is the idea of plurality as it relates to melody and harmony – it’ll take some further breakdown of chords on my part – but the basic premise makes sense. The tough part is always the application of ideas and using them in a musical sense. I’m also to focus on chord soloing. Derek mentioned for me to listen to Wes Montgomery – who was excellent at chord soloing. I’d been so focused on listening to jazz horn players I hadn’t listened to jazz guitarists in awhile – sometimes I try so hard to play like a horn player that I lose sight of some of the advantages of guitar (that being single note playing as well as harmonic playing).

So work on the chord soloing stuff, plurality as a function of a relationship between melody-harmony, and work over some progressions: ii-V-I, I7-VI7-II7-V7. I’ll spice up the ii-V-I with key changes; get back to work on the Giant Steps solo; work on the bluegrass stuff; work on I Got Rhythm (in all 12 keys); work on some stuff out of the Real Book; and I’d like to transcribe Bela Fleck’s tune Bigfoot (New Grass Revival version – found this video of when Bela toured with his trio in Charlottesville, VA which I’m sure was a day removed from when I saw them in Richmond).

Since I’d been listening to bluegrass the past bit, he mentioned there’s talk of a Alison Krauss, Mark O’Connor, and Jerry Douglas collaboration in the works – which won’t be nothing short of phenomenal. – as well as a Mark KnopflerAlison collaboration. He also recommended I check out the Waybacks (the name was familiar but I had no idea who they were) for some good jazz-grass…they’re coming to the Berkeley April 1st. He said one guy sounds similar to Chet Atkins, one sounds like Tony Rice, another sounds like Mark O’Connor. Also I might get in a mandolin lesson with John Teer from Chatham County Line – which would be great.


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