Saturday, 26 March 2016

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz (Week 4) SPRING 2016 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2016 Semester

Class Teacher: John Baboian

[Week 4]

The class started with us needing to play arpeggio lines we were supposed to write for the tune "All The Things You Are". A general observation is that from the designated second section onwards where we are supposed to write lines incorporating chord tones of the arpeggios combined with diatonic passing notes, starting on the 9th bar of the tune, we should try to write lines that have more directional variation instead of the standard ascending and descending pattern that was illustrated for the first section of the tune where we only needed to write lines using notes from the arpeggio. 

After the exercise John said that we should practice playing the arpeggios to any tune we come across until we could naturally do it to any song we have to play. 

John did mention to me that I have to work on my articulation, and that the gap between each note has to be as small as possible. I do start to become aware that my articulation gets affected more when it comes to improvising as compared to if I'm playing lines that I've been practicing repeatedly. 

John also pointed out something I have to work on, he said that my swing 8th notes sound less like triplets but more like straight notes, and thus I should improve by playing swing notes that sound more like they were formed by triplets.

Concepts/content covered in class:

~ The first handout we were given today is titled "Modes of the Major Scale". John did mention that there is a system present in the music world that says that we could move through all the modes in a systematic manner, i.e. from Lydian to Ionion (from a scale with #4 to a scale without a #4), then Ionion to Mixolydian (where we would have a b7), and then Mixolydian to Dorian (where we just add one additional flat for the b3), Dorian to Aeolian (an addition of another flat specifically the b6), Aeolian to Phrygian (with an addition of b2 and where Phrygian can also be referred to as Natural Minor b2), and finally Phrygian to Locrian (with an additional b5). We were also asked to look at the second column and identify what we would use to refer to the chords as. The answer is diatonic chords to the scale. 

[Referring to the 4th column on the handout, and for the Dorian mode, John explained why a Dorian scale would work as well on the other chords listed there. For I-6, he asked what is the 6th of the scale, it is the characteristic note of the Dorian mode and that is why we can use the Dorian mode when we see a I-6 chord. And if we encounter a I-7 chord, we can play a Dorian as well because it can be a Dorian song and an example he gave is the tune "So What" by Miles Davis. 

[As for the Phrygian mode, one example my teacher gave is that when you see a dom7(#9) chord, you can play the phrygian mode over it. Thus referring to the rest of the chords listed there, it means we can play the phrygian mode if we encounter other chords such as dom7(b9) and dom7(b13).

[As for the Lydian mode, John gave an example where the mode can be played over the Imaj7 chord, and it would be the jazz tune "Misty".]

~ The next handout given out in class is "II V I Improv Lines". We were asked to sight-read the first three examples, and then John demonstrated all the lines by asking us to play only the bassline for the progression, the difference was that we did not have to play the full chords this time round as we comp for John. 

[Attention was brought to tensions used in the lines, for example, in the second example second bar, the line starts with #11 of G7 chord on the first beat, whilst for the same example third bar, the line starts with the #9 of the Cmaj7 chord.

[The last example in this handout was played to us repeatedly and we were asked to figure out what sounded off in the line. John finally revealed the answer to us by saying that he felt that there were too many "E" notes in the example, and he felt that the line would have the potential to sound way better if there were not that many "E" notes and yes, he would definitely want to change the line.]

~ We were given the lead sheet of the tune "Lady Bird", and we were asked the key of the tune, and the answer is an easy key of C for the Ionion mode. Discussion was made around the II-Vs present in the tune. The first set of II-V, F-7 and Bb7 can be seen as II-V to the key of Eb but which does not actually resolve to its key. For the second set of II-V in the tune, Bb-7 and Eb7, it is the II-V of Ab and it is seen to be able to resolve to the key in the 9th bar. For A-7 and D7 which is the II-V in the key of G, we are told that it resolves to the key of G, though it is considered a delayed resolution and that it resolves to a dom7 chord quality instead of a maj7 chord quality.

[We are asked to be aware of the number of bars for the tune, which is 16 bars. John went on to elaborate that for tunes which are that short, typically it would be played twice through and that the second time through should be played differently than the first time through. And this is where melodic reharmonization comes in really handy !]

~ A handout is given out containing arpeggio licks for the turnaround of the tune "Lady Bird". John did mention that this turnaround is one of his most favorite turnarounds of all. One of the things he said is, if you have a "hip" chord progression, all you need is to do is improvise by the written chord progression and then you will be able to sound cool. But if you do not have a "hip" chord progression, you would have to work really hard in order for your solo lines to sound cool. John demonstrated all the lines on the handout by asking us to play the bassline for the turnaround.

~ The transcription given for this week is "Night & Day" by Joe Pass. My teacher said that though the tempo for this tune is fast, the lines are clear and thus is manageable. He also said that if we choose to play this tune for the mid term exam, we can play it at a slightly slower tempo. 

Class Homework:

~ For the "II-V-I Improv Lines", we have to learn all the lines and be ready to play all of them in class the following week. For this case, we only need to be able to play these lines as written in the key of C, and we do not need to transpose them into another key. 

~ We have to practice improvising to "Lady Bird".

~ We have to learn the turnaround arpeggio lines for "Lady Bird" and be ready to incorporate them into our solos for the tune.

Class Materials/Handouts:

Modes of the Major Scale



II V I Improv Lines



"Lady Bird" Leadsheet



"Lady Bird" Turnaround Arpeggios



Night & Day - Joe Pass (For Django)






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