Thursday, 12 May 2016

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz (Week 7) SPRING 2016 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2016 Semester

Class Teacher: John Baboian

[Week 7]

Class started with John having the whole class play through "Total Blues" as transcribed on page 12-13 of the book "Jazz Conception (Guitar)" along with the backing track. 

We then went on to jam on the tune "All Blues" by Miles Davis. Regarding the repetitive riff in the tune, John asked us to explore the many possibilities to play the same riff, and he went on to demonstrate playing the same riff in many different parts of the guitar and different octaves. After having the class play through the form of the song twice, where every student would have played both the melody line and the riff, it was very interesting when John wanted us to come up with harmonizing lines against the original melody line - and there we go, each of us just played lines we think would harmonize the original melody. It was immensely cool to hear the result of it especially when we have a total of 9 guitarists in the room, there were many interesting sounds and harmonies that were created. 

Next we were asked to improvise to the tune, each one of us getting the chance to solo through one form of "All Blues". The feedback John gave us after our first round of soloing was that we did not really incorporate dotted 8th notes and dotted quarter notes into our improvisations as requested. John demonstrated soloing using the dotted 8th and dotted quarter note rhythms, and we were asked to try soloing again to the tune, this time round with more conscious effort to include those two note rhythms. To conclude this section of the class, John went on to show an extreme example whereby he played only dotted 8th notes throughout the tune, and to clearly illustrate the sound of the dotted 8th notes when played in a song of 3/4 or 6/8 time signature. 

Concepts/content covered in class:

~ First handout given out this lesson is "Rhythm Slashes" in the examples of F Blues and Bb Blues. It is said that this would help give the accompanying guitarist rhythmic ideas when it comes to comping. It is further clarified that for every anticipation that happens in both the examples - anticipation in the form of tied notes from an 8th note on the 4& beat of the current bar to another note of any note value in the next bar; and anticipation in the form of an 8th note on the 4& beat of the current bar but which leads to a rest on the first beat of the following bar - the chord to be played would be the chord in the following bar instead of the current bar. 

[An example of the anticipation from the "F Blues - Rhythm Slashes" would be the beat 4& at the end of the first bar, an 8th note which ties over to a half note in the next bar of Bb7 chord. In that case, the chord to be played from the beat 4& at the end of the bar of the chord F7 would be the Bb7 chord. 

[Similarly, another example from "Bb Blues - Rhythm Slashes" would be the beat 4& at the end of the first bar of chord Bb13, which leads up to the half bar rest in the second bar of chord Eb9. In that case for the first bar, we would play the 8th note on beat 4 with chord Bb13, but would next the beat 4& as an anticipation to the chord of the next bar, i.e. we would play Eb9. In that case, John mentioned that a technique that we could use to handle the fast transition of chords would be just to hold down tritones instead of the full chord voicing so that the voicing held would be less bulky and thus allows for a faster and smoother transition. 

[Our attention was also brought to two chords that are present in the last 3 bars of the groove example of Bb Blues. We were first asked to play the chord B7b5 which is found at the 3rd beat of bar 10. We are then asked to check out the last chord in the example, the Cb7#11 chord which is essentially the same as the B7b5 chord. It is thus important for us to be acutely aware and be able to spot patterns in a chord progression that could increase our ability to handle the progression.]

~ The tune "500 Miles High" by Chick Corea. John emphasized that even though this tune is a modal tune, it is however a very different type and nature of a modal tune compared to other modal tunes that could be much simpler, for example "So What" by Miles Davis. There are modal tunes that only contain one mode throughout the song and in contrast, "500 Miles High" is a much more complex modal song. And this can be further illustrated by the absence of a key signature in the lead sheet of the tune, because the tune does not fall into a specific key. We are told that this song has a bossa feel, and then we went straight into playing the chords. It should also be noted that "500 Miles High" has 18 bars in total, excluding the bar with the pick up note at the front of the piece. Initial inference can thus be made from the number of bars the song has, such as the song cannot be a blues tune. 

[Regarding the first chord of the song, the E-7 chord, we are first asked to list the possible modes we could use to improvise over the tune, namely Dorian, Phrygian and Aeolian. The next step would be to look at the melody and figure out whether any of the modes just listed would have to be eliminated. The note "F#" is present in the melody in the 2nd bar of the tune, which represents the 9th or 2nd of E, we thus have to conclude that Phrygian would not be a suitable mode to use for soloing here. The remaining available options to solo over E-7 would thus be Dorian and Aeolian. 

[Proceeding onto the chord G-6 which occupies the 3rd and 4th bar of the tune, it is said that we have two choices to use for improvising, namely Dorian and Melodic Minor. In looking out for the nat6, which is the "E" note which is present in the melody line, we can thus conclude that Dorian can be used. Special attention has to be paid to when the Melodic Minor scale can be used however, that it can only be more freely used when the melody is not present, i.e. during the solo section of the tune. Whilst the Dorian mode can be played in the presence of the melody of the tune. It should be noted that the nat6 of G-6, the "E" note present in the melody is also the root note of the prior chord in the progression, the E-7 chord. 

[Moving onto the chord Bb6 in bars 5-6, it is suggested that Lydian be used as the scale for improvisation. This is due to the natural "E" sound that has been present since the start of the tune, being the root note of E-7 and the 13th of G-6, thus since would be more inclined to hear the natural "E" sound rathe than a "Eb" note, Bb Lydian is the mode of choice because the #11 of Bb is the natural "E" note. 

[For the chord B-7(b5) in bar 7 of the tune, there is the option of using Locrian or Locrian nat9 to solo. As for E7(#9) in bar 8, choices would include the Phrygian mode or the Altered scale, where the Altered scale is the 7th mode of the Melodic Minor, and the #9 tension present in the chord can be seen as an enharmonic spelling to b3. 

[Regarding the A-7(11) chord in bar 9-10, it should be noted that it is the I chord in the only pair of II V I present in the tune, with B-7(b5) to E7(#9) and then resolving to A-7(11)  As for the I chord in any set of II V I, the sound is typically more Aeolian than Dorian, therefore the Aeolian mode should be used to solo over A-7(11). Furthermore, in relating the b6 note of A-7(11), i.e. the "F" note to the II chord and the V chord leading up to this I chord, the "F" note is also the b5 of B-7(b5), and is the b9 of the E7(#9) chord, thus basing on aural memory of the listener Aeolian would be the right mode for this case. A little trick question was asked regarding the significance of the tension 11 being noted in the chord A-7(11), and the answer was that it does not tell anything much because the 11th has always been an available tension for -7 chords, despite the fact that the 11th in this case, the "D" note is present in the melody of the tune during the chord. 

[Applying some usual rules, we would play the Locrian scale over the F#-7(b5) chord in bars 11-12, and then the Dorian scale over the F-7 chord in bars 13-14. As for the C-7 in bars 15-16, the mode of choice should be the Aeolian mode and the rationale being that the sound of the b6 is implied from the previous bar due to the presence of the "Ab" note on the 4th beat in bar 14 as moving forwards towards the C-7 chord. Furthermore it should be noted that the section of the progression moving from F-7 into C-7 would potentially sound like a IV - I. 

[For the last chord in the tune B7(alt) in bars 17-18, the B altered scale can be used for improvising, or otherwise C melodic minor.]

~ Transcription given this week is Chick Corea's electric piano solo on "500 Miles High", and the corresponding audio was played in class.

Class Homework:

~ "500 Miles High" by Chick Corea

~ Pick a transcription and a tune for improvising over from the course for midterm exams the following week. 

Class Materials/Handouts:

F Blues & Bb Blues - Rhythm Slashes

"500 Miles High" by Chick Corea

Chick Corea's Electric Piano Solo on "500 Miles High" 

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