Thursday, 9 June 2016

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz (Week 10) SPRING 2016 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2016 Semester

Class Teacher: John Baboian

[Week 10]

The majority of the class this week was spent working on "500 Miles High" by Chick Corea. We started off by playing the melody as a class, and then as usual we went into our individual solos. After our first round of solos, John refreshed our minds on the different modes we would use to solo over different chords in the tune, for example, solo using E Dorian Mode for the first 2 bars of E-7, and then transition into using G Dorian Mode for the next 2 bars of G-6 chord, and then move on to using Bb Lydian Mode to solo over the following 2 bars of Bb6 chord, and so on. 

John then let the entire class attempt to solo to the tune again by paying more conscious attention to playing to the chord changes. And as it turns out, our solos indeed got better with the 2nd round of improvisation. A thing to bear in mind would be that playing wrong notes when soloing to this tune is considered normal especially due to the progression of the song and playing the wrong notes is an unavoidable part of learning and improving. 

Hahaha I have to admit though that I was really surprised that after my solo, John said that my lines are good LOL.

John added that despite the seemingly high difficulty and challenge of Chick Corea's solo transcription for "500 Miles High", we should not feel deterred and in turn should feel encouraged to learn even smaller chunks of licks here and there from the transcription that we could apply and incorporate into our own improvisation. 

Concepts/content covered in class:

~ The lead sheet of the tune "Oleo" by Sonny Rollins was given out in class as an example of rhythm changes. Other examples of rhythm changes mentioned include "Cottontail" by Duke Ellington, and "Dexterity" and "Chasin' the Bird" by Charlie Parker. It was mentioned that Charlie Parker has at least 10 songs that are rhythm changes. More specifically, rhythm changes refer to chord progressions originally derived from George Gershwin's "I Got Rhythm". 

[John mentioned a little personal experience of his when it comes to utilizing the concept of rhythm changes to his financial benefit. He mentioned that as his album was due to launch (I believed he mentioned that it was his first album), he said that the launching was delayed by the fact that John had to pay around $800 to Harry Fox Agency for covering many standards in his album. So he said he learned it the hard way that in order to save on unnecessary expenses, an option would be to take existing chord progressions but to write different melodies over the chord progressions. This way there will be no need to pay license fees as there will be no copyright infringement.]

~ "Oleo" by Sonny Rollins is in the AABA form. Notice that the range of the melody as notated in the lead sheet is rather small, and with that John suggested the possibility for us to play each A section of the melody of the tune in a different octave. One form of the tune has 3 sections of A's, it is thus a great idea to play each of the 3 sections of the tune in 3 different octaves. 

[John showed us the similarities between a typical rhythm changes chord progression with the progression of "Oleo". He then went into reharmonization possibilities for the chord progression. For example, for the 2nd chord in the first bar of the tune, i.e. the G7 chord, it is said that it can be replaced with the Db7 chord or the G-7 chord. In this case the substitute dominant chord, in other words the subV chord for G7 is Db7. The Db7 in turn has a root note that is only a half step above the root note of the next chord in the progression, i.e. the "Db" note is a half step above the "C" note.

[Similarly for the 1st chord in the 2nd bar of the tune, the C-7 chord can be reharmonized and replaced by the chord C7 or Gb7. In this case, the subV chord of C-7 would be Gb7, and the Gb7 chord in turn has a root note that is half step above the root of the following chord in the progression, i.e. the "Gb" note is half step above the "F" note. Similarly, the reharmonization of C-7 to C7 can be justified as well in relation to the following chord in the same bar. V7 of F7 would be the C7 chord, therefore C-7 in the bar can be replaced by C7. 

[Following the similar logic, the 2nd chord starting on the 3rd beat of the 2nd bar of the tune, the F7 chord can be replaced by the Cb7 chord, where the Cb7 chord represents the subV chord of F7. For this some of us in class mentioned B7 instead of Cb7, however for the sake of precision, John said that it should be better to call it Cb7 even though it could sound more complicated as it would more accurately reflect its subV position. 

[Moving onto the 1st chord of bar 3 of the tune, Bbmaj7 can similarly be replaced by D-7 chord or D7 chord. The D7 chord replacement would reflect its status being the V7 of the following chord in the same bar, e.g. the D7 is the V7 of G7 chord. 

[For the B section of "Oleo", all the chords similarly could be substituted by their subVs, i.e. D7 could be replaced with Ab7, G7 can be replaced with Db7, C7 can be replaced with Gb7, and F7 can be replaced with its subV of Cb7. On the other hand, there is also another alternative. For example for the first chord of D7 in the B section spanning 2 bars, it can be substituted with A-7 and D7 each taking up 2 beats in the 1st bar and then D7 in the 2nd bar. And for the original progression with the G7 chord in the 3rd bar of the B section spanning a total of 2 bars, it similarly can be substituted with having a D-7 chord for the 4 beats of the 3rd bar and the G7 chord occupying the entire 4th bar thereafter. 

[The concept of guide tone line is present in the B section of the tune based on the original chord progression. For example, as the progression moves from D7 to G7 to C7 and then to F7, one such guide tone line would be the "F#" note, i.e. the 3rd of D7, moving to the "F" note which is the b7 of the G7 chord, and then onto the "E" note which is the 3rd of the C7 chord, and which continues to move downwards to the "Eb" note which is the b7 note of the F7 chord.

[Another such guide tone line that can be observed from the B section of the tune would start from the "C" note which is the b7 of the D7 chord, which moves downwards to the "B" note which is the 3rd of G7 chord, and then continues to move downwards to the "Bb" note which is the b7 of C7, and then to the "A" note which is the 3rd of F7. The movement of the guide tone line here changes and moves upwards instead, as the 3rd A section of the tune comes around starting with the Bbmaj7 chord. In this case, the "A" note of the F7 chord moves half step upwards to the "Bb" note which is the root note of the Bbmaj7.]

~ The solo transcription given this week is "Rhythm" changes by Joe Pass. John said that we are free to choose to play this transcription for our final exams, but he also encouraged us to learn a couple of licks from this transcription that we could apply in improvising to "Oleo" for class the following week. 

Class Homework:

~ Melody, comping and soloing for "Oleo" by Sonny Rollins

~ '"Rhythm Changes" with Rhythm Slashes'

~ Learn a few licks from "Rhythm" Changes by Joe Pass 

Class Materials/Handouts:

"Oleo" by Sonny Rollins

"Rhythm Changes" with Rhythm Slashes

Joe Pass - "Rhythm" Changes

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