Naming pools of notes #Scales


rguitarjj
 

Old topic, but continues to nag at me ...

I just read an article which presented a tune with a Dm7b5 G7+5 Cm sequence.

The author suggests using the following notes over the G7+5 G Ab B C D Eb F.

Perfectly reasonable.

The author then named the scale. G Phrygian dominant or 5th mode C harmonic minor.

Both accurate.

My question is this. Can someone explain to me why it's better to name them this way rather than simply think of this as a "G7b9b13" scale?


It just seems to me that thinking of it as a G7b9b13 immediately makes it clear that you're going to have G B D F Ab Eb. Maybe calling it b13 rather than G7b9#5 makes it clear that the scale has an 11th, i.e. that C note.  


Is there any disadvantage to thinking of it this way, other than it's common practice to think the other way? What am I missing?



jvegatrio
 

Rick,
 
Sorry, but I can't think of any advantage to naming those notes either way, except perhaps in an analysis setting...  Why not A or C# over the G7 chord?  (I for one would probably prefer C# to a C natural, sounds hipper.)
 
I guess people think and play like this in real time, right?
 
If I had to guess, I'd say that "tying" a scale (or a series of notes) to a specific chord might not "work", since those same notes could probably be played (and sound OK) over quite a few other chords, so it doesn't make sense to limit the notes to a specific chord.  Does that make sense?
 
Other thing I can think of is that it's not really a good idea to "tie" or "associate" certain notes to certain chords, since in just about any given situation, almost any note over any chord will "work"; try playing a "clam" note over a certain chord 3 times, and if you do it with the right rhythmic approach and conviction, by the time the ear hears it the third time, it's probably going to be "OK", long as it resolves "correctly"...
 
These are just my opinions; I don't think jazz works this way, but I know others find it useful.  (Personally, I find it kind of confusing; I'd much prefer "hearing" how certain notes sound over certain chords and going from there, but to each his own.)
 
Cheers,
JV
 
Juan Vega
 
 

In a message dated 3/1/2014 5:25:12 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, rpjazzguitar@... writes:

Old topic, but continues to nag at me ...

I just read an article which presented a tune with a Dm7b5 G7+5 Cm sequence.

The author suggests using the following notes over the G7+5 G Ab B C D Eb F.

Perfectly reasonable.

The author then named the scale. G Phrygian dominant or 5th mode C harmonic minor.

Both accurate.

My question is this. Can someone explain to me why it's better to name them this way rather than simply think of this as a "G7b9b13" scale?


It just seems to me that thinking of it as a G7b9b13 immediately makes it clear that you're going to have G B D F Ab Eb. Maybe calling it b13 rather than G7b9#5 makes it clear that the scale has an 11th, i.e. that C note.  


Is there any disadvantage to thinking of it this way, other than it's common practice to think the other way? What am I missing?


Bob Hansmann
 

On 3/1/2014 8:25 PM, rpjazzguitar@... wrote:
I just read an article which presented a tune with a Dm7b5 G7+5 Cm sequence.
Thinking of it as a Cmi: II-V-I will tend to open up longer lines in your thinking. But, really, it's apples and oranges. It's up to you to decide which makes it more accessible to you. Whichever way you go, the important thing is to practice it enough to really internalize it.

A 'line' is a means of getting from one interval of a chord to another in either the same or a new chord, whichever is next. The 'trick', of course, is to be musical about it. Most players who complain about either scales or arps simply haven't practiced enough of anything at all to make such statements.

Further, anyone who tells you how you 'have' to think about it doesn't understand the individual aspect of the creative process. They can tell you what THEY do, or what they THINK others think about. But "in the end", as they say, "you wake up with yourself."

best,
Bobby


jvegatrio
 

Hey Bobby,
 
I dunno about that, but to each his own.  Somebody can practice "scales or arps" till the cows come home and it's not much guarantee it'll lead to music, at least not "jazz" music...
 
Cheers,
JV
 
Juan Vega
 
 

In a message dated 3/1/2014 5:41:00 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, bobbybmusic@... writes:
Most players who complain about either scales or arps simply haven't practiced enough of anything at all to make such statements.


Brian Kelly
 

Fortunately I was never taught like that.  I learned how to play the additional chromatic notes as part of the harmony of chord movement. Jazz musicians would learn faster if they learned that when you go from C7 to F7 by adding in an F#7 chord you are not really playing an F#7 but rather introducing stepwise chromatic movement between the C7 and F7 chords.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Brian

 


Brian Kelly
 

Juan,
 
It’s more certain that not learning and playing your scales and arps won’t get you anywhere either. In the end all of this is just one more piece to the puzzle.  The way all of this works is that early on you are studying the science of music but it is hoped that while you are doing that one day the light will go off in your head and you will begin to understand how all of this works and how to use the things you’ve learned and practiced to express your own musical vision.
 
No need to believe me.  I don’t make this stuff up.  Please let me refer you to what Charlie Parker said on the subject: “Learn all of your scales and harmony and everything you can and then practice, practice, practice; then forget all of that shit and just play”.
 
These days musical performance has evolved to such a point that if anyone thinks you can just skip over the basic stuff and jump right into the artistic part they are just kidding themselves.   
 
Can you imagine where Arthur Rubinstein would be today if someone had told him not to worry about those pesky scales and arps.  The people who go on to become true artists grow beyond that period in their musical development but they don’t skip it.            
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Brian


rguitarjj
 

I'm not complaining about scales or arps. I play and practice both. That said, I'm sorry I ever practiced them a lot in ascending or descending sequence.  


I may be complaining a little about what is now typical jazz pedagogy. At least, there is something about it I don't get.


rguitarjj
 

I'm asking a question about theory, but it's not because I think this is the only way, or even the best way, to learn to play jazz.


Frankly, I think that a person who wants to have a good jazz vocabulary is probably best off doing it the traditional way -- learn the instrument, transcribe and practice finding the sounds you like and playing them with great time and rhythm.


In performance, I think the role of theory should be limited to those situations in which your ear isn't enough to avoid clams.


In the practice room, some people report that it has helped them find sounds they otherwise would never have discovered. I'm not sure I've ever done that. Maybe. Usually, if I internalize a new sound it's from hearing it played in a song, falling in love with it, and finding it on my instrument, in context. I've also had luck hearing somebody play a line and then stealing it.


If I have time to practice blowing over an unfamiliar set of changes, I end up playing them over and over, and singing lines until I've got the harmony internalized. Then I try to play what I sang.


Of course, I don't have a significant traditional jazz vocabulary, so take all this with a grain of salt.


jvegatrio
 

Rick,
 
I think you're a good jazz player with a better-than-average "jazz vocabulary", so whatever you're doing it's working!
 
Cheers,
JV
 
Juan Vega
 
 

In a message dated 3/1/2014 8:10:56 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, rpjazzguitar@... writes:
Of course, I don't have a significant traditional jazz vocabulary, so take all this with a grain of salt.


rguitarjj
 

Well, that may be mostly true, but I can think of a pretty good counterexample.

Andres Varady, the jazz guitar prodigy. He made the cover of GP. Maybe partly because he's young, but he can play!  In the interview, he mentioned that he doesn't know any theory and doesn't know any scales.

He plays by ear.





 


rguitarjj
 

Juan, I appreciate the kind words. I wasn't trying to be falsely modest. In fact, every time I hear a guitarist who is steeped in the usual vocabulary of jazz (think Pass, Wes, Pat (Metheny or Martino) Jimmy Bruno etc) I am envious.


.


Bob Hansmann
 

Hi Juan,
Other thing I can think of is that it's not really a good idea to "tie" or "associate" certain notes to certain chords, since in just about any given situation, almost any note over any chord will "work"

This is, of course, correct. And it's good advice. I want to caution, however, that (while I don't know Rick's level at all) too many students, after being 'armed with this ammunition', try too soon to go for the more 'outside' sounds before having developed control more thoroughly through practice with more 'inside' tones.

This becomes confusing to a student, as he can come to feel that he is too much 'shooting at a moving target'. The solution there comes through lots of practice, and through lots of transcribing to learn how others deal with that approach.

A quick example: I was trying to use a bass player on a project because I thought it would be great for him, and because he is a wonderful person. Although hehad charts which I had meticulously made just for him toward that end, over several months he never really locked into feeding the project the changes. I didn't want to make him feel bad, but I finally bring it to attention. He said, "When I was studying with Stanley Clarke, he told me that any note could work against any chord. I answered that that while was true enough, we didn't have Stanley Clarke for the project, and I would appreciate it if he would actually play a bass line for a change.

The drummer got a laugh from that, but even after several more rehearsals, I couldn't get a more fitting bass line from him over what were some simple, commercially oriented tunes. Rehearsals which should have taken only a week or two were taking forever, and I had to let him go, but not in time to save the project, for which I blame my own judgement. I should have cut him loose far sooner.

One must develop a sense of nuance and taste according to the demands of the moment. Unless one is going for 'straight-ahead', modern jazz, much of his playing will be 'inside'. Even for those locking into 'straight-ahead', modern jazz, if he hasn't developed control over more 'inside' sounds, it becomes obvious and painful that he doesn't know his instrument very quickly. There is no shortage of recordings of musicians 'overplaying' either the nuance of the tune or their own capabilities.

Given a choice of either 'more simple' or 'more complex', I'll prefer players in the former category every time, unless I truly know the player's capabilities. Charlie Haden can play just about anything, but he knows when and when not to.
best,
Bobby


Bob Hansmann
 

Hi Juan,
I dunno about that, but to each his own.
 Isn't that what I said?

As far as practicing "scales or arps" till the cows come home and it's not much guarantee it'll lead to music" goes, can you describe anything to me that will virtually 'guarantee' a 'musical' outcome? There are far too many variables to the artistic developmental process to make such a broad statement. The tried and true method, though, of ensuring that an artist will develop to the best of his talent has been and remains through the study and practice of legitimate musical tools, among which are included scales and arps.

Of course, these represent only two of many tools which should be studied if one is going to 'be musical' as you say, and far too much emphases is often placed upon them to be representative of a properly balanced approach to the learning process. Usually, that is because that is all the teacher knows - he read either in 'Guitar Player Magazine', or on-line, or somewhere that a Dorian Mode is 'kool', and tries to leverage that into a career. Quite frankly, if a teacher does not know the many other necessary skills to impart to a student, then he has no business teaching. Any valid discussion of this topic must first take this for granted.

As to the original question posed, that of essentially asking which of two approaches which essentially (not perfectly) say the same thing and bring one to the same place, is preferable, I stand by my answer. "You say tomato, and I say tomahto".

best,
Bobby


Bob Hansmann
 

Hi Brian,
t’s more certain that not learning and playing your scales and arps won’t get you anywhere either. In the end all of this is just one more piece to the puzzle. The way all of this works is that early on you are studying the science of music but it is hoped that while you are doing that one day the light will go off in your head and you will begin to understand how all of this works and how to use the things you’ve learned and practiced to express your own musical vision.
This, and the rest of your post, is right on point. It's what I was originally saying, and what I just attempted to explain in my reply to Juan as well.

Too many are looking for, not just the shortest path, but for tricks, and there are too many 'teachers' who claim to offer them. They don't work. If it was that simple, lots of players today would sound a hel-uv-a-lot better than they do.

regards,
Bobby


Brian Kelly
 

Just think how good he might be if he actually knew what he was doing. 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Brian


 


Chris Smart
 

At 12:46 AM 3/2/2014, you wrote:


Well, that may be mostly true, but I can think of a pretty good counterexample.

Andres Varady, the jazz guitar prodigy. He made the cover of GP. Maybe partly because he's young, but he can play! In the interview, he mentioned that he doesn't know any theory and doesn't know any scales.

He plays by ear.
Which means he does know that stuff, and especially, how to apply it. He just doesn't know the names for things.


Bob Hansmann
 

On 3/2/2014 10:44 AM, Chris Smart wrote:
Which means he does know that stuff, and especially, how to apply it.
He just doesn't know the names for things.
Most probably true.

best,
Bobby


Chris Smart
 

LOL

At 09:52 AM 3/2/2014, you wrote:


Just think how good he might be if he actually knew what he was doing.


Bob Hansmann
 

Hi Brian,
Just think how good he might be if he actually knew what he was doing.
Good one!


jvegatrio
 

Brian,
 
I totally agree, the operative phrase being "grow beyond"...
 
Cheers,
JV
 
Juan Vega
 
 

In a message dated 3/1/2014 8:57:40 P.M. Pacific Standard Time, bkelly@... writes:
The people who go on to become true artists grow beyond that period in their musical development but they don’t skip it.