Thursday, 27 August 2020

SYOS Signature Tenor Mouthpiece demo: Jazz Sound

The SYOS artists' lockdown collaboration video of Alone Together, in the Spring of 2020, left an awful lot of music on the cutting room floor, including this entire take. The video is designed to demonstrate the warmer, jazzier side of my signature tenor mouthpiece to demonstrate that it's not just a screamer!

The video was fun to do and comes with the transcription running alongside the music.
Here is the full, written transcription with annotations and analysis:

Summary of techniques here:

1) Bar 6. This is a classic. When modulating to the sub dominant in the minor, transpose your phrase up a semitone to make it the altered dominant.

2) Bar 9. C#m7 to F#7, Am7 to D7 to G is the sequence of the song so it is a small step to complete the Giant Steps cycle with an Eb major cadence.

3) Bar 13. Negative Harmony. The backwards circle of 5ths using minors, heading for the C minor, the B7 altered dominant.

4) Bar 14. Conventional whole tone scale, augmented triads, but a set-up for the more complex triad relationships coming up later.

5) Bar 23. Free variation of the Giant Steps substitutions used previously.

6) Bar 27. Lydian major 7th with the tone above pentatonic.

7) Bar 29. Diminished scale for E7b9 with Db triad for the 13b9 effect.

8) Bar 30. Chromatic approaches make the classic diminished scale less 'patterny'

9) Different rhythmic variations - here seven groups of 4 fill up the bar.

10) Bar 33. For the C false fingering the bottom C fingering loses the B finger, which helps tuning.

11) Bar 34. The tritone substitution is easily swapped for the altered dominant.

12) Bar 38. One of Slonimsky's 12-tone triad combinations (page 177 of the Thesaurus book)

13) Bar 45. Four key 'Septatonic System'. Melodic minor with flattened 4th: E,F#,G,Bb,B,C#,D# divided {Eb,G,Bb}+{E,F#,B,C#}. The second group fits the tonic scale, the Eb triad is outside. Also transposed to A, D and G to fit nicely with E minor Dorian.

14) Bar 56. A Giant Steps take on the Sonny Stitt technique of playing a dominant up a semitone and back. F#m7-G7 >Ab7-Db-E7 > Eb7,Ab,B7 > E

15) Bar 73. The Db triad of the E13b9 has a pull of its own. Playing with the Db tonality by giving the impression of a Lydian dominant gives the startling effect of an Eb triad over an E7. The Ab minor melodic resolving up a semitone to A minor is a nice variation of the Negative Harmony effect.

Further Explanation of some of the techniques

1) Semitone up for the Altered.

This is a nice technique for modulating to the IV chord in a minor blues. Here E minor melodic for the tonic and F minor melodic for the E7 altered. Some players stretch out the E altered by going early and/or resolving late, to maximise the out of key effect. John Coltrane was an early exponent of this and later Steve Grossman, Chick Corea, Bob Berg and Michael Brecker.

2) Giant Steps substitutions.

John Coltrane famously pioneered the triple tonic system as an alternative to the cycle of fifths, perhaps hitting on the idea after hearing the Richard Rogers song 'Have You Met Miss Jones' from 1937. In this solo C#m7-F#7 > Am7-D7> G is substituted with B (or C#m7) > D7-G-Bb7-Eb-F#7-B-D7 > G.

Later in the solo this formula is treated more and more freely, in a manner similar to the style of John Coltrane from 'A Love Supreme' onwards, culminating arguably in his amazing album 'Interstellar Space'. For more on this refer back to the blog entry from February 2nd for a Coltrane example of this technique.

Here are the other three variations on the video:

From bar 23:

From bar 53:

and bar 67:

3) Negative Harmony Coming Soon!

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Kromololodics #3 Coltrane got there first!

Following on from March 2018 and our examination of Sebastiaan DeKrom's concept of multi-layered chord sequences, a recent look at Resolution from A Love Supreme proves that John Coltrane was way ahead of us already in 1964:

On one level Resolution from A Love Supreme is the first eight of Bernie's Tune, dissolving into a one-chord minor improvisation. In the event this piece is incredibly ground-breaking and experimental. In the course of his solo, laying the spiritual aspect of the album aside for a moment, Coltrane returns to his preoccupation with a cadence into the key of Eb, which goes back to Blue Train and runs through Moments Notice, Lazy Bird and Giant Steps. In this it really does seem as if Coltrane likes to work out his concepts by improvising live on an important record date. There is nothing remotely 'licky' about his solo on Resolution. Each of his recorded performances of this piece sound completely different and fresh to our ears even now half a century later.

This extract from Resolution (5mins, 5 secs on the track) demonstrates that Coltrane is using the C7 altered scale (C# melodic minor) to resolve the eight-bar sections, but subtly changing his lines so that they can co-exist in a minor V-I in F (sax key) as well as a simultaneous progression following the sequence of Giant Steps, in its original key. The augmented nature of the 'altered' chord facilitate this. There is also a hint of the 'backdoor' resolution Bbm-Eb7 to F, together with its Giant Steps progressions. Coltrane is freestyling his lines, but also operating intellectually on two or three levels at once. Part of the magic and mystique of John Coltrane is that we still cannot exactly pinpoint his thought processes towards his musical goals. Coltrane's playing has inspired some people towards a totally free approach and others to seek a greater degree of structure in melodic construction. It is fascinating that different people transcribing a solo, like this extract from Resolution, could draw completely different conclusions from the notes. A chance decision to use sharps or flat, or the theoretical knowledge that the transcriber possesses could lead to a different result.