~ Bach & Coltrane ~

~ kindred spirited searchers across centuries now passed, show us many pathways to our own Parnassus ~

'I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.'

J. S. Bach 1685-1750

~

'Invest yourself in everything you do. There's fun in being serious.'

John Coltrane 1926-1967

wiki ~ J S Bach

Developing harmony to encompass the full range of diatonic major / minor harmonic expression of a well and equal tempered tuned piano.

wiki ~ John Coltrane

Developing melody into chords and following along the improvisational pathways pioneered by John Coltrane.

In a nutshell. Bach and Coltrane are the explorers and historical bookends of this work. For beginning around the 1550's or so, word got around Europe that the solution for tuning up the pitches to equal temper exactitude was now becoming possible. In 1700, Christofori crafted a mechanism for regulating the dynamics of 'loud and soft' for each of a piano's keys, by the strength of touch of a finger. And by 1725, Bach had a version of this instrument under his fingers :)

By the early 1740's, his second addition of the work titled "The Well Tempered Clavier" was completed. In these two volumes, written near 20 years apart, is a sort of some total of what we Americanaos inherited from European as harmony. It takes another 200 years to fully AmerAfroEuro-ize what Bach laid down, but by the 1940's, the Bebopper's did. In tempos that in all probability, Bach would have thoroughly enjoyed :)

In 1950, saxophonist Coltrane is 25 years old, and has by the close of the decade, become a 'new' voice in jazz. Through a decade of diligent study and using arpeggios to represent chords, by 1960 Coltrane has evolved our harmonic inheritence from Bach, as filtered through bop, a next giant step forward. Written into original songs, we discover his harmonic evolutions. By following the release dates of their recording, we're able to create a clear pathway of academic study, theorize about how it development and see the resulting evolutions in composition. To theorize how a true Giant stepped :)

While inventing new cycles of modern harmony of an unparalled strength, all while retaining the blue's hue and swing that originates in all of our true Americana musics, and even perhaps by necessity, Coltrane closes a natural cycle of development back to its start point, the five notes of the pentatonic groupings. Our original pitches are now reorganized to create a new structural model. Which to this very day still remains at the pinnacle of our harmonic evolutions and improvisatory challenges.

So in our theory studies here, Bach and Coltrane become our harmony bookends. History tells us that both did the shedding, and made their understandings of harmony and its possibilites presented clearly in the music they wrote. That both looked to 'exhaust' the available pitch resources of their repspective times. Super thanks to folks all along our historical way, that we today can explore the magics of these musical masters.

Combined, in essence this work attempts to weave a combined historical, theoretical and cultural timeline through understanding our music's harmony's evolutions and tonal qualities from an inside, diatonic basis and on through to the distant realms of outside the diatonic realm, the polytonality, atonality and eventually the full 12 tone chromaticism of free jazz and beyond.

That we have publishing dates and scores for both of our composers makes our 'in hindsight' theory fit right into this scheme. Artistically is where the real challenge begins, as we each must decide for the creation of our own current work, which elements along 'tonal spectrum' are necessary to bring forth our own art. Then the shedding begins to master the chosen resources; the pitches and their evolutions into arpeggios and chords.

Bach bookend / diatonic progressions of chords. For our theory studies here, Bach's now 300 year old double volume WTC is today a towering pinnacle of masterful musical art achievement. Perhaps as thorough an examination of harmony, from a single composer, that has ever been created? What encouraged and energized Herr Bach to want to exhaust the potentials of 12 'equal' pitches, 12 major and 12 minor key centers?

Having all the changes to explore, that's my guess :)

We guitarists here can also ponder along these lines with Ted Greene's "Chord Chemistry." Which becomes another dear bookend for many a six stringer. Beyond amazing, back when published in the 70's, it was a true 'awesome.' That of course is still true today. Seriouso cats should find a copy for a new perspective on whatever is currently under the fingers.

the changes
chord progressions
chord substitutions
Ted Greene

Bach today. In all of our styles and genres, near all of our chord progressions and chord colors are included in WTC first song. Hear it here and follow along. Search and find a chart, a written score, if so inclined. The links at the right are the various 'theory highlights' as the musical art is crafted and evolves through the entire piece. We can hear these highlights in one place or another, or in one form or another, somewhere on our Americana radio dials every day :) In 'C' major. Here's the rhythmic / arpeggio motif that is filtered through the events listed to the right. Example 1.

Here's the complete song. Example 1a.

 

Cool or what ? And yea, it all applies. Same pitches, same tuning, same cycles, some of the same tricks, just different historical eras. And blue notes ? That's the melody magic our own Americana palette brings into the European harmony tuning and systems.

So the new tuning precision of the 12 pitches, as brought forth by equal temper tuning, 'encouraged and allowed' the scope of Bach's masterwork? In theory, that's the idea put forth here. And as such it becomes a bookend for our theory studies. For while the organization of our melody notes go back to the early mists of antiquity, the chords as we know and enjoy them today only go back 300 years or so. And yet ... and surely by now ... you've heard the rumor ... that yes indeed its be true that ...

'there was an old pian'er ... on that fancy Mayflower, when it bumped on into Plymouth Rock ... :)

Coltrane bookend / saxophone chords. Coltrane started out with the full equal tempered resource of chords equally from all 12 pitches of the chromatic scale. He played saxophones, so no real way to play chords; select pitches struck together as on a piano. Coltrane conquered this reality through combining sheer velocity of pitches / rhythms with arpeggiating the pitches of each chord that comes along in a song's chord progression. This approach we know theoretically today as 'sheets of sound.'

'Sheets of sound' is a melodic cascade of notes that create a chordal effect not unlike that created by an orchestral harp, but Coltrane's jazz is way way faster in basic tempo and articulation of the number of pitches in a phrase. It's hard to hear the changes in these sorts of lines, the pitches just go by too quickly for most of us to hear and understand its theory. Further aural challenges develop through Coltrane's chord substitution principles.

While very few of us a performers strengthen to this level of actual performance, knowing its pitch theory is rather quite simple really. An alternative today to 'sheets of sound', in the last decade or so, is the chromaticism of pitches that in 'harmony theory sense', lies just a bit beyond the organization of 'sheets of sound', a further degree in the blurring of tonal direction, altering of the tonal gravity, aural predictability and tonal center arrival of the art.

"I think I was first awakened to musical exploration by Dizzy Gillespie and Bird. It was through their work that I began to learn about musical structures and the more theoretical aspects of music." John Coltrane

Evolution of the harmony / "Giant Steps." From a purely theoretical sense, Mr. Coltrane's composition 'Giant Steps' is viewed here in UYM / EMG as the most organically evolved of our American harmonic cycles. It's based on what was in its day, a new harmonic cycle of chords, whose three tonal centers combine to form up the pitches of an augmented triad.

While there's the '... all roads lead to V7' evolutions, is there anything in jazz quite like Coltranes evolution in this song ? Other evolutions will surely come along. For artists today are working every day like Mr. Coltrane, sifting through their pitches, looking for their own new way forward in melody, harmony and swing.

In a couple of instances now, in our historical development, the building block between melody and chords, the arpeggios, have provided the new stimulus for players to evolve their own music, and in doing so, point the way to a next valence of artistic combinations. Maybe it will again be the arpeggios that will point the new way forward.

The basics of minor 3rd / perfect 4th. Coltrane's evolution to get to "Giant Steps" runs through a sequence of harmonic developments that easily grow out of one another. Please scroll to the bottom of this next graphic, follow the arrows up while reading the triangles. Example 2.

Quick review. One to Five and back, both major and minor sets up the 'home / away / home' tension and release dynamic of our storytelling. Adding the Four chord gives adds a secondary resting point for melodic ideas, similar to Onebut different. And is motion to Four is the gospel core of it all? When Four becomes Two, we enable faster tempos and an easier way to 'suggest' moving towards any key center. Doubled up to 3 6 2 5, we've really a clear sounding cycle of fourths, that has implied a clear direction in musics of many styles for a couple of hundred years now.

Coltrane's discoveries. The 'b9' of Six builds us a diminished 7th chord, that slides right on down by minor 3rd. Thus the 'double 2 / 5' of Moment's Notice. Nice and sure way to ramp up the soloing challenge. We see this style of 'minor 3rd' infused composition in "Naima." As there's a succession of descending V7 chords, as in the blues, but in "Naima", resolving in a new way.

"Lazy Bird" presents a combination of Two / Five motions a minor 3rd apart, its three main key centers making up 2/3'rds of an augmented triad. Its coda has an unmistakeable whole tone quality in the descending root pitches of the harmony. The minor 3rd / perfect 4th motion is perfected in "Giant Steps", which reveals the augmented triad of key centers and its associated whole tone colors. And in Coltrane's improvisations, a new improvisational way forward is revealed.

wiki "Blue Trane" album
wiki "Moment's Notice" song
wiki "Naima" song
wiki "LazyBird" song

"If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants."

wiki ~ Sir Isaac Newton

Closing a loop. Moving into Coltrane's soloing on the recording of "Giant Steps", we close another theory loop, as Coltrane returns us back to our pentatonic origins. For when most new artists start off creating improvisations in the Americana styles, the five notes of the pentatonic scale are as friendly as any group of pitches we might have for creating lines over changes. And five notes gives a variety of pitches to find mobile shaped ideas :)

In Coltrane's motifs over his "Giant Steps" changes, he simplifies things a wee bit further, down to the 'four core of it all', for the super clarity needed to outline the tremendous joy and swing that the new changes bring. Hear the same basic joy and energy in the following idea? Example 3.

Sound enough unlike to sub for one another? A shorthand version of the pentatonic five? Click it again. Or ten times :) Even 50 years later, this is still the basis of the 'new' sound of today's modernes.

Coltrane's choice lick. 1235, 1235, 1235. This next ideas creates a combination of two main improvisational pathways. For Coltrane uses the pentatonic color 'over' each chord, while playing 'through' each chord with a 'cell' created for each chord in the progression. Ex. 3a.

Cool? Here the chord change in the melody line? Clarity? Yep, that's the idea. As simple and clear as the blue sky day after a nightfall of driven snow :) If need be, just keep clicking till you can hear the changes in the melodic line. They're there, you'll hear it, keep trying.

"Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication."

wiki ~ Leonardo da Vinci

"Giant Steps." John Coltrane's 'Giant Steps' is in part based on making the pitches of an augmented triad the key centers in a song. That its melody is a 'joyous modern gospel of half notes', disguises the complex coolness of its silent structure. That is, until the blowing.

wiki ~ Giant Steps song

We follow Mr. Coltrane's artistic evolution to this pinnacle of theoretical development and challenge, as a pathway to understand our Americana jazz harmony evolutions. Often termed 'Coltrane changes', they're a 'last stop' of developmental destination of cycles of chords before launching into the freer forms of ideas such as 'A Love Supreme' and even beyond, which is based on pedal tones and ragas.

wiki ~ raga scale

Mr. Coltrane puzzled the pitches of the augmented triad to become the key centers of 'Giant Steps', thus using an unbreakable loop to create a harmonic cycle. A tune many jazz players enjoy to perform and hear to this very day, both for its joyous gospel quality and swing. P.s., it makes a great bossa nova / samba in 2.

puzzles

key centers

bossa / samba in 2 / clave

Regardless of whether we ever gig 'Giant Steps', the thought process of shedding the tune is cool. For it is just so different than from anything that had ever came before it. It makes us think and prepare differently.

While there always seems to be common historical elements in the evolution of each Americana song, in 'Giant Steps', we can find a similar foreshortened cycle of its chord changes in the bridge of the 1937 Rodgers and Hart jazz standard "Have You Met Miss Jones."

wiki ~ Rodgers and Hart
wiki ~ "Have You Met Miss Jones"

"Giant Steps" adds a new compositional scheme for Americana harmony, and in the original recording, at a rather ferocious tempo. Combined, they vertically ramp up the improvisational challenge for most jazz leaning artists from this point forward in our collective history.

I personally believe that Mr. Coltrane, in his dedication to the study of Americana music through his career, that along the way he artistically exhausted what surrounded him and then by necessity, sought greater challenges. Like Bach with the 'WTC?' Could very well be. All of us artists, in all of our disciplines, go through this. Some just more than others it seems :) And self discipline to keep shedding is what feeds this boredom bulldog. Coltrane shows us what we too might be capable of, if we'll just keep on keepin' on.

The new harmony structure of "Giant Steps" becomes the new pinnacle of development in its day. And does what Coltrane penned as his greatest harmonic challenge humble his own improv lines to the four note / penta sounding cells of pitches, as described just above ?

That "Giant Steps" introduces this new way of using the pentatonic color in soloing through chord changes was revolutionary in 1960. In this work, Mr. Coltrane forgoes the traditions of the times to found a simpler approach. For as each of the chords in the main progressions are all major triads, each in turn is simply articulated by its own bit of pentatonic hued color.

And a bit of trivia history here, studio recording genius Tom Dowd, who engineered this game changing jazz recording for Mr. Coltrane, would a dozen years later engineer the sessions for blues rocker Eric Clapton's epic 'Layla', with the riff master himself, Duane Allman.

wiki ~ Tom Dowd
wiki ~ "Layla" song

Key centers based on the augmented triad. Here is the root motion of the first four bar phrase of Coltrane's 'Giant Steps.' A rather ingenious way to backpedal roots to a starting point, but using the pitches of an augmented major triad, an evolution from the more common motion of perfect 4th from which it evolves.

Each pitch of the augmented triad, becomes a tonal destination center of this composition. Read backpedal style, so left to right, in the bold font, the pitches of the 'C' augmented triad pitches. So, we're backpedaling in major 3rd's via diatonic V7 chords ? Yep, so it seems :)

~ C / Eb7 / Ab / B7 / E / G7 / C ~

Key centers in composition now have 'something new' to organize themselves, a new 'silent architecture.' This in itself will evolve new key schemes for writing songs. While motion to Four still wins the day, new ways to get there, or not, will evolve.

Coltrane creates a new structure, a triad based modulation and compositional scheme, but on an augmented triad pitches. It truly re-electrified the jazz scene in 1960. And didn't daVinci sometimes write this way too? Write sentences from right to left? Which when held up to a mirror's reflection, it then appears as normal writing ? Here are the roots of the chord cycle creating its perfect closure. Example 4.

root / - 3rd / p.4th / - 3rd / p.4th / - 3rd / p.4th

Now isn't that something? Click it again. Singable? Surely :) And a sense of gravity towards resolution as clear as day, clear as the driven snow :)
tonal gravity

Coltrane's music education / new challenges ? The Americana basics and the deep blues, then learning a couple of hundred standards. Ramp up challenge by evolving the 'double Two / Five with 'V7b9' diminished chord magics. Rebuild the traditional cycle of 4th's cadential motions into a new minor 3rd / perfect 4th formula. In doing so, move into the augmented triad as a compositional device, ( how many songs have a basis on the major triad ? )

Go back a couple of decades and meet Ms Jones, on the 'Bridge in 'Db', on most maps. And who knew then that the augmented triad pitches / key centers of this lovely, scenic and lyrical bridge also includes a new dimension beyond its existing realm. That is of course only until Coltrane journeyed and unlocked this secret for all of us, forever.

wiki ~ "Have You Met Miss Jones" song

Using pentatonic parent scales. Mr. Coltrane's improv approach on these minor 3rd / perfect 4th cycle of chord changes goes to and often stays, with the application of a major pentatonic flavored cell, so no 4th scale degree, on each chord change, regardless of the written chord type in the original. The following musical lines come from the John Coltrane Omnibook.

Using pentatonic parent scales. Mr. Coltrane's improv approach on these minor 3rd / perfect 4th cycle of chord changes goes to and often stays, with the application of a major pentatonic flavored cell, so no 4th scale degree, on each chord change, regardless of the written chord type in the original. Here our '1 2 3 5' cell permutates to start on major 3rd, root and b7. Thinking 'C' major. Example 5a.

Start on Five. A few of these next cells start on the 5th. Example 5b.

On One. In these measures we see the root pitch as a start point. Note tonal clarity in direction of the line. Example 5c.

On Six. In this idea, Coltrane starts on Six, so really in the pentatonic group of '1 2 3 5 6.' Example 5d.

Using pentatonic parent scales. Using the cell through a pair of the Two / Five cells of the 'B' section. Ex. 5e.

Using pentatonic parent scales. These next ideas are Coltrane's entrance after the piano solo. Lot of root to root clarity, a cool Two / Five lick, then back to the clarity of the '1 2 3 5' cell. Example 5f.

Cool ? Had a chance to listen to Coltrane's recording from 1960 yet? Spin that and see what happens to your perspective of all this 'bookend' to the theory. There's a few places post "Giant Steps" we go to, mostly by use of the V7 chord. Then altering the dominant chord with the colortones, both diatonic and outside.

V7 before each chord
each chord is V7
chord color tones
outside

Getting there in a new way. Well, while in a way just the same old 'C up to C', spanning two octaves, we surely didn't get there a traditional way. In pianist, theorist and author George Russell's The Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organization, Russell describes the various vehicles that major American musical innovators employed to get to their harmonic destinations in their own style.

George Russell
wiki ~ Lydian Chromatic Concept Of Tonal Organization

In a 'story' about traveling harmonically along on the Mississippi River in the book, while there are rafts and steamboats and speedboats, Russell describes Coltrane's melodic vehicle of choice as a rocket ship :) And while surely the theory is cool and the Five / One to close the loop surely helps to get our ears around these sounds, in a more conventional, cadential way, the original recording by Coltrane illuminates that axiom about how the 'whole is greater than the sum of its parts ...' :)

Exhausting the possibilities. Is it possible that Trane's evolution to 'Giant Steps' is in part created by his exhausting of the challenge of the current music he was writing and performing? That through the theory of chord progressions and chord substitution, he gradually devised greater and greater musical challenges for himself ? Seems a natural enough progression. Ever get bored with your own playing?

A prolific composer, we can examine Mr. Coltrane's compositions historically by their recording dates and thus theorize to a possible harmonic evolution of his understanding, development and culminations as written into his original compositions.

 

A similar evolution perhaps? The sixteen string quartets of Herr Beethoven might provide a similar degree of insight into this evolution of a musical artist. For we can also easily track the Beethoven works by their published dates, and thus examine with a greater degree of confidence, the tonal evolution between his early and late quartets. While all of the music is aurally stunning, the ramping up of the musical challenge of the later and last works is simply unmistakable. For even the best of players in Beethoven's day were said to have declared the last group of quartets 'unplayable.'

wiki ~ L. Beethoven

wiki ~ Beethoven string quartets

Do explore these wonderful works as your time and resources permit. And there are surely many, many other composers whose creative works follows a similar sort of evolution. Actually, in all of the fine arts and beyond, one might track such evolutions. One way that both Coltrane and Beethoven are remarkable to me is that their own 'evolution' never leveled off or declined.

 

They seemed to have continued to ramp up the challenge musically and artistically, discovering new realms for expression until they raptured onward. Neither artist had a 'retro period' that I know of, that re-visited earlier successes in new ways later in their careers. As a pure jazzer here, I shed the Coltrane regularly while the Beethoven quartets always seem to be able to put a bit more 'Sunday' into my Sundays :)

 

Quick review. So in working this idea of a new parent scale for each chord in a song, we gain a new approach to our improvisations. Each of these pathways blossom into lifelong vistas to explore, as we learn more about what we love and evolve our understandings of all things music. Our spectrum of styles historically points to their improvisational pathways, but there's no reason at all, for those so inclined to crosspollinate the pathways into each our own unique weavings of the pitches.

spectrum of styles
free melody no changes
play by ear
play by rote
solo over changes
solo through changes
solo over and through the changes

Arpeggio jazz kings. Since this work is all theory based, and we use the theory to generate pathways to explore, arpeggio riffs qualifies as a 'theory structure to trace through our musics historically and see it's influence on our evolutions.

Coleman Hawkins. A beginning point is in 1938, when Hawkins' recorded "Body And Soul" in NYC. This now historic cover makes Hawkins the first 'Arpeggio King' in this text. For in his recording, Hawkins' arpeggiates nearly all the changes in the tune. There's bits of the melody, some very cool bluesy turns, but the horn line is 90% arpeggios.

No artist had ever done this before, created an almost pure arpeggiated approach to the changes, and not worry too much about the melody, clearly outline the harmony by creating an 'arpeggio melody line.' From this point forward, the changes become enough of a stimulus and backing for creating single note line lines. And for single line instrument players, this means articulating accurate arpeggios of each chord and its color tones. Example 6.

wiki ~ Coleman Hawkins
wiki ~ "Body And Soul" song

Arpeggio jazz kings. Our next arpeggio king is jazz alto saxophonist Charlie Parker. Please continue reading here for more about Parker's arpeggio development.

Our third arpeggio king is John Coltrane. Coltrane moved Parkers realm forward by covering the 'other' possible substitutions of V7b9, creating the arpeggio based 'sheets of sound.' Once through this shedding, the b3 / perfect 4th motions includes a way into the whole tone colors, and the augmented triad of 'Giant Step.'

Charlie Parker. In my own understanding of our Americana history and music theory evolutions and knowing what we know today, Mr. Parker's musical genius lives between Bach and Coltrane. Herr Bach shows us the potential and what's diatonically available with the 12 equal temper tuned pitches, through scales, arpeggios and chords, as played on a keyboard instrument.

wiki ~ Bach ~ WTC

And similar to Bach, both Parker and Coltrane exhausted the existing diatonic harmonic schemes of their day, also through scales, arpeggios and chords. Coltrane then goes a giant step beyond, through chord substitution, to pioneer new schemes diatonically generated that expand chord progressions and cadential motions. A natural, evolutionary step beyond Parker and Companys horizons. Many benefits we inherit today.

"If I have seen further it is only by standing on the shoulders of giants."

wiki ~ Sir Isaac Newton

Parker's genuis comes historically just before Coltrane's. In a similar fashion to Bach, Parker conquers near every knook and cranny of the diatonic, Americana harmony in the coolest styles of his day. That each of the 12 positions are now available, for some sort of chord, are deftly woven into purely joyous Americana songs with freely swinging rhythms at any tempo. Diatonic sounding songs and chord progressions, that yet still 'nick' pure blues and gospel somewhere along the way of near every phrase that comes along.

That Parker also brings an ever present bluesy, gospel Americana flavored melodic line, and the fastest tempos every attempted, sets the bar for Coltrane to better, to search beyond these initial '12 tones within the diatonic positions', initiated and projected outward through the chord substitution principles of V7b9.

"Cherokee." Mr. Parker fully expressed this potential in our Amer Afro Euro jazz. As an Americana composer and saxophonist, 'here crowned as an 'Arpeggio King', pioneered a new approach to jazz in the early 40's. Termed 'bebop' non by historians, 'bop' was both the most difficult music to play and the most exciting improvised music NYC had ever heard. Listeners were said to be stunned, in good way.

Mr. Parker was said to have heard pianist Art Tatum perform. Enough so that over a year or so of his own diligent practice, Parker deftly applied what Tatum was doing in his right hand to the whole range of his alto saxophone, later to hire pianist Al Haig and others, to play the left hand part, the chord changes, root motions and cycles of the chord progressions etc. So two artists combined to play Art Tatum's piano music :)

wiki ~ Charlie Parker
wiki ~ bebop
wiki ~ New York City
wiki ~ Art Tatum
wiki ~ Al Haig

So now with four hands on the songs, the music could go nearly twice as fast. By increasing the conventional tempos and using temporary modulations, and a sort of '12 tone diatonic structure' for his compositions, Parker and his many many contemporaries' created melodies, supported by the 'new' harmonies, that encompossed the 'whole tamale', that full 'diatonic pie' with 'all the color tones on top.' All those big band orchestral colors colors inherited from the swing cats of the 30's. Cellular level Two / Five cadential motions at blistering tempos, the arpeggio figure, representing chords in a melody line, again blazing the new pathway through the changes, while all still steeped deep deep deep in the blues.

wiki ~ swing music

wiki ~ the blues

"Cherokee." The jazz standard song titled "Cherokee" becomes Mr. Parker' initial portal into both the evolution of our harmony and time. Fast moving modulations and the subtle half note melody, deftly disguise what may come from the advancing improvisor in the blowing.

For legend has it that Mr. Parker, then in his early 20', was warming up prior to a performance in his home town Kansas City, Kansas 'running the changes' of this 1938 classy Ray Noble burner, "Cherokee." And that it was in this 'moment' that things 'clicked' and Parker's new vision manifests both compositionally and improvisationally. This vision completed the evolutionary quest of exploring the available diatonic color tones for each chord in turn.

This is coupled with Parker's 'exhausting' the relationship between the 12 tones and diatonic harmony. So from this point forward really, all the extended arpeggio pitches on all the chords are available. Including all of the blue notes and bluesy wasy to slip in and out of the pitches and phrasing.

Arpeggio based, Mr. Parker simply realized that to play the 'new ideas' he was hearing, he would first have to fully arpeggiate the supporting chord to make all of the pitches 'sound correct.' As the chord progressions of his songs gradually 'filled in' with more diatonic chords, cadential motions and chord substitutions, Parker, through his arpeggios, redefined the music of his day as he stayed 'inside' the changes, regardless of their complexity, and always kept some gospel feel and blue colors at hand. The classic Americana musical weave.

"Cherokee's" written melody rhythms are mostly whole and half notes, which gives the artist 'time to think', however briefly, as the music scoots along. For there's a neat trick in up tempo songs; that by sounding a long note value in time through changes, our imaginations will 'suggest' other notes and ideas, which we then try to play.

So often in the jazz / bebop literature we hear this long note or two, followed by some blistering lick, then another long note, then another notey lick etc. Long notes call, short notes response. Gives us time to think of what to say and how we want to say it.

We get to rhythmically 'push off' from a bar line, floating a sustained note, create some space. Have time for a breath, and give our minds a window to conjure the next phrase This 'push off process' works like a charm, and not just in jazz :) Space :)

This 'long note' improv idea is explained in the book Forward Motion by jazz pianist Hal Garper. Mr. Garper tells us that he learned it from Dizzy Gillespie, trumpet virtuoso, bebop and Latin pioneer elbow to elbow with Mr. Parker.

A synopsis of this work is included at the close of the discussion of musical time included in this book. It creates a way into Mr. Garper's idea of where a phrase begins and ends, which in his musings ties us right back up to J.S. Bach, whose experiments with the 'new' temperament of the day helped to usher in the then 'new' era of stacking up pitches into chords. That far back huh? Yep, way back to 1725 or so :)

time / forward motion

Advanced studies. Strengthening to create this 'pause' in time, in music that is moving along, becomes a basis for 'forward motion.' These two words together create another concept of time, in regards to placing our phrases in moving time. Combined, our own artistic signature evolves.

And while advanced in theory, and explanations, in concept, forward motion is fairly simple. Really just a matter of creating the 'pause' in time as just discussed, now coupled with a finding a target point in the near future, a spot to land our notes, to end our phrase. It can look like this. Example 1.

"Aiming our phrase of notes to land around the downbeat of bar one, of our next four bar phrase."

Aiming ahead in time = forward motion.

And once landed, we can choose what length of space again, to give our muse a chance to suggest a next idea, and off we go again with our next phrase. So by phrasing to a future point in the music, that is soon coming up, we create that sense of moving and direction to that future point in time. As we strengthen in this ability, we simply 'bite off' bigger and bigger chunks of time, looking further ahead into the future :)

To varying degrees, we all naturally do this when playing music from memory. As the downbeat of the first measure of a four bar phrase is a crossroads where all in the band are heading towards to meet on up.

And since phrasing is most often four bars, beat one, of measure one, becomes the spot we aim for in forward motion concepts. At least to start out :) And then on the other end are the various launch points for our ideas, each adding a unique, nuanced way to begin our phrase.

Is this varied musical phrasing like changing up the rhythms and syntax of the way we talk, depending on who we're talking too and how we're telling the story? Yep, sure is. All those variables in our speech patterns live somewhere, and are available on our horns. We just have to find them. The rest is just doing it, finding new challenges. For while combinations are endless, 12 pitches is all we get.

Review. Bach and Coltrane are the explorers and historical bookends of this work. For beginning around the 1550's or so, word got around Europe that the solution for tuning up the pitches to equal temper exactitude was now becoming possible. In 1700, Christofori crafted a mechanism for regulating the dynamics of 'loud and soft' for each of a piano's keys, by the strength of touch of a finger. And by 1725, Bach had a version of this instrument under his fingers :)

"Success softens the mind."

anonymous