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identifying musical synonyms on the spot?

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Megalomaniac
(@megalomaniac)
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Joined: 15 years ago
Posts: 48
Topic starter  

how can i practice playing different things overtop of chords or chord changes other then the expected?
i'll give you an example by the first eight bars of a jazz standard 'stella by starlight'

| Em7b5 / / / | A7 / / / | Cm11 / / / | F7 / / / |
| Fm9 / / / | Bb7 / / / | Ebmaj7 / / / | Ab13 / / / |

here's what you could play but how can you figure these out without analyzing the hell out of it theoretically?

em7b5 - a locrian mode or a arpeggiated C9 chord, or even a G m 9 arpeggiated chord aswell

a7 - d harmonic minor, either with that augmented 5th or a flattened 5th to spice it up, or y'know just an a7 arpeggiated,
g diminished scale perhaps?

cm11 - i'm sure there plenty of ways of playing over this and the next chord, either by arpeggiating it or finding some other chord that works well with this cm11 and the following f7
f7 -

fm9 - these next three chords are the 2 5 1 in Ebmaj, and there's been countless studies that have shown how to play over
any 2 5 1 progression successfully either by arpeggiating it or using modes dorian mixo ionian or finding some other
chord that fits the context of this and the two following chords
Bb7
Ebmaj7

Ab13 - and ab13 you could arpeggiate it or play something like a c# ionian or whatever, depending on the context of that
chord and other chords around it

which brings me to the point of this ramble,
you can analyze the heck out of something and find fifty different ways or options to play over it besides the 'norm' but how can you practice figuring out what else to play besides arpeggio's and modes depending on the chord and context?


   
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lars
 lars
(@lars)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 1120
 

Interesting question
I'm not much of a jazz player so I wont attempt to answer but I'll make a few guesses before the heavy guys enter

- experience
- routine
- good ear
- melodic sense

lars

...only thing I know how to do is to keep on keepin' on...

LARS kolberg http://www.facebook.com/sangerersomfolk


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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Joined: 20 years ago
Posts: 4921
 

Just saw this post, so I thought I'd throw my hat in.

Yeah... you CAN analyze the heck out of something to find new ways to approach it. And that's really the only approach you can take:

1. Analyze a progression
2. Take what insights you learned and apply them
3. Look at the results you got - if they're good, you have something you can practice and apply. If they're not, figure out what went wrong - and repeat from step 1.

That said, there are a few really useful ways to approach progressions. I'll throw a couple of 'em at you for starting points:

1. Key of the moment. That's not the same thing as the possible keys for the chord, which is something that trips up some guitarists - keys of the moment are related to phrasing, and usually span at least a couple of measures. A good way to identify them is looking for the dominant chords. Stella by Starlight isn't exactly an easy tune to start with here, but let's give it a go.... In the chords you've posted for Stella, you've got A7 - that's going to lead (generally) to a chord rooted in D. That natural progression can have any flavor - the D could be a major type chord (authentic cadence), a minor type chord (authentic cadence based on the harmonic or melodic minor scales), or a dominant type chord (progression by secondary dominants). The next chord in the progression is Cm11, so you've got a minor sound - even though you don't have Dm, a D harmonic minor scale might work here. Now take into account that a "key of the moment" is typically going to extend over a couple measures or more - that D harmonic minor won't fly over Cm11, but it looks just dandy over the preceding chord - because it's got all four chord tones (E, G, Bb, D). This isn't something you can use on the fly - you have to study the tune a bit in advance. But with standards, you're sure to play it again - so it's a decent investment of your time.

2. Top triads. This is kind of a bebop approach to things... how can we re-work the harmony on the fly, so you're finding unexpected lines that still work well against the progression. Look at the chords as if they're voiced in root position, and consider what triad is made of the top three notes: For Em7b5, that's G-Bb-D (Gm); for A7, it's C#-E-G (C#º); Cm11 is Bb-D-F (Bb major); F7 gives you A-C-Eb (Aº) and so on. Using this, you can construct an interesting line, but you gotta do some woodshedding to apply it: you'll need to know chord spellings backwards and forwards, and you'll need to know the instrument well enough to target notes for transition.

Let's say you start out using G harmonic minor over the Em7b5, because Gm is the top triad. In that scale, only C#, D#, and E aren't in the C# diminished scale... if you avoid those notes at the chord change, you can smoothly connect to the new scale. Hit the next chord change on Bb (or even G), and you can connect to a Bb major scale, and so on.

The top triad approach won't work if you have a 6/9 chord, but those usually only happen at the very end of a progression :)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Fretsource
(@fretsource)
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Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 973
 

Let's say you start out using G harmonic minor over the Em7b5, because Gm is the top triad. In that scale, only C#, D#, and E aren't in the C# diminished scale...

As a non-jazzer, I don't quite follow that bit. Can you clarify? You're talking about the notes of G harmonic minor (GABbCDEbF#G) working over the Em7b5... fine, no problem, but why say that C# isn't in the C# dim scale? Also - would G melodic minor be a better choice as it contains E natural, which is present in the first two chords?


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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My error, Fretsource - those are the tones which don't go with the next chord (Cm11, which has C, D, and Eb)

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Fretsource
(@fretsource)
Prominent Member
Joined: 17 years ago
Posts: 973
 

My error, Fretsource - those are the tones which don't go with the next chord (Cm11, which has C, D, and Eb)
Thanks NoteBoat, that makes more sense but I'm still not clear about a couple of things. Where does the C# come from, apart from being a chord tone of A7? I mean, it's not in the G minor scale. And couldn't D# be considered Eb, which IS in the scale and also present in Cm11?

Edit - I reread your first answer and wonder if you mean that the bebop approach would be to switch scale on each chord and choose a scale that conforms to the upper triad. So you start with G minor (over the Em7b5), then C# Dim (over the A7), then you could go back to G min over the Cmin7?


   
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NoteBoat
(@noteboat)
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yes - one approach to bebop is to switch scales with chord changes. In the examples I gave I chose one scale (C# diminished) that contained the tones of the upper triad of the underlying chord A7 (A-C#-E-G).

There are a LOT of approaches you can take in jazz soloing, especially in bebop (when I think of Stella by Starlight, I always hear Charlie Parker). The bebop approach is essentially chord based, but it focuses on the extensions rather than the roots - so deriving your scales from the extended tones of the top triad is one way to get the authentic bop feel.

Guitar teacher offering lessons in Plainfield IL


   
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Dylan Schwartz
(@dylan-schwartz)
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Joined: 14 years ago
Posts: 26
 

One of the fun things about a progression like this is that you can find practically endless ways to solo over it. I've played it since my college days and I'm still finding new ways to tear it apart. It would be silly to try and squeeze a complete jazz lesson into a single post but I will throw out a few random fun ideas that I enjoy playing with:

1) Run chord pairs by taking a chord and alternating between its chord tones and the chord tones of the same chord quality one fret higher [e.g. Em7b5 and Fm7b5 arpeggios over the Em7b5 chord]. What this does is create a simple-to-execute tension/release formula. When playing the chord tones a half step up you will create tension, when playing the chord tones of the original chord you will resolve that tension.

It's an old trick but I still love it. Just don't over do it. That would sound silly and forced.

2) Do the same as above but with a second chord pair two frets up instead of one fret up.

3) Work in the chromatic passing tones between chord tones. For example, connect the Bb and the G notes of the Em7b5 progression chromatically by playing Bb, A, Ab, G. This will create a very dense type of sound. If you hang on the chromatic notes you can also generate a ton of tension.

Have fun and feel free to message me if you want more ideas to play with. Above all, get with a jazz teacher [not necessarily a guitarist] and work these ideas out in real time. It will shave years off of the learning curve.

Peace,

Dylan Schwartz [Guitar Teach in Chicago]

blog.stillstrings.com
http://www.stillstrings.com
http://www.myspace.com/buddhajones

Chicago Guitar, Bass, and Improvisation Teacher
blog.stillstrings.com
www.stillstrings.com
http://www.myspace.com/buddhajones


   
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