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  1. #1

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    Greetings,

    I'm new to the topic and am seeking some advice when it gets to ...

    balancing how much chordal vs single note playing
    technique ideas for making chords stand out less than single notes. For example the Bb to C chromatism at bar 7 is played on high E string, struggle to make this heard evenly with G half dim on beat 1 bar 8.

    Of course, further comments and suggestions welcome ...

    Thanks!
    Last edited by raal; 08-10-2020 at 03:55 PM. Reason: adding video icon

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    I think that is a fairly rare and obscure tune, which I like and know from Miles' group record from the 50s.
    So it wouldn't surprise me if folks here who don't know it might not realize how really well you've got it.

    The characteristic stops and starts are hard enough with or without a drummer; and they make the balance equation more difficult. The melody seems to want to "stay going" and lead the re-entry after the stops, fine for trumpet, but certainly a challenge for guitar wanting to include chords.

    I play with with a pick exclusively, so I would probably emphasize melody and do chords sparingly; for your approach I'll defer to those here that play with their fingers. That's a different world. I'm just glad your doing this cool tune!

  4. #3
    Thanks for the encouraging comment. Glad you're recognizing the Golson/Davis version in spite of slowing it down 40 bpm! Having a click on afterbeat and a bass track helped locking it down, though through multiple flush and repeat lol. I take your idea of playing chords sparingly as excellent advice regardless of right hand technique .

  5. #4

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    You seem to be using some quite difficult ‘stretchy’ chord voicings, I would go for shapes that are more compact and easier to play.

    That bar 8 bit I would put the melody on the 2nd string perhaps, i.e.

    x 10 11 10 13 x
    moving to
    8 x 8 9 x x

    this way the melody sits better in the chord shapes, for me.

    Quite a tough tune to harmonise though!

    I have played it before, maybe I’ll have a look at it later and see what chord voicings I would use for the whole tune.
    Last edited by grahambop; 07-18-2020 at 03:31 PM.

  6. #5

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    For me personally, all of my favorite guitar players don't harmonize every melody note when playing chord melody or trio stuff. I like to grab a note or 2 below when it feels natural to do so depending on the phrasing of a given melody. This melody to my ear doesn't really lend itself to a ton of harmonizing but does have natural breathing points that give one a good opportunity to throw in a chord. Also when there's written counterpoint in the case of this melody I like to snag that when I can if it feels right to play.

    Here's kind of an off the cuff way I might play this melody with a trio. It's nothing ground breaking but just give's some context to what I'm talking about.


  7. #6
    Cool. Thanks for the illustration. I can see this approach work great for the B section and bars 10-14 of the A section. In bars 1-9 horns and rhythm sections play a delightful call and response and there I'm not sure there's a way around hitting the chords to emulate the rhythm section.

  8. #7
    @graham - Yes, definetely a viable option. Caught in the act of not taking full advantage of the instrument range . In this particular scenario I would go from G half dim x x11 10 13 x to C7 x 13 10 9 x x and then there enough of a rest to shift back to position 3 for the bossa part of the A section. Great strategy to mitigate the weak E string syndrome.

  9. #8

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    I went through the tune and came up with some voicings I might use for a chord-melody or solo guitar approach. This is probably a bit too cluttered, I would maybe ditch some of the chords or leave the root off. Also I would have to play it at Miles’ tempo rather than Benny’s!

    Balancing Chords with Melody - Stablemates example-0a44afbd-9239-4fb2-a9e9-5a5eb2f4e3c9-jpg

  10. #9
    Thanks Graham. Here's for reference, what's played in the video. Lot of similarities and perhaps a few minor differences, just tried to stick to the rule highest pitch = melody note, omitted the roots throughout for obvious reasons. Aebersold transcription.

    Sorry android won't let me go to full view.
    Attached Images Attached Images Balancing Chords with Melody - Stablemates example-20200718_192922-jpg 
    Last edited by raal; 07-19-2020 at 12:15 AM.

  11. #10

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    Id say focus on learning to play the arrangement relaxedly and fluently and work on the placement of the accents and hits, especially the ones on upbeats. Your timing isn’t quite right for some of these, feels a bit uncertain.

    theres no rules on how many chords to use. In general, with a bass you need to use a few less than in a solo arrangement, but IMO it’s always the time and groove that sells it.

    the fact that you are not yet 100% comfortable playing your arrangement for me shows up in the way you play the chords as well... sort of short and snatched.

    the duration of the chord is just important in making the music swing as where it starts. Just listen to Wes.

    so, it usually takes me a week or two of practice (or more) to get a new arrangement under my fingers well enough to record it. You could always lose a few chords if it’s too hard. Probably I’d just put chords on the main hits and so on, personally.
    Last edited by christianm77; 07-19-2020 at 07:34 AM.

  12. #11
    @christian, thanks for the comments.

    As for A section I'm wondering whether the note duration comment applies more to the horn line played as octaves than the chords. My perception the rhythm response chords are long enough but not the last note of the horn line (which in the recording and transcription last 3 beats). So in order to "fake" the horn line, one would sustain the horn note at the end of bar 2, 3 and 4 as much as possible while still getting to the response chord on the "and" of bar 3, 4, 5 beat 1. Sounds right?

    Does the note placement comment apply to the G to Ab and Bb to B notes at the end of bars 5 and 7?

  13. #12

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  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by raal
    @christian, thanks for the comments.

    As for A section I'm wondering whether the note duration comment applies more to the horn line played as octaves than the chords. My perception the rhythm response chords are long enough but not the last note of the horn line (which in the recording and transcription last 3 beats). So in order to "fake" the horn line, one would sustain the horn note at the end of bar 2, 3 and 4 as much as possible while still getting to the response chord on the "and" of bar 3, 4, 5 beat 1. Sounds right?
    No you are right, it absolutely does. The whole thing sounded a bit rushed and snatched but I listened closer and its the melody. You are obviously keen to finger the chords so have to move off the melody note before it has its time.

    ATM you are robbing the melody to pay for the response chords. In an ideal world you would pay both, but if you have to choose, always favour the melody.

    So, I wasn't planning to work up an arrangement of this tune, but I had a quick blat through it, and it's pretty straight forward to play the main melody notes on top of the chords as standard guitar grips. The melody is pretty much all chord tones.

    So I would practice playing the melody in single notes and then fingering the relevant note (so the Ab on top of that Dbmaj7 chord, and so on) as part of a chord where necessary. Play the single note, but prepare your hand to play the chord a moment later.

    So - if you play the shape 9 x 10 10 9 x for instance, the melody note will be on the second finger right? Weird!

    If you simplify the shape to a rootless x x 10 10 9 x you have the option of using the first or second finger... so a little more flexibility. Also you could use x x 8 8 9 x and use your third or fourth finger, and so on. There's actually loads of options to make things easier.

    This is a very helpful technique for connecting everything to together. It might seem awkward at first, but it becomes easier with practice.

    With octaves - it's obviously not possible to do this much, but you could still get more smoothness if you got on top of the technical challenges. It just sounds like it's hard to play atm (which is because it is haha.)

    In general for trio playing I only use octaves for special emphasis. But that's me. You might be able to make it work.

    Personally, I keep it simple. So you can get away with two or three note grips and so on. It's better you play simpler voicings smack in time than more complex voicings and it be a struggle.

    Listen to the trio masters, Barney Kessell and Kenny Burrell.. Even modern guys like Kurt keep it simple...

    Does the note placement comment apply to the G to Ab and Bb to B notes at the end of bars 5 and 7?
    Yeah the whole thing is a bit unsettled rhythmically. Practice with the record would be my advice.

    Time is the glue that sticks everything together and makes it sound bigger. The number of notes you play at any one time is actually much less important.
    Last edited by christianm77; 07-19-2020 at 06:35 PM.

  15. #14

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    I'm discussing solo playing here, but I talk about the technique in the first part of the video:


  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77

    So I would practice playing the melody in single notes and then fingering the relevant note (so the Ab on top of that Dbmaj7 chord, and so on) as part of a chord where necessary. Play the single note, but prepare your hand to play the chord a moment later.

    So - if you play the shape 9 x 10 10 9 x for instance, the melody note will be on the second finger right? Weird!

    If you simplify the shape to a rootless x x 10 10 9 x you have the option of using the first or second finger... so a little more flexibility. Also you could use x x 8 8 9 x and use your third or fourth finger, and so on. There's actually loads of options to make things easier.

    This is a very helpful technique for connecting everything to together. It might seem awkward at first, but it becomes easier with practice.
    Thanks for the break down Christian. What would be new to me is first internalize the melody single notes and THEN add chords so I'll give that a shot.