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  1. #1

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    I'm a mainly blues/rock guitar player who have developed an interest of more advanced chords and harmonies lately. I stumbled across this video with Jack Pearson who shortly demonstrates a harmonization of a scale. I know how to harmonize a scale in generel, but he seems to get some more colorful chords.

    Could someone point me in the direction of what the theory is behind his approach?

    He starts playing the scale at 1:32


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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    He plays (Ab major)

    x x 1 1 1 1
    x x 1 1 1 3
    x x 3 3 4 4 *
    x x 5 5 6 6
    x x 6 8 6 8

    So - all of these chords are Ab major. Basically. Jazz versions of Ab major. Lets not get too hung up the names of them. I wouldn't bother thinking about it myself - I often play chords I don't even have a good name for - I think that sort of stuff gets in the way of just doing it.

    There's not much theory here if any. What you need to know is two things - the Ab major scale along one string, and a bunch of Ab major type shapes that you can back it up with. You also probably should know which melody note is the tonic note, the 1 of the key, Ab. It's the one with the * on. That might be a bit weird at first because you are probably use to thinking about the bottom of the chord, not the top note.

    So, categorise all of these chords as 'a version of Ab major with this melody note on top. Once you collect enough of these shapes, you can start to improvise chord melodies on a given chord. A first step might be to take the chords in this example and mix them up, see what you come up with. Then, maybe transpose them to different keys, such as Bb or C.

    We might also want a whole scale. The one note in the Ab major scale that doesn't quite fit over an Ab chord is the note Db. If you notice in the video he doesn't play that note. So I'm going to skip over it.

    x x 1 1 1 1
    x x 1 1 1 3
    x x 3 3 4 4
    x x 5 5 6 6
    x x 6 8 6 8
    x x 10 10 11 11

    If you wanted to play it, you could use a diminished seventh chord. The general rule, is any note that you don't know what to do with, play a dim7. Good enough for Wes, good enough for me. Also, there's only one shape, so hey, easy.

    x x 1 1 1 1
    x x 1 1 1 3
    x x 3 3 4 4 *
    x x 5 5 6 6 *
    x x 6 8 6 8
    x x 8 9 8 9 (dim 7)
    x x 10 10 11 11 *

    Now you can play a chord behind each melody note of a tune in Ab major, right?

    Speaking of theory - this is something people getting into jazz don't expect because they see learning as learning more stuff. Often in jazz it's learning contexts. As you get to know more shapes, you are going to find shapes pop up in different guises. Look at the shapes I've marked with a * - the same right, different frets? All of them do for an Ab major in this setting. Weird, huh?

    Another example - all of these shapes would do for Fm7.

    That might bake your noodle, because I think guitarists in blues and rock often think shape = chord as a 1:1 relationship. You see C major, you play a C major shape. Jazz (and funk) players learn that shapes pop up again and again in different places.

    (Here's a hint - Fm/Ab pentatonic scale. You know the box. Look at the chords. Compare. Relate this to what you already know.)

    Above all, have fun, and play things that sound good to you.

  4. #3

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    There are parallel harmonizations of a scale. Once the first structure is chosen then the story is already
    written, each note proceeds to the next scale note.

    There are ways to present the scale as a harmonized variations of a given chord type
    (as in example above).

    There are chord pair harmonizations. Two adjacent triads cover 6 of seven notes leaving one more
    structure to finish. Two adjacent scale derived 7th chords present all 7 notes of the scale through
    inversions and have one common tone.

    Eight note scales provide two seventh chords with no common tones.

    Scales can also be harmonized combining chords drawn from multiple harmonic sources.

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by bako
    There are parallel harmonizations of a scale. Once the first structure is chosen then the story is already
    written, each note proceeds to the next scale note.

    There are ways to present the scale as a harmonized variations of a given chord type
    (as in example above).

    There are chord pair harmonizations. Two adjacent triads cover 6 of seven notes leaving one more
    structure to finish. Two adjacent scale derived 7th chords present all 7 notes of the scale through
    inversions and have one common tone.

    Eight note scales provide two seventh chords with no common tones.

    Scales can also be harmonized combining chords drawn from multiple harmonic sources.
    There is a lot in this post. A thread unto itself.

  6. #5

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    Explanations given so far are spot on. The harmonizations he showed are very common in jazz chord melodies and comping. Like Christian said they are all different ways to play Ab major 7.
    A major chord can be substituted with it's relative minor or with 3 minor. There are more but relative minor is the only substitution he uses. For Ab major that's F minor.
    Here is another way to look at them. First chord is F minor7 (Ab6), second is F min 9 (Abmaj7), third is Ab 6/9, fourth is Ab6, fifth is Fmin7 (inversion).

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Explanations given so far are spot on. The harmonizations he showed are very common in jazz chord melodies and comping. Like Christian said they are all different ways to play Ab major 7.
    A major chord can be substituted with it's relative minor or with 3 minor. There are more but relative minor is the only substitution he uses. For Ab major that's F minor.
    Here is another way to look at them. First chord is F minor7 (Ab6), second is F min 9 (Abmaj7), third is Ab 6/9, fourth is Ab6, fifth is Fmin7 (inversion).
    Sshhh

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schuster7
    I'm a mainly blues/rock guitar player who have developed an interest of more advanced chords and harmonies lately. I stumbled across this video with Jack Pearson who shortly demonstrates a harmonization of a scale. I know how to harmonize a scale in generel, but he seems to get some more colorful chords.

    Could someone point me in the direction of what the theory is behind his approach?

    He starts playing the scale at 1:32

    I'll take a shot at trying to provide some useful theory.

    I iiim vim can be considered (as tonic chords) interchangeable. That's Abmaj7, Cm7 and Fm7 in this case. You can add Ebmaj7, although it makes the statement of theory a little more complicated.

    You can usually add 6 and 9 to the major chord, an F and a Bb. Also,the major 7th, G.

    So, now, with just those little fragments of theory, what can you play at the first fret?

    xx1111 works, since it's Fm7. You can add the maj7 (thinking from Ab, not F) and get xx1113.

    If you add a Bb you can get xx1311 or xx1313.

    These will all sound like Ab tonic chords, if the bassist plays Ab. If the bass plays an F, they will sound more like Fm7, Fm11, or Fm9.

    You won't get much at the second fret, but there are options at the third fret. You've got Cm7, Abmaj7, Fm9 and more. I'd point out x36343. There are lots of variations available.

    You can go up the neck and find lots of options, just using the basic I iii vi and the added 6 nat 7 and 9.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 11-09-2019 at 04:47 PM.

  9. #8

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    Well, so far I've looked at about 12 or 13 different sites, including Wiki, to see if I'm missing something. They all, without exception, say harmonising the scale is the usual stacking of 3rds, which we all know. So C = C Dm Em F G, etc etc. No problem.

    So what Pearson is doing isn't harmonising the scale at all. He's simply finding different voicings to go underneath the Ab scale played on the 1st string. And they're not 3rds. He does it very nicely but it's not harmonising the scale.

    In fact, I'm not sure he's not voicing the Eb scale...



    And don't trust a guy with long, dirty fingernails on his fretting hand either! :-)
    Last edited by ragman1; 11-08-2019 at 11:16 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Well, so far I've looked at about 12 or 13 different sites, including Wiki, to see if I'm missing something. They all, without exception, say harmonising the scale is the usual stacking of 3rds, which we all know. So C = C Dm Em F G, etc etc. No problem.

    So what Pearson is doing isn't harmonising the scale at all. He's simply finding different voicings to go underneath the Ab scale played on the 1st string. And they're not 3rds. He does it very nicely but it's not harmonising the scale.



    And don't trust a guy with long, dirty fingernails on his fretting hand either! :-)
    That's the first thing I think of.

    The second thing is starting with a voicing and moving each note to the next one in the scale. In Cmaj, start with xx7788. I've always thought of this as harmonizing the scale in 4ths.

    For melodic minor, there's no avoid note, so you can start with any cluster of, say, 4 notes, and move that voicing up through the scale. All the resulting voicings will be, arguably, interchangeable. I got this partly from Mark Levine's book.

  11. #10

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    I know all that. By the way, are you sure that's the Ab scale he's doing? Or the Eb scale? The Db is missing so it's ambiguous.

    Just wondering.

  12. #11

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    Harmonizing a scale to me means applying intervals or chord(s) to the melodic note collection of the scale.
    It is no more required to harmonize a scale with parallel structures than it is to do so for a melody.

  13. #12

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    Harmonizing a scale to me means applying intervals or chord(s) to the melodic note collection of the scale.
    It does, but it's defined as doing it by 3rds.

    I know it can be done in 4ths, or anything you like, but that's not how it's generally understood. Which probably doesn't matter but I think we should be clear about what we're doing. I don't say eat when I mean drink, or drink when I mean eat :-)

    In any case, harmonising Ab major in 4ths would look like this:

    Ab Db G C
    Bb Eb Ab Db
    C F Bb Eb
    Db G C F
    Eb Ab Db G
    F Bb Eb Ab
    G C F Bb
    Ab Db G C

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    It does, but it's defined as doing it by 3rds.

    I know it can be done in 4ths, or anything you like, but that's not how it's generally understood. Which probably doesn't matter but I think we should be clear about what we're doing. I don't say eat when I mean drink, or drink when I mean eat :-)
    Sorry if I sounded condescending. I didn't mean to.

    What is it called when you do it in something other than thirds?

  15. #14

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    In post #3 I defined multiple approaches to harmonizing a scale.
    Although they have differences to me they all part of the same game.
    Please feel free to embrace whatever division of definition serves you well.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar

    What is it called when you do it in something other than thirds?
    No idea. Probably still harmonising but adding 'in 4ths' or whatever it is.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by bako
    Please feel free to embrace whatever division of definition serves you well.
    I tend not to do that because nobody will know what I'm talking about.

    But what Mr. Pearson is doing isn't sticking to one idea throughout. He starts with an Fm7, probably just plays the G by itself, and then plays Ab69.

    I think he's just finding nice voicings to match the scale. Which isn't the same as applying one harmonisation idea throughout. I'm not saying he should do that either, it's up to him.

  18. #17

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    Basically, I think by using the word harmonising he's confused the OP... that's about it :-)

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Schuster7

    Could someone point me in the direction of what the theory is behind his approach?
    I think it's the theory of whatever sounds good borrowed from here and there :-)

    What he's actually doing is playing a cliche. In G, that's GM7 - Am7 - G/B. But he's starting on the Em, so Em7 - F#m7b5 - GM7 - Am7 - G/B. Except he's doing it in Ab and putting the scale note on the top string.

    So Fm7 - Gm7b5 - AbM7 - Bbm7 - Ab/C. But 69's are easier to play for him (he has a wrist mobility problem) so it's

    Fm7 - (note G) - Ab69 - Bb69 (ambiguously minor) - Ab6 inversion with Ab root and C on top (xx6868).

    So nothing's being 'harmonised', he's just playing certain voicings under the scale notes, that's all. Like all players do. The reason it sounds 'cool' is because those 69 (quartal) sounds are being introduced. Otherwise it's the usual thing.

    (Which he does very nicely, by the way, I'm not putting him down one little bit).

  20. #19

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    I don't really care how other sources define harmonizing scales. It's not like there is an authoritative source on the term. But to me it's not a term, it's a description and that's exactly what he is doing in the video.
    This is harmonizing scales in the sense that one would harmonize a melody. There are no strict rules like you have to use stack of 3rds when you're harmonizing a melody. Here he is taking the scale as the melody. You can harmonize a scale note with a major 9th chord where the 9 is the melody or using quartal harmony or just with 6th interval etc. etc.
    I think that's the skill that's more relevant to real life chord melody harmonization.

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    So nothing's being 'harmonised', he's just playing certain voicings under the scale notes, that's all. Like all players do. The reason it sounds 'cool' is because those 69 (quartal) sounds are being introduced. Otherwise it's the usual thing.
    Of course it is. Everytime you play a chord you're harmonizing a melody note. Otherwise comping would be just jumping around. Listen to good compers, they are playing a melody.

  22. #21

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    You're giving a wider meaning to the word harmonising. That's fine, but what most people mean is creating chords from a scale by stacking notes, the most general way being in 3rds. Western music is tertiary. Of course it can be done differently, like using 4ths or 5ths, but that's an alternative method used to produce certain effects. If all our music was only harmonised in 4ths it wouldn't be that pleasant. We'd be back in the Middle Ages or something.

    Every skilled chord melody arrangement uses different colours - and the occasional discord - to make it interesting and attractive to the ear. But when talking about harmonisation generally it means what we said, creating chords from notes in the scale, usually by 3rds. This is indisputable.


  23. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Well, so far I've looked at about 12 or 13 different sites, including Wiki, to see if I'm missing something. They all, without exception, say harmonising the scale is the usual stacking of 3rds, which we all know. So C = C Dm Em F G, etc etc. No problem.

    So what Pearson is doing isn't harmonising the scale at all. He's simply finding different voicings to go underneath the Ab scale played on the 1st string. And they're not 3rds. He does it very nicely but it's not harmonising the scale.

    In fact, I'm not sure he's not voicing the Eb scale...



    And don't trust a guy with long, dirty fingernails on his fretting hand either! :-)
    This is silly.

    What would you call it then? The thing from the OP? The thing we all understand and are talking about it? Give it a name.

    Oh, and furthermore, whatever name you decide upon has to be verifiable as a musical "thing" from other credible courses such as Wikipedia or else it's not legitimate.

    Go.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 11-09-2019 at 10:56 AM.

  24. #23
    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    You're giving a wider meaning to the word harmonising. That's fine, but what most people mean is creating chords from a scale by stacking notes, the most general way being in 3rds. Western music is tertiary. Of course it can be done differently, like using 4ths or 5ths, but that's an alternative method used to produce certain effects. If all our music was only harmonised in 4ths it wouldn't be that pleasant. We'd be back in the Middle Ages or something.

    Every skilled chord melody arrangement uses different colours - and the occasional discord - to make it interesting and attractive to the ear. But when talking about harmonisation generally it means what we said, creating chords from notes in the scale, usually by 3rds. This is indisputable.

    If we're going to be engaging in Wikipedia fascism , then try Googling "harmonize a melody" . See if it yields only harmonizing melody notes with diatonic thirds stacked under them the way you're talking about. That's not what "harmonizing " means.
    Last edited by matt.guitarteacher; 11-09-2019 at 10:24 AM.

  25. #24

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    Quote Originally Posted by ragman1
    Well, so far I've looked at about 12 or 13 different sites, including Wiki, to see if I'm missing something. They all, without exception, say harmonising the scale is the usual stacking of 3rds, which we all know. So C = C Dm Em F G, etc etc. No problem.

    So what Pearson is doing isn't harmonising the scale at all. He's simply finding different voicings to go underneath the Ab scale played on the 1st string. And they're not 3rds. He does it very nicely but it's not harmonising the scale.

    In fact, I'm not sure he's not voicing the Eb scale...



    And don't trust a guy with long, dirty fingernails on his fretting hand either! :-)
    If a chord is harmony and you play a chord (any chord) under a melody note then it seems to me you are harmonizing the melody. What else could you possibly call it? I don't understand your position at all.

    “It ain't what you don’t know that gets you into trouble, it’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so.” Mark Twain.

  26. #25

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    You're all going bananas!

    I said the definition of 'harmonising the scale' (which is what was originally said) is stacking in 3rds. I've already said I googled it. No less than 13 sites said the same, including Wiki. It was never about 'harmonising a melody'.

    I've already said that harmonising a melody, as in chord melody arrangements, meant using whatever sounds you want (see #21).

    I also said, which I think you're missing, is that the OP (where is he?) was getting confused between the two because Pearson said 'harmonising the scale'. The OP already knew about the 3rds stuff but he said he thought Pearson was using different chords and sounds and he wanted to understand that.

    Jack Pearson who shortly demonstrates a harmonization of a scale. I know how to harmonize a scale in generel, but he seems to get some more colorful chords.
    That's all, it's all very simple :-)