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  1. #1

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    In a recent interview Pat Metheny said the tune Falling Grace was very influential for him in terms of seeing harmony differently than it's traditionally employed in standards and Tin Pan Alley tunes. The tune came up in relation to slash chords but other examples of modern elements in that tune were also discussed.

    What are examples of other important contemporary compositions that introduced modern harmonic elements? I'm looking for things like constants structures, harmonized bass lines, common tone progressions, non-functional progressions, 12 tone harmony, vamps, unusual chords etc as vehicles for improvisation. I guess many of the compositions by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter would be in this category.


    I'm not asking about a list of cool contemporary tunes. I'm looking for examples of tunes that give context to at least one modern harmonic concept. For example So What is a seminal example of the use of modal harmony as a vehicle for improvisation.

    If you suggest a tune, please also mention the modern harmonic element you believe the tune exemplifies.

    Edit: Please feel free to treat this thread also as a general discussion of post-bop harmony. What I mean above is, if you do suggest a tune(s), please also mention what element of the modern harmony the tune exemplifies.
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-22-2021 at 07:22 PM.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2
    As a side note, I think there is a general bias in this forum towards jazz before 60's (including myself) at least in terms of the content produced. I wonder why?

  4. #3

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    90s acid jazz and drum and bass music?

    Maybe tangential, but quite a lot of non functional harmony in early Jamiroquai. Clearly drawing a lot from 70s jazz/funk esp Herbie stuff like Thrust and Man Child as well as Stevie etc. A lot of it is pentatonic melody over non functional chords written from the bass line, not unlike some Blue Note era Wayne.

    their Later stuff is less interesting to me.





    Arguably this kind of writing being in the popular sphere helped popularise it beyond the immediate jazz world. That said not sure how much of an influence it had.

    Goldie’s stuff sounded influenced by Metheny to me. He does love Metheny. You can write this stuff without knowing theory if you can hear it. Imagine this tune as a fusion straight 8’s thing.


  5. #4

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    Here’s a Rihanna cut with some (to my ears) ‘non functional’ harmony in the chorus

  6. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    As a side note, I think there is a general bias in this forum towards jazz before 60's (including myself) at least in terms of the content produced. I wonder why?
    Is this a serious question?

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    Is this a serious question?
    Yes. In my case, bebop and standards are great educational sources, not just for jazz but for contemporary popular music. Great way to learn about harmony, arrangement, composition and improvisation. I also love the genre. But the jazz music that came after (post-bop), in my view, represent musicians pursuing individual creative paths. That spirit speaks to me more as a player.

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    Yes. In my case, bebop and standards are great educational sources, not just for jazz but for contemporary popular music. Great way to learn about harmony, arrangement, composition and improvisation. I also love the genre. But the jazz music that came after (post-bop), in my view, represent musicians pursuing individual creative paths. That spirit speaks to me more as a player.
    I mean the level of disinterest on this forum regarding any jazz or any music at all for that matter on the last thirty years? Self explanatory I would have thought.

    I would say - there’s two sides to this topic.

    First is ‘how do I solo on this allegedly random collection of chord symbols’: most verbiage on this topic is really based around this. Mostly people will talk about chord scales. Which is to say a long winded way of saying ‘play the chords.’

    The more interesting side of it for me is ‘how was this thing written?’ - it’s fun to explore theories on that even if they are wrong lol because they will help you develop your own shit. I also find that exploring that including the way the composers themselves address the issue of improvising on their own tunes is a more interesting way into the first question than the one size fits all approach from a theory text.

    Functional harmony is a difficult topic to talk about in that it essentially functions in academia as a way of understanding/justifying harmonic choices including those which may be very far from conventional tonal progressions, while jazz musicians normally use it to mean ‘ii V I’s and shit’. To the academic, Wayne Shorter’s progressions may be understood functionally in some way, while the jazz player maybe thinking ‘this isn’t Tea for Two what the hell do play on it? It’s non-functional harmony!’

    I’m not sure functional harmony in either sense tells you a whole lot about the way harmony, particularly beautiful, interesting, moving harmony is actually written as opposed to simply picking chord symbols out of a hat or something (though that can get the creative juices flowing). I think a lot of the time contrapuntal thinking is more helpful. And counterpoint starts with the melody/bass relationship (that’s true of the Jamiroquai examples, I’m not talking about Palestrina here!)

    As an extension of this I’m not sure there is a real divide between functional and non functional harmony. I also don’t really care.

  9. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    To the academic, Wayne Shorter’s progressions may be understood functionally in some way, while the jazz player maybe thinking ‘this isn’t Tea for Two what the hell do play on it? It’s non-functional harmony!
    This probably won't interest you, but here is a chord symbol centric analysis of Wayne Shorter tunes:
    https://music.arts.uci.edu/abauer/3....0-JMT_49.2.pdf
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-22-2021 at 01:32 PM.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    This probably won't interest you, but here is a chord symbol centric analysis if Wayne Shorter tunes:
    https://music.arts.uci.edu/abauer/3....0-JMT_49.2.pdf
    I’ll take a squint at it, if only to decide how much I disagree with it.

    That’s research right? ;-)

    EDIT: at a glance there are some things I like already about this paper, actually.

  11. #10

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    Hi Tal_175, Christian,

    Great question and I enjoyed hearing Pat tell Rick Beato that he still plays Falling Grace in 12 keys.

    Keith Water's recent book Postbop Jazz in the 1960s: The Compositions of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea (Oxford University Press, 2019) also references Steven Strunk (alongside many others) and goes deeply into how such 'post-songbook' jazz compositions work. Waters closely examines three tunes by each of the three named composers
    (including 'Pinocchio', 'Dolphin Dance', and 'Windows') plus tunes by Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, and Booker Little, giving detailed harmonic, melodic, and structural analyses. There's a substantial academic review of the book, by Ben Baker, here:
    MTO 26.3: Baker, Review of Keith Waters, Postbop Jazz in the 1960s

    Kind regards

    Mick W

  12. #11
    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Wright
    Hi Tal_175, Christian,

    Great question and I enjoyed hearing Pat tell Rick Beato that he still plays Falling Grace in 12 keys.

    Keith Water's recent book Postbop Jazz in the 1960s: The Compositions of Wayne Shorter, Herbie Hancock, and Chick Corea (Oxford University Press, 2019) also references Steven Strunk (alongside many others) and goes deeply into how such 'post-songbook' jazz compositions work. Waters closely examines three tunes by each of the three named composers
    (including 'Pinocchio', 'Dolphin Dance', and 'Windows') plus tunes by Joe Henderson, Woody Shaw, and Booker Little, giving detailed harmonic, melodic, and structural analyses. There's a substantial academic review of the book, by Ben Baker, here:
    MTO 26.3: Baker, Review of Keith Waters, Postbop Jazz in the 1960s

    Kind regards

    Mick W
    I ordered it already. I can't resist books.

  13. #12

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    It won’t suppose you when I say I’ll probably give it a pass from the review.

    Looks like musicology to me. The type of ‘understanding post bop using functional harmony’; which is a musicological trip, which is to say it’s about understanding music more than showing how to do it.

    tbh I don’t even think functional harmony is that helpful for writing in the style of say, Mozart, let alone post modal jazz… you can name the every function and pass your exam, but can you write a minuet?

    Maybe I’m being unfair but I think there’s plenty of info out on chords, somewhat less in the jazz sphere of how to write a coherent piece of music. Metheny’s comments on melody (he’s actually also talking about FORM) are incredibly important. If you want a book on THIS topic get Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘fundamentals of musical composition’, which talks mostly about how to write structured melodies like Happy Birthday, or a minuet, or a jazz standard. it’s a hands-on how-to guide, not a theory tract.

    (he obviously approaches it from the perspective of the German concert tradition, but these lessons are universal to Western music.)

    Then write a bass line (‘second melody’ Schoenberg) and go from there. Again, Pat demonstrates this incredibly well, playing James in two parts.

    (Then you have Kenny Wheeler who was formally trained in composition, Herbie also had lessons. The standards were largely written by trained composers too. Pat seems to have learned these principles informally otoh)

    Harmony becomes a by product of these principles. It strikes me composers often talk less about harmony than jazz improvisers; harmony is but one consideration of many. In the end, harmony is often something you hang on a structure; I don’t want to say it’s purely superficial, but it’s not necessarily the organising principle of music. (Again Metheny’s comments about playing with Charlie Haden are revealing.)

    Melody can be much more of an organising factor. For example, Zhivago is highly motivic and to me is a story told about the interval of a whole tone. Kurt probably learned this way of approaching music from Metheny, although he also name checks Brahms. (and Schoenberg, Brahms’s super fan in the time of Wagnerism.) this type of thinking is also terribly important to Brad Mehldau. Another Brahmsian.

    But you don’t need to read Schoenberg or anyone else to know this… you do need to pay attention to it. when it comes down to it I’d rather spend my limited time with the recordings. I’ve learned a tremendous amount this way.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 08-22-2021 at 05:33 AM.

  14. #13
    I agree with you generally. I think internalization of a musical concept is mainly achieved by listening, experimentation and paying attention. That's why I was mainly curious about seminal tunes in the OP. I don't see music books as a significant component. You can learn ideas from books, but you can also learn them from the records. But good books help me with the mental organization of a concept as the basis for the experimentation process. Mainly though, I buy music books because I like books and reading in general.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Miller
    If you want a book on THIS topic get Arnold Schoenberg’s ‘fundamentals of musical composition’, which talks mostly about how to write structured melodies like Happy Birthday, or a minuet, or a jazz standard. it’s a hands-on how-to guide, not a theory tract.
    I searched for the book "fundamentals of musical composition". It's hard to find the vintage version. There are a lot of '67 reissue's (published in 1999)
    But the original might be public domain already:
    https://monoskop.org/images/d/da/Sch...ion_no_OCR.pdf
    Last edited by Tal_175; 08-22-2021 at 07:29 AM.

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    I searched for the book "fundamentals of musical composition". It's hard to find the vintage version. There are a lot of '67 reissue's (published in 1999)
    But the original might be public domain already:
    https://monoskop.org/images/d/da/Sch...ion_no_OCR.pdf
    Basically I think Schoenberg’s ideas form the basis of many composition syllabuses. His ideas such as the structure of the musical sentence were highly influential on US teaching IIRC.

    Sentence (music) - Wikipedia

    Period (music) - Wikipedia

    Which is interesting, because AFAIK he was more or less self taught apart from a couple of lessons with Zelminsky.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    In a recent interview Pat Metheny said the tune Falling Grace was very influential for him in terms of seeing harmony differently than it's traditionally employed in standards and Tin Pan Alley tunes. The tune came up in relation to slash chords but other examples of modern elements in that tune were also discussed.

    What are examples of other important contemporary compositions that introduced modern harmonic elements? I'm looking for things like constants structures, harmonized bass lines, common tone progressions, non-functional progressions, 12 tone harmony, vamps, unusual chords etc as vehicles for improvisation. I guess many of compositions by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter would be in this category.


    I'm not asking about a list of cool contemporary tunes. I'm looking for examples of tunes that give context to at least one modern harmonic concept. For example So What is a seminal example of the use of modal harmony as a vehicle for improvisation.

    If you suggest a tune, please also mention the modern harmonic element you believe the tune exemplifies.

    Edit: Of course please feel free to treat this thread as a general discussion of post-bop harmony. What I mean above is, if you do suggest a tune(s), please also mention what element of the modern harmony the tune exemplifies.
    There are tunes that kind of go in a sequence of vamps often in quartal harmony or slash chords, often with a feeling of the tune going around in a circle chasing its own tail without a clear "here's a cadence marking the end of the form." I'm probably wrong about this, but I think Joe Zawinul as the seminal figure in that style of writing. There are hints of it as early as Mercy Mercy Mercy, and it's all through Weather Report and his solo work. A tune like Young and Fine (Weather Report, Mr. Gone) is kind of the apotheosis of it, and I hear its in a lot of compositions by prominent figures in fusiony music from the mid 70s on, e.g., Micheal Brecker/Steps Ahead, Stern, even Steely Dan, or a tune like Strasbourg St. Denis.

  18. #17

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    So this is a cool topic... I've tried to work with some contemporary ensembles performing contemporary music and it's generally a tough road. While fun for good players etc... never pays the bills. Unless yo want to go schmooze etc... (which I've done LOL).

    What Notes
    How they interact
    What note(s) have more weight or control of the interactions
    The rest and movement thing...
    What controls the Form

    Kurt Elling composed some cool tunes...The beauty Of All Things
    Florian Ross...By Any Means Necessary
    Vince Mendozq Chairs and Children
    Amina Figarova Come Escape With Me
    BILLY CHILDS Dreams etc... there are many, Memory and Desire, Midland, Billy's a monster
    Ralph Towner...I'll Remember August
    Phil Markowitz...In the Woods
    Alan Pasqua...Mr. Softee

    I'm just pulling tunes from one of my older bands

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    This probably won't interest you, but here is a chord symbol centric analysis of Wayne Shorter tunes:
    https://music.arts.uci.edu/abauer/3....0-JMT_49.2.pdf
    I'm interested, but I couldn't bring myself to decode it. '

    Here's an excerpt:

    "In most cases, one of the chords is clearly a nonfunctional neighbor to
    the other.8
    “Deluge” (Table 3a), in E? minor, has E?m7 F?maj7 E?m7, a
    characteristic phrygian-mode progression, as a vamp introduction that
    continues through its first seven measures. “El Gaucho” (Example 1),
    mm. 5–8, has two statements of this progression on its F-minor tonic.
    The same progression appears four times on a C-minor tonic in the first
    eight measures of “Speak No Evil” (Table 3b), which also presents two
    statements (mm. 11–14) of A7-5 B?m7, a nonfunctional, nondiatonic
    progression. The A7-5 is a surface elaboration acting as an accented
    neighbor chord to the B?m7 chord, which itself is a neighbor chord moving from and returning to tonic Cm7. However, leading into the bridge,
    the B?m7 acts as a passing chord, initiating a stepwise octave descent in
    the bass, part of a wedge-shaped progression leading back to the opening
    C-minor tonic (Example 2).9
    The penultimate chord of the bass passing
    motion is D?maj7, the neighbor chord used in the vamplike first eight
    measures. “Iris” (Table 2c), when interpreted in F minor, ends on a minor
    dominant chord (Cm7) prolonged by two applications of an upper neighbor substitute dominant as a suffix: Cm7 D?7 Cm7 D?7. The last of these (SNIP, but it continues).


    This seems more descriptive (in an arcane way) than prescriptive or explanatory. I need to know what the author means by "wedge shaped progression", "upper neighbor substitute dominant" (well, that one I can guess), "surface elaboration" and way A7b5 and Bbm7 are "non functional, non diatonic" when A7 is a tritone sub for Eb7, which makes this a reharmonized ii V in Ab.

    I think the OP asked a well-crafted question. What are the seminal tunes where we can trace the development of a shift in harmony?

  20. #19

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    Good evening everyone,
    Many thanks for the smorgasbord of ideas, Christian — and I really enjoyed the Goldie track, it's been a while since I heard him.

    Yes, 'how to write (or improvise) a coherent piece of music' certainly does get neglected in the literature. At its best, musicology will hopefully show the listener, composer, or performer insights that facilitate better listening, or writing, or playing. I'll slide another music theory/analysis book into the mix ... You might already know Dmitri Tymoczko's A Geometry of Music: Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice (OUP 2011)? He follows an 'alternative narrative' connecting the chromaticism of late 19th century classical music with the musics of today that are 'neither classically tonal nor completely atonal'. He also suggests that we perhaps take the differences between improvised and notated musics a little too seriously. In his chapter dealing specifically with jazz he argues that jazz 'synthesizes the contrapuntal preoccupations of late 19th century romanticism with the scale-based procedures of early 20th century modernism, creating a contemporary 'common practice'.' I like this argument and it feels as if he pulls a lot of different threads together.
    Also, Christian, you mentioned 'Zhivago ... and the interval of a whole tone' - could you say a little more about this, please?
    Finally, Tal_175 - we'll get down to naming some 'seminal tunes from the last 30 years that give context to at least one modern harmonic concept' soon. Pat's 'Better Days Ahead' (1991) just squeezes into this time limit, and I'd say that this composition takes the counterpoint and zigzag cadences of Steve Swallow's (mid-60s) 'Falling Grace', plus, maybe, some of Hermeto Pascoal's ideas, further still.
    All the best, Mick W

  21. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by Tal_175
    In a recent interview Pat Metheny said the tune Falling Grace was very influential for him in terms of seeing harmony differently than it's traditionally employed in standards and Tin Pan Alley tunes. The tune came up in relation to slash chords but other examples of modern elements in that tune were also discussed.

    What are examples of other important contemporary compositions that introduced modern harmonic elements? I'm looking for things like constants structures, harmonized bass lines, common tone progressions, non-functional progressions, 12 tone harmony, vamps, unusual chords etc as vehicles for improvisation. I guess many of the compositions by Herbie Hancock, Wayne Shorter would be in this category.


    [/I]Edit: Of course please feel free to treat this thread as a general discussion of post-bop harmony. What I mean above is, if you do suggest a tune(s), please also mention what element of the modern harmony the tune exemplifies.
    I can't really answer the OP's question. But, I'll add a comment.

    The harmony in Falling Grace reminds me of the harmony in some other more modern tunes (for want of a better descriptor).

    There are ii V's, but they don't necessarily begin or resolve in what was once the conventional way.

    Instead the harmony includes harmonic adjustments and key changes which a TPA composer in the 30's would have found to be unfamiliar. He would have made the first chord Am7b5 instead of Abmaj7, which is a half step change in the bass. The D7 would have had a b13. The Gm might not have immediately given way to a short ii V I in Eb. Then back to Gm for a moment and eventually to a ii V I in F, give or take an adjustment in chord quality. Like other "modern" harmony, there is a way of finding ii Vs but they aren't iim7 V7 and they don't always go to the predictable keys.

    Toninho Horta employs some vaguely similar devices. He's worth studying IMO because he has his own harmonic palette, does it on conventional guitar and even has arrangements of American standards which he makes sound like his own compositions. Check out Mountain Flight for a song which looks simple because of all the ii Vs but is difficult because of the key changes.

    To my ear, it's driven by melody and harmonized afterward without thinking about theory. Toninho does not teach theory and, if I understood him in a group lesson I took, he doesn't recommend it. I'd speculate that he might think that, if he knew too much theory, it would be harder to follow his own instincts. He's a genius -- what is a good idea for him might not be so good for mere mortals.

    Hermeto can be even more obscure. Listen to the piano and voice with Elis Regina at Montreaux where they do Girl From Ipanema. You could add "goes to outer space harmonically" to that title.

    Andre Mehmari is another Brazilian whose harmonic conception won't look familiar to most American jazz musicians.
    Last edited by rpjazzguitar; 08-22-2021 at 07:21 PM.

  22. #21

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    "...I'm not asking about a list of cool contemporary tunes. I'm looking for examples of tunes that give context to at least one modern harmonic concept. For example So What is a seminal example of the use of modal harmony as a vehicle for improvisation.

    If you suggest a tune, please also mention the modern harmonic element you believe the tune exemplifies.

    Edit: Of course please feel free to treat this thread as a general discussion of post-bop harmony. What I mean above is, if you do suggest a tune(s), please also mention what element of the modern harmony the tune exemplifies. "


    for me I think of non-functional harmony (dont like the term) as conceptional harmony..that is..the composer created a piece and used harmonic lines or chords that
    worked for them--its sounds good..it worked as an experiment..that approach..not following a set of directives from diatonic or other formulas.

    "modern" depends on who is defining the term .. in context a Gregorian chant could be heard as modern..

    there is a certain "feel" in compositions that I am attracted to ..that holds my attention..its a soft but very powerful use of melodic/harmonic relation

    In the Metheny interview..his mention of Gary Burton having been an important part of his musical growth and there for me is a nexus of musicians
    that compose music that comes from a "inner voice" that is beyond any theoretical following.

    works by Miles/Evans..Swallow/Carla Bley/Scofield..Gary Burton and Chick Corea and many others

    some tunes that I fell are related in this outlook:

    Blue in Green
    All Blues
    Flamenco Sketches
    Lawns (Carla Bley)
    Kieth Jarrett .. alot of his work

    and many of the compositions of the above named artists and others that have created tunes that do not followed any map



  23. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I'm interested, but I couldn't bring myself to decode it. '

    Here's an excerpt:

    "In most cases, one of the chords is clearly a nonfunctional neighbor to
    the other.8
    “Deluge” (Table 3a), in E? minor, has E?m7 F?maj7 E?m7, a
    characteristic phrygian-mode progression, as a vamp introduction that
    continues through its first seven measures. “El Gaucho” (Example 1),
    mm. 5–8, has two statements of this progression on its F-minor tonic.
    The same progression appears four times on a C-minor tonic in the first
    eight measures of “Speak No Evil” (Table 3b), which also presents two
    statements (mm. 11–14) of A7-5 B?m7, a nonfunctional, nondiatonic
    progression. The A7-5 is a surface elaboration acting as an accented
    neighbor chord to the B?m7 chord, which itself is a neighbor chord moving from and returning to tonic Cm7. However, leading into the bridge,
    the B?m7 acts as a passing chord, initiating a stepwise octave descent in
    the bass, part of a wedge-shaped progression leading back to the opening
    C-minor tonic (Example 2).9
    The penultimate chord of the bass passing
    motion is D?maj7, the neighbor chord used in the vamplike first eight
    measures. “Iris” (Table 2c), when interpreted in F minor, ends on a minor
    dominant chord (Cm7) prolonged by two applications of an upper neighbor substitute dominant as a suffix: Cm7 D?7 Cm7 D?7. The last of these (SNIP, but it continues).


    This seems more descriptive (in an arcane way) than prescriptive or explanatory. I need to know what the author means by "wedge shaped progression", "upper neighbor substitute dominant" (well, that one I can guess), "surface elaboration" and way A7b5 and Bbm7 are "non functional, non diatonic" when A7 is a tritone sub for Eb7, which makes this a reharmonized ii V in Ab.

    I think the OP asked a well-crafted question. What are the seminal tunes where we can trace the development of a shift in harmony?
    I can help with one of those: Wedge shaped progression is one in which the melody and bass move in (chromatic) contrary motion

    Omnibus progression - Wikipedia

    The author was probably talking about the bridge if Speak no Evil which isn’t totally chromatic but has the same general shape. Also it isn’t actually very ‘non functional’ in the jazz sense (that is it’s all 2 5 1) which I imagine is probably where the A7 came up?

    I find it fun, if challenging, to practice this type of voice leading on the guitar.

  24. #23

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mick Wright
    Good evening everyone,
    Many thanks for the smorgasbord of ideas, Christian — and I really enjoyed the Goldie track, it's been a while since I heard him.

    Yes, 'how to write (or improvise) a coherent piece of music' certainly does get neglected in the literature. At its best, musicology will hopefully show the listener, composer, or performer insights that facilitate better listening, or writing, or playing. I'll slide another music theory/analysis book into the mix ... You might already know Dmitri Tymoczko's A Geometry of Music: Harmony and Counterpoint in the Extended Common Practice (OUP 2011)? He follows an 'alternative narrative' connecting the chromaticism of late 19th century classical music with the musics of today that are 'neither classically tonal nor completely atonal'. He also suggests that we perhaps take the differences between improvised and notated musics a little too seriously. In his chapter dealing specifically with jazz he argues that jazz 'synthesizes the contrapuntal preoccupations of late 19th century romanticism with the scale-based procedures of early 20th century modernism, creating a contemporary 'common practice'.' I like this argument and it feels as if he pulls a lot of different threads together.
    Thanks!

    Possibly. I think that’s simplistic and a little bit Eurocentric - there’s some fascinating musicology done on the sub Saharan influence on jazz harmony. In any case, Jazz isn’t defined by its harmonic resources so much as how it deploys them, for me. (The process of improvisation changes everything.)

    That does look interesting. Having looked as a little of his work, I have to say it looks very much on the ‘academic music theory’ side again. Perhaps there is something in it, but tbh it leaves me a bit cold… but maybe I’ll check it out..I do like the stressing of a link between improv and composition; but there is a very real practical difference for jazzers nonetheless (in the latter you have to create the form unless you are writing a contrafact.)

    for jazz players I would say that we would be most interested in ideas and resources to make music right away rather than analysis for its own sake. So saying, ‘write an unusual chromatic bassline to a pentatonic melody and then write appropriate chord colours on the bass’, for example, might be an example of one practical idea for approaching this type of writing.

    I think guitarists have a tendency to write from chords and look for answers there. I’ve got a lot out of instead going melody -> bass -> chords

    Also, Christian, you mentioned 'Zhivago ... and the interval of a whole tone' - could you say a little more about this, please?
    Sure, I may have overstated the case a little, but it’s a fascinating tune

    http://mortenhaxholm.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/12/Kurt-Rosenwinkel-
    Zhivago.pdf


    The melody in the first section of the main theme is built around the whole tone scale; it’s not harmonised with whole tone chords but instead progressions that sort of mutate from mode to mode; the bass is probably the most important thing to look at here as an organising principle, because it’s pretty stepwise; for example that not quite chromatic ascent in bar 21

    The specific chord colours fall out of that. It’s a good way to write a reharmonisation btw, a non functonal reharm of a standard is good prep work for non functional writing.

    I would say stepwise bass, along with a strong melody, is the big organising principle for a lot of non functional tunes.

    Later on, the melody breaks out of this whole tone thing and goes on to other areas; however if you look at bar 51 you can see how the bass is varied while the melody is repeated We get a pay off in bar 61 (that I hear as a climactic moment, not an intro) when the harmony and melody both move in descending (more or less) step wise motion in a (more or less) clear mode.

    That bass line uses a lot of steps to connect the harmonies, which is unsurprising, but there’s also some major thirds and tritones too… the main thing that seems avoided are intervals of a fourth or fifth between the bass of chords, which would suggest conventional tonality a lot more by defining dominant/tonic relationships. In other words it avoids strong cadences.

    OTOH it doesn’t sound ‘out’ - it actually sounds very logical

    Harmonic style aside, there’s a form aspect here - avoiding strong, obvious cadences allow you to write longer sections of music, and this is quite a long form. I’m often struck by the ‘unfolding’ or developmental feeling of Kurt’s melodies. Very Brahmsian.

    I think it’s a really good composition in its own right (I’m not alone lol) and it hangs off the melody; anyone can sing that little motif, it’s very hooky, and he takes it off on a journey, which strikes me as a very compositional thing to do. It reminds me of Wayne in that while the melody is singable it doesn’t quite conform to those obvious pentatonic/diatonic norms either.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 08-23-2021 at 04:53 AM.

  25. #24

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    I have to say the Intro of Zhivago reminds me a lot of the intro to Douce Ambiance by Django





    similar logic - pedal top voice, chromatically moving lower voices

    Django is an interesting one; he certainly wrote non functional harmony for all that much of his music is based on the ragtimey harmony of early jazz, he often writes things that don’t fall into that idiom. check out the bridge of this one for example.

    He loved Debussy and Ravel, and no one told him for example that quartal harmony would only be ‘invented’ in the 60s… needless to say he must have been working intuitively.

  26. #25

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    So maybe a discussion about what Tal means when using Seminal Compositions... with relationship to definition of Functional.... would help come up with a list of... harmonic motion without Functional organization. Which is kind of an oxymoron. Is harmony non-functional...because we're not aware of the organization.

    There are some old threads where modern compositional concepts were brought up.... I remember discussion etc...
    years ago...I remember composing contemporary notated out tunes where players had choices of what to play. Their notated out parts would have options of what to play.... jazz versions of notated music. The Form was the organizational performance control.

    Or interactive compositions where players had different collections of notes to pull from and again the jazz element was use of ears to organize harmony/melodic choices from pitch collections with Form as space organization of Time.

    Composition would never have same performances... and obviously better players produces different results. Depending on what you want to define as Better.

    Personally the somewhat modern harmonic organizational aspect of composition as well as performance... has been the expanding definition of what a functional harmonic structure is. Maybe... like the expanding of... a chord with it's standard Diatonic relationships.... (the possible subs and diatonic chords that still have traditional Functional Reference).

    And if your a somewhat accomplished jazz performer or composer, back in the 60's and early 70's the use of Chord Patterns.... beyond the II V, as still being used as Single functional Reference. One Chord becoming two or more chords with, again one Functional Reference. The expanding of Diatonic implication of one chord to become series of chords that still has that single Harmonic Function.

    And in the last 20+ years that practice has expanded even more, the use of Sub-Dominant Function, which made those longer Chord Patterns have more complex motion and still keep that single Function.

    It's somewhat like the Pedal or ostinato concept, note becomes notes or rhythmic figure that repeats, throw in modal organization... and you have a possible single functional melodic and harmonic element.

    I guess I'm just curious as to what we mean by non-functional. The art of camouflage or just the Innocence is Bliss thing.