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  1. #1

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    Allan said this, I also usually write the melody after the chords



    Thought it might be of interest i normally also do the same,

    interesting Barry Harris says it is more important to harmonize the melody, but then i dont take what he says
    too seriously, no disrespect BH is one of my top players.

    Personally i think if melody is written after the chords it is easier to make a connection between the 2,
    i could be way-off, I know if i try and put chords to melody , it can go anywhere, a problem is having
    too much harmonic knowledge, haha, to me a melody does not suggest the chords, as i could hear loads of possibilty
    and boy once you start Rootless chords but specify a Bass note. nothing like the blues I iV V





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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    Hi, it seems he developed tunes around harmonic environments or families. This likely resulted in him taking some time to work out the structure of the tunes harmonic workings before tackling the melodic ideas.

    hope that helps.

  4. #3

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    Did AH write many memorable melodies? Or, mostly harmonic structures he like to improvise over? I think his playing overshaddowed everything else.

  5. #4

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    I find if I write the melody first the harmony follows easily. The tune writes itself, including all the possible permutations. If I come up with the harmony/chords first, I have to construct the melody, which sometimes feels like more effort. But I've seen both works successfully.

  6. #5

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    Either direction can work. When the melody comes first, it usually "tells" you (or at least suggests) what the harmony can be. Also, starting from the melody, it can be free to develop its character or "story", which can lead the harmony into some interesting twists and turns.

  7. #6

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    With the heads to Allan's tunes, the chords really were the melodies. Or, another way to think of it is that he wrote polyphonic melodies. He often used different structures for the solos than for the head. The 16 Men Of Tain is a great example of that, but it was pretty typical overall for his compositions.
    Beauty is as close to terror as we can well endure. -Rainer Maria Rilke

  8. #7

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    Interesting factoid Durban, thanks for sharing. I'm always curious to learn about different artists' processes.

    I utilize both approaches for sure, and they sometimes yield different sounding tunes, but not always. Sometimes I start with more of a rhythmic vamp that slowly morphs into a groove or a bass line that evolves into something. Often times I find that the melody and chords present themselves at the same time where I hear the whole thing come out as a chord melody... which I then try to go in and perform surgery on so as to focus on the music and the sounds more than the physicality of the guitar itself...

    But whatever works really. Always interesting to learn what works/worked for other musicians... especially the legends.

  9. #8

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    For me it starts with a title.

    That gives me a germ to cultivate, and it usually falls into place after a little reconsideration and tweaking.

    Often the first melodic strain is directly suggested by that title. Same with the lyric.

    Sometimes it's good to 'bury the lead', too, but I usually do the above---though I want to grow and stretch out.

    I've recommended these books before, so here goes again:

    Jimmy Webb: Tunesmith (disorganized and flawed, but when he talks about his work habits, gives musical examples and mentions forcing himself to listen even to music he HATES to learn it's worth the price of admission).

    Alec Wilder
    : American Song (MUST reading for any serious songwriter for too many reasons to cover here).

    Max Wilk: They're Playing Our Song: (Interviews with melody and lyricist greats like Johnny Mercer, Jule Styne and Dorothy Fields).

    Walter van de Leur: Something to Live For: The Music of Billy Strayhorn (a musical bio and much analysis of Strayhorn's work from HS days to mature works. Also insights into who actually wrote what for the Ellington Orchestra)...

  10. #9

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    Cool thing to think about. Don't think I've ever written from a title first.
    Jeff Matz, Jazz Guitar:
    http://www.youtube.com/user/jeffreymatz

    "Jazz is like life...it goes on longer than you think, and as soon as you're like 'oh, I get it,' it ends."

    --The Ghost of Duke Ellington

  11. #10
    fasstrack
    For me it starts with a title.


    Yip i do that often , funny it sets the tone/mood and can keep you focused, other times totally unfocused
    but also good results.

  12. #11
    Of his writing process, Rosenwinkel says, “I play until I find something that I can develop. It usually starts with a chord progression. Some of the things that end up in my music can’t be accurately described with chord symbols. It’s about the voice leading from one specific voicing to another. Some times chord symbols can’t really represent what’s going on.”

  13. #12

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    AS someone with less theoretical understanding than most. I think this is why AH is just unrelatable and just not nice to listen to.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durban View Post
    Of his writing process, Rosenwinkel says, “I play until I find something that I can develop. It usually starts with a chord progression. Some of the things that end up in my music can’t be accurately described with chord symbols. It’s about the voice leading from one specific voicing to another. Some times chord symbols can’t really represent what’s going on.”
    I'm always writing out the chords in my own stuff, voicings are so important.

  15. #14

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    For me the composing process often starts with a melody fragment (or phrase). The melody will imply a harmony, so I might add a minimalist bass line or harmony voice to accompany that fragment. Then I'll see where that takes me. The harmony or bass voice might lead me one direction while chromatic movement of the melody voice might suggest something else. I might experiment with both before deciding which path to take. I try not to lock in the either the chords or melody too rigidly until I've got the whole tune sketched out. Then I'll start refining.

    Actually, I compose so infrequently and haphazardly I don't know if this is the process I use at all! But I'll try it this week and see what I can come up with. Holdsworth        melody after the chords
    Last edited by KirkP; 06-26-2017 at 01:22 PM.

  16. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Aretium View Post
    AS someone with less theoretical understanding than most. I think this is why AH is just unrelatable and just not nice to listen to.

    unrelatable i can understand why anyone might say that simply because there is very little music on the planet that sounds like that. Similar at times but not like that, and one has no comparables

    Not nice to listen too, thats your take, it is more likely most peoples ear is not accustomed to that language,
    it is rather like music using a lot of Augmented does not sound great for most, the ear needs to acclimatize adjust absorb whatever. Try listening with having to understand, one does not have to understand something to enjoy it. Personally i think AH had incredibly beautiful music but it sure demands listening it is not casual music.

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durban View Post
    unrelatable i can understand why anyone might say that simply because there is very little music on the planet that sounds like that. Similar at times but not like that, and one has no comparables

    Not nice to listen too, thats your take, it is more likely most peoples ear is not accustomed to that language,
    it is rather like music using a lot of Augmented does not sound great for most, the ear needs to acclimatize adjust absorb whatever. Try listening with having to understand, one does not have to understand something to enjoy it. Personally i think AH had incredibly beautiful music but it sure demands listening it is not casual music.
    I respect him, he was authentic in his own right. I come from an eastern background with a lot of dissonance and still find it hard. But to each their own.