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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.

  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.

  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
    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
    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
    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.

  18. #17

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    A lot of the AH chord melody stuff is absolutely gorgeous IMO. They are usually the heads of his songs.






    Also, checkout his chords for "The Sixteen men of Tain". Wonderful modern voicings to my ears.......

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by Durban
    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




    well to be honest with Allan’s music you can kind of tell. I don’t think he was very keen to write a tune you can whistle, although bits of his music have a tunefulness to them.

    look the history of composition in the music is originally based around Tin Pan Alley tunes with later bop heads written over the changes (although often referencing the original melodies in an oblique way) and now I think most composers write harmony first.

    i think what Barry is lamenting is the lack of respect for melody in modern jazz education. Chord scale theory really makes people see chord symbols as the centre of the universe, while we can harmonise and reharmonise the strong and largely diatonic melodies of the standards repertoire over and over using all sorts of harmony so they are an endless source of inspiration for each new generation of jazz musician.

    (we can go from Billie Holiday to Kurt Rosenwinkel via Stan Getz and Sonny Stitt playing I’ll Be Seeing You, for instance?)

    (also the more standards you learn, the more you learn how the changes relate to the tune. That’s a bunch of norms and stylistic conventions that you just start to hear intuitively after you’ve learned your first couple of hundred vocal standards.)

    i don’t think you can do that with Allan’s music or a lot of contemporary jazz compositions for that matter. I don’t think they can be reharmonised because the harmony is the tune to a large extent. That’s a bit true of some standards - you wouldn’t start Stella on a maj7 chord - but mostly the harmony is up for grabs.

    I’m happy to appreciate Allan on his own terms, but it makes me less inclined to cover his music in performance except as tribute or a bit of fun. (The acoustic cover above is nice.) You just have to find an angle on it.... and that’s easier with standards (well I say that but they have been recorded so much haha so maybe not)

    for a student I would suggest maybe trying different processes of composition and seeing how it changes things.
    Last edited by christianm77; 02-24-2020 at 03:42 PM.

  20. #19

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    Oh man, thread necromancy!