1. #1

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    Chromatics TT Wholetone scale Non-Functional Ambiguity Amen

    Our daughter put on Prelude a l'apres-midi d'un faune. ( distracting tricks at tense junction at moment) Debussy that tranquil chromatic sound that just floats like the clouds. remembering a fantastic video clip i saved Leonard Berstein, brilliant conductor & pianist 1973 reveals Debussy the Architect composition basically trying to decipher what tonality it is, it so beautiful, Highly Chromatic, with plenty of NON function harmony at work, it genius. Function is obscured but one of the most recognisable pieces and loved, by most i guess. Part 1
    Listen to Berstein talk about the EbMaj & Bb7 to Emaj non functional???????

    Berstein ismarvellous, his enthusiasm, im sure even non-musicians would find this interesting even if not understanding a bloody thing, i hope........

    I know there is a thread on NON-FuNCTION etc i heaven knows why i made a separate post trying to paint a picture and signpost as to some begginings and who carried it on etc.

    All this made me remember what Joel Fass recently said, interesting points re Classical being 100years ahead of Jazz harmony. Yes true, Beboppers started looking at Debussy, Stravinsky, etc Wayne and others of the Post 60's approx took this further,

    many modern tunes call for a different way of thinkinkg and hearing, untill one becomes familiar, as in standards one can normally hear the function easily, once they hear the patterns i 6 2 5 iii 6 2 5 subs etc. the function is there, With Wayne function is not always clear, but it sounds pretty fine,

    In Shorters harmony stepwise chord roots are often more important than standard/traditional eg G7 and Gm7 are both G just quality has changed, it is very possible to use a min or dominant, eg Bm7b5 half-dim sub for the G9 no root, that is clear a minor harmony, ( this becomes fuzzy) yes what is the bass note at that point etc,

    Eg Dm7 G7 C play Dm7 Gm9 C ok we hear that, drop lose the C chord Dm7 G7 is a 2 5 in C no C tho. just to demonstrate these things that occur, in Shorter, and others, remembering that people interpret things differently, Shorter is fond of is third relationships, consider Cmin9 to Ebmin7 this can be just a change of quality ie EbM7 to Ebm7 Maj to min.

    Shorter does not always abandon function, it is still there but is now obscured perhaps by the unexpected/different quality as i have just said

    One of my fathers 3/4 tunes BbMaj13 Am9 AbMaj9 Dm7/A G13sus GbMaj7#4 FMaj7 Em11 ( is Em11 CM13? is Dm7/A maybe F) this may not appear to be standard, but they all smoothly connect to each other with common tone and chromatics. Some thing not discussed much is harmonic rhtym that is also a factor in connecting chords, several of WS tunes, have a definate compositional device ie Putting that chord there, not later or before. This is harmonic tension, as Reg may say BS, but not the case.

    Shorters melodies are what i call a balancing act, mostly fairly simple, often pentatonic, but not that normal guitarist application, they can be displaced Eg Bmin or D6 pentatonic is C lydian, so the obvious is a little obscured.

    Imo many newer tunes need a different approach, after a while one becomes orientated or familiar at not only connecting the dots quicker but hearing.

    There are a relatively few books on this S. Strunk is one i think Rintincop may have written about this, very good stuff, but remembering that is Strunck's take ( i do not mean it is bad) just others can and do interpret differently.

    perhaps this may help a little in what to look for, if there is enough interest, try to give more examples, perhaps some Chick Core type planning and Herbie stuff.

    would love to know what people here think about the Berstein videos


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Thanks! Just got the score to La Mer, and, unfortunately, also a book called Debussy in Proportion---which dryly assigns physical (as in physics) dimensions as analysis to that and other of his pieces. Ugh! Who needs that?

    Bernstein was a terrific explainer---to the musician and masses. Gotta check this out...

  4. #3

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    Yea... loved it thanks. I'm old I remember, grew up listening to Ravel, Debussy, Stravinsky, Scriabin, Ives, Bartok, Copland, Boulez, Penderecki, Reich... and on and on. And of course Jazz...

    I still tend to describe Functional... as chords in a progression that get their Function from their Relationship to a Key Center. Diatonic, (belonging to the Key) or Key related, (non diatonic chords) borrowed from other parallel modes.
    Modal Interchange chords etc...

    Non-functional chords lack a perceived or implied Tonal center or Key. Chords get Function from... Form, Root motion, Melodic relationships, established Chord Patterns, adjacent Chord Relationships, Rhythmic patterns (harmonic rhythm). there's more, but you probable get the concepts.

    Here's an old tune using non functional devices etc...
    Attached Files Attached Files

  5. #4

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    When I watched the lecture (on Prelude to the Afternoon...), Bernstein made the grand point that Debussy may have seemed all over the road harmonically, but was suggesting, flirting with, then at last resolving to E Major. His demo/explanation is one of the finest I've seen. I learned a lot, and now am looking for a good vid analysis of La Mer...