1. #1

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    Hi friends, when i was learning the chromatic approach to the chord tones, i was told that one should principally play the chord tones on the "strong beats".
    Now I'm think, what are actually the strong beats in Jazz music? let's say, you have a 4/4 beat:
    1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
    are 1 3 or
    2 4 or
    1 2 3 4 the strong beats?
    I swear i saw licks using chromatic enclosure to the chord tones on all the four beats.
    So what are the weak beats? the &s?

    I learned that in "normal" music the 2 and 4 are weak beats. In Jazz music, you should emphasise the 2 and 4 to get the swing groove, so the 1 and 3 are weak beats? I'm really confused....

  2.  

    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #2

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    The strongest beat is 1.
    The next strongest beat is 3.

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  5. #4

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    Quote Originally Posted by Peng1026
    Hi friends, when i was learning the chromatic approach to the chord tones, i was told that one should principally play the chord tones on the "strong beats".
    Now I'm think, what are actually the strong beats in Jazz music? let's say, you have a 4/4 beat:
    1 & 2 & 3 & 4 &
    are 1 3 or
    2 4 or
    1 2 3 4 the strong beats?
    I swear i saw licks using chromatic enclosure to the chord tones on all the four beats.
    So what are the weak beats? the &s?

    I learned that in "normal" music the 2 and 4 are weak beats. In Jazz music, you should emphasise the 2 and 4 to get the swing groove, so the 1 and 3 are weak beats? I'm really confused....
    Great question! Big subject that I can’t do justice to in a single post. But here's some thoughts.

    Strong/weak is like a series of nested hierarchies in Western (i.e. classical) Music...

    Strong/weak


    • Odd/Even numbered bars
    • First/Second half of the bar
    • Odd/Even numbered beats
    • Downbeats/Upbeats
    • Eight notes/double time upbeats


    And so on

    While European composers messed with this for artistic effect, Jazz subverts Western rhythmic expectations almost as a rule. Upbeats are of equal importance to downbeats. Charlie Parker was known for ‘turning rhythm sections’ around by messing with these expectations. Losing the 1, in other words (but knowing exactly where it is.)

    BTW You don’t emphasise the 2 and 4; that’s a common mistake actually. 1 and 3 are still very important. (Barry Harris and Hal Galper advise students to tap their foot on 1 and 3, for instance.)

    Teachers might tell you to do emphasise the weak side to fix a problem of over emphasising the strong beats or downbeats - you can see this often very helpful advice in the article Cosmic posted for instance. But it's not necessarily about making 2 and 4, or the upbeats really accented as in louder. Sometimes it's just about getting it nice an even. In rhythm section playing the 2 and 4 is more like a different articulation than an accent. Usually shorter or more percussive (snare in pop, hi hat in jazz, or a shorter chord in gypsy jazz rhythm playing.) I'd say in a 4/4 bop feel the 2 and 4 are more like even with the 1 and 3, with a subtle accent.

    In straightahead jazz rhythm instruments, drums and bass (and rhythm guitar) would tend to lock in this basic beat grid for instance a (spangalang ride, or a walking bass) that the soloist then plays against with their own rhythmic inventions. For example, as Peter Bernstein points out, if you were playing a duo with no bass, comping mostly on 1 and 3 is a good move, because the music needs those beats to stay centred - the soloist can provide the rhythmic interest. Straight fours has a similar effect, or just playing a chord on 1.

    The weak side is also associated with harmonic dissonance. think of a walking bassline - your chromatic approach notes would typically go on 2 and 4, while chord tones would go on 1 and 3.

    This weak side/dissonace connection has far reaching implications for phrasing in comping and improvisation. One great way to make your playing swing more is place more emphasis on the weak side - which often means focussing harmonically on the dominant chords, or passing tones and chords.
    Last edited by christianm77; 08-18-2020 at 05:45 AM.

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    To give you an idea; I was briefly studying the lute, playing 16th century music. I was always told off by my teacher for overemphasising the upbeat. (you can take the boy out of jazz, but you can’t take jazz out of the boy.)

    In classical music that strong/weak hierarchy is really important. It might be subverted in the case of a syncopation, but that accenting is the rule rather than the exception.

    in jazz all this is changed.

    Id also recommend checking out the book ‘Forward Motion’ by Hal Galper.

  7. #6

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    Julian Lage on jazz improvisation: "blah, blah, blah, 1"

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by Michael Neverisky
    Julian Lage on jazz improvisation: "blah, blah, blah, 1"
    Well that’s Hal’s book in 4 syllables!

  9. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    ...like a series of nested hierarchies...
    Fractal; the chord changes in stock 12 bar blues form also approximate fractal structure.

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by pauln
    Fractal; the chord changes in stock 12 bar blues form also approximate fractal structure.
    That's exactly how I think of it - like a set of Matryoshka dolls.