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  1. #1

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    Hi.

    How do you transpose a well-known busy tune (comp) on the fly, what goes on in your mind? Do you need to keep it simple or have you found a good method that helps to do it safe and quick enough to have fun with it?

    About the key changes, there is already 3 ways to think about "shifting to another" - scale degrees, half-steps, intervals.. or maybe even something else, something clever..er?

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  3. #2

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    I and V, in whatever keys we go to.

  4. #3

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    You mean somebody calls Stella in F# and you've got to comp?? Is that what you're asking?
    For me, always know the tune by roman numerals, the key centres by that orientation and then the bridge or where ever something tricky comes up, target the key centres that are targets (bridge goes to a major on the third degree... II V runs from the #IV, etc).
    That's where there's a choice when you're learning a piece, by note names (absolute orientation) and by key centres and intervallic (roman numeral) degrees. The two are not mutually exclusive of course, but the latter is REALLY helpful when talking instant transposition.

    If I understand your question right...

    David

  5. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    If I understand your question right...

    David
    Yep, exactly.

  6. #5

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    +1 to David. I also always think in Roman numerals, which also implies an analysis, or at least some type of Functional implications. So you can actually play the tune and not just the the basic chords.

    The act of thinking this way or memorizing with this approach... forces one to basically have some type of analysis of whatever your playing.

    So you actually understand the tunes as compared to just memorizing notes and chords in some type of order. Which leads to eventually recognizing chord patterns and cycles with Targets within different spatial Forms.

  7. #6

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    Practice learning some tunes in many keys, play the melody with simple, guide tone voicings, trying to hear the relationship of the melody notes with the chords. Most tunes carry themselves after a while, and the tricky part is unusual progressions, or big interval jumps of root motion. I try to learn tunes by harmonic motion, the goal being to be able to put chords on any standard type tune if i know the melody well enough after a while

  8. #7
    I've done that with a few. The problem is that with each tune, I have the most comfy place to play the comp, then those 2 others that don't get nearly as much abuse as the 1st one. If the new requested key is too far from the well-practiced one - trouble. I have a hunch that there could be something... some way of remembering the key changes so that eventually they all become equal to play. I've not spent enough time to this issue (never really needed it because all the people I've played with have been comfortably lazy) and thought to ask before starting this scary journey.

  9. #8

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    Honestly ....

    Irealb

  10. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu

    About the key changes, there is already 3 ways to think about "shifting to another" - scale degrees, half-steps, intervals.. or maybe even something else, something clever..er?
    Could you explain a little about what these 3 ways mean? I'm not really getting your orientation.
    David

  11. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I've done that with a few. The problem is that with each tune, I have the most comfy place to play the comp, then those 2 others that don't get nearly as much abuse as the 1st one. If the new requested key is too far from the well-practiced one - trouble. I have a hunch that there could be something... some way of remembering the key changes so that eventually they all become equal to play. I've not spent enough time to this issue (never really needed it because all the people I've played with have been comfortably lazy) and thought to ask before starting this scary journey.
    Are you learning to play chords by rote and specific position only? What I'm trying to get at is do you know all your tonics throughout the fretboard by RELATIVE position? If I gave you a note, say an F#, could you find all the F#'s easily just by position? Could you find all your Eb's? Can you see the fingerboard in a way so you could find the same note on the fingerboard 3 strings over? 4 strings over? If you can get to the point where you can do this, and you can play this way, you'll see that the fingerboard has the exact same orientation for any of the keys no matter how obscure the key is. You can comp in C? Well Db is the exact same thing one fret up. Gb is the exact same thing as the key of C, 7 frets up. Yes it's like an imaginary capo, you just shift your orientation.

    Do you see this? Once you also learn to comp by ear, your fingers will move with your ear with the help of this imaginary vision of the fingerboard. That's moving and playing to the RELATIVE tonic and the shapes that connect them.

    Tell me a little about how you see the fingerboard, and maybe I can explain how a little shift in perspective can help you "see" things in a useful way.

    David

  12. #11
    Ok, I try, hoping my engrish is adequate enough.

    When comping, I don't want to fix on a single chord or inversions of that. I see the pattern (using 3 to cover the whole neck) and pick something nice there. Pattern - as a they are used for learning scales. For example when comping a simple blues with natural D7s, I know what patterns come after each other and just aiming for the >5 interval inside the pattern, the others notes are pretty much free to choose from. So, not focusing on a chord that much, just aiming the function notes and shifting the whole pattern around when the key changes.

    Those "3 ways" of thinking about key changes -
    1. remembering to which scale degree the key changed. Instantly this goes into 2 ways - 1.minding the original key and see always all modulations relative to the original key 2. not doing that, every change of key becomes the main, for a little while.
    2. remembering the jumps by intervals. Basic blues keys would jump around like that: 4th, back, 4th, back again, 5th, 2nd down... etc.
    3. Same as intervals but counting the half-steps instead. It's strangely simpler sometimes on guitar.


    So, I would like to be able to write the key change sequence down using one of these systems. And be able to remember and play from this also thing also. Just am not sure which way to do this. Maybe just do it all..

    ....

    I'm probably overthinking it though

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    ....

    I'm probably overthinking it though
    I see. In your system, I don't get the feeling, maybe wrongly though, that your ear is a big part of how you find the changes.
    In your original post, you were looking for a way of transposing easily.
    So have you thought that if your tonal centre were just in a different location, shifted to a different location, that the changes would be the same, have the same sounds and be located in the same places as the key you learned, but simply with a new tonic?
    Take a blues for example. Blues in F would put your root on the 6th string first fret, but also 5th string 8th, right?
    Well isn't that 5th string 8th similar in shape to a C blues with the root on the 5th string 3rd fret? Sounds the same and feels similar but in a different register.

    Maybe I'm not getting your dilemma. Tell me more.

    David

  14. #13
    I try to write down Stella's key changes now in each of those systems. It'll take a bit of time.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I try to write down Stella's key changes now in each of those systems. It'll take a bit of time.
    Figure out what's going on. You've got a II V going to the III (but not getting there). Now try that in the key of G, it's the same Stella you know but down a few frets. Think roman numerals and know what's happening.
    Stella's a challenge from the start because the harmonic movement is subtle and purposely avoids diatonicism.

    David

  16. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by TruthHertz
    Figure out what's going on. You've got a II V going to the III (but not getting there). Now try that in the key of G, it's the same Stella you know but down a few frets. Think roman numerals and know what's happening.
    Stella's a challenge from the start because the harmonic movement is subtle and purposely avoids diatonicism.

    David
    A similar way I've heard old cats talk about it and my last teacher touched on it was more in Cycles or Cadences than in strict roman numeral view. They see the chords as this cycle to a cycle some interval way to another cycle. That way they were thinking a pieces of in functional chunks being combined and I think it was more how they heard the tune if they knew it or not. Thinking of groups of chords commonly used together.

    Just throwing that out as a way I've heard other talk about playing/hearing tunes... this cycle to that cycle...

  17. #16

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    Hi.

    How do you transpose a well-known busy tune (comp) on the fly, what goes on in your mind? Do you need to keep it simple or have you found a good method that helps to do it safe and quick enough to have fun with it?

    About the key changes, there is already 3 ways to think about "shifting to another" - scale degrees, half-steps, intervals.. or maybe even something else, something clever..er?
    Nashville. I II III etc

    The trick is to understand where the modulations are.

  18. #17

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    Also I agree with Reg - to transpose is to analyse.

    Do it with lines as well.

  19. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I've done that with a few. The problem is that with each tune, I have the most comfy place to play the comp, then those 2 others that don't get nearly as much abuse as the 1st one. If the new requested key is too far from the well-practiced one - trouble. I have a hunch that there could be something... some way of remembering the key changes so that eventually they all become equal to play. I've not spent enough time to this issue (never really needed it because all the people I've played with have been comfortably lazy) and thought to ask before starting this scary journey.
    Learn a tune. Learn it in numerals. Transpose. Watch for patterns.

    Repeat 200+ times (can take some time)

    Learning tunes becomes more like transposition as you recognise modules.

    Most tunes I know have a comfy place to comp. When I practice I try and pull myself out of that. Transpose a tune just a tone up or down can really help open it up actually. And plus, more routes through the progression rather than thinking in clunky chord symbols is great too....

    I'm talking about standards rep. If you play in groups that expect you to transpose Dolphin Dance on the fly.... then who the hell are you playing with?

  20. #19
    Transposing live-img_20180101_232732-jpg

    1.just the chord chart in that popular key
    2.keys - only in ionian/aeolian.
    3.key changes - relative to the home key (Bb in the original here), the number tells what scale degree the new Ionian is located in
    4.no home key. Each new key is gets to be the new boss, the numbers say what degree the new Ionian is located in relative to the previous key(always Ionian).
    5.intervals tell the (always)upwards shift of the Ionian in the following key.
    6.half note steps describe the shifts.

    I double-checked but there could be a mistake or two left.
    Hm. Just got an idea to keep the intervals tell the Ionian location in the next key but always relative to the home key. But I feel crazy enough now. Time to noodle aimlessly.

    edit: saw a mistake in 2. chart. should be Db/bb

  21. #20

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    Haha you had to choose a tough one. What's wrong with Mean to Me, or something?

    OK, this is how I view Stella. Do with this what you will. I keep it very simple, because I am stupid.

    I try to have as few modulations as possible.
    And as few chords.
    Learn the melody.
    I want to limit the number of things I have to remember/transpose.

    General notes -
    32 bar through composed form.
    One modulation - which is to the key of the V. I'll write here as if it's in the main key, but put in bold.
    Original keys are Bb and G.
    I'll double your harmonic rhythm cos it's what I'm used to :-)

    It's easier to think in a modular way - for instance - transpose this cycle of dominants starting on III, or, here is a How high the Moon A section - than thinking chord by chord. You are more likely to play them better that way too.... So learning standards will teach you those modules. I could write out a page of them and it would give you the information but not the knowledge.

    When I memorise I put the II and V together. Easier. So, here, I just write the dominant. But I put just the dominant for brevity. 7 for a major ii-V, 7b9 for minor. It's not necessarily what I play.

    Also, these are not the only changes to this song. The diminished changes are popular in some circles. The old changes are more logical in some ways. I tend to think of the first 4 as | bIIIo7 | % | IIm7 | V7 | - anyway....

    A7b9 | % | F7 | % |
    Bb7 | % | Eb | Ebm |

    Bb | A7b9 | Dm | Eb7 |
    F |
    A7b9 | D7b9 | % |

    G7b9 | % | Cm | % |
    Ab7 | % | Bb | % |

    A7b9 | % | G7b9 | % |
    F7b9 | % | Bb | % |

    OK, now lets put this into functions:

    VII7b9 | % | V7 | % |
    I7 | % | IV | bVII7 |

    I | VII7b9 | IIIm | IV7 |
    V
    | VII7b9 | III7b9 | % |

    VI7b9 | % | IIm | % |
    bVII7 | % | I | % |

    VII7b9 | % | VI7b9 | % |
    V7b9 | % | I | % |

    Modules
    Lookout for front door, cycling motion and backdoor (up a whole tone) movement in the dominants. Also dominants descending in whole steps at the end - not super super common, but nor uncommon either - Woody'n'You is a good example. So

    Em7b5 A7b9 Dm7b5 G7b9 Cm7b5 F7b9 Bb = Woody'n'You.

    Stellas is a slightly tough one to learn in terms of modules. There's lot of tunes that are more modular. And there are tunes that are modular with interesting exceptions.

    Stella modules

    Backdoor - Ab7 Bb and Eb7 F
    Cycle dominants - F7 Bb7 and A7b9 D7b9 --> G7b9
    Move to III (bridge to They Can't Take that Away, for instance) - A7b9 Dm
    Woody'n'You - A7b9 G7b9 F7b9 Bb

    Ask me another one. Something less through composed :-)

  22. #21

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  23. #22
    Thanks!

    Btw, the idea of dominants only is pretty neat.

  24. #23

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    its generally easier for most people to transpose melodies than chords. Then, by being able to play a melody, not only by itself, but with the roots of the corresponding chords as well, you can work on learning to follow it regardless of what key it 's played in. The theory, writing part is useful, but try to concentrate more on actually hearing the changes and the chords rather than learning them intellectually. Kind of like learning a chart by reading it vs hearing it, the second approach is better in the long run.

  25. #24

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    Yup. Again, I have yet to find a better way to learn that then learn lots of tunes by ear with charts to help you out when you need. There are exercises you can do, but basically it really is about doing it.

    Aural memory seems longer lasting too.

  26. #25

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    Jeez, he said LIVE...Y'all writing charts?

    "Quick, get me 6 cocktail napkins! Sheila, tell that story about when you met Victor Young and thought he was the guy who wrote Les Miserables!"

  27. #26

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    Jeez, he said LIVE...Y'all writing charts?

    "Quick, get me 6 cocktail napkins! Sheila, tell that story about when you met Victor Young and thought he was the guy who wrote Les Miserables!"
    Well I could just say 'do it in you head' - but that doesn't help walk him through the process does it?

  28. #27

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    Just to clarify. This is TRANSPOSING we're talking. NOT TRANSCRIBING. So we're looking for a frame of reference that allows for instantly taking a tune played to be heard and played by ear in real time on the fly with an arbitrary key center. Just so we're clear.
    I played a duo with a vocalist. She"d call a tune, find her range and start singing, or hum a few bars and I'd make an intro. Great training in transposing. Not easy at first for sure!

    David

  29. #28

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Well I could just say 'do it in you head' - but that doesn't help walk him through the process does it?
    I'm just being a smart ass, but seriously, there's gonna be times when you haven't worked out romannumerals for a tune and some singer needs it in Gb...so like I said--figure out the I''s and V''s and grab your ankles...

  30. #29

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    I'm just being a smart ass, but seriously, there's gonna be times when you haven't worked out romannumerals for a tune and some singer needs it in Gb...so like I said--figure out the I''s and V''s and grab your ankles...
    I just kind of think of everything as numerals now.

  31. #30
    I hate roman numerals. Here's why:
    VII-IV-III-V-VI-II-IV-VII - awful to read
    7-6-3-5-6-2-4-7 - much nicer.

  32. #31

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I hate roman numerals. Here's why:
    VII-IV-III-V-VI-II-IV-VII - awful to read
    7-6-3-5-6-2-4-7 - much nicer.
    Sure. It's the convention tho. I think I think in numbers.

  33. #32
    I came up with the most horrible idea about the matter now.

    What if learning to add an interval to any note automatically. Then transposing would be just adding the interval to the original key and it's done. Thats like learning the multiplication table, but up to 12x12.

  34. #33

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    *shudder*

    Could do it in base twelve? ;-D

  35. #34

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I hate roman numerals. Here's why:
    VII-IV-III-V-VI-II-IV-VII - awful to read
    7-6-3-5-6-2-4-7 - much nicer.
    Well, I generally hate Nashville versus Roman, but you may have a point there...

  36. #35
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    *shudder*

    Could do it in base twelve? ;-D
    We could but the French messed up maths with the decimal system.

  37. #36

  38. #37

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I hate roman numerals. Here's why:
    VII-IV-III-V-VI-II-IV-VII - awful to read
    7-6-3-5-6-2-4-7 - much nicer.
    what have the Romans ever done for us?

  39. #38

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    and of course, until the goal is reached, these days there 's the working crutch of carrying a smartphone with the ireal software in it. Instant key change, saved!

  40. #39

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    about the Romans, the bog standards, and the Greeks...

    a. we use the Romans to refer to the scale tone of the root of the chord, eg I, II, III, IV, V, VI, VII

    b. we use the bog standards 1,2,3,4,5,6,7 to refer to the altered intervals within "a", eg II##7, I+6

    so far so beautiful, logical, simple, perfect, fit for purpose

    c. we abuse the Greeks to derive Ionian, Dorian, etc (a big wish would be to hear, understand, and use those ancient modes as the classical Greeks did...I'm sure our Aeolian is not theirs, maybe a musico-historian could shed light)

  41. #40

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    It's just a bit long winded.

    I quite frequently end up playing new tunes on the bandstand without charts. Most of the time all you need to know when playing standards is the degree of the scale and whether that chord is altered relative to the diatonic chord.

    So - is the VI minor or has a raised 3rd, and so on.

    To be honest - you can develop you ear listening to the melody and work out what you can get away with under it, and what melody notes demand, for instance, a II7 chord.

    Obviously, you can learn this info for sure by listening to recorded versions of the tune.

    Which I suppose is pretty much the way people learned standards before everything became a lead sheet?

    On the band stand, someone might say as they did the other night- OK, Me Myself and I. The changes of this tune can be communicated this quickly

    "AABA. 1-2-5-1 A section. B section is Rhythm. Last A has an extra 2-5 at the end. In C."

    - A section 1 - 2 - 5 - 1 (the major 2 chord is expressed by the melody, so use you lugs as Dave Cliff would say.)
    - B section is I Got Rhythm (the old name was a Sears -Roebuck bridge, but that's a little obscure.) You need to know that's 3-6-2-5 all doms
    - Last A there's an extra 2-5
    - being given that info, any key is equally fine, as you learn those modules in all 12.

    This is obviously a very simple tune - Stella couldn't be communicated that way.

    Other examples of modules as I have head them called
    1-17-4-#4(dim)-1-6-2-5-1 The Horse (dim version)
    In this case whether the third chord is a 4m or #4 (or whether you have one at all)
    1-4-2-5 Honeysuckle Bridge
    #4(m7b5)-4m-3-6-2-5 Long/Cole Porter turnaround perhaps the second chord is 47 - again depends on melody

    Notice the rhythm is not specified. You have to lughole that (hear it)

    Unfortunately, these names aren't standard.... They will vary from person to person. The book Harmony with Lego Bricks has this basic concept... The only problem is my colleagues haven't read it so they use different names lol. I believe Pete Churchill teaches a version of this at the UK conservatoires, I should probably get a copy of his handout so I know what names they use.

  42. #41

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    TL;DR It's the melody stupid

  43. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    It's just a bit long winded.

    I quite frequently end up playing new tunes on the bandstand without charts. Most of the time all you need to know when playing standards is the degree of the scale and whether that chord is altered relative to the diatonic chord.

    So - is the VI minor or has a raised 3rd, and so on.

    To be honest - you can develop you ear listening to the melody and work out what you can get away with under it, and what melody notes demand, for instance, a II7 chord.

    Obviously, you can learn this info for sure by listening to recorded versions of the tune.

    Which I suppose is pretty much the way people learned standards before everything became a lead sheet?

    On the band stand, someone might say as they did the other night- OK, Me Myself and I. The changes of this tune can be communicated this quickly

    "AABA. 1-2-5-1 A section. B section is Rhythm. Last A has an extra 2-5 at the end. In C."

    - A section 1 - 2 - 5 - 1 (the major 2 chord is expressed by the melody, so use you lugs as Dave Cliff would say.)
    - B section is I Got Rhythm (the old name was a Sears -Roebuck bridge, but that's a little obscure.) You need to know that's 3-6-2-5 all doms
    - Last A there's an extra 2-5
    - being given that info, any key is equally fine, as you learn those modules in all 12.

    This is obviously a very simple tune - Stella couldn't be communicated that way.

    Other examples of modules as I have head them called
    1-17-4-#4(dim)-1-6-2-5-1 The Horse (dim version)
    In this case whether the third chord is a 4m or #4 (or whether you have one at all)
    1-4-2-5 Honeysuckle Bridge
    #4(m7b5)-4m-3-6-2-5 Long/Cole Porter turnaround perhaps the second chord is 47 - again depends on melody

    Notice the rhythm is not specified. You have to lughole that (hear it)

    Unfortunately, these names aren't standard.... They will vary from person to person. The book Harmony with Lego Bricks has this basic concept... The only problem is my colleagues haven't read it so they use different names lol. I believe Pete Churchill teaches a version of this at the UK conservatoires, I should probably get a copy of his handout so I know what names they use.
    "Hearing the changes" by Jerry Coker and co has a lot of these old names for progressions. Montgomery ward, Sears Roebuck etc. It's also kind of the economist's approach to learning to hear changes, in that progressions are prioritised in order of most frequent use etc. :-) Modulations are covered as their own "types" as well. Extensive lists of tune examples, which are so much easier to utilize now, in the YouTube age, compared to when I first got it. I need to dig it out myself. Important skill...

  44. #43

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    Christian ,what you call this Bridge ?

    I7 , IV , II7 , V7

    Ps
    You going to see Jim on Sunday ?
    I might go ....

  45. #44

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    Christian ,what you call this Bridge ?

    I7 , IV , II7 , V7

    Ps
    You going to see Jim on Sunday ?
    I might go ....
    That's Montgomery Ward changes.

  46. #45

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    Has anyone worked with the John Mehegan books? He wrote a 4 volume set of really great (I think) improvisational theoretical and practical books. One of them has popular and standard song forms from early Dixieland through the tunes of the day, all in roman numeral format. I didn't understand why he did this at the time, but now that I think of it, it had a lot to do with seeing songs in aural structure and not in specific key.
    I know these books are long out of print. Maybe they were re-published at some point, I don't know. Bill Evans, the pianist, wrote the introduction and spoke highly of these volumes as I recall. As I said earlier, it has a lot to do with how we are taught to learn a piece that determines how easily we can make transposition.

    David

  47. #46

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    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    Ok, I try, hoping my engrish is adequate enough.

    So, I would like to be able to write the key change sequence down using one of these systems. And be able to remember and play from this also thing also. Just am not sure which way to do this. Maybe just do it all..

    I'm probably overthinking it though
    Quote Originally Posted by emanresu
    I came up with the most horrible idea about the matter now.

    What if learning to add an interval to any note automatically. Then transposing would be just adding the interval to the original key and it's done. Thats like learning the multiplication table, but up to 12x12.
    You can make anything into something so complicated that you won't want to bother.
    That's a science and art in and of itself.

    David

  48. #47

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    As I said earlier... Roman numerals... aren't for learning the tune. They are the result of an analysis. So they are basically used to help remember, not learn a tune.

    They work... and when on stage when doing quick head arrangements or trying to verbally explain something musical to other on stage musicians...Roman numerals imply tonal references.

    When I say V of I natural minor. I just gave a complete harmonic organization for creating relationships and how to develop them.

    I know what chord patterns to approach any chord in the tune etc... in any key.

    If you don't know the tune... even a transposed chart might not cover.

  49. #48

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    Quote Originally Posted by mr. beaumont
    That's Montgomery Ward changes.
    I7 , IV7 , II7 ,V7

    Is it called Honeysuckle Bridge too ?

  50. #49

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    As I said earlier... Roman numerals... aren't for learning the tune. They are the result of an analysis. So they are basically used to help remember, not learn a tune.


    I know what chord patterns to approach any chord in the tune etc... in any key.

    If you don't know the tune... even a transposed chart might not cover.
    Hmm, I do suspect we're saying the same thing and the words (and labels) are getting in the way. For me, the Roman numerals are the way we speak of sound, as opposed to learning letters that translate to specific places to plant our hands on a fingerboard; there are people that do learn tunes that way, some of them are more than passably good at it.
    When I'm listening to music, and the band's playing a contrafact of Rhythm Changes, I hear and visualize a movement through the tonality that let's me see the leaps through III VI II V. Yeah, when I'm playing it, I'm not thinking numbers, but those numbers describe a path that's set in my ears.
    At this point, that aural guideline takes me through just about anything I can hear, but it's the Roman numerals I call them by. They call up sounds that are internalized in my sound library.

    Maybe that's completely different from the way others use this nomenclature, Yes, I learn something new every day.

    David

  51. #50

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    Quote Originally Posted by pingu
    I7 , IV7 , II7 ,V7

    Is it called Honeysuckle Bridge too ?
    Not to be confused with London Bridge, Chelsea Bridge, or Brooklyn Bridge which I think can be bought online now...

    David