Jazz Guitar
Learn how to play jazz guitar with our eBook bundle
+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 50 of 61
  1. #1

    Pedagogical approach to Music Theory - due for some new thinking?

    For discussion and consideration - I have studied a fair amount of music theory off and on over the years (but probably not enough).

    In terms of what it covers (principally - harmony, melody, rhythm, plus a little composition) I believe that it is unbalanced and is overdue for some new thinking. To cut to the chase this is what I mean:


    1. It should increase to six semesters, vs. the typical four (frosh and sophomore)
    2. It should continue to require composition exercises every week.
    3. It should increase its exploration and development of rhythmic knowledge and skill
    4. And last but not least - it should significantly increase its exploration and development of melody writing, knowledge and skill.


    I believe that we would produce many more successful composers if step #4 were advanced.

    I believe that the over-weighting towards harmony makes it a bit mathematical, and too easy to simply "solve for X" (too easy for me and many, many others). I don't believe that the approach stimulates enough creativity and confidence in individual music making. It seems to me that slinging out a melody that is well constructed (even if less than breathtakingly inspired) should be reflexive for a successful music major.

    Thoughts?

  2. #2

  3. #3
    Usa

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    East of Eden
    Posts
    5,611
    I don't think that it's academia's job to turn people into musicians, but they will take your money and attempt to.

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    For discussion and consideration - I have studied a fair amount of music theory off and on over the years (but probably not enough).

    In terms of what it covers (principally - harmony, melody, rhythm, plus a little composition) I believe that it is unbalanced and is overdue for some new thinking. To cut to the chase this is what I mean:


    1. It should increase to six semesters, vs. the typical four (frosh and sophomore)
    2. It should continue to require composition exercises every week.
    3. It should increase its exploration and development of rhythmic knowledge and skill
    4. And last but not least - it should significantly increase its exploration and development of melody writing, knowledge and skill.


    I believe that we would produce many more successful composers if step #4 were advanced.

    I believe that the over-weighting towards harmony makes it a bit mathematical, and too easy to simply "solve for X" (too easy for me and many, many others). I don't believe that the approach stimulates enough creativity and confidence in individual music making. It seems to me that slinging out a melody that is well constructed (even if less than breathtakingly inspired) should be reflexive for a successful music major.

    Thoughts?
    I agree, regarding Melody, but otherwise, I don't know that there's any point in MUSIC as a major in 2018. I may just be cynical old coot, but I'm not.

    The music industry is deader than it has ever been . I mean, orders of magnitude dead. I also think modern education is being artificially kept alive for a brief time , but I wouldn't encourage anyone in their right mind to pursue a career in EDUCATION either.

    I majored in music, and have made a living playing and teaching , public and private for 20 years, but I think that we "were" the last generation that was going to be able to do anything like that under any resemblance of the current system.

    For teachers, the only future I see, going forward, is going to be mostly online, but even when you say THAT, you're admitting that you basically don't need traditional academia in a traditional setting. It's possible that I just don't understand the situation though. Maybe urban centers are seeing musical opportunities increase at the rate they're decreasing everywhere else? Seems like from what I hear that's not necessarily the case.

    Sorry. I probably don't need to be on the Internet today.

  6. #6
    OK but that's not the question posed. The fact is that in 2018 one can still major in music in a LOT of USA universities, colleges, and community colleges - plus private conservatories for that matter.

    There's an old saying that goes something like this: "If you're not going to do it right, don't do it at all".


    My real point was the harmonic focus overshadowing the melodic, and that they need to be balanced out. This doesn't have to be about collegiate study, it can be about serious music study in general.

    It's OK if you don't want to engage in this discussion.

  7. #7
    Off topic.

  8. #8
    Sadly, 98% of what I learned about melodic structures (other than just playing music) has been in studying melodic devices as used be jazzers - from books and inter-webs etc.

    For me, university was a lot of other stuff. Like you say, a lot of harmony. Part writing , ear training, which back then was more intervallic than solfeg etc. (Probably learned more solfeg in actually teaching the stuff in school.) History, theory, etc. etc. Melody was never taught in the concrete way that harmony was.

    Actually, I never took counterpoint as a music ed major. Probably more melodic stuff in counterpoint? I would also imagine that composition majors do more with melodic approach type stuff?

  9. #9
    And honestly I wonder if that's the real thing. If you study in any classical music program, the melodic stuff is mostly for composers . Classical musicians are otherwise mostly reading a composer's melody as opposed to creating it.

    Jazz programs work on improv, creating melody etc. Anyway, I didn't study in a jazz program.

  10. #10
    Great points Matt. I did take counterpoint, earned an A, but.......... I don't live in the 17th century, and Bach style two-part inventions aren't where I live and breathe and I know that's true for most, although not all I'm sure.

    In fairness, period and style matter. So if we are to focus solely on the traditional/classical curriculum, what I am saying is that deferring a significant focus on melody and form to the third or even fourth year is a disservice, IMO. I think that it requires one to leap over a huge crevasse into something that has not been well enough cultivated to that point.

  11. #11
    Well, I learned the beginnings of it from Jimmy Amadie's book, starting with really basic attention/release melodic work with upper/lower neighbors, and it kinda rocked my world. I was kind of indignant actually. "Why hasn't anyone ever laid it out like this before?". At a basic level, that one idea encompasses just about everything.

  12. #12
    Just sing what you want to hear next then work out how to play it or write it.

    That's all I have to say.

    D.

  13. #13
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    East of Eden
    Posts
    5,611
    Quote Originally Posted by Freel View Post
    Just sing what you want to hear next then work out how to play it or write it.

    That's all I have to say.

    D.
    That's all that Michael Jackson did.

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580
    I agree with jazzstdnt. Gotta be a trick?

  15. #15
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580
    Bach two part inventions etc imo are required reading for all jazz students.

    A lot of techniques surface in jazz lines.

  16. #16
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    That's all that Michael Jackson did.

    I was referring to substantial composition, not simple, throbbing, commercial music designed to enable booty shakin' and money makin'.

  17. #17
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    East of Eden
    Posts
    5,611
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    I was referring to substantial composition, not simple, throbbing, commercial music designed to enable booty shakin' and money makin'.
    I'll send the memo to Stevie Wonder.

  18. #18
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Athens, Greece
    Posts
    688
    My real point was the harmonic focus overshadowing the melodic, and that they need to be balanced out. This doesn't have to be about collegiate study, it can be about serious music study in general.
    But the melodic content that is unique to jazz springs from the harmony. Understanding the harmony helps to understand the melody, which is indeed the point you want to reach. Perhaps the best way to develop that is simply listening to a lot of classic jazz (and related idioms) music, learning the melodies, the songs, etc..

  19. #19
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580

    Pedagogical approach to Music Theory - due for some new thinking?

    The interaction of melody and harmony in jazz is pretty complicated.

    I think the modern way of teaching harmony as a vertical chord symbols incorporating melody and harmonisation together realised into soloing, voicings and so on is simply one option among many.

    Generally I think melody first is good advice and advice that was always offered to me by the better jazz musicians I came into contact with. The harmonisation can be draped over that framework, and can be as radical as you like.

  20. #20
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580
    But that’s just where my head is at right now

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by cosmic gumbo View Post
    I'll send the memo to Stevie Wonder.
    I wouldn't compare Jackson to Wonder, not by a mile.

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    But the melodic content that is unique to jazz springs from the harmony. Understanding the harmony helps to understand the melody, which is indeed the point you want to reach. Perhaps the best way to develop that is simply listening to a lot of classic jazz (and related idioms) music, learning the melodies, the songs, etc..
    Well I don't know if you're talking about improv or composition. But look at how people modify changes. If the progressions are so sacrosanct why do they need to be changed to make a tune interesting?

    Chord progressions are not (full) compositions, strictly speaking. Intellectual property law agrees with that, although that was not my point here.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 09-03-2018 at 11:15 AM.

  23. #23
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Wilmore, KY USA
    Posts
    6,078
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    Well I don't know if you're talking about improv or composition. But look at how people modify changes. If the progressions were so sacrosanct why do they need to be changed to make a tune interesting?

    Chord progressions are not compositions, strictly speaking. Intellectual property law agrees with that, although that was not my point here.
    It isn't that common for changes to be "modified" wholesale. The basic changes outline the main movement of the harmony, the sorts of cadences that occur and where. Most jazz "modifications" do not really change that basic movement, but introduce substitutions that achieve the same sort of shifts but introduce new and interesting sounds. So for example, jazz players might take the 12 bar blues and instead of playing the I7 chord for the first 4 bars, they back-cycle to the IV7 in bar 5. The movement is still a movement up to the IV chord, though. Similarly, tritone substitutions work because they share common notes with the chords they replace. So it isn't just random or willful changes of the changes.

    As to why something needs to be done to make a tune interesting, that's totally the musician's question to answer. It does introduce variety when a tune will be repeated through many choruses, and a specific set of subs can often become the trademark of a particularly player.

    But saying "Musicians alter chord changes of tunes" is not proof that the basic changes aren't important. The word "sacrosanct" is way over-stated. I don't know of any player who would use that word. They will, however, find it helpful to return to the original, basic changes if, for example, a popular set of substitutions become virtually standardized and someone wants to give the tune a refresh.

    Still, even with the wide range of subs possible, most jazz players who play standards would feel some subs might violate the underlying harmonic movement. The changes map a fairly broad course, but it is still a course and not random.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  24. #24
    Good points, but getting slightly off topic. I'm not talking about jazz musicians I'm talking more about composers, regardless of style. But I'm not really talking about composers, I'm talking about music studies and how they do an insufficient job of stimulating compositional instincts and skill sets in students.

    To wit, in both traditional (i.e. classical) and contemporary (i.e. jazz) music theory studies, assignment after assignment after assignment has the student part writing harmonies. Did I voice it wrong?, did I miss a note?, did I miss an accidental?, did I include an incorrect note?, etc. If the answer to all of the above is "no"- I earn an A. There are a few assignments devoted to rhythm and melody but probably 75% - 90% are devoted to harmony. For a 3-hour semester course there are at least a couple of short to medium length assignments per week.

    My contention is that students should be required to write one melody per week, many or even most without harmony, and with certain parameters for each assignment. (32 bars, major/minor key of x, modulations or not, form, variation and articulation, etc.) At the end of theory studies the student would have written 64-96 original melodies, which in turn could be copywritten (although that's another topic). The alternative, which is what we have today, enables the student to earn straight As without a single memorable melody written, and is left to be completely indifferent to same.

    I think that Matt's observation above is insightful. Classical musicians are preparing to be orchestra musicians in most cases, and how could their compositions possibly compete with the masters anyway? (or so the thinking goes). And in jazz ed? The pedagogical tradition was/is carried over to a large extent, and traditionally such students were similarly preparing to be in a big band.

    But the world has changed.
    1. Orchestras are under duress and big bands are almost non-existent.
    2. The bar for being a "composer" is much much lower than being the next Bach, Mozart, Stravinsky or Duke Ellington.
    3. We have laws that protect intellectual property so if you come up with an attractive melody you own it.
    4. One can home record.
    5. One can distribute their music much more easily and reach an audience.


    My points here are perhaps speaking to people who have gone through the full formal curriculum of music training, and/or for people who teach in such an environment. My point is that part writing and harmony are overemphasized relative to melody.

    I'm not saying that we need less harmonic education, I'm saying we need more melodic practice. I believe that the average musician has more to say than they may realize, and I think we need more composers and less writers block.
    Last edited by Jazzstdnt; 09-03-2018 at 12:29 PM.

  25. #25
    Join Date
    Jul 2012
    Location
    Wilmore, KY USA
    Posts
    6,078
    'scuse me professor. I'll bow out, lacking all that formal training and so on.
    - Lawson
    "Whenever you come near the human race, there's layers and layers of nonsense." - Thornton Wilder, Our Town

  26. #26
    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone View Post
    'scuse me professor. I'll bow out, lacking all that formal training and so on.
    Nope, not a professor, haven't put in that much study.

    But I have gone through the full monty, both when young and again when old, and am standing back and looking at the journey, the investment in time and effort, and the outcomes. I'm evaluating the input, process, and output.

    The formal path isn't for everyone, and indeed not necessary for everyone. But it is probably true, like it is for most things, that unless you've done it you can't really fully understand it/relate to it.

  27. #27
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Athens, Greece
    Posts
    688
    Well I don't know if you're talking about improv or composition. But look at how people modify changes. If the progressions are so sacrosanct why do they need to be changed to make a tune interesting?
    I am thinking about both. Players modify both harmony and melody when interpreting a tune, in the spirit of improvisation that's so prevalent to jazz. It is musical growth to be able to really stress a melody, and to be able to approach the chords of the tune in many ways, either as a soloist, accompanist, or collectively as a band.

    I think it all comes down to hearing things, and understanding how they work in a musical context. While studying i had plenty of people stress the importance of really being able to interpret a melody, transcribe vocalists, etc. Writing a melody over your proposed changes is what makes it musical, so of course i see it as very important too.

    Another thing about harmony that i see as jazz specific is its complicacy. At least for me, the initial appeal of jazz and jazz related styles was the beautiful harmonies. It is one of the mysteries of this music to an outsider, more so than the melodies.

    But when studying is concerned, i see no dilemma between these two. Just study both as best you can!! Just practicing playing a simple, slow melody as best i can, and practicing different chord substitutions over changes are two of my best ever things to spend time on !

  28. #28
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Lady Lake Florida
    Posts
    196
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Bach two part inventions etc imo are required reading for all jazz students.
    ...this from the guy who says nothing is required reading but everything is required LISTENING...
    If you can distinguish between rehearsing and practicing...you're better than half way there!

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by delo054 View Post
    It seems like you already have all the answers. Why post if you can't entertain a dialog?
    I think that Matt and Christian understood what I was addressing, while others traveled a little off course into things that were more interesting to them. That's OK, it's the internet. We all do it, including me.

    My point was about making Music Theory, and hence music training itself, more holistic. The traditional pattern is to take 2 years of theory which focuses extensively on harmony, then go on to composition classes, but perhaps only as electives. I am simply challenging that pattern. I don't think that melody focused composition assignments should be as "deferred to the future" as they are. I think that they should be worked in more, and right from the start.

    A review today of some of Berklee's classes (which I have yet to explore) seem encouraging.

    Thanks for the discussion guys, I've said my piece.

  30. #30
    I am a physics undergrad and I read a lot. I think this jazz forum is the only place where I have ever seen the word "pedagogical."

    It's music. Don't over think it. Just have fun!

  31. #31
    Join Date
    Jan 2017
    Location
    Athens, Greece
    Posts
    688
    I think that Matt and Christian understood what I was addressing, while others traveled a little off course into things that were more interesting to them. That's OK, it's the internet. We all do it, including me.
    why ask for opinions if you can't handle different ones?

  32. #32
    Quote Originally Posted by eh6794-2.0 View Post
    I am a physics undergrad and I read a lot. I think this jazz forum is the only place where I have ever seen the word "pedagogical."

    It's music. Don't over think it. Just have fun!

    I hear ya man. And how do you think the average undergrad Oboe major feels about:


    • The radian
    • Elastic collisions
    • Adiabatic processes (oh yeah, gotta have those adiabatic processes)

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Alter View Post
    why ask for opinions if you can't handle different ones?
    Already explained, several times my brother, they were off topic.

    Feel free to start your own thread on a similar but not same topic. Only takes a few keystrokes man. Or, perhaps engage on the question/topic posed. Just sayin'.

  34. #34
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580
    It’s the de Broglie wavelength and inverse Compton scattering that gets me every time

  35. #35
    Join Date
    Apr 2013
    Location
    New York, NY, USA
    Posts
    1,955
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    For discussion and consideration - I have studied a fair amount of music theory off and on over the years (but probably not enough).

    In terms of what it covers (principally - harmony, melody, rhythm, plus a little composition) I believe that it is unbalanced and is overdue for some new thinking. To cut to the chase this is what I mean:


    1. It should increase to six semesters, vs. the typical four (frosh and sophomore)
    2. It should continue to require composition exercises every week.
    3. It should increase its exploration and development of rhythmic knowledge and skill
    4. And last but not least - it should significantly increase its exploration and development of melody writing, knowledge and skill.


    I believe that we would produce many more successful composers if step #4 were advanced.

    I believe that the over-weighting towards harmony makes it a bit mathematical, and too easy to simply "solve for X" (too easy for me and many, many others). I don't believe that the approach stimulates enough creativity and confidence in individual music making. It seems to me that slinging out a melody that is well constructed (even if less than breathtakingly inspired) should be reflexive for a successful music major.

    Thoughts?
    What's the "it" here? Theory requirement for performance majors in a conservatory? Academic music major? Music Ed program? Highly selective or less selective school? Jazz-specific program/school? Different goals and contexts require different academic requirements, IMO. FWIW, where I went to college (demanding university with a well regarded music department, but not a conservatory), there's a core-curriculum plus a lot of distribution requirements that take up a large portion of the undergrad program. I just checked to refresh my memory -- the music major requires 4 semesters of theory. Given the other major requirements, plus the broader undergrad requirements, I don't think 6 semesters of theory would be feasible, or consistent with the intent of the program. I'm not suggesting that this ought to be the model for other music programs; I'm only pointing out that there's more than one kind of music program. Also, an awful lot of great musicians and composers have studied other things, so the path to success as one does not necessarily pass through a music program.

    To Matt.guitar.teacher's point about the futility of a music major, that cuts to the heart of the purpose of undergrad education. It can be specifically vocational, or it can be part of preparing a person more generally for adult life as a citizen and a knowledge worker. For the latter purpose (what my alma mater is mainly about), a music major is basically the same as any other. It's worth doing in and of itself, and it's excellent intellectual training that is applicable to many career paths. But if you're looking to go to music school in order to be a musician, that's a much tougher cost benefit analysis.


    Edit to add:

    I tend to agree that vertical harmony is overemphasized in jazz conversation. Not having majored in music (I stuck with the practical/vocational, and majored in philosophy), I can't say one way or another whether it's overemphasized at the expense of melody in college-level music training, though I wouldn't be surprised if it were. I did take some theory -- Theory I in my college is modal counterpoint; I loved it and found it very useful in my musical journey. I will say, though, that harmony lends itself to academic treatment in a way that I don't think melody does. There are tricks of the trade for coming up with melodies, but inventing a melody is at its core a pretty mystical, inexplicable thing. Harmony, OTOH, is much more rule-bound and structured. So I think it's kind of inevitable that it be a bigger part of curriculum. Plus, string players and singers hate it, and anything to torture them is OK in my book.

    John
    Last edited by John A.; 09-05-2018 at 10:36 AM.

  36. #36
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580

  37. #37
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580
    I think I find playing melodies to be my equivalent of the violinist doing harmony exercises.... difference being it’s so much more vital for most people’s understanding of what music is

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by eh6794-2.0 View Post
    I am a physics undergrad and I read a lot. I think this jazz forum is the only place where I have ever seen the word "pedagogical."

    It's music. Don't over think it. Just have fun!
    You haven't kept up with Physics then- inside a Black Hole , there is a 3rd State of Degenerate Matter - not a Singularity - a
    *Pedagogy .....












    *or maybe not

  39. #39
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580
    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa View Post
    You haven't kept up with Physics then- inside a Black Hole , there is a 3rd State of Degenerate Matter - not a Singularity - a
    *Pedagogy .....








    *or maybe not
    Haha you get 12 Nerd Points, you made this Astrophysics grad laugh.

    I vaguely recall some hypothetical thing about a state of matter that might cause singularities not to form within BH's? Are they quark stars or something else? I don't even know, lol.

    Half the textbooks I had in Uni (20 years ago) are now obsolete.

  40. #40
    I agree with the original post. I took a BA in Composition and Theory from the University of California. The music program skipped quickly over teaching melodic writing theory. It's as if the teachers didn't know much about.

    They neglected the parts about:

    1. Each note in a major scale has a resolution tendency melodically or "tonal gravity" . And they certainly ignored the innovative African American resolution tendencies of the outside notes of the major scale, meaning the resolution of each of the five chromatic notes that are left over (b2, #2, #4, #5, b7) .

    2. They rush over the 5 basic melodic embellishments found in melody and the skip advanced compound ones (double enclosure, triple enclosure and so on).
    Last edited by rintincop; 10-16-2018 at 01:38 AM.
    Epiphone Casino Coupe (Antiquity P90s) Telecaster (Vintage Stack neck, Fender ‘62 bridge) Stratocaster (3X Little '59 ). Monoprice Chinese "Champ" amp clone (Weber alnico 8", Genalex Gold Lion tubes)

  41. #41
    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77 View Post
    Haha you get 12 Nerd Points, you made this Astrophysics grad laugh.

    I vaguely recall some hypothetical thing about a state of matter that might cause singularities not to form within BH's? Are they quark stars or something else? I don't even know, lol.

    Half the textbooks I had in Uni (20 years ago) are now obsolete.
    I suspect that the most pedestrian antiquated thing about Music Theory Books - MIGHT be -
    Modulation -using Pivot Chords .I tried to self teach from that Walter Piston Book when very young and the Pivot Chord thing was more of a hindrance than a help for me in actual composition or just trying to come up with cool chords that were not trapped in one key...

    I like the Roman Numerals thing BUT Pivot Chords seems to be only useful for closely related Keys because to distant 'regions ' [ chordal area] or Keys ...

    The Roman Numeral thing does not work ,it breaks down.
    Also - as I revise my own lack of Theory - I call 'chord progressions' the typical Roman Numeral things including secondary dominants and even tritone subs with a T7
    and etc...for Standards [ which are not my focus ] Roman Numerals can explain them .
    But there are a lot of Modern Harmony things which I call 'root successions' which
    dont use as much Dominant Harmony or are based on common tones linking them etc. with occasional tension release cadences which are only very broadly V-I or vii -i etc I don't even get them by -'Theory ' but I want to find more of them so I I kind of wish there WAS a Theory for them .
    And there are even Cadences which work but are not ii-V-Is or IV -V- Is ...so I guess it's asking too much of a Modern Theory Book to cover a lot of this new ground ?



    Part of being a Writer I suppose is finding stuff that works and the Theory may not be fully written yet on it.

    I am finding and 'hearing' a lot of cool voicings so getting rid of some of the cobwebs of harmonic theory has helped.

    Most Jazz Guitarists I notice are looking more for scales when they think 'Theory ' .

    I am speaking here obviously about Chords and voicings ; having nothing to do with the pompously self importantly named 'Harmonic Major Scale '...lol.
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 10-11-2018 at 11:30 AM.

  42. #42
    Quote Originally Posted by Robertkoa View Post
    I am speaking here obviously about Chords and voicings ; having nothing to do with the pompously self importantly named 'Harmonic Major Scale '...lol.
    Uh, would you go for "Major b6 scale"?

  43. #43
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    Uh, would you go for "Major b6 scale"?
    Yes. Makes more sense - unless there is some trick to building chords with it...(which I don't know-very possible ).

    1] Major b6 scale = best name ...better than ' Cher ' or Harmonic Major...

    If the Majorb6 Scale sounds amazing over
    'Half Breed ' we can nickname it 'Cher'.
    Last edited by Robertkoa; 10-14-2018 at 10:46 AM.

  44. #44
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580
    Yeah I’d go for using the same names for the chords and the chord scales.

    I’ve outlined my preferred scheme elsewhere, but it’s pretty obvious.

    Lydian = Major #11
    Dorian = Minor nat13
    Mixolydian = Dominant
    Altered is a good name (everything flat)

    And so on. Using compound intervals to make it as similar as possible to the chord symbols.

    I think once the chord scales are taught in this way the Greek names can be introduced perhaps. It’s a bit like the way we call a 16th note a semiquaver.

  45. #45
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    Great points Matt. I did take counterpoint, earned an A, but.......... I don't live in the 17th century, and Bach style two-part inventions aren't where I live and breathe and I know that's true for most, although not all I'm sure.

    In fairness, period and style matter. So if we are to focus solely on the traditional/classical curriculum, what I am saying is that deferring a significant focus on melody and form to the third or even fourth year is a disservice, IMO. I think that it requires one to leap over a huge crevasse into something that has not been well enough cultivated to that point.
    As one of my classical theory teachers explained it, all these rules were an attempt to figure out what sounded good and what didn't. Contrapuntal motion sounds good; it's one of the things that makes something sound "musical" instead of "non-musical." A number of my jazz teachers also made the point that really good jazz lines, arrangements, and live interactions often embody many of the principles (although not necessarily the period-specific rules) of counterpoint. So let's not throw the baby (overall musicality) out with the bath water (period-specific rules.)

    As for classical curriculum, could it be that your opinions reflect your own experiences? I studied melody and melodic devices from the get-go in my very first harmony classes as an undergrad at a community college in California. The book for this class was a standard text that drew examples from well known composers like Haydn, Handel, Bach, Beethoven, etc. Maybe your teachers or your curricula took a different approach.

  46. #46
    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine View Post

    As for classical curriculum, could it be that your opinions reflect your own experiences? I studied melody and melodic devices from the get-go in my very first harmony classes as an undergrad at a community college in California. The book for this class was a standard text that drew examples from well known composers like Haydn, Handel, Bach, Beethoven, etc. Maybe your teachers or your curricula took a different approach.
    Well sure. But I went to several schools and at the time everybody was using the same books ("Elementary Harmony" and "Advanced Harmony", by Ottman). There just weren't that many theory books back then.

    Was there melody? Sure, but there were several part writing assignments every week and the bulk of the effort was devoted to making sure you got all the voices right. The melody didn't have to sound like anything special, that's for sure.

    Got all the voices right? Check.
    Lame ass melody? Check
    Grade? A

    I took all the online theory and harmony courses at Berklee in recent years and things weren't too different. The good news is that Berklee has a lot of other songwriting and composition courses that can help with this.

  47. #47
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    Well sure. But I went to several schools and at the time everybody was using the same books ("Elementary Harmony" and "Advanced Harmony", by Ottman). There just weren't that many theory books back then.
    My experience was different. Maybe all the schools you went to were using the same books. I visited some seven different music schools before picking one, and there were a lot of different books just at the two I actually attended. And there were a ton of different books just in the university libraries, too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post

    Was there melody? Sure, but there were several part writing assignments every week and the bulk of the effort was devoted to making sure you got all the voices right. The melody didn't have to sound like anything special, that's for sure.

    Got all the voices right? Check.
    Lame ass melody? Check
    Grade? A

    I took all the online theory and harmony courses at Berklee in recent years and things weren't too different. The good news is that Berklee has a lot of other songwriting and composition courses that can help with this.
    My jazz degree studies at San Jose State University emphasized melody in about a zillion different ways, because knowing how to create and develop good melodic ideas is the difference between good improvisation and just mechanically running scales or patterns. The vast majority of my teachers and classes emphasized the ability to utilize theory in real time, including the ability to hear what other players are doing and respond to it, to write/improvise strong melodies, to reharmonize on the fly, and to arrange (in real time as part of performance, or on paper) in various styles. That may not be the case in non-jazz curricula.

    I can agree with you about the "solve for X" mentality only as it may apply to certain people or situations. The idea of there being "one right answer" is anathema to jazz, and my jazz teachers did not promote that way of thinking. But it would not surprise me if that mindset remains common in non-jazz curricula; I did run into it when studying pre-20th century music. The heavy emphasis on part-writing was definitely part of the landscape in my classically-oriented frosh/soph theory block at a classically oriented school, but that was also what I needed most at the time, so it didn't really bother me. I *wanted* to learn harmony and part writing. Coming up with ideas was not my problem; knowing how to turn them into correctly voice-led SATB was what I was lacking at the time.

    And then jazz school taught me many ways to break every single one of those rules while still sounding good. I feel lucky to have had formal training in both worlds; it allows me to hear and see things in more than one way, to choose from a wide palette.

    Regarding your points 2 and 3, I can't think of a single time during my years in music school when I wasn't required to compose and arrange and transcribe constantly. In the SJSU jazz curriculum, rhythmic development opportunities were everywhere, in classes like Latin jazz ensemble, big band, combos, arranging, piano proficiency, and individual instruction. It was not unusual to have assignments like "write a samba in 7/4 by next week". My jazz arranging classes began with assignments to transcribe solos I was interested in, as a way to learn to think melodically and to learn how to write down those ideas in a way that someone else could read them. Eventually we moved from transcribing other people's ideas to writing our own, and then to arranging them for various ensembles using various techniques. We'd then take those charts into the studio and record them, with students doing the playing, engineering, mixing and producing. Even in my classical studies at another university, I got assignments like "write a piece that follows the rules of 16th century counterpoint" or "write a piece in the style of a Bach invention" etc. (I'm sure you had assignments like these, too. But perhaps other schools don't emphasize original writing as much as the ones I went to.

    So, yeah, different schools and different teachers and different courses of study emphasize different things. In the end, we all have to find our own path, anyhow. As a takeaway, I would say that transcribing or just stealing melodic ideas from players I admire was and still is the best thing I learned for developing my melodic and harmonic conception of jazz, or, as my teachers often put it, "how to think like a jazz player."

    Tube amps rule,

    SJ

  48. #48
    Join Date
    Mar 2013
    Location
    London
    Posts
    13,580
    Tube amps are bogus

  49. #49
    Quote Originally Posted by starjasmine View Post
    My experience was different. Maybe all the schools you went to were using the same books. I visited some seven different music schools before picking one, and there were a lot of different books just at the two I actually attended. And there were a ton of different books just in the university libraries, too.



    My jazz degree studies at San Jose State University emphasized melody in about a zillion different ways, because knowing how to create and develop good melodic ideas is the difference between good improvisation and just mechanically running scales or patterns. The vast majority of my teachers and classes emphasized the ability to utilize theory in real time, including the ability to hear what other players are doing and respond to it, to write/improvise strong melodies, to reharmonize on the fly, and to arrange (in real time as part of performance, or on paper) in various styles. That may not be the case in non-jazz curricula.

    I can agree with you about the "solve for X" mentality only as it may apply to certain people or situations. The idea of there being "one right answer" is anathema to jazz, and my jazz teachers did not promote that way of thinking. But it would not surprise me if that mindset remains common in non-jazz curricula; I did run into it when studying pre-20th century music. The heavy emphasis on part-writing was definitely part of the landscape in my classically-oriented frosh/soph theory block at a classically oriented school, but that was also what I needed most at the time, so it didn't really bother me. I *wanted* to learn harmony and part writing. Coming up with ideas was not my problem; knowing how to turn them into correctly voice-led SATB was what I was lacking at the time.

    And then jazz school taught me many ways to break every single one of those rules while still sounding good. I feel lucky to have had formal training in both worlds; it allows me to hear and see things in more than one way, to choose from a wide palette.

    Regarding your points 2 and 3, I can't think of a single time during my years in music school when I wasn't required to compose and arrange and transcribe constantly. In the SJSU jazz curriculum, rhythmic development opportunities were everywhere, in classes like Latin jazz ensemble, big band, combos, arranging, piano proficiency, and individual instruction. It was not unusual to have assignments like "write a samba in 7/4 by next week". My jazz arranging classes began with assignments to transcribe solos I was interested in, as a way to learn to think melodically and to learn how to write down those ideas in a way that someone else could read them. Eventually we moved from transcribing other people's ideas to writing our own, and then to arranging them for various ensembles using various techniques. We'd then take those charts into the studio and record them, with students doing the playing, engineering, mixing and producing. Even in my classical studies at another university, I got assignments like "write a piece that follows the rules of 16th century counterpoint" or "write a piece in the style of a Bach invention" etc. (I'm sure you had assignments like these, too. But perhaps other schools don't emphasize original writing as much as the ones I went to.

    So, yeah, different schools and different teachers and different courses of study emphasize different things. In the end, we all have to find our own path, anyhow. As a takeaway, I would say that transcribing or just stealing melodic ideas from players I admire was and still is the best thing I learned for developing my melodic and harmonic conception of jazz, or, as my teachers often put it, "how to think like a jazz player."

    Tube amps rule,

    SJ
    different generations too, I'm guessing. There were only a handful of jazz studies programs in the US when i was in college. Many of them now.

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Jazzstdnt View Post
    different generations too, I'm guessing. There were only a handful of jazz studies programs in the US when i was in college. Many of them now.
    1980s. I'm a crusty old curmudgeon. The only jazz programs I knew of back then were at Berklee, U of Miami, N Texas State, and SJSU, although there may have been others. At the time, most university theory blocks ended with a little dash of Stravinsky and Copeland in the final semester, and very few schools made recording technology available to the students. SJSU had a jazz degree, a recording studio and great faculty.

Join our Facebook Page

Get in Touch


Jazz Guitar eBooks
How To Get a Jazz Guitar Tone?
Privacy Policy

 

 

Follow us on:

Jazz Guitar Online on FacebookJazz Guitar Online on TwitterJazz Guitar Online on YoutubeJazz Guitar Online RSS Feed