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  1. #1
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    Werner Poehlert, anyone?

    He was a German jazz guitarist, died in 2000. I've never heard him play and can't find anything on YouTube.

    First heard his name as the author of an odd sounding book called "Basic Mediantic, Blues Mediantic..." Later found out he wrote a book called "Basic Harmony." I've seen the former book (translated from German to English) but not the first one.

    Was wondering if anyone knew about his actual playing. Or had any thoughts about his books, for that matter.
    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 03-25-2019 at 11:26 AM.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

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  3. #2
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    Hi Mark

    Never heard of him either. So I googled...

    First you have to use ö. His name is Pöhlert, not Pohlert.
    If wikipedia is correct, he died on his 72 birthday.
    He has (at least) one son, Jochen Pöhlert, who seems to be alive. You can find a video of him on youtube doing "all of me".

    His book "Grundlagenharmonik" (the original german title, which means the same as basic harmony) seems to be an opus magnum.
    About 940 pages

    The mediantic stuff seems to be a part of this book. The aforementioned son has reprinted the book but shortened it to be a quintessential one. Concerning amazon.de reviews, this was accomplished well, but the book lost some interesting aspects of the original one.
    Another reviewer talked about interesting graphics he used to illustrate harmonic relations and that he seems to dislike CST.

    So all in all it sounds interesting and guess what...

    I'm a lucky guy, because I found out, that my library has this book. As I'm going to visit it on Thursday, I will check it out and report.

  4. #3
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    Werner Pöhlert (1928 - 2000) was a German jazz guitarist, author and university lecturer.
    He was voted best German jazz guitarist in 1956 (a title that in the earlier 1950s Berlin-based Johannes Rediske was known for).

    Due to his substantial teaching activity and the book on harmony Werner Pöhlert had quite an impact on the meager German jazz guitar scene after the war. Similar to the talented Rediske (who turned to composing and arranging, quitting guitar playing) Pöhlert's own records are almost forgotten today. Some 1950's clips of the Wolfgang Lauth quartet (vaguely comparable to the Modern Jazz Quartet) can be found on YouTube with Werner Pöhlert on guitar (see the foto at 5:12):



    Pöhlert's strong 'harmonic influence' can be seen on the fact that Lauth's own job description never was 'pianist' or 'musician', but 'Akkordarbeiter' (chord or piece worker, a pun in German language).

    Pöhlert also collaborated with Ernst-Joachim Berendt.
    Other recordings of the Werner Pöhlert Combo include vocalist Margit Schilling.
    The Pöhlert 'family enterprise' (just google the 1992 CD 'Way out' Musik der 40er und 50er Jahre) is also connected with Complete Vocal Technique, Europe's largest institute for pro and semi-pro singers.


    Pöhlert's adopted son Jochen Pöhlert (Wahl-Weinheimer Jochen Pohlert-Schulte: Er spielt am Beckenrad, im Keller, im Asyl und der Villa - Bergstrasse - Rhein Neckar Zeitung) fully followed in his father's footsteps - a real jack of all trades, multi-instrumentalist, teacher, graphic artist, never afraid to show up both in homeless shelters and millionaire mansions, offering philanthropy and mockery ...


    On some occasions I had the pleasure to play with a pro vibraphonist who has been heavily influenced by the Pöhlerts, both harmonically and humanly; a very nice guy, though maybe a bit too dogmatic in harmonic respect. Definitely my own fault - it's not easy to please someone who likes the full harmonic range/freedom and aural teaching tradition of a Charles Mingus, and many others of the jazz greats.

    Like Attila Zoller, Werner Pöhlert got his own signature Höfner archtop model: The justjazzguitars Collection





    The difference between theory and practice is much higher in practice than in theory.
    Last edited by Ol' Fret; 03-25-2019 at 08:41 AM.

  5. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanford J17 View Post
    Hi Mark

    Never heard of him either. So I googled...

    First you have to use ö. His name is Pöhlert, not Pohlert.

    So all in all it sounds interesting and guess what...

    I'm a lucky guy, because I found out, that my library has this book. As I'm going to visit it on Thursday, I will check it out and report.
    Thanks for all that! I knew about the umlaut but I didn't know how to make one on a keyboard! Look forward to hearing what you make of the book.

    I ran across a copy of "Basic Mediantic" years ago. It did have lots of diagrams in it. Was looking through an old notebook recently and saw a few notes I'd made about the book and thought, "I should have taken more notes because I'm missing something here!" Saw a used copy for $77 online but I'm not THAT interested. ;o)

    IIRC, he makes a lot out of minor 7 chords, so over a D- / G7 / CM7 he might start with D- / D- / E- or D- / F- / E-. Or just A- over the whole thing. (Single notes, I mean.)

    My library doesn't have the book but maybe I can get it thorough inter-library loan.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  6. #5
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    In a nut-shell: according to Pöhlert, different-looking chords can be combined into one chord ("Pöhlert's mediants"), which essentially represents the basis of improvisation for the piece in question. Since this reduction can apply to multiple chord groups within a song, the total number of chords in a song can be reduced. What remains are the Pöhlert mediants which represent the harmony of the respective song - according to Pöhlert. By using these mediants the musicians should be able to improvise with more fluidity and musicality.

    Of course, the Pöhlert system includes much more. To many it's still the bible of basic harmonics (i.e., the original comprehensive work, out of print); above all, visually-driven folks praise the diagrams and graphics. A minority may feel patronized.


    Btw., the correct umlaut representation for the name Pöhlert in English would be Poehlert; Hoefner for Höfner, etc. - but who wants to be correct?

  7. #6
    Quote Originally Posted by Ol' Fret View Post
    Werner Pöhlert (1928 - 2000) was a German jazz guitarist, author and university lecturer.
    He was voted best German jazz guitarist in 1956 (a title that in the earlier 1950s Berlin-based Johannes Rediske was known for).

    Due to his substantial teaching activity and the book on harmony Werner Pöhlert had quite an impact on the meager German jazz guitar scene after the war. Similar to the talented Rediske (who turned to composing and arranging, quitting guitar playing) Pöhlert's own records are almost forgotten today. Some 1950's clips of the Wolfgang Lauth quartet (vaguely comparable to the Modern Jazz Quartet) can be found on YouTube with Werner Pöhlert on guitar (see the foto at 5:12):



    Pöhlert's strong 'harmonic influence' can be seen on the fact that Lauth's own job description never was 'pianist' or 'musician', but 'Akkordarbeiter' (chord or piece worker, a pun in German language).

    Pöhlert also collaborated with Ernst-Joachim Berendt.
    Other recordings of the Werner Pöhlert Combo include vocalist Margit Schilling.
    The Pöhlert 'family enterprise' (just google the 1992 CD 'Way out' Musik der 40er und 50er Jahre) is also connected with Complete Vocal Technique, Europe's largest institute for pro and semi-pro singers.


    Pöhlert's adopted son Jochen Pöhlert (Wahl-Weinheimer Jochen Pohlert-Schulte: Er spielt am Beckenrad, im Keller, im Asyl und der Villa - Bergstrasse - Rhein Neckar Zeitung) fully followed in his father's footsteps - a real jack of all trades, multi-instrumentalist, teacher, graphic artist, never afraid to show up both in homeless shelters and millionaire mansions, offering philanthropy and mockery ...


    On some occasions I had the pleasure to play with a pro vibraphonist who has been heavily influenced by the Pöhlerts, both harmonically and humanly; a very nice guy, though maybe a bit too dogmatic in harmonic respect. Definitely my own fault - it's not easy to please someone who likes the full harmonic range/freedom and aural teaching tradition of a Charles Mingus, and many others of the jazz greats.

    Like Attila Zoller, Werner Pöhlert got his own signature Höfner archtop model: The justjazzguitars Collection
    emmes poehlert was quite the character. may i ask who the vibes player was?

  8. #7
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    Oops!

    Found a copy of an old ad for his books and wanted to insert it here but that did not work. May try again tomorrow.


    You should be able to see it here.

    JazzTimes - Google Books
    Last edited by MarkRhodes; 03-26-2019 at 10:19 PM.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

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    Great ad.

    Those Lady Bird examples remind me of Pat Martinis minor conversion. Now I'm really excited to have a look at the book.

    Fortunately Thursday is tomorrow ;-)

    PS: The natural sign for major7 chords is very unfamiliar to me. Has anybody a clue why it is used instead of the usual triangle for example.

  10. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanford J17 View Post
    Great ad.

    Those Lady Bird examples remind me of Pat Martinis minor conversion. Now I'm really excited to have a look at the book.

    Fortunately Thursday is tomorrow ;-)

    PS: The natural sign for major7 chords is very unfamiliar to me. Has anybody a clue why it is used instead of the usual triangle for example.
    I wondered the same thing about the natural sign! I've never seen it used that way before.

    He does think a lot about minor 7th chords (in their "pentatonic surrounding") and that does bring Martino to mind. I need to know more about this, and practice it to see how it works out for me.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  11. #10
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    I went to the library and lended it.

    I post a few pictures to give you an idea about the book.

    It's HUGE!! Fender pick and tea-pot are there to give you an impression about the actual size.
    Werner Poehlert, anyone?-wp-01-jpg

    It's VERY visually. Except for the first 30 pages, there are hardly any without graphics, notation or special-highlighted text.
    Werner Poehlert, anyone?-wp-02-jpg

    It contains fretboard and keyboard diagrams.
    Werner Poehlert, anyone?-wp-03-jpg

    Like many older books it contains some handwritten stuff.
    Werner Poehlert, anyone?-wp-04-jpg

    And for the last 100 pages, it even flips the direction
    Werner Poehlert, anyone?-wp-05-jpg

  12. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanford J17 View Post
    I went to the library and lended it.

    Thanks for the photos!

    I'm going to order the book from my library. (Inter-library loan.) May take weeks to get it...

    The "Basic Mediantic" book is closer to 150 pages, I think. That actually arrived for me (via ILL) but I have been dealing with a family emergency and have had little time to do more than look at the diagrams. LOTS of diagrams.

    Keep us updated on what you learn!
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  13. #12
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    I've read a little bit in the book. So here is what I've "learned" so far:

    The handwritten pages (9) were his basic concept, that he used for teaching and workshops. They are kind of the summary of the basic harmony part of the book. The foundation for his theory are triads. There are five types of triads for him:
    Major C E G
    Major b5 C E Gb
    Major #5 C E G#
    Minor. C Eb G
    minor b5 C Eb Gb

    Minor #5 would be C E G# which is just another inversion of an Ab-major triad.

    If I understand him correctly, he says that every(!) movement is some sort of V to I resolution. Sometimes disguised and sometimes obvious.
    So his five chord types all have different movement possibilities.
    Major and Minor resolve to 1 other chord: C to F.
    Major b5 shares two notes with the same chord a tritone away. Therefore two resolutions: C to F and Gb to B.
    Major #5 can have all three notes as a root. Therefore three resolutions: C+ to F, E+ to A and G#+ to C#
    4 Minor b5 chords are summarized by one diminished (seventh) chord. Therefore four resolutions.

    The key to use this stuff is combination and reinterpretation of chords.

    His example is the movement from major to minor.
    C > C
    E > Eb
    G > G
    could be reinterpreted as:
    D > G
    Bb> Eb
    G > C
    E > A
    C > F
    So C going to Cm is a disguised form of C9 going to F9.

    This is in VERY short form, the summary of the summary. I guess that a big part of the book are examples to show this way of thinking.

    This book seems to be a kind of "complete works of Werner Pöhlert" thing. The Basic Mediantic thing, Mark talked about, is just a part of this book. And there are several essays of him.

  14. #13
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    Thanks for the summary of the summary!

    I now have (on loan) the "Basic Mediantic" book. Lots of diagrams, both for guitar and piano.

    Unfortunately, I've been dealing with a family crisis (elderly mom fell and broke her shoulder, now in rehab and unhappy about it, plus she has dementia) and have had little time to read and even less concentration when I do. But I'm taking notes and making diagrams.

    He gives examples of applying the approach to the changes of "Just Friends" and "Cherokee". I'll work on that this week, time and concentration permitting.
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  15. #14
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    As far as I understand it, the mediantic thing comes from combining and reinterpretation the chords to a given tune.

    So for our typical ii V

    D F A C
    G B D F A C
    Since both share the Dm7 you could play Dm7 over the whole thing. And by the way, he means minor-pentatonic.

    It is mostly used as a beginners method to play through (even complex) changes, with just a few different "scales" and without "wrong" notes.

    There are several mediants you could use over a given progression. And he also adds some chromatics to the pentatonics. If you combine them all you finally have the chromatic scale. He calls it the "Chameleon-Scale".

    The final goal is to be able to use the chameleon scale properly over any chord progression.

    @Mark
    All the best to you, your mom and your family.

  16. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stanford J17 View Post
    As far as I understand it, the mediantic thing comes from combining and reinterpretation the chords to a given tune.

    So for our typical ii V

    D F A C
    G B D F A C
    Since both share the Dm7 you could play Dm7 over the whole thing. And by the way, he means minor-pentatonic.

    It is mostly used as a beginners method to play through (even complex) changes, with just a few different "scales" and without "wrong" notes.

    There are several mediants you could use over a given progression. And he also adds some chromatics to the pentatonics. If you combine them all you finally have the chromatic scale. He calls it the "Chameleon-Scale".

    The final goal is to be able to use the chameleon scale properly over any chord progression.

    @Mark
    All the best to you, your mom and your family.
    There is a level at which this can be called the "avoid wrong notes" method, but there are deeper levels to it. (Levels at which mistakes may certainly be made!)

    Here is an example (or 3 examples)

    Take a ii V I in C: Dm7 / G7 / CM7 / CM7

    It is possible to play Am7 over all this (and by Am7 he means A-CDE-GA, which gives two of the "pentatonic pairs" Willie Thomas uses to start his teaching method, but that's another story).

    It is also possible to play FM7 / FM7/ Em7 / Em7. (Notice that these mediants are adjacent, descending.

    It is also possible to play Dm7 / Dm7 / Em7 / Em7. (Notice these mediants are a whole step apart, ascending.)

    Also, if one focuses on such lines (and diminshed patterns) it is easier to move around the neck because much of the fingering remains consistent. (Rather than focusing playing lines every way possible, this seems to stress using a few types of lines in every possible situation!)
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  17. #16
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    Last night I worked a bit on the (basic) mediants for "Just Friends" (in G).

    It's going to take time to get used to this approach. Lot of shifting around. But there's a lot of consistency to the fingerings, so once you're used to it, it's a real advantage.

    Anyone interested in seeing a breakdown of them?
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  18. #17
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    My copy of "Basic Harmony" arrived at the library and I picked it up late yesterday. Over 550 pages. This will take a long time to digest.

    But I think there's a lot to it. More to come...
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

  19. #18
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    I'm slowly digesting this. Part is reading, part is playing examples (-lots of examples in "Basic Harmony"), and part is thinking about it away from the guitar.

    Couple non-theoretical things.

    He uses the term "reed style" in the Mediantics book. I think this is better than "horn-like" becuase, well, the trumpet is a horn but not a reed instrument.

    Diagonal fingerings are crucial to this approach.

    Working with this material, I find myself wondering, "why have I stressed playing in position so much?"
    "Learn the repertoire. It’s all in the songs. If you learn 200 songs, you will have no problem improvising."
    Frank Vignola

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