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  1. #101

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    I received this book from Billy Taylor. He did not just recommend it to me; he actually handed it to me, and said, "This will be useful." That was a good enough recommendation for me.

    I didn't read it cover to cover. I have taken stuff out of it that was useful to me at the time, the same way I do with any instruction book.

    And about Barry Harris and the giants not being aware of what they were playing: I seem to remember that somewhere, in one of his videos (or maybe more than one, for all I know) he says something to the effect that one should always be able to repeat an improv, if one is aware of the harmony underneath it.

    I don't imagine I have ever improvised a line that I could actually repeat, unless it was only a measure or two long.

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    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
     
  3. #102

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77


    (As you don't have Mark there in body to teach you, you have to go from the basis of what he actually wrote, or at least what got published.)

    Whoa now you're rocking LITERARY THEORY? What does a text mean? How does it mean? Is it mean? What is the mean among all these mean-ings? Is the text a message from a sender to a receiver via encoding, transmission, decoding? Is it solely the executive means of the author's intentions? What about the author's motives (as opposed to intentions)? Or is it merely a linguistic artifact shorn of any strictures or settings? Can it be negated? Is it merely an instrument of power to marginalize some by imposing an orthodoxy?

    Sorry, just woke up from an Ambien stupor. Sitting on the toilet in another part of the house. No idea how I got there... gotta stop with the sleep aids...

  4. #103

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77

    TBH often I find older players harder to place, in fact. I often find myself thinking - 'who is that 1950's MF on guitar, what a great guitar player who is it?' and it's always Johnny Smith.
    For me the "1950's MF" question always ends up Tiny Grimes or Billy Bauer.

  5. #104

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Whoa now you're rocking LITERARY THEORY? What does a text mean? How does it mean? Is it mean? What is the mean among all these mean-ings? Is the text a message from a sender to a receiver via encoding, transmission, decoding? Is it solely the executive means of the author's intentions? What about the author's motives (as opposed to intentions)? Or is it merely a linguistic artifact shorn of any strictures or settings? Can it be negated? Is it merely an instrument of power to marginalize some by imposing an orthodoxy?

    Sorry, just woke up from an Ambien stupor. Sitting on the toilet in another part of the house. No idea how I got there... gotta stop with the sleep aids...
    Haha death of the author.

    good grief I am so sick of reading BS papers.

  6. #105

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Haha death of the author.

    good grief I am so sick of reading BS papers.
    Seriously. I"m writing a fairly gigantic (500,000 words) commentary of the Old Testament book of Joshua. The literature is enormous, every critical theory imaginable. Some commentators literally read like the papers and books are stones in a creek and they are just hopping from stone to stone. My own approach is to drill into the primary sources: the Hebrew text, archaeology, ancient cultures, and then see what that tells me about the commentators. My editors are a little worried but I think it'll be fresh for the 8 or 9 people who read it.

    I increasingly see playing music like that. I started into jazz with a heavy dose of CST and Aebersold play-a-longs and made rapid initial progress, then fell apart. Now I'm just learning melodies, transcribing solos, picking up bits of "vocabulary" and mainly trying to simply listen and play.

    Whether I'm getting better or not, i don't know; I do know I'm having a ton of fun. Who takes up jazz to read theory books? I think as second-order reflection on fruitful music-making, theory can be very useful. But as an engine of prediction/production, not so much.

  7. #106

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    Well, this comes back to the central question - what is a book like the Jazz Theory Book for?

    Most of the people who seem to like it see it not as theory at all, but a source book of cool ideas. Which I think I said back on the first page of the thread.

    But that isn't how its written... There's a strong element of it trying to be authoritative.

    Again, this possibly links into a basic legitimacy crisis of jazz education. Jazz is - practice oriented in all senses. No one disagrees here, or anywhere. But we feel we have to make it something more to make a case for the subject. In a wider sense, music educators have to do this all the time.

  8. #107

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    It is also meant to be a textbook. It's a teaching tool as part of a broader pedagogical context. The problem would be to see it as a comprehensive resource instead of treating it as just one piece of the puzzle or a reference for simplified isolated concepts that are meant to be incorporated and practised creatively.

  9. #108

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Well, this comes back to the central question - what is a book like the Jazz Theory Book for?

    Most of the people who seem to like it see it not as theory at all, but a source book of cool ideas. Which I think I said back on the first page of the thread.

    But that isn't how its written... There's a strong element of it trying to be authoritative.

    Again, this possibly links into a basic legitimacy crisis of jazz education. Jazz is - practice oriented in all senses. No one disagrees here, or anywhere. But we feel we have to make it something more to make a case for the subject. In a wider sense, music educators have to do this all the time.
    Here's one take on the purpose of a theory:

    "Definition. Theories are formulated to explain, predict, and understand phenomena and, in many cases, to challenge and extend existing knowledge within the limits of critical bounding assumptions. The theoretical framework is the structure that can hold or support a theory of a research study".

    By that definition, it seems to me that Levine's book qualifies as at least "scraps of theory" - which may be all the field really supports. That is, understanding and explaining major scale harmony as in say, Satin Doll, does not predict McCoy's use of fourth voicings, aspects of melodic minor usage or strongly outside playing. I'd guess a case could be made, but there's a limit to the contortions of theory that are tolerable.

    Levine does, however, explain, to a degree, a number of jazz innovations and devices. He writes perfectly clearly -- which itself is an innovation in this field -- and gives plenty of real-world examples of the points he's making.

    What he does not do is provide an instruction manual for playing a song. And, of course, that's what everybody was hoping for.

  10. #109

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    Seriously. I"m writing a fairly gigantic (500,000 words) commentary of the Old Testament book of Joshua. The literature is enormous, every critical theory imaginable. Some commentators literally read like the papers and books are stones in a creek and they are just hopping from stone to stone. My own approach is to drill into the primary sources: the Hebrew text, archaeology, ancient cultures, and then see what that tells me about the commentators. My editors are a little worried but I think it'll be fresh for the 8 or 9 people who read it.
    This actually sounds more interesting than a music theory book.

  11. #110

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    This actually sounds more interesting than a music theory book.
    “Joshua fit the battle of Jericho” — possibly
    ”The walls came tumblin’ down” — certainly
    ”Joshua fit the battle of Jericho and [sc. ‘then’] the walls came tumblin’ down” — false

  12. #111

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  13. #112

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    There’s nothing so effective as a really tight brass section.

    The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine-bdf45f45-b022-4a36-8601-a364b03386cb-jpg

  14. #113

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    Quote Originally Posted by grahambop
    There’s nothing so effective as a really tight brass section.

    The Jazz Theory Book by Mark Levine-bdf45f45-b022-4a36-8601-a364b03386cb-jpg
    Article in this week’s New Yorker about contention amongst Israeli archaeologists states that the walls were already down when the brass section arrived.

    [Mandatory guitar content: not that? New Yorker.]

  15. #114

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    Here's one take on the purpose of a theory:

    "Definition. Theories are formulated to explain, predict, and understand phenomena and, in many cases, to challenge and extend existing knowledge within the limits of critical bounding assumptions. The theoretical framework is the structure that can hold or support a theory of a research study".
    My version:

    Theories are descriptive ideas formulated based on observation of a limited sampling of relevant material as collated by the theorizer(s).
    The content chosen and the conclusions arrived at are based on previous education, experience and cultural orientation. Pragmatically speaking,
    theory posits a set of experiments that can be undertaken in hopes of manifesting results related to the material referenced and possibly beyond. Whether an idea is found to be helpful moving towards a personal goal is far more relevant than how universally it is decided to have merit.

  16. #115

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Here's one take on the purpose of a theory:

    "Definition. Theories are formulated to explain, predict, and understand phenomena and, in many cases, to challenge and extend existing knowledge within the limits of critical bounding assumptions. The theoretical framework is the structure that can hold or support a theory of a research study".

    By that definition, it seems to me that Levine's book qualifies as at least "scraps of theory" - which may be all the field really supports. That is, understanding and explaining major scale harmony as in say, Satin Doll, does not predict McCoy's use of fourth voicings, aspects of melodic minor usage or strongly outside playing. I'd guess a case could be made, but there's a limit to the contortions of theory that are tolerable.
    So within music edu there's been a historical split between the conservatoires (17th century on) and the universities (19th century on.) Academic music theory is not necessarily to do with performance. Conservatoires teach the skills required to be a professional musician, be it performance or composition (originally students studied both, and improvisation too.)

    There isn't a really good single word for what conservatoires teach composers for instance, maybe craft; technique is another. But composers don't really study theory, because they are doing music (writing it).

    Historically this split occurred when Rameau published his harmony - which first introduced the idea of theoretical root movement. His was perhaps the first theory; a system of thought which attempted to explain why music sounds good. What existed before was craft; voice lead this way, use these combinations, avoid consecutives, resolve leading tones upward, resolve the fourth downwards, that sort of stuff. A great many rules of thumb applied in practice. (Regelski characterises this as a split between aesthetics and praxis.)

    You can probably see the comparison between 'scraps of theory' and an attempt to create a theory that explains the music. The first thing is of relevance to the musician, the second is of relevance to the musical scholar. Two different paths.

    Jazz has historically been oriented towards 'getting on with it', not 'explaining it' - it's praxial (although it does have a strong aesthetic too).

    (There are these days, plenty of musicology Phd theses on the other hand, attempting to explain why Wayne Shorter sounds good with trapezoids or whatever, that aren't focussed towards playing.)

    So, those that find the Levine books to be useful do so because it belongs to the 'getting on with it', praxis category of cool stuff that can be used in music. As a theory of the music, it's just a bad example of something which is probably a bad idea to begin with. It all sort of reinforces what I already suspected.

    Anyway, I don't think anyone particularly seems to want to argue that corner...

    Levine does, however, explain, to a degree, a number of jazz innovations and devices. He writes perfectly clearly -- which itself is an innovation in this field -- and gives plenty of real-world examples of the points he's making.
    Yes his writing style is pretty good (I find it a little annoying, but that's mostly because I'm not its intended audience). That's one of things I like about the book.

    What he does not do is provide an instruction manual for playing a song. And, of course, that's what everybody was hoping for.
    That's really not the problem I have with it. It's actually hard or impossible to teach people how to play jazz, you can only help them learn guide them, offer ideas... I can't fault Levine's book for not being able to do that. It's an unreasonable expectation.

    So, I've got a slightly different set of concerns to a lot of commenters. I'm not purely learning how to play the music, though that quest continues, my best resources for that are generally, as Joel (and Mark) says, the music itself. I don't really need theory books any more. Instead I'm commenting on pedagogical technique, problems and issues, and potential solutions.

    So, I could envisage a much better resource for the purpose it is often used for. This book does get used as a bit of a theoretical bible. I sometimes have to bite my tongue when I see educators giving out information I actually know to be wrong, and a lot of it can be traced back to this and similar works. Now some simplifications are appropriate in education, but I feel actually, we are missing a whole bunch of tricks by focussing on the music through this lens. Plus as an improvisation method, and remember this is actually what it gets used for in the wild, it has a lot of problems. You could do a lot better than this even with books that are out there.

    Clearly the book is an outgrowth of CST, and that has many many criticisms levelled at it from all corners. Even many of the educators who use it seem to dislike it. Still it get used a lot in education, and feel this maybe in part because it presents as a complete theoretical system, and it is also conveniently available.

    Above all the biggest problem is that - students struggle to play changes. Consistently. We need better resources for teaching that and to stop using this book cos it says 'Theory' on the front.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-23-2020 at 06:46 PM.

  17. #116

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    When learning a theory, the thing I'm interested is prediction. Does the theory predict things and do the predictions come true.

    So, when Einstein posited a theory and the red shift near the planet Mercury later confirmed the theory, well, that's my idea of a theory.

    What does jazz theory predict?

    One of my criticisms is that it can "explain" anything. We have an old thread with theoretical explanations of an F# against a G7. My reaction: if the theory can explain any note against any chord, it's worthless. Levine acknowledges that any note can be played against any chord, but, at least, he does indicate that some are "handle with care" notes. Others put notes in categories of chord tones, extensions and tensions, with gradations of tension. I'd accept that as a scrap of theory. It does tell you something (not everything) about what is likely to work.

    I think there are a lot of examples like that in jazz and in Levine's book. It's a collection of scraps, not a Unified Field Theory of Jazz.

    This is because jazz was invented over time by a large number of people, including some influential innovators. It was not created all at once by a Creator. Post hoc analysis of all-of-jazz is tempting but, apparently, futile.

  18. #117

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    rpose of a theory:

    What he does not do is provide an instruction manual for playing a song. And, of course, that's what everybody was hoping for.
    That is not true. He does provide a system to play any tune on piano. That is perhaps what the book succeeds at. See "The Jazz Piano Book", Chapter Three: "Three Note Voicings". The chapter does provide a system for playing any tune. He then expands from that foundation with added color tones and hip voicings, drop 2, block chords, upper structure triads, stide, Bud Powell voicings, salsa, etc, etc.... The second half of "The Jazz Theory" book provides many systems for re-harmonization. By the way, buried in the rehar section are three systems used by the likes of Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock when they compose. I have tried to suggest it before but was dismissed on this forum by our resident authority on all matters of jazz, education and music. His later book How to Voice Standards at the Piano: The Menu by Mark ... offers a system, set of hip voicings dependant on what note is in the melody. I have seen no mention of that book in this thread. This thread really does not go into any depth with the material that Levine shares. I assume nobody here but me has read the Menu book or "Jazz Piano Masterclass with Mark Levine - The Drop 2 Book" (block chords) Book also by Mark. It offers numerous tweaks that Barry Harris has not thought of.

    I've a hard time reading all these opinions expressed in this thread as if they were factual. Some of you would be a lot more readable if you occasionally qualified your pros with phrases such as "in my opinion", "perhaps", or "maybe" instead of writing so dogmatically. So far, I have not learned anything positive among the more verbose posts.

    I confess I have memorized every detail of all Mark's books, in all 12 keys, over the past 35 years. Every single concept he touched on I made flashcards, hundreds of them, in all 12 keys. I then spent 4-5 hours every day drilling them for years until they were totally subconscious and instantaneous as if I was a native speaker of a language. I'm glad I have the knowledge in my toolbox (brain). I also concurrently have studied with Barry Harris since the 1980's and his training is more applicable to melody making, thus his influence provided perhaps the most valuable tools in my personal toolbox. I also studied with Hal Galper, Mark Isham and Art Lande.
    Last edited by rintincop; 06-23-2020 at 09:50 PM.

  19. #118

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    When learning a theory, the thing I'm interested is prediction. Does the theory predict things and do the predictions come true.

    So, when Einstein posited a theory and the red shift near the planet Mercury later confirmed the theory, well, that's my idea of a theory.

    What does jazz theory predict?

    One of my criticisms is that it can "explain" anything. We have an old thread with theoretical explanations of an F# against a G7. My reaction: if the theory can explain any note against any chord, it's worthless.
    Yeah - on the other hand thinking 'note on chord' isn't going to get you very far undestanding what's going on in jazz lines. You have to listen horizontally. Lines, even voicings are not obliged to have any vertical relationship with resolving chords. You can play any note you wish in this situation if you know how to resolve. You can see this endlessly in the recorded history of the music.

    By treating all chords as essentially equal, as CST tends to, you lose the sense of that. A dominant chord can have a 'sound' (lyd dom, whole tone etc) but that's separate to its resolving function. A skilled jazz improviser, such as Peter Bernstein or Barry Harris, picks which vertical relationships they choose to honour, and which they choose to ignore.

    Levine acknowledges that any note can be played against any chord, but, at least, he does indicate that some are "handle with care" notes.
    Here's a question - why is this important?

    Others put notes in categories of chord tones, extensions and tensions, with gradations of tension. I'd accept that as a scrap of theory. It does tell you something (not everything) about what is likely to work.
    I prefer the word 'resource.' Theory would imply that it is something theoretical, whereas the point of this stuff is that you apply it.

    I prefer Stephon Harris's system as a way to organise vertical voicings like this. It includes all the sounds in CST but is a lot more precise and specific. I sometimes feel people think all the voicings within a single mode are somehow musically interchangeable and this is 100% not the case, to the detriment of the music. Again, generalisation is a necessary evil of theory.

    I think there are a lot of examples like that in jazz and in Levine's book. It's a collection of scraps, not a Unified Field Theory of Jazz.

    This is because jazz was invented over time by a large number of people, including some influential innovators. It was not created all at once by a Creator. Post hoc analysis of all-of-jazz is tempting but, apparently, futile.
    Indeed. I think futile is exactly the right word.

  20. #119

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    That is not true. He does provide a system to play any tune on piano. That is perhaps what the book succeeds at. See "The Jazz Piano Book", Chapter Three: "Three Note Voicings". The chapter does provide a system for playing any tune. He then expands from that foundation with added color tones and hip voicings, drop 2, block chords, upper structure triads, stide, Bud Powell voicings, salsa, etc, etc.... The second half of "The Jazz Theory" book provides many systems for re-harmonization. By the way, buried in the rehar section are three systems used by the likes of Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock when they compose. I have tried to suggest it before but was dismissed on this forum by our resident authority on all matters of jazz, education and music. His later book How to Voice Standards at the Piano: The Menu by Mark ... offers a system, set of hip voicings dependant on what note is in the melody. I have seen no mention of that book in this thread. This thread really does not go into any depth with the material that Levine shares. I assume nobody here but me has read the Menu book or "Jazz Piano Masterclass with Mark Levine - The Drop 2 Book" (block chords) Book also by Mark. It offers numerous tweaks that Barry Harris has not thought of.

    I've a hard time reading all these opinions expressed in this thread as if they were factual. Some of you would be a lot more readable if you occasionally qualified your pros with phrases such as "in my opinion", "perhaps", or "maybe" instead of writing so dogmatically. So far, I have not learned anything positive among the more verbose posts.
    Well TBF, it is the internet. Things often sound more vehement than they are actually meant.

    I'd just move on if I could, but I can't, which makes me grumpy (and verbose) because I'm stuck with it. As I say, Mark could not have predicted that it gets used as a basic jazz theory guide and a basis for many beginner jazz syllabuses (though I reckon that's exactly what Sher wanted); that students tend to read it early on and get totally the wrong idea about what playing jazz entails. It doesn't change the fact that this happens.

    In that sense it's really good to know the stuff that's actually in it - in all the most popular books - because I can find a way to address it, and where possible, build on it, link it to other knowledge. It's bit like how you had to know what was in the Real Book even if you had learned the tunes another way. Or that some people think of the first chord of Just Friends as the I chord. You need a strategy for dealing with that issue.

    I confess I have memorized every detail of all Mark's books, in all 12 keys, over the past 35 years. Every single concept he touched on I made flashcards, hundreds of them, in all 12 keys. I then spent 4-5 hours every day drilling them for years until they were totally subconscious and instantaneous as if I was a native speaker of a language. I'm glad I have the knowledge in my toolbox (brain). I also concurrently have studied with Barry Harris since the 1980's and his training is more applicable to melody making, thus his influence provided perhaps the most valuable tools in my personal toolbox. I also studied with Hal Galper, Mark Isham and Art Lande.
    That's a very good point about Barry - 'melody making.' Although, Barry Harris isn't for the beginner either. Or at least I've not had much success teaching it to starting jazzers. Actually it's pretty good for somebody who read the JTB but can't actually play jazz lines. Usually that's a player who actually has a lot of guitar knowledge because they've spent so much time working on scale and modes. Barry gives a way to turn that into music.

    This entails translating Barry Harris to people who use CST/mainstream terms - bebop scale, mixolydian etc. I think Barry's terms are clearer, but they are not the lingua franca. Barry purists hate this, but I think it is probably necessary development. This stuff is too valuable not be made accessible.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-24-2020 at 05:00 AM.

  21. #120

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    Quote Originally Posted by pcjazz
    Article in this week’s New Yorker about contention amongst Israeli archaeologists states that the walls were already down when the brass section arrived.

    [Mandatory guitar content: not that? New Yorker.]
    That article is an interesting example of presenting a number of facts that are true enough, but assembled into a package that has legitimacy but is not the only possible package. It also only cites people on one side of the David-Solomon debate. There are equally skilled and prestigious archaeologists on the other side of Finkelstein who did not get fair presentation. Kind of like an article on jazz that only presents fusion as real jazz, to the neglect of bebop or other contemporary currents. Or which cite great jazz players who use Telecasters as proof that the day of the archtop is over.

    Mandatory guitar content!

    AND: my little digression was an analogy only, not an overture to discuss historiography.

  22. #121

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    That article is an interesting example of presenting a number of facts that are true enough, but assembled into a package that has legitimacy but is not the only possible package. It also only cites people on one side of the David-Solomon debate. There are equally skilled and prestigious archaeologists on the other side of Finkelstein who did not get fair presentation. Kind of like an article on jazz that only presents fusion as real jazz, to the neglect of bebop or other contemporary currents. Or which cite great jazz players who use Telecasters as proof that the day of the archtop is over.

    Mandatory guitar content!

    AND: my little digression was an analogy only, not an overture to discuss historiography.
    Oh no it's too late now.. .the genie is out of the bottle! ;-)

  23. #122

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    Quote Originally Posted by lawson-stone
    That article is an interesting example of presenting a number of facts that are true enough, but assembled into a package that has legitimacy but is not the only possible package. It also only cites people on one side of the David-Solomon debate. There are equally skilled and prestigious archaeologists on the other side of Finkelstein who did not get fair presentation. Kind of like an article on jazz that only presents fusion as real jazz, to the neglect of bebop or other contemporary currents. Or which cite great jazz players who use Telecasters as proof that the day of the archtop is over.

    Mandatory guitar content!

    AND: my little digression was an analogy only, not an overture to discuss historiography.
    Probably deserves a new thread. In another forum...

  24. #123

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    Lol

  25. #124

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    Time for a forum sabbatical.

  26. #125

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    Mark Levine playing in his systems
    Last edited by rintincop; 06-25-2020 at 03:50 AM.

  27. #126

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    Mark Levine published all about block chords in 1989 in "The Jazz Piano Book" and in perhaps a more organized manner than Barry Harris has. Mark also offered some hip tweaks that Barry does not offer and Barry has many creative examples of his own. Barry has not published his own book to my knowledge. Barry uses melodic minor scale block chords over the minor 7 flat five (D-7b5) and V7 alt (G7#9 b13) chords and also over the tonic minor (C-6 and C-maj7). Mark does too, but Mark goes further and addresses all the modes of melodic minor, as did Herbie Hancock. I think John Mehagan was the first to publish lessons on block chords.Block chords were was played before George Shearing by pianists Phil Moore , Art Bruckner, etc.

  28. #127

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    I'll never forget the four-hour long workshop in Berkeley CA that Mark Levine hosted featuring his guest Barry Harris. Mark and Barry sat together at the piano and showed each other block chord ideas for hours. Mark is a master of block chords and is very deep into them, his systems add a lot of tension and bite to the voicings, very modern sounding. Mark and Barry both enjoyed each other's ideas and got along well. Mark recorded and later transcribed the whole session and I still revisit thoat 25 page transcription he gave me of those examples. I have not seen many of Barry's examples form that day in any of the books published by Barry's disciples. If you have not read Levine's Jazz Piano Masterclass with Mark Levine - The Drop 2 Book ... (the topic is all block chords, 6 dim scale type stuff, with unique tweaks, and application tips, many of the ideas are not found in Barry's workshops)

  29. #128

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    Mark Levine published all about block chords in 1989 in "The Jazz Piano Book" and in perhaps a more organized manner than Barry Harris has. Mark also offered some hip tweaks that Barry does not offer and Barry has many creative examples of his own. Barry has not published his own book to my knowledge. Barry uses melodic minor scale block chords over the minor 7 flat five (D-7b5) and V7 alt (G7#9 b13) chords and also over the tonic minor (C-6 and C-maj7). Mark does too, but Mark goes further and addresses all the modes of melodic minor, as did Herbie Hancock. I think John Mehagan was the first to publish lessons on block chords.Block chords were was played before George Shearing by pianists Phil Moore , Art Bruckner, etc.
    Originally I think block chords were a sax section harmony technique, four way close, drop 2 etc comes from arranging... that's how I've heard it told.

    The interesting thing is that someone who was researching the history told me sax sections would take a melody and do this on the fly - so they'd all use the 8 note scale harmonisation too harmonise the melody line, without having to have it notated. Just start on your note. Gospel vocal harmonisations run the same sort of technique but with a 6 note scale 1 2 3 4 5 6 1 (I would wonder if it's helpful if the scale not be a full diatonic scale for this type of thing?)

    From this POV we can see things like four way close and drop2 etc less as an arranger's technique but a specific role that each player - alto, tenor or baritone, would know from experience and apprenticing in bands.

    The practice got moved to piano...

    Apparently this can all be traced back to African harmonic techniques using the balafon and so on called 'spanning' which will actually be familiar to any jazz pianist if I described it. I can give a reference to the paper if you like, it's super interesting.

    I have a friend who worked out the minor 6th diminished scale from listening to Lester Young. He called it the Lester Young minor; never checked out Barry's theories. So it was all there on the records...

  30. #129

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    Where do you think the arrangers worked out the horn arrangements??? The piano.
    It's like arguing which came first the chicken or the egg. It's a waste of time.

  31. #130

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    Does that matter? Where do you think the arrangers worked out the horn arrangements??? The piano.
    They didn't have to - that's the point. The sax players would just do it.

  32. #131

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    False. You are pulling at straws. It's a big band technique that was arranged. Four way close and Drop 2 are big band arrangement techniques, with passing notes harmonized as diminished.

  33. #132

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    It was folks like pianist Phill Moore who were arranging four-way close with diminished passing chords for the Dorsey Orchestra, the Harry James Band and the Basie Band etc. Horn players that arranged for sections would go to pianos to work it out. It wasn't Lester Young doing 4 way close arrangements by ear for big bands

  34. #133

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    False. You are pulling at straws. It's a big band technique that was arranged. Four way close and Drop 2 are big band arrangement techniques, with passing notes harmonized as diminished.
    Hey what? I'm not pulling at anything.

    I just thought it was an interesting thing. It was a long time ago he told me this, mind.

    It's not unusual for horn players to improvise harmonies of course. This would be a fairly straight forward way of doing it in four voices. Think about it.

    Take the melody, drop it by the relevant interval of the relevant key tonic chord (so in C major, if the melody is on E, you play C, A or G depending) and harmonise it with the same melodic shape but using the 8 note scale. You could totally do it with practice.

    It also shows the Barry Harris wasn't really 'inventing' the scale (he always claims it has been around for centuries.) Again I find that interesting, because we tend to think of Barry as being the originator of those eight note scales.

  35. #134

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    It was folks like pianist Phill Moore who were arranging four-way close with diminished passing chords for the Dorsey Orchestra, the Harry James Band and the Basie Band etc. Horn players that arranged for sections would go to pianos to work it out. It wasn't Lester Young doing 4 way close arrangements by ear for big bands
    You are putting words in my mouth again.

    I don't think my friend worked out the scale listening to arrangements. Again I'm not sure what Lester he listened to. He just demonstrated the scale, said where he got it from - and I said - oh that's the Barry Harris min6-dim and he said what's that? I got this from Lester.

    Tickle Toe is an obvious dim7 - m thing, but it's not dim7 - m6. Perhaps someone who knows Prez really well might know an example?

    Barry says he got these lines from Coleman Hawkins...

    EDIT: furthermore, I think I read somewhere that Eddie Durham worked on a lot of the early Baisie arrangements. I haven't really dug deep into transcribing big band stuff (I know people who have, so could ask them), so I couldn't personally offer much about what I've heard in terms of their harmonisation style, but I think they used different schemes. For instance, in One O Clock Jump, they use a different scale - but the process is similar. I can dig out my source for that (very interesting paper) if you are interested.

    Again, I think we tend to underestimate historically the extent jazz was communally composed. While there were certainly arrangers, being able to tell the saxes to 'harmonise a melody' would certainly be helpful for speed, and TBH if you spent 8 shows+ a week playing this stuff off chart, I don't find it at all outlandish that players could do this. The harmony of that era is pretty standardised. So maybe that stuff was never on chart.

  36. #135

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    If you haven't studied big band arranging you should, it was involved in important developments of jazz harmony/arranging. I majored in big band arranging at Berkelee in the 80's. Every day for two years we mostly studied the Count Basie and Duke Ellington Band arrangements. We harmonized melodies; the so-called "C6 diminished scale" was dead obvious to anybody, we knew all that, it's like talking about the ABCs. Then we progressed to Stan Kenton and Gil Evans. Every day we would arrange a different standard for the sections of a big band. Berkelee had a fantastic highly detailed course sequence at that time.

  37. #136

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    That is not true. He does provide a system to play any tune on piano. That is perhaps what the book succeeds at. See "The Jazz Piano Book", Chapter Three: "Three Note Voicings". The chapter does provide a system for playing any tune. He then expands from that foundation with added color tones and hip voicings, drop 2, block chords, upper structure triads, stide, Bud Powell voicings, salsa, etc, etc.... The second half of "The Jazz Theory" book provides many systems for re-harmonization. By the way, buried in the rehar section are three systems used by the likes of Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock when they compose. I have tried to suggest it before but was dismissed on this forum by our resident authority on all matters of jazz, education and music. His later book How to Voice Standards at the Piano: The Menu by Mark ... offers a system, set of hip voicings dependant on what note is in the melody. I have seen no mention of that book in this thread. This thread really does not go into any depth with the material that Levine shares. I assume nobody here but me has read the Menu book or "Jazz Piano Masterclass with Mark Levine - The Drop 2 Book" (block chords) Book also by Mark. It offers numerous tweaks that Barry Harris has not thought of.

    I've a hard time reading all these opinions expressed in this thread as if they were factual. Some of you would be a lot more readable if you occasionally qualified your pros with phrases such as "in my opinion", "perhaps", or "maybe" instead of writing so dogmatically. So far, I have not learned anything positive among the more verbose posts.

    I confess I have memorized every detail of all Mark's books, in all 12 keys, over the past 35 years. Every single concept he touched on I made flashcards, hundreds of them, in all 12 keys. I then spent 4-5 hours every day drilling them for years until they were totally subconscious and instantaneous as if I was a native speaker of a language. I'm glad I have the knowledge in my toolbox (brain). I also concurrently have studied with Barry Harris since the 1980's and his training is more applicable to melody making, thus his influence provided perhaps the most valuable tools in my personal toolbox. I also studied with Hal Galper, Mark Isham and Art Lande.
    Didn't mean to criticize. I already posted that I think it's a great book. Yes, he provided a system with quite a few details. I was alluding to the sort of instruction manual that tells you how to assemble a bookcase. That doesn't , and presumably can't, exist for jazz. No disrespect at all to Mark's book.

  38. #137

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    Quote Originally Posted by rintincop
    If you haven't studied big band arranging you should, it was involved in important developments of jazz harmony/arranging. I majored in big band arranging at Berkelee in the 80's. Every day for two years we mostly studied the Count Basie and Duke Ellington Band arrangements. We harmonized melodies; the so-called "C6 diminished scale" was dead obvious to anybody, we knew all that, it's like talking about the ABCs. Then we progressed to Stan Kenton and Gil Evans. Every day we would arrange a different standard for the sections of a big band. Berkelee had a fantastic highly detailed course sequence at that time.
    Well, it's something I would certainly enjoy hugely, if time would permit and if I could find a band to persuade to play my dreadful charts haha (I do play in a good pro local big band. but its very much a Buddy Rich/Basie pad.) I love the classic stuff, and enjoy the very contemporary stuff too; Bob Minzter's arrangements and so on.

    But surely that's the point - the C6-dim scale was dead obvious. And you could imagine people just coming up with ad-hoc arrangements using it easily enough. People probably don't learn that now just because there's not much point as harmony in jazz has changed a lot. Maybe specialists in 40s music might be interested in relearning that skill.... but, we have charts...

    You know, at the end of it, I've actually got a lot out of revisiting the Jazz Theory Book. I'm warming up to it as it gets into the more advanced subjects. This is the meat of it. He doesn't want to have to explain the melodic minor modes, really, does he?

    Reading it again, I feel in a much better position, because I know what's in it and what isn't. Would I recommend it? Yes, actually, but to the right student only, who was ready for it.

    For my own part, mostly I feel I learn things best when I go through the process Mark did to write the book. Where I enjoy the book most is where I can detect the glee behind the words where he relates some discovery or other that he obviously really enjoyed working out. Rather than make me want to read through his examples, it makes me want to go out and explore the music more.

  39. #138

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Didn't mean to criticize. I already posted that I think it's a great book. Yes, he provided a system with quite a few details. I was alluding to the sort of instruction manual that tells you how to assemble a bookcase. That doesn't , and presumably can't, exist for jazz. No disrespect at all to Mark's book.
    Every book should be read critically. (Apart from paperbacks on the beach.)

    Anyway, you'd think.. but Barry Harris actually does offer a sort of flat-pack approach to assembling jazz (well bop) lines. It's pretty amazing that's even possible.

  40. #139

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    Yea... I have 100's of big band arrangements. Before we got shut down... I was working with a few BB's , old charts and some of my newer ones... I learns voicing terms from arranging and orchestration teachers back in the 70's. I'm not a fan of BH... do respect his jazz voice and what he does, just don't like Diminished organization... I studies with Herb and went through his arranging classes back at Berklee and performed a few gigs back east. Didn't really think the vid of Mark with Wayne playing Easy Living at Pearls was that cool. And the block chord pn thing is thick... I've had the chance to perform with Mark doing his latin thing, with Mary Fettif and some other great performers... Mark can play and Mary is incredible player... anyway... composing and arranging for large ensembles, even smaller 4 horn bands... teaches your ears to hear complete harmonic organizations. You can't fake it...Big difference between just making head arrangements at gigs... most working jazz musicians can easily play live simple head arrangements...melody harmony lines and background lines for soloist... I'm just a guitar player and I play harmony lines to melodies all the time. Pretty easy to play melody up a 3rd or down a 6th and throw in some Blue notes at targets. I've posted this vid before... but is example of just faking a counter line
    Very casual gig, I'm a sub ...

  41. #140

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    Fair enough. I now have my copy in front of me (first time I've had access to it in the duration of this thread).

    Some comments:

    Good glossary right at the start.

    Intervals with examples from tunes. I think it’s better done with more familiar songs, for the purpose of learning the sounds.

    Nice basic discussion of modes. Explains voice leading, cycle of 5ths.

    Defines modal jazz.

    Introduces chord scale theory. I like his take on chords and scales being the same thing. Well, more or less. A bunch of basic info on each mode. A lot of detail which takes some time to internalize. I didn't re-read all the text, but, hopefully, he mentioned that there are other ways to make music.

    Introduces concept of avoid note.

    Then, his best chapter, IMO, on melodic minor usages.

    Next diminished harmony, then WT.

    Then, extensive notes on how to apply scales to tunes, with examples from masters, and the important skill of connecting scales as chords change, if you’re going to want to acquire that kind of sound.

    He might be read as having a doctrinaire, rule-based approach, but I don't read it that way. I think it's more of a scraps of theory approach, with some very substantial scraps.

    I’m going to stop here, for now. That’s the first 120 pages or so.

    For those of us who learned one tune and one sound at a time, without fitting these things into a more comprehensive way of looking at the music, the foregoing strikes me as excellent.

    Does it inform you on how to play? To an extent. Does it improve your ability to talk to your fellow musician? Absolutely, if you didn’t already have this vocabulary. Does it give you a framework for understanding what a master may have practiced? Yes. An appreciation for how the masters use the devices covered? Sure. Something to work on, no matter what your level? Probably, for most, yes, for me.

    Now, I don't have some other perspective to view Levine's book. I've read Nettles and Graf and I have the usual shelf of guitar methods. But, there's nothing on that shelf that covers what Levine covers. And, certainly not with the same level of clarity. I had an experience I've had with some other subjects that I came to in a piecemeal fashion. Even when you've hacked your way to some level of expertise, it can be a relief to read about the subject the way it's usually taught from the beginning. I felt that way about this book.

    When I read it, a sent him an email complimenting him on writing the best textbook I've ever used. And, I have used a great many. I got a nice note back, btw. I met him sometime later at a group lunch, but never talked about music. I'm not surprised that it has become a standard in the field.

    Admittedly, I don't think I understand all the criticisms. I may not have enough background in jazz ed for that. Sometimes people criticize a piece of work for what it is not. Is that happening here?

  42. #141

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Fair enough. I now have my copy in front of me (first time I've had access to it in the duration of this thread).

    Some comments:

    Good glossary right at the start.

    Intervals with examples from tunes. I think it’s better done with more familiar songs, for the purpose of learning the sounds.

    Nice basic discussion of modes. Explains voice leading, cycle of 5ths.

    Defines modal jazz.

    Introduces chord scale theory. I like his take on chords and scales being the same thing. Well, more or less. A bunch of basic info on each mode. A lot of detail which takes some time to internalize. I didn't re-read all the text, but, hopefully, he mentioned that there are other ways to make music.

    Introduces concept of avoid note.

    Then, his best chapter, IMO, on melodic minor usages.

    Next diminished harmony, then WT.

    Then, extensive notes on how to apply scales to tunes, with examples from masters, and the important skill of connecting scales as chords change, if you’re going to want to acquire that kind of sound.

    He might be read as having a doctrinaire, rule-based approach, but I don't read it that way. I think it's more of a scraps of theory approach, with some very substantial scraps.

    I’m going to stop here, for now. That’s the first 120 pages or so.

    For those of us who learned one tune and one sound at a time, without fitting these things into a more comprehensive way of looking at the music, the foregoing strikes me as excellent.

    Does it inform you on how to play? To an extent. Does it improve your ability to talk to your fellow musician? Absolutely, if you didn’t already have this vocabulary. Does it give you a framework for understanding what a master may have practiced? Yes. An appreciation for how the masters use the devices covered? Sure. Something to work on, no matter what your level? Probably, for most, yes, for me.

    Now, I don't have some other perspective to view Levine's book. I've read Nettles and Graf and I have the usual shelf of guitar methods. But, there's nothing on that shelf that covers what Levine covers. And, certainly not with the same level of clarity. I had an experience I've had with some other subjects that I came to in a piecemeal fashion. Even when you've hacked your way to some level of expertise, it can be a relief to read about the subject the way it's usually taught from the beginning. I felt that way about this book.

    When I read it, a sent him an email complimenting him on writing the best textbook I've ever used. And, I have used a great many. I got a nice note back, btw. I met him sometime later at a group lunch, but never talked about music. I'm not surprised that it has become a standard in the field.

    Admittedly, I don't think I understand all the criticisms. I may not have enough background in jazz ed for that. Sometimes people criticize a piece of work for what it is not. Is that happening here?
    Thank you. A nice appraisal with an uplifting and positive view.

  43. #142

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    I like his take on chords and scales being the same thing. Well, more or less.
    so which scale equals Dm7?

  44. #143

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  45. #144

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Admittedly, I don't think I understand all the criticisms. I may not have enough background in jazz ed for that. Sometimes people criticize a piece of work for what it is not. Is that happening here?
    Well I've been grumpy about the JTB for long time, so I thought I'd try and approach it with an open mind; had high hopes after the (excellent and extremely helpful) introduction, and then got very annoyed by the early chapters. My attitude toward it is softening as I reread the later chapters, although I personally probably won't end up using this book as a learner, and that's purely because I'd always rather follow Mark's learning process than simply read his book.

    (jazz does a lot of old fashioned transmission education, which is kind of ironic really. I do it; we all do it.)

    For students, maybe put it on a reading list along with other texts that present a contrary approach. TBH most students read it fairly early on.

    I should be more forgiving... This is real nerd rage on some level. There's just so many grating little factoids in there; it's not the stuff Levine focuses on, because he knows that stuff as well as anyone, it's the stuff he mentions as an aside. It just damages the reading experience. Annoying as I personally find it, I'm not sure how much of a problem that actually is educationally (although I'm sick of people going 'I though the 4th was an avoid note on the dominant?' Don't worry about the flipping 4th Johnny, it'll be fine.)

    When Levine actually brings up examples from Louis Armstrong he remarks on how modern his music is - his use of sequences, bebop scale and so on. The reason for that is that pre-bop jazz was not actually like the stereotype he describes in the book. It's not really that important to talk about whether the 4th was or wasn't used on dominant chords (it was), or whether pre war jazzers often used the bebop scale (they did) unless you are writing a history. Just chop it out. Focus on the stuff you want to address. Leave that history stuff to Berliner and Schuller...

    There's certainly a lesson there for me as an educator, because I am the arch digresser. (No really?)

    The organisation and structure of the book could also probably be improved upon, if we are to use it as Theory Book for post-bop jazz, and not simply a source book for cool shit.
    Last edited by christianm77; 06-25-2020 at 06:19 AM.

  46. #145

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    Nice vid Rintin, love that stuff.... marks Mornings... Which scales...

    What's interesting is back in the 60's I would have just said VI- and that would have been the basic reference and gone on from there, then the 70's and 80's happened and now I generally say II- and go from there, the Reference, relationships and Development approach etc...

    Christian always needs vanilla academic justification... cookie cutter layout. LOL I'm trying to lighten you up.... last time I was teaching college... part of using texts was to add all the missing details. Our job is to already understand and put the material into contexts for the students. Not figure it out.

  47. #146

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    This is a result of how Mark Levine thinks. Hip voicings and 4 basic scales: the modes of major, the modes of melodic minor, diminished scale and whole tone scale. Melodic sequencing is one of his favorite devices.
    Last edited by rintincop; 06-25-2020 at 02:38 PM.

  48. #147

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    Quote Originally Posted by christianm77
    Well I've been grumpy about the JTB for long time, so I thought I'd try and approach it with an open mind; had high hopes after the (excellent and extremely helpful) introduction, and then got very annoyed by the early chapters. My attitude toward it is softening as I reread the later chapters, although I personally probably won't end up using this book as a learner, and that's purely because I'd always rather follow Mark's learning process than simply read his book.

    (jazz does a lot of old fashioned transmission education, which is kind of ironic really. I do it; we all do it.)

    For students, maybe put it on a reading list along with other texts that present a contrary approach. TBH most students read it fairly early on.

    I should be more forgiving... This is real nerd rage on some level. There's just so many grating little factoids in there; it's not the stuff Levine focuses on, because he knows that stuff as well as anyone, it's the stuff he mentions as an aside. It just damages the reading experience. Annoying as I personally find it, I'm not sure how much of a problem that actually is educationally (although I'm sick of people going 'I though the 4th was an avoid note on the dominant?' Don't worry about the flipping 4th Johnny, it'll be fine.)

    When Levine actually brings up examples from Louis Armstrong he remarks on how modern his music is - his use of sequences, bebop scale and so on. The reason for that is that pre-bop jazz was not actually like the stereotype he describes in the book. It's not really that important to talk about whether the 4th was or wasn't used on dominant chords (it was), or whether pre war jazzers often used the bebop scale (they did) unless you are writing a history. Just chop it out. Focus on the stuff you want to address. Leave that history stuff to Berliner and Schuller...

    There's certainly a lesson there for me as an educator, because I am the arch digresser. (No really?)

    The organisation and structure of the book could also probably be improved upon, if we are to use it as Theory Book for post-bop jazz, and not simply a source book for cool shit.
    Since this discussion has been ongoing for some time, including other threads, I imagine you've given multiple examples of the problems you see.

    In this post, you mention the avoid note issue. I think Levine is clear on this point. He calls it a "handle with care" note, which I think is a good way to think about it, at least for the beginning jazz player. He also makes it clear that you can play any note against any chord, if you do it well. But, for me, that's about as helpful as the advice to use only the chromatic scale, and use it at all times.

    Noting that playing an F in a line against Cmaj can bring the sound of G7 when you don't want it, seems reasonable to me.
    Or noting that an F in a chord that's supposed to sound like a C major -- might make it sound like a G7. In fact, I do this all the time, usually in stacked 4ths, but I don't disagree with Levine. Making the stacks of fourths work is facilitated by the awareness that you have to handle the F with care -- and not lean on it in the wrong place.

    Of course, later on in the text, he covers sus chords and other devices relevant to the avoid note issue, as more advanced topics.

  49. #148

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    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Nice vid Rintin, love that stuff.... marks Mornings... Which scales...

    What's interesting is back in the 60's I would have just said VI- and that would have been the basic reference and gone on from there, then the 70's and 80's happened and now I generally say II- and go from there, the Reference, relationships and Development approach etc...

    Christian always needs vanilla academic justification... cookie cutter layout. LOL I'm trying to lighten you up.... last time I was teaching college... part of using texts was to add all the missing details. Our job is to already understand and put the material into contexts for the students. Not figure it out.
    what what??? Grrr

    how dare you sir!

  50. #149

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    Quote Originally Posted by rpjazzguitar
    Since this discussion has been ongoing for some time, including other threads, I imagine you've given multiple examples of the problems you see.

    In this post, you mention the avoid note issue. I think Levine is clear on this point. He calls it a "handle with care" note, which I think is a good way to think about it, at least for the beginning jazz player. He also makes it clear that you can play any note against any chord, if you do it well. But, for me, that's about as helpful as the advice to use only the chromatic scale, and use it at all times.

    Noting that playing an F in a line against Cmaj can bring the sound of G7 when you don't want it, seems reasonable to me.
    Or noting that an F in a chord that's supposed to sound like a C major -- might make it sound like a G7. In fact, I do this all the time, usually in stacked 4ths, but I don't disagree with Levine. Making the stacks of fourths work is facilitated by the awareness that you have to handle the F with care -- and not lean on it in the wrong place.

    Of course, later on in the text, he covers sus chords and other devices relevant to the avoid note issue, as more advanced topics.
    the exact reference I had is later in the book when he’s talking about 4ths specifically on dominants... I think he’s dead right about major chords and covers the subject really well.

    I’ll dig out the ref if it’s actually interesting. He starts taking about the history, and it’s ... not specifically true. As I demonstrated above the 4th has been employed pretty freely on dominants in general since at least the 30s. I also have an example of Louis playing Fmaj7 against C7 in 1928.

    To be honest I think it’d be better not to think the 4th as being any sort of avoid note on dominant out because I have people who actually worry about this stuff. 4ths are fine on dominants and always have been.

    Its funny that people see my thinking as being a bit hidebound because that’s exactly how I feel about the CST stuff. I think it’s a generational thing and it’s to do with our initial experiences learning jazz. CST is what people learn first these days. They start with Levine.

    One thing I notice about the Levine books is that he’s actually lot more relaxed about avoid notes than more conventional CST books. Like he doesn’t say 13th is avoid over m7 for instance*

    *yes Reg I am aware this is a voicing thing.

  51. #150

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    Christian, your examples were unconvincing. Levine is talking about the 4th in terms of harmony, chords, I don't understand how you don't get that. Your examples were instances of playing the key of the song, not the chord harmony of the moment, in a melodic solo.