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  1. #1

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    An article from Keyboard Magazine 2020
    What is harmonic planing and how to use it in your playing, compositions and productions | MusicRadar

    It doesn't really get into how to use it took connect chords on standards, which is how I mostly use "planing".

    There's an error, it's not a picture of McCoy Tyner.
    Last edited by rintincop; 08-07-2020 at 03:48 PM.


    The Jazz Guitar Chord Dictionary
  3. #2

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    Never heard of "planing" but it looks like it is used to describe three of the four types of chord change:

    - diatonic (changing chord type as needed, root movement with regard to harmonized scale)
    - chromatic (maintaining chord type, chromatic root movement)
    - mixed (maintaining chord type, any root without regard to harmonized scale)
    - functional (changing chord type and/or root movement as needed with regard to progression)

    I view the first three as totally included within the fourth, so I guess the three types of planing serve to describe pieces of functional harmony where the planing types are used constructively (deliberately), or as the article suggests, as a motivation for composition.

    The photo is of George Colligan, perhaps the author.

  4. #3

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    Debussy' parallel harmony.

    Playing the same chord shape in succession, but in different keys.

  5. #4

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    There was a cool paper I was reading that was discussing how these harmonic ideas might have originated from African harmonic practices, for instance ‘spanning’ techniques on the balafon.

    The Wikipedia article is a good intro.
    Traditional sub-Saharan African harmony - Wikipedia

  6. #5

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    Villa-Lobos uses planing all the time in his guitar music. For example, half of the 1st Etude is a diminished chord moving down in chromatic steps. I hear he didn‘t come up with the concept himself (Debussy influence?) but of course the guitar leads itself to planing.

    There is a master thesis available on the web somewhere: VILLA-LOBOS’S CINQ PRÉLUDES: AN ANALYSIS OF INFLUENCES by JOY HUETHER that traces planing in the Five Preludes. I‘m not familiar with the rest of his work so I don‘t know how much the technique is used in other works.

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  7. #6

  8. #7

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    A much more common way to refer to this is "intervallic voicings", or, for soloing, intervallic playing. It is very interesting and easy to do, taking a chord shape, studying its intervals and then just move it up and down a scale.

    It is great practice on outside playing as well, when you start to follow the intervals instead of the scale. For example, stick with major thirds instead of adjusting them (minor or major) according to the scale. Kind of an acquired taste in sound..

    John Abercrombie uses a lot of these voicings in his playing and composing, Mick Goodrick too.

  9. #8

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    I’m not a fan of too much parallel motion, but of course the chromatic planing is dead guitaristic. You can swap out all your chords for diatonic intervallic clusters.

    To break it up why not invert the voicings?

  10. #9

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    I love the way Jacob Gran explains Debussy's use of planing/parallel motion in this video, and have found it extremely helpful in understanding the technique myself.

    "Is this bad counterpoint? It would be if Debussy was attempting a polyphonic texture, but of course there is no pretence that the notes of the right hand form independent melodies. Instead, Debussy fuses all of the notes of the right hand through parallel motion into one thick monophonic ribbon of sound". :-)

  11. #10

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    I'll check the video out; don't know if they mention it but just to add that Debussy won the flipping Prix de Rome for Fugue. They don't hand that out for showing up :-)

    Debussy was not controversial at the Conservatoire de Paris because he couldn't write great counterpoint, he was controversial because he chose not to.

    kind of made a mockery of all the dusty old professors...

    TBF Claude was in the system for a LOOONG time. He started age 10.

  12. #11

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    BTW, if you want to see some remarkably beautiful examples of parallel motion, this guy is a MONSTER of classical improv.

    Here he demonstrates very romantic era sounding variations of fauxbourdon - an old (originally medieval) technique whereby a melody is harmonised with parallel 6/3 chords (first inversion triads)

    I hear these things as the ancestor of what Debussy ended up doing. They are more reminiscent of Chopin here, obviously.

    Here's an example of late medieval fauxbourdon from an era before the conventions of counterpoint were established - this very parallel way of writing often sounds strikingly modern, post Debussian.

  13. #12

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    While Debussy had its influence on jazz since the early days, a parallel (boom boom) source of parallel movement in jazz is covered in Kubik's work on Sub-Sarahan traditional harmony. I was surprised to learn that harmony and polyphonic practices are indigenous to West Africa (well all over the continent actually) and evolved separately from European practices while obviously being influenced by them in recent centuries.

    Instruments such as the Balafon can be used to plane melodies in a manner very similar to the sort of pentatonic harmonies we can hear in McCoy Tyner, or for that matter parallel harmonisations in big band sax sections. These are all examples of 'not quite parallel' type of harmony where the voices move in similar motion, but the intervals between the voices do not remain constant as they do in the Dufay or Debussy examples above. This happens because of the structure of the pentatonic or eight-note scales, for instance.

    Anyway he goes really far with it, and tbh my lack of knowledge of African musics is really holding me back from getting more out of this fascinating paper.

    The African Matrix in Jazz Harmonic Practices on JSTOR
    (sorry, paywalled, like a lot of academic stuff, wikipedia offers some info Traditional sub-Saharan African harmony - Wikipedia)

    Anyway, point being that there are many harmonic practices in jazz that really aren't anything to do with European style harmony... even in a basic sense, the layered way jazz musicians view harmony - piling substitutions and extensions on top of basic vanilla song harmonies and so on.... (in fact Kubik notes an example of stacking chords in thirds - add a singer, add another third, till the singers are singing in parallel seventh chords)

    This puts the lie to the idea that Jazz harmony is entirely European in origin.
    Last edited by Christian Miller; 06-17-2021 at 03:34 AM.

  14. #13

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    Seems more like basic organization of space, and simple understandings of what to use. It's always interesting to watch how we try to put everything into our box of understandings. If we don't understand... then it must not be.

  15. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Reg
    Seems more like basic organization of space, and simple understandings of what to use. It's always interesting to watch how we try to put everything into our box of understandings. If we don't understand... then it must not be.
    Reg, I like your post. As I’ve grown older, I realize there are many details and systems to know about in music. But once that is gotten, it becomes organization of space and understandings of what to use.”
    Last edited by rintincop; 06-30-2021 at 04:49 PM.