These questions keep coming up with students, so here are the lists:
Dave King is my favourite drummer, and Happy Apple are my favourite band. I've seen Dave King play with The Bad Plus a few times in Japan, and they were fantastic. I spoke to Mr. King a couple of times after the shows, and he is humble, gracious and funny - an all-round nice guy. I asked him if Happy Apple are going to tour internationally any time soon, and he said there was nothing on the cards.
His banter between tunes on Happy Apple bootlegs is hilarious. It is hard to know how serious he is, but in one aside he promised that the 2007 album "Happy Apple Back On Top" was part one of a trilogy...unfortunately they have released nothing since that album! I think there is a hardcore of weirdos who love this stuff...I hope they get another album together soon! Dave King's other projects include The Bad Plus, Halloween Alaska, The Gang Font and Dave King Trucking Company. His solo record is great too, but none of it offers quite the same thing as Happy Apple with Erik Fratzke on bass and Michael Lewis on sax...come on, make another album already!
This video sums it all up really.
Percussionist extraordinaire Ruth Underwood talks about Frank Zappa's approach to harmony, specifically, the "2" chord. Ruth explains that if we take a Major triad:
C Major: C, E, G
...and drop the 3rd down to the 2nd degree of the scale, we get:
C2: C, D, G
This "2 chord" sound is easily recognizable as being prevalent in a lot of FZ's compositions.
If we invert the C2 chord, we get:
C, D, G - D, G, C - G, C, D
It is interesting to me that the second inversion of the 2 chord is stacked 4ths. I'm going to look out for this a little more and find some parallels.
Once you have a good idea how scales work against a chord progression, you should also experiment with moving things around chromatically (i.e: 1 semitone up or down). You can get some great effects with this concept, creating strong dissonance, and then a nice resolution.
If you are improvising in C minor pentatonic, with the notes C, E♭, F, G, B♭, C, then a chromatic movement up one semitone gives the notes C#, E, F#, G#, B, C#.
If you follow the same patterns, and shift up one semitone or down one semitone, you can get a very "out" sound, which is most effective when used sparingly, and with a shift from the root key (in this case C minor) to a neighbouring chromatic key (here C# minor or perhaps B minor), then a resolution back to the root key.
This approach allows for very interesting thematic development, and creates a tension and release for the listener which will keep "static" or repetitive progressions interesting if used appropriately.
The chords of a blues progression can be extended. In a C minor blues, the C minor chord (C, E♭, G) could comfortably be substituted for a Cmin7 chord (C, E♭, G, B♭) or extended as a Cmin9 chord (C, E♭, G, B♭, D ), a Cmin 11 chord, or a Cmin13 chord. Many of the scales and passing chromatic notes will work against these chords, but stringing a melody at speed requires serious study.
When composer, saxophonist and jazz legend John Coltrane began rewriting the rules of jazz harmony by extending chords and approaches to changes, pianists like Tommy Flanagan, Wynton Kelly, and McCoy Tyner were prompted to try to vamp in a way that would compliment such an extensive melodic range.
These extensions are hard to follow at speed, and one of the ways to compensate is to sometimes set aside a strictly chordal approach in favour of stacked intervals.
For example, Instead of playing a Cmin7 (C, E♭, G, B♭), one can stack notes in intervals of 4ths, eg; C, F, B♭. Because there is no 3rd or 7th, there is no clear relationship to a chordal harmony.
These stacked intervals can be shifted chromatically, for example, C, F, B♭ can move down a semitone to B, E, A, or up a semitone to C#, F#, B. Again - used sparingly - this can be used to create a tension and release similar to the chromatic movement of scales, but more open as there is no 3rd or 7th. This also gives you the foundation to play around with moving melodic ideas chromatically.
Stacked 4ths are very common, and can be heard a lot in McCoy Tyner's playing. Other intervals are possible - stacked 5ths will be the same as stacked 4ths, 6ths are interesting. 9ths are possible too.
This is a basic 12 bar blues progression in 4/4 time in the key of C minor.
In the key of Cmin, the important chords for blues built on the notes of the scale are:
I = Cmin (C, Eb, G)
IV = Fmin (F, Ab, C)
V = Gmin (G, Bb, D)
So a 12 bar progression in C minor could be:
Cmin Cmin Fmin Fmin
I I IV IV
Cmin Cmin Fmin Fmin
I I IV IV
Gmin Fmin Cmin Cmin
V IV I I
You should think of the progression bar-by-bar. Each bar has a count of 4, and floats on a chord built around a degree of the scale.
The easiest scale to improvise on and fit over Cmin:
C minor pentatonic ("blues" scale):
C, Eb, F, G, Bb, C
...but you can experiment with regular natural C minor Scale:
C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, Bb, C
...or a harmonic C minor Scale:
C, D, Eb, F, G, Ab, B, C
...or C melodic minor:
C, D, Eb, F, G, A, Bb
And you can always put in the "blue" note (the flat 5th).
E.G: C minor pentatonic with blue note:
C, Eb, F, (Gb), G, Bb, C
The Gb is an excellent chromatic passing note. E natural and Db will also sound good as chromatic passing notes
Run these scales until you know them inside out. Start with simple improvised melodies, then slowly expand your ideas. Experiment with rhythmic ideas, jump notes in the scales, run notes of the scales as arpeggios, try mixing the scales up. When you are confident that you can use these ideas, take a look at stacked intervals and chromatic movement.
Lydian is the mode that starts on the fourth note of a major key. In the key of C Major, the Lydian mode starts on F, and the notes are F, G, A, B, C, D, E, F.
This has always been one of my favourite scales. The raised fourth sets the first four notes of the mode whole tones apart. This gives a suspended feeling when you run the scale, and often creates unexpected resolutions in melodic lines. To me, it always creates a buoyant quality, notes glide against the harmony, and seem to be constantly searching without reaching a cadence.
Writing and improvising around this mode is one of my favourite approaches to the big note. It is also one of the most recognisable sounds, and when done right, it creates a beautiful haunting quality.
According to Wikipedia, Lydia (Assyrian: Luddu; Greek: Λυδία) was an Iron Age kingdom of western Asia Minor located generally east of ancient Ionia in the modern Turkish provinces of Manisa and inland İzmir. Its population spoke an Anatolian language known as Lydian.
So if Lydia was east of Ionia, can we say that the Lydian mode is east of Major? Seems fitting.