KS3 Music students studying blues may find this short introductory presentation useful. Enjoy! :)
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These questions keep coming up with students, so here are the lists:
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.
What is Timbre?
- In music, timbre is the quality of a musical note or sound. Sometimes, timbre is
called tone quality or tone colour
- Timbre is what makes one sound unique from any other sound
We can identify instruments by their timbre. For example, even when a piano and a guitar play the same note, they sound different; every instrument has a different way of making sound, a different voice, and so a different timbre.
With practice, we can listen to music and separate sounds using our understanding of timbre. We can even learn how to identify all the separate sounds in a big band or ensemble with many instruments playing notes at the same pitch and loudness.
Timbre is very important when we are writing music, because we can combine sounds, contrast sounds, and create a wonderful range of tonal colours. The composer knowing how to combine the timbre of many different instruments creates the amazing sounds we hear in orchestral music.
Sometimes musical instrument may be described with such words as bright, dark, warm, harsh, etc. These are all ways of describing the timbre of the instrument.
Knowing how instruments produce sound will allow us to understand their timbre.
Look at these definitions for musical instruments:
1. Idiophones produce sound by vibrating themselves (e.g.: marimba)
2. Metallophones are metal idiophones (e.g.: vibraphones, glockenspiels)
3. Membranophones produce sound by a vibrating membrane or skin (e.g.: drums or kazoos)
4. Chordophones produce sound by vibrating strings (e.g.: the piano or violin)
5. Aerophones produce sound by vibrating columns of air (e.g.: oboe or pipe organ)
6. Electrophones produce sound by electronic means (e.g.: synthesizer)
What is Music?
When we think about any style of music, we can choose to break it down in to simple elements. When we identify music, we listen for these elements:
A melody is single notes strung together to make a tune. In instrumental music, the melody is usually the part we can hum. In songs, the melody is usually sung with words
The notes that complement the melody. Harmony can be arranged as chords (notes layered on top of each other and played behind the melody) or counter melodies (strings of notes that follow the melody)
This can be defined as the way the melody and harmony are accented across time
There is another essential element to music, and that is the Idea: when a composer writes a piece of music, they have to have an idea in order for the music to make sense. The medium could be anything; a simple nursery rhyme, or a symphony for full orchestra…arguably, the most important thing is the idea that makes the music go.
When we are listening to music, we identify through melody, harmony, and rhythm. We also identify by listening for timbre.
When we are writing music, we compose through melody, harmony, and rhythm. We also compose by choosing timbre.
MUSIC WORKSHOP Vol.1
What is music?
- Melody : a melody is the tune of a song. It's the part you can usually sing and recognize. Sometimes there are words set to a melody. Sometimes the melody of a piece of music is played by an instrument. Melodies usually come from the scale around which a piece of music is based.
- Harmony : harmony is the foundation on which a melody rests. Usually, harmony means 3 or more notes taken from a scale, set into a chord.
- Rhythm : rhythm is how we accent musical ideas over time.
- Idea : this is the most important idea in music; what idea do you want to express? Everyone has musical ideas and expression...even if they have not had musical training!
What is improvisation?
Improvisation is what happens when people come together to play music spontaneously. Sometimes, people extemporize (expand and improvise) on known music. Sometimes, they invent music on the spot. When improvisers meet, they usually have some common musical language which allows them to communicate ideas and create music together.
- Notes : notes are tones that have been given names. We use the English alphabet to name the notes.
- Scales and Modes : a scale is any series of notes grouped together. Today, we will speak mostly about the white notes on a piano.
I II III IV V VI VII I
C: Ionian (Major scale) : C D E F G A B C
If we play the same notes, but start on a different degree of the scale, we have a mode of that scale. Each mode has a different tonal flavour.
II III IV V VI VII I II
D: Dorian : D E F G A B C D
III IV V VI VII I II III
E: Phrygian : E F G A B C D E
IV V VI VII I II III IV
F: Lydian: F G A B C D E F
V VI VII I II III IV V
G: Mixolydian : G A B C D E F G
VI VII I II III IV V VI
A: Aeolian (minor scale) : A B C D E F G A
VII I II III IV V VI VII
B: Locrian : B C D E F G A B
- Chords : Chords are notes played together. A chord usually has at least three notes. Here is an example:
B = VII
G = V
E = III
(Lowest note) C = I
This is a C Major 7 chord, because it has the I,III,V,VII notes from the C Major scale.
- Harmony : Harmony is the chords you chose to support your melody
- Rhythm : Rhythm is the pulse in music, the way time is divided
- Tempo : Tempo is the speed at which a piece of music is played
It's a great experience to watch someone learn an instrument, and it is definitely a learning experience for the teacher.
I'm meeting a lot of students who are just beginning on the guitar, or are self taught with little knowledge of music theory. It seems to me that the quickest way to build enthusiasm for learning an instrument is to give the student an immediate musical goal - so far, this approach seems to be paying off.
Around 1915, the word "Jazz" began as a West Coast slang term of uncertain derivation.
Jazz is a musical art form which originated at the beginning of the 20th century in African American communities in the Southern United States from a confluence of African and European music traditions.
From its early development until the present, jazz has incorporated music from 19th and 20th century American popular music. Its West African pedigree is evident in its use of blue notes, improvisation, polyrhythms, syncopation, and the swung note but one of jazz's iconic figures Art Blakey has been quoted as saying, "No America, no jazz. I’ve seen people try to connect it to other countries, for instance to Africa, but it doesn’t have a damn thing to do with Africa".
Jazz : 20th century original American music
1910s - New Orleans Dixieland
1930s and 1940s - big band-style swing
1940s - bebop
1950s and 1960s - Latin jazz fusions such as Afro-Cuban and Brazilian jazz
1970s - jazz-rock fusion
1980s - developments such as acid jazz, drum 'n' bass.
As the music has spread around the world it has drawn on local national and regional musical cultures, its aesthetics being adapted to its varied environments and giving rise to many distinctive styles.
(source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jazz)
John Coltrane : saxophonist
(September 23, 1926 – July 17, 1967) An American jazz saxophonist and composer working in the bebop and hard bop idioms early in his career, Coltrane helped pioneer the use of modes in jazz and later was at the forefront of free jazz. He was astonishingly prolific: he made about fifty recordings as a leader during his recording career, and appeared as a sideman on many other albums, notably with trumpeter Miles Davis and pianist Thelonious Monk. As his career progressed, Coltrane's music took on an increasingly spiritual dimension. His second wife was pianist Alice Coltrane, and their son Ravi Coltrane is also a saxophonist.
He influenced innumerable musicians, and remains one of the most significant tenor saxophonists in jazz history. He received many awards, among them a posthumous Special Citation from the Pulitzer Prize Board in 2007 for his "masterful improvisation, supreme musicianship and iconic centrality to the history of jazz."
(source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Coltrane)
Miles Davis : trumpeter
(May 26, 1926 – September 28, 1991) was an American jazz trumpeter, bandleader, and composer. Widely considered one of the most influential jazz musicians of the 20th century, Miles Davis was, with his musical groups, at the forefront of several major developments in jazz music including cool jazz, hard bop, free jazz and fusion. Many well-known jazz musicians made their names as members of Davis' ensembles, including John Coltrane, Herbie Hancock, Bill Evans, Wayne Shorter, Chick Corea, John McLaughlin, Cannonball Adderley, Gerry Mulligan, Tony Williams, George Coleman, J. J. Johnson, Keith Jarrett and Kenny Garrett.
On January 16, 2002, his album Kind of Blue, released in 1959, received its third platinum certification from the RIAA, signifying sales of 3 million copies.
(source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Miles_Davis)
Art Blakey, drummer
(October 11, 1919 – October 16, 1990), born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Also known as Abdullah Ibn Buhaina, he was an American jazz drummer and bandleader.
Along with Kenny Clarke and Max Roach, he was one of the inventors of the modern bebop style of drumming. He is known as a powerful musician and a vital groover; his brand of bluesy, funky hard bop was (and remains) profoundly influential on mainstream jazz. For more than 30 years his band the Jazz Messengers included many young musicians who went on to become prominent names in jazz.
The band's legacy is thus not only the often exceptionally fine music it produced, but as a proving ground for several generations of jazz musicians.
(source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Art_Blakey)
Bill Evans, pianist
(August 16, 1929 – September 15, 1980) was an American jazz pianist. His use of impressionist harmony, inventive interpretation of traditional jazz repertoire, and trademark rhythmically independent, "singing" melodic lines influenced a generation of pianists, including Herbie Hancock, Keith Jarrett, as well as guitarists Lenny Breau and Pat Metheny.
The music of Bill Evans continues to inspire younger pianists like Marcin Wasilewski, Fred Hersch, Bill Charlap, Geoffrey Keezer, Lyle Mays, Eliane Elias and arguably Brad Mehldau, early in his career.
(source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Evans)
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