How to play like Musical Analysis

How to play like Dave Brubeck (Take 5 “steps”)

Table of Contents

    How to play like Dave Brubeck (Take 5 “steps”) – Brubeck’s sheet music available from our Library

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    Dave Brubeck, who passed away on December 5, 2012, just a day shy of his 92nd birthday, was one of the most influential jazz musicians of all time. Rhythms of horses’ hooves on the California cattle ranch he grew up on, along with those from water pumps, motors, and various other sources prompted his lifelong fascination with odd time signatures. Brubeck was also exposed to Bach, Mozart, Chopin, Beethoven, Debussy, and Ravel, as his mother gave classical piano lessons. Stride, blues, swing, bebop, classical, big block chords, and delicate counterpoint are just some of Brubeck’s signature devices. Let’s “take five” of them for a closer look. . . .

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    1. Blues

    Many of Brubeck’s classic compositions were based on blues progressions, like “Sweet Cleo Brown,” a tribute to one of his great inspirations, blues singer Cleo Brown. Similarly, his solos were often infused with riffs drawn from the blues scale. Ex. 1 is a progression Brubeck typically used to end a blues.

    2. Stride

    Some of Brubeck’s heroes were renowned for stride piano, like Duke Ellington, Earl “Fatha” Hines, Fats Waller, and Art Tatum. Brubeck’s large hands let him span big block chords with his right hand while playing
    wide walking tenthswith his left. “It’s a Raggy Waltz” combines elements of stride and ragtime in 3/4 time— one of his first forays into non-4/4 time signatures. Playing in 3/4 also let him superimpose another pulse
    over the beat—a polyrhythm—as in Ex. 2.

    3. Odd time signatures

    Brubeck once famously stated, “I don’t think jazz should be in 4/4 time.” His use of metric subdivisions—seen here marked in groups—was the secret ingredient that made odd time signatures sound natural and swinging to the causal listener. These broke up the measure into more digestible rhythmic phrases of (usually) two or three notes. For example, “Take Five” is more accessible when you count its 5/4 time as “one two three, one two.” Exs. 3athrough 3e (left to right) illustrate this approach in various time signatures.

    4. Polyrhythms

    Ex. 4 demonstrates Brubeck’s renowned use of polyrhythms, or playing in more than one rhythm at a time. The rhythmic grouping of five notes in the place of four is distributed between two hands, a technique that’s been picked up by such pianists as Herbie Hancock and Chick Corea.

    5. Polytonality

    It was Brubeck’s older brother Howard, chairman of the music department at Palomar Junior College, who first suggested he study with French composer Darius Milhaud. During those studies, Brubeck began experimenting with polytonality—playing in more than one tonality at a time. While Brubeck is well known for his frequent display of fast pyrotechnics and dense textures, Ex. 5 exemplifies his use of space and openness.

    Signature Tunes

    New to Brubeck? Here’s some required listening for getting to know his use of odd time signatures.

    Live in Belgium 1964
    Paul Desmond (alto sax), Joe Morello (drums), Eugene Wright (bass) and Dave Brubeck (piano)

    New Dave Brubeck Biography A Timely Reminder Of Jazz Piano Royalty

    ‘Dave Brubeck: A Life In Time’ looks at how the pianist’s life criss-crossed with countless jazz greats, and dives into some lesser-known areas of his life.

    Pianist David Warren Brubeck was born on 6 December 1920, in Concord, northeast of Oakland, and his centenary year is being recognised with an excellent, impressively detailed biography by Philip Clark (Dave Brubeck: A Life In Time, Da Capo Press), which explores the life and work of the musician, who died in 2012.

    Clark spent time on the road with Brubeck and his wife, Iola, in 2003 and the biography contains fascinating new material about a man who pushed the boundaries of jazz for six decades, influencing scores of popular music stars, including Ray Davies of The Kinks, Ray Manzarak of The Doors and Deep Purple’s Jon Lord.

    Sharp as a tack

    Brubeck’s life criss-crossed with countless talented contemporaries and A Life In Time contains a wealth of information about his touring partner Miles Davis (who recorded Brubeck’s song ‘In Your Own Sweet Way’ back in 1957), along with Cecil Taylor, Chet Baker, Shelly Manne, Art Blakey, Lee Konitz, Charlie Parker, Cal Tjader, Lennie Tristano, Jimmy Giuffre, Max Roach and Gerry Mulligan, with whom Brubeck recorded an entire album.

    The magnificent ‘Time Out’ and ‘Blue Rondo À La Turk’, both recorded in 1959, brought the Dave Brubeck Quartet international stardom – and they remain two jazz tunes that can be instantly recognised by members of the general public rather than diehard fans.

    There are interesting offbeat reminiscences in the biography. Brubeck tells the author that the controversial comedian Lenny Bruce used to babysit his son Darius (who also became a jazz musician) after the musician and comic appeared on the same bill at the Crescendo club in Hollywood. “Lenny and I became good friends,” said Brubeck. “I didn’t expect Lenny and Darius to get close, but they kind of gravitated toward each other and we thought, Well, OK, it’s fine with us if someone wants to take the kids off our hands for the afternoon. And Lenny took it very seriously and was completely responsible, I have to say.”

    Compared to the drug-taking excesses of some of his fellow jazz men, Brubeck seemed deeply conventional, but he was as sharp as a tack. He is quoted warning about gangsters who “worm their way past your defences”, adding that “Charlie Parker’s a sad example of what could happen” when people exploit the addictions of musicians.

    Defiant in the face of racism

    There are tales of Brubeck’s groundbreaking tours in the late 50s – he went to Poland and caught dysentery in Baghdad – and a moving account of his defiant attitude towards racism during an era of segregation. In 1960 he cancelled a promotional appearance on NBC’s hugely popular Bell Telephone Hour Show because the producers insisted that black bass player Eugene Wright would have to be out of shot.

    In 1964, Brubeck also openly defied the Ku Klux Klan at a gig held at the systematically racist University Of Alabama. Brubeck insisted that the band and audience be integrated – and he defied threats of violence and disruption from the KKK to play the concert to a mixed audience. The stand forced the university to allow integrated concerts from then on.

    Two giants of jazz – Duke Ellington and Louis Armstrong – come out well in the book. Brubeck admired Armstrong and wrote a musical for him called The Real Ambassadors. Brubeck could not get word direct to the famous trumpeter so waited outside his Chicago hotel room to ask him to take part in a production of the show. “Eventually a waiter turned up with a tray of food, and when Louis opened and saw me there, he gave me a big smile and told the waiter that Mr Brubeck would be having the same as him – so one more steak, please,” the pianist recalled.

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    Armstrong happily agreed to the project, a matter of lasting pride to Brubeck, who had grown up admiring the trumpeter as well as pianists such as Fats Waller and Teddy Wilson, who were Satchmo’s contemporaries.

    A move into composing

    Though Brubeck is associated with Colombia Records, A Life In Time tells the fascinating story of his move to Decca Records – and why he chose to move to that famous label in 1968 to record his extended choral and orchestral albums The Light In The Wilderness and The Gates Of Justice. “Now that Brubeck was interested in pursuing a career as a composer, he felt that Columbia had let him down,” writes Clark.

    Some of the music Decca recorded was composed by Brubeck in tribute to his nephew Philip, who had died from a brain tumour at 16. Columbia executive Teo Macero was upset to lose one of their top jazz stars, but he admitted in a company memo in October 1968 that Decca were “doing more” for Brubeck as a label – and talked wistfully about the merits of Blue Note and Verve in the jazz field.

    Brubeck went on composing, recording and performing for the next four decades before dying on 5 December 2012, a day before his 92nd birthday, on the way to a cardiology appointment. He left a magnificent jazz legacy that is well served by Clark’s impressive book.

    Dave Brubeck: A Life In Time, by Philip Clark, is published on 18 February 2020 by Da Capo Press in the US and Headline in the UK.

    Thelonius Monk's Harmony Musical Analysis

    Thelonious Monk’s Harmony, Rhythm, and pianism (Part 2)

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    Thelonius Monk‘s sheet music transcriptions are available from our Library.

    Chords and Voicings: From Lead Sheet to Performance

    In modern jazz, seventh chords specified by lead sheets may appear simply as shown in figure 4.2a, but musicians rarely follow what the lead sheet specifies to the letter. Well before Thelonious Monk came on the scene, jazz pianists vied to distinguish themselves with ingenious voicings. A kind of common practice prevailed in bebop, though we emphasize that musicians can and did step outside this practice in search of particular expressions and logics. In the main, though, four complementary techniques developed, two concerning voicing as such and two concerning chord choice—what chord to play where:


    • Extension and omission: addition of tones foreign to the chord proper, and/or dropping tones that are part of it
    • Spacing and doubling: distribution of a voicing on the piano or among instruments in an ensemble.

    Harmonic choice

    • Substitution: replacement of one chord by another with equivalent function
    • Insertion and deletion: increase or decrease in the rate of harmonic motion by adding to or subtracting from changes specified on the lead sheet.

    Extension, omission, spacing and doubling

    Figures 4.2b and 4.3 illustrate possibilities for extending minor seventh, dominant seventh, and major seventh harmonies, and apply them to the initial ii–V–I of ISC. In the first staff each chord is extended upward by thirds beyond the seventh to include the ninth, eleventh, and thirteenth above the root. Each of the resulting seven-note stacks of thirds includes all notes of the D major scale. The fact that all three chords extend through the exact same pitch collections, in the same intervallic arrangement (i.e., a stack of thirds), demonstrates the fundamental role that harmonic function—and not chord or voicing—plays in determining tonal meaning in jazz.

    The chords could in some cases even be voiced in identical ways, but their functional context would make them heard and understood differently. Here is a significant way in which, it seems to us, jazz harmony differs in emphasis from European practice.

    To the extent that the distinction between ii, V, and I voicings blurs, what is it precisely that distinguishes their functions? The second staff shows which of the seven diatonic tones are directly involved in the progression toward and away from the V chord’s tritone.

    Typically, these tones are necessary and sufficient to convey harmonic function. Surprisingly for anyone familiar with European harmony, neither the fifth nor the root of the chord are necessary; indeed these may be dropped (and possibly supplied by a bass player, but not necessarily). But in order to convey function and quality most effectively, the essential tones are typically arranged in the lower register of the voicing, with extension tones higher up.

    The third staff of figure 4.2b distills the optional diatonic tones, which may be used without diluting function or quality, and the fourth staff shows how the tonic note (D) and the fourth scale step (G) are carefully avoided in the dominant and tonic chords, respectively, so as not to carry them over from the chords that precede them, which would impede the ii–V–I motion (see dashed arrows).

    Outside the diatonic pitch collection remain fi ve tones completing the chromatic aggregate, which can provide rich “upper structures” to voicings. In some cases these work against important diatonic intervals; for example, using a G with the Em chord could obscure the minor third between E and G; using it with the A7 chord would weaken the C#/G tritone. But with the DM7 it sounds all right because its diatonic “shadow,” G, is already avoided. Figure 4.3 sketches the effect of chromaticism in each chordal context.

    All optional diatonic and chromatic tones may be withheld or used, and they may be spaced from low to high in limitless ways. Attention is paid to the choice of lowest pitch, the registers of all others, thickness (number of notes played at once), and the use of some pitches in more than one octave doubling. This topic is discussed later in reference to specifi c instances in short excerpts by pianists Bill Evans and Oscar Peterson (figures 4.4a and b), and also at length in relation to Monk.

    Chord Substitution, Insertion, and Deletion

    Because every dominant-quality seventh chord shares its tritone with the dominant-quality seventh chord whose root is a tritone away, the chords in each such pair may be substituted for one another ( figure 4.2c, first staff).

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    Substitutions for V are idiomatic in ii–V–I motion. In D major, this turns Em7–A7–DM7 into Em7–Eb7 –DM7 and causes the roots to descend chromatically by half step rather than by fifth, an especially characteristic marker of modern jazz sound. The second staff of figure 4.2c illustrates another kind of substitution, involving change of chord quality. In the first stage, the ii of

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    the ii–V–I progression is intensifi ed by raising its third from G to G# . This makes it E7, a dominant seventh chord, that is, V7 in relation to the A7 chord, and thus “tonicizes” the root of A7 as if A were momentarily the home key. From here it is a matter of applying the tritone substitution principle just discussed to convert the pair of chords into progression from Bb7 to Eb7. Monk does just this in ISC ( figures 4.1 and 4.5 , mm. 15-16).

    Harmonic rhythm is the rate at which harmonies change. A scan of the various versions of ISC in figure 4.1 shows chords changing usually every two or four beats, though Oscar Peterson achieves special intensity in mm. 1-2 by changing on each beat, and there are scattered instances of chords held longer. Since harmony’s depth of field is rich, even with these severe constraints on harmonic rhythm there can be infinite ways to realize the harmonies in a song and suggest unexpected aural routes through it.

    Sometimes root progressions by fifth are concatenated, as in figure 4.1, staff 2, mm. 2-3. Here, rather than have mm. 3-4 be a repetition of mm. 1-2, as it is in Monk’s version (staff 3), the ii chord of m. 3 is treated as a local tonic and preceded by its own ii–V. The two new bass tones F and B are part of the D major scale, so the motion feels activated but the connections do not jar.

    The major third (D#) of the B7 chord is the only chromatic alteration implied. In Bill Evans’s version, the bass player faithfully provides the root tones (figure 4.4b), but Evans does not reflect the change on the piano. Without the D#, the feeling of tonicization is absent, and we have labeled the chord as Bm7.

    Earlier we mentioned a more deeply hued insertion, at mm. 8 and, which introduces a ii–V (Gm7 to C7) progression borrowed from F major, a key built on a tonic foreign to the D major scale. This motion is so distinctive that it might be heard as one of the strongest markers of the song as a whole. In the fake book version, after slipping momentarily toward F in this way the music slips right back to DM7 in m. 9. Monk, however, reinterprets the C7 as a tritone substitution for an F#7, and resolves in m. 9 to Bm7 (the fake book does this too, but later, at the parallel moment in mm. 25). Another insertion in the fake book version, reflecting a mix of diatonic and chromatic moves, comes at the final measures (31-2).

    This characteristic “turnaround” revs up the motion, propelling the music toward the next repetition of the form. Monk’s seeming extension of this passage and the two prior measures reflect a musical action we shall describe later; in figure 4.1 we condense his chords into the thirty-two-measure form (the actual measure numbers cor-responding to mm. 29-38of the transcription in figure 4.5 are shown below the lowest staff).

    Deletions put the brakes on chord progression. In this idiom they are somewhat rarer than insertions but noteworthy for that reason. When Monk slows down the fake book chords at m. 2 he wants to focus on the very repetition of the chord progression in the initial two pairs of measures, and when he does it again at mm. 15-16 it is as if we are asked to savor the tritone substitutions selected for those moments.

    Modern jazz harmonic practice often seems to be founded on the intensifi cation and complexifying of its diatonic basis in the several ways we have just described all at once—so the instances in which this process is slowed or impeded provide a special repose.

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    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (3b) “Time remembered”

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (3b) “TIME REMEMBERED” – MODAL ANALYSIS (with sheet music)

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    This analysis totally ignores the harmonic progression composed by Bill, in order to observe the theme as a complete entity; one that doesn’t need harmony to prove its existence.

    In the Modal period (pre-Bach), polyphony reigned supreme; harmony was accidental and therefore not a factor in determining the form or length of a composition. The theoretical basis derived from this period was the MODES or scales: Ionian, Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, MixoLydian, Aeolian, and Locrian, all beginning on the pitch “c.”

    After Bach, the modes disappeared, or rather, were swallowed up, allowing for a synthesis which gave birth to the major/ minor system and a theory of harmony based on 12 major and 12 minor scales ( called scales to differentiate between the pre-Bach Modal period and the Tonal post-Bach era). This tonal period lasted roughly 300 years before a new and higher synthesis-Atonality-came into being.

    When a synthesis is reached, it always inherits the previous period. Inherent in the Tonal system is the Modal system; inherent in the Atonal system are both the Modal and the Tonal systems. Bill Evans was born with this awareness, and through his study of the Schoenberg harmony, counterpoint, and compositional books, he created his wonderfully rich composi­tions, full of the past and present and achieving a new synthesis: the conscious merging of classical music with jazz.

    There is a term coined by Gunther Schuller: “Third Stream Music.” It means the synthesis of two streams, classical and ja,zz, to produce a third stream. Bill Evans’ compositions are Third Stream, and the following analysis of “Time Remembered” is an attempt to prove that statement true.
    Here are eight examples that break down the theme into eight phrases (the measure lengths are altered slightly for Part 1 ).

    Each example show how the theme expresses a mode based on the gravity caused by the succession of tones in each phrase. The clue lies in the Directional Tones in each phrase. In EX. lA, our ear retains (remembers) the opening “f#” at the arrival of the last note “b,” and identifies these pitches as the dominant or 5th note (f#) and tonic (1st note) of the B Aeolian mode.

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    The rest of the pitches in this phrase support this conclusion. “C#” is the super-tonic note, “a” is the leading tone, “e” the sub-dominant, etc. The high point on the pitch “d” links up with the” f#” and “b” to form a tonic B minor triad, but I must not use that to support my conclusion, since I stated above that this analysis is linear (horizontal) and not chordal (vertical)!

    Our ear does, however, group (link) tones to form chords because it’s almost impossible to forget our 20th century inheritance: harmony! I have therefore included an analysis of what our 20th century ear picks up chord-wise in each example.

    Looking at EX. lA again, you’ll see that my ear groups these pitches vertically to form a V7, 1 V7 & I chord (F#m7, Em7 & Bm triad respectively). The modes are very slippery and our ear could very easily shift the tonic to the pitch” e,” giving us an E Dorian mode. This is obvious because both the B Aeolian and E Dorian contain the same pitches. In the latter instance, my ear picked up the Directional Tone” e” (low point, and linked it with the “b” in measure 4, plus the opening “f#,” pulling me gravitationally to the “e” as a tonic note).

    In each of the following examples, you must sing (and/ or play) the phrase as written; then sing the analytical sections above and below; then sing the modes; then repeat and repeat until your ear gravitates toward the tonic of each mode. It is entirely with_ill !he realm of probability that you will arrive at other modal conclusions, but rememoer, it is the Directional Tones-the high and low point in each phrase-that will support my conclusion. I’ll stand firmly on all of them! Ultimately, it should be child’s play when you finally sit down with thiswonderful composi­tion, “Time Remembered.”

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    Bill Evans – Time Remembered – Full Album


    1) “Danny Boy” (Frederick Weatherly) – 00:00 2) Like Someone in Love” (Johnny Burke, Jimmy Van Heusen) – 10:40 3) “In Your Own Sweet Way” (Dave Brubeck) – 17:08 4) “Easy to Love” (Cole Porter) – 20:07 5) “Some Other Time” (Leonard Bernstein, Betty Comden, Adolph Green) – 24:49 6) “Lover Man” (Jimmy Davis, Ram Ramirez, James Sherman) – 31:01 7) “Who Cares?” (George Gershwin, Ira Gershwin) – 36:07 8) “What Is This Thing Called Love?” (Cole Porter) – 41:32 9) “How About You?” (Ralph Freed, Burton Lane) – 47:21 10) “Everything Happens to Me” (Tom Adair, Matt Dennis) – 51:27 11) “In a Sentimental Mood” (Duke Ellington, Manny Kurtz, Irving Mills) – 56:15 12) “My Heart Stood Still” (Lorenz Hart, Richard Rodgers) – 01:00:41 13) “Time Remembered” (Bill Evans) – 01:05:16

    Did you know? Musical Analysis

    Béla Bartók: Analysis of his music (1)

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    Béla Bartók: Analysis of his music 1.(sheet music available)

    Tonal Principles

    The Axis System

    “Every art has the right to strike its roots in the art of a previous. age; it not only has the right to but it must stem from it”, Bartok once declared.
    His tonal system grew out of functional music. An uninter­rupted line of evolution can be followed from the beginnings of functional . concepts, through the harmonies of Viennese classicism and the tone-world of romanticism to his axis system.

    By an analysis of his compositions, this axis system can primarily be shown to possess the essential properties of classical harmony, i.e.

    (a) the functional affinities of the fourth and fifth degrees
    ibr the relationship ofrelative major and minor keys
    (cd _the overtone relations
    ( d) the role ofleading notes
    .ei the opposite tension of the dominant and subdominant (/) the duality of tonal and distance principles

    (a)To begin with, let us try to situate Bartók’s tonal system in the circle of fifths, Let us take C as the tonic (T). Then F, the fourth degree, is the subdominant (S); G, the fifth degree, ia the dominant (D); A, the sixth degree and relative of the tonic, functions as a tonic; D, the second degree, and relative of the subdominant, functions as a subdominant; E, the third degree and relative of the dominant, functions as a dominant. The series of fifths, F-C-G-D-A-E corresponds to the functional series S-T-D-S-T-D.

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    We note that the sequence S-T-D repeats itself. When this periodicity is extended over the entire circle of fifths the scheme of the axis system may be clearly seen:

    Le­t us separate the three funtions and call them tonic, subdominant dominant and dominant axes, respectively.

    This table teaches yet another lesson. All four movements rest on the tonic axis, A-C-Eb-F#. Thus the first and fourth movements are supported by the “principal branch”, A and Eb,; the middle movements, however, by the “secondary branch”, C and F#, Thus each axis has a two-fold affinity depending on whether we oppose the pole with the counter­pole, or the principal branch with the secondary branch.

    Consequently the components of the axis system are as follows:

    The Slow Movement of the Sonata for Two Pianos and Percussion is based on the subdominant axis, B-D-F-Ab, complying with the traditions of classical composition. The modal arrangement of its principal theme is symmetrical: the beginning and end supported by the B and F counterpoles (i.e. the principal branch of the axis).

    b) A survey of the evolution of harmonic thinking leads to the
    conclusion that the birth of the axis system was a historical
    necessity, representing the logical continuation (and in a _<:ertain sense the completion) of European functional music. It can be demonstrated that the axis system, with its characteristic features had, in effect, been used by the Viennese “Greats”. Indeed, it had been recognised by Bach, in his chromaticism.

    The sense of functional correlation in music was introduced in practice by the realisation of the I-IV-V-I affinity (in medieval modal music, at first in cadence form only) In the case of the C tonic:

    The classical theory of harmony already speaks of primary and secondary triads inasmuch as the C may be replaced by its relative A, the F by its relative D and the G by its relative E.

    Romantic harmony goes still further, making frequent use of the upper relatives. (Naturally only major and minor keys of similar key signature may be regarded as relatives, e.g. C major and A minor, or C minor and Eb major):

    One more step completes the system. The axes extend the application of relatives to the whole system. The axis system implies the recognition of the fact that the common relative for A and Eb, is not only C, but also F# ( =Gb); that D and Ab, not only have F as a common relative, but also B; and that E and Bb, not only have G, but also C# ( =Db) as common relatives.

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    As is well known, Bartók showed a preference for the use ofso-called majoMninor chords (see Fig. 32b). For instance, its form in C tonality is:

    The function remains unchanged even if the C major mode­as shown in the above chord-is replaced by the relative A minor, or when the Eb major tonality replaces the relative C minor. This technique occurs regularly in Bartók’s music:

    These substitute chords may also be employed in major-minor form, which brings the system to a close, since the relative of A major (F# minor) and that, of Eb, minor (Gb major) meet at a point of enharmonic co.incidence, F#=Gb.

    These relatives, applied to dominant and subdominant harmony, again result in the scheme of the axis system.

    (c) The theory of the axis system is also substantiated by the laws of acoustics. Acoustically, arriving from the dominant to the tonic, is to reach the root from an overtone-all cadential re­lations rest on the principle of interconnection between roots and their overtones. Thus, the dominant of C is not only G but also the next overtones E and Bb. Therefore the circle of tonic-dominant relationships is expanded to include E-C and Bb-C.

    Since the D-T relationship corresponds relatively to

    the T-S and
    the S-D relationship,

    overtone-root attraction exists between the T-S and the S-D, as well.

    If we add the role of the nearest overtone, i.e. the fifth, then we
    can deduce the complete axis system from these relations.

    (d) In the simplest cadence, that of V7-I, the main role is played by the so-called sensitive notes which produce the pull of the dominant towards the tonic. The leading note pulls to the root and the seventh towards the third degree of the tonic, i.e. the leading note B resolves on C ind the seventh F on E or Eb.

    These important sensitive notes bear a tritonic relationship to each other. The tritone–half the octave interval-is charac­terised by the interchangeability of its notes without changing the interval. Thus, if the B-F relationship is converted into an F-B one (as is frequently the case with Bartók), then the F ( =E#) assumes the role of the leading note, pulling towards the F# instead of E, while the seventh B pulls towards A# or A instead of C. So, instead of the expected tonic C major, the counterpole, the equally tonic F# major (or minor) emerges.

    This resolution is reserved by Bartók for a sudden change of scene. The circumstances of an expected G7-C cadence emerging as G7-F# gives us a “Bartokean pseudo-cadence”.

    (e) Starting from the tonic centre C we reach the dominant in one direction and the subdominant in the other, in identical latitudes. At a distance of i fifth we find the dominant G upwards and the subdominant F downwards. Regarding overtone relations we also get the dominant G, E, Bb, in the upper and the subdominant F, Ab, D the lower directions.

    But what happens if the pendulum covers the latitude of a tritone? In this case the deviations made upwards and down­wards meet, both ending at F# ( =Gb), and ifwe were to take one as the dominant, then the other would have to assume the subdominant function. By this coincidence, however, a neutral­isation of their functions takes place, dominant and subdominan t merging are rendered ineffective in the interaction of their opposite forces.

    Consequently the balance is saved, and the function is invariably that of the tonic. The counterpole is born. Similarly the distance between the tonic C and F# is bisected by Eb ( =D#) in the one and by A in the other direction; so lying in tensionless, neutral section points, they also have to be interpreted as tonics,. No more than four tonic poles can be surmised, since the intervals C-Eb, Eb-F#, F#-A, A-C provide no further points of bisection.

    Finally, what significance should be attached to a swing of a chromatic degree, of C-B and its counterpart C-C# (=Db,)? Which is then to assume the dominant and which the sub­dominant function? Related to B, C# shows a degree of elevation of two fifths, which might correspond to the S-D inter­dependence, but not to its opposite. Anyway, the subdominant function of B and the dominant function of C# are un­questionable when they are related to the tonic F# counterpole.

    (f) Thus, observing the logic of functional interconnection of the three axes, another interesting point arises. The sub­dominant and dominant are represented most effectively not by the degrees IV and V but, in the case of C tonality, the subdominant by Ab, (and its counterpole), the dominant by E (and its counterpole).

    This is, after all, nothing new since there is, for instance, the dominant secondary theme in E of Beethoven’s Waldstein Sonata (C major) or the subdominant Slow Movement in Ab, of the Pathetique (C minor). The movements of Brahms’ First Symphony have the following key-sequence: C-E-Ab,-C in the sense of tonic-dominant-subdominant-tonic, etc.
    However, the above examination of the axis system fails to explain why Bartók prefers these augmented triad relations to the traditional I-IV-V-I.

    This necessitates a new approach to the system.

    It is generally accepted that twelve-tone music shows a strong tendency to indifferent tonal relations.

    Atonal relations can be most suitably effected by the equal division of the octave, or of the circle of fifths. By dividing the octave m twelve equal parts we get the chromatic scale; in the case of six equal parts we have the whole-tone scale; four equal parts gives us the chord of the diminished seventh; three the augmented triad, and finally by dividing the octave into two equal parts we arrive at the tritone.

    For the present we shall exclude the whole-tone scale because of its limited possibilities: two whole-tone scales produce the chromatic scale by interlocking.

    Every tonal system presupposes a centre as well as sub­ordinate relations dependent on the centre. Taking again C as the tonic centre, the three functions are represented most potently by those degrees dividing the circle of fifths into three equal parts, i.e. in the augmented triad C-E-Ab. Properties inherent in classical harmony are responsible for the E assuming a dominant function and Ab, a subdominant function in relation to the tonic C.

    Each of these main notes permit their substitution by their counterpoles, i.e. their tritonic equivalents. Thus, C may be replaced by F#, E by Bb, and Ab by D.

    If we divide the twelve-tone chromatic scale proportionally between the three functions, each function will have four poles, and these-insofar as we keep to the distance principle-are arranged in diminished-seventh relations, dividing the circle into four equal parts. Accordingly, C-Eb-F#-A belong to the range of the C tonic, E-G-Bb-C# to that of the dominant E main note, and Ab-B-D-F to that of the subdominant Ab, main note.

    So, the tonal system resulting from a division of the chromatic scale into equal parts agrees completely with the axis system:

    Put concisely, given the twelve-tone system and the three functions this is the on[y system that can be realised by means of distance division.
    Viewed historically, the axis system reflects the age-old struggle between the principles-of tonaliry and equi-distance, with the gradual ascendancy of the latter which finally resulted in the free and equal treatment of the chromatic twelve notes.

    Here we have to draw a line between Bartók’s twelve-tone system and the Zwölftonmusik of Schönberg. Schönberg annihilates and dissolves tonality whereas Bartók incorporates the principles of harmonic thinking in a perfect synthesis. To penetrate into Bartók’s creative genius is to discover the natural affinities and intrinsic possibilities, inherent in the musical material.

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    Béla Bartók Piano Sonata, Sz. 80 with sheet music

    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (3a) “Time remembered”

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (3a) “TIME REMEMBEREDHARMONIC ANALYSIS (with sheet music)

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    “Time Remembered” must have emerged from very deep within the musical mind of Bill Evans or, as he might have put it, from the “universal mind.” It is a composition that harmonically pays homage to the Modal period in music history, the sixteenth century that gave birth to Palestrina, Byrd, Caccini, Morley, Monteverdi, Frescobaldi, and Schutz.

    The harmonies and progressions of “Time Remembered” suggest four modes or scales that formed the basis of many of the works of that period: the Dorian, Phrygian, Lydian, and Aeolian. The Bach chorales of the sevente_enth century mark the transition from Modality to Tonality (major/minor system). We then had to wait three hundred years for a reincarnation of the modes in the compositions of Debussy and Ravel.

    Bill knew these two Impressionistic masters inside and out, and in “Time Remembered,” he has compressed within 26 measures four hundred years of musical evolution from Modality to Tonality to Impressionism.

    The unique thing about “Time Remembered” is the inconspicuous absence of the dominant 7th chord and its derivatives, the half-diminished and the full-diminished. When Bill had eliminated these, he was left with only major and minor chords. For this reason, the piece sounds impressionistic and modal.

    He has met the challenge of writing a tune with only two harmonic qualities by introducing unusual root movements and by exploiting the use of the upper partials (9, 11, 13) in the melody. Let’s look at EX. 1 in which I have reduced the original to four parts. The root is always in the bass” The 3rd, 5th, and 7th, however, are voiced in a variety of ways, according to the new voicing categories that I will explain shortly.

    harmony jazz sheet music

    The original Bill Evans score of “Time Remembered” (EX. 2) is one of Bill’s most complex contrapuntal scores-. It’s equal in difficulfyto Bach’s Five-Part Fugue in C-sharp from Book One of the Well-Tempered Clavier. To help you to achieve a better legato, I have written a set of fingerings. Also, you might have a look at the Fugue. It’s a good preparator.y piece for “Time Remembered.”.

    bill evans harmony sheet music jazz transcription

    Now look at EX. 1 and listen for the harmonic qualities of Ma7 or m7; observe the voicings; feel them in your hands. Now visualize the 5th omitted. What’s left? The root, 3rd, and 7th, of course: the three-note concept. By adding the 5th to all the chords in “Time Remembered,” Bill has quadrupled the voicing possibilities.

    He has also created five new voicing categories. The voicings in measures 1, 2, 6, 9, 15, 25, 26, and 29, I call category” A”: the root, 7th, 3rd, and 5th. In measures 5 (third beat only), 10 and 18, the voicing is root, 5th, 7th, and 3rd. Let’s call this category “B.” In measures 7, 8, 12, 13, 14, 17, 19, and 21, Bill voices the chords root, 5th, 3rd, and 7th. We’ll name these the “C” voicings. Next we read root, 3rd, 7th, and 5th in measures 11 and 24. This will be the “D” voicing category. Lastly, in measures 3, 4, 5 (first beat only), 22, and 23, Bill uses block voicings. This makes up our fifth category, the “E” voicings.

    To make it easier to follow this analysis, I have rewritten and organized EX. 1 by voicing categories. Refer now to EX. 3A, 3B, 3C, 3D, and 3E (bar numbers under EX. 3A-3E indicate which measure(s) contains the voicing category. For example, bars 1 & 15 are examples of” A” voicings, etc.).

    I have also written out all inversions appropriate to each voicing category. Exhaust all possibilities! That’s my motto. Bill did. He spent hours and hours practicing these fundamental four-part voicings, in every category, in root position and all inversions, and in all keys, until they were “second nature.” Nobody else since Art Tatum has had such an enormous voicing vocabulary “in the fingers.” And Bill has surpassed Tatum in this department owing to his broader knowledge of classical music, especially the music of Debussy, Ravel, and Stravinsky.

    Now I will analyze in detail measures 7 and 8 from the original score. See EX. 4. Bill has written an Eb Ma13th resolving up a fourth to Ab Ma13th. Can you see the basic four-part seventh chord voicings and categories hidden in these seven-part chords? Not yet? Then look at EX. 4A.

    Here I have isolated the basic four parts from the upper partials. (This is what the harmonic reduction in EX. 1 is all about). It is now clear that both chords belong to the “C” voicing category (See EX. 3C). Separated in EX. 4A, the upper partials now look like major triads. But they also-belong to the Eb and Ab Ma7 chords as the 9th,+ 11th, and 13th. H€re’s a simple rule to follow: by visualizing major triads superimposed one whole step above Ma7ths, you will learn to play seven-part Ma13th chords quickly. Such practice is also the first step toward thinking in polytonal relationships.

    Now look at EX. 5, SA, and SB. In these examples, I have placed the upper partials of the EbMa13th with the inversions. Further experimentation will reveal other possipilities. Then you can do what Bill did: at the piano transpose your experiments to all keys until they are “in the fingers.”

    In EX. 6 and 6A, my analysis of measure 6 from Bill’s original score (see EX. 2) follows the same procedure as in EX. 4 through SB. Only this time I have chosen the minor chord quality, which in this measure is a Gm13th.

    Analyze each measure of Bill’s score in a similar manner and you’ll complete the harmonic picture of “Time RememberecL” By a careful study of all tl:!e chorg categories in this article, you will now have a method by which to work out the analysis of all Bill’s original scores on your own. Continue to experiment with all the chord categories from EX. 3A through 3E by placing the 9th,+ 11th, and 13th within the voicing of the basic four-part 7th chords that I have written out for you in these examples.

    In the final example (EX. 8), I have written a seven-part voicing arrangement of “Time Remembered” based on all the principles discussed above and in the “Peri’s Scope” articles. Examine each measure and try to separate the basic four-part voicing by writing it next to my seven-part realization. Analyze the chord voicing category. I have worked out the first three measures for you (EX. 8, measures 1- 3).

    bill evans harmonyfree sheet music & scores pdf
    Thelonius Monk's Harmony Musical Analysis

    Thelonious Monk’s Harmony, Rhythm, and pianism (Part 1)

    Thelonius Monk‘s sheet music transcriptions are available from our Library.

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    Thelonious Monk’s Harmony, Rhythm, and pianism (Part 1)

    On February 28, 1964, jazz pianist, composer, and group leader Thelonious Monk (1917-1982) graced the cover of Time magazine, then America’s major newsweekly. Coming at the height of the civil rights movement and amid dawn-ing recognition for African Americans’ achievements, it was a true breakthrough into mainstream media for him and for jazz.

    The moment was short-lived, with rock-and-roll’s ascendancy to cultural dominance just around the corner, but it was also well-earned: Monk had been producing extraordinary music—often under difficult social and personal circumstances—for almost two decades, and would continue to perform for another nine years.

    Gnomic and inscrutable, he also magnified, for better or worse, popular clichés about the jazz artist as insouciant, hipster weirdo—aspects played up in Time’s account, and undoubtedly part of the reason its editors had singled him out, for the moment, as jazz personified.

    Yet despite the typecasting, Monk was actually an unlikely icon, musically and personally. Jazz comprises a cluster of genres bound loosely by a symbiosis of individualism, commercial concerns, and high art leanings, but even given this, Monk’s playing was in many ways too idiosyncratic to fi t in to any niche. His music differed more from his contemporaries than theirs did from each others’. His small hands and distinctive piano technique often gave cause for his very skill and competence to be called into question, sometimes not without reason. Such perplexities complicated Monk’s reputation and that of jazz itself, which he was both part of and apart from.

    And as if to enhance this otherworldly aura, after touring and recording almost continually from the late 1940s until the mid-1960s, he simply faded away. He stopped playing piano soon after his last record-ings in 1971 and retired into semi-seclusion for the last decade of his life. Yet both his musical legacy and mythic status have continually strengthened ever since.

    Our own lifelong obsessions with Monk’s music started in the 1970s. It was a romance of recordings: the only performances we ever saw were on film, and that was much later. For us back then, “Thelonious Monk” was an outré persona conjured by liner notes and cover art. The cover of one LP— Monk’s Music, from 1955—showed him writing music while perched in a child’s red wagon, donned in hipster’s garb and sunglasses; another— Underground, his last Columbia recording, from 1968—set Monk as WWII French resistance fighter, seated at an upright piano in a barn hideout, with several open bottles of wine, a live cow, weaponry, and a captured Nazi in tow.

    These manufactured images suggested ways for the public to digest the music: Monk as idiot-savant, genius-child, rebel-recluse—a collection of quirky, individualistic, American countercultural personas. But, however these images may have hooked us as teenagers, we could not fail to hear his music as indispensable. His deadpan playing, stocked with “scribbled lightning”, and jabbing, stabbing, amazing chords, textures, rhythms, empty spaces, and clusters, was riveting, at once instantly recognizable, diverse and unpredictable, and full of the divine laughter that made it both deadly serious and hilariously funny. It invaded our musical selves-in-formation and led to insatiable fixation. Of course, we were among many trying to internalize Monk and make him part of us. This chapter harvests fruits of our Monk incubation, and the friendship built partly from it.

    Here we also position Monk to represent the multiplicity of jazz, some-thing for which no one artist or performance is suited, and yet, for the same reasons Time chose him, no one is as well suited as he. Our aim is not so much to depict the dimensions of Monk’s style as it is to show what he was able to achieve on one particular occasion. We consider a renowned April 1957 solo piano recording of “I Should Care” (hereafter ISC) , a song composed around 1944 as a number for the boilerplate Hollywood movie Thrill of a Romance and known to the public through recordings by Jimmy Dorsey, Frank Sinatra, and others. It appeared repeatedly on the 1947 hit parade and was almost immediately adopted by Monk, (pianist) Bud Powell, and myriad other players.

    Our choice of a “standard,” rather than one of Monk’s numerous seminal original compositions, is deliberate, allowing us to focus on the deeply symbiotic relationship between Monk and the jazz mainstream, a microcosm of the relationship between jazz and American popular music as a whole.

    Monk’s decision to create a personalized, at least seemingly improvised (though in fact hardly at all) rendition of a popular song is itself “standard” practice for jazz. In general Monk’s taste in standards leaned toward the popular music of his youth, but he seems to have had a particular fascination with ISC: he recorded it at least four times for as many record labels, over a span of twenty years. Our chosen ISC is especially concentrated and allows us to frame Monk’s idiolect against the background of some of the era’s musical conventions and their milieu.

    Jazz, Monk, and Modern Jazz Technique

    Jazz and Jazz Analysis

    In the United States jazz was long ago pronounced “America’s classical music,” a phrase used so often as to now elude original attribution. Many Americans regard this African-American form as a birthright and know it when they hear it, even if hard-pressed to say what it is that makes it “it.” Born in late nineteenth-century New Orleans, it long ago permeated global culture, provoking cultural responses by the 1920s in places as distant as Japan and China.

    To have even a passing acquaintance with Western culture is to have some awareness of jazz as an idea involving musical self-expression through improvisation. Beyond the “jazz buffs” that live in every country, this awareness can be expressed in indirect, idiosyncratic ways: a “jazzy” turn of phrase in a Bollywood production number, a rural Japanese man belting Sinatra-style while fronting his local high school’s jazz band, or a lip-synching crooner in a Manila transvestite bar. These and thousands of other appropriations attest to jazz’s potency.

    Jazz history is often described in terms of a series of fast-morphing eras (until a pluralistic stasis set in after the mid ’70s)—Dixieland, hot jazz, swing, bebop, cool, hard bop, free jazz, fusion, and so on—whose musics evolved but were also retained in coexistence. Throughout, it has been girded by poly-rhythmic, cyclical, repetitive principles tracing back to the West African music of slave ancestors, the dialects of song and rhythm in earlier African-American music (the blues, spirituals, etc.), the strophic ballad and popular song forms of Anglo-America, and the harmony and instruments of European art music. Jazz digested, synthesized, and transformed all of these.

    The bebop style of Monk’s era was typically played by combos of up to six players comprised of piano, stand-up bass, drum trap set, and possibly electric guitar (all comprising the rhythm section) , fronted by saxophone(s), trumpet(s), or trombone(s). Most performances use the melody or “head’” of a popular song or a newly composed tune to launch solo improvisations stated over the tune’s cyclically repeated harmonies, which are rendered by the rhythm section in constantly changing accompaniment patterns.

    Rhythm section members also take solos. Bebop players such as Charlie Parker (saxophone), Dizzy Gillespie (trumpet), and Bud Powell (piano) perfected a vocabulary of scales and patterns that brought out the color and quality of the “changes” (the chord sequence) while flying far from the original melody.

    Jazz is improvisation, and the image of the spontaneously creative soloist, playing instinctually, is powerful. Some players can and do spin off very different solos from take to take and/or from night to night, but most draw from a personal lexicon of phrases, large and small, that constitute a player’s style. The degree to which great improvisers plan their solos varies, and the line between improvisation and composition is fluid. Aficionados have always known this, but today the ready availability of myriad “alternate takes” by Charlie Parker, Monk, and innumerable others proves that jazz improvisation can be a highly calculated act. The fixed, solo arrangement of ISC we selected is a case in point.

    Jazz analysis, like all analysis, begins with listening, and is a multistage process proceeding from general stylistic features to consideration of players’ own styles, and finally to the details of a performance.

    Knowledgeable listeners weigh a critical mass of musical markers including instrumentation, form, harmony, tempo, and rhythmic subdivision to identify and appreciate individual players. Even should such a listener first hear a recording of ISC “blind-folded”—that is, without being told who is playing—and fail to recognize Monk’s musical signatures, he or she could still place the music at circa 1945-1965. This was an era encompassing related styles (bebop, cool, West Coast, and more) that we refer to for convenience as the era of modern jazz.

    The integrity of any durable genre rests on the tensile strength of its basic principles; Monk’s relationship to modern jazz is a characteristic one of testing these strengths. Among the features relevant to this performance are certain types of harmonic and rhythmic complexity seen in relation to musical form, and a range of ways of laying these out on the piano keyboard. To analyze ISC in terms of these features, we will first survey their treatment in the genre. Then it can emerge how Monk mobilizes rhythm (especially fl fluctuations of tempo) and harmony on the one hand, while retaining form and melody on the other, to create a layered, asymmetrical reading of this standard song.

    We later refer to a full transcription (figures 4.5 and 4.6) through which we can fi x the performance in our minds at a glance. But even though we made every effort to make it accurate in pitch and harmony (though one can never be sure) and urge the reader to play it, not even a note-perfect performance will make it sound like Monk. This is because he plays with an embodied hand and finger pianism that even neurological and psychological description could hardly capture, let alone conventional music notation.

    Monk’s touch at the keyboard vividly shapes surface rhythm and the envelope of the sound—its attack and decay contour. Playing it is worth doing, how-ever, to encounter the sonic diversity of his style and wealth of unexpected piano sonorities.

    Form and Fusion

    ISC is composed in one of a small number of easily recognizable thirty-two-measure popular song types of the era (the top staff of figure 4.1 gives the melody). It consists of two sixteen-measure periods that are parallel, in the sense that the first eight measures of each are identical and the second eight differ. This can be thought of formally as ABAC, in which each letter designates eight bars of melody and chords (actually the very first measures of B and C are also the same). Songs of this genre were written to be recorded by professionals and, if successful, were published as sheet music for amateurs.

    The sheet music arrangements, distributing the tones of the chords in various ways on the keyboard, were dispensable, but the harmonies were also represented by shorthand chord symbols (about which more below).

    A lead sheet consisting of these symbols over a single staff with the notated melody circulated among jazz players; a version of this can be seen by combining the top staff of figure 4.1 with the first row of symbols below the second staff. This version is from The Real Book, a latter-day “fake book” (originally a samizdat anthology of lead sheets for standard tunes and modern jazz compositions).

    The “double period” form of ISC stems from European models. In non-jazz performances, such as for film or singers’ nightclub acts, the songs last only as long as their words; that is, the music is read off the arranger or com-poser’s notation and repeated (with preplanned small variants) as many times as necessary to sing the entire lyric. This is as it would be in many a Brahms Lied or an aria da capo in Mozart opera.

    But jazz is a deep fusion of European and African music. This integration of independent, but in many ways compatible, musical systems was not only an ingenious cultural project directly contradicting the segregated social realities of America, but could be seen as providing that society with a compelling model of how to overcome those difficulties.

    Jazz harmony has roots in African melody based on flexible, unstandardized fi ve- or seven-tone scales, but it acquired new depth of field (the range of colors and sensations of unique relation to a stabilizing “tonic” center that harmony evokes) by ingesting Europe’s twelve-tone chromatic scale and its system of functional harmonic progressions. At a time when European composers largely eschewed it, jazz took up the mantle of enriching functional harmony.

    Figure 4.1. Melody and four harmonizations of I Should Care, with chord roots and harmonic functions.

    thelonious monk sheet music

    Figure 4.1 (continued)

    Jazz form evolved to become a cycle of harmonies reminiscent of analogous (though briefer) cycles in much African music, as well as in circular European forms based on a repeating bass line, such as the passacaglia. African cycles are configured with rhythmic and melodic patterns. These are given multiple, varied repetition, with the patterns locked in and aligned with the unchanging cyclic structure. Such isoperiodicity also defines most jazz, with regularly recurring chord progressions (“changes”) instead of rhythms or melodies.

    Variation may last for as many cycles (isoperiods) as the soloist per-forms, organized by the harmonies linked to the cycle. Cycle and progression, seemingly as contradictory as circle and line, thus reconcile.

    Jazz Harmony

    So that Monk’s style can soon be broached, let us pause to clarify our usage of three terms already in play:

    • Harmony: one of three essential functions of motion or rest perceived from pitch combinations at a given place in the form. These are the stable tonic (T) and the unstable dominant (D; leading to a tonic) or subdominant (S; leading to a dominant).
    • Chord: specific root (fundamental tone) and quality (interval structure and sound) of a harmony specifi ed by the lead sheet.
    • Voicing: the specific, registrated pitches used to realize a chord.

    Harmonic progression in European art music evolved from a conception of counterpoint that wove the simultaneous tones of concurrent melodies into a few stable chordal structures while retaining nuances like anticipation, suspension, and other kinds of melodic dissonances—tones that do not belong to a stable chord and that must resolve to those that do, else the tone combination parses as unstable. Stable chords contain only three tones in European practice. Such triads come in and out of focus when the music’s polyphonic strands either line up or diverge.

    Counterpoint oversees the management of dissonance, and this process, at various orders of magnitude, generates both harmony and form in great variety. Western music’s variation forms, similar to jazz in some ways, act to restrain this tendency. But more culturally significant and musically distinctive is the fact that counterpoint, with its prolongation of dissonance and harmonic progression, historically urged Western music in extremis to long operas, symphonies, and other noncyclical structures.
    In jazz, counterpoint and dissonance shape melodic lines and chord progressions, but cyclic structure prevails.

    The role of harmony is to identify, with particular colors (i.e., chords and voicings), the region of the cycle through which one is passing. Jazz harmonies are glued to their positions; nothing can dislodge them. It is not the chords themselves that are glued there, but their harmonic functions, and this allows (as we shall see) for many ways to substitute different chords of equivalent function, or to severely alter chords so long as their function is preserved. The functions have such a forceful progressive logic that the practiced ear can distinguish which of the many tones that may be sounding are operative in establishing the harmony, and which are more or less ornamental.

    Even if crucial tones are absent, expert listeners can infer harmonic function from the context.

    What identifies harmonies and how they are realized in sound must thus not be thought of as the same thing; indeed, the two can vary seemingly to the point of severing their relationship—but not quite.

    Harmonic Principles and Chords

    Songs like ISC are composed in the tonality of one of the twelve equal- tempered chromatic notes, and end with tonic harmony, though some, like ISC, do not begin with it. The tonality, which may be major or minor in quality, shifts fluidly and temporarily at many points in the cycle. We restrict discussion to ISC’s home key of D major for illustration; figure 4.2a shows the root-position triads (major, minor, or diminished) in open note heads with Roman numerals, indicating the scale tone that is the root of the chord, on the first line below the staff.

    The second line below the staff labels each with tonic (T), dominant (D), or subdominant (S) function. With rare exceptions, a jazz chord has a harmonic meaning only if it can be confi dently heard as having one of these three functions. Thus III and VII chords are rare in jazz major keys because the former is function-ally ambiguous and the role of the latter is understood as a weak version of V.

    In fact, each of the S, T, and D functions is normally linked to a single chord, which progresses to one of the others strongly because their roots are a fifth apart: II for S, V for D, and I for T. IV and VI chords are very often heard as equivalent to ii (note that the roots of ii, IV, and VI together form a II triad). The constituent tones of III, IV, VI, and vii chords may appear as voicings of other chords, or the chords may function in other keys where they play the roles of II, V, or I.

    Jazz chords and voicings were influenced both by the tonal language of other African-American forms such as the blues, and by the sonorities of early twentieth-century French composers like Debussy and Ravel.

    Evolving style came to allow sevenths (tones that are the interval of a seventh above the root; shown with black note heads) not to be considered dissonant, and to inhere to virtually all chords.

    This is also true of many other nontriad tones (figures 4.2b and 4.3), but sevenths are essential and assumed. Adding them to triads produces seventh chords of various distinctive qualities depending on the type of the triad and the size of the seventh. The major seventh chord (labeled M7) has a major triad plus major seventh. The dominant seventh chord (labeled 7) is the same but with a minor seventh. The minor seventh chord (m7) has a minor triad plus minor seventh, and in the half-diminished seventh chord (m7b5) the minor seventh is joined to a diminished triad.

    These are labeled in the fourth line below the main staff of figure 4.2a.

    Mention of the half-diminished seventh chord occasions a brief diversion into the role of major and minor tonalities in jazz. The exact nature of this relationship is multifarious, varying from era to era and player to player, and intertwined with devices absorbed from other practices such as the blues. As with much European tonality, the distinction between major and minor modes is retained as an overall affect—in other words, tunes are one or the other—but in actual practice the two freely commingle. In essence, this comes down to the unique case of the half-diminished seventh chord, built on the second degree of the minor scale.

    Consider that in D major in jazz, one may often encounter an E-rooted seventh chord that uses Bb, from D minor, instead of B, making the chord a half-diminished seventh rather than a minor seventh. Also, as shown above the staff in figure 4.2a, the VII chord in D major has the same root and half- diminished-seventh quality of the II7 chord in B minor, so it can be used to temporarily change to that key, or even to B major. And by playing a half- diminished seventh when a tonic function is expected, jazz musicians can create a chain of II–V progressions. This is our first example of “chord substitution,” a principle of harmonic modularity at the core of jazz practice (see “Chords and Voicings” below).

    In jazz, motion from S to D to T functions usually refl ects root motion by fifth, as in the iconic ii–V–I progression. Mastery of jazz harmony involves the ability to manipulate ii–V–I in all keys and combinations. In D major, II–V–I is most simply expressed as Em7–A7–DM7, which occurs twice right at the beginning of ISC, but the same functional progression, transposed and with substitutions, occurs in many places throughout the song. In the fake book (the lead sheet) version shown in the second staff of figure 4.1, the vocabulary is varied, close to what an accomplished player might actually play, and the progression is sometimes interrupted. For example, the II–V in mm. 8 and 24 suggest that a richly chromatic F major is coming, but the progression is not allowed to complete.

    Measures 17-20 bring a dovetailed chain of II–V motions, each one leading to the next, as the arrows show. All staves of figure 4.1 and all harmony in ISC can be explained in II–V–I terms.

    Dominant function chords contain the crucial interval of the diminished fifth (also known as the tritone) between the third and seventh. In the A7 chord, this means C#7 and G. The tritone’s distinctive sound is absent from major and minor seventh chords, but their occasional substitutes, the bor-rowed half-diminished seventh and the dominant seventh sonority itself—which does double duty as tonic in blues forms—include it. The interval impels forward motion in II–V–I progressions, which sometimes concatenate and elide into strings of descending tritones in inner voices, creating, if art-fully done, a spinning vortex of dominant resolutions. The approach to and departure from the tritone is more expansive in the music of Monk’s era—and certainly to an even greater degree in Monk’s own music—than it is in classical music; it is without question the most important source of the feeling of harmonic progression in the music.

    The tritone is the structural hub orienting and ordering the tremendous vocabulary of idiomatic chord voicings.

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    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (2b)

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (2b) PERI’S SCOPETHEMATIC ANALYSIS

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    In this article, I will analyze the thematic material of Bill’s tune, “Peri’s Scope.” My purpose will be to gain insight into the principles of good melody writing and, in Bill’s case, to get inside the creative mind of a genius as that mind organized, developed and evolved his compositions by following the dictates of what Schoenberg calls the “BASIC SHAPE,” the seed thought, the germ or idea that generates the entire piece. Because I use in these articles a specific vocabulary when I discuss Bill’s thematic material, I think it best to define these terms before I begin the analysis.
    MOTIF-an interval, harmony, and/or rhythm combining to produce memorable shapes or patterns; a motif appears continually throughout a piece; it is repeated. Repetition alone often gives rise to monotony, and monotony can only be overcome by variation.

    VARIATION-a change in some of the less important features of the motif and the preserva­tions of some of the more important ones.
    FIGURE-a smaller rhythmic and/ or melodic feature of the motif that is repeated throughout the piece. A dotted quarter followed by an eighth note is a rhythmic figure Bill uses continually in “Peri’s Scope.”
    DIRECTIONAL TONES-the range and contour (high and low points) of the theme; the main pitches that outline the theme.
    INVERSION-an ascending pattern that later descends, and vice versa.
    AUGMENTATION-an increased time value according to a ratio (three eighth notes become triplets, etc.).

    DIMINUTION-a decreased time value according to a ratio (eighth notes become sixteenth notes).
    RETROGRADE-the theme or motif played, or repeated backwards.
    BASIC SHAPE-usually the first idea which generates the whole piece.
    PHRASE-a complete musical thought, like a sentence in English (in this piece, 8 meaSures).

    Let’s look at EX. lA to lC (measures 1-2). This is the BASIC SHAPE. The melodic figures are one lonely eighth note, a “g” on the first beat, rhythmic space or silence for one and one-half beats, a descending four note scale pattern, 11 g” to II d,” and an ascending interval leap of a perfect fourth, 11 d” to II g.” The DIRECTIONAL TONES and range are easy to calculate, 11 g” down to “d,” back up to “g.” The range is a perfect fourth. These are the memorable melodic features of Motif 1. But it’s the rhythmic, syncopated figures (EX. lE) which give Motif 1 its uniqueness and announce that “Peri’s Scope” is a jazz composition! I have found six different ways to break down Motif 1 into FIGURES. Can you find more?


    Motif 2 is a development and repetition of the melodic and rhythmic figures of Motif 1. Compare EX. 2A with my analysis in EX. 2C. Bill’s V ARIA TI ON of the four note scale pattern results in a broken scale pattern in thirds. The interval leap of a perfect fourth he expands to a perfect fifth; that is, he leaped from “d” to “a.” The syncopation he shifts to the “and-of” 4, measure 3, and again on the” and-of” 3, measure 4. This last syncopated note of motif 2 is” g,” the same pitch that begins “Peri’s Scope”! And it’s also an eighth note! The rhythmic silence or space in measure 4 lasts for two beats, the same amount of rhythmic space that separates Motif 1 from Motif 2. Are these relationships accidental? I don’t think so. There is an inner “logician” at work here, the mind of the composer. Oh, yes, the range of Motif 2 is one octave.

    Then in measure 5, Bill offers another VARIATION in the rhythmic pattern of measure three by introducing sixteenth notes and·a quarter-note triplet for the first time (EX. 3A). His ear immediately picks up on the sixteenth notes, so we get more of them in the very next measure! (EX. 3B).

    With all of this incredible melodic and rhythmic far (measures 1-6), the DIREC­TIONAL TONES hint at monotony. Why? They all hover around the pitcli “g”! What does Mr. Evans do? He lets the” composer” step in, and in measure 7 he writes not one, but two” g­sharps,” the first chromatic note of the piece (EX. 4). How does he rhythmically treat these “g-sharps”? By holding the first one for one and one-half beats and syncopating the second one. This is breathtaking. It is in this measure that Bill reveals to us that he is inwardly singing. How does he reveal this? By following the” g#s” with six beats of rhythmic space: silence! Now he is able to make a new breath. And that is precisely how we can identify the end of one phrase and the beginning of another. Measures 1-8 comprise phrase one; measures 9-16, phrase two; measures 17-24, phrase three.

    The syncopated FIGURE in measure 7 is not unique. It reappears in measures 13-16, the second part of phrase two, where Bill the composer fully exploit it (EX. SA), as the climax or high point of “Peri’s Scope.” It is the dotted quarter note, however, that is secretly exploited by alternate syncopation, i.e. every other quarter note is placed on the” and” of the beat. To make this clear in my analysis, I have rewritten these FIGURES in 6 / 8 meter (EX. SB). Because of this rhythmic complexity, the inner “logician” tells Bill to narrow the range. Now he has the opportunity to create melodic FIGURES on the intei:vals of a Major 2nd, minor 2nd, minor 3rd, and Major 3rd (EX. SC).

    See Ex. 6 and 7 for further analyses of Motifs 1 and 2.

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    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (2a)

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (2a) PERI’S SCOPEHARMONIC ANALYSIS

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    “Peri’s Scope” is a perfect model to initiate a discussion of two-handed piano voicing principles that are root oriented. There are three rules or directions to follow:

    1. Use the root, third and seventh under the melody;
    2. Omit the fifth of the chord;
    3. For added, optional color, add a ninth, eleventh, or thirteenth

    Observe in all of the examples that the root is always the bass note and above the root you place the third, seventh, and melody. The voice leading alternates-EX. 1: R (root), 3rd, 7th leading to R, 7th, 10th in measures 1 and 2; or R, 10th, 7th leading to R, 7th, 10th in measure 3- depending upon the root movement. In this tune the root movement is mostly down a fifth ( or up a fourth, i.e. II-V, III-VI of measures 1 & 2). I call this the diatonic cycle of fifths, and since “Peri’s Scope” does not modulate to another key, I rate it as a very imaginative diatonic composition for that reason. Bill had a composer’s ear for variety and learned how to effectively use secondary dominants (see measures 7, 8, 14, 15, 16 & 20). This makes Peri’s Scope a challenge to the improviser. The challenge is unique because you meet the secondary dominants in different ways and in different parts of the phrase.

    For example, in EX. 2 below, the IIIx (E secondary dominant seventh) lasts for two bars (7 & 8) and it’s the climax of the first phrase of the tune. It’s very sudden. It jumps out at us.

    Bill Evans Harmony sheet music

    E7 (Sec. Dom.) E7 FMa7

    From Bar 1 to 6 all we heard were diatonic chords in C Major, then “boom!”, we’re hit with an E713 for two bars. A real surprise. Look at EX. 2 and see and hear the colors:1 .E713, then E7b13, then E7 and finally E7+ 11 !!

    At the end of the second phrase ( also eight measures), EX. 3 measures 14, 15 & 16, we meet three secondary dominants in a row, B713 to E9+11 to A713!!! The alterations on the Illx at measure 15 begin to look and sound like its tritone substitute, a B flat dominant seventh +5. It is at this point the improviser has a choice to use one or the other: an E913 or Bb9+5. Here the progression becomes chromatic if you use the Bb9 and remains diatonic if you use the E911.

    In this second phrase, measures 14-16, the improviser has a choice to think diatonically by using B7 to E7 to A7, or chromatically B7 to Bb7 to A7. A chromatic progression is one in which the root of the chord lies outside the key signature of the tune. All others are diatonic progressions.

    Bill Evans Harmony sheet music

    In phrase three, at bar 20 of the final e1ght measures (EX. 4), we meet a secondary dominant for one-half of the measure only. It is the Vlx (A7b13) again on the 3rd and 4th beats. In Bill’s improvisation in this measure he plays B-flats, revealing to us that the chord on the downbeat of measure 20 is an E minor 7bs, a III half-diminished. It is only implied in this arrangement. The symbol for half-diminished is 0. The symbol x stands for secondary dominant.

    In EX. 5, we can see at a glance how imaginatively Bill used the secondary dominants in different parts of each phrase. Here’s a look at the phrases by measure -number. – It will give you a quick overview of whererhe secondary dominants occur.

    EX. 5 Peri’s Scope

    Phrase One (measure s 1-8)

    When I teach tunes, especially Bill’s, I always analyze the phrase structure first, then the key changes, if any (modulation principles), and then the use of secondary dominants, how they resolve and their duration. For example, the A7′ sat measures 16 and 20 resolve to the D minor chord, and we can infer that it is borrowed from the region or scale of D minor, which is only one flat removed from C Major, the scale or key of “Peri’s Scope.” In other words, the A7 suggests the key, the scale or “the region of” D minor, which is very closely related to the tonic key of C Major. I include in my thinking the relative major keys when discussing minor key relationships and relative minor keys when discussing major keys.

    This sounds confusing, I know, but as I analyze other compositions by Bill, you’ll begin to grasp the principles I’m trying to explain. In fact, if you pick up the Theory of Harmony by Arnold Schoenberg, you will find out where Bill learned these principles and you’ll be able to follow my explanations more intelligently.

    Now go back and look at EX. 2, measures 8 & 9. The E7 at measure 8 resolves to an F Ma7 at measure 9. This E7 is borrowed from the scale of A minor, the relative minor of C Major, and it resolves deceptively, i.e. V to VI, or up a half step” as if” it were in the key of A minor. These are important considerations when studying this tune in terms of its horizontal or linear implications. We know that E7 is the dominant of A Major and A minor. But we probably wouldn’t improvise on an A major scale at this point for two reasons: 1) the chords surrounding the E7 do not suggest a progression in A major, and 2) the resolution at measure 9 would have to be to an F# m7, the VI of A major, a deceptive resolution in the key of A major!

    Let’s get back to the voicing concepts. In EX. 2, measures 7 & 8, the voicing of the E7 is root, 7th, 10th (or 3rd), and in measure 9, the F Ma7 and G7 voicings are the same (R, 7th, 10th) because the root movement is stepwise, lllx to IV to V. When progressions move by steps (IV-V or 11-111, etc.), you can often move or lead the voices parallel. This makes for smoothness and clarity in the rendition of the tune. Any song will lend itself to this treatment. I call this the 3-note voicing concept and I learned it from Bill’s model, “Peri’s Scope.”

    In EX. 3, measure 14, the B7 is voiced root, 7th, 10th resolving to E7. The E7 here is the only voicing in our model that has no root. Or does it? I think Bill meant Bb7+5 at this point (last beat of measure 14). The B-natural in the bass was supposed to be a B-flat but was delayed to the next bar, measure 15, second beat. What do you think? If you accept my analysis, then the voicing to the Bb7 is parallel -R, 7th, 10th-and the resolution from Bb7 to the A7 in measure 16 is also parallel-R, 7th, 10th. Here’s a look at these three chords in isolation (EX. 6). Play them!

    In EX. 7, measure 11, we see another variation in Bill’s voicings, and a very simple one at that. He reduces the left hand voicing to two notes: Rand 7th on the downbeat (D m7) and then R, 3rd on the third beat (G 7), while the melody in the right hand is harmonized in thirds. This gives us relief from the five part voicings in phrase one. 11} later performam:es of this piece, Bill changed measure 12 to Gm 7, C7, suggesting that the middle phrase (phrase two, measures 9-16) can be heard as a modulation to the key of F Major, a very closely related key to C Major, one fifth down and one flat away from C Major.

    These root-oriented 3-note voicing concepts formed the foundation of Bill’s early style and permeated his later playing as you will see in my analysis of tunes like “B Minor Waltz.”
    In EX.8, measures 20 & 21, we observe more variety, the block chord voicing with melody on top and bottom. Bill knew his jazz piano history. I heard him play Boogie Woogie and Teddy Wilson styles in 1951. The block chord influences are from Milt Buckner and George Shearing.

    And Bill even knew how to “sit” on the quarter note a la Lester Young at measure 19 to make it swing in the old style ( EX. 9). Listen to Lester Young’s solos on “Taxi War Dance” or “Blue Lester” with the Count Basie Orchestra for the quarter note swing “feel.”

    Notice the Boogie Woogie influence in the left hand of measure 19, the ultimate in sophistica­tion. Bill truly “ingested” all the jazz styles of the past and they appear spontaneously in his writing and playing in extremely subtle ways. As a student of composition in the 50s, he “ingested” all the classical music of the past. In 1951 I heard him sightread, at the piano, the orchestral score to Stravinsky’s “Rite of Spring.” Of course, Bill’s intuition is at play here; this is a welcome relief from all that rhythmic displacement, tension and syncopation in the previous phrase (EX. 10, measures 13-16.)

    I have made EX. 10 easier to learn: Lets look at my voicing-arrangement (EX. 11) to explain what I mean. What I did was to notate in 6/8 what Bill notated as rhythmic displacement. I have subdivided the beat and createdrour measures in 6/8outofBill’s three measures in4/4.

    Bill may have conceived of this tune diatonically but his use of rhythmic displacement in phrase two makes the tune unmanageable for a beginner in improvisation unless_he “evens out” those measures (see EX. 5, measures 13-16). Each phrase has wonderful variety of harmonic color (the addition of 9ths, 11 ths, and 13ths ), and unusual phrasing ‘· in the melody and in the piano voicings.

    To conclude the article and at the same time offer you a recapitulation of the 3-note concept, here are two examples I use in teaching the Blues in F. In EX. 12, which you can analyze for yourself, you will see that I connect the chords by observing the voice leading rules explained earlier in this article. Analyze also EX. 13 and observe the addition of one color tone (9,11,13) above each of the 3-note voicings. (I make students write as many variations as possible using the color tones). Try singing “Billie’s Bounce” melody while playing examples 12 & 13; or “Blue Monk,” or have a friend play and improvise with you.

    EX. 14 is the opening theme from the “Concertina for Strings and Piano,” third movement, titled “Resurrection,”orchestrated brilliantly by Jack Six and premiered in December 1980, in Plainfield, New Jersey, Bill’s hometown. The Concertina is dedicated to Bill’s memory. In “Resurrection” you have a 3-note voicing arrangement of this very simple theme and yet it still sounds complete and satisfying. Incidentally, in this third movement, the piano soloist is called upon to invent variations on this theme, therefore the 3-note setting in the exposition of the movement creates a clear and solid statement of the theme. Bill was a master at arranging the opening chorus so as to set the mood for the listener in a positive and clear manner.

    The final example (EX. 15) is an illustration of a more elaborate method of study for “Peri’s Scope” and all of Bill’s tunes, and in fact any tune, and that is to arrange the progression in 4, 5, 6, 7, or 8 parts in half-note chorale style. Bill would write out three or four examples like this and then practice them in all keys. For “Peri’s Scope,” I used the 3-note concept, adding a fourth part chosen by” ear,” but notice that the soprano or top note I have chosen suggests or outlines the melody shown in the top staff. This is a good first step to get “inside” the tune. In the articles that follow, I will show many other procedures.

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    Bill Evans Harmony Musical Analysis

    The Harmony of Bill Evans (Part 1 – Introduction)

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    The Harmony of Bill Evans (Part 1)

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    Composing is the highest calling for a musician. Performing, whether it be interpreting or improvising, always takes second place. The musician in the 20th century, compared to one in the 16th century, is in a unique position; at his disposal are the great compositions of the past 400 years. The inheritance is prodigious. Bach didn’t have Mozart or Beethoven; Mozart and Beethoven didn’t have Brahms or Schumann; Schumann and Brahms didn’t have Schoenberg, Berg, Webern, Boulez, Stockhausen, Carter, Bernstein, Gershwin, Copland, Barber, Ellington, or Bill Evans.

    Jazz music is a players’ (improvisers’) art. The written or composed parts used in jazz performances are always subservient to the solo (improvised) sections. The Herman Herds are memorable because of the soloists (improvisers). Stan Getz’s solo on “Early Autumn” will far outlast the song itself, as will Lester Young’s solos with the Basie band, Ben Webster with Duke, Earl Hines, and Charlie Parker. Jazz is most exciting and exhilarating when played by a soloist, or in a duo, trio, quartet, or quintet setting.

    In order to fully develop as an improviser, the jazz musician, like the classical musician, must also play in large ensembles. But the real commitment and challenge that faces the jazz player comes when he is alone with his instrument. He must sit (or stand) with that instrument and improvise hour after hour, day after day, year after year, with NO LET UP!

    He or she must be convinced that there will always be a deeper level of creativity that has not yet been tapped. He or she must have the faith of Saints that these deeper levels will be reached, sometimes by leaps but mostly in upward spirals. He or she must sense, feel, and visualize a light shining inside the body and mind that grows ever brighter as each new level is mastered; and only when that light completely engulfs one during a performance will he or she know the meaning of Joy: a joy beyond description, one that will be felt by all, and that Joy shall be called MAGIC.

    Bill Evans had Magic. He was a Magician on the highest plane of consciousness. He knew all music; all 400 years. He chose to-develop and express his Magic through the art of jazz improvisation. He made a name for himself both as a soloist and with his trio. He was an interpreter of the American popular song. His improvisations were based on the Blues, Song Form, and Free Form structures. Historians and musicians have already acknowledged him as one of jazz’s great innovators, but it may be a while before they rank him as one of America’s great jazz composers.

    The purpose of these analytical essays on Evans’ compositions, including his standard repertoire, is threefold:

    1. to give the jazz musician and the enlightened public insight into the compositional process;
    2. to inspire jazz musicians and the enlightened public to play and learn his music; and
    3. to reveal the depth and richness of his compositions, for they are organic, and therefore complete. There is absolutely no need to change a note, chord, or rhythm in any of his works. Evans never wrote a tune, a melody, or a riff over someone else’s chord progression. He did not consider that the art of composing. Nor do I.

    A composer worthy of the name conceives and hears ideas in his mind’s ear. These ideas will eventually be worked out on manuscript paper. A composer worthy of the name knows how to work these ideas on paper through a complete study of harmony, counterpoint, analysis, compositional forms, arranging, and orchestration. A composer worthy of the name is constantly developing and cultivating his sensitivity to the inner creative impulses so as to recognize them when they arrive. Then he/ she takes-makes!-the time to think, sketch, write, and experiment on manuscript paper so the ideas will find outer form. The composer worthy of the name then completes these sketches and experiments info full-blown composi­tions. A man I nominate worthy of the name COMPOSER, is Bill Evans.

    bill evans sheet music

    by Sean Petrahn

    The shelves of all the major book stores house at least one volume devoted to the evolution of jazz, this uniquely American folk phenomenon. I will not attempt, therefore, to create a curriculum that necessarily complements or parallels the importance and influence of the leading figures of each era in jazz found in the history books. Rather, I shall boil it down to two major talents.

    The evolution of jazz from 1890 to 1980 can be summed up in the music of two pianists: Art Tatum and Bill Evans. They are the towering figures who will outlast, historically, the Jelly Roll Mortons, the Duke Ellingtons, the Bud Powells, and even the Lennie Tristanos.

    That is to say, in the year 2080, only these two names need be mentioned in a jazz history course, because they were the synthesis of all that came before and all that will ever come after. Both men absorbed the innovations of not only the lesser piano talents (mentioned above), but also of the horn players: the Armstrongs, the Beiderbeckes, the Prezes, the Birds, the Zoots, the Getzs, and the Coltranes, those other interesting yet inevitably lower talents who forged the melodic paths of the jazz improvised line. Art Tatum and, more so, Bill Evans, also absorbed the music of the Western classical world, from Bach to Schoenberg, and any analysis of their styles must bring this to the fore.

    What is it that makes jazz different from Western classical music? The answer is deceptively plain and simple. Jazz is almost totally improvised, while classical music is almost totally written down.

    Classical music is a composer’s art: even the greatest geniuses and fastest­working composers in history-Johann Sebastian Bach, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Gioacchino Rossini, Franz Schubert, Frederic Chopin, Hector Berlioz, Richard Strauss-took hours, days, or weeks to compose even so much as one minute’s worth of music. And this is even true of those composers (Bach, Mozart, Chopin) who were known as great improvisers. Very little of their improvisations actually made it into their finished, published works; there was always some finishing or refining process that took place before their’-work went to the publisher.

    Jazz, conversely, developed as an improviser’s art. Despite the fact that there have been some very clever jazz composers and arrangers who formulated, in advance, introductions, main themes, bridges, and codas-Morton, Ellington, Eddie Sauter, George Handy, Thelonious Monk, and Charles Mingus spring immediately to mind-the principal interest in a jazz performance is not the pre-arranged formalities, any more than it is in a classical performance.

    The central crux of the listening experience is the manner in which themes are interwoven or developed. In classical music, this development is written down, while in jazz, it is improvised. There is no editing when you improvise; there is constant editing when you compose. In jazz, then, it takes exactly one minute to create one minute’s worth of music … and therein lies the excitement, the danger, of playing jazz as opposed to playing classical music.

    Despite this difference, there is ( aside from the fact that both utilize Wes tern musical forms and tonalities) one great similarity between the two musics. One learns to compose by imitating the best composers; one learns to improvise by imitating the best jazz improvisers. In other words, the quality of the present in music is always dependent, to some degree, on the quality of the past. It is implicit in this dictum that one learns how to p lay one’s instrument in a virtuoso manner, before one can imitate Art Tatum or Bill Evans. One must be able to read (play) the masterworks before one can learn composition. In this light what, then, is the proper curriculum for the jazz student? Should there be a curriculum at all? Well, yes and no.

    Let’s take a brief comparative historical look at Western music.

    Jazz began when classical music had exhausted itself, circa 1910 – 1913; and if we isolate the elements of music (melody, harmony, and rhythm), we can-by comparison, analogy, and metaphor-gain a clearer picture of what I’m saying.

    The modal (1100 – 1600 A.D.), tonal (1600 -1900 A.D.), arrd atonal (1900 – present) periods in Western music are arbitrary divisions that define and classify the way composers think, and organize their music. Each period created a synthesis of the previous one, and therefore generated more complex structures and vocabularies. This does not mean that I adhere totally to the Kantian principle of evolution, i.e., that for each new stage or period there is a logical progression into the next, therefore, making it more complex. The motets of Gesualdo (modal period) were more complex than, say, Stravinsky’s Symphony of Psalms (end of the tonal era).

    I like to think of each stage in musical evolution not as “progress” but as an unfolding gradually, layer by layer, of the total musical universe. A synthesis does create new problems in form, but also new possibilities.

    A composer living today has, indeed, much more to absorb and learn than one who lived in the 16th century, and therefore has greater demands placed on his artistic integrity in order to avoid rewriting the past. At the same time, however, he also has an enormous repertory from which to draw his inspiration. Each composer taps into a layer of the musical universe. The greater the genius, the clearer he translates his vision, and the greater demands he makes on the interpreter and listener.

    The jazz improviser is limited by his technique. There is not one fraction of a second hesitation while improvising, otherwise he loses the “flow.” It is a myth to think that an improviser hears internally more than he can play. It’s always the other way around: you only create ideas that can be executed with precision; otherwise, you would stutter and stammer, hopelessly. NO mistakes are made when one improvises this way: mistakes mean that you are not hearing an idea internally. The hand is the medium of the message.

    The secret is that you only play what you can conceive in your mind’s ear on the spur of the moment. Then improvising is easy, and technical development becomes the means to a greater end … and that greater end is ease, subtlety and eloquence in your playing.

    The jazz curriculum is divided into three stages:


    Each stage parallels the classifications mentioned above-modal, tonal, and atonal-with regard to the evolution of classkal-music. The Blues Form is modal, the Song Form is tonal, and the Free Form is atonal. This may appear an oversimplification, but categories and labels are necessary_when one decides to teach such a vast area of musical thought. I like to think of each stage as paralleling the history of the human race, from instinctive to-intellectual to the stage yet to come, intuitive.

    The student of jazz becomes reacquainted with this long process through the Blues Form (Instinctive), i.e. playing from the “gut” or solar plexus center. The Song Form engages the Intellect. This stage is more concerned with structure, key relationships, and harmony. The study of the Free Form (Intuitive) stage always comes last.

    The student, at this stage, should be a master improviser, his or her knowledge of the past now sunken into the unconscious mind, its function slightly analogous to a main-frame computer that stores billions of bits of information about a subject and its related topics (and subtopics, and subdivisions of subtopics).

    The student must then go through this experience, or rather process, from instinct to intellect to intuition, of improvising at each stage in the curriculum. For example, 1) he must try to improvise on the very basic blues structure-twelve bars, three scales, three chords-and in 4/ 4 meter, totally by instinct, i.e., “feeling his way through,” playing and making up melodies that sound good to him; 2) he must consciously learn and memorize the modes that can be applied to this basic twelve-bar structure, and on which he can experiment. This stage (and every stage) must be accompanied by listening to, and singing along with, the recordings of the improvisers playing the blues.

    This is eartraining and must also include the singing of the modes. 3) He must then “feel” and “know” that what was learned and memorized in Step 2 is second nature and fully absorbed by the unconscious. (I agree with Carl Jung that the unconscious mind is just as active, and probably more so than the conscious mind, and therefore continually digesting the information and readying it for use by the intuitive mind.) It is, in fact, in the unconscious mind that we develop understanding and wisdom. The sense or feeling of “second nature” cannot be defined, yet one knows it when it “arrives.”

    And you know it through your playing. At the intuitive level of improvising, one has the feeling that one is NOT doing the playing; that someone else has taken over your mind, and is using YOUR hands to make music.

    Bill Evans Master Class by Dave Frank

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    Musical Analysis


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    Exercises Developed from Excerpts of a Keith Jarrett Improvisation on All The Things You Are“.

    Jazz educators tell students that transcribing solos will help them learn to improvise. It will certainly improve their ears if they are trying to hear the relationships of pitches in a phrase. It will do little to help their ears if they are using software to move the solo note by note and hunt and peck to find that note.

    Students often ask what they should do with the solos after transcribing them. Should they learn it note for note matching articulations. I can imagine this would be very helpful. But has playing non-jazz etudes and pieces note for note with correct style helped them with improvisation? Students who focus just on memorizing other’s work, whether it is jazz solos or classical pieces are typically the least prepared to improvise, even though they may have very well developed technique on their instruments.

    In order to improvise, one must get into the thinking behind the notes. That is difficult when dealing with memorizing a 128 measure solo. It might be easier when breaking apart shorter excerpts from that solo. One of my primarily classically trained students transcribed the first 36 measures of a Keith Jarrett improvisation over the chord changes to All the Things You Are from YouTube. She can probably sight read it at tempo, but is unable to improvise using the vocabulary.

    I suggested taking excerpts; breaking them down, applying them several places in the progression, finding ways to connect these excerpts, and through this process, develop vocabulary. Attention should be paid to appropriate jazz phrasing, articulations, accents and good time feel.


    Jarrett plays this simple line in the first measure of the form. It clearly lines up with the chord – a 5- 3-1 arpeggio idea with one passing tone, which could be expressed as a 5-3-2-1 pattern.

    Apply this fragment to the entire progression (only the first eight measures are shown). As the pattern becomes more familiar, try different rhythmic variations.

    Here is a line from m.2. It could be described as a descending arpeggio (7-5-3-1) with one pickup note or leading tone, and one passing tone.

    Apply this idea to the entire progression. Some rhythmic variations and displacements can disguise the repeated pattern and make it sound more organic.

    Jarrett plays this 3-5-7-9 arpeggio in m.4. In the tune itself, this chord is played as a major 7 chord.

    This is a very good exercise for connecting all the chords using a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio. These arpeggios can ascend, as in mm.1-2. Eventually, you will run out of range on your instrument. A solution is to invert the arpeggios as in mm.3, 5, and 7. Repeat the exercise exchanging where you play ascending or inverted arpeggios. Several kinds of rhythmic variations can be applied, including anticipation and delayed resolutions. This exercise follows outline no. 1 (see discussion below).

    Apply this arpeggio idea to the progression. Some of these excerpts may be too active to be played in every measure. It is a good idea to practice them in alternating measures. This reinforces a sense of stop and go in your phrasing. The example below plays the line in the odd measures and comes to rest on the 3rd in the even measures. (The connection of this idea resolving to the 3rd of the next chord is outline no. 2, discussed below.)

    Now play the 3rd in the odd measures with the line in the even measures.

    Jarrett’s line from mm.11-12 can be reduced to a simple line that connects the thirds of each chord. Jarrett also plays a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio that connects the octave leap from G to F. (This is outline no. 1, discussed below.)

    Practice the line for alternating measures as shown in the previous exercises. Odd to Even:

    Even to Odd:


    There are three common lines found in music from the Baroque period to the present. They may appear with out embellishment or may be highly figured. (I have written a book that deals exclusively with these structures: Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony, Hal Leonard, Inc.)

    Outline No. 1 connects the 3rd of one chord down to the 3rd of the next.

    Outline No. 2 begins with an ascending 1-3-5 arpeggio and the 7th resolves to the 3rd of the next chord.

    Outline No. 3 begins with a descending 5-3-1 arpeggio and the 7th resolves to the 3rd of the next chord.

    The three outlines are shown below for a G7 to C progression. The outlines are used anytime the chords progress down a fifth. Almost the entire progression for this piece is based on chords resolving down a fifth, so these basic outlines will be essential vocabulary.

    OutlineNo.1 OutlineNo.2 Outline No.3

    Jarrett strings two outlines together in mm.13-15. It is interesting to hear how Jarrett’s rhythmic displacement creates interest, but it is better to begin practicing them as they line up with the chords. When the lines become more familiar, experiment with displacement (both octave and rhythmic) and with various levels of embellishment.

    Jarrett Line Basic Outline No. 2 & No. 1

    Outline No. 2 applied to the progression using alternating measures.

    Even too odd:

    Jarrett Outline No. 1 Basic Outline No. 1

    Jarrett outline no. 1 idea sequenced through the progression using alternating measures. Odd to Even:

    Even to Odd:

    Jarrett plays a 3-5-7-9 arpeggio in m.17 followed by outline no. 2 in m.18.

    It may be easier to see as shown belowb. In the second setting below, a Bb replaces the An in the descending arpeggio over the D7. The B is more colorful and suggests chromatic voice-leading from the B .

    The basic 3-5-7-9 arpeggios are followed by outline no. 3 in the exercise below. A very basic shape is shown on the top line. The bottom line is more embellished and rhythmically interesting and may represent how it might be in an improvised solo. It is important to be able to play the basic shapes before attempting to embellish them.

    This exercise is the reverse of the previous one. This one begins with outline no. 3 followed by a 3- 5-7-9 arpeggio. The basic shapes are shown on the top line and more embellished and rhythmically active lines are shown on the bottom.


    Jarrett plays a simple triad shape in m.23. The basic idea is 3-5-1. Jarrett uses a neighbor tone group before playing the E.

    Upper neighbor tones are usually diatonic and lower neighbor tones are chromatic. A simple 3-5-1 arpeggio is sequenced below for the progression.

    Jarrett uses another 3-5-1 arpeggio in m.35, but begins with a neighbor tone group around the 3rd.

    Apply this idea to the progression. As it becomes more familiar, try other rhythmic placements of the line.

    The two neighbor tone groups could be combined in numerous other ways over any basic triad shape. Jarrett used a neighbor tone group around the root in m.23 and around the 3rd in m.35. The exercise below combines those groups and applies them to the progression.


    Jarrett plays an interesting embellishbmebnt #of outline no. 1 in mm.24-25. Jarrett’s embellishment calls.

    Basic Outline No. 1Shape Jarrett’s Embellishment

    This line is also useful resolving to major and may be applied to any of the V7 – I cadences in the progression.

    Writers keep journals. Jazz improvisers and composers should keep notebooks of simple and embellished lines as a way of cataloging, fostering and keeping track of creative growth. All of these exercises can be transposed and used in other standard jazz progressions. Many of these exercises can be combined with one another in interesting ways. (For instance, try using one of the triad patterns with neighbor tone groupings to lead to the altered dominant line, then using another variation of the triad pattern when resolving to the I or i chord.)

    All of these lines in Jarrett’s improvisation can be found in many other jazz solos, yet we can recognize his solos as uniquely Jarrett. As you internalize these common lines your own unique way of putting them together will emerge. Keep the metronome on and keep practicing!

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