Beginner Heads and Bridges

Rogerb

Member
Messages
766
Location
Costa Blanca, Spain
I see these terms bandied around and assume that most people know exactly what they mean!
I have a vague idea but would like to be properly enlightened!

Thanks
 

Saxlicker

Well-Known Member
Messages
1,832
Location
Breakfast room since '06 UK
I'll try, but I'm sure your vague idea is right there.

The head is the start of the tune that is often repeated before solo's a couple of times (then X number of bars for the solo is played) then the head is returned to after the solo's.

Yikes I can't really put my understanding of a bridge very well so I wikpedia'd it.
Its 'somwhere' in a tune that contrasts the main melody. It may be 8 bars long for instance then ends in a fashion that kind of prepares you for a returm to the original melody.
 

Jules

Formerly known as "nachoman"
Messages
4,437
Location
brighton by the sea
Head= The Tune...
Bridge = The bit that's a bit different stuck somewhere in the middle, see "Middle 8" & "Take it to the bridge!" (a stabby bit in the case of Mr Brown reference)....
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Head= The Tune...
Bridge = The bit that's a bit different stuck somewhere in the middle, see "Middle 8" & "Take it to the bridge!" (a stabby bit in the case of Mr Brown reference)....
And I thought that the heads were mounted on the bridge as per Olde Londone Bridgee. ;}

Yep, us wrinklies used to refer to them as a "chorus" and "middle eight" which is difficult when dealing with twelve bar blues.
 

AlanB

Member
Messages
170
Location
Vientiane, Laos
To take things to a bit of a deeper level, there seems to be a wonderful concept in western culture (in fact it can be found in the mythology of most cultures) and has a lot to do with "Rites of Passage".

The head can be described of as "home", the "bridge" can be thought of as a major excursion away from home. The bridge may also be a solo. During this excursion you learn something, something that changes you. You then return home (to the "head") altered in some way.

It is an amazing concept when realise it and I started to find it in everything. Literature - Think 'Homer's Odyssey', 'Wizard of Oz' , 'Jack and the Beanstalk' or 'Lord of the Rings', in Jazz, Funk (e.g. Pick Up the Pieces), religion, sport, poetry, film, mythology and so on and so on.

In jazz and music (and literature) it is amazing how the same story is told over and over again. Both in terms of chord progressions "home-awayfromhome-returninghome-home" (there are after all a limited number of possibilities) and in song structure.

It seems to me with such a common motif throughout our culture and humanity, it is all about how you tell the story, what changes occur during the journey and how it finally alters (influences) you.

I often like to think of jazz music in this way. But this is just a personal observation.

Woah dude - i need a lie down.
Al
 
Last edited by a moderator:

old git

Tremendous Bore
With your kind permission, Roger, may I take this thread a little further?

Back in my Archer Street days, a "Head" arrangement was one that seemed to mysteriously be generated by musicians who got together in a pick up band, to play a dance at a small venue. The same seems to have been common in the big bands if they had new material and the arranger had not finished the chart. In other words, an arrangement only in the heads of the participants.

When did the modern usage become accepted or is this Alzheimer's kicking in again? ;}
 

Pete Thomas

Chief of Stuff
Commercial Subscriber
Messages
12,408
Location
Lundy Island
Back in my Archer Street days, a "Head" arrangement was one that seemed to mysteriously be generated by musicians who got together in a pick up band, to play a dance at a small venue.

... In other words, an arrangement only in the heads of the participants.
Yes, but they still needed to know the "head" of the tune, ie people would probably not know an arrangement without the dots, but would probably know the head. So they make up an arrangement starting with that.

So IMO it could be either meaning.
 

Young Col

Well-Known Member
Messages
2,423
Location
Coulsdon, London/Surrey
I agree with Pete that both meanings are valid.

For those of us who did Karen Sharp's workshop in the Summer, she sent out what she naturally called the "heads" of three tunes, in note form, that she wanted to us to work on during the day.

For the other meaning, here is a quick quote from Alyn Shipton's excellent New Guide to Jazz, about the Basie band and how, having to play in Kansas City 6 hours every night they couldn't afford anyone to write enough new material to keep up:
"So Basie built up his repertoire of spontaneous "head" arrangements, which involved starting a blues or 32 bar chord sequence from the piano, and then signalling to each section the riffs they were to play by giving them an outline of what he wanted."
Buck Clayton confirmed that they didn't have music for most of what they played. Once John Hammond got them booked into the more sophisticated Roseland ballroom in New York it also quickly showed up that several of the band members were not good readers. Even during a residency at the Grand Terrace in Chicago en route to New York, Buck Clayton said that while backing a chorus line "we abused that show every night". In New York Basie replaced several of his weaker musicians and Clayton and Eddie Durham wrote out many of the band's subsequent great charts (but which still managed to keep that bluesy Kansas spontaneous feel).

Colin
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Roger,
These two ruffians are probably too young to remember real ships. Back in the late fifties, a workmate told me of one cruel trick. On the older parts of the Grey Funnel Line, the lavatory system consisted of cubicles with open bottomed bowls in each, with a continuously flowing water filled trough, like a larger urinal, passing directly underneath. When most were occupied, a wag would float lighted cotton waste waste down the trough, resulting in hot bits. :welldone

Of course you must realise that I've probably completed more nautical miles in my single handed racing dinghy, just around Poole Harbour, than their combined lifetime total. :thankyou:
 

c9off

Senior Member
Messages
607
Location
London SE/Kent & Rickinghall
If I may quote Crazydaisy's explanation on the 'other' forum:

In terms of defining a bridge......basically grab your sax, noodle along to either The Girl From Ipanema or Have You Met Miss Jones... just keep in key, nothing too flash.

The bit where it all goes TERRIBLY wrong, that's the bridge.


yup, now I know....
 

Pee Dee

Member
Messages
425
Location
Dorset
Roger,
These two ruffians are probably too young to remember real ships. Back in the late fifties, a workmate told me of one cruel trick. On the older parts of the Grey Funnel Line, the lavatory system consisted of cubicles with open bottomed bowls in each, with a continuously flowing water filled trough, like a larger urinal, passing directly underneath. When most were occupied, a wag would float lighted cotton waste waste down the trough, resulting in hot bits. :welldone

Of course you must realise that I've probably completed more nautical miles in my single handed racing dinghy, just around Poole Harbour, than their combined lifetime total. :thankyou:
Too young? I wish!
I first went to sea in 1960, but don't remember the heads you describe, but that is an old story about the lighted cotton waste, but the version I know, took place in Singapore dockyard. The British matelots who prefer to sit on the seat, got their arses burnt, but the natives, who prefer to squat, just got warmed up a bit:)))
The heads in most ships had a non-return valve at the end of the disposal pipe, before it left the side of the ship, on its way to the sea, to prevent any flashback, or splashback from the sea.
One ship I was on, a frigate, I was sitting in the for'ard (that's the front you landlubbers) heads, during a very rough sea.
The bow of the ship was just rising up to mount the next wave, before crashing down and ploughing into the next one. A great force of water, obviously too much for the non-return valve, as the water forced its way up the disposal pipe, and burst up through the toilets, creating the most efficient bidet ever known to man. Too efficient actually, as I, and two others in adjoining cubicles, were roused from our revelries, by being swept upwards by a violent gush of seawater from below. Luckily, I had not yet managed to achieve the purpose of my visit, so it could have been a lot messier! After that, they had to slow the ship down, to avoid sinking the ship:)))
Just thought i'd share that with you.

Sailing round Poole harbour eh O.G.? I suppose that will have to do if you're scared to venture onto the open sea:D
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
Sailing round Poole harbour eh O.G.? I suppose that will have to do if you're scared to venture onto the open sea:D
Ooh! Bitchy. If you've never spent Saturday evening on the Round Pond being pelted by Harrod's Food Hall rolls, you've never really been to sea. :)

Actually spent a few years doing every open meeting for the class and learnt quite a lot about seamanship and the problems of trying to beat to windward on compass courses as you are virtually blind, with a very low horizon and salted up spectacles. Been given a tow by the organisers' rescue boats following gear failure off the Sussex and Essex coasts and towed by the Olympic Coach's rib when some swine turned the wind off but not the tide.

The Germans have an interesting attitude to water closets, leaving a shelf for examination. Before you scoff, read Pepys' diaries. Should someone succeed in flushing it whilst one is seated, it takes the next two toilet rolls to dry off.
 
Top Bottom