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Jazz Theory: Insights In Jazz & A New Guide To Harmony With Lego Bricks

kevgermany

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Hi John, good to see you here. One of the early questions was - Does your book stand on it's own, or do we need the earlier one as well. Would be great to get some feedback on that.
 

Pete Thomas

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Wonder if the New Orleans and the early blues (and quite often later) guys knew that there were blues scales let alone pentatonic? If they didn't, wasn't it intuitive?

There is a possibility, admittedly just a small one, that these chords and scales had to be invented so teachers could offer plausible explanations.
I think the name of the blues scales were invented in this way. In real blues you rarely hear a minor or major blues scale in it's entirety. You are more likely to come across it in a 60s guitar tutor or a 60s soundtrack (Henri Mancini ?) than in many earlier blues recordings.

I'm sure that pentatonic scales were first, blues scales just add a melodic passing note.

I'm also sure that with blues scales as they don't really "follow" any harmonic structure usually, there wasn't much need for earlier blues musicians to actually use any name, even if teaching somebody, beyond: "try this set of notes here". We may never know unless some musicologist can dig up letters from Robert Johnson to Blind Lemon Jefferson.
 

stefank

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In just about all music the theory follows the practice (2nd Viennese school excepted).

Having analysed past practices, some musicologists then provide us with "rules" that some suppose should govern our future practice.

To inform it is fine, to govern it is not.
 

Pete Thomas

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On the topic of playing in different keys (and maybe also the strange way my brain works) I find it much less painful to swap keys on a tune if I've learned that tune by ear as opposed to reading the dots. My theory is that it gets stored in a different part of the brain.
I absolutely agree, although I think it's more of a 3 legged stool: ear, theory and dots.

With me I find that ear + theory is my usual method, e.g. a tune like All The Things You Are I tend to need the theory to know that it starts on the 3rd degree of a minor chord and moves around the cycle for a bit.

Knowing that kind of thing, along with an ability to "hear" the notes before you play them, is what helps learning in every key. It also helps with impro.

Alternatively if you learn from the written notes, but play over and over to internalise (different part of the brain as Stefank says), then you can also learn to play in different keys as the learning of the tune this will help to "hear" the notes before you play, but may not be so good when it comes to impro.

So I think the theory method is best, but both methods rely on a good ear.

Very few musicians can do it on ear alone, but they do exist.
 

old git

Tremendous Bore
I'm also sure that with blues scales as they don't really "follow" any harmonic structure usually, there wasn't much need for earlier blues musicians to actually use any name, even if teaching somebody, beyond: "try this set of notes here". We may never know unless some musicologist can dig up letters from Robert Johnson to Blind Lemon Jefferson.
Pete,
Hate to disagree but what we really need is a recording of the Crossroads Contract. ;}

On your second post, I hear the changes and my solo in my head. The pity is it rarely comes out as intended. >:)

Tom M, our Welsh Trombone Wizard, wonders if they had been better musicians, presumably meaning more theoretically skilled, would the music have been better? If they had been better schooled the Blues boys would almost have certainly dismissed the three chord bash as too simplistic. Result, no blues, no race records, no R & B, no rock in all its genres.

Realise that they would almost certainly have been well acquainted with the pentatonic as that is traditional folk form.
 

kevgermany

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Boy, this threads moving sideways (and all to the good!!!)

Some points are really hitting home here - when I first got a sax, I started playing scales (teacher), then picking out tunes I'd learnt from my piano lessons as a kid. Funny - cos I could hear the tune in my head, and had learnt from the notes, it was easy to play in different keys (as I learnt the scales......).

And similarly, hearing things in tunes, liking it, but not knowing what's going on, suddenly dropped into place when I saw the notes, saw a blue note - or a flattened 7th.... Theory found in practice. Bingo Pete's approach it from both directions approach.

Thanks John, looks like I'm going to be ordering the book that sparked the thread. Wonder how long the post is from sunny Edinburgh?
 
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Chris98

Chris98

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Hi John,

Welcome to the forum.

Hi Kev,

I'll be interested to hear your initial impressions. I'm guessing along with this will be an expanding library of music CDs or tracks from iTunes!

All the best,

Chris
 

kevgermany

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Hi Kev,

I'll be interested to hear your initial impressions. I'm guessing along with this will be an expanding library of music CDs or tracks from iTunes!

All the best,

Chris
iTunes - never!

Will be giving it a lot of looking at over the next couple of days as I'm off sick. Initial impressions are very good, some minor irritations (like '...dominant seventh chords progressing round the cycle of fifths, eg. C7 F7 Bb7 Eb7 Ab7.....' ). One thing's clear - you need a reasonable amount of theoretical background to work with the book, without that you really need to think to understand some of the points (and I'm only in the intro/definitions). So I'll be brushing up on that as well.

The author asks for feedback, so I'm marking my printed copy with all the things I find and will feed it back. Am not going to turn this thread into a review, but will feed back here....

Will keep you posted,
 
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Chris98

Chris98

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Hi Kev,

Oh dear, it sounds like it's way to advanced for me already :crying:

Just off to Amazon to see if there is: "The Beginners Guide to: Jazz Music Theory for Dummies"

Somewhere there has to be a door into this musical world, of course I could already be on the inside looking at the wall not realising all I need to do is turn around!

I'm still tempted to have a look at this book anyway.

Chris
 

jaelliott

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Hi Kev,

Oh dear, it sounds like it's way to advanced for me already :crying:

Just off to Amazon to see if there is: "The Beginners Guide to: Jazz Music Theory for Dummies"

Somewhere there has to be a door into this musical world, of course I could already be on the inside looking at the wall not realising all I need to do is turn around!

I'm still tempted to have a look at this book anyway.

Chris
Hi Chris

My book is aimed at intermediates that know how chords are built, what a cadence is and who are addressing the problem of how to play lots of standards in any key.

if you want a book aimed at complete beginners, then Conrad Cork's book is the one for you. He writes in a way that is aimed at non-players, deliberately avoiding musical terms, but players sometimes find that irritating.

Best regards

J

J
 
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Chris98

Chris98

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Hello John,

Thank you for your suggestion that I should start with Conrad Cork’s book, I’m sure you are right considering my limited knowledge. I have a rudimentary knowledge of the more straight forward chords but would struggle to tell the you notes in Gb13(#II) for example, I could hazard a guess, but it would be just that, a guess. As for a cadence, I’m familiar with the term because it’s mentioned a lot, but to actually be able to say I understand what it is or be able to identify it, again I’d struggle.

I see cadence features prominently in your ‘wordle’ image!

My only concern is that you say he, “writes in a way that is aimed at non-players, deliberately avoiding musical terms” But if ‘musical terms’ are the language in which other musicians speak, does this not just lead to further confusion and at a later date having to translate the knowledge/language into more conventional musical terms?

I shall research more into Conrad Cork’s book and thank you again for taking the time to help me find the right approach.

Best wishes,

Chris
 

jaelliott

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Hello John,

My only concern is that you say he, “writes in a way that is aimed at non-players, deliberately avoiding musical terms” But if ‘musical terms’ are the language in which other musicians speak, does this not just lead to further confusion and at a later date having to translate the knowledge/language
Hi Chris

Conrad's approach is based on hearing and that is the right one for everyone. So he introduces the sounds of the main events by directing readers to listen to songs where they occur and using the words of songs to make sure you are in the right place.

He uses terms like "straight" and "sad" to mean major and minor to that those without training are not excluded from hearing the events. He describes the three parts of a cadence (II-7 V7 IM7) as "far away", "nearly there" and "there" or "home". The idea is to focus on how it feels, rather than the abstract language of music theory.

However, you are right, if you aim is to play and improvise, there is no point in avoiding these terms. I like the look of Jazzology recommended on this thread as a basic primer. Whereas, the Berklee text by Nettles and Graf is a mind stretcher, not for the faint hearted!

My book is aimed at those who know the basics and want to save time working out which tunes to learn and how to analyse them. I introduce all the bricks in terms of Roman numeral chords and then use them in 238 standards to fully map them out. Then the reader can easily see the power of each brick and which songs they appear in.

My podcasts are free and introduce the concepts in the method. Sometimes they focus on one song, sometimes on one brick.

J

www.dropback.co.uk
 

half diminished

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I have four good theory books and though much of it all passes me by, they are good reads/reference and I am definitely seeing some improvement in my understanding.

I have Mark Levines The Jazz Theory, Forward Motion by Hal Galper, Jazzology by Robert Rawlins/Nor Eddine Bahha and Building A Jazz Vocabulary by Mike Steinel.
 

Pete Thomas

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I have four good theory books and though much of it all passes me by, they are good reads/reference and I am definitely seeing some improvement in my understanding.
Much of it passes me by too, a lot of this stuff is great for dipping in and out of though. Some of it sticks, some goes over your head. Not to worry as plenty of people get by nicely without such advanced theory knowledge.
 

half diminished

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Much of it passes me by too, a lot of this stuff is great for dipping in and out of though. Some of it sticks, some goes over your head. Not to worry as plenty of people get by nicely without such advanced theory knowledge.
Not sure if I am reassured or not as you find some of it "passes you by" even with your vast experience. I spoke with Karen about this a lesson or two ago suggesting I have some great improv going on in my head but that it gets lost in translation by the time it reaches my fingers :w00t:

Karen also feels the same, though on a somewhat higher level. :)
 
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