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Beginner Jazz Theory Question before I Post on Jazz Theory...

arresedgar

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Hi guys new to the forum, you can find my intro at the Doorbell jeje :)

Okay I have been reading up on Jazz Theory and Modes and I want to know if I am on the right track. I am looking at some chord changes and here is what I understand/ or semi understand from my readings.

CM7: My understanding;I can play a C major scale or the chord up to the 9th. My question, what notes can I start on?

E-7: My understanding; This is a E minor chord or E Dorian, I can play an E scale with a natural G and natural D

D-7: My understanding: This is a D minor chord or D Dorian, D scale with with F natural and C natural

G7 (V7): My understanding; This is a G scale with a flat 7th, so I would play a G scale with a natural F

Am I completely lost or on the right track.
Thanks in advance for any help/ advice!
 

aldevis

Surrealist Contributor.
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Well... you are on a dangerous path.
E-7 simply means EGBD. It does not give any information on the 6th or the 9th. To decide which scale to use (if you really want to use a scale) you need to know the harmonic function of that chord.

Incidentally (?) the chords you mention are quite a common progression:|I III| II V| of C major. So the scale to start with will be C major, with emphasis on the notes of the chords played.

In some common jazz theory approach (that I don't support) it would be: C Ionian, E Phrygian, D Dorian, G Mixolydian.
I still think it is better to call the whole thing "Cmajor"

"What notes will you start on"? Any note of the chord will be consonant. Then it is a matter of taste.
 
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Chris

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Instead of thinking scales and modes. Let the melody be your guide. Learn how to embelish the melody. As this skill develops so will your ear, then the other things will become easier..

Chris..
 

Profusia

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Instead of thinking scales and modes. Let the melody be your guide. Learn how to embelish the melody. As this skill develops so will your ear, then the other things will become easier..
I imagine this is a very useful approach, but from a general point of view of learning we all learn in our own ways, and I know that I for one need to understand the theory of what I'm doing to feel comfortable in feeling that I'm not floundering about in the dark. It was very similar for me with Spanish. I just can't pick up the language, but by understanding the verb structure and grammar and seeing sense in it I had a framework which gave me confidence and clarity whilst the rest could just soak in subconsciously. (Not saying I'm a brilliant linguist by the way - far from it - my Spanish remains rudimentary but it comes in handy and has been a joy to learn!)

I think there's also a point to say here that you can play ANY note you please, and not be confined to a certain scale. The notes of the chord itself will of course feel most resolved, but other notes can be used in passing, or indeed to make a statement. This is my naive understanding so far. The ear will tell you which notes sound best, the theory may help you to understand why, and shortcut you to picking the notes you want. I bow to the phenomenal experience of most of my peers on this forum though and so offer this as something of a "fresh eyes" view from someone just beginning to learn.
 

BigMartin

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My view is that the theory can suggest things for you to try out when you're practising. And the results of that practice will guide your ear and fingers towards or away from certain notes/lines. But when you come to perform or rehearse with the band you don't have time to think about any of that, you just have to use the instincts that you've developed in practice. But I haven't been improvising for very long, so maybe you've got more time to think when you know what you're doing a bit more.
 

Chris

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Learn how to harmonise a maj scale, learn how to improvise playing simple melodies using chord tones , then add passing notes, then add non diatonic passing notes.

Example based on Cmaj

Cmaj7= C E G B
Dmin7= D F A C
Emin7= E G B D
Fmaj7 = F A C E
G7 = G B D F or GDom7
Amin7 = A C E G
Bm7b5 = B D F A

This done in All 12 Keys along with the things mentioned in my first sentence, will keep you going for long enough. Once this has been mastered your ear will/should have developed and you won't need anything else...imho

Chris..
 

arresedgar

New Member
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Guys thank you so much for your insight, I have been playing all my life by ear (Regional Mexican Music) in which melodies are so much easier, yet I've never understood the Chords and it Progressions. Jazz is all really new to me so I'm trying to read and learn as much as I can and you guys plus this site are of great help!

Thanks :)
 

arresedgar

New Member
Messages
13
Learn how to harmonise a maj scale, learn how to improvise playing simple melodies using chord tones , then add passing notes, then add non diatonic passing notes.

Example based on Cmaj

Cmaj7= C E G B
Dmin7= D F A C
Emin7= E G B D
Fmaj7 = F A C E
G7 = G B D F or GDom7
Amin7 = A C E G
Bm7b5 = B D F A

This done in All 12 Keys along with the things mentioned in my first sentence, will keep you going for long enough. Once this has been mastered your ear will/should have developed and you won't need anything else...imho

Chris..
Thank you Chris, this really helps a lot!
 

saxman80

Member
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62
Hi,i am fairly new to improvising myself, and found Pete's book Taming the Sax v iii very helpful with chord progressions as the exercises are well mixed up in different chords & keys,i also find basic arpeggios a good starting point.
 

Jazzaferri

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2,667
Another way to look at it playing a chord tone on the beat=really inside the box, playing a diatonic non chord scale tone either inside or outside depending on context, and playing a non diatonic tone = outside the box

there Are only 12 tones 7 of them are at any moment in the music diatonic to the harmony. Any tone that is not a chord tone can, depending on the context be considered to be a candidate for HANDLE WITH CARE status. Hanging on the 4 of a dominant function chord for example.

When improvising the only notes that are "wrong" are the ones that you didn't intend on playing. If you don't think what you intended on playing is what you meant to say, practicing may not help that, more likely listening to yourself and deciding what you like is more important. If you get lost, or play notes you didn't intend or have to think about what you are going to play, then time to go back to the woodshed.

if I want to REALLY learn a song as opposed to reading the chart and banging off some notes if I have to take a solo, I learn the melody til I canplay it without thinking often in several common keys if it is a song (singers...sigh). Then I chart the chord structure (or get one) and practice the arps til I can start easily on any of the chord tones and am able to play around with the rhythm and keep my groove going. Once there I start to embellish and restate the melody line.

my first musical mentor always said play it a 100 times you know it play it a 1,000 times you own it. In my youth I used to think that he was overstating for effect. Now I know different.
 
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Colin the Bear

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There are no wrong and right notes. Just different kinds of harmony and disharmony. Harmony leading to disharmony and resolving back to harmony can create tension and release and all sorts of moods and colours. The saxophone is flexible enough to find the harmony in unexpected places. Bending a discordant note slightly can have pleasing results.

However there are as many different styles of jazz as there are stripes on a zebra and the conventions of one may not be compatible with the sensibilities of another.

With the freer styles of jazz, notes you didn't mean to play can be resolved by the next notes you play and open a new path through a piece that you wouldn't have gone down but for the fudge. With a piece you are so familiar with that your creative juices have been exhausted, a series of "wrong notes" when performing live, may introduce a new challenge resolving the conundrum you have created. Confidence and courage are the key. If you find yourself in a blind alley you have to be flexible enough to "U" turn, find reverse or duck.

A music theory book will guide you through the bones of western harmony and point out the safe havens. Finding one that is compatible with your needs may require a thorough search as some are very dry and technical while others only skim the surface and leave you hanging.

Personally I find harmony, chords, scales etc easier to see and understand on a keyboard. The names make sense and the intervals are easy to visualise. Once you understand the theory, you can let your ear be your guide and go exploring. After that it's all a matter of taste.
 

Chris

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Hey Martin, the word should have been "and" not "or" thanks for pointing that out. Someone always spots mistakes..

Chris..
 

Tenor Viol

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'cos I did "classical" harmony theory (whatever that is) I'm not a big fan of calling a scale starting on D using the notes of Cmaj "Dorian" because I don't really think of it as Dorian mode. I realise why people do it, but I think it's confusing.

Probably because it was what I was first taught, I prefer to use the Roman numeral notation which is based on the degree of the scale and therefore is not dependent on the key, so in Cmaj, CEG is chord I, DFA would be ii etc (lower case ii not II as it's minor). In Bmaj, B, D#, F# is chord I.

It doesn't matter what order the notes appear in - if C, E, and G appear, it's chord I. If it's not got the C at the bottom of the pile then the chord is inverted (in Jazz notation, this is called a "slash chord as in C/E meaning Cmaj triad with the E in the bass). E at the bottom is first inversion or Ib and G at the bottom is second inversion or Ic. If you add a seventh, then you can have another inversion with a B or a Bb at the bottom (unsurprisingly, this is Id - but there should be a superscript '7' to denote a seventh chord (I7d). etc.

Notes within a basic triad are consonant - anything else will be dissonant to some degree. A minor 2nd (semi-tone) is the most dissonant. So a 2, 4, 6, or 7 and their compounds (e.g. 9th is a compound of a 2nd) is going to be dissonant.
 
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BigMartin

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I think the whole chrod/scale relationship thing is a bit misleading. To use a Dorian scale over a minor 7 chord sensibly, it's not enough to know what notes are or are not in the scale. You have to know where the 3rd and seventh are, where the 11th is and the 9th (for a bit more tension) and so on. And most importantly, you need to know what those notes sound like in that particular harmonic context.

I found this video by Greg Fishman very helpful. It deals with learning to play a diminished scale on a dominant chord.
 
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aldevis

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'cos I did "classical" harmony theory (whatever that is) I'm not a big fan of calling a scale starting on D using the notes of Cmaj "Dorian" because I don't really think of it as Dorian mode. I realise why people do it, but I think it's confusing.
I think the whole chrod/scale relationship thing is a bit misleading. To use a Dorian scale over a minor 7 chord sensibly, it's not enough to know what notes are or are not in the scale. You have to know where the 3rd and seventh are, where the 11th is and the 9th (for a bit more tension) and so on. And most importantly, you need to know what those notes sound like in that particular harmonic context.
I feel a bit pedantic today. Before Kind of Blue (actually shortly before that) jazz musicians had no idea of modes. They knew scales and chords, like TV's (and thousands of other musicians) approach.
My first reply probably wasn't useful enough, but playing a C major scale on a C II V I progression is the actual starting point.
When the D min is played, the most important notes of the C major scale are DFAC, on the G7 GBDF. Same notes, different hierarchy.
A very useful (and hard) exercise, is to play only the notes of a (transposed) Bb major scale on a whole Bb Rhythm changes (bridge included) avoiding non matching notes.

Then we can start thinking of chord extensions.

About modal approach, it is good to play modal music. Good (classical) examples are in Bela Bartok's Mycrocosmos, where you can find just C# as a key signature (G lydian dominant)

I love dorian modes and I use them with my student to practice improvisation, but it is modal music.

Applying modal concepts in harmonic contexts can be seriously misleading.

One of my favourite rants is about the infamous "superlocryan" scale, quite related to the HW, octatonic or double diminished in the video. Superlocryan is defined as the scale starting on the 7th degree of the melodic minor. IMO it has no relation with that melodic minor.
it is an augmented dominant chord with b9, b10, #11. If you rearrange the notes, you get that scale, that is a harmonic concept, not a modal one.

Of course there are other possible approaches possible, but knowledge of theory will allow us to overcome hurdles we may find on our path, like the bridge of "Have You Met Miss Jones"
 

Colin the Bear

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http://youtu.be/vJXJvfMMdGA

Theory is the road map that gets you to the park. What you do when you get there is up to you. Of course if you know where the park is you don't need a map but you may end up taking a short cut through someones garden and being chased by their dog.
 
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