Ornette Coleman

altissimo

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#21
I believe they all slated Sun Ra

I believe they all slated Sun Ra, Monk being one of the exceptions, he said he was a genius
I don't know that there was ever a survey of all jazz musicians re the merits of Sun Ra and he was such an obscure figure for much of his life that many wouldn't have been aware of him. Like all innovators he divided opinion - Coltrane loved Sun Ra and wanted to study and play with him, Dizzy Gillespie offered encouragement, he played with Fletcher Henderson and Coleman Hawkins, ..
John Gilmore, Ra's tenor player, worked with Art Blakey, Freddie Hubbard, Mc Coy Tyner and Horace Silver and briefly with Miles Davis and influenced Coltrane enough that 'Trane rushed up to him after a gig shouting ""You got it! You got the concept!" and asked him for lessons

You'd have to read John F Szwed's book 'Space Is The Place' to get a fuller picture of Sun Ra's life and influence....
 

altissimo

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#22
... back to Ornette...
the definitive work of his music is 'Free Jazz, Harmolodics and Ornette Coleman' by Stephen Rush - it's a bit pricey due to being published by one of those american academic publishers, but is the one I've got on my shopping list. Ornette never wrote his book on Harmolodics, so this is the nearest we'll ever get.
John Litweiler's "Ornette Coleman A Harmolodic Life" is also a good read

My take on Ornette's approach is that, like an number of his contemporaries, he was dissatisfied with the bebop methodology of improvising on the changes and instead took the melody as the source of inspiration for improvising. An approach that can be found in blues and early jazz - both forms that Ornette was familiar with from his stints playing R'n'B and in a travelling tent show.
The diasadvantage of playing on the changes is that you tend to improvise the same way regardless of what the tune is, whereas I think Ornette wnated each improvisation to express the essence of what each piece was about.
One thing I've noticed about Ornette is his technical ability - playing #5 reeds with a double embouchure issn't the usual way of doing things and he had an unique ability to bend the overtones while keeping the fundamental straight, which has lead some to think that he couldn't play in tune, but analysis by Eckhard Jost indicates that Ornette's intonation was no worse than anyone else's, he could just make things sound sharper or flatter than they actually were. Bending notes wasn't considered cool in 1950's jazz and Ornette's emotive approach wasn't appreciated by many
he had an individual approach to playing and in a music where you're supposed to develop your own sound and style, he certainly managed that more than many as well as being a prolific composer.



 
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ptg

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#23
The diasadvantage of playing on the changes is that you tend to improvise the same way regardless of what the tune is,
Very interesting! Being a 95% ear player who sometimes plays over the changes and sometimes over the melody, I am finding that I always have to be cognizant that I am not improvising the same way for each song which I sometimes find myself doing. Keeping that in mind I try to force myself into unknown territory even if it sounds like poop so I can eventually stretch my abilities each time I play.
 

altissimo

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#24
Very interesting! Being a 95% ear player who sometimes plays over the changes and sometimes over the melody, I am finding that I always have to be cognizant that I am not improvising the same way for each song which I sometimes find myself doing. Keeping that in mind I try to force myself into unknown territory even if it sounds like poop so I can eventually stretch my abilities each time I play.
I just read this from an interview with Jackie McLean from Down Beat 9/12/63 -

"As far back as 1957 I had moments on the bandstand when Charlie Mingus has roused me into going out into things I didn't know about... I turned to Charlie one night when he taught me a new tune and asked "What are the chord changes?"
He said "There are no chord changes"
"Well what key am I in?"
"You're not in any key"
That left me in a hung up situation, but when I got out there and played I felt something different. But I was too hip at the time to admit it because I was too set on playing up and down chord changes.
Now I can understand why musicians are taking different roads out, because personally, I get tired of playing the same keys, chord changes and tunes over and over again. I find that when you wander away from the basic melody or the basic structure of a tune and go out into something which has been termed "freedom" it gives you a wide span on what to play, bevcause actually you're creating upon your own creation"
 

ptg

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#25
I just read this from an interview with Jackie McLean from Down Beat 9/12/63 -

"As far back as 1957 I had moments on the bandstand when Charlie Mingus has roused me into going out into things I didn't know about... I turned to Charlie one night when he taught me a new tune and asked "What are the chord changes?"
He said "There are no chord changes"
"Well what key am I in?"
"You're not in any key"
That left me in a hung up situation, but when I got out there and played I felt something different. But I was too hip at the time to admit it because I was too set on playing up and down chord changes.
Now I can understand why musicians are taking different roads out, because personally, I get tired of playing the same keys, chord changes and tunes over and over again. I find that when you wander away from the basic melody or the basic structure of a tune and go out into something which has been termed "freedom" it gives you a wide span on what to play, bevcause actually you're creating upon your own creation"
That's a great quote!

I am almost at the point where I feel I could jam with some other beginners but I tend to stray off the beaten path into avant garde territory which I don't know if it sounds innovative or horrific. And that is why I stay home!
 

altissimo

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#26
That's a great quote!

I am almost at the point where I feel I could jam with some other beginners but I tend to stray off the beaten path into avant garde territory which I don't know if it sounds innovative or horrific. And that is why I stay home!
go for it, if you don't do it you'll never know - best way to learn is by experience..
I got thrown in at the deep end years ago when I was a fledgling guitarist and ended up playing with some hardened old beboppers who wouldn't take no for an answer - nerve wracking but I got through and they enjoyed it... 30 years on I still play via nervous energy and blind panic, but if you play with enough enthusiasm you can get away with anything - listen to the way Sonny Rollins makes mistakes...
 

GCinCT

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#27
That's a great quote!

I am almost at the point where I feel I could jam with some other beginners but I tend to stray off the beaten path into avant garde territory which I don't know if it sounds innovative or horrific. And that is why I stay home!
I know how you feel. There are a couple of musicians in my area who have invited me to jam. They are very experienced and I’m intimidated. I practice a lot but I don’t feel anywhere near ready.
 

Keep Blowing

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#29
I just read this from an interview with Jackie McLean from Down Beat 9/12/63 -

"As far back as 1957 I had moments on the bandstand when Charlie Mingus has roused me into going out into things I didn't know about... I turned to Charlie one night when he taught me a new tune and asked "What are the chord changes?"
He said "There are no chord changes"
"Well what key am I in?"
"You're not in any key"
That left me in a hung up situation, but when I got out there and played I felt something different. But I was too hip at the time to admit it because I was too set on playing up and down chord changes.
Now I can understand why musicians are taking different roads out, because personally, I get tired of playing the same keys, chord changes and tunes over and over again. I find that when you wander away from the basic melody or the basic structure of a tune and go out into something which has been termed "freedom" it gives you a wide span on what to play, bevcause actually you're creating upon your own creation"
loads of interesting stuff coming from A
That's a great quote!

I am almost at the point where I feel I could jam with some other beginners but I tend to stray off the beaten path into avant garde territory which I don't know if it sounds innovative or horrific. And that is why I stay home!
Do you record yourself and listen back to it? I find it worthwhile
 

Keep Blowing

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#30
I just read this from an interview with Jackie McLean from Down Beat 9/12/63 -

"As far back as 1957 I had moments on the bandstand when Charlie Mingus has roused me into going out into things I didn't know about... I turned to Charlie one night when he taught me a new tune and asked "What are the chord changes?"
He said "There are no chord changes"
"Well what key am I in?"
"You're not in any key"
That left me in a hung up situation, but when I got out there and played I felt something different. But I was too hip at the time to admit it because I was too set on playing up and down chord changes.
Now I can understand why musicians are taking different roads out, because personally, I get tired of playing the same keys, chord changes and tunes over and over again. I find that when you wander away from the basic melody or the basic structure of a tune and go out into something which has been termed "freedom" it gives you a wide span on what to play, bevcause actually you're creating upon your own creation"
you are posting some great stuff, keep It coming!
 

ptg

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#32
If you have the yearning and the opportunity grab it, it's the only way to really improve, it's music, have fun with it. :)

Jx
I know you are right but it's a big step! Hopefully at one point I will get up the nerve to place a Craig's List ad (do have that in England?) to look for other older beginners...
 

spike

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#33
Ornette was one of the guys that made me want to play horn.
I've read somewhere that Ornette's term harmolodics - he meant playing in two keys simultaneously.
I've never been able to find any information explaining the term.
@altissimo do you have any info on this ?
 

altissimo

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#34
Ornette was one of the guys that made me want to play horn.
I've read somewhere that Ornette's term harmolodics - he meant playing in two keys simultaneously.
I've never been able to find any information explaining the term.
@altissimo do you have any info on this ?
Oh boy, that's a big question, I'd have to read Stephen Rush's book to answer that properly.
it's difficult finding anything definite on the subject of Harmolodics, Ornette tended to speak in riddles and even those who played with him have difficulty defining what his method was except that it was a deeper philosophy than just music -"Iharmony, melody, speed, rhythm, time and phrases all have equal position in the results that come from the placing and spacing of ideas." is one of the more comprehensible statements he made..
“The theme you play at the start of the number is the territory, and what comes after, which may have little to do with it, is the adventure.”
"Harmolodics allows a person to use a multiplicity of elements to express more than one direction. The greatest freedom in harmolodics is human instinct"
"when you hear my band, you know that everybody is soloing, harmolodically. Here I am with a band based upon everybody creating an instant melody, composition, from what people used to call improvising, and no one has been able to figure out that that’s what’s going on."
“If I play a F in a song called ‘Peace,’ I think it should not sound exactly the same as if I play that note in a piece called ‘Sadness.’”

Wikipedia says this - "Harmolodics seeks to free musical compositions from any tonal center, allowing harmonic progression independent of traditional European notions of tension and release. Harmolodics may loosely be defined as an expression of music in which harmony, movement of sound, and melody all share the same value. The general effect is that music achieves an immediately open expression, without being constrained by tonal limitations, rhythmic pre-determination, or harmonic rules.

trawling the internet came up with this interpretation by someone commenting on a blog -
"given a melody, rather than being restricted to the chord changes or the beat or the key center, you can work equally usefully off the melody, off the melody's internal rhythm (new melodies with similar rhythms, displacements of that same rhythm), or off the harmonies suggested by the melody (treating them as if they WERE the melody). That all of these elements have equal value to the improvisor "

Ornette had read enough theory books and was taken seriously by Gunter Schuller, George Russell, John Lewis of the MJQ and Leonard Bernstein, so we have to assume he was onto something interesting and I think he realised that all the notes are harmonically related somehow and found a way for musicians to play together with no set key signature and spontaneously create melodically and harmonically. This is why I think he wanted his musicians to express the feeling of the music and the harmony would result from the interplay of their various parts, so the harmony would be as spontaneous as the melodic lines and rhythms, thus escaping from the cage of rigid harmonic structures that some musicians were feeling constrained by

Don Cherry - "When we would play a composition, we could improvise forms, or modulate or make cadences or interludes, but all listening to each other to see which way it was going so we could blow that way. Ornette’s harmony would end up being a melody and the original melody would end up being a harmony. So he could continue on that way, starting from the first melody which ends up being harmony to the harmonic melodies that come after the main theme. "
"If I play a C and have it in my mind as the tonic, that’s what it will become. If I want it to be a minor third or a major seventh that has the tendency to resolve upward, then the quality of the note will change."

Charlie Haden - "“technically speaking, it was a constant modulation in the improvising that was taken from the direction of the composition, and from the direction inside the musician, and from listening to each other.”

Bern Nix - ""I [once] said to Ornette that it seemed like counterpoint. I was working with him, rehearsing with him, and we were getting down to a couple of different lines... and I said to him, 'You know, to me this sounds like counterpoint.' He said, 'Well, it's not exactly counterpoint, it's something else.' You know what I mean? The way Ornette uses language, he likes to put his own spin on everything. But to me, it's contrapuntal. I talk to other people and they say the same thing."
"I always thought harmolodics was an open-ended exploration of the meaning of melody, rhythm and harmony; that's the way I see it. [You're asking] what is melody, what is rhythm—what it is. It's more like that, than a big system, you know—it's ways of dealing with it. [You] figure out the different ways of doing [it]."
"[It's] just a way of looking at music—It's not a system. It's a way of...[handling] the difficulty of dealing with melody, rhythm and harmony...[by way of utilizing] melodic variables... [It's] exploratory. [You find] direction with the melody. The harmony doesn't dictate the direction, the melody does"
"the thing about playing with Ornette is he gets you back in contact with why you wanted to play music in the first place. Because it felt good and it seemed like fun. Somewhere along the line you got into all these rules and regulations and it became a discipline. Plus, you want to make a statement of your own. And there’s the interaction with other musicians in something that’s larger than music—especially when it starts getting good, you’re caught up in something that’s bigger than you are. See, Ornette is one of the few musicians you can play with who, whenever you play with, you learn something"
Bern Nix: A History In Harmolodics

George Russell - "It seems logical to me that jazz would by-pass atonality because jazz is a music that is rooted in folk scales, which again are strongly rooted in tonality. Atonality, as I understand it, is the complete negation of tonal centers either vertically or horizontally. It would not support, therefore the utterance of the blues scale because this implies a tonic. But pan tonality is a philosophy which new jazz might easily align itself with… Ornette seems to depend mostly on the over-all tonality as a point of departure for the melody. By this I don’t mean the key that the music might be in. His pieces don’t readily infer key. I mean the melody and the chords of his compositions have an overall
sound which Ornette seems to use as a point of departure. This approach liberates the improviser to sing his own song really, without having to meet the deadlines of any particular chord… Pantonal jazz is here….."

from the notes to 'Sound Museum' Ornette Coleman -
- In music, the only thing that matters is whether you feel it or not.
- Chords are just the name for sounds, which really need no names at all, as names are sometimes confusing
- Blow what you feel - anything. Play the thought, the idea in your mind - Break away from the convention and stagnation - escape!
- [Musicians] have more room to express themselves with me...They should be free to play things as they feel it, the way it's comfortable for them to play it. You can use any note and rhythm pattern that makes good sense for you. You just hear it - like beautiful thoughts - you don't listen to people telling you how to play.
- My music doesn't have any real time, no metric time. It has time, but not in the sense that you can time it. It's more like breathing - a natural, freer time. People have forgotten how beautiful it is to be natural. Even in love.
- Sometimes I play happy. Sometimes I play sad. But the condition of being alive is what I play all the time.
- Music has no face. Whatever gives oxygen its power, music is cut from the same cloth.
- It was when I realized I could make mistakes that I decided I was really on to something.
- People don't realize it, but there is a real folklore music in jazz. It's neither black nor white. it's the mixture of the races, and folklore has come from it.
- I have found that by eliminating chords or keys or melodies as being the present idea of what you're trying to feel i think you can play more emotion into the music. in other words, you can have the harmony, melody, intonation all blending into one to the point of your emotional thought.
- I listen to anybody. The only thing I am interested in is their natural ability. I don't care if they're playing buckets. I'm only interested in what gets through to people, what makes them tap their feet, what moves them.
- I was out at Margaret Mead's school and was teaching some kids how to play instantly. I asked the question, 'How many kids would like to play music and have fun?' And all the little kids raised up their hands. And I asked,'Well, how do you do that?' And one little girl said, 'You just apply your feelings to sound.' She was right - if you apply your feelings to sound, regardless of what instrument you have, you'll probably make good music.
- You really have to have players with you who will allow your insticts to flourish in such a way that they will make the same order as if you sat down and written a piece of music. To me, that is the most glorified goal of the improvising quality of playing - to be able to do that.
----------------

more information can be found in this PhD thesis - An Analysis Of The Compositional Practices Of Ornette Coleman As Demonstrated In His Small Group Recordings During The 1970's by Nathan A. Frink
and here - Dancing In His Head - The Evolution of Ornette Coleman's Music and Compositional Philosphy

Harder Bop: Defining “Harmolodics”
 
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#35
I don't think you'll find anything about harmolodics apart from some incoherent ramblings.

e.g.

"the use of the physical and the mental of one's own logic made into an expression of sound to bring about the musical sensation of unison executed by a single person or with a group. . . . [Thus], harmony, melody, speed, rhythm, time and phrases all have equal position in the results that come from the placing and spacing of ideas."
 

spike

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#36
@altissimo Really appreciate your reply.

I'll copy and paste your post and digest it, chewing slowly a line at a time.

I first became aware of Ornette's playing in the early 60's with the two "Live in Stockholm" albums and although "The Shape of Jazz to Come" seems to be most definitive and popular with his fans his "Tone Dialing" is the one that hits the spot for me.

Thanks again - Gruss - spike
 

altissimo

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#37
I don't think you'll find anything about harmolodics apart from some incoherent ramblings.

e.g.

"the use of the physical and the mental of one's own logic made into an expression of sound to bring about the musical sensation of unison executed by a single person or with a group. . . . [Thus], harmony, melody, speed, rhythm, time and phrases all have equal position in the results that come from the placing and spacing of ideas."
without access to the original 1983 Downbeat article and the context in which he made that statement that gets quoted in various pieces about him, I can't comment any further.
I recommend reading Dancing In His Head - The Evolution of Ornette Coleman's Music and Compositional Philosphy for a better understanding of Ornette's music
 

altissimo

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#38
I know how you feel. There are a couple of musicians in my area who have invited me to jam. They are very experienced and I’m intimidated. I practice a lot but I don’t feel anywhere near ready.
no one ever feels ready, but don't let that stop you - if they've kindly invited you then go jam with them - it won't hurt, it's not an ordeal, you might actually have fun...
there's only so much you can do at home, you have to get out there and go do it - life's only so long, are you going to miss out on interesting experiences just because you don't feel ready? Falling of my bike didn't stop me learning how to ride it and with music the cuts and bruises are only in your mind... yes we all get nervous, but it doesn't stop us going ahead and doing it anyway
 

Keep Blowing

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#39
I tried to record myself once a while back and it sounded so horrible it set me back mentally for some time. Granted, that was some time ago...
Try again, when I record myself I don't like everything I hear but I always find something I do and I can try and improve what I don't like
 
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