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#2872463 - 08/11/17 10:59 PM Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory
I-missRichardTee Online   content
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Since I was young I instinctively avoided any theory that I felt complicated the mind with more than was needed to make music, esp spontaneous music.
I tended to lean towards classical theory of Theory of Harmony, by Schoenberg.
Unfortunately I never could corelate Schoenberg Roman numeral diatonic and extended tonality, to people like Wayne Shorter and Maestro Hancock. I kind of gave up dealing with Wayne, Herbie, Mahavishnu etc.

Nevertheless be it laziness or wisdom, I nener embraced chord scale theory or modal thinking. including Lydian Chromatic Concept which escaped me, what all the fuss was about.
So what, a scalar flat 7 ( edit ) and a raised 4th degree, is more akin to overtones! Big deal.

Anyway my recent foray into modern piano voicings has me revisiting this whole jangled web of modal theories merged with jazz.
Things like Dorian flat 2 just seemed arbitrary and unnecessary.

I keep getting in trouble here - not sure why. because I want to make a strong argument ( but not an argument ) for a theory, and I am hoping for an equally strong "argument" for why my musicality would be enhanced if I jumped on the
theories surrounding melodic minor theories of M. Levine and modal of Miller from Fla etc.
This can get like Coke Pepsi, or worse like religion or politics
If you feel too strongly about your chosen way, maybe stay away.
I just am looking to discuss why we believe the theories we have come to accept and yet be OPEN to the other view.
My view is most scales are 7 notes, often one note is according to Levine an avoid note... fine.. an avoid note eg the F in a C scale

So if my chord is C or C6 or C7 there are only 3 notes left to fill in.. whether you view those 7 notes as a scale or a mode or a parent scale or a chord.. you have to add the 9 11 13 . and that's it. Of course melody plays a part in this.
I want to see the utility of ideas you have that are in agreement with mine or not.

Please no arguing is sought here.

Secretly I would not mind being shown the advantage of all these for me complicated names for modes of eg melodic minor.

Jazz+ Mr Ferris.. others? Come on down. wave


Edited by I-missRichardTee (08/12/17 01:06 PM)
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#2872477 - 08/12/17 03:10 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
woodtus Offline
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Registered: 09/18/13
Posts: 66
Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee

So if my chord is C or C6 or C7 there are only 3 notes left to fill in.. whether you view those 7 notes as a scale or a mode or a parent scale or a chord.. you have to add the 9 11 13 . and that's it.


Many jazz sounds come from the altered dominants - the b9 sharp9 sharp11 sharp 5 b5 - and, if you like, these can be thought of as being derived from scales such as the diminished scale or altered scale. Of course there are many different names for scales (depending what tradition you come from) but ultimately they are just a group of notes and how they fit together is the business end of improvisation and composition. The name you give to any pitch collection is not important, rather it is how you use them which is relevant and you only have to listen to the jazz masters to see how they use these scales and chords.

The idea of studying the theories of chord/scale relationships is not about ‘enhancing musicality’ (many amazing musicians have never even heard of an altered scale), but is more about (for me at least) finding ways of generating and using some different sounds for when the old regular sounds get a bit dull.

I would say don’t get hung up with the terminology - there aren’t really that many scales and most fancy names are just alternative names for the modes of the basic scales (major, melodic minor, harmonic minor, harmonic major, diminished, whole tone, augmented - these are all of the basic scales, and along with their modes are more than anyone can ever need).


ps - best to put off lydian chromatic concept till another lifetime

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#2872479 - 08/12/17 04:45 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Theo Verelst Offline
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ok

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#2872484 - 08/12/17 05:15 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Synthoid Offline
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Theo's shortest post ever. Take a picture. laugh
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#2872487 - 08/12/17 05:26 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Theo Verelst]
BbAltered Offline
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Keep playing - and remember that the playing comes first, and the "theory" comes afterwards to explain what the player is doing.

As you play more, you will come to know which scales, modes, and chords are important and meaningful to you, and what things you don't need to think about. You will do that instinctively and intuitively.

I bet you play II-V-Is all the time. When you do, I doubt you are thinking about root movement and circle of fifths and all that. I bet you simply play the sounds you need to get you thru that section of the tune. When I play an altered scale, I am trying to get a sound, and the idea that this is "Dorian b2" is sort of irrelevant for me at that moment. Later on, if we are trying to communicate how we make that sound to another, we might talk about II-V-I, or Dorian b2, but at the time of creation we are not thinking about that.

Have fun.
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#2872499 - 08/12/17 06:16 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: BbAltered]
xKnuckles Offline
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Ah good..... I feel like I am among kindred spirits. I have always prioritised sound over theory. I like fiddling round with tunes, seeing what sounds good, maybe pushing it a bit occasionally into areas of tension and making up my own scales etc. where I feel the need. I am sure there are names in existence for any scales which I create and use, but I don't get excited by labels and tend to forget them anyways, so I never really bother with them. What I really care about is sound. So, just as I like to photograph birds, without necessarily knowing what they are, simply because they are beautiful; so I like to improvise etc. without knowing the correct label for what I am doing simply because it sounds and feels good.

Is this the most efficient approach to improvising? I have no idea. I suspect it is not. But, for me, it is the most enjoyable and rewarding approach and one which ensures that I never lose my fascination with it and my love of exploring further.
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#2872537 - 08/12/17 10:29 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Synthoid]
MotiDave Offline
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Originally Posted By: Synthoid
Theo's shortest post ever. Take a picture. laugh


perhaps the first post I understood.
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#2872544 - 08/12/17 11:18 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: BbAltered]
I-missRichardTee Online   content
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Originally Posted By: BbAltered
Keep playing - and remember that the playing comes first, and the "theory" comes afterwards to explain what the player is doing.

As you play more, you will come to know which scales, modes, and chords are important and meaningful to you, and what things you don't need to think about. You will do that instinctively and intuitively.

I bet you play II-V-Is all the time. When you do, I doubt you are thinking about root movement and circle of fifths and all that. I bet you simply play the sounds you need to get you thru that section of the tune. When I play an altered scale, I am trying to get a sound, and the idea that this is "Dorian b2" is sort of irrelevant for me at that moment. Later on, if we are trying to communicate how we make that sound to another, we might talk about II-V-I, or Dorian b2, but at the time of creation we are not thinking about that.

Have fun.


Your words, like all of the words here, ( kindred spirits ) are on same page; a practical one, based on experience. But your user name is funny to me as it relates to topic.

I have none about so called tritone substitution since I was a teen.
But those terms such as Altered Dom, have never been fully made conscious for me.
I discovered this tritone ( and other unnamed ) relationship simply by playing the piano as a kid. Later on I studied classical harmony and saw it from that angle.
Hindemith spoke about it, as did Arnold Schoenberg.. Then later on I heard about Mark Levine Theory of Harmony and how he view it.
In my mind I always go back to just me and the wonderful ( which Bill Evans speaks enthusiastically about WE making the discoveries- not having them handed to us on a spreadsheet ) discovery prior to intelectualization or theory, like augmented sixth out of Germany, Italy and France.

It will always go back to me ( you ) and the instrument.. a direct hookup.

Having said this... can anyone tell me why I may be missing out on some musical
discoveries by not embracing whatever this "jazz theory" is called lately?
smile


Edited by I-missRichardTee (08/12/17 01:08 PM)
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#2872547 - 08/12/17 11:35 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
jjo Offline
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To me, jazz theory is just a means to open one's ears to sounds you might not otherwise think of using. If you're already using flat and sharp 9s and 5ths on dominant chords, theory won't add to that. On the other hand, if you're not using those notes, learning the altered scale might open your ears to those new sounds. Then you can forget the theory but have new sounds to call upon.

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#2872553 - 08/12/17 01:18 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: jjo]
I-missRichardTee Online   content
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Originally Posted By: jjo
To me, jazz theory is just a means to open one's ears to sounds you might not otherwise think of using. If you're already using flat and sharp 9s and 5ths on dominant chords, theory won't add to that. On the other hand, if you're not using those notes, learning the altered scale might open your ears to those new sounds. Then you can forget the theory but have new sounds to call upon.


Got it... yes I was using many ( but not all ) of those combinations as a teen.
But, again, not Bill Evans, Herbie, McCoy discoveries.

I remember one by one adding ( discovering, or is it uncovering ) those cool upper structure triads before that fancy descriptor label was used.
I had C7 structure in left hand and gradually was amazed as Ab triad, A triad, D triad etc seemed to fit.

I also discovered thanks to Stevie Wonders' apparent fascination with m6 chords, that a number of Roots "worked" under the m6 ( or half diminished ) structures. That was a cool discovery.

So far no one has given me a reason to think in the modern Dorian flat 2 model.
The Greeks are probably turning over in their graves or whatever Greeks used. When we say Dorian flat 2.
Going from chord to chord with each chord with a new modal name, and even an added name on top of that, has always struck me as odd.
I am not putting it down.. I have an open mind.. but also a logical one sometimes. smile
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#2872554 - 08/12/17 01:43 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
ElmerJFudd Offline
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T, your most recent posts about not having a playing technique (which I imagine as needing to work on dexterity, finger strength, finger and hand independence, etc. etc.) And now delving into the realm of the what, why, hows of jazz theory... Has piano keyboarding not been your focus in your musical career? Are you mainly a singer or wind, brass string player? What gig exactly did you just pick up that suddenly requires you to be a proficient and experienced jazz pianist over night? It must be coming up fast, as your after a weighted action keyboard, virtuosic hands, and the need to jazz theorize right now! As in today. smile you know this sort of stuff takes time. Possible to bring in a second player on this gig to alleviate some stress?. Maybe sharing some background and what you're up to will elicit some good suggestions.
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#2872555 - 08/12/17 02:00 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Theo Verelst]
Ulf Offline
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Originally Posted By: Theo Verelst
ok


A thread explicitly asking for a theoretic discussion - and this post from Theo?

Now I'm confused...
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#2872556 - 08/12/17 02:10 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Ulf]
DulceLabs.com Offline
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Originally Posted By: Ulf
Originally Posted By: Theo Verelst
ok


A thread explicitly asking for a theoretic discussion - and this post from Theo?

Now I'm confused...


Don't be. Theo has just experienced what all of do when we read one of his manifestos.

Back OT to jazz theory. This is my favorite: Jazz, as explained by Yogi Berra

Interviewer: Can you explain jazz?

Yogi: I can't, but I will. 90% of all jazz is half improvisation. The other half is the part people play while others are playing something they never played with anyone who played that part. So if you play the wrong part, its right. If you play the right part, it might be right if you play it wrong enough. But if you play it too right, it's wrong.

Interviewer: I don't understand.

Yogi: Anyone who understands jazz knows that you can't understand it. It's too complicated. That's whats so simple about it.

Interviewer: Do you understand it?

Yogi: No. That's why I can explain it. If I understood it, I wouldn't know anything about it.

Interviewer: Are there any great jazz players alive today?

Yogi: No. All the great jazz players alive today are dead. Except for the ones that are still alive. But so many of them are dead, that the ones that are still alive are dying to be like the ones that are dead. Some would kill for it.

Interviewer: What is syncopation?

Yogi: That's when the note that you should hear now happens either before or after you hear it. In jazz, you don't hear notes when they happen because that would be some other type of music. Other types of music can be jazz, but only if they're the same as something different from those other kinds.

Interviewer: Now I really don't understand.

Yogi: I haven't taught you enough for you to not understand jazz that well.

cool

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#2872557 - 08/12/17 02:11 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Ulf]
David Loving Offline
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#2872592 - 08/13/17 03:03 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: ElmerJFudd]
I-missRichardTee Online   content
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Originally Posted By: ElmerJFudd
T, your most recent posts about not having a playing technique (which I imagine as needing to work on dexterity, finger strength, finger and hand independence, etc. etc.) And now delving into the realm of the what, why, hows of jazz theory... Has piano keyboarding not been your focus in your musical career? Are you mainly a singer or wind, brass string player? What gig exactly did you just pick up that suddenly requires you to be a proficient and experienced jazz pianist over night? It must be coming up fast, as your after a weighted action keyboard, virtuosic hands, and the need to jazz theorize right now! As in today. smile you know this sort of stuff takes time. Possible to bring in a second player on this gig to alleviate some stress?. Maybe sharing some background and what you're up to will elicit some good suggestions.


I am a natural - I just could always play the instruments I chose - sax elec bass, keyboards
technique on bass came from loads of gigs.
piano- my tech is very limited in terms of piano but not in terms of making music.
sax is only instrument I really practiced long and hard, but I ended up quiting pro sax, because I did not like commercial sax!

Now I have awakened from a lazy slumber with keyboard. This is first time maybe ever, that I am trying to develop the piano.. I am grateful for the gigs that acted as wake up calls.

Yes of course it takes much time.. but my gigs involved mainly comping.. so that is a huge leg up.. I have comped my whole life.
The problem is the nature of the music.. it is 1960's jazz, which involves quartal so called so what voicings, melodic minor, whole tone, diminished series etc
A tall order even for just mainly comping!

And a "second player"? I 'll say.. a second player may DO the gig! I will know shortly. But either way, I am motivated to practice, and I am very pleased even though if gig falls through I have lost a good deal of money on Aebersold and subbing out gigs in August. Still I am up beat.. I have not been this cheerful ( well not quite cheerful ) in a long time.
My CP5 is getting more comfortable for me.... now that I am finally playing it!!

Now, can we get back to the topic? wave


Edited by I-missRichardTee (08/13/17 03:10 AM)
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#2872600 - 08/13/17 05:25 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
BuckW Offline
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Registered: 06/20/17
Posts: 45
I wish the terminology was simpler. You change one note in a chord and suddenly there are multiple 10 syllable ways of describing it as well as the context of what's played before and after. Even if you analyze it out you can come back to your notes and find you've lost the understanding of where you were.

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#2872604 - 08/13/17 05:47 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: BuckW]
Reezekeys Offline
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I subscribe to the Charlie Parker method of jazz theory.

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#2872617 - 08/13/17 07:44 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Al Quinn Offline
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
I just am looking to discuss why we believe the theories we have come to accept and yet be OPEN to the other view.

I believe the theories we've come to accept come from the music (and not the other way around). Otherwise, music would be restricted by theory and never move forward (i.e., there would be no innovation). So for me, theory makes for interesting discussion but can be dangerous if not kept in proper perspective. Used incorrectly, theory can create a box that limits creativity.

I've had several students where we've had to work very hard at overcoming "theories" they were previously taught that then limited their playing. I had a recent discussion with a student who said he was taught not to repeat notes in voicings, so he doesn't. I then showed him examples of Bill Evans playing voicings with repeated notes that, of course, sounded fantastic. Had my student been guided more by his ear and less by theory I don't think he would have fallen into this limiting situation which after decades of repetition is engrained in his playing.
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#2872626 - 08/13/17 09:17 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Al Quinn]
I-missRichardTee Online   content
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I just found old Mark Levine books. I will read a bit and be back.
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#2872628 - 08/13/17 09:55 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Mjazz Offline
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Originally Posted By: I-missRichardTee
I just found old Mark Levine books. I will read a bit and be back.

Also worth reading: a critique.
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#2872643 - 08/13/17 11:02 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Pete the bean Offline
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Loc: Canada

Here's how a little theory helped me with quartals:

Take a major pentatonic scale like C major. Practice blocking the scale in in 5 note blocks so
CDEGA.
invert the block in all inversions (bottom note goes to top)
DEGAC
EGACD
GACDE
ACDEG

Once you got that down drop the 2nd and 4th voice (from the top down) in each block to the LH so CDEGA becomes
A
E RH
C
__
G
D LH

This will give you 5 rootless quartile voicing for C6. You can also use it for Am7. It will also work for Fmaj7.

If you use the penta b3 scale (Kumoi) CDEbGA the voicings will work for Cm6 or Em7(b5). The C pent b3 will also give you rootless voicings for F7.

Theory has helped me take what apply what I know in my hands over a different key and create a whole lot of new flavors. In my teaching it always goes best if I start with a major scale and show how to apply it over different roots to create the modes and scales that get discussed in the stock theory books.
As an example:
My hands are familiar with major scales. A jazz melodic scale is just a major scale with a flat 3. Play a jazz melodic a 1/2 step higher than the root of a dominant chord and it becomes an alt. scale.

I am not sure that my ears alone would have picked up on the alt scale without the theory behind it. Seeing the Alt scale as a major scale b3 or a jazz minor or alt 1b9#93 b5#5b7 gives me a few different ways to get this in my head during practice.

Theory helps me recognize what I am hearing.
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#2872669 - 08/13/17 01:30 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Pete the bean]
Al Quinn Offline
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Learning sounds by ear includes listening to our favorite players, imitating musical vocabulary that appeals to us, and assimilating it into our own playing.
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#2872690 - 08/13/17 03:41 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Al Quinn]
woodtus Offline
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Registered: 09/18/13
Posts: 66

Originally Posted By: Al Quinn

Learning sounds by ear includes listening to our favorite players, imitating musical vocabulary that appeals to us, and assimilating it into our own playing.


It is hard to learn from listening if one doesn’t have a grip on what is going on a theoretical level. Sure I may transcribe a great Herbie lick but unless I understand on what chord he is playing it and how the notes in the lick relate to the chord (melody, sequence etc) and, more importantly, when I could use these notes and how I can develop similar licks of my own, then really I am not doing anything very useful. Of course listening is vitally important but so is the theory - one can only become a good player by working at plenty of both.

Originally Posted By: Al Quinn

I had a recent discussion with a student who said he was taught not to repeat notes in voicings, so he doesn't. I then showed him examples of Bill Evans playing voicings with repeated notes that, of course, sounded fantastic. Had my student been guided more by his ear and less by theory I don't think he would have fallen into this limiting situation which after decades of repetition is engrained in his playing.



I had a few lessons once with James Williams who told me exactly that - to not repeat notes in voicings. The masters can’t be wrong even if they disagree amongst themselves sometimes. My view is that there are no black and white answers, theoretical ideas are not rules to be slavishly followed but rather just concepts to be considered. Their value is in their utility. If they are not useful then move on.

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#2872714 - 08/13/17 07:00 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: woodtus]
JazzPiano88 Offline
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Originally Posted By: woodtus

It is hard to learn from listening if one doesn’t have a grip on what is going on a theoretical level. Sure I may transcribe a great Herbie lick but unless I understand on what chord he is playing it and how the notes in the lick relate to the chord (melody, sequence etc) and, more importantly, when I could use these notes and how I can develop similar licks of my own, then really I am not doing anything very useful. Of course listening is vitally important but so is the theory - one can only become a good player by working at plenty of both.

Completely disagree. Musical elements are patterns and can be assimilated without knowing or learning the theory. Many many good players have never used theory.
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#2872733 - 08/13/17 09:06 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: JazzPiano88]
Reezekeys Offline
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I agree with your disagreement and I also agree wholeheartedly with Al. I have no clue what "jazz theory" is and I've been playing jazz my whole life.

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#2872755 - 08/13/17 10:24 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Dave Ferris]
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#2872792 - 08/14/17 05:36 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: JazzPiano88]
woodtus Offline
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Registered: 09/18/13
Posts: 66
Originally Posted By: JazzPiano88
Many many good players have never used theory.

If you are playing jazz you are almost certainly using elements from the theory of functional harmony that dates back to Bach and beyond. The 2 5 1 is just one example.

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#2872814 - 08/14/17 07:15 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: woodtus]
Reezekeys Offline
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Loc: NYC area
100% true that. But what is "jazz" theory?

I studied with John Mehegan and the basic theory I learned from him had nothing to do with jazz – he just applied it to playing jazz.

If someone wants to come up with a method that builds on this, and formulates their own catchphrases to describe it (like "jazz scale"), and it truly helps them become a better player, then I'm all for it – it was not the path I took however. I said earlier I subscribe to Charlie Parker's take on theory. Here it is, in case anyone didn't understand what I meant. BTW I'm still working hard on the first two points he makes!



IMO, the best jazz, the kind that advances the art, is made when someone consciously takes up his third point.

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#2872858 - 08/14/17 09:13 AM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: Reezekeys]
I-missRichardTee Online   content
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Ages ago when I enjoyed practising scales for hours at a time.. I used to play a scale throughout the full range of the saxophone. I never got the idea of eg a D dorian.
When I played the C major scale, I WAS playing the so called D dorian, and E phyrigian sp
F lydian etc
And when I played C minor with only Eb and A and B natural, I was playing the so called
D dorian flat 2 scale! But in my mind it was simpler, C major, Cminor C harmonic minor.. end of story.

This is the point of this thread.. I am trying to decide if I should isolate this proliferation of scales from the so called Parent Scale.
I have been unbeknownst to me, a proponent of the Parent Scale school.. not the Modal subdivisions

WHat is your take on this? Could some proponents ( jazz educators ) of this complex method, have a profit motive hidden behind all of this - Make an already complicated process called improvisation, even more complex - thus adding to your bank acct?


Edited by I-missRichardTee (08/14/17 09:21 AM)
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#2872944 - 08/14/17 03:12 PM Re: Seeking an intelligent discussion on jazz theory [Re: I-missRichardTee]
Theo Verelst Offline
MP Hall of Fame Member

Registered: 02/27/10
Posts: 3567
PLaying through the Realbook a bit teaches a lot about Jazz theory, but it is deep and pretty hard if you want the gist of a lot of it.

T.

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