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Memorizing Scale Chord Relationships


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Memorizing scale chord relationships is how I was taught. I don't think like that anymore. I memorized relationships so I could internalize them so I could play what I want without thinking. I key off melody I hear in my head but I don't think you can get there without drilling the building blocks. I don't know.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Informative video. Thanks for posting. Brought back memories.

 

College music theory class best served me by inculcating the discipline of memorizing all the scales and all the chords (in every inversion, open and closed positions, etc.). I still remember the piano exam. This memorization helped much later on.

 

Then again, maybe I liked all the discipline due to my over-structured (almost OCD) mannerisms. I like structure.

Steve Coscia

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I think Galper's book "Forward Motion" qualifies for Amazon's 30% off sale (for this week). I'm adding it to my cart.

 

These Galper videos came up several times in one of the guitar forums. They're packed with a lot of info which I think is, at least, interesting. You'll be doing yourself a favor, imo, if you watch the entire this video in its entirety - it's worth 9 min. of your time.

 

Galper's teachings make me think of what I read in the book "Lee Konitz: Conversations on the Improviser's Art", particularly Konitz's observations on various approaches to jazz soloing, based on what he observed in other players. Some he dug, and some he didn't...

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For many people, the initial "optimism" of learning chord scales is that they will no longer play so many "wrong notes" when they improvise. I think this is why teachers latched so firmly onto chord scale exercises.

 

Jamey Aebersold would have us think that chords are scales stacked vertically, and that there are only scales (or something closely akin to this).

 

Certainly, historically, chords arose from units frequently "resulting" from counterpoint (point against point: melody against melody).

 

Is it helpful to think of key centre / scale relationships? If you allow the rhythmic needs of your melody making to help you control scales necessary to reflect key centres, you have freedom, discipline, accuracy and control -- without so much theoretical substructure controlling what you do.

 

And if that rhythmic need arises from the melody and its groove over which you are improvising, you are mighty close to pleasing Hal Gaper, perhaps?

 

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Loved this, thanks a lot for posting.

 

Mark Levine said in "The Jazz Piano Book" that he doesn't think of scales as scales - he thinks of them as note pools availible for us to use. I prefer to think of it this way, and am still chugging through trying to get everything seared in. Looking forward to the day when I can stop "thinking" and just play.

Hammond SKX

Mainstage 3

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watch the entire this video in its entirety - it's worth 9 min. of your time.

 

Yes - that was worth 9 minutes of my life.

 

He's spot on about Ornithology and Donna Lee btw. Compare those to an Ellington melody. The contrast is ridiculous.

 

I'm just delighted there are people other than me still interested in extemporization who don't wear spandex pants and search the web looking for guitar tab for the locrian mode.

 

@GovernorSilver - what were you doing in a guitar forum and which one was it? I'm now a tdpri regular and I'm giving the acousticforum a go.

I'm the piano player "off of" Borrowed Books.
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@GovernorSilver - what were you doing in a guitar forum and which one was it? I'm now a tdpri regular and I'm giving the acousticforum a go.

 

Though I had my first instrument lessons on the piano, I took up guitar in my college years. I eventually found my way to The Gear Page. The Hal Galper thread(s) may be found somewhere in the Playing & Technique subforum:

http://www.thegearpage.net/board/forumdisplay.php?f=30

 

You may see some of the same stuff you see on other guitar forums - those who advance their skills over time tend to be the ones who do their ear training and figure out the connections between that and improvisation. Those who don't keep looking for more tablature. ;) There are some pretty sharp cats/deep thinkers though on that forum, like David Torn (player/producer/composer - worked with fellow Davids Bowie and Sylvian, Don Cherry, etc.), Mike Neer (jazz lap steel player), Matte Henderson, etc.

 

Since my return to playing piano, I've cut down on my guitar playing, but still like to mess with fingerstyle tunes and rhythm guitar parts on occasion.

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Yes, great video, thanks!

I don't agree that it shows chord/scales are useless.

 

I believe that the chord/scale approach is an excellent framework for gaining a broad understanding of harmonic and melodic relationships. While I have in the past spent a lot of time on individual modes, as a grown-up I rarely improvise using ONLY modes. Even in a modal improvisation, I'll use chromaticism. The goal is not to blindly apply chord/scales in performance.

 

I do love what he says about melody! I just don't think chord/scales are in conflict with that.

 

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I'm nowhere near the level of esteemed forumites ProfD, Bobadoshe, marino, etc. but this thread got me thinking on how I got started. My jazz guitar teacher introduced me to improv, but he didn't use CST (Chord Scale Theory) with me. He said I could always just use the notes in the chords (chord tones). It's too bad I only studied with him for 3 months - our lessons focused on the basics of chord construction and voicing, and working on that Charlie Christian line I was supposed to play as part of the "final exam" (Rose Room, arranged for 5 guitars). I noticed he assigned scale exercises, chord inversion exercises, more Charlie Christian lines, etc. to the more experienced students, as well. So maybe he introduced CST later in the teaching process - or maybe not. The fact that he didn't teach me CST right away contradicts what one Berklee instructor posted, about CST being taught to beginners (as in, right away, not later) to help build their confidence, then teaching other stuff when the student tries to apply CST to Ornithology or other fast-changing bebop tune and struggles.
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Yes, great video, thanks!

I don't agree that it shows chord/scales are useless.

 

I believe that the chord/scale approach is an excellent framework for gaining a broad understanding of harmonic and melodic relationships. While I have in the past spent a lot of time on individual modes, as a grown-up I rarely improvise using ONLY modes. Even in a modal improvisation, I'll use chromaticism. The goal is not to blindly apply chord/scales in performance.

 

I do love what he says about melody! I just don't think chord/scales are in conflict with that.

 

+1

 

Great video, and I love the focus on the melody. Feels like people miss the fact that you're embellishing the melody/improvising variations, etc.

 

I agree though, that chord-scale relationships are useful (at least to me), for internalizing the harmony.

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Good stuff in there, but his "everyone out there is wrong" attitude at the beginning took a while to get over.

 

Also, after bashing chord/scale relationships, he ends by saying, "see how simple improvising is if you group 8th notes into 4s, and end each set of 4 on a chord tone."

 

Well, so much for using your ear instead of relying on 'academic' memorization of scales and chords. :)

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I have a couple of dumb questions.

 

1. What's the tune he plays before Autumn Leaves? I've heard it but don't know it by name. I bet it's one where I know the name, have heard the tune, and not put it together!

 

2. This is probably just a term I'm not familiar with, but what's a "scale chord relationship"? I think I know what that might mean, but I had trouble finding a good definition. What I did find was oriented more towards guitar players, and I didn't feel like translating. :)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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1. What's the tune he plays before Autumn Leaves? I've heard it but don't know it by name. I bet it's one where I know the name, have heard the tune, and not put it together!
Never mind.

 

(A voice in my head kept telling me "All The Things You Are." I just opened my Real Book and tried it, and confirmed.)

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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One of the new Berkelee Press piano books (2 years old) is devoted to keyboard (strangely enough) chord-scale technique. I single it out because it contains comprehensive fingering, which most of these books don't. Not having fingering ideas is not an issue until you hit the unusual scales. Even bebop scales can be difficult to finger, and having some starting point is useful.

 

But such books want to take your life over. The above mentioned Berklee book would have you for two hours a day for five years. Dick Grove's method had how many hundred scales? Jamey Aebersold only has 50 scales, but there goes your life. "Around The Horn", a sax book, but fits on keys OK, has a brilliant organisation of controlling tone colours in harmony and improvising, but again, it is literally years of work before you are "free" of drills.

 

If you can run the changes (arpeggio along chord symbols), and you know your major scales and melodic minor ascending scales, can start these on the chord R, 3, 5, or 7, and can connect from chord to chord by semitone, then you have the melodic control to improvise with virtuosity over 99% of music. All the other stuff (rhythm, groove, articulation, genre, dynamics, solo structure, etc) is now your challenge.

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Berklee is big on CST, so they like to have their students be grounded in it.

 

I like the scale fingerings in The Metaphors for Musicians (Halberstadt) book, but they're only for the right hand. The Clare Fischer Harmonic Exercises book that Bobadoshe recommended is also quite good.

 

My jazz piano teacher didn't have me spend a lot of time on scale practice. He had me work through the Alfred's All-in-One Adult Piano course, which occasionally had a scale execise (eg. Hanon) but put more emphasis on pieces instead of just exercises. He also had me working with Bill Boyd's Jazz Bits & Pieces, which are all solo pieces for beginning jazz piano students.

 

Regarding the plethora of exercises in books... A good teacher will sort for you what you really need to work on, and of course throw in the "secret sauce" that can't be obtained from books, like how to phrase a line (maybe a grace note added here and there that's not in the book) so it sounds more life-like instead of robotic. My late viola teacher gave me (yes, GAVE - didn't charge a penny) a bunch of books, some with hundreds of exercises. She didn't make me practice every single one from every book - she picked out one or two from the entire book, and assigned them to me - and once she was satisfied with my progress, we never opened that book ever again.

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I don't like the video.

 

Of course the idea of chords and scales, which surely is a basic building block of just about every composition, is not limited to playing the 7 shifted scales on a chord kind, and matching a single scale with a single chord. Going from one chord to another, or going from one scale to another, either with the same chord or scale or a different one, is probably more important, but hey, if people don't even learn 1st year 1st class conservatory stuff anymore like the principle of resolving a dom-7 chord, "because we know better", everything supposedly gets in a slop.

 

T.V.

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Great improvisation is always about being melodic. Learning chord scales can help you create those melodies if you understand it as a learning tool and stepping stone to playing melodies. IMNSHO of course. Hal would have hated my piano teacher's approach he wrote chord charts to jazz standards using roman numerals and figured bass, then had me play the modes associated with the chords, in multiple keys of course (that's what roman numerals do for the teaching process). He didn't have much to say about what constituted a "good" improvisation; that was for me to work out in my own!
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These are the abc's of music, so there shouldn't be any debate over whether it's right or wrong.

 

I believe this is severely overstating the case. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the vast majority of great composers and improvisers before, say, 1960, did NOT have this concept as it exists in modern jazz pedagogy.

 

This is NOT how Charlie Parker, or Bud Powell, or Duke Ellington, thought about chords... nor (probably) did Ravel, Chopin, or Debussy, or any of the classical cats who provided the harmonic foundations that jazz built on. (Actually, I could almost see it in Ravel's music).

 

Also, the debate is not whether they are "right or wrong" but whether they are an effective means to teach people to improvise in the jazz idiom. I think it is a useful debate! It really is a modern "grammar" that didn't exist when a lot of jazz vocabulary was being created.

 

My understanding of harmony is rooted in this chord/scale technique. But in some ways I have found it to be a hindrance as I try to build my bebop vocabulary. Charlie Parker's playing has nothing to do with CST. Do I want to sound like Bird? No. But his vocabulary is probably more essential to jazz than CST.

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These are the abc's of music, so there shouldn't be any debate over whether it's right or wrong.

 

I believe this is severely overstating the case. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the vast majority of great composers and improvisers before, say, 1960, did NOT have this concept as it exists in modern jazz pedagogy.

 

This is NOT how Charlie Parker, or Bud Powell, or Duke Ellington, thought about chords... nor (probably) did Ravel, Chopin, or Debussy, or any of the classical cats who provided the harmonic foundations that jazz built on. (Actually, I could almost see it in Ravel's music).

 

Also, the debate is not whether they are "right or wrong" but whether they are an effective means to teach people to improvise in the jazz idiom. I think it is a useful debate! It really is a modern "grammar" that didn't exist when a lot of jazz vocabulary was being created.

 

My understanding of harmony is rooted in this chord/scale technique. But in some ways I have found it to be a hindrance as I try to build my bebop vocabulary. Charlie Parker's playing has nothing to do with CST. Do I want to sound like Bird? No. But his vocabulary is probably more essential to jazz than CST.

 

How do you know this? It is how Herbie Hancock thinks, and Joe Henderson, and Chick Corea, and Woody Shaw, and Freddy Hubbard.

 

 

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These are the abc's of music, so there shouldn't be any debate over whether it's right or wrong.

 

I believe this is severely overstating the case. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the vast majority of great composers and improvisers before, say, 1960, did NOT have this concept as it exists in modern jazz pedagogy.

 

This is NOT how Charlie Parker, or Bud Powell, or Duke Ellington, thought about chords... nor (probably) did Ravel, Chopin, or Debussy, or any of the classical cats who provided the harmonic foundations that jazz built on. (Actually, I could almost see it in Ravel's music).

 

Also, the debate is not whether they are "right or wrong" but whether they are an effective means to teach people to improvise in the jazz idiom. I think it is a useful debate! It really is a modern "grammar" that didn't exist when a lot of jazz vocabulary was being created.

 

My understanding of harmony is rooted in this chord/scale technique. But in some ways I have found it to be a hindrance as I try to build my bebop vocabulary. Charlie Parker's playing has nothing to do with CST. Do I want to sound like Bird? No. But his vocabulary is probably more essential to jazz than CST.

 

All this arguing... Melody harmony all are a part of the picture. There is more than one way to approach playing, and that statement assumes one is thinking about his playing when playing. The highest level of playing is beyond thinking. As Parker said, I paraphrase- learn about the music, then forget it, and just play.

Did Stan Getz use Chord Scale, who knows?

Bottom line, all 12 notes are available at any time.

and here is a note I sent a friend on possibilities:

 

"The number of possibilities in a solo are staggeringly colossal.

Just food for thought

with 3 notes only, and no repetitions of a note and no rhythm, just 3 tones,

how many ways or permutations are there for...

one note? I am thinking One

two notes? Two

three notes Six possibilities or permutations

four notes twenty four..

A solo is not usually restricted to one octave or 13 tones

eg,

C C# D D# E F F# G Ab A Bb B C = 13 tones in this one octave, chromatic scale ( perfectly normal to play all 13 of these tones in a solo )

 

Math wise this is 1x 2 x 3 x 4 x 5 x 6 x 7 x 8 x 9 x 10 x 11 x 12 x 13?

That number EXCLUDES repetitions of a tone and rhythms!!

6,227,020,800 combinations within one octave BEFORE the huge factor of rhythm enters the picture, and of course repetition of a tone, which is quite common in a solo.

 

14 tones= 87,178,291,200

 

15 tones = 1,307,674,368,000

not quite the national debt, but by 16 tones we eclipse the debt.

20,922,789,888,000 that's 21 Trillion yikes.

 

Now as soon as rhythm enters the picture including repetition of a tone. we are moving into possibilities that exceed the imagination, let alone TIME to conceive them!!

 

That is 21 trillion permutations for a mere 16 tones."

And we are arguing about chord scale... boring. Play what you hear.

 

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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And that's assuming we're sticking to a Western twelve-tone system.

HEY! YOu WASCAL you.. lol

 

I know some professional jazz musicians, one of whom who played with Freddie Hubbard, who are unanimous about chord scale theory... they play from the tune itself.. chord scale theory is over emphasized.. to them, and to me. I think, Ed Byrne speaks this way as well... chord scale sounds too restrictive to me. FInd out through exploring, which notes work in the tune.

 

There is the chord PROGRESSION, the bass note, the melody.. these are just as big or bigger factors. Just because a great player may have had a teacher who taught him chord scale , does not change what I consider to be the magic of a soloist and what is going on when he solos.

You don't have ideas, ideas have you

We see the world, not as it is, but as we are. "One mans food is another mans poison". I defend your right to speak hate. Tolerance to a point, not agreement

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Wow, you know how the greats thought. And how do you know this? It is how Herbie Hancock thinks, and Joe Henderson, and Chick Corea, and Woody Shaw, and Freddy Hubbard.

 

These are all modern cats, with a modern sound. They all sound great, and they are definitely giants in the jazz tradition. But the previous generation of giants didn't have the CST to work with. It just hadn't been formalized until the 50's or 60's. So, yeah, you can get a pretty good Herbie vibe using CST. But you can't get a Bud Powell vibe with it or a Monk vibe or a Duke vibe or any vibe that happened before the late 1950's.

 

Take for example: the old-fashioned use of "b5" instead of "#11". The CST grammar wasn't established back then.

 

There was amazing music being written and improvised for millenia before CST was invented. They certainly had some system or another, and maybe it was similar. There is no way to know for sure. But there are many ways to arrive at brilliant musicality that have nothing to do with CST.

 

I have thousands of hours of practice invested in CST, and I regret none of it. I teach it to some of my students who are mathematically inclined because it is useful. It is a good building block, but I don't think it's fundamental or absolutely necessary for mastery.

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I am not sure what point your are trying make. I would like you to offer evidence that Duke Ellington and Monk did not know what scale was associated with a C6 chord, or a C7 , or a C-7 chord. I think it's sort of an insult to them to claim that they did not know. It is so simple, so elementary.

I don't believe for a moment, that in general, that the previous generation was unaware of their major and minor scales and how those scales could be related to chords and vice a versa.

 

 

 

 

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I never liked the CST when I was in school many years ago. Probably because it wasn't taught in a way for me to build from. In the end, I think each person has to make their own order of concepts and work from there. Our unique self makes these concepts our sound. What works great for some people, might be illogical to someone else.

 

I wish I asked this question when I was learning CST...Isn't a chord scale just the combination of two chords a whole step or half step apart, or some inversion combo? (I'm sure there's flaws to this question, I just thought of it :) )

AvantGrand N2 | ES520 | Gallien-Krueger MK & MP | https://soundcloud.com/pete36251

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16251 ,

 

The pool of notes referred to as a "scale" can be explained as the chords tones 1 3 5 7 plus the passing tones in between each chord tone.

Historically, in the Middle Ages, scales, or "modes" if you prefer, came first in music (Gregorian chants). You misunderstood my meaning. I simply meant they were singing modes in the Middle Ages, Gregorian chants for example. From those evolved a chord system.

 

 

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