Tuesday, 21 July 2015

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Private Instruction - (Week 14) SPRING 2015 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Private Instruction Lesson

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2015 Semester

Private Instruction Teacher: Sheryl Bailey

[Week 14]

Concepts/content covered in class:
-The Real Book tune "Ornithology" by Charlie Parker 

            ~The concept of contrafact, referring to songs with the same chord progression but written with different/alternate melodies. 
                     -The song "Ornithology" is actually a contrafact of another Real Book tune "How High The Moon" by Morgan Lewis, taking on the same chord progression but different melody. 

                     -It is the concept of contrafact that led to the chord progression of the tune "I've Got Rhythm" to be labeled as "Rhythm Changes". Songs that are a contrafact  to "I've Got Rhythm" include "Oleo", "Cottontail", "Anthropology", "Dexterity" and "Moose the Mooche". It is interesting to note that there are multiple songs by Charlie Parker containing the same chord progression. 

                     -Countless blues tunes are contrafacts. It is due to the widespread use of the most common blues form, the 12-bar blues, as a song form. These songs thus have the same repeating blues chord progression but with alternate melodies. 

                     -As a fun concept for practice, you can consider blending contrafact songs together into one song, learning them and transitioning from one to another at different points within the chord progression, or playing one form for one song and then when returning to the head play the melody for the other song, since the similar progressions would mean that any inconsistencies or bumps in 'harmonic transitions' will be minimal.

[`You can also try searching on Youtube for people who have done prior work in blending contrafacts together into a continuous single tune.]  

                     -It is also very interesting when my teacher said that the fact that chord progressions cannot be copyrighted gave rise to contrafacts. 

            ~The concept of "no" or "malleable" key signatures for jazz tunes. 
                     -In the Omnibook version of "Ornithology" handed out by my teacher in class, I noted that the treble clef present right at the top of the music sheet "signified" a C major key due to the lack of any sharps or flats. This "finding" however is inconsistent with the fact that the song transitions from a key of G major to F major and then to Eb major and so on. 

[`This thus matches perfectly with the concept of "no" key signature as introduced in the last class whereby key signatures for many jazz tunes may not have as much relevance as they have in pop music contexts, in addition to the fact that my teacher says she doesn't write songs with any key signature as well. 

`"Ornithology" as notated in the Omnibook is thus a great example of a song with multiple key changes with the key signature not reflecting the "predominant" key present in the tune. 

`In this case or for any case, it is important to be aware of such a concept and avoid the pitfall of habitually concluding that a song is in a specific key simply because other songs one have previously encountered follows the "rules" of key signatures.]

            ~Analyze the key changes for "Ornithology" 
                     -The song moves from a key of G major to F major, and then to Eb major, then to G minor, to A major and then back to G major for the first repeat of the song, while it moves from G minor back to G major for the second repeat of the song. 

                     -For the ease of improvisation, it could help tremendously to be aware that the keys transitioned to in the song are pretty close to each other, i.e. F major is 2 frets down from G major, whilst Eb major is also another 2 frets down from F major, and A major is 2 frets up from G minor. 

            ~Practicing improvisation for the tune
                     -Using the "dice" method yet again to determine the fretboard position to practice improvising for the song, I was asked to roll the dice in class and the number I got was 4, the 4th position.

[`For the G major scale that the song starts in, the scale fingering pattern can be played with the root note "G" played by the 1st finger on the 6th string, i.e. the root position G major scale starting from the 3rd fret;

`For the F major scale, the scale fingering pattern can be played with the root note "F" played by the 1st finger on the 4th string, i.e. F major scale played from the 2nd scale degree, the "G" note, starting from the 3rd fret;

`For the Eb major scale, the scale fingering pattern can be played with the root note "Eb" played by the 4th finger on the 5th string, i.e. Eb major scale played from the 3rd scale degree, the "G" note, starting from the 3rd fret;

`For the G harmonic minor scale, the scale fingering pattern can be played yet again with the root note "G" played by the 1st finger on the 6th string, i.e. the root position G harmonic minor scale starting from the 3rd fret;

`For the A major scale, the scale fingering pattern can be played with the root note "A" played by the 2nd finger on the 6th string, i.e. A major scale played from the 7th scale degree, the "G#" note, starting from the 4th fret.]

                     -Set up a chord changes improvisation exercise incorporating the entire chord progression of the tune, i.e. In the scale positions and patterns just determined, according to your own choice and comfort either 16th notes or 8th notes, play notes from G major scale for 2 bars then transitioning into playing 4 bars of notes for F major scale, then 2-bar duration of notes for Eb major scale, and then 4 bars of notes from G harmonic minor scale (for the first repeat of the song), and so on. 

[`When my teacher demonstrated how she would practice the improvisation exercise just mentioned above, I suddenly realized that I could expand my chord changes improvisation exercise to include scales. Though seemingly obvious, I've never really thought of applying the concept to scales because in the past I've only applied such a practice routine to arpeggios. This concept introduced in class thus opens a whole new world of possibilities for me.]  

                     -Practice chord changes over the chord progression of I-VI-II-V that is very commonly found in jazz contexts. Note that the VI in this case can refer to VI7 (content from last lesson), as the dom7 chord quality would represent more impact due to the presence of tritone, which then translates into making a bigger statement as compared to the traditional VI-7 chord quality. 

[`It is essential to practice the grouping of 
|  Imaj7  VI7  |  II-7  V7  | as resolving to Imaj7, II-7 or IVmaj7 depending on the actual chord that starts off the song and as the possibilities represent more common resolution groupings for the I-VI-II-V.]

                     -Another way of approaching the concept of playing a dim7 arpeggio with root name a 1/2 step up from the dom7 chord: You can think of it as playing a dim7 arpeggio with root name a major 3rd up from the dom7 chord, this way the dim7 is synonymous with playing a dom7(b9) in place of the original dom7 chord displayed on any music score. 

[`Note that for this case though we are looking at a similar concept but labelling it slightly differently as dim7 arpeggio with root name a major 3rd up from the dom7 chord, the dim7 arpeggio is actually the same as the dim7 arpeggio a 1/2 step up from the same dom7 chord. 

`For example for the chord of D7, instead of conjuring up an Ebdim7 arpeggio to solo over the chord, the alternate possibility of looking at it would be to see it as F#dim7.] 

            ~Embellishing the chords in the song with additional tensions or chord tones. 
                     -It should be made a habitual practice to  instinctively embellish chords beyond what is notated on a music score in order to add more colors and flavors to the harmonic richness of the tune.

[`For example in the 10th bar in "Ornithology", the chords as notated in the Omnibook says A-7(b5) to D7, with each chord taking up 2 beats in the bar. As a musician, we always have the choice to further embellish e.g. the D7 in that bar, and play it instead as a D7(#9) or D7(b9) or with any tension you fancy. 

`Similarly with the minor triads present throughout the tune, for example the G- triad in the 3rd bar, the F- triad in the 7th bar, and the A- triad present in last turnaround bar of the tune, we have the freedom and choice to embellish it and play the chord quality instead as a -7, i.e. playing G-7 instead of a G- triad, playing a F-7 instead of a F- triad and a A-7 instead of a A- triad.]

            ~Additional learning points from the class
                     -Tying in with the concept of key signatures bearing less relevance in certain jazz tunes/contexts, my teacher pointed out an interesting way of looking at the sharps and flats buried within a musical score. 

[`Whilst previously I've only literally perceived the presence of certain sharps and flats as alterations to the pitches of the notes notated in the score or simply a product of chromaticism or out-of-key notes common to jazz, it felt particular enlightening when my teacher said that the sharps and flats in e.g. "Ornithology" reflects the actual key changes in the tune. Looking closer at the music score of the song and referring to key changes notated down earlier, I noticed that indeed the occurring sharps and flats reflect the key of the prevailing major scale or the natural 7th for the case of the harmonic minor in the key of A. I think this is thus important to help musicians consolidate and strengthen overall understanding of individual components within a music score.]

                     -Adding on to a concept from a previous class "seeing the fretboard in your head", I feel that my teacher yet again pointed out another aspect that I've so easily overlooked. Regarding the process of "seeing the fretboard" in my head and mentally practicing guitar, I've definitely had my share of applying it to lead guitar/melodies and only for lead guitar. It came across as novel when my teacher said that she applies it to comping as well. So definitely it will be a great idea to mentally practice comping to songs. 

                     -Be aware and constantly remind yourself that  chords and melody/lead lines are inter-connected, and even when you are currently focusing your attention into learning either the chords or the melody/lead line, always bear in mind of how it relates to the other. 

                     -Whenever possible, always record your own rhythm track to practice over be it for chord changes improvisation exercise or for melody etc, it will help in improving the quality of your recorded rhythm tracks if done over a period of time. 

Class Homework:
-Chord changes improvisation exercise for scales incorporating the entire chord progression of "Ornithology" at the 4th position 
-Work on comping for "Ornithology"

Class Handouts/Materials:

Analysis of Key Changes & Chord Progression for "Ornithology"; 
Concept of Contrafact as related to "Ornithology";
Scale Patterns & Positions for Improvising at 4th Position

"Ornithology" Music Score