Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Sapphire Ng | Berklee Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz (Week 14) SPRING 2016 [Class Materials & Concepts]

Guitar Styles Skills - Jazz

Berklee College of Music
SPRING 2016 Semester

Class Teacher: John Baboian

[Week 14]

The tune we are jamming over today is "Freedom Jazz Dance" by Eddie Harris. John broke into a groovy rhythm and there we go. We played the melody and then as usual, every student had a go at improvising to the tune. And yes, John reinforced that our improvisations to this tune would be to utilize and play with "out" sounds and then resolving them appropriately. 

I noted however when I was learning the tune for the class, the version of the tune I found on Youtube by Eddie Harris was not notated the way it was in the lead sheet in terms of the number of bars a form of the tune occupied. I learned by matching the melody to his version of the tune. Right before the class, I actually listened to another version of the song by Miles Davis, and this one actually matches the lead sheet given to us with the approximately 2-bar rests between the first two licks of the melody. 

I was yet again surprised that after our first round of solos, John mentioned that some rhythm thing I did during my solo was cool/nice (I don't remember the exact word used LOL). And then he went on to say to the class that in cases where we could hear some repetitive rhythmic lines, in accompaniment it will be good to catch on to the soloist and match accordingly. 

Concepts/content covered in class:

~ We are given the lead sheet of "Freddie The Freeloader" by Miles Davis. It is observed that this tune is a 12-bar blues. At bars 11 to 12, the Ab7 chord is the bVII(b7) in the key of Bb. An option is to play the Ab Lydian b7 mode over the 2 bars of the Ab7 chord in the progression. It is noted as well that the Lydian b7 mode is the 4th mode of the melodic minor, and it is also equivalent to the D altered scale. 

[Interestingly, John mentioned certain things we can apply into this new tune from previously soloing to the tune "Freedom Jazz Dance." With the "out" sounds we were playing, we can similarly incorporate them when playing over the Bb7 chord in the progression, and then resolve them aptly. John emphasized though that despite we have relative freedom in the first 4 bars of the tune to play with "in" and "out" sounds the way we want, it is very preferable that we play the "in" sound when the Eb7 chord comes by in the 5th bar in order to "catch" the sound of the chord change, thereafter we also have the freedom to play "out" sounds in the 6th bar of the tune, which is the 2nd bar of the Eb7 chord. 

[We played the tune through together as a class, through the melody, improvisations, melody again, and then a tag ending. Haha I have to admit that when we were playing the melody through the first time, it sounded like I was the only person playing an octave lower than everyone else LOL. I'm glad I soon corrected that and started playing in a higher octave that matched other students in the class. As usual, we also ended the tune by repeating the last 4 bars of the tune another two more times, in the case of the melody, we would include and play as well the pick up note that was not technically included in the last 4 bars.

[John also mentioned a difference we may want to take note between "Freddie The Freeloader" and "Freedom Jazz Dance." Whilst the entire progression of "Freedom Jazz Dance" is made up of the Bb7 chord, "Freddie The Freeloader" on the other hand is simply a Bb7 "vamp" with a time limit. Haha.]

~ We were given "More Moving Lead Lines", and this handout focuses on comping. John mentioned that the notes notated simply referred to the top notes that we should incorporate into our voicings of the chords, i.e. "top note voicings." It was really awesome when John guided us through the voicings for the first section in the handout, the "Chromatic V7 > I"

[For "Chromatic V7 > I" we start with the C7 voicing right at 1st fret of the guitar fretboard that has the "C" note at the top of the voicing. We then moved a note to get the C7b9 chord in the 2nd fret with the "C#" note at the top. Next we yet again moved a half step up for the top note, playing a C9 chord with "D" note at the top, and so on. 

[At the 6th bar of the first example, John drew our attention to the alternative chords that he placed beneath the stave. He said that the Db7 chord would function as a chromatic approach to the C7 chord in the following bar, whilst the G7 would function as a dominant approach to the C7. 

[When we reached the last chord of the example, the Fmaj7 chord in the 9th bar, John showed us a "large" voicing. The voicing is played with a finger holding the 8th fret on the 6th string, holding the 10th fret on both the 5th and the 2nd string, and then the 12th fret on the 1st string of the guitar. Thereafter we had a short and quick exercise,  we were to move the exact voicing all the way down the fretboard to the 1st fret of the guitar. As expected or not, it could be way more challenging to play it there at the 1st fret because of the stretch involved. John said we could try to play it by maybe lifting our guitar necks more vertically, though he said that if we were to feel pain in our hand/wrist, we should stop holding that voicing immediately. Then we also moved the voicing where the bass note would be the "A" note on the 5th fret of the guitar.

[It sounded really good when John demonstrated all the three examples of top-note-voicing progressions for us, the "Chromatic V7 > I", the "Chromatic - Contrary Motion", and the "Cycle of Fifths - Contrary Motion". The sounds are really interesting. We should note as well the descending root motion for the progression in the second example/section of the handout, the "Chromatic - Contrary Motion."

[It was definitely fascinating when John later demonstrated playing the progressions in their minor versions, instead of major. He showed that we could "rhythmicize" the chords, playing them in interesting rhythmic patterns and timings that instantly made the progressions sound much more melodious. He also commented that learning to comp like this is important so that we guitarists can play like piano players, and ultimately to take the jobs away from the piano players hahahaha!]

~ The very last solo transcription available for us to choose to play for the final exams, and given out today is John Scofield's solo for "Stompin' At The Savoy." John briefly mentioned that when he heard the tune played on the car radio a very long time ago, he remembered being surprised to find out that it was John Scofield who played that solo, and he referred to it as being "un-Scofield." He also elaborated that it is always amazing to hear the more contemporary guitarists playing standards. And yes, we listened and enjoyed the audio together as a class. 

Class Homework:

~ "Freddie The Freeloader" by Miles Davis - Melody, Comping and Improvisation

~ "More Moving Lead Lines" handout

Class Materials/Handouts:

"Freddie The Freeloader" by Miles Davis



"More Moving Lead Lines"



 John Scofield "Stompin' At The Savoy" Solo Transcription






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