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Composition -- share your thoughts!

 
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Tim Goynes



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 19
Location: Denton, TX

PostPosted: Thu May 27, 2004 7:13 pm    Post subject: Composition -- share your thoughts! Reply with quote

Just wanted to start a thread dealing with fusion/jazz composition. Share your chord progressions, reharmonization, tips on getting out of ruts and making more "modern" sounds, etc.

Lately I've finally been getting into target-tone chord progressions, which is generally the approach Scott (to my ears) has used on especially the older Tribal Tech albums.

Here's basically what you do, for those who aren't familiar with it--come up with a simple melody line that you want on top of the chords. Say you came up with a line like F--Ab--C#--D--F#. Now all you do is look at all the possible chords that each note can belong to, always remembering to put the melody note on top (in an arrangement, whatever the lead instrument is will be playing that top note). So if we take the note F, well, that can be in (for example) Fmaj7, Db9, D-7, Bmaj7#11, C7sus, A-7#5, etc., just to name a few (there's endless possibilities).

So then just find one that sounds good, and for the next chord, see if you can find another chord that flows smoothly from the last chord--moves like a minor or major 2nd, or minor 3rds, things like that, are nice--we're trying to move away from 5th-related movement (like ii-V-I's). So say if we used A-7#5 for the F melody note...the next note is Ab (G#), which can be found in C-7#5...a minor 3rd up from A-7#5. Sounds cool! So you just go through the whole thing in the same manner. It's a little more time-consuming at first because there are so many variables, but the results are very fresh--also, you will become attached to certain chord movements that you like to use a lot in certain situations (i.e., the melody note moving up a minor 3rd, or whatever), which will make each new progression easier.

And if you haven't experimented with them, check out slash chords. These are basically triads over an unrelated bass note. You can put any note you want in the bass, again as long as it's not already in the triad. So things like C/Db, Bb/Ab, E/A, Dm/Ab etc., are all fair game. These open up a lot of new possibilities for harmony, and can be quite challenging (in the good way) to improvise on!

Anyway, that's all I have for now. Hope it might have helped someone in a rut! It really helped me when I stumbled upon it. So, chime in with your own ideas! Inquiring minds want to know!

Regards,
Tim G.
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clovis



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 40
Location: Waco, TX

PostPosted: Fri May 28, 2004 3:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I tore apart and studied the hell out of Scott's composition "Black Cherry". First I learned it note for note, then sat back and analysed what he was doing there. You're right Tim, I think he does think in terms of "target tones" when composing. It was really interesting to see just how he would even change the voicings up for each melody note through the song for stating the theme. At one point he uses all sus chord voicings for the melody notes...his voicings for the entire song weren't complicated or hard or whatever...they seemed to make perfect sense for what he was doing. I think it's important to not make anything more complicated for yourself that it already is. Like you said Tim, slash chords are awesome for this sort of thing.

I've seen a clinic of Scott's from 96 at AIM where he's explaining how to do just this. He said he just uses his ear and can always hear any chord on top of that top melody note before he even plays the chord!!! I guess when you've been doing it for such a long time, that happens. He then chooses whatever sounds hippest to him. I've started a journal and am writing down as many progressions I can with your example melody notes from your post on top. It's a lot of fun and if you really pay attention to what intervals you're playing, I think it's good ear training too. But it is a BITCH to solo over. I've noticed how a lot of fusion songs I like are all complex in the beginning and have a vamp to solo over. I recently bought the Aebersold Brecker Brothers play along...this is almost exactly the case for each song. In Henderson's 2nd transcription book he says this same thing about his music....creating vamps and different changes for soloing to contrast the complex harmony of the head/melody.

John
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clovis



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 40
Location: Waco, TX

PostPosted: Sat May 29, 2004 6:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Another thing Scott talks about that I forgot was this little exercise...

Take a note..let's say the A on your high E string. Now start with F in the bass on your low E string. Okay....how many F chords..major, min, dom, altdom7, augm, dim, etc can you come up with that have that A as their top note? (ex...F13 or Fmaj13 w/ 3rd on top...)

Now once you do all that and can really hear the differences...move the bass note up to Gb....but keep the A on the top E. Now, how many F#/Gb chords can you come up with that have that A note on top? (ex...Gb7#5#9....A is the #9 on top...)

So, keep moving the bass notes up the neck until you get them all...That A note can be MANY MANY different things for many different chords....and the most important thing is to hear them all (like Scott can) and know right away what the sound is and will it work for what you're going for in your song?

John R.
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Tim Goynes



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 19
Location: Denton, TX

PostPosted: Sun May 30, 2004 4:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good stuff John. I also wanted to mention the use of scalar voicings. I think I already showed you this John, but I'll put it up here.

Scalar voicings are really good for composing, comping, and even improvisation, and they're really easy to make. Here's the plan:

Pick 3 adjacent or non-adjacent strings. For my example I'll just pick the G, B, and E strings. Then, choose a major scale (for mine I'll pick plain old C major).

Now all you do is pick 3 notes, one on each string, from that scale, and play it as a chord voicing. Say for example, B on the G string, C on the B string, and A on the E string....B-C-A (low to high). Then just take that voicing and move it up and down the neck through the scale, so the next voicing would be C-D-B, etc. The only rule is that you can't use standard chord voicings (like a triad). Try to make up interesting interval patterns, like, a 2nd on top of a 5th or what have you. Just something more "fresh."

So just for reference, here's the 7 voicings from C major using the interval pattern we just talked about.

B-C-A
C-D-B
D-E-C
E-F-D
F-G-E
G-A-F
A-B-G

So what does this do for you? You could analyze these as individual chords, sure, but that's not exactly the point. These are SOUNDS out of C major. So that means that over a C major chord (or any other chord found in C, for that matter), any of these voicings can be used. So these, like slash chords, are another easy and effective way to get a little more interesting harmony going on a given bass note, and to me, these are a big help in composing.

Also practice these melodically. Try to play over a Cmaj7 chord using just notes from those "grips" listed above, or any other voicings you may come up with.

So now that you've maybe practiced that voicing and got it down, come up with another one, and another. Vary which strings you pick for your voicings. Practice them in different keys--remember, once you do this in, say, F major, then all those voicings will work for any chord found diatonically in F, so you don't have to go through the trouble of, say, harmonizing G dorian or Bb Lydian, since it's all the same. So then maybe start doing it in melodic and harmonic minor, or half-whole diminished, or whole-tone....see what I mean? You could work on a new voicing every day for years! And then what if you change it to FOUR strings and start over?

Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there. Hope it helps! Let's hear from more of you guys! I know Scott Jones has GOT to have some advice on this one.

Regards,
Tim G.
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morko



Joined: 12 Aug 2005
Posts: 3

PostPosted: Fri Aug 12, 2005 9:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You just used the Holdsworth method, as described in his video ! Razz
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Tim Goynes



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 19
Location: Denton, TX

PostPosted: Fri Sep 09, 2005 4:51 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, it's basically the same thing. I actually got it from an online lesson on Andre Bush's website some years ago. I haven't heard much out of that guy, I just know he's an L.A. based jazz guitarist. I stumbled across his website via an old Guitar Player magazine I had laying around at the time. A couple good things were on the site...if it's still up, it was www.andrebush.com.

Regards,

Tim G.
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michael



Joined: 07 Feb 2006
Posts: 1

PostPosted: Tue Feb 07, 2006 5:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

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Last edited by michael on Thu Aug 30, 2007 12:39 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Tim Goynes



Joined: 18 May 2004
Posts: 19
Location: Denton, TX

PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2006 4:16 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sounds cool! You might want to try making the bass note different from the melody note. On your example the bass is F-Ab-C#-D-F#, same as the melody line. This isn't necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes that can start to have a stable sound that feels jarred when the chords move quickly. So see what happens when you put different bass notes under the melody. Usually you can get even better sounds!

I like your rhythm though! Try this progression with that melody and rhythm: Am7#5--Cm7#5--Dmaj9--Bb/Ab--F7susb9. Oh, and I don't know if this was intentional, but your alto sax is playing a G# concert pitch in your example, instead of F#. If you did mean for that to be (because it still sounds cool), then just use a G7susb9 instead of F7susb9.

Hope this helps!

-Tim G.
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