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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #1 
Here's some compositions that exhibit my education in John Adams, Alan Holdsworth, and Chick Corea/McCoy Tyner approaches to musical structures.

Dune Cascade http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12281201

Beleagured Castle http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12619377

Rings of Saturn http://soundclick.com/share.cfm?id=12414295.

I'll explain here how they're put together.

Take a scale which is not part of the major minor modal system like the melodic minor scale and alter it: such as Melodic minor b4, melodic minor #4, or melodic minor #5. Could be harmonic minor or any of its modes, or scales like the half/whole, whole/half too.

Then build chords from the one that you chose. If I chose Melodic minor #4 we get C D Eb F# G A B. Chords constructed from this scale produce C-Maj7 D7 Eb+Maj7 F#dim7 GMaj7 Ahalf-dim7 B-7. If you play those with normal tertian voicings, it won't be contemporary enough for what I'm after. Musicians figure since the soloist will already be targeting the third of the chord, there's no reason for the accompanist to play chords with thirds in them. They also sound ambiguous which some of us really like a lot. So, for that CminMaj7 chord, we could play any combination of CD FGAB. Even though the "key" doesn't have an F natural in it, we don't need to care. Here's why. Four note chords with half steps in the inner voices are favored so we could opt for C F# G A, C F# G B, C F Gb A, C F Gb B, or C G# A B whenever the chart calls for a CminMaj7 chord.

Composers like Messiaen theorized that chord progressions in these types of keys can't follow functional rules like moving by fourths such as a ii V I since they often don't have prefect fourth and fifth relationships in the root motion anyway. Moving a tritone or augmented fifth like these kinds of keys create, makes it sound like your just jumping to a random chord and not operating in a key. This means chords usually move by step, although after you've moved between two chords, you can jump to another two chords in the key. Moving by step creates what are called linear progressions.
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #2 
Closed voice non-3rd chords are difficult to play with only one hand on a megatar, stick or warr guitar. On a stick you'd have to play one of the pairs of half steps with your other hand on the second row/group of strings leaving you dead in the water for bass and soloing. So you need a bass player and a soloist for a project like this.

Anyway, since these chords already have roots in them, the bass player doesn't have to play roots and can play melodically, or can play b7 or b6s depending whether or not they have b6 or b7s already in them. If a chord already has the flat seven, for example, then the bass player can play the flat six instead and visa versa. This idea came from Bill Evan's "locked hands" concept.
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #3 
In a graduate thesis on Allan Holdsworth's musical approach, the author said when Holdsworth solos he's always looking to transpose to the nearest minor key. For example if you're in the key of C major, the nearest minor key is D minor. But Holdsworth wouldn't play aeolian minor or dorian minor but a melodic minor scale with an added pitch or several added pitches (usually avoiding the b2). So, while a C major chord is playing, Holdsworth would play a D melodic minor scale add b4, D mel min. add #4, D mel minor add b5, etc... or combinations such as D mel min add#4 add b6. Added pitch scales were a modernist innovation that came from composers like Messian. Coltrane was also an inheritor of these ideas.

We're not all Holdsworth or Coltrane and we don't need to be. In an interview Chick Corea said when you look at transcriptions of most famous jazz soloists, you see recognizable structures moving by like tetrachords, arpeggios, and stacked fourths/stacked fifths, but when you look at a transcription of Miles Davis' solos, there's nothing. His modal jazz idea that he came out with on Kind of Blue was to avoid having the normal ii V I jazz chord progressions dictate what the performer had to play. He wanted to slow down the number of chords going by, and wanted them to be ambiguous. He desired sus chords and quartal/stacked fourth chords which don't sound like they require immediate resolution. He looked for this because he wanted to play motivically. With that in mind I started looking for other structures besides tetrachords and arpeggiations and came up with a way to learn around 300 motives by only being told the idea one time.

What are the structures we've all known already for a long time? The alphabet, numbers, and shapes. abcdefghijklmnopqrstuvwxyz, ABCDEFGHJLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ, 1234567890. To get the most out of playing these, I rotate them left, right, upside down, and also instead of starting b at the top and ending at the bottom, I can start at the bottom and end at the top on the upright, the rotated left, the rotated right and the upper case upright, rotated left and rotated right. Now suddenly, without studying or practicing, you know hundreds of post-bop jazz motives.


Motives are defined usually as being about 2-6 pitches. So when you're figuring out how to make a "Q" or some such, don't use more than 6 pitches to play it.

Here I am playing the lower case letters:


Wayne Shorter has a technique where he only touches on the correct scale with the first note of his motives but you don't actually have to do that either. Just playing motivically like a a b is enough to make your solos sound musical. Perhaps the second "a" is up a half step, or is rotated compared to the first, or is transposed up a half step AND played backwards.


My alphabet/number idea can also be made into longer strings such as playing your name, address, telephone number, email, birthday or computer passcodes. This is an example of other stuff you already know that you don't have to study or practice much to get under your fingers.
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #4 
Let's talk about shapes. Here is a chart that shows some shapes based on the number of sides they have; straight lines, triangles, squares, pentagons etc...

The third chart shows how you might move motives around.

The fourth and fifth is a cleaner painting I made of the idea.

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jpeg 20_Essential_Motive_Shapes.JPG (1.80 MB, 4 views)
jpeg Order_of_Motives_&_Rotation_of_Motives.JPG (1.31 MB, 4 views)
jpeg Projectile_Motion.JPG (1.54 MB, 3 views)
jpeg DSC03074.JPG (2.99 MB, 4 views)
jpeg DSC03075.JPG (2.84 MB, 3 views)

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #5 
As far as chords go, many of the non-3rd chords that Allan Holdsworth plays are difficult even on electric guitar and truly impossible on acoustic or classical...but not all. Here is a composition called Captain Nemo that has as many of the easily fingered chords as I could find. Even if you don't like the composition, it's an encyclopedia of interesting and playable chords.

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #6 
Other ways of thinking about how to play scales. If you're not into the whole structureless Miles Davis solo thing, you could confine yourself to the "correct" scale. One of Holdsworths innovations on guitar was that he refused to limit himself to running up and down three note per string ideas which is what prevented guitarists from playing a greater variety of melodic possibilities. Here I'm showing how to play four notes per string running diagonally the wrong way, and four notes per string straight across the neck among other things. They're in the key of melodic minor #4.

Attached Images
jpeg Melodic_Minor_#4_Crawling_Backwards,_4th_Chords,_5th_Chords.JPG (164.70 KB, 4 views)
jpeg Melodic_Minor_#4_Scale_in_One_Position_and_Chords_in_3rds.JPG (182.98 KB, 4 views)

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #7 
I found an article that talked about how Chick Corea and McCoy Tyner approach their quartal playing. You don't always want to be hammering out thick 5 note quartal stacks. Usually, the 5 note major chords are built in fourths down from either the root or fifth, The dominant chords are built in fourths down from either the root or fifth, and the minor chord is built down in fourths from the b3 of the chord as a very simplistic explanation for starting.

In any event, when playing thinner 3 note quartals, (which are only one finger on the melody side of a stick, megatar and warr-as are the 5 note quartals) since you're not playing all of the notes of the chord, you can play a 3 note quartal's neighbor also, to finally fill out all the notes in the chord before the measure ends. Those are called "rides" but there are static 3 note quartals too. Usually you play static quartals when you aren't given enough time to play rides. Also, if the bass player is not playing roots as often occurs in jazz, then Corea and Tyner will play a 1-5 stomp in the left hand to ground their quartals, allowing the actual chord to come in half a beat later or some such. The 1-5 stomp isn't required if you're just making the changes though. Diminished chords will get a different kind of stomp since they don't have a perfect fifth. You have options like 1-3, 1-7, or 1-1. 

Attached are static and ride chords for minor, major, dominant, dim, etc... arranged into ii V I progressions.

btw if you want to play these on the left hand side of the stick, play them in stacked 5ths instead with one finger. Just move the bottom note to the top and the top note to the bottom.

None of the 3 note quartals should dip down below middle C. That's true of the three notes at the top of a 5 note stack too. Another thing is that 3 note quartals sound too thin above the middle octave so then it's really time to switch to 5 note quartals as you leave the middle zone.

Attached Images
jpeg IMG20150126202542.jpg (128.60 KB, 4 views)
jpeg IMG20150126202602.jpg (51.15 KB, 3 views)

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #8 
Back to shapes. If we want to follow Wayne Shorter's method of only touching on the correct scale now and then, you could make the first note of each shape you play conform to this approach. I've chosen to play a different shape each time while moving their starting notes; first a whole step then a half step etc..., constantly moving to the left.

Attached Images
jpeg Whole_Half_Slip_Left_GV.JPG (1.70 MB, 2 views)

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #9 
One of books I read on classical composition-I think it was by Bernstein-said when you play a scale like the whole tone, you should break it up so its not obvious what you're playing. He meant don't just go up and down the sale. So many self taught guitarists play like that and its not musical no matter how fast it can be done. In the example I show how you might navigate through a whole tone scale avoiding playing it like a scale.

Attached Images
jpeg Paths_Through_the_Whole_Tone_Scale.JPG (66.64 KB, 2 views)

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #10 
Arpeggios are another good way to break up the scale especially in "esoteric" modes altered from scales outside the major/minor modal system. Here are the arpeggios for Melodic minor add b7 scale.

Attached Images
jpeg Melodic_Minor_Add_b7_Arpeggios_Starting_with_the_First_Finger.JPG (3.19 MB, 4 views)

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #11 
Playing intervals is another method for breaking up the scale. The chart shows 3rds, 4ths, 5ths and 6ths for the melodic minor add b7 scale.

Attached Images
jpeg Melodic_Minor_Addb7_Intervals_and_Arpeggios_starting_wi...Middle_Finger.JPG (4.46 MB, 3 views)

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #12 
I think a real easy way of getting the Impressionistic chords that Holdsworth uses is to tune your strings to a scale and leave out the third; C D F G A Bb. I've chosen the Bb as default because the flat 7th is the most common 7th since minor, dominant and half dim all use the flatted 7th.

Then, you can play non third chords all on one fret, or play alterations to it only by altering some notes up or down to a neighboring fret. You just could play something like C D F# G, since four note chords are favored, and you'd be in business. However, half steps in the inner voices are what he uses predominantly so it would be better to leave out the D and go for some kind of A or B for a chord like that. Whatever your ear tells you is the deciding factor of whether you want to use halfsteps in the inner voices at that point in the music. .

You could also go for non-third chords with the 4th or 5th in the bass instead. You might retune to F G C D A Bb or G C D F A Bb but you don't need to. Chords with 4ths or 5ths in the bass can be fitted into the existing C D F G A Bb tuning. If we give these numbers instead 12456b7 and note the leap over the three between 2 and 4 then rename 1 to be F etc... we get F G Bb C D Eb. You'd have to alter that Eb or leave it out because you don't want the third of the chord.

Remember, you don't have to play all the notes, just the important ones. You could leave out the D for example.

You could rename the first note to be the 5th as well creating a GACDEF default chord.

There are other options too. You also have the possibility of not playing the first or last note, so instead of 1 2 4 5 6 b7 now we've got X 2 4 5 6 b7. Renumber that to be X 1 3 4 5 b6 then give it note names X C E F G Ab. You don't want the 3rd E so you'd have to leave it out.

Continuing with the logic I used previously, you can reassign the 1/C to be the 4/F so now you've got a situation where you skip the first string and start on the fourth; X F A Bb C Db. These tunings really open you up to many more interesting voicings.

I'll post an image soon.
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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #13 
Here's non third chords for major minor and dominant. As you might imagine, they're often intended to be ambiguous so a chord voicings like CFGA or CF#GA or CF#GAb can be used for major, minor or dominant. I've circled the most important pitches on most of the documents and leave it up to you to only use those pitches or add others from the stack.

Voicings for diminished and augmented avoid the note targeted by the soloist, which in those cases is the bV and the #V so "non-third" chords for diminished and augmented actually have b3 and natural 3 respectively but no fifth which the thirds are replacing.

I'll put the dim. and aug. voicings in a later post.

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #14 
Here's the diminished chords.

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jpeg IMG20150211202229.jpg (420.00 KB, 1 views)
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jpeg IMG20150211202314.jpg (246.49 KB, 1 views)

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Tatsu

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Reply with quote  #15 
This video shares what the chords in a similar tuning sound like. It also shows that you don't have to focus so much on which chord is called for since they're ambiguous. You can just grab at the permutations of alterations and you're good to go.

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