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#1250407 - 08/16/09 06:19 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: etcetra]
pauldav1d Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 14
Loc: NOLA
First day and I love this site already!

I have the Levine book. It really helped me organize theory AFTER the fact. I'd already learned basic scale theory and chord voicings. But Mark's book helped me apply the specific "licks" and voicings (which I had transcribed) CONCEPTUALLY. It demonstrated how my stock Emi7(b5) voicing (or lick) could be used on G minor sounds(w/MAJ7) or C dominant sounds...or really exotic A minor sounds.

There is a real disconnect, however, in learning theory and learning improvisation. The great improvisors hear melody BEFORE theory. Bird wasn't "thinking" about the notes in a Bb Maj scale...he was HEARING beautiful melodies over all those progression he'd play.

Every now and then, I'll run into a great blues guitar player who can burn on any tune - blues, jazz, whatever. I'll think "How can this cat play pentatonic blues on Giant Steps and sound SO cool?" And I'm certain if we transcribed his solo note-for-note, it would drive music theorists nuts! But the conviction of the melody is SO strong, that you can't really argue with it. It sounds like music. It feels like music. Must be music! I love those cats.

I grew up singing in church and, in retrospect, I was practicing improv YEARS before I heard jazz or knew what a solo was. All of those old hymns are so similar: I-IV-V...maybe VI minor...every now and then the very hip IV minor. At an early age, I would try and "force" a different hymn melody over the hymn the congregation would be singing. If a note didn't work over a paticular chord, I'd just adjust - always a half-step away from a good note, right?

Today, when I'm at my best, I'm playing that same way. Believe me, it doesn't happen EVERY time. But AT MY BEST, I sit very quietly and try to sing melodies BEFORE I think about chords. Often, when I'm VERY disciplined, I might play NOTHING for multiple bars. It was scary at first. But once I got used to the space, it was incredibly liberating! And listening back to my own performances, these very lyrical and spacious solos make me smile the most.

Here is an excercise that has become a big part of my practice routine (in addition to scales, technique and theory.) Play a chord in the left hand. LISTEN to the sound of the chord. KEEP listening. Listen some more...seriously. Try and hear a melody. If you don't hear one, DON'T play anything! Just play the left hand chord again and listen...seriously. If you check out lots of music, and spend time singing the melodies you hear (sing them in your head AND out loud), you can train your brain to hear these melodies "spontaneously" as you hear chords. These spontaneous melodies are what will eventually become YOUR sound - even if they are stolen in part OR in whole from someone else.

Now, all that's left, is to teach these beautiful melodies to YOUR FINGERS. That should keep us all very busy for 10, 20, or 40 years! ;-)

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#1250589 - 08/17/09 02:10 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: pauldav1d]
DaveRobertsJazz Offline
Full Member

Registered: 08/08/09
Posts: 74
When trying to learn to play jazz piano I bought a lot of books and videos - and they each helped a little in different ways. But I also found a lot of the theory confusing and off-putting. Much more helpful was listening to jazz pianists.

And, most helpful by far, was playing lots and lots of jazz - by myself, with the Aebersold play-along CDs and then with other musicians. I firmly believe that the best way to learn how to do something is to just do it. The more I played, the better I got and, hopefully, will continue to do so.

My personal breakthrough, as suggested by pauldav1d, was singing along as I soloed. My lines instantly became more melodic, interesting and contained better phrasing. So, I suggest not getting bogged down in books. Close the book, go over to the piano and start singing as you play.

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#1250716 - 08/17/09 10:48 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: jazzwee

When you say notes from a scale, you likely think in terms of 1-3-5-7 of the chord.


Now, there we differ. When I say 'notes from a scale' I just mean the notes from that scale, in no particular order. The order doesn't matter.

This is where I think I'm confused with modes. I can play the scale of C starting and ending on C, aka C major. I can play the scale of C starting and ending on D, but if I'm thinking that C is do and D is re, then it's still C major. Better yet, I play a piece of music in C and it won't necessarily begin and end on C. That's not a problem. I can do all of this without bringing in modes at all.

I think people use the word 'mode' to mean different things and this is getting me confused. I need to go and check something out before I take this any further.

Back to jazzwee...

Quote:

But when you solo, you may want to also know all the extensions (9, 11, 13). Well when you combine these extensions with the original chord, guess what you get? It will be a mode of the scale.


I get the notes of the scale! smile

Quote:

You will then know if the 9/11/13 should be flatted or sharped or kept natural.


Now that's an interesting question. I had wondering about this. I'm guessing - you play whatever is in the key you are in? So, if I'm playing a iii chord, I play a flattened 9th? Just a guess...
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#1250746 - 08/17/09 11:34 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs

I think people use the word 'mode' to mean different things and this is getting me confused. I need to go and check something out before I take this any further.


Forgive me for FUMOPping, and please bear with me if I am totally wrong, or just stating the blindingly obvious.

I'm trying to work out modes and how they work. I generally start with Wikipedia, so I read this:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dorian_mode

Now what I've done is to take 3 of the tunes Wiki notes as being in Dorian mode (Scarborough Fair, Drunken Sailor and Eleanor Rigby - I could sing all of these songs long before I ever heard of modes). I've taken them all to the piano and, yes they are in Dorian mode. I tried to make them fit a minor key, but that didn't work. Compared to the natural minor, they have a raised 6th.

So I can accept that these songs exist in a scale that goes: do re ma fa so la ta do, and that this is called the Dorian mode. That is fine.

But then when someone says something like: "play 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 11, 13 and you end up with a mode of the scale" - I get terribly confused. Because here 'mode' just seems to mean - the notes of the key, but not necessarily as you learned them as a scale.

Jazzwee, please don't think I'm picking on you, I've noticed lots of people on this forum using 'mode' like this. smile But if you could give me some idea of whether I'm headed in the right direction, that would be great!
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#1250801 - 08/17/09 01:27 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
Jazz+ Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 08/07/04
Posts: 838
Loc: Banned
Go look at tunes like Naima and Infant Eyes. Practically every chord requires a different mode for improvisation.

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#1250807 - 08/17/09 01:37 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: Jazz+]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: Jazz+
Go look at tunes like Naima and Infant Eyes. Practically every chord requires a different mode for improvisation.


What do you mean by 'mode'?
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#1250837 - 08/17/09 02:30 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
KlinkKlonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 351
just remember, zoot, that when you play dorian modes NEVER to use chromatic enclosures.

greetings

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#1250865 - 08/17/09 03:44 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: KlinkKlonk]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: KlinkKlonk
just remember, zoot, that when you play dorian modes NEVER to use chromatic enclosures.


ROFL! I promise - I will never, ever use chromatic enclosures, not a single one, at least, not when playing in dorian!

Edit: If anyone else would like to confuse me further by referring me to other music or features of theory that are unfamiliar, now is the time! smile

Perhaps I should also add that I am not Zoot (I lack the requisite green face and blue hair), but that I am quoting him in this clip:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CgfZVNv6w2E


Edited by ten left thumbs (08/17/09 04:13 PM)
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#1250922 - 08/17/09 05:27 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: flat13sharp11]
VideoTiger Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 07/28/09
Posts: 14
I don’t know Levine’s book, but I have studied from a few others.

Truth is these are not easy concepts to digest and I doubt anyone can come up with a written explanation that you can immediately digest and apply. Jazz harmony can be difficult to understand, even in you have a good ear, there is no other way about it.

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#1250989 - 08/17/09 07:03 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: ten left thumbs
Originally Posted By: Jazz+
Go look at tunes like Naima and Infant Eyes. Practically every chord requires a different mode for improvisation.


What do you mean by 'mode'?


TLT, I think this discussion went several steps beyond what I thought you understood. To understand modes, just go to your keyboard and play a C scale, and start a C. So there are eighth notes you just played.

Now, play the same scale, but start a D. Different sounding right? Like a minor. This is the "Dorian Mode".

Next play the same scale, but start at E. On and on until you get to B.

So this shows that a scale has some interesting sounds in it depending on what the starting note is.

This gets you the modes of the Major Scale. Then there are modes of other scales, like the Melodic Minor scale, which is used a lot in Jazz.

Now once you've heard what I'm demonstrating here, you'll need to go to Wikipedia and read up on the modes. Levine dedicates a lot of pages to this.

Let's now go back to the Dorian mode above (second mode of major scale). Notice that every other note of the mode is just 1-3-5-7 of the chord. So you already have half of each mode by finding the chord tones. All you need to know is what's in between.

It is quite possible to play well if you know all the chord tones without ever knowing modes, since you automatically already know 4. Often there are just 3 more notes to figure out. The 9,11,13 (flat, sharp or natural). I personally think in chord tones and not in "scales" or "modes" although I understand exactly how it is derived. My problem with teaching modes is that it can be misunderstood to mean that one should improvise in a scalar fashion, which sounds really bad.
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#1250998 - 08/17/09 07:32 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: jazzwee]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
TLT, I just read the other stuff you posted and I think you understand it.

Here's a simple chart that shows the application in terms of the chord.

http://www.apassion4jazz.net/modes.html

and this shows, what scales one would use with what chords:

http://www.apassion4jazz.net/jazz-chords-scales.html

Again, although I explain it here, I don't want you to get to caught with the details of memorizing all this. Some of these modes are rare in Jazz.

The common ones from the Major scale (outside of Ionian) are Dorian (ii chords), Mixolydian (V chords), Lydian (Maj7 and #11 chords) and from the Melodic minor modes, Altered (ALT chords), Whole Tone (#5 chords), Diminished Whole Tone (Half Diminished chords).

The common major scale modes are self explanatory. The melodic minor modes have more unusual shapes.
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#1251219 - 08/18/09 08:55 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
TLT, I just read the other stuff you posted and I think you understand it.


Yes, I think so too, otherwise I would just give up!

Quote:

Again, although I explain it here, I don't want you to get to caught with the details of memorizing all this.


No fear.

Quote:

The common ones from the Major scale (outside of Ionian) are Dorian (ii chords), Mixolydian (V chords), Lydian (Maj7 and #11 chords) and from the Melodic minor modes, Altered (ALT chords), Whole Tone (#5 chords), Diminished Whole Tone (Half Diminished chords).


OK, answer me this. When you talk about using a particular mode over a particular chord, is the music modulating with each chord change? Does do (as in 'do a deer') change, along with the sharps and flats? I'm just finding this difficult to believe.

I think jazzers are using the word 'mode' in a different sense from that described in Wikipedia. Jazz has it's own language, and I can accept that, I'd just like to know if that's what's happening. smile
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#1251261 - 08/18/09 10:18 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
pauldav1d Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 14
Loc: NOLA
Ten Thumbs- I think you are right to say that improvisors and Wiki look at modes in different ways. I want to try and address a couple of things from your post by relaying how I've used modes.

When I IMPROVISE on a tune in CMajor, I often "blanket" all the CMaj sounds with melodies from the same scale. Dminor7, Gdominant7, CMaj7 all lead my ears to the do-re-mi of the CMaj scale. Whether a melody starts on 'do', or 're', or 'mi' is irrelevant. It's all CMaj to my ears. TO ME, that means that I am (perhaps unintentionally, and probably simultaneously) applying to the CMAJ tonality ALL of these modes: C ionian, D dorian, E phrygian, F lydian, G mixolydian, A aeolian, B whatever this one is...

When I PRACTICE, it helps me to organize (and not forget things) if I use modes. I want to make sure my fingers can play CMAJ melodies beginning on any note and ending on any note. Thus, it is helpful when practicing the CMAJ SCALE, to practice this scale through all of its MODES (ie - all of its starting positions!) I play a C Ionian mode in 4 octaves, then a D dorian mode in 4 octaves, etc. This covers every starting position in the CMAJ SCALE.

When musicians assign a MODE to a chord type, generally, they are just being specific as to which key the melodies they are playing are derived.

When a player references D Dorian, he/she means melodies based on the sound of CMAJ. SO, a Dminor7 chord can be articulated with notes from CMAJ.

When a player references D Aeolian, melodies will come from the sound of the FMAJ scale. Here, Dminor7 can be articulated with that "raised 6" sound, the Bb note in my example.

Is this helpful? Please help me clarify - I'm quite passionate about "clarification"!

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#1251291 - 08/18/09 11:12 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: pauldav1d]
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
TLT, you use the term "modulating" in a way that I didn't understand.

Just to be clear, moving from mode to mode within the same key is not modulating. Going from | Am7 D7 | GMaj7 | which is | Dorian Mixolydian | Ionian | is still in the key of G.

Now some people will just look at this as the key of "G" and not be conscious of shifting modes.

But that's one approach. During "PRACTICE", I definitely see more of chord tones floating inside the scale and extensions in between. Not everyone looks at it this way. This is what I was taught and allows me to think about chord tones on downbeats.

Now in "PERFORMANCE", I don't think about any of this at all. I'm just thinking about melodies. In fact, when I'm playing, I'm usually just listening and the training of chord tones on down beats allows me to predict what sound will come out. I'm not being led by my fingers.

This is a different practice style than what PaulDav1d said above at least for me. Now in performance, I think we're on the same wavelength. I will just see key of G and the G scale. It would be very unproductive to be thinking of "rules" while one improvises. And that's what I did when I was starting. Strangely enough, things happen to your brain and it becomes automatic. I think the "practice" style affects ear training IMHO.


Edited by jazzwee (08/18/09 11:20 AM)
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#1251301 - 08/18/09 11:27 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: jazzwee]
pauldav1d Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 14
Loc: NOLA
Interesting Jazzwee...

Quote:
During "PRACTICE", I definitely see more of chord tones floating inside the scale and extensions in between.


What's an exercise you work on that would help me see this concept more clearly?

Thanks!

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#1251318 - 08/18/09 12:02 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: pauldav1d]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Got it, thanks guys! smile That's all I needed.
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#1251322 - 08/18/09 12:12 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: pauldav1d]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
Pauldav1d, my teacher has a unique sound. Clearly more melodic and less chromaticism. The way he has taught me is to land on the chord tones on the downbeats. Basically everything is done with intent. If I play something that seems to not be the chord tones (and maybe sounding outside), then it must be that I'm reharmonizing and stating a different chord. In practice, the harmony has to always be clear even without a rhythm section.

Hal Galper's book "Forward Motion" explains the approach well but the book supported what I was taught. I didn't start with the book.

Because of this concept, it became paramount to think of Chord tones vs extensions, since extensions get used only on the upbeats. So once I had to think this way, suddenly the concept of following "modes" seemed less significant. As I said earlier, the main chord tones + extensions are in essence the notes in a Mode.

Now I don't mean to imply here that I'm taught to play Vertically at all times since that is the implication in practice. But this was the foundation of the practice. If I played one note off the harmony, it would be brought to my attention. As my teacher said, this is "what separates the men from the boys in jazz". A lot of exactness.

Once this was embedded in my playing from practice, the focus was more on Horizontal playing. But of course this is tune by tune. Right now I'm working on "Very Early" (Bill Evans) and I can't really grasp anything horizontal with this tune. But my teacher does tell me to spend a lot of time understanding the framework of a tune and not just blindly play the changes. I'm sure the purpose being to look for some horizontal theme. Not always possible but at least I get the approach.
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#1251396 - 08/18/09 02:33 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
That's very interesting, jazzwee, I'm learning a lot here.

Now, at risk of being greedy in trying to sort two problems in one day, there is something I would like to confirm with the jazzers here. This was told me by my son's guitar teacher (not a jazz musician, but bluffs jazz!). He said for jazz I should learn modes of the melodic minor. I played what I thought was a melodic minor scale and he said, no, you need to do it 'ascending' both ways.

So I end up with a scale with raised 6th and 7th, but flattened 3rd. Basically, a major scale with a minor 3rd.

As jazzwee had just mentioned the melodic minor above, I thought I would check here I'm doing the right one before practicing it.
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#1251402 - 08/18/09 02:42 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
Yes TLT, as I said, the melodic minor is commonly used in the chords I mentioned earlier (ALT, #5, Half Dim). And you have correct information on the accidentals.

But personally, aside from making sure I understand the shape in all keys, I don't really worry about fingering issues here myself. Some may disagree but I hardly ever play a scale.

And again to reiterate how I practice this, I look at the chord shape and possibly I might arpeggiate the chord all the way to its extensions (1-3-5-7-9-11-13), so although the notes are the mode for that particular chord, I make sure I view it as chord + extensions. This is my method and personally find it easier to make melodies with this kind of thinking.

Bill Evans plays a lot like this.
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#1251495 - 08/18/09 04:55 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
Melodic minor - got it.

Arpeggios and scales - interesting. I may add this 'scarpeggio' to my daily routine.

Looking back, I think I learned a lot by doing scales. I certainly learned theory through them. I could never really take theory as theory - but if I play and hear it, then that's fine.

Btw, the jazz site you referenced is a little gold mine! smile
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#1251522 - 08/18/09 05:48 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
TLT, Remember our little discussion in the other thread about theory? This is what I meant about theory being important, to understand harmony to every chord and extensions. I didn't mean that every one needs to be a "modes" expert. Heck, even my teacher who's a world class pianist wouldn't necessarily remember each mode. In fact, he learned it later when he began to teach. He did know everything about every chord and what to play though.
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#1251553 - 08/18/09 06:53 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: jazzwee]
KlinkKlonk Offline
Full Member

Registered: 05/19/09
Posts: 351
Originally Posted By: jazzwee

Now I don't mean to imply here that I'm taught to play Vertically at all times since that is the implication in practice. But this was the foundation of the practice. If I played one note off the harmony, it would be brought to my attention. As my teacher said, this is "what separates the men from the boys in jazz". A lot of exactness.



What about the girls

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#1251566 - 08/18/09 07:18 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: KlinkKlonk]
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: KlinkKlonk
Originally Posted By: jazzwee

Now I don't mean to imply here that I'm taught to play Vertically at all times since that is the implication in practice. But this was the foundation of the practice. If I played one note off the harmony, it would be brought to my attention. As my teacher said, this is "what separates the men from the boys in jazz". A lot of exactness.



What about the girls


OK. The PC version: The grownups from the kids? wink

Of course I'm quoting so don't want to put words in somebody else's mouth smile


Edited by jazzwee (08/18/09 07:19 PM)
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#1251774 - 08/19/09 03:58 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: jazzwee]
ten left thumbs Offline
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Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
I was wondering whether I was to be a boy or a man but was too afraid to ask! smile

We would say: separates the sheep from the goats.
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#1251809 - 08/19/09 08:36 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
pauldav1d Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/16/09
Posts: 14
Loc: NOLA
The word 'scarpeggio' made me think of another exercise I learned from a freak of nature saxophone teacher, Ed Peterson. And I used this specifically on those Melodic Minor scales - a major scale with a minor 3rd - but it can be applied to any and every scale. For the example, I'm using CMAJ:

Ed would ARPPEGIATE the chord ascending in 8th notes: In CMaj: C-E-G-B
He'd then descend the SCALE, also in 8ths: A-G-F-E

The exercise then repeats without pause from the second mode (arpeggiating a Dmin7 in this example): D-F-A-C
And descend down the scale: B-A-G-F

Leading right into an arpeggio based on the third mode, or the chord Emin7: E-G-B-D
And descending the scale: C-B-A-G

The exercise continues through all modes (or through all the DIATONIC 7th chords). Ascending the arpeggio, descending the scale...sounds like a really inside-the-harmony bebop drill.

And of course, all the usual permutations are available if you then DESCEND the arpeggio and ASCEND the scale etc.

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#1251836 - 08/19/09 09:53 AM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: pauldav1d]
ten left thumbs Offline
3000 Post Club Member

Registered: 05/22/09
Posts: 3328
Loc: Scotland
That sounds like the intro to Mr Sandman! I can only do two and then I need to sing in 4-part harmony. smile
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#1252153 - 08/19/09 07:31 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: ten left thumbs]
jazzwee Offline
6000 Post Club Member

Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 6990
Loc: So. California
PaulDav1d, that's pretty similiar to what I do although I was practicing it ascending only, 1-3-5-7, 9-11-13-1. But regardless of the pattern, it helped me always visualize the chords vs. extensions as being inside the scale, even of a melodic minor mode. Major scales are more obvious.

Reminds me of the book Goal-Note Method by Shelly Berg. If you visualize your goal note (a chord tone) then you can easily visualize your approaches to it if the mapping of major chord tones to extensions is clear in one's head and practiced.

But like you, I just hear it now. I don't have to think about it. Various methods of teaching. In my case, I never did any singing nor do I work on "licks". I guess we try something till it works.
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#1254552 - 08/23/09 12:25 PM Re: Jazz Piano by Mark Levine re:modes- confusing?? [Re: etcetra]
thinkingMusic Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 08/22/09
Posts: 16
Loc: Canada
Another $0.02 on Mark Levine's texts: for me, Levine is pointing toward a large -- and seemingly accurate -- harmonic vocabulary, which he attempts to explain in terms of the chord-scale relationship ideas that have been circulating over the last fifteen or twenty years. The texts' value seems to lie in their being an almost encyclopedic survey of recent common practice. I personally think they're a wonderful achievement, and that they can probably steer readers toward at least some musical ideas they haven't previously encountered.

As far as his 'theory' goes, though, I find it seriously lacking. To me, good theory attempts to find the connections between innovations and their precedents, and to look for the musical logic (even of a new sort) that underlies a musical event; Levine's rarely penetrates the surface, and potentially leaves the student burdened with a series of irrelevancies and misconceptions that can only complicate his/her search for musical knowledge.

That being said, though, I still admire his books, and congratulate his accomplishment. smile

Michael Leibson
www.thinkingmusic.ca

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