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#1312921 - 11/26/09 06:53 PM Fake book question
MiM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 543
Loc: Pennsylvania
I started learning to play from fake books (can't do the real thing, so I settle for the fake stuff cool )

Here is this measure from a simple melody in 4/4 with 4 quarter notes (B B C B) with the following chord symbols above each note, respectively: G7 G#dim E+ E7.

How would you handle that? I can play each chord below each RH note, but is that good? I play ballad style, but trying that here with 4 chords in one measure seems odd. In case you want to know, this is a portion from Aura Lee where it says Sunshine came a long, with the word "long" in the next measure. How would you personally approach this? Ignore the chords and do something else? Play only some notes of each chord? Shift some of the notes from each chord to the melody and play some chosen chord for the entire measure? Any ideas?
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#1313133 - 11/27/09 05:10 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
alberto Offline
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Registered: 03/26/07
Posts: 41
Loc: Brescia - Italy
Play all the four chords, but try to find a good voicing. You haven't to play each note of the chords but only the ones that could sound good wink. Try to play in spread position (I don't know if it's correct in English in Italian we call that "parti late"), dropped position ecc...
E+ E7 comes from the melody, so you can keep E7 without the fifth and let the melody play.
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#1313135 - 11/27/09 05:13 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
You get that sort of thing a lot in fakebooks -- there's an original set of fully-elaborated left-hand notes which make sense when played on the piano, but when translated to strict chords makes little sense.

The solution here, if it's practical, is to look at the original score (if there is one). I strongly doubt that the composer intended the chords G7/G#dim/E+/E7 to be played one after the other, and in root position -- that would sound horrible.

Lacking the score, I guess you'll have to reverse-engineer the original harmony as best you can, by trying out the marked chords in different inversion, probably with a bit of flexibility in the exact notes, until you find a pattern that works.

For example, if you play G7 as G-B-D-F', then you can move the bass to G# and thus play the G#dim as G#-B-D-F', then change the D to C (natural) to give you E+ (probably releasing the F), then move the C to a D to give you E7.

That's the complete progression with only one finger change between chords smile But it's just guesswork, and I'd have to sit at my piano and fiddle about to find out if there's a nicer way to do it.

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#1313160 - 11/27/09 07:24 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: kevinb]
MiM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 543
Loc: Pennsylvania
Thanks alberto, I understand what you are saying and it makes sense, but see below for my main dilemma.

Originally Posted By: kevinb
...The solution here, if it's practical, is to look at the original score (if there is one). I strongly doubt that the composer intended the chords G7/G#dim/E+/E7 to be played one after the other, and in root position -- that would sound horrible.



Do composers write chords for fake books? Or is it someone's interpretation of the composer's original score? My impression (and I'm new to all of this) is that someone with a good ear picks out the melody and assigns his/her own chords as he/she sees fit, is this about right?

What I'm hoping to discover is that the way to play from a fake book, is that you simply play the melody and use the chords to play your own left hand style, whatever that might be. But as I go through these series of chords it looks like there is no way to play your LH style by adhering to those chords! In other words, it seems that the chords may improve the harmony, but a steady rhythm seems to go out the window!
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#1313170 - 11/27/09 08:07 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me

Do composers write chords for fake books? Or is it someone's interpretation of the composer's original score? My impression (and I'm new to all of this) is that someone with a good ear picks out the melody and assigns his/her own chords as he/she sees fit, is this about right?


It depends -- sometimes the author will just work out reasonable chords based on listening and a good understanding of functional harmony. Other times, he or she will try to interpret another score. Or some combination of these approaches is used. I don't think this is usually done by composers, whether it's modern music or ancient, but by editors. Fakebooks vary enormously in their ability to capture subtle harmonies, and sometimes being over-zealous here can be counter-productive.

In the end, the performer has to use some judgement when interpreting fakebooks, and that only comes with practice. In my view, trying to play four, four-note chords in the left hand, in root position, when they're only a semi-quaver apart is likely to sound odd, rhythmically and harmonically. And if you're doing this prima vista you don't have time to experiment with different chord voicings. With a lot of practice, you might be able to revoice the chords on the fly with reasonable results, but otherwise you'll have to be content with getting the essential features of the harmony down.

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#1313488 - 11/27/09 06:26 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
Exalted Wombat Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
The G#dim worries me. Are you sure it isn't a misprint?

I think there are basically just two chords in this bar, G and E. The bass line could pleasantly walk down to E via F natural. E+ merely reminds us that the melody is C, before resolving to a plainer E chord with the D.

So - LH: G,G,F,E. Something quite simple in the RH I think - perhaps just 2-note chords: BD,BD,CE,GD. Is a G# essential in the E chords? I think not, but try it both ways and see what you prefer!

What you DON'T need (and what you very rarely DO need when playing piano) is RH; melody, LH: block chord. I suggest you get some elementary piano books and discover some simple textures that work well. You say you "can't do the real thing". Rubbish! Change that attitude to "I haven't yet worked much at doing it properly, but I will!" Good luck, and do let us know how you get along.

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#1313490 - 11/27/09 06:32 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Swingin' Barb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Is a G# essential in the E chords? I think not, but try it both ways and see what you prefer!

Yes, a G# is essential. It is the 3rd of the chord.
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#1314100 - 11/28/09 10:08 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: Swingin' Barb]
Exalted Wombat Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
Yup, I know that by the theory book an E major chord isn't fully defined without a G#. But play the voicing I suggested, and I'm sure you'll agree it sounds fine without one, while still managing to strongly imply the E chord. Sometimes melodic voice leading and maintaining a consistent texture is more important than filling in every note of a chord.

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#1314230 - 11/29/09 05:21 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: Exalted Wombat]
MiM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 543
Loc: Pennsylvania
Thanks everyone again. I'll try Exalted Wombat suggestion onr sticking to two-note chords sometimes.

What I'm looking for (and hoping to find) is that there would be an automatic way of playing these chords so that you don't have to take a paper and pencil and plot a way to conveniently play each chord, and make it easy to play before and after each chord. I know this is all about voicing, which I'm now just beginning to study, but it does look like quite a long journey!
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#1314265 - 11/29/09 08:57 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me

What I'm looking for (and hoping to find) is that there would be an automatic way of playing these chords so that you don't have to take a paper and pencil and plot a way to conveniently play each chord, and make it easy to play before and after each chord.


I don't think there is. Playing from fakebooks, particularly prima vista is something that takes a lot of experience and practice to make a good job of.

My experience is that it's much easier to learn to make a tolerable job of playing from fakebooks -- if you have a good ear a good memory you can make progress quite quickly. And if you're accompanying, or playing in a band, that may be all that's needed. But to make a really good job of playing form a fake book isn't necessarily any easier, in my experience, than learning `proper' sight-reading from a score.

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#1314267 - 11/29/09 09:01 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me

What I'm looking for (and hoping to find) is that there would be an automatic way of playing these chords so that you don't have to take a paper and pencil and plot a way to conveniently play each chord, and make it easy to play before and after each chord.


I don't think there is. Playing from fakebooks, particularly prima vista is something that takes a lot of experience and practice to make a good job of.

My experience is that it's much easier to learn to make a tolerable job of playing from fakebooks -- if you have a good ear a good memory you can make progress quite quickly. And if you're accompanying, or playing in a band, that may be all that's needed. But to make a really good job of playing form a fake book isn't necessarily any easier, in my experience, than learning `proper' sight-reading from a score.

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#1314273 - 11/29/09 09:20 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: kevinb]
Swingin' Barb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: kevinb
I don't think there is. Playing from fakebooks, particularly prima vista is something that takes a lot of experience and practice to make a good job of.

I agree wholeheartedly with what you are saying here. After learning the basic fakebook reading recipe through Sudnow, I am now spending a good deal of time listening to solo ballad playing. Listening in a way that I have never listened before. It's all there in the music. We just have to know how to put those sounds into our own play. It's an adventure, to say the least.

I know the OP on this thread is into ballads. I would like to recommend a solo piano album that I am really enjoying -- Keith Jarrett's "Melody at Night, With You". I recently downloaded the CD. You can hear snippets of the songs here:

http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_ss?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-music&field-keywords=melody+at+night+with+you++jarrett&x=0&y=0

Barb
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#1314276 - 11/29/09 09:25 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: Swingin' Barb]
MiM Offline
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Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 543
Loc: Pennsylvania
Thanks Barb, but you know my opinion of Keith Jarrett, and you want me listen to him? I'll do it just for you smile
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#1314281 - 11/29/09 09:34 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
Swingin' Barb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Yes, MiM, I know you don't care for Jarrett's grunting and body movements, but, this album will shock you. Yes, please take a listen, just for me 3hearts , and tell me what you think.
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#1314283 - 11/29/09 09:38 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me

What I'm looking for (and hoping to find) is that there would be an automatic way of playing these chords so that you don't have to take a paper and pencil and plot a way to conveniently play each chord, and make it easy to play before and after each chord.


It becomes automatic with practice and experience. You glance at a chord progression, recognize the patterns and your fingers go to the right place. Rather like sight-reading full notation.

Work at reading and playing from full notation. It's easier - you're told exactly what to do. When you're fluent playing other people's arrangements, you'll be better equipped to create your own. Whoever told you playing from a lead sheet is EASIER was lying :-)

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#1314288 - 11/29/09 09:51 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Swingin' Barb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Whoever told you playing from a lead sheet is EASIER was lying :-)


Great thread here. I am glad the truth is finally coming out regarding the myth that fakebook reading is easier than playing from full notation. I don't feel you need to be a very good reader of those full notation arrangements, though. Just having some experience at the piano -- covering Alfred's Adult Level 1 should get you to the point of starting a journey into fakebook playing.
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#1314299 - 11/29/09 10:20 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: Swingin' Barb]
Swingin' Barb Offline
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Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
So as not to add confusion to an already confusing subject, I would like to clarify what I said above:

myth that fakebook reading is easier than playing from full notation.


What I am talking about is the learning process for both fakebook reading and reading from full notation. Both are skills that take a lot of work.

BUT -- and here is the kicker -- Now that I do read from the fakebook, I avoid doing any reading of full scores. For me, it is much easier to play from the fakebook. I proved this to myself by playing and recording on my digital piano. I made a printout of what I played. I almost fell over looking at the printout. There was no way I would be able to tackle what I had played if given the full notation to read. Has anyone else found this to be true?

Barb
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#1314307 - 11/29/09 10:47 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7085
Loc: So. California
Originally Posted By: Music_in_Me


Here is this measure from a simple melody in 4/4 with 4 quarter notes (B B C B) with the following chord symbols above each note, respectively: G7 G#dim E+ E7.



This makes sense as is and it appears (without knowing the tune) that you have to pay attention to the melody and the chord quality being modified by these chords. In ballads in particular, it is best to play all the noted chords for some inner movement.

Going back to this particular music, note that between G7 and G#dim, you are being asked to keep the 3rd of the chords constant, while providing bass movement (G to G#). What it is doing here is obviously modulating to a different key and G#dim is one of those ways it is done.

So B (3rd) stays put while moving the bassline to G# begins the transition to the key of E.

Then the melody note is the 5th of the next two chords. E+ has a 5th of C and then it moves down to B as the 5th of E7.

In both sets of chords some parts of the voicing moves while the others remain constant. This is very typical and that's how these are analyzed.

So as far as what is important to voice, obviously the roots are important here as they are key to the modulation. In the first two chords (G, G#), all you need to worry about are the 7ths since the 3rds are handled by the melody.

The E chords will need the 3rd to clarify the chord qualities.

Note something interesting here: the G# stays constant for 3 beats. You might see if that can be the bottom note all throughout for voice leading (trial and error here since it all depends on the melody).

At the bare minimum in leadsheets, you attempt to define the 7th and 3rd of the chord if the melody doesn't state it. And then you define 5th of chords when you get into cases of +5 or b5.
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#1314553 - 11/29/09 04:09 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: jazzwee]
MiM Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 07/09/09
Posts: 543
Loc: Pennsylvania
I will sit at the piano and re-read your post jazzwee, as i think you raised some very interesting points...thanks.
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#1314681 - 11/29/09 08:07 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: MiM]
Exalted Wombat Offline
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Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
Jazzwee - can you refer to the actual melody under discussion - "Aura Lee"? It's easy to find, and is of a simple folk-tune type. I think you'll be as bemused by the G#dim as I was, though if you can find a justification for it, please share!

Not sure how you read the G# in E+, E7 as signalling a modulation to E major? If it was taking us anywhere it would probably be A minor. But in this case there's no modulation, just a simple progression firmly within the key of G. G,E7,Am7,D7,G (or even Bm7,Bb9,A9,Ab7,G) doesn't modulate to any new key, they're all chords functioning in the key of G.

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#1314690 - 11/29/09 08:24 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: Swingin' Barb]
fingers Offline
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Registered: 02/08/04
Posts: 799
Loc: Westchester, NY
[quote=Swingin' For me, it is much easier to play from the fakebook. I proved this to myself by playing and recording on my digital piano. I made a printout of what I played. I almost fell over looking at the printout. There was no way I would be able to tackle what I had played if given the full notation to read. Has anyone else found this to be true?

Barb [/quote]


Oh yes!!!!! For me, absolutely.

fingers
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#1314691 - 11/29/09 08:27 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: Exalted Wombat]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7085
Loc: So. California
Wombat, I don't know the tune. Don't even know where this particular snippet comes from. Did I say where it was modulating to? If so I misspoke. However, even in your example, even if it went to E7 for a beat, it has in fact modulated. Though perhaps returning. E7 does not belong in the G scale as you know.
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#1314700 - 11/29/09 08:37 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: fingers]
Swingin' Barb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: fingers
Oh yes!!!!! For me, absolutely.

Glad to hear I am not alone in my exuberance over this way of making music. For me, it is the ONLY way! thumb
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#1314704 - 11/29/09 08:41 PM Re: Fake book question [Re: jazzwee]
Swingin' Barb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
Wombat, I don't know the tune.

Jazzwee - Remember Elvis Presley singing Love Me Tender back in the dark ages? grin That song is based on the melody of Aura Lee.
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#1314915 - 11/30/09 07:23 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: jazzwee]
Exalted Wombat Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 02/28/09
Posts: 1197
Loc: London UK
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
Wombat, I don't know the tune. Don't even know where this particular snippet comes from. Did I say where it was modulating to? If so I misspoke. However, even in your example, even if it went to E7 for a beat, it has in fact modulated. Though perhaps returning. E7 does not belong in the G scale as you know.


You feel that one chromatic chord implies a modulation? C,C#dim,Dm7,G7. Do we ever leave the key of C?

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#1314930 - 11/30/09 08:11 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: Exalted Wombat]
Studio Joe Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 03/28/07
Posts: 1803
Loc: Decatur, Texas
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
Wombat, I don't know the tune. Don't even know where this particular snippet comes from. Did I say where it was modulating to? If so I misspoke. However, even in your example, even if it went to E7 for a beat, it has in fact modulated. Though perhaps returning. E7 does not belong in the G scale as you know.


You feel that one chromatic chord implies a modulation? C,C#dim,Dm7,G7. Do we ever leave the key of C?


You're right. In your example the tonal center is still C.

E7 in the key of G is often used as a secondary dominant as in a progression of E7, A7, D7, G.

IMO, if it doesn't establish a new tonal center, it is not called a modulation.
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#1314931 - 11/30/09 08:11 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: Exalted Wombat]
kevinb Offline
1000 Post Club Member

Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Exalted Wombat
Originally Posted By: jazzwee
Wombat, I don't know the tune. Don't even know where this particular snippet comes from. Did I say where it was modulating to? If so I misspoke. However, even in your example, even if it went to E7 for a beat, it has in fact modulated. Though perhaps returning. E7 does not belong in the G scale as you know.


You feel that one chromatic chord implies a modulation? C,C#dim,Dm7,G7. Do we ever leave the key of C?


I believe that whole doctoral dissertations have been written on this point alone smile

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#1314935 - 11/30/09 08:22 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: Swingin' Barb]
kevinb Offline
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Registered: 09/18/09
Posts: 1565
Originally Posted By: Swingin' Barb

BUT -- and here is the kicker -- Now that I do read from the fakebook, I avoid doing any reading of full scores. For me, it is much easier to play from the fakebook. I proved this to myself by playing and recording on my digital piano. I made a printout of what I played. I almost fell over looking at the printout. There was no way I would be able to tackle what I had played if given the full notation to read. Has anyone else found this to be true?


Sure. If you asked me to accompany a singer in a piece of music that was completely unfamiliar to me, there's no doubt I'd make a better job of it with a lead sheet rather than a score.

The problem is that now that I can play from a score tolerably well, I realise that the composed harmony nearly always [/i]sounds better[/i] than I can make up on the fly using a lead sheet. This doesn't hugely surprise me -- a composer working at leisure ought to be able to produce a more convincing harmonic accompaniment than I can do on the hoof.

The better I get at prima vista sight reading, the more I find the lead sheet method unsatisfactory smirk

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#1314975 - 11/30/09 10:17 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: kevinb]
Swingin' Barb Offline
500 Post Club Member

Registered: 01/21/06
Posts: 889
Loc: North Carolina
Originally Posted By: kevinb
The better I get at prima vista sight reading, the more I find the lead sheet method unsatisfactory smirk

Kevin ā€“ I see where you are coming from. I play solo piano and just love the creativity that fakebook reading allows. I enjoy working up my own arrangements ā€“ experimenting with different harmonies, voicings, and movement techniques. Iā€˜m still a baby with this stuff.

By reading these threads, I see that we each find our own niche where we feel most comfortable musically. It is great that there are so many ways to have fun at the piano. The trick is for each of us to find that path that will lead to all this fun. grin

Barb
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A Sudnow Method Fanatic
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#1314998 - 11/30/09 11:03 AM Re: Fake book question [Re: Swingin' Barb]
jazzwee Offline
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Registered: 04/25/07
Posts: 7085
Loc: So. California
You define it your own way guys, if it makes you happy. If you happen to be soloing on this changes, even if the E7 is there for a microsecond, YOU HAVE TO USE A DIFFERENT SCALE. So to say it is not a modulation is fine for you. But to a soloist, the applicable scale will be different.

With this kind of logic, I can name you many tunes with dominants changing every two beats going at 300 bpm. What are you going to play then in a solo? Stick to the original scale?

I know what you're going to say, this is not jazz, etc. Well as long as you don't sing some melody or do any kind of vocal harmony inconsistent with a new scale, I'm sure you'll be happy.

But in my book, even for Cocktail piano, it is a modulation. Try to do some arpeggio flourish with a G major scale on E7.
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