Jazz Theory Resources: Volume 1 & 2


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Seconds can be minor, major or augmented. Thirds are usually either minor or major. Octaves, fourths and fifths are diminished, perfect or augmented. Sixths can be minor, major, and sometimes augmented. Sevenths are usually minor or major. All intervals can be inverted as shown below. An inverted third becomes a sixth and a major becomes a minor, so a major third inverts to a minor sixth.

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Spelling makes an considerable difference in analyzing intervals. The pair of intervals and their inversions below will sound the same, but are spelled and should be analyzed distinctly. An augmented second has the same number of half steps as a minor third, but the letter names of the pitches decide the numerical interval. Any C to any D is the interval of a second and therefore inverts to a seventh; any C to any E is a third and therefore inverts to a sixth.

A2 d7 m3 M6. Intervals and spelling will be easier to understand with discussion of scales. Scales are made of intervals, and intervals come from scales. The major scale can be defined as intervals relating to tonic or intervals relating to adjacent pitches. In order to create the same order of intervals starting on F, it is necessary to lower the Bn to Bb.

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Most scales have one pitch for each letter, so there are only seven pitches in the scale. It is for this reason that Bb is used instead of A in the F major scale regardless of ascending or descending. This avoids having an An and an A in the same scale. Any additional chromatic pitches that might occur it the key of F would follow the principle that altered notes want to continue in the direction in which they have been altered.

In order to create the same scale starting on G,. A natural minor scale is related to a major scale in the sense that they share the same pitches and therefore the same key signature. An minor is the relative minor of C major. A natural minor scale can be parallel to a major key if they share the same tonic. C minor is the parallel minor to C major. Parallel minor can be created by lowering the third, sixth and seventh degrees of the major scale. The natural minor scale does not have a leading tone. In order to create a dominant chord and harmonize minor keys, the seventh degree must be raised.

This creates the leading tone and the interval of an augmented second between the sixth and seventh degrees. The augmented second has the same number of half steps as a minor third, but will not sound like a minor third in the scales below. The altered leading tone is added in order to create harmony with a dominant chord, and the scale is therefore called harmonic minor. C Harmonic Minor: A2. It is a natural tendency to raise the sixth and seventh degrees when ascending from the dominant to the tonic and lower them when descending.

This principle was addressed concerning chromatic scales: raised pitches want to ascend, lowered pitches want to descend. A Melodic Minor:. There are other possible keys. Continuing around the circle would yield the keys of C major with seven sharps and Cb major with seven flats. Using the parallel keys is advisable whenever possible. Most would prefer Db 5bs to C 7 s and B 5 s to Cb 7bs. The names were derived from their relationship to tonic. This is important to understand as it shows the importance of learning pitches as they relate to the home pitch, and not as they relate to adjacent pitches.

This principle will have great significance regarding hearing tonal music. A subdominant is not named for being the pitch below the dominant, rather it is named for because it is the pitch a fifth below the tonic. Dominant Mediant Supertonic. Here are a few common errors. Correcting them will make homework assignments, solo transcriptions, arrangements and compositions easier to read.

Correct stems: Incorrect stems:. If two notes occur at the same rhythmic place, it should be visually reflected on the page. The notes in the second measure below are not aligned vertically as they are in the first measure, making it difficult to tell which notes are to be played together. Correct vertical alignment: Incorrect vertical alignment:.


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If they are placed arbitrarily before the note, as in the second measure, it makes reading difficult. The accidental should never follow the note: in a paragraph we may write Bb, but in the staff it should be written bB. Accidentals should follow the logic of the chromatic scale. For raised notes: use sharps, for lowered notes: use flats. Accidentals that indicate modulations should be used when appropriate rather than their enharmonic equivalents. The first two measures of the example below are drawn from a published transcription of a Charlie Parker improvisation. The second two measures is a preferable version.

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The change in the first measure from Dn to Db might seem correct since the flat lowers D. However, the C is preferable to the Db. The C is a tone that indicates the modulation from the key of F to the key of D minor, is the leading tone to D minor, and is the third of the indicated A7 chord. A Db is meaningless in this context. Would it be the diminished fourth of the A7 chord and the lowered tonic of D minor? The Ab, as a lowered note, wants to move down. It slows down reading when the Ab is followed by an An: the Ab indicated downward motion which was contradicted by the An.

The An should have had a courtesy accidental in the first two measures. The courtesy accidental is unnecessary with the use of G. A Gn followed by a G indicates upward resolution, and allows anticipation of the An.

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For instrumental writing in common time, beam eighth notes in groups of two or four, and beam sixteenth notes in groups of four. The time signature 6 of eighth notes as 3 8 has the same number 6 4, but the subdivisions should be grouped differently to indicate the pulse difference. The top line notation is preferred to that on the bottom in the following examples. The notation on the bottom line while mathematically correct is more difficult to read because the imaginary measure line principle is not observed, making it difficult to see the separate beats in the measure.

Make the notation as easy to read as possible. If musicians have to stop a rehearsal and to count out the notes in the measure, then there was probably a more logical way to notate the rhythms. Top line preferred to the bottom line:. A single chapter could never begin to cover all the aspects of rhythm in musical performance.

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This chapter will touch on rhythmic concepts that are unique and prevalent in improvised and composed jazz performances. A basic understanding of rhythmic notation, relationships of note values, ability to accurately read and write simple rhythms is assumed. For more background, there are many other sources for basic rhythmic concepts and notation. In an African drum ensemble there are many different pulses occurring at once, making the music polyrhythmic.

One role in the band may be to play a primary pulse on a cowbell, something we could write in Western notation as quarter notes.

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These quarter notes can be subdivided into two eighth notes. Another role is to suggest a second pulse which could be notated as a dotted quarter, which can be divided into three eighth notes. The two pulses will continue throughout the piece. There will probably be other pulses introduced including half note triplets, and their subdivisions of quarter note and eighth note triplets.

As a piece progresses, individuals may improvise rhythms suggesting combinations of the pulse; for awhile suggesting the quarter note pulse, and other times suggesting the dotted quarter pulse. The emphasis of one or the other pulse is suggested by the use of accents. These polyrhythms are probably. As with all the material written about jazz, the real meaning is in the playing, listening and the experience.

Nowhere is this more true than understanding the eighth note feel.

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In the European tradition, the pulse can be divided into two or into three. Quarter notes are usually divided into two even eighth notes, or three eighth notes as in a triplet. When dividing a quarter note in a swing feel into a subdivision of two, the two notes are rarely of equal value.

The first eighth note in a swing feel typically has a longer duration than the second eighth note. Even eighth notes have the ratio A dotted eighth note followed by a sixteenth note has a ratio of and this is too much of a difference to create a convincing pair of swinging eighth notes.


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Jazz Theory Resources: Volume 1 & 2 Jazz Theory Resources: Volume 1 & 2
Jazz Theory Resources: Volume 1 & 2 Jazz Theory Resources: Volume 1 & 2
Jazz Theory Resources: Volume 1 & 2 Jazz Theory Resources: Volume 1 & 2
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