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  Bichordal Pitch Collections

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Bichordal Pitch Collectionssubmitted:
2007/05/30 13:40:43
2008/11/08 07:37:27

Below are listed the 24 Bichordal Pitch Collections, from my new book:

Linear Jazz Improvisation Book 4: 24 Bichordal Pitch Collection Etudes for Advanced Jazz Improvisation.

The actual book supplies very intense advanced improvisational vocabulary etudes on these pcs.

Linear Jazz Improvisation places primary importance on the composition’s salient characteristics: melody, guide tone lines, and root progression. Improvisations based on these elements will work over virtually any harmonic style. The chord progression should not rule, but merely co-exists with lines. Pianists tend to keep both hands in a lockstep chord-scale paradigm in which each chord symbol equals one or more scale. They should be independent of each other. Pitch Collection technique is a means of acquiring vocabulary which will find its way into your playing naturally as it is internalized, and these pitch collections will serve as color and added expression to these most important linear elements of the composition—but without being locked into the chordal accompaniment sounding below.

In their conjunctness, seven-note scales tend to be less melodic, while Pitch Collections which leave a gap or more are more melodic. Seven-note scales are an expedience in Chord Scale Theory because all seven possible pitch classes are represented. Unfortunately, this encourages the inexperienced to habitually use them all, and seven-note scales tend to foster conjunct lines which do not breathe. Systematically omitting a note or more from a common scale or mode makes the collection profoundly different. Try, for example, improvising on the Lydian mode omitting its second degree, which will result in a very different effect than using the entire seven-note scale. To some, many of these pcs will appear like modes or other common scales, only missing notes; but the consistent absence of specific pitch classes creates something different, similar to the difference between the Major and Pentatonic scales. While these collections can be assigned to specific chordal situations in a progression, we’ll leave that up to you, since we do not base improvisations on chord scale theory.

The Linear Jazz Improvisation Book 4, Twenty-Four Bichordal Pitch Collection Etudes for Advanced Jazz Improvisation, systematically combines every combination of Major and Minor Triads into close position pcs: Major with Major, Minor with Minor, and Minor with Major. In the process, some very unusual pcs of tetrachords (four-note collections), pentachords (five), and hexachords (six) are achieved. All of these pcs can be played in any mode (inversion), and any pitch class can be considered the priority note, or there can be no priority note. This yields twenty-four pcs, of which twelve are Hexachords, nine are Pentachords, and there are three Tetrachords.

I was first immersed in bichords themselves for a year or more, practicing them in the form of real triads first. I started singing them in this new manner in an inspiration: One intuitively evolved organically out of the other. The pcs lend themselves to the creation of interesting lines that are easier to play than the actual triads. Pitch collection improvising involves a kind of oral composition, involving notes, rhythms, articulations, inflections, vibratos and gestures, with a rhythmic style in mind.

My attention has been focused only on lines for improvisation, since this is designed to be the next installment in my Linear Jazz Improvisation method. However, I use these pcs much of the time over standard chordal situations for their color. They work as vocabulary over any chords. When it comes to lines, I am rather unconcerned with orthodoxy—only colorist enhancement of the melody. An example of its usage over a specific chord, however, is the pc for C/Db, in which I combine the two triads for the following composite scale: C, Db, E, F, G, Ab, C, which is on the list of the twenty-four. This particular pc will work over: C7, DbMA7, Cm7, Fm7 and many other chords.

These pcs will also make good close position or cluster voicings—with gaps. Maurice Ravel and Claude Debussy treated a pc as a chord or a line—in any combination. A good line also makes a good voicing and vice versa, since a line is a melted chord; a voicing, a frozen line. They can all be voiced in virtually any inversion, starting with any of the four, five, or six notes in the succession. Moreover, depending upon the tempo of a given piece, a six-note set may work better than an eight-note to enable a comfortable run that adheres to the beat without getting into tuplets (like those septuplets you often see in string and woodwind parts to cover an octave. Most players play cleaner scalar passages if they're written in groupings of six and eight than tuplets. This technique can be used to achieve a polytonal affect as well, for example, C E G; Ab C Eb; E G# B, and for a pantonal affect as well, such as is found in my composition Like It Is (see below). Twenty-Four Bichordal Pitch Collection Etudes for Advanced Jazz Improvisation captures the interesting intervallic chromatic juxtapositions of the same pitch classes in a nutshell. The rhythms have been held mostly to eighth notes to:

1. Concentrate purely on the lines themselves.

2. Internalize each line and improvise on it with rhythms and articulations.

3. Avoid allowing rhythms to influence (interfere with) pitch choices.

4. Avoid confusion of a vocabulary learning vehicle with reading proficiency.

While for expedience these pcs are mostly limited to a two-octave range in the book, practice them throughout your entire range. All of these etudes have a priority note, which of course need not be in practice; but without harmonic reference they could have lapsed into meaningless successions of notes, rather than lines. First listen to them at qn = 150 to get a sense of the lines, but they will have to be practiced at a slower tempo at first. They should be practiced in all twelve keys throughout the entire range of your instrument. Then improvise on them. They will add a great deal to your musical vocabulary for jazz improvisation.

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   bgp 2007