Jam Tracks to Practice Jazz Chord Progressions
Jam Tracks to Practice Jazz Chord Progressions
Q: I’m thinking I should start with these books for now: New York Guitar Method Volume One, New York Guitar Method Ensemble Book One, Ear Training One Note Complete, Contextual Ear Training and MetroDrone Is Sonic Resource Guide organized in a similar fashion as Forte’s Structure of Atonal Music or Elliott Carter’s Harmony Book? I already have those books including PC set theory calculators. However, I would be interested in seeing how you applied it to Jazz. So I will also get “My Music Book”. I’ve owned, still own, quite a few of the books on your “further investigations” list. Btw, I have Gardner Read’s Music Notation & Music Notation (by Kurt Stone), but there’s a new, must own, bible for notation and that is Elaine Gould’s “Behind Bars” the definitive guide to music notation. You wrote: “One of the problems with recommending some books is I’m not exactly sure where you are with your musical ability in your mind and in your hands on the instrument.” Sorry if I seem self indulgent, but just thought this may help. I’m 55 years old. [I now have time to study (I no longer have a day job…hoping I can teach guitar, part-time, privately in the near future] Guitar experience: blues rock (still love bending strings), I know I’m playing different modes including melodic minor & octatonic scales, but I’m not aware of it while I’m improvising because I never learned them in a sequential manner. I taught myself by listening to records & developed my ear that way. Btw, are you aware of any jam tracks with just jazz progressions simple to complex? I believe that using jam tracks would be very helpful for developing improvisation skills. I got up to grade 8 level in classical guitar. Studied for 3 years and then decided I would rather compose for the instrument after winning first prize in a composer’s competition in Martinique. Composition: This is where I put the cart before the horse. I wanted to compose new music so I delved into Forte/Babbitt’s pitch-class set theory. I’ve written quite a few pieces with the help of Sibelius (notation software) & digital orchestral instruments samples. I had a few performances for guitar, viola & piano, including some by a jazz group (I was asked if I was influenced by Thelonious Monk & McCoy Tyner after their performance). Just mentioning this to say I could hear complex harmonies in my head for as long as I can remember but I never knew the names of the chords or modes I was using, at least not in a jazz context (I tend to think in pitch class sets (& their subsets) like modes of limited transposition & others I favor). But because I never bothered with functional harmony I have trouble spelling enharmonically. I know it’s somewhat different with atonal music but if you’re weaving in & out of tonality or atonality I need to understand chord spelling within its harmonic context. When I studied classical harmony my teacher told me I would be better off studying jazz theory as well as practicing harmony with jam tracks. I wish I had taken his advice at the time. I think I will take you up on setting up a practice schedule as soon as I get my studio in order (we just moved into an old house). Thanks for putting the time into my request.
A: Yes I think your choices are good. Sonic Resource Guide is like taking Forte’s and Carter’s book and arranging it for a Jazz musician. So you have a pitch class set and I tell you based on Jazz Harmony what chords that pitch class set would work over in every key. I give you all the 3 and 4 note subsets so you can form chords with the pitch class set and in the case of six and seven note scales I give you the hextonics trichord combinations that you can derive from those sets. It also gives you the symmetrical difference for each scale so you know which notes are not contained within the scale and what the primer form of that scale is for quick reference. This is very useful for playing in and out of the key center type melodies. All this information is contained on one page for easy reference. Some basic rules for chord spelling. You usually just spell the chord they same way no matter what the context. You tend to stay away from enharmonic spellings from less used keys. Though you will find a Cb Major occasionally you are better off for jazz musicians to stick with B Major. So a rule of thumb is always use the easiest spelling of a chord. Also jazz musicians like “flats” rather than sharps so don’t write in G# major write in Ab Major.
Usually jazz musicians prefer that sharps and flats are note combined within a measure. Sometimes that’s impossible but they would rather see just one used even if it conflicts with the chord.
The My Music Book gives you examples of how I’ve applied pitch class sets. In particular it has a lot of examples of scales based in 013, 027, 016 and 026. Score and MP3s are included.
Let me know if you have further questions.
It is also recommended that you read Bruce Arnold’s Blog at his artist site. It contains more discussion of the musical topics found in these FAQs as well as other subjects of interest. You will also find the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located here which shows you the historic significance of the music education products found on the Muse Eek Publishing Company Website.