On Ramp, Off Ramp - ii-V7 Fourth Cycle Vamp
Sill inspired by "A Study in Fourths" by Walter Bishop, jr.

Since I realize y'all can't get enough of this 4th thing, and as I'm on somewhat of a roll with the subject, I thought I might just continue along this line of thought from the point where we left off last time.

I promise I'll give it, and the esteemed Mr. Bishop, a break after this.

Anyway, it occurred to me that measures #3 & 4 (D-7 / G7) of that exercise contained a complete, uninterrupted 12 tone cycle in perfect 4ths.

"So?!", you say.

"So" I say, "let me see if I can conjure up a few more lines like that one, over a ii-V7 cadence, which use the complete 4th cycle and which resolve to the tonic (I).

Of the 5 lines presented here, each starting on a different diatonic scale tone, 4 of them employ a complete 12 tone cycle in perfect 4ths; while the fifth (line 4) uses a number of shifts and rests, resulting in a series of 027 trichords.

The coolest thing about using a complete 4th cycle in these cases, is that the cycle, being a 12 tone row, contains all twelve notes of the chromatic scale; meaning that it also contains all of the eleven possible note choices, plus one, available for an altered dominant (V7alt) chord.


A Curious Case of Temporary Outness
in the 4th Dimension

Inspired by "A Study in Fourths" by Walter Bishop, jr.

As with these two previous posts (here and here), this particular exercise covers improvisational techniques utilizing the interval of a perfect 4th, inspired by the legendary pianist and composer, the late Walter Bishop, jr., and his currently out of print book, "A Study in Fourths".

If you are unfamiliar with Mr. Bishop and his contributions to the music and its vocabulary,
this is a must see video, whatever your instrument happens to be.

While Walter Bishop, jr. certainly wasn't the first to come up with the concept of using fourth cycles as a tool for improvisation, his legacy as a contributor to the concept lives on, through his book, as well as the above linked instructional video.

In this case, we're talking about working some of these modified fourth cycles over a common, six measure iii-VI-ii-V-I chord progression.


Three's a Pair! - Melodic Minor ii-V7-i Triad Pairs

The use of Triad Pairs (adjacent diatonic triads which form a hexatonic, or six note, scale), has been a relatively recent addition, historically speaking, to the general vocabulary of improvised music, becoming more prevalent among improvising musicians during the past 30 years or so.

One of the earlier examples of the use of triad pairs can be found in the well known 1959 recorded TV version of John Coltrane's solo on Miles Davis' "So What", when he was still a member of the trumpeter's quintet.

Coltrane can be heard to clearly enunciate both G and F Maj. triads (built from the 5th and 4th scale degrees, respectively, of the C Major scale) in sequence
over a basic D-7 for most of the first 10 bars of his second chorus, beginning at 4:51 of the above linked YouTube video.

There are many subsequent examples of the use of these, and other, triad pairs to be found in 'Trane's solos on numerous versions of his own compositional adaptation of the "So What" changes; namely, "Impressions".

Likewise, the same G and F Maj. triad pair is in evidence on Coltrane's 1962 trio recording of his  original, "Big Nick" (solo transcription here).


A Perfect Fourth Story - Ch. 2:
Melodic Minor 4th Shape ii-V7-i Application

Judging from the title, this post is a follow up to last week's, with some ideas on how one could apply these particular Melodic Minor 4th shapes in a ii-V7-i situation; at least in theory.

What I've done here was to copy one of the single measure shape patterns from a particular MM scale for the ii7b5, and another one from the MM scale a minor 3rd above it for the V7alt, but not from the same identical scale degree, so that while the shape remains the same, the pattern's interval makeup is slightly different.

A common Melodic Minor device is that whatever you play on the ii7b5, you can transpose that same  phrase up a minor 3rd as a parallel sequence for the V7alt and it should sound pretty cool, right?

Eg: Line 1, measure #1 of last week's exercise: D-G-C-G  Ab-D-G-E = D-7b5 (from the 6th scale degree of F Melodic Minor).

Now drop down to Line 7, measure#1: F-Bb-Eb-Bb  B-F-Bb-G = G7alt (7th scale degree of Ab Melodic Minor, up a min. 3rd from F, although the pattern begins on the 6th of Ab MM).

Now that you've gotten this "up a minor 3rd thing" digested, please be informed that we'll be avoiding it like the plague this time!


A Perfect Fourth Story:
Melodic Minor 4th Shape

Picture4 Leaf Clovertone
The interval of a perfect 4th, being an inverted perfect 5th (the 2nd harmonic overtone in the natural overtone series), is predominant, both melodically as well harmonically (where harmony exists), in all types and styles of music on Planet Earth.

Traditionally, western music
is based on a series (cycle) of 12 consecutive perfect 4ths (5ths) i.e.: (C-F-Bb-Eb-Ab-Db-Gb-B-E-A-D-G), which when juxtaposed to create a row of 12 equidistant semi-tones (C-Db-D-Eb-E-F-Gb-G-Ab-A-Bb-B) becomes known, of course, as the Chromatic Scale.

It's from this Chromatic Scale that we commonly draw our 7 note Major Scale matrix based on the interval scheme of:

Whole Step/ Whole Step/ Half Step/ Whole Step/ Whole Step Whole Step/ Half Step.
(C-D-E-F-G-A-B = C Major).

But you already knew that, right?

Or, we can take a series of 6 consecutive perfect 4ths (eg. B-E-A-D-G-C-F), and we have the same 7 notes of that same C Maj. scale.

We can even drop the first and last notes (B & F), which create a tritone, and that'll give us a good ol' C Maj Pentatonic Scale (C-D-E-G-A).

Smashing! Wouldn't you agree?!

It's only when we bust up that plan by messing with the note E (the hallowed Maj. 3rd); altering it down a half step, (making it an Eb and a min. 3rd), that we enter the dark netherworld of C Melodic Minor....

And then the real fun begins!


Funkman's D-Lite - Contortion, Distortion
& 7#9 (Maj / Min)

PictureDr. Funkman Whosen-Evernitiz
The dominant 7th chord is probably the most flexible harmonic device in Western music, both in it's functionality as well as its note choices.

Theoretically speaking, all you need is a tritone and 9 of the 10 remaining notes of the the chromatic scale, excluding (again, theoretically speaking) only the Maj. 7th (which works great as a passing tone, etc.), and you're good to go.

Think I'm lyin'

Using D7 as an example for this post, let's build a chromatic scale and label each note's function (notes in italics are the altered tensions):

D=root; Eb=b9; E=9; F=#9; F#=3; G=sus4(11); Ab(G#)=b5(#11); A=5; Bb(A#)=b13(#5); B=13; C=7; C#=Maj7.

Only the last note C#, the Maj7 in this case, gets uninvited to the party, but it usually "passes" by via the backdoor, anyway.

Count 'em up. That's 11 out of 12 legit (and 12 out of 12 if we sneak that Maj7 in there).

Is that flexible or what?


251 Measure Relay - ii-V7-i Penta b6
Speed & Agility Exercise

Coming on the heels of last week's post, this speed & agility exercise starts out with the same Pentatonic b6 configuration, this time over a 4 bar minor ii-V7-i cadence; using a different Penta b6 for each chord; albeit from a common tone.

As with the previous exercise, this one is designed not only for speed & agility; but also to sharpen your ears and your brain; and to facilitate, ultimately, the ability to start an idea from any note

Once again, memorization through the 12 keys is the goal here.

As with previous exercises here dealing with the Melodic Minor ii-V7-i progression, a different Melodic Minor scale is related to each of the three chords.

The derived b6 pentatonics from these three unique Melodic Minor scales have a single common tone between them, and it is from this "X-Centric" vantage point that we will begin our exploration.


NOT Olympics - Pentatonic b6
Speed & Agility Exercise

The playing of music, in it's purest form, isn't often looked upon as a truly competitive human activity.

As with athletics, a musician ultimately measures growth and progress against
one's own accomplishments, just as a runner or long jumper might; constantly trying to better the quality of his or her performance.

For the contemporary improvising musician,
technical facility on one's instrument makes it possible to express more complex and challenging musical ideas, and is a necessary requirement to do so.

In both disciplines, speed and agility, not only physical, but mental as well,
are important acquired skills, obtained through many hours of focused practice` and training, which enhance and augment any innate, natural ability or talent.


Melomina's Delight - Minor Tonic to Dominant (i - V7alt)

PicturePrincess Melomina von Melodicus
This minor Tonic - Dominant (i - V7alt) exercise is the third in a series, and works in tandem, more or less with the posts from 02/25/2014 and 03/10/2014.

Checking them out, particularly the former, might not be a bad idea

The premise of all three exercises is to familiarize oneself with Melodic Minor, both technically and aurally, over a basic minor i - V7 cadence; which as explained in the first post, happens to be the first eight bars of the well known and oft played standard, "Softly As In a Morning Sunrise".

As in the first post, this exercise utilizes all 7 diatonic scale tones of the D and Bb Melodic Minor scales, alternately; D MM for the tonic (i) D min. chord and Bb MM for the altered dominant (V7alt) A7alt chord, each lasting a measure apiece.

The difference here is that the scales are laid out in directionally alternating diatonic 3rds; ascending / descending, etc., in an ascending direction and descending / ascending on the way back down.


Chops Duster! - Fingerbuster!

Picture"Hey look Ma......! It really works!!"
Contrary to the condition of the gent's digits in the picture below, this is a mild version of a "fingerbuster" (I'm not referring to the Jelly Roll Morton composition of the same name).

A "fingerbuster" could be considered as an instrumentalist's version of a "tongue-twister" which is usually defined as a group of words, or a phrase, that is considered to be difficult to execute.

While the degree of difficulty
varies with both the phrase and the ability of the practitioner, constant repetition, in any case,  at a slowed down tempo, usually serves to iron undo the knots before gradually bringing it back up to speed.

This particular "finger-twister" appeared out of the blue recently while I was doing my saxophonistic due diligence, and it gave me "the finger".