Ubop Chabang & the Klukumops
Here's a hot bowl of fresh noodles in the form of a recipe I discovered on a recent "trip" to Tiang, a remote and peaceful place, somewhere over the rainbow, where "g's" become "t's" and vice versa.
Tiang has a musically rich and ancient cultural tradition, which is in evidence everywhere.
This particular composition was inspired by an archaic scale based on a six note row, which divides the octave into three equal parts, representing the sun, the moon and the stars., something which the people of Tiang have been given the opportunity to ponder endlessly throughout the ages.
The scale's inception is credited by historians to the legendary Tiangian musician and sage, Chun Culutran, who is considered a deity almost, and dates back to antiquity, approximately to the year 1959 BC (Before Computers).
Bella, mein Bella!!
Welcome to another bowl of my noodlings. This time it's an etude over the changes of the ever popular standard, "Stella by Starlight", composed for the 1944 scary movie "The Uninvited", by Victor Young.
Young also composed such classics as "My Foolish Heart", "When I Fall in Love", "Street of Dreams", and "Love Letters", to name a but few, all of which have also become popular vehicles for improvisers.
I remember seeing the film years ago on TV, with the leading man (Ray Milland), sitting at the piano in an attic, composing a song to this this young, fine chick named Stella. "Ahhh", me thinked, "so that's where the song comes from."
I also don't remember the film as being that scary. I''ll probably check it out again, now that we're on the subject.
As for the etude, I can honestly say that I came up with the title, "Bella by Bar Light", on my own (really!), but after a few chuckles at the images it evoked, I realized that it might be a bit too obvious a moniker to be original, so I Google searched it and sure enough, I was beat to the spot by at least twenty years by saxophonist John Lurie (and probably others), who gave the title to his short piece of minimalistic film music, which bore no resemblance whatsoever to the original "Stella", save for being cute with the title.
So therefore, herewith and thereby, I present you with "The Real Bella (by Bar Light)" in all her naked, neon glory!
Here's another Pentatonic b6 (Melodic Minor derivative) exercise, applied over a minor ii-V7-i, using a different MM scale, and therefore Penta b6, for each chord.
The basic pattern is a descending retrograde pentatonic b6 , in diatonic (to the pentatonic) thirds, with a simple scheme of:
Step Up / Skip Down - Step Up - Skip Down - Step Up - Skip Down - Step Up/
with the first 2 eighth notes of each Penta functioning as a pick up and anticipating the chord on beat one of the following measure.
Each pentatonic begins on the note closest to that of the first penta, which starts off the line.
Therefore, at least five of these lines (one for each pentatonic note position) can be generated from this pattern and it's interval scheme. It will work with Penta b3 (it's ii mode: aka, In-Sen scale) and b2, or for that matter, any 5 note scale of your choosing.
As I mentioned in my last post, I really like the sound of the Penta b6, due to it's open, augmented quality, so, if you haven't noticed, it's been sitting on my front burner as of late.
Cool! Heat 'em up!
This exercise is for practicing Pentatonic b6 (1-2-3-5-b6) over a minor ii-V7-i cadence, using three derivative Melodic Minor scales (from which Penta b6 is formed), one for each chord, to do the job.
As an added "bonus", we're using the first formula or "shape" from tenor master Jerry Bergonzi's popular book, "Vol. 2 - Pentatonics" (Advance Music).
To add even further excitement, we'll start each Penta b6 from a common tone, giving it the "X-Centric" treatment.
I recently discovered an awesome book by NYC alto saxophonist / composer John O'Gallagher, entitled "Twelve Tone Improvisation" (Advance Music) after stumbling upon it via a Dave Douglas podcast. O'Gallagher is a monster alto player with a fresh & unique concept. After hearing some of the music from the podcast off of his latest CD "The Anton Webern Project" and how "sophisticatedly funky" it sounded (Anton Webern gets jacked by Ornette meets Sun-Ra meets Bitches Brew), I got so excited I bought both the book & the CD.
Although I've previously had some minimal exposure to twelve tone rows in both composition and improvisation, it wasn't something I had been thinking about lately. However, just the idea itself woke me up enough to realize, "This is something I would definitely love to (and need to) check out!"
I'm trying not to beat this Melodic Minor thing to death, but here's one more exercise (#2) over a iii-VI-ii-V cadence, highlighting the use of alternating Major and Melodic Minor scales. Major and Melodic Minor in a diatonic context work together like yin & yang, dark vs. light, Adam & Eve, Abbott & Costello...................KnowwhatI'msayin'!?This 4 bar line typifies everything bebop, and it's elements have been a staple of the vocabulary for about 75 years, so there's nothing new here
, unless of course, you happen to be new to it!In that case I would recommend checking out some of the earlier blog posts, starting here, on Melodic Minor harmony.
What still amazes me to no small degree, is and has been the historical misunderstanding and confusion on the subject, in both the available literature as well as our hallowed institutions of "higher learning".
Here's a short etude I scribbibled out recently over the changes to the ever popular standard American song from the 1930's, "Body and Soul", the music having been written by Hollywood composer / orchestrator Johnny Green
, who also composed other well known standards, such as "Out of Nowhere" and "I Cover the Waterfront". All three of these tunes have been popular vehicles for improvising musicians for many years."Body and Soul" has since been played and / or recorded by just about everybody.......
, and I mean everybody. Of course, the definitive version is Coleman Hawkins 1939 classic recording, where he completely abandons the melody after the first 2 bars. Then, there's John Coltrane's awesome, reharmonized version from 1960, which included his famed 'Trane or Giant Steps Changes (Cycle of Descending Major Thirds) on the bridge. (Both YouTube vids embedded below).
I thought I'd do another Melakarta post, this time featuring #18 - Hatakambari. If you're not hip to what a Melakarta is, then please check out my post from June 7th, 2013 entitled "Korner Karnataka #2 - Melakarta #15, Double Harm. Maj. & Graha Bedham", where a complete set of mp3 drone pitches can be downloaded, to facilitate in practicing these scales.The Melakarta presented here, is related to #15 in that they are from the same "chakra", or group of six, and share the same lower tetrachord. In fact, the only difference between the two is the sixth step, or "da", of #18 being raised two semitones from D1 to D3, or in the key of C, from G# to A#. This scale could also be seen as "Ionian b2, #6", in western terms
Our old friend Mel Minor (MM to friends and family) is back with an exercise featuring an alteration of Major's basic 1-2-3-5 diatonic pattern. To begin with, we know that MM is an altered form of Major in itself.
If you are familiar with running Major 1-2-3-5 combinations such as CDEG FGAC, DEFA GABD, FGAC BCDF, etc., this MM version will be at once familiar, yet strange and exciting.
Using a four bar ii-V7 phrase, measure 1 of Line 1 starts out with a 4 note 1-2-3-6 grouping starting on D (D-E-F-Bb), the root of the Dmin7b5 chord (Locrian #2 mode) and the sixth step of it's parent scale, F Melodic Minor.
The second 4 note grouping starts, as with it's Maj. counterpart, by turning back a whole step, to Ab in this case. It then does a MM diatonic 1-2-3-5 (Ab-Bb-C-E).
Another way to think of this is to start the first group on the sixth step (D) of F Melodic Minor and the second group on it's third (Ab).
In measure 2, G7alt (Ab MM) the first group mimics the shape of it's measure 1 counterpart (1-2-3-6), while the second grouping, again turning down a whole step and starting on Ab, breaks the symmetry and resolves to the fifth of the tonic chord (C Maj. or min.).
Although not notated here, if we flip the scrip' and start the first measure pattern on the third of F MM (Ab-Bb-C-E), drop a whole step again and continue on it's sixth (D-E-F-Bb), the symmetry continues in measure 2, G7alt (Ab MM) with straight 1-2-3-5s (Ab-Bb-Cb-Eb and Db-Eb-F-Ab) outlining a Db7 (tritone sub) resolving again to a G in bar 3; maybe a bit more symmetrical and logical, but who says symmetrical and logical are always the best or the most fun, anyway?
Check 'em both out!
Here is an exercise utilizing a 4 note, whole tone pattern, based on steps b7-1-2-3 of a dominant seventh chord, taking it two-thirds the way around the cycle of 5ths.
A common use for this cycle device in the jazz vernacular is as a substitute progression for the first 4 bars of each of the three "A" sections of "Rhythm Changes", the 32 bar AABA song structure based on "I Got Rhythm" by George Gershwin, on which so many bebop era standard tunes have been based.