<![CDATA[bobbysternjazz.com - Blog: B Natural]]>Tue, 30 Sep 2014 16:54:12 -0500Weebly<![CDATA[Who Put the "Hex" on My Hexatonic?]]>Wed, 24 Sep 2014 23:19:17 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/09/who-put-the-hex-on-my-hexatonic.htmlWho Put the "Hex" on My Hexatonic?
(Tritone Minor, That's Who!)

Picture"Impression of Mr. Eerius N. Hedlace at the Piano''. Painting by Pho-Toh Ziap
Here's an interesting and useful hexatonic (6 tone) symmetrical configuration, which I came across recently:

C-Db-Eb  F#-G-A

This scale is actually a derivative of the half tone / whole tone diminished scale, with the E - Bb
tritone removed:

C-Db-Eb (E) F#-G-A (Bb)

In 12 tone set theory, it would be seen as a pair of 013 trichords spaced a tritone apart.

As a triad pair, it consists of 2 minor triads, a tritone apart: C-Eb-G / F#-A-C#

And, if you haven't already noticed, our new friend turns out to be the dark, mysterious, little known first cousin of what has become commonly known to improvisers as the "Tritone Scale", a likewise hexatonic formation; made up of 2 Major Triads a tritone apart (C-E-G / F#-A#-C#) and derived from the same diminished matrix.

As you will see and hear, there is a large qualitative difference between these two "relatives".

I haven't yet found any other names for an exact match to this scale (Slonimsky p.2 #6, no name. Several Carnatic Ragam come close, but no incense).

That's why
I, hereby, take it upon myself to christen it (drum roll).................

"The Tritone Minor Scale" (e.g. C Tritone Minor, F# Tritone Minor, etc.).

Pour the champagne and strike up the band!

As mentioned previously, The Tritone Minor Scale has a decidedly dark, mysterious quality to it. Small wonder, given its interval content:

3 tritones (C-F#, Db-G, Eb-A), 2 whole steps (Db-Eb, G-A), 4 min. 3rds (C-Eb, F#-A, Eb-F#, A-C), 2 Maj. 3rds (Eb-G, A-C#), 2 perfect 4ths (C#-F#, G-C).

Of course, the most telling are the minor 3rds and tritones, which create a diminished 7th chord (C-Eb-F#-A) plus a tritone (Db-G), which give you the 6 notes of the scale.

The fact that there are no Major triads included here make even the 2 Major 3rds (which are themselves a tritone apart) sound "un-Major" like. That pretty much explains why just about any flavor of Major has been sucked out of this symmetrical scale.

That's why you won't be hearing this one on local pop radio.

But, "'Cause I'm Happy", I really like the sound and feel of this scale. It has tons of character. The scope of feeling runs the gamut from "eerily enchanting" to flat out "grim"; depending, of course, on the context in which it's presented.

Hey, you need some dark colors on your palette, too.

It's probably best suited for use over an extended modal or pedal situation, although since it's a truncated form of the diminished scale, it should work wherever a diminished scale might.

In the downloadable exercise below, the Tritone Minor Scale is presented diatonically in ascending and descending order in the first 2 measures; followed by its 2 inherent minor triads (Triad Pair) in several different inversions for the next 2 measures. The next 4 measures contain the triad pairs, descending in groups of 4 eighth notes (top note repeating).

As this is a symmetrical scale "of limited transposition", meaning that there are really only 6 mutually exclusive scales involved before they repeat (C and F# Tritone Minor contain the exact same notes, for example), they are nevertheless shown here in all 12 keys.

The chord symbols, with their alterations, are suggested as they are based on the roots of the dominant 7th chords from the original diminished scale.
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Treble Clef               Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[On Ramp, Off Ramp - ii-V7 Fourth Cycle Vamp]]>Wed, 17 Sep 2014 21:00:46 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/09/on-ramp-off-ramp-ii-v7-fourth-cycle-vamp.htmlOn 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.

eg: G7(alt) = G (root) - Ab (b9) - A (9) - A# (#9) -B (3) - C (11) - Db (b5) - D (5) - Eb (b13) - E (13) - F (b7), and don't forget the F# (M7) for a pinch of added flavor, neighbor.

One of the most basic components of music, on planet earth, is that of tension and release.

In "Western Harmony", which is what we're dealing with here, one of the most fundamental movements, from tension to release is the well traveled road of the V-I cadence.

At some point, a ii chord was placed in front of the V7 to strengthen the root movement in 5ths /4ths. In fact if you inspect many of the early lead sheets of tunes of the 1920's & '30's, the ii chords preceding the V, in most cases are all but absent

In the tension and release scheme of things, a rough but reasonable analogy might go something like:

A rush-hour drive home, where the
ii chord
= the on ramp to the highway; the
V7 chord = the highway itself, with traffic and all of it's unpredictable behavior, requiring your full and constant awareness, and the
I chord = the exit ramp and home, where you can finally kick back and relax..

Since the ii chord acts like a preparatory extension of the V, ramping up to it if you will; why not then consider it to be part of the dominant V7 itself? Thus, one might view a D-7 (ii chord in C) as a D-7/G, or a G7sus.

What this means (in terms of using the complete 12 tone fourth cycle as a tension / release device)
is that no matter which note you use to start the cycle over a V7 (which, including its ii chord, is in and of itself a tension creating device), the cycle, as previously mentioned, supplies eleven "legit" tonal choices (root-3rd-b7th; b9-#9-b5-b13; 5-9-11-13) plus one more (Maj7).

Try playing a complete cycle starting on a non diatonic tone; like F# (over a G7), for example, resolving it to C Maj7.

The idea is to eventually come off the exit ramp, resolving to a target note belonging to that "restful" tonic I chord.

And on that note, I rest my case.

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Treble Clef                       Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Curious Case of Temporary Outness in the 4th Dimension - Inspired by "A Study in Fourths" by Walter Bishop, jr]]>Thu, 11 Sep 2014 18:58:34 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/09/a-curious-case-of-temporary-outness-in-the-4th-dimension-inspired-by-a-study-in-fourths-by-walter-bishop-jr.htmlA 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.

The Breakdown:
Line 1, Measure #1 = E-7 employs the use of a pair of "shifts" (which break up the continuous P4th cycle), Shifts, in this case, are intervals other than a Perfect 4th (in measure #1, both shifts, D-B and A-F#, are min thirds), which create variations in the line as well as keep it inside, or close to, the underlying harmony.
E (root)
- A (11) - D (b7) - B (5th) E (root) - A (11) - F# (9) - B (5th)

in reality, spells out D/E or E7 sus. The line in this measure contains 4 intervals of a perfect fourth and two intervals of a minor 3rd. In other words, it's a D Major Pentatonic.

Line 1, Measure #2 = A7, begins with an eighth note rest. Rests, skips and expanded time values are ways of breaking up a line of continuous perfect 4ths in order to mold it to a given harmonic situation. It can be as "'in" or "outside" as you want to make it.

rest - C# (3rd) - G# (M7) - D# (b5)  F (b13) - Bb (b9) - C (#9) - G (b7)

With the exception of the G# (M7), this spells out an A7 alt. The G#, or Maj. 7th, is the only tone here that would be considered "outside" against an A7. Since the rest of the altered tones create a considerable amount of tension anyway, the G#, in context, doesn't really sound "out" at all.

The line in this measure contains 5 intervals of a perfect fourth, as well as one whole step skip (D#(Eb)-F) and an eighth note rest.

Line 1, Measure #3 = D-7. Beginning with a whole tone skip from the preceding measure (G-F), and interrupted only by two eighth note rests on the downbeats of 3 & 4, this measure is a straight up 4th cycle (5 uninterrupted P4ths) that spell out a D-11 chord.

F (b3) - C (b7) - G (11) - D (Root)  rest - A (5th) - rest - E (9)

The perfect
4th cycle continues along uninterrupted into the next measure, as well.

Line 2, Measure #1 = G7 is similar to the A7 in Line 1, Measure #2; in that a Maj. 7th (F#) is present against a dominant 7 chord. As before, it adds a nano second of "temporary outness" as well as keeps the integrity of the cycle, which includes all of the altered dominant tones inherent to a G7alt.

B (3rd) - F# (M7) - C#(Db) (b5) - G#(Ab) (b9)  D#(Eb) (b13) - A#(Bb) (#9) - rest - F (b7)

The line in this measure contains 6 uninterrupted Perfect 4ths. If we go back to the first eighth note of the previous measure (Line 1, Measure #3) to the last eighth note of this measure (Line 2, Measure #1), we've find ourselves with a complete, uninterrupted 12 note cycle in Perfect Fourths, from F to to F, which can be used over a ii-V7; in this case, D-7 / G7alt.

Line 2, Measure #2 & 3 = C. As all good things must come to an end, the final 2 measures resolve to a C Maj7, starting with a rest and a shift, finally breaking the completed cycle. This line actually spells out a G Maj. Pentatonic (G-A-B-D-E) over C.

rest - G (5th) - D (9th) - E (M3rd)  A (6th) - D (9th) - E (M3rd) - B (M7)

The line in this measure
contains four P4ths, 2 shifts of a whole tone each, and a rest.

There are many roads to Rome with this technique. What might even be more hip as an ending, would be to continue the cycle at the end of
Line 2, Measure #3, which ends on the note B (M7 of C) one more descending P4th to F# (#11 in C Maj). Beginning the next measure (Line 2, Measure #3) with an eighth note rest, give the F# a dotted quarter.

Just another possibili

As with most of these exercises, if you play a non-chordal instrument, it's highly recommended to program the changes into a "Band-in-a Box" type program to hear the basic harmonic movement behind the line. If you play a transposing instrument
, don't forget to take that into account when typing in the changes.

Thanks again, Mr. Bishop.

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Treble Clef                Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Three's a Pair! - Melodic Minor ii-V7-i Triad Pairs]]>Thu, 04 Sep 2014 07:50:43 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/09/threes-a-pair-melodic-minor-ii-v7-i-triad-pairs.htmlThree'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).

As I'm not sure of it myself, I won't attempt, past the above mentioned Coltrane examples,  to delve into the historical development of triad pairs or hexatonics as an improvisational device, but it might make sense to assume that pianists got into it before anybody else (besides 'Trane, that is), since stacking different qualities of triads had become a common voicing practice.

I eventually got hip to the concept from the following books, authored by three different tenor saxophone masters:

  • Walt Weiskfopf - "Intervalic Improvisation - The Modern Sound: A Step Beyond Linear Improvisation" (J. Aebersold - 1995)
  • Gary Campbell - "Triad Pairs for Jazz" (Warner Bros. - 2001)
  • Jerry Bergonzi - "Inside Improvisation Series Vol. 7 - Hexatonics" (Advance Music - 2006)

Any one of these great books will set you straight on the concept of using triad pairs as an improvisational device.

Since I personally like the sound of Melodic Minor (oh, so you've noticed!), I took to getting its definitive triad
pairs hammered into my subconscious.

Getting back to the 1959 Coltrane example for a moment;  2 Major triads (F & G) were built a whole step apart, on the fourth and fifth steps of the C Major Scale (F-A-C and G-B-D). This 6 note grouping can be either lydian or mixolydian in nature, and it forms the hexatonic scale F-G-A-B-C-D, as well as a G 11 chord (G-B-D-F-A-C).

To get the sound
of Melodic Minor, in our case, we use one Major and one Augmented triad a whole step apart, also built on the 4th and 5th scale steps.

In C Melodic Minor, for example, that would be F Maj (F-A-C) and G Augmented (G-B-Eb) triads. The resulting hexatonic scale is then Eb-F-G-A-B-C, which forms an F7#11 when stretched out as a chord in thirds.

The slick part of using
this Melodic Minor triad pair as a V7 chord, as is used in the below ii-V7-i example, is that the F7#11 becomes its tritone sub; namely a B7b5b9b13 (B-D#-F-A-C-G), better known as B7alt (V7 chord, resolving to E min.).

Notice that this 6 note configuration is one note (D) short of a B altered scale, the 7th mode of C Melodic Minor.

As a ii chord (to the key of G, Maj or  min), this same triad pair would read as A-C-Eb-G-B-F (A-7b5 9 b13).

The note "F" (or b13), in this case, might seem a bit ambiguous at first, but 1) the ear hears it as part of the F Maj half of the triad pair and 2) Melodic Minor has no avoid notes, hah hah! Remember?

Any rules that apply to Melodic Minor, apply to its triad pairs as well.

Ok, so on to the bid-niz at hand.

The Line 1 breakdown (G-7b5 / C7alt / F- / F- ) of the PDF download reads:

Measure 1, Line 1 = ii7b5 = G-7b5
= Bb Melodic Minor = Eb Maj & F Aug = Eb-F-G-A-Bb-Db

Measure 2, Line 1 = V7alt = C7alt = C# Melodic Minor = F# Maj & G# Aug (also G# Maj) = F#-G#-A#-C-C#-(D#)-E
Measures 3 & 4, Line 1 = i = F min = F Melodic Minor = Bb Maj & C Aug (also F min) = Bb-C-D-E-F-Ab

When using triad pairs, the order in which the triads are expressed is irrelevant.

It ain't rocket science, but it is kinda scientific!

Don't let the triplets trip you up! Start out at a manageable tempo.

Play it in the range that is most comfortable for you and your instrument.
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Treble Clef                   Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Perfect Fourth Story; Ch. 2 - Melodic Minor ii-V7-i Application]]>Thu, 28 Aug 2014 12:05:21 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/08/a-perfect-fourth-story-ch-2-melodic-minor-ii-v7-i-application.htmlA 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!

Besides, there's enough of that stuff in the Melodic Minor Handbook.

So, for the new exercise example below, instead of using the 8 note phrase from Line 7, measure #1 (of the previous exercise), we'll use the phrase from measure #2 of that line (G-B-F-B  Db-G-B-Ab), and plug it in as our G7alt (from seventh degree of Ab Melodic Minor). The point here is, that while the derivative MM scales are still a min 3rd apart, the phrases themselves are not transposed carbon copies.

The ii7b5-V7alt can resolve to Major as well as minor, but for this exercise, we'll stick with minor, as it gives us an another Melodic Minor shape to mess with. The tonic C min chord is likewise derived from the various scale degrees of............C Melodic Minor.

Each subsequent line contains the same shape applied to a ii7b5-V7alt-i in C min, built in combinations from different scale degrees of F, Ab and C Melodic Minor.

A note about the last 2 lines: As there are only 2 notes
(F & G) common to the three previously mentioned Melodic Minor scales, these two lines are built with each of the first 3 measures starting from F & G, respectively.

Try out your own combinations. Experiment!
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Treble Clef                            Bass Clef

B. Stern
<![CDATA[A Perfect Fourth Story - Melodic Minor 4th Shape]]>Wed, 20 Aug 2014 21:29:05 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/08/a-perfect-fourth-story-melodic-minor-4th-shape.htmlA 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!

So now our perfect little cycle of perfect 4ths really isn't so perfect, after all, as that 7 note series of consecutive 4ths now says (B-Eb-A-D-G-C-F = C Melodic Minor), with B - Eb being a diminished 4th (sounding like a Maj. 3rd) and Eb - A being an augmented 4th (diminished 5th or tritone). As you probably know, a Melodic Minor scale contains 2 tritones, 4 perfect 4ths and 1 diminished 4th (Maj. 3rd).

So what?!

(Actually, I really didn't have that tune in mind.)

The exercise below consists mainly of the interval of a 4th (perfect or otherwise) plus Maj & min 2nds and 3rds as well.

It's based on a pretty common Major pentatonic lick in 4ths, with a repeating pivot note (D-G-C-G  A-D-G-E = C Maj. Pentatonic). This configuration happens twice more in a Maj. scale: G-C-F-C  D-G-C-A (= F Maj. Pentatonic) and A-D-G-D  E-A-D-B (= G Maj. Pentatonic).

That was the C Major Scale. We've already altered it to C Melodic Minor, remember?

I wanted to see what it would look, sound and feel like if I built this lick on each step of the Melodic Minor scale. The shape and interval integrity is the same, but the sound is something else, as would be expected.

As there are "no avoid" notes in Melodic Minor, it creates interesting alternatives to the "ordinary". It doesn't immediately sit so comfortably in the fingers, so it needs to be worked on to gain better familiarity.

Each key is labeled with the parent Melodic Minor scale, as well it's most common chord applications.

More on those applications coming up.
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Treble Clef                  Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[Funkman's D-Lite - Contortion, Distortion & 7#9 (Maj / min)]]>Thu, 14 Aug 2014 15:03:55 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/08/funkmans-d-lite-contortion-distortion-79-maj-min.htmlFunkman'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?

PictureA flexible Dominant 7 with alterations
About as flexible as a pretty Bulgarian contortionist.

Get my point?

OK, great!
Now stop gawking
at the picture!

C'mon now!

I mean, shame on you!
The girl can't help it!


Oh yeah!

As I was saying, a dominant 7 is a very flexible type thing, indeed!

For that reason, no other chord type lends itself to so many different scale choices: i.e. Major, Melodic Minor, Harmonic Minor, Harmonic Major, Whole Tone, Diminished and even Augmented (upper partials only).

The exercise featured here is derived from a permutation of one of those scales; the half tone/ whole tone Diminished scale to be exact, and the permutation is the Pentatonic b2. (1-b2-3-5-6, using the scale steps from a Major scale. In F, that would mean: F-Gb-A-C-D).

The sound we're after, however, is created
when the note D, the 5th scale step of F Pentatonic b2, is heard as the root. This would turn our scale into D-F-Gb-A-C, where D=root; F=b3(#9); Gb(F#)=3; A=5; C=b7.

This gives us the sound of a D7 arpeggio, with both Mal and min 3rds (F# & F respectively), more commonly known as D7#9.

The configuration of the line in the exercise below is a kind of hybrid "Bergonzi Shape" (The eight pentatonic shapes
from tenor master/ guru Jerry Bergonzi's book "Vol 2 - Pentatonics" Advance Music).

Whereas the Bergonzi shapes utilize
4 note groupings, with a repeating scheme of alternating skip or step motion in an up or down
direction, this exercise employs an 8 note, measure long repeating scheme.

Excluding the 3 note pickup, and starting on the downbeat of measure #1
, F pentatonic b2 over D (D-F-Gb-A-C, asc., D-C-A-Gb-F, desc.) the scheme is:

(D) Skip down (A)- Step
down (Gb)- Skip up (C)- Step down - /
          (Skip C)                                     (Skip A)              

(A) Skip down (F) - Step up (
Gb) - Skip up (C) - Step down (A next measure)
        (Skip Gb)                                  (Skip A)

And the scheme pattern repeats itself
each measure.

I believe this Maj./ min scale/ mode came into vogue, as a melodic device
in the late 60's with the early "jazz fusion" players (Miles, Chick Corea, Joe Zawinul, The Breckers, Joe Henderson, etc.), and should be a familiar sound to most.

The coexistence of a Maj/ min tonality has been and been a major part of the Blues sonority since it's
inception. The classic 7#9 sound eg. F#-C-F over D (the 5th being optional), is a staple of the "Funky/ Jazz/ Blues" genre.

Play that Funky Music RIGHT,

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Treble Clef                Bass Clef
B. Stern
<![CDATA[251 Measure Relay - ii-V7-i Penta b6 Speed & Agility Exercise]]>Wed, 06 Aug 2014 13:20:02 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/08/251-measure-relay-ii-v7-i-penta-b6-speed-agility-exercise.html251 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.

Starting on Line 1, Measure #1, as our ii chord (C-7b5) we have the exact same 5 note, Penta b6 configuration as last time; descending from F, which is the 4th scale degree of Bb Pentatonic b6
(Bb-C-D-F-Gb; again, not to be confused with F as the fifth, both intervalically and as the 5th scale degree of Bb maj / min), which in turn is derived from the key of Eb Melodic Minor (all of these relationships are labeled.....isn't that nice?!).

The first 5 notes of the first measure Bb Pentatonic b6, as they are (
F-D-C-Bb-Gb), provide us with the 11 - 9 - root - b7 & b5 of C-7b5, our ii chord.

Play this over a C in the bass to hear the effect.

In Measure #2, our V7, in this case an F7alt descending again from common tone F
, the 5 note configuration spells F-Eb-Db-A-Ab
, which forms a descending Db Pentatonic b6, (derived from Gb Melodic Minor) starting on it's 3rd scale degree. In terms of the F7alt (V7) chord, we're looking at: Root - b7 -b13 - 3 -#9.

Playing this over the root F in the bass will give you the full effect. Notice especially, the change in sonority, as well as the tension created, when going from
measure #1 to #2. The F stays the same, but everything else changes around it.

The 5 note configuration in Measures #3 & #4
makes up an F Pentatonic b6 (F-Db-C-A-G), descending from it's root (F again, our common tone), and is derived from the key of Bb Melodic Minor, which generates our tonic minor i chord (Bb min).

The Bb min chord elements found here are: 5th -
b3 - 9 - 7 & 6. The root, Bb, is in the bass.

Again, notice the effect, as
V7 "resolves" to i. All three pentatonic configurations contain a considerable degree of tension, creating a "rich" texture.

Spicy meatball, anyone?

As with the exercise from the previous post, play these lines, if necessary, in a range or octave that's comfortable for you on your instrument. Memorization and technical facility, not sight reading, is the goal here.  
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B. Stern
<![CDATA[NOT Olympics - Pentatonic b6 Speed & Agility Exercise]]>Thu, 31 Jul 2014 13:10:54 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/not-olympics-pentatonic-b6-speed-agility-exercise.htmlNOT 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.

The exercise presented here uses an altered pentatonic (b6) configuration, with a simple, stepwise "down - up" shape. This exercise can be used with any type of pentatonic(Maj, b3, b2, etc.) or 5 note grouping.

It can be used to develop both technical and mental "speed and agility", as well as being a rapid fire way to express a chord or group of chords (a la Joe Henderson, George Coleman, Freddie Hubbard, et al).

Breaking it down - Measure #1 of line 1

F-D-C-Bb-Gb is a Bb pentatonic b6, starting on the pentatonic's 4th scale degree (not to be confused with F as the 5th scale degree of a Bb Maj or min scale). Two 4 note groups of 16th notes
(F-D-C-Bb desc. & Gb-Bb-C-D asc.), and you're back to F where you started.

Each subsequent measure is transposed down a half step.

Repeat. Rapid repetition is what this is all about.

Start out` by playing this as slow as you have to in order get it clean! Gradually increase the tempo over time as you
get it under control.

Strive to memorize!

Another major point of this exercise is memorization. After playing these configurations enough, you'll probably have them memorized anyway.

This configuration (measure #1) can be used to express the following chords (partial list):
Bb+7 9
C7sus 9#11

Since Bb pentatonic b6 is derived from the key of Eb Melodic Minor, measure #1 will work over any chords and functions of Eb MM. The same relationships to their parent Melodic Minor keys go for the other transposed measures.

The next logical extension to this exercise would be to begin the configuration on a different scale degree. For example, let's leave the first note F of measure #1 as is but consider it the 3rd scale degree of..................................Db pentatonic b6. This would turn the configuration of bar #1 into F-Eb-Db-A-Ab.

Do the same beginning configuration with the other scale steps, i.e.: 2 = F-Eb-B-Bb-G (Eb penta b6); 1 = F-Db-C-A-G (F penta b6); 5 = F-E-C#-B-A (A penta b6).

This exercise was conceived originally for the tenor saxophone. Trumpet players, trombonists, etc., put it in the range that's comfortable for your instrument.

This isn't about sight reading. It's about memorization, vocabulary and chops building.

See you at the finish line?

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B. Stern
<![CDATA[Melomina's Delight - Minor Tonic to Dominant (i - V7alt)]]>Tue, 22 Jul 2014 21:45:18 GMThttp://bobbysternjazz.com/1/post/2014/07/melominas-delight-minor-tonic-to-dominant-i-v7alt.htmlMelomina'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.

This exercise should be viewed and practiced as a collection of two bar phrases with repeats (Note: Bars 2 & 8 should have repeat signs at the end).

Some of these 2 bar` phrases can be used as interesting alternatives to the normal stuff one might play over these chords. If nothing else, this exercise will help your chops and expand your vocabulary once internalized.

Note: When playing along to a tune like "Softly As in a Morning Sunrise", bear in mind that this exercise is in Bb Tenor key, which is D minor (C minor concert).
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