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

Picture
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

Picture
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".



 
 

BRANCHER-FRANCE
TSG Tenor Saxophone Play - Test

Picture
I am taking this opportunity to happily announce here that I am now a proud endorser for BRANCHER-FRANCE Saxophones.

I had the good fortune of meeting Msr. Pascal Brancher, Mr. BRANCHER-FRANCE himself, maker of fine saxophones and accessories, in March 2014 at the Frankfurter Musikmesse (Frankfurt Music Fair).

The Brancher stand was located directly across the isle from the Bari Woodwinds booth  (manned by Jim Cavanaugh and Ron van Ostenbridge) whose Bari Hybrid mouthpiece and synthetic reeds I have been playing exclusively and endorsing for a number of years, going back to the days of the company's founder, the late Wolfe Taninbaum.

So meeting "the Branchers" was kind of like meeting the people next door.  I had never even heard of the Brancher brand before this, so I was certainly not familiar with their line of horns.


 
 

All Aboard!
Take A Ride on the "South Indian Line"

Picture
"People get ready, there's a train a-comin''. Don't need no ticket, just get on board "  - The O' Jays

(...and If you actually get to where you're goin' in one piece. you'd better thank the Lord!)

The exercise here is a page from my personal workbook (as is most of the stuff I post, I guess).

In order to kill two birds with one stone, I thought I'd create` these lines for myself as a method to get closer and more personal with this odd meter Carnatic composition "South Indian Line", and post them here, to share with my fellow masochists
.


 
 

    2 B Continued...
Continuous Melodic Minor ii-V7-i
3 Scale Exercise

The purpose of this minor ii-V7-i exercise, which utilizes 3 Melodic Minor scales (in directionally alternating diatonic 3rds), is at least three-fold:

1) Because Melodic Minor has no "avoid" notes, one can start and resolve the ii-V7-i cadence on each and any scale degree.

2) To smoothly connect, by whole or half step, from one scale to the next, moving in the same ascending or descending
direction.

3) Most importantly, to help train the ear to the sound of Melodic Minor in general and to the sound of this type of polymodal ii-V7-i in particular, as well as to build instrumental technique.

 
 

'Trane Fare for Slonimsky - A Diminished
Scale Sequence

PictureA Beautiful (Musical) Mind - Times 2
Here's another symmetrical scale exercise.

This time, it's 2 minor 7th chords a tritone apart,  a pair of 4 note patterns, which reveal all 8 notes of a diminished scale.

I was sure this pattern, which has its descending version in retrograde of its ascending form (second two measures), was contained somewhere in the depths of Nicolas Slonimsky's "Thesaurus of Scales and Melodic Patterns".

But it wasn't!