Harmonic Major - Cinderella Scale Story?

Picture
This post focuses on a scale system which has been given some lip service, but has been less well represented in either recorded or written examples; namely Harmonic Major

Personally, I haven't paid much attention to this scale and its modes up to this point; the reason being, I guess, is that many of its diatonic chord types
are embedded within some the more commonly used scale systems: Major. minor (melodic & harmonic), diminished and augmented.


However, I've come to discover that the Harmonic Major scale system is a unique and beautiful thing (or should I say thang?)!


Although a hybrid, of sorts
, it contains a number of strangely beautiful and exotic sounding (to western ears) modes and melodic possibilities.


So what, then, is this thing called Harmonic Major, and how did it get here?


 
 

Signs of Augmentia - Augmented Scale 
Major / Minor Triad Pairs

PictureSigns of Augmentia++++
While we're on the subject of symmetrical scales (at least we were the last time I posted something), let's check into some of the possibilities which another, albeit lesser discussed, symmetrical configuration, commonly known as the "Augmented Scale", has to offer.

The Augmented Scale is a 6 note (hexatonic) scale made up of three minor 2nds, spaced a Major third apart:

C-Db, E-F, G#-A


Or, the same exact scale can be viewed
as consisting of three minor 3rds (or augmented 2nds), spaced a Major third apart:



 
 

Funkman's Delight #2 - Children of the
Damned (Diminished Scale)!

PictureStarring Cy O'Nara
The essential, most compelling element of the 8 note, symmetrical "Diminished Scale" is.........
it's symmetry!

Regardless of whether it starts with a whole or a half step, the beauty of this scale lies in its ability to be broken down into smaller pieces of three, four, five (pentatonic) or six note (hexatonic) cells, whereby these groupings can be combined and spaced at intervals, usually minor thirds or tritones, to create some very hip longer lines.


The potential downside to this method is that
the results of pure symmetry could end up sounding somewhat mechanical or mathematical. but for the sake of exploration and experimentation, that may not necessarily be a bad thing; at least as a starting point.

Besides, a lot usually depends as much on "how" you play something, as it does "what" you play; doesn't it?

But that's something for another post
. In the meantime.......


 
 

Granted! - A Joe Henderson Solo Transcription

It's Joe Henderson time again, ladies and gents!
Picture"Happiness is Just a Thing Called (hearing a guy named) Joe"
Joe, as you should know, was one of the music's more stylistically unique and influential tenor saxophonists and improvisers, as well as the composer of a healthy number of classic originals.

His influence and legacy live on in his many recordings, made both as leader and sideman, during a career which spanned nearly four decades.

Henderson's tenor saxophone solo on one of those original compositions, an uptempo C Minor Blues entitled "Granted" (dedicated to the renowned NYC Jazz Radio personality and promoter, Alan Grant, who recently passed away at 93), is the subject of this post and downloadable transcription.

"Granted" was recorded by Rudy Van Gelder on January 27th, 1966 (which happened to be the 25th birthday of the session's vibraphonist, Bobby Hutcherson) and was part of the session that produced Henderson's fifth and last studio album as a leader for the Blue Note label, "Mode for Joe".

At the time of the recording, Joe Henderson was a member of pianist Horace Silver's quintet, which also included a young Woody Shaw on trumpet. Henderson had joined Silver's group in June, 1964 and would remain with the pianist for just another two-plus months.


 
 

More Blues Minor - The Coal, Hard Sax!

Picture Miner Blues - The Coal Hard Sax
This post could be considered as an addendum to "C Minor Blues - The Last Four" from a few weeks ago.

This 4 bar mini-etude didn't make the cut, only because it was conceived at a much slower tempo (ca. quarter note = 120) as in, for example, Joe Henderson's "Out of The Night" or  "Bags & 'Trane", than the dozen or so in that post.

It does, however contain the same premise; being based on bars 9, 10, 11 and 12 (bVI7-V7-i-i) of the type of medium tempo Minor Blues as those tunes named above.

This one contains a single, four bar phrase, presented in 12 keys, with a 16th note feel.

It works really well as a warmup type exercise.


 
 

Got the Digits?
Melodic Minor Tonic to Dominant (i-V7alt) Digital Patterns

Picture"Dig It All! Re: Doo-Doo" painting by Fo-Toh Zjiap
The Melodic Minor scale, being in reality, an "altered" Major scale (with a flatted 3rd), translates those alterations from Major to it's phrases and melodic patterns as well.

This exercise is a technical study in the use of inherent Melodic Minor "1235 type" "digital patterns" over a common Tonic to Dominant (i - V7alt) harmonic movement, aka the "A" sections of "Softly as in a Morning Sunrise", or "A Night in Tunisia" (which has a bII7 sub for its V7).

By "digital patterns", I don't mean "ones and zeros" or Boolean Algebra; just good ol' analog left and right hand "digits", more commonly known as fingers.

While one might be familiar with the common Major Scale "digits" (ie, 1235 4568, 2346 5679 and so forth), the altered Melodic Minor versions of these same patterns might be less familiar, both in feel as well as sound.

The downloadable exercise is designed to familiarize oneself with these Melodic Minor "altered" digital patterns.


 
 

B. There! - "Invitation" - The Last Eight

Picture
Here's another in a series of "Last Eight" (or "Last Four") groups of etudes; designed to zero in on a certain section of a particular tune, where the chord / scale choices and their connectivity might be somewhat ambiguous, and might in general, might make you say "Huh?!"

This time, we'll take a look at the well known and oft played standard "Invitation", by Bronislau Kaper, the Polish born film composer who also wrote "On Green Dolphin Street'.

At the very end of last year, I posted an etude based on the complete set of changes of "Invitation" (here), for what it's worth.

The last eight measures (and especially the last four) of "Invitation" used to make me scratch my head (I'm sure it wasn't dandruff, or worse), before I knew how to recognize and handle Melodic Minor chord / scale relationships in these situations.

And if you didn't already realize it "Invitation" is a Melodic Minor lover's dream!


 
 

Tweet 'Dis! See Myna Fuddah Boids!
C Minor Blues - The Last Four

Picture"See Myna Blues" Bird
Hello "Bird" Lovers!

Actually, the subject of this post is neither the bird, the man, nor his "Ornithology".

Rather, based on the positive reaction to recent posts (here & here), which take 8 bar sections of tunes for study and analysis, this one focuses on the last 4 measures of a typical "Mr. PC" type C Minor Blues (bVI7-V7-i), for which I've scribbled out a dozen (12, count 'em) 4 bar mini-etudes.

A good precursor to this post, and where you'll find the basic premise for this exercise, would be this post from 2013, which deals with the same VI7-V7-i movement, with the accompanying exercises focusing on the Melodic Minor derived Pentatonic b6 mode.

It's probably a good idea to check that one out, as there isn't much to add here in the way of a basic harmonic breakdown.

The dozen lines presented here are a bit looser in their scale choices, although Melodic Minor still predominates.

After all, it is supposed to be a Minor Blues, right? ...o
r a piece of one, anyway.


 
 

Joe Henderson's
"Black Narcissus" - The Last Eight

Picture
Joe Henderson's "Black Narcissus" is a delicate jazz waltz and one of the legendary tenor saxophonist / composer's better known compositions.

Originally recorded on May 29, 1969 and released as part of Henderson's album "Power to the People" (which included Herbie Hancock, Ron Carter and Jack De Johnette) on the Milestone label, Joe recorded it several times subsequently. That includes the 1974 version, recorded in Paris and featured on the album of the same name.

It has since been covered by many by other artists.


Although completely different
in emotional intent, scope and style, "Black Narcissus" has striking similarities in compositional structure, as well as harmonic usage, to another one of Henderson's classics, and the subject of an earlier post; namely, "Inner Urge".


I had heard different versions of "Black Narcissus" for years before actually trying to learn it myself. At that point, I realized that this simple sounding tune necessitated some closer scrutiny; especially after hearing many improvisers trying to "ramrod" their way through the last eight measure, "B" section of the tune.


 
 

One Cool Warmup.....Comin' Up!!

Picture
Here's a nifty little chromatic warmup exercise, great for getting those icicles out of your fingers any time of the year.

It can be worked in over a iii-VI-ii-V7-I (in C: E-7 A7 / D-7 G7 / C / C ) progression, and the breakdown is pretty straightforward.

Question: What's 4 measures long, contains all 12 notes, includes a descending Maj7+5 arpeggio, a descending dim7
arpeggio and ends on the Major 3rd of the key?

Uhhhhhh............Give up?

Just keep on reading and the truth shall reveal itself (...and maybe even set you free!)
.