Top-Down #5: More off the Grid

When your phrases breathe and have some space, counterlines and background figures come more easily. When you write from the top, everything fits, because you decide how much space to allot each element, then you fill in the rest. When you write from the top you have total control of the pacing of your piece.
We all do plenty of music from the bottom-up, there’s nothing wrong with hitting a groove and sticking with it, writing in the box, and keeping a strict form. There is an economy of means that happens when you’re confined to song or blues form, or to a vamp or a specific number of bars.

So, building on my last post, where I broke down the intro and first melody of my tune “Dhyana”, I have below a full reduction of the first few pages. The inner lines are indicated in red, the “strong” beats are shown with arrows. The 4 TPT staff on top has barlines so you can see the 4/4 meter, but I left the rest clear of barlines to show how the music moves independent of the grid/meter, and is fully independent of downbeats and barlines. Each phrase has an inner-uber-meta meter, and its length is determined by…well…how long it should be. That’s it.

The texture is fully-voiced ensemble chords with cross-doubled inner lines passed between different instruments. The descending bass line is knit into the rhythms of the ensemble (or maybe the other way around).

The lines rise and fall, the bass/rhythm section with a quarter note pulse kicks in at m. 12.

So play the audio clip below, and dig upon the intro while referring to the above score reduction, then keep the clip playing and open up the full score (it’s a transposed score, so watch out!). The whole piece is there. I think the tempo of this performance is a little slow, but it’s a rehearsal recording and as we say in LA, “It’s all good”.  See if you like how it floats in and out of time within a steady meter.

Click to view full score.

About Scott Healy

LA composer and performer.
This entry was posted in Arranging/Orchestration, Jazz Composition and Analysis, Jazz Theory, Theory and Harmony, Top--Down Writing and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

1 Response to Top-Down #5: More off the Grid

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