Tag Archives: Harmony

Revealing Ellington’s “The Clothed Woman”

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The original Columbia recording of Duke Ellington’s piano feature The Clothed Woman is from December 30th, 1947, and is available on “The Chronological Duke Ellington and his Orchestra 1947-1948.” Ellington had performed the piece a few nights earlier at Carnegie … Continue reading

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Linear Harmony #1: Almost Chords but Not Quite

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I started talking about linear harmony a while ago in “Lines Intertwining” (with apologies to Spinal Tap), and a few other Top-Down posts, like Melodic Pedal Points; in other posts I’ve discussed freeing up lines and counterpoint and not worrying … Continue reading

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The First Jazz Composer?

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Claude Debussy? Discuss…. Professorscosco is worn out by the holidays, a burning, but very cold rooftop New Years jazz gig, and a long bike ride today, and is thus not inclined at the moment to pontificate about music theory. But … Continue reading

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Originally posted on Today Is The Question: Ted Panken on Music, Politics and the Arts:
A recent press release from the Detroit Jazz Festival stated that 90-year-old Dave Brubeck, advised by his doctors that it would be a bad idea…

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Top Down #6: Melodic Motion–Space is the Place

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You can give your writing rhythmic tension by varying the “groove” under a melody, melodic line, or syncopated figure. You can also create space for counterlines and more music material under, after and around your melodic figures. This adds a … Continue reading

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Top-Down #5: More off the Grid

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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 … Continue reading

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Top Down #3: Phrase Length and Form

Listen to some old-school blues tracks, and dig upon how some phrases/lyric lines are longer than the 4 measures that we’re used to. The performer goes to the IV chord, back to the I, to the V, when it feels … Continue reading

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Top-Down #2: Phrase Length, Strength, and the Third Dimension

There’s nothing wrong with strict song form, standards, blues, etc., and I have no objection to chord progressions – some of my best friends have strong resolutions. But, jazz music’s two big building blocks, song form (4-8-12-16 bar structure) and … Continue reading

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Scoring and Controlling Improvisation #2–Cells and Solos

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Writing “free” notation in jazz for pitched instruments is a challenge. While rhythm section players are used to making up their parts (reading chord changes, following ensemble figures with rhythmic notation), there might be some head-scratching at the session in … Continue reading

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“Serious” Improvisation-Surfing the Third Stream

I’m writing a piece for string quartet and 3 percussionists. In this piece I want to have the players improvise in certain passages. This creates many challenges, not the least of which is how to notate improvisation. I’ve done this … Continue reading

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