viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2012


El baterista canadiense Barry Elmes tiene en su web una muy interesante tesis sobre Elvin Jones.  El documento es un detallado análisis del estilo del baterista del cuarteto clásico de John Coltrane y de su contribución a la evolución del jazz.  El trabajo viene acompañado de transcripciones que permiten una mejor comprensión de la explicación. ¡Imperdible!

The central contribution that Jones made to jazz drumming is his system of playing time using phrases. As Jones has stated: “The connection of logical rhythmic phrases to each other is always my aim” (Kauffman 1993:90). All other aspects of his accompaniment relate to, and expand, this vital concept. In my view, it is the adoption of this approach by modern (post-Jones) jazz drummers that has enabled them to play more ‘musically’, i.e., to contribute more than basic timekeeping to the improvised  performance. The challenge of hearing and ‘playing time’ in larger units using a variety of phrases, and the challenge it creates for other musicians to play along with it, have become common aspects of learning to play jazz. In other words, while still an advanced  aspect of jazz percussion, most of the proficient jazz drummers playing today employ Jones’s phrasing concept, at least to some degree, and most jazz musicians who play other instruments expect the modern jazz drummer to be equipped with such elements of Jones’s method.


The listener’s attention is fixed, not just by the volume of his ride cymbal, by what he chooses to play on it. Instead of the usual statement of quarter-beat pulse or the common ride cymbal pattern, Jones offers a line comprised of eighth-note phrases that feature both rhythmic and dynamic variation. These phrases are rhythmically designed in the same fashion as those of a melodic soloist: using eighth notes and/or quarter notes, placed on downbeats and/or upbeats. In the absence of pitch capability, Jones infers a certain musicality to his phrases by accenting over a much wider dynamic range than is heard in the drumming of his contemporaries or predecessors. To a large degree, Jones expresses his phrases primarily, but not exclusively, on the ride cymbal.


The rhythmic variation in Jones’s improvised cymbal line seems to turn ‘time-keeping’ into a more musical enterprise for both drummer and other band members. The function  of Jones’s ride cymbal goes far beyond delineating pulse for the band, and in so doing gives more flexibility to the soloist and other supporting instruments. Jones’s phrases usually contain three-beat figures and occasionally five-beat figures(*), often tied over bar lines, thereby removing the compartmentalization of rhythm into individual bar-long units. This latter phenomenon often occurs in the more traditional jazz drumming styles where rudiments (associated with marching band music) play a larger role.

By formulating his phrases in a minimum length of two bars, Jones remains consistent with other rhythm based musics embraced by jazz players, such as Brazilian and Cuban music, where the rhythmic patterns are also two bars in length. Two-bar phrases also seem to be the minimum size required to resolve Jones’s rhythmic statements of call and response.


(*) Rhythmic figures composed of quarter notes and/or eighth notes that have a duration of
three pulse beats (three-beat figure) or five pulse beats (five-beat figure).

miércoles, 28 de noviembre de 2012

ARNOLD SCHOENBERG Dominantes secundarios

(T)odo sonido en el bajo tiende a imponer sus armónicos y tiene por tanto necesidad de convertirse en fundamental de una tríada mayor – tiene la ventaja de que permite el transporte (la imitación) de todas las funciones de la tríada fundamental sobre nuevas dominantes secundarias. 

Armonía – Real Musical (1979), página 460.

lunes, 26 de noviembre de 2012


Tonality is often described as a relationship between pitches and chords belonging to a single scale: in composing a melody to go with a (major) I-ii-V-I progression, the student of tonal music is taught to use pitches drawn from one diatonic collection.  Minor-mode harmony, however, is invariably polyscalar.  Both modal mixture and the use of secondary dominant chords increase the scalar density of tonal harmony.  Impressionist composer and jazz musicians continued this process, regularly using all four of the locally diatonic scales (1), as well as (more sporadically) the other three scales derived in Section I-B (2).  The result is a fascinating blend of middle ground diatonicism and local chromaticism, a music in which the qualities of "tension" and "release" are the products both of shifts between different scalar collections and of background movement among regions of a single, diatonic scale.  Listening to Ravel's "Ondine" or to a sophisticated jazz musician improvise over standard tonal changes, one hears a curiously hybrid sound - a dense and difficult chromaticism that still seems rooted in elementary principles of tonal voice-leading.

One might conclude that the "common practice period" did not necessarily end with nineteenth century.  The scales derived in Section I, coupled with the rules of "chord-scale compatibility" discussed in Section II, represent a substantial addition to the tonal system which is not the creation of any single musician.  Though the expanded system is theoretically elegant, it evolved over a number of years, in the hands of a number of figures - Debussy, Ravel, Stravinsky, Bartók, Messiaen, Thelonious Monk, Charlie Parker, John Coltrane. All of these have explored various of the seven non-chromatic scales, like mountanieers climbing the same mountain from different sides, often unaware of the others' progress.  In recent decades, their explorations have crystallized in the vocabulary of the working jazz musician.  To this extent, at least, we do have a genuinely "common practice."  And to this extent, tonality is not a relic of previous times, but rather something that continues to change and grow.  

Dmitri Tymoczko

(1) Major, melodic minor, whole-tone and octatonic.
(2) Harmonic minor, harmonic major and symmetric augmented.  


Los solos de músicos de jazz mencionados en el artículo están transcritos en la web del autor. 

viernes, 23 de noviembre de 2012


Chick Corea and Herbie Hancock had different approaches to copying their idols, as revealed by a portion of the program notes for a 1978 concert featuring the two artists. Corea describes “taking the creators I got attracted to, and just duplicating their art form as much as I desired—their techniques. I would consciously try to sound like them for a period.... I’d become McCoy. I’d become Herbie [Hancock].... I used to sit down with Bud Powell records and copy his solos.... [Afterwards] I used to play along with the record for hours until I couldn’t hear the difference between [myself and] the way he did it. And then I’d say, ‘Okay, I’ve got that now’ [laughs].” Hancock responds, “I never did it quite that far, not the whole solo. I’d take some little thing I liked, and work on that for hours, or even days, in the beginning.” 

Thinking in JazzGetting Your Vocabulary Straight - Learning Models for Solo Formulation, capítulo 4, nota 11.

Paul F. Berliner

miércoles, 21 de noviembre de 2012

TONALIDAD Stefan Kotska

Before examining how tonality is established in twentieth-century works, let us review how this was accomplished in traditional tonal harmony.  One important element was a descending perfect-5th root movement to tonic combined with a half-step leading-tone motion, also to tonic.  The tonicizing was often made more convincing by harmonic tritone by scales degrees 7 and 4 resolving stepwise to 1 and 3.  Other elements were important also, such as melodic emphasis on 1, 3, and 5, melodic skips between 1 and 5, and formal considerations.

All of these elements may be present to some degree in twentieth-century music that has a tonal center, but a traditional V7 - I cadence would be exceptional.  Instead, other ways have been devised to make the tonal center clear to the listener.  Essentially, these methods establish tonic by assertion - that is, through the use of reiteration, return, pedal point, ostinato, accent, formal placement, register, and similar techniques to draw attention to a particular pitch class (1).  When analyzing the tonality of a passage, it's important to pay attention to melodic aspects as well as harmonic ones, since melodic factors are often crucial in determining the tonality.

Stefan Kostka 

(1) The term "pitch class" is used to group together all pitches that have an identical except for the octave or octaves that separate them.  For example, all B♯'s C's D♭♭'s belong to the same pitch class, no matter in what octave they are found.  Página 15.