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Bill Evans' "Re: Person I knew" and other tunes with pedal points

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by Michael Case, Nov 29, 2004.


  1. Hello all,
    What do you play to get away from the pedal point? Would you throw in the changes and reference the bass note? Or would one just play the pedal with slight ornametation?
    I've been listening to this tune on Bill Evans Moonbeams and have a sense of how Chuck Israels plays, but it doesn't work the same way when I play.
    This also leads into the question about getting away from 4 to the bar walking and the best approach to that style of playing.
    Anyway, your responses are appreciated.
    Mike
     
  2. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    You should definietly get Jon (nypiano) over here for this discussion.

    There are kind of two different things you are talking about here -
    1. what to play over sections that have a written pedal during the head
    2. how to break up the time

    My approach to #1 is twofold, kind of. First, what is happening with the original harmony? How is it functioning, what was the composer trying to do (to my ears) with the melody/harmony interaction? Is it just a big dominant chord? Are they trying to bring out a certain voice leading through a chord? And does the approach to the solo hew to the melodic approach or more closely to the harmonic function of the movement "on top" of the pedal point? But secondly and more importantly - what are the guys you are playing with doing? Are they doing the same thing every time? Are they approaching it differently every time? What are you hearing going on and what do you hear as a musical interaction on your part?
    Because it doesn't matter how much you tear this stuff up on paper or sitting in front of a piano, if you can't make a decision based on what's happening RIGHT NOW musically, all of that other stuff doesn't matter.
    Well, not that it doesn't matter, but it's not viable until it reaches the point in your practice that it just comes out of instrument.

    By way of personal example, DURRL had this to say about DEDICATED TO BILL
    The tune suggests openings for counterpoint from the bass, and you are right on the money in these spaces - not too much, not too little, ... Nice use of contrast on the diminished (7b9) stuff; sometimes you outline the triad of the root, sometimes you play off of the diminished aspect. There's one really nice instance where Jon is playing upper structure triad arpeggiations in tritone related pairs (E/Bb, Db/G) and you pedal an arpeggiated E Ma triad. Another time in the same spot, you took an entirely different approach, ...

    Now I didn't sit down and decide before hand what to do where, I didn't think about what would be a nice change up. I was just playing and trying to stay out of the way of whatever direction my ears were pointing me to. Letting the conversation between Jon and Eric and myself HAPPEN.


    #2 is a harder nut to crack. Certainly you have to play what you hear, but it's harder to hear I think. You have to hear spaces as notes, not the absence of notes, you have to hear what you're doing as still being propulsive, you have to hear it as adding to the conversation and not stopping the conversation. I am certainly not a "master" of this style of playing, but I sure like to do it. I'm not sure that Jon likes how it turns out 100% of the time. Unlike a walking bass line in which you can have a line that maybe doesn't have a melodic quality or the best note choice to propel the harmony but still "makes it", breaking the time up either works or it doesn't work. No 'pretty much' working. The more you put in time working on tunes in a focused way, the more you can hear how to drop whatever you want to play anywhere in the tune, the easier breaking things up is going to be.
    In sessions, be upfront about what you want to work on and try it on a few tunes (the ones you are most familiar with). It will be mechanical at first, but (like anything) the more you do it, the easier it can get.

    Well that's my 2 cents, anyway.
     
  3. Great Ed! Thank you, I figured if anyone would post here it would be you. I guess what I'm looking for is a way to practice a tune like this with just a bass and a nome without just pedaling C. The same thing with the broken time feel, it is easier to do with people (only cause there are other sounds to interact with) but alone I feel like it's not happening. I guess I should just practice playing that way, the more I do it the more it will "flesh out." That seems to be the gist of what you said.
    Thanks,
    Mike
     
  4. nypiano

    nypiano

    Feb 10, 2003
    NYC
    I think Ed covered a lot of ground. He is especially good at pedal tones over change oriented tunes. This is the opposite where the pedal tone is the given and you want to get away from it. And I could understand why since it is a lot of C.

    To summarize I think the following in terms of pedal tones.

    1. V and I are the most common pedal tones.
    Re: A person is a I pedal tone tune that deals in Cmajor and Cminor. It goes round the horn and back to Cmajor. You probably could experiment with G.

    "Dedicated to Bill is hard to classify--since it doesn't have a true key signature it just has territories that sound logically connected albeit unconventional . Some of the pedals sound like I and then they sound like V For example the long E section. Emajlyd, Emin6, E7mix, E7b913 to A7sus. But then there are these: Db-6, D/Db, Dblyd, Db#5 to B- or this F#7sus,F#lyd, D/F#,C/F# to D-(!). I'd really have to do a lot of explaining for those.

    Pedal tones are generally about “2” feel or breaking up the time. 2 feel is really about 1 and 3 (rather than 4/4 swing) or perhaps thinking in 1 measure units. What you conceive of rhythmically is the key

    2. Keep the pedal ideas as the anchor but invent on the harmonic aspects in the spaces.

    3. Don’t forget that you can use anticipations and delays to the first beat. You can also leave a space on the first few beats and do this on the subsequent measure. For example play the C on the and of 4 or on 4 and hold it through the next measure after waiting nearly a measure.

    Here’s an example of a typical pedalish thing over the F-/C change in that tune. *=down

    (silence 1,2..) on 2+ play in eighth notes F *C AbC(accented beat 4 and held over).

    You can take this 4 note motive and try to do the same thing with the different harmonies on the song. It’s a short enough motive that it won’t get in the way of the pianist :) You can also reverse interval directions. Try to invent within restrictions. It’s actually freeing—which is contradictory but true.
     
  5. Wow! Thanks for the info Jon. I really appreciate it, my one question is this. If one is thinking in terms of 1 and 3 and playing there, doesn't that work against the concept of "swing"?
     
  6. nypiano

    nypiano

    Feb 10, 2003
    NYC
    doesn't that work against the concept of "swing"?

    Not to me. I often find that staying in open feel makes me feel less restricted to the barline. Maybe there's a little more flex there. Especially overly accented 2 and 4. I find that locks me in to the barline too much-almost like a lead weight.
    4/4 is more about locking into the pocket. Which is fine. Open feel
    sometimes can inspire things that get away from the beginnings and ends of measures and perhaps influences you to play things that are larger in conception.
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Which is a fancy way of saying that you had yur ears open. To me, pedal points (both the ones that we as bassists create under regular tunes, and the ones we often try to transcend when they are written in) are all about hearing the harmony in a very "big picture" way. In order to hear a pedal, you have to understand how it does or doesn't relate to the flow of harmony above it. The pedal in "Naima" is very different from the pedal that often happens on "Secret Love", which is different from the pedal on "Someday My Prince", which is different from the pedal figure in "Rain Waltz". If you are hearing what the harmony is about, you have a million options, like:

    - Keeping the pedal or "open" feel, but changing the notes to create counterpoint.

    - Keeping the pedal point, but working rhythmic variations in; this is especially fun if you set up patterns that cross the barlines over a long period of time.

    - Taking one long pedal point on a single pitch and creating several secondary pedals that support the harmony in a more specific way, and then voice leading them together to create a very slow moving line.

    - combinations on the above, etc.

    It all depends on what you're hearing and feeling, and to another degree, how much liberty you feel you have based on the concept and harmonic/rhythmic strength of the other players. For instance, in playing with students, I can bend the barline and create unusual pedal lines all day if the piano player and the drummer are strong and stay closer to home, but if they aren't, then I have to stay closer to home or the soloist is hung out to dry. Some soloists love it when the bass player stretches the barline because then they can play really simple **** and it sounds hip. Others hate it because then all of their busy, worked out **** doesn't sound just like their favorite Bird or 'Trane side anymore. Like FOGHORN said, it's all about being in the moment.
     
  8. nypiano

    nypiano

    Feb 10, 2003
    NYC


    Interesting assessment. Perhaps you should give Mookie your sample of what a pedal deal on Orrin Keepnews might sound like. Can you post little music segments in this forum. Like finale notepad snippets or screen shots?
     
  9. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    I feel the breeze from your Fuquism, but cannot claim to completely understand the first part of your question (forgive me, it's been a very long semester, and a very long day :rollno: ). As to the second part, I think that I can save JPG files from Silbelius, and we can upload those no problem.
     
  10. nypiano

    nypiano

    Feb 10, 2003
    NYC


    you couldn't know if you didn't know

    Re: person I knew was Bill's anagram for Orrin Keepnews his record producer at Riverside
     
  11. Thanks Chris an Jon, I really appreciate this. Lot's of things to think about, work on and listen for. :hyper:
     
  12. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    NYC
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    JON SAY - blah blah blah
    JON MEAN - write and post some examples of the
    - Keeping the pedal or "open" feel, but changing the notes to create counterpoint.

    - Keeping the pedal point, but working rhythmic variations in; this is especially fun if you set up patterns that cross the barlines over a long period of time.

    - Taking one long pedal point on a single pitch and creating several secondary pedals that support the harmony in a more specific way, and then voice leading them together to create a very slow moving line.

    - combinations on the above, etc.
    that DURRL SAY.