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Modal Jazz Question

Discussion in 'Ask Michael Dimin' started by Ankles, Jan 30, 2001.


  1. Ankles

    Ankles

    Jan 6, 2001
    BostonMA
    I have been working with modes for about 6 mths and don't seem to have any issues playing them by themselves. My question might be tough to answer in a forum but, how do I incorporate this into playing. Ex: when playing Impressions (COltrane, The Dm is played for (I think) 12 bars. DO I stay with Dorian or can I work my way thru the other modes and still be in Dm. Hope I am making sense. I know what I mean. I am having a tough time espressing my question.

    Thanks
     
  2. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Actually, the first section of Dmin lasts for 16 bars. The designated scale is of course Dmi, and most people start with dorian. Are you asking if you can play the other RELATED modes to D dorian (ex. - E phrygian, F lydian, etc...), or if you can play the parallel ones (ex. D phrygian, D lydian, etc)? The answer makes a world of difference.

    (P.S. - if I was supposed to wait for Michael to answer, my apologies!)

    Chris
     
  3. Ankles

    Ankles

    Jan 6, 2001
    BostonMA
    I am not sure how to answer that one. I guess the question is, should I play the related or the parallel modes. The related sound like it would make more sense. As mentioned on prior thread, I am comfortable playing them by themselves but, putting it all together is a new ball game.

    Thanks in advance!!!!!!!
     
  4. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Ankles,
    Like many tunes of the period, Impressions is a modal tune. The D-7 for the first 16 bars is played under a D Dorian melody. The next 8 bars move up to Eb dorian and then back to the D dorian for the final 8. I think it is clear that the RELATED modes work best, at least for a start. Knowing all the related modes open up the entire neck to you, gives you different melodic and intervalic possibilites and lets you experiment with tensions or extensions not ususally found over D-7. When playing Dorian and its related scales starts to sound a bit, should we dare say, boring, let me know and we can talk about how to spice it up a bit.

    Chris,
    please don't apologize - my forum is your forum (that is unless I don't agree with what you say and then I have the ultimate "blue pen" - the power to delete ;).

    Mike
     
  5. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    The important thing when playing in a modal context is to focus on melodic and motivic playing rather than running the scale up and down. The mode itself is only the raw material from which you draw your note choices in the most basic sense. Trying to play what you would sing or hum when you didn't have the constraints of the phsical aspect of playing the bass to worry about will get you off to a good start.
     
  6. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Chris,
    Good Point. But really that should be playing in ANY context, not just modal.

    Mike
     
  7. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Mike - I agree completely. I probably should have specified that as well as addressing my last post to the original poster. :cool:
     
  8. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    But if you're playing D Dorian, aren't you really playing all related modes anyway. If you have D Dorian for to 8 bar phrases, at some point during that playing, unless you REALLY emphasize chromaticism, aren't you also playing E Phyrgian, F Lydian, etc., just in the process of of playing D Dorian?
     
  9. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    Yes, of course in terms of note choice. Except that you still have to keep in mind the toanl center.

    Mike
     
  10. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Jazzbo,

    If I understand your question right, the answer is yes. The materials of the modes you mention are the same - in this case, the white keys of the piano. They are all made of the same clay, and the only real differences are what notes are emphasized in the melodic line, bass line, and chord voicings. If you check out the beginning of the "blanket scales" thread, this is exactly what that whole concept is about - trying to see similarities in consecutive chord scales rather than differences. It becomes important to recognize modes when you have progressions of chords from the same key center. For instance, in the following progression,

    A-7....D-7...G7...Cma7...Fma7...D-7...G7sus...Cma7


    ..If you don't recognize the overall key center, you might be tempted to play dorian minor scales for all the minor chords and major scales for the Major chords. But if you recognize that all of the chords come from one key, you could play the A-7 as an Aeolian minor, and the Fma7 as a Lydian....or, rather than doing all that analysis and changing from one mode to another each bar, you could just think of the whole progression as being "from" C major with emphasis on different chord tones from bar to bar.
     
  11. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    But also, if you're playing something like So What where the entire A section is D Dorian, while the melodic center of your line will be D-7, isn't it safe to assume that at times your line will have to escape the basic chord tones, where you might even be playing non-chord tones on the downbeat? Doesn't this give the ear the idea of the relative mode that you're in at the time, or is such a passage usually too brief that it still leads the ear to D Dorian, or whatever tonal center for the piece.
     
  12. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    So What is a good example. With its AABA form you can end up playing D dorian for 24 bars. You need to create other interest by moving outside a bit and then bringing it home. Ultimately it comes down to what you hear, what you can give to the listener. George Russell in his Lydian Chromatic Concept for Tonal Organization said something to the effect, that if everything you play is expected it becomes boring, if everything you play is too new, it becomes too avante garde for the audience and they cannot understand it. There must be a balance. back to So What, D dorian is a great starting point but there are many techniques that one can use to suspend the key for a moment, grasp the listeners attention and then bring it home

    Mike
     
  13. jazzbo

    jazzbo

    Aug 25, 2000
    San Francisco, CA
    Any examples?
     
  14. Mike Dimin

    Mike Dimin

    Dec 11, 1999
    Clinician: EA, Zon, Boomerang, TI. Author "The Art of Solo Bass"
    uuuuhhhhh? blank stare! deer frozen in the headlights :)

    You can use a "sequence" for example - to quote from Mark Levine's Jazz Theory Book:

    As Levine says, it is a good way to create
    Create a motif or melodic phrase move descending or ascending moving "inside" or "outside" the harmony. let it come back

    Mike
     
  15. Chris Fitzgerald

    Chris Fitzgerald Student of Life Staff Member Administrator

    Oct 19, 2000
    Louisville, KY
    Sequential motives are great in a modal context. That's a lifetime worth of study right there...Sonny Rollins and Joe Henderson are great examples of this type of playing.

    Harmonically, there's also the concept that Jerry Coker calls C*E*S*H, or Contrapuntal Elaboration of Static Harmony - that's a scary sounding term, but the concept behind it is pretty simple: take a phrase or section of a song that isn't moving harmonically and attach related harmonic "appendages" to it to add some harmonic interest. The easiest place to start with this concept is to look at the static harmony (in the case of So What, that would be D minor - the saddest of all keys...) and then ask yourself, "what are some other ways in which minor chords function in jazz besides as a sustained modal harmony?", and then go from there. Some possibilities when you do this include:

    D-7 as the ii chord in a ii-V7 progression, in which case you could play alternating measures of D-7 and G7 (or 2 measures each, or whatever length you're feeling);

    D-7 as a tonic minor, in which case you could lead away from the D- tonality by inserting either A7+9 alone, or both E-7b5 to A7+9 to D-, or;

    D- as the basis for a standard minor walkup (D-....D-+5.....D-6.....D-7), length of each chord to taste, or;

    D- as the basis for a standard "My Funny Valentine" walkdown (D-...D-/C#....D-/C....D-/B...)


    These are only a few possibilities, but they might give you some ideas to follow up. Hope some of this stuff turns out to be useful.