Triad Pairs

Discussion in 'Music Theory [DB]' started by ImAGoodDuck, Aug 22, 2005.

  1. So I'm working out of this book by Walt Weiskopf called Intervalic Improvisation and have to say it is pretty cool. I'm just starting to crack into it but it seems to be a pretty good book. Until I started listening for it I didn't really realize how much the great cats use different types of triad pairs. I'm having trouble doing the inversion thing in my head though just because it is confusing to think of for me. The hand shapes are also kind of a challange. Right now I'm working on playing from the fourth and fifth of a major and from the third and fourth for a dorian and playing both triads as majors. Even as basic as that is it seems to be really opening up my solos. Are there any combinations that you guys have found that lay and sound nice on the ol' double bass? Or just cool sounding ones you like to play? Sorry for the long post. Brian
  2. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    cant believe no one took you up on this post. this is good stuff. probably alittle advanced for most..
  3. TomSauter


    Dec 22, 2004
    Kennesaw, GA
    This really is a great topic--I think this approach is a great way to get some more advanced harmony across in a bass solo, or in a walking line for that matter. There's a bunch of threads asking "What can I play over 16 bars of D dorian?" Some combination of F and G triads is a good sound, or G and A if you want to change it up and make it melodic minor instead of dorian.

    Some other popular ones are major triads a half step apart or major triads a tritone apart. If you're in the key of Bb and you're playing a Bb triad and an A triad, then it sounds like you're alternating between Bb major and Bb diminished, which is cool to do if you want to ignore the changes for a minute. The tritone one works over a dominant chord, so if you're in Bb and there's a F7 chord, you can play F and B major triads, or Ab and D major triads if you want to. Actually I guess you could play all four.

    My personal fave is a minor triad and a major triad a whole step above. It sounds great to play Bb minor triad and C major triad over Caravan.
  4. Bates


    Aug 10, 2005
    Austin, TX
    Can you expand on this concept? It sounds interesting.

  5. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    No, it's not that they are "a little too advanced", it's that I disagree with the concept as an approach to improvisation.

    From Hal Galper - 'It is a commonly mistaken conclusion that improvising musical ideas is a matter of making a series of conscious decisions. "I think I'll play this, and now I think I'll play this; now I think I'll play this." This is just not possible. Conscious decisions of that type are too slow to use during the process of improvising. Have you ever practiced a musical idea, then to interject it into your solo while playing only to find that it completely stops your solo? Conscious decision-making is an intellectual process that is too slow to use while improvising. Decisions about what to play when are made on an intuitive level, the intuition being able to make decisions at a speed approximately 20,000 faster than intellectual thought.

    There is only one way you can play a musical idea; because you have to! The idea lives so intensely, so "vividly" in your aural (ears/hearing) imagination that you're compelled to play it. Your hands have no choice; they are compelled to respond to the intense brain signal. It is compulsive behavior in its finest form.

    When practicing music ideas we tend to think that it is the idea itself that we are trying to learn when in actuality the idea functions more as a tool to develop the more sophisticated process of vivid aural imagination. It's not the idea itself that is important; it is the effect that practicing the idea has on the process of hearing vividly. It is not the practiced idea you take to the bandstand with you, it is the process of vivid aural imagination you take to the bandstand as a performing tool.Your goal on the bandstand is to make up ideas you never practiced before and hear them so intensely you that are compelled to play them.'
  6. shwashwa


    Aug 30, 2003
    that's a great goal, but to say that no one plays things they've practiced before is silly. check out coltrane's solo on giant steps for starters... he repeats himself alot on there, and i'm sure it's stuff he had practiced. anyway, alot of other great players use triad pairs in their playing. i'm transcribing some brecker lately, and he uses it, among many, many others... i think the goal is to practice it so much and have it so under your fingers that flows naturally and it isn't a conscious decision like hal galper says. but that doesnt mean you shouldnt practice it and try to get it in your solos consciously. after hours and hours of trying, eventually it will be an unconscious decision, but no one came out of the womb playing triad pairs or anything else for that matter.
  7. TomSauter


    Dec 22, 2004
    Kennesaw, GA
    Exactly. And there's nothing wrong with having some devices that you know you can go to to get a certain sound. In fact, I would say it's not even possible to get to a point where you can hear stuff you've never played all the time (I'm assuming that we're dealing with normal western harmony). Not even Herbie Hancock hears everything he plays--he has devices just like everyone else that can take him in whatever direction.

    There's lots of great players that I have specificall heard say that they use certain harmonic devices as a "launching pad" of sorts. I've heard Kenny Garrett, Mulgrew Miller, Donald Brown, Essiet Essiet, and Bob Hurst all say something to that effect.

    I agree that as an approach to improvising we shouldn't be trying to make a series of conscious decisions during a solo instead of trying to hear some stuff, but sometimes you just have to go with something that you know will work.
  8. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    Certainly to each his own; I'm having a much easier time making sense by working on my ear and not "hand shapes".
  9. jfv


    May 5, 2003
    Portland, OR
    Improvisation is like a story, fiction, that a writer comes
    up with in a short time. The words, phrases, plot techniques
    are not something the writer has never used, but if he is
    a master the story will be an absolute unique thing, and
    not just some concatenated series of quotations :)

    Ed is pointing to that uniqueness as something you can't
    make in advance, true. But, on the other hand, the more
    words in the dictionary you know the more tools you have,

    Something like Weiskopf is useful to assimilate the whys
    of harmony, but you have to get beyond conscious use
    of that tool to achieve mastery.

  10. damonsmith


    May 10, 2006
    Houston, Tx
    - I am going to side with Ed here, I'd would just add that in practice as well as listening to different music we learn to hear advanced ideas as options in the moment. I think more often than playing something you have never played before you can find way to play things you have played and practiced before in new relationships to other sounds.
    Advanced sonic, rhythmic and harmonic relationships is something you can work on hearing.

    What you can work out in practice is a deeper understanding of your materials, for us that starts with the double bass and it's available resources. Then we can work the ideas therein that interest us, be it texture, rhythms, harmonic ideas, etc. and try to expand the applications of those materials.
  11. Jeremy Allen

    Jeremy Allen Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 18, 2002
    Bloomington, IN
    I once had this exact discussion (about practicing/intentionality, not about triads) with Cecil McBee. I complained that I worked and worked on stuff, but in the moment of improvising the work seemed to be of no avail--what came out was what came out, regardless of what I "wanted" to have come out. He said no, that's the way it has to be; you work on something, and then you put it away "into the closet" (odd choice of words, maybe); and it will come out when it's ready to, naturally.

    So the corollary of this is that what comes out when improvising is only a form of what you've practiced and taught yourself to hear. I spent years and years working on (and thinking in) scalar terms, and that's the form my improvisations took. Same goes for gestural concepts, rhythmic concepts, ideas about space--what you spend time playing becomes the material your imagination uses when you improvise. I wholly agree with Ed, but I also understand the deliberateness with which the Good Duck is approaching things (as long as said quacker understands that deliberateness in practicing and deliberateness in improvising are two different things).

    I hope to someday come near to understanding what Jerry Bergonzi means when he says that his improvisations are at this point wholly rhythmic--he's put all of the harmonic/melodic information that he can envision into the computer that is his brain, and now the actual notes that come out are not something he consciously thinks about. It's the rhythmic shape that he concentrates on; the changes will play themselves, whether inside or outside, linear or angular (kind of Zen, that whole thing), and he's free to explore the rhythmic possibilities.
  12. TGP


    Mar 27, 2005
    Speaking of Bergonzi, his latest book on Hexatonics covers this subject in depth using 16 different pairs with many exercises in all keys and many play along tracks to try them out on.

    Like all improvisational techniques don't expect them to come out in your playing on the gig until you've internalized the material.
    This stuff is not easy to pull off on db.

    A good way to start is to write tunes (improvisation in super slow motion) using this or any other advanced technique first.
  13. tappingtrance

    tappingtrance Cooke Harvey Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2005
    I practice stuff [whether it is organized - like superimposing triads or tetra chords or new made up pentatonics] for the purpose of putting my fingers in new places/contortions and to stretch my ears so they will be ready in the future to let it fly. There is no right way to do this, any new idea you tackle will only help you in the future.
  14. rprowse


    Dec 17, 2005
    Wellington NZ
    Stimulating thread!
    I think it's a bit of both, but I will be checking out the triad idea for sure, thanks.
  15. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    Here is a quote from pianist Jean Michel Pilc. In my opinion one of the most gifted jazz improvisors on the planet. Kinda touches on some of the stuff that Ed and Damon mentioned. Interestingly he seems like the brunt of his practice is not improv tools. I agree with E & D that improv has to be in the moment. By that token you can not "practice" improvising.

    JMP: Technique is only the ability to be able to forget the instrument, so that you become the instrument of music, and the instrument itself ceases to exist.

    Of course it is a long and tough process, and I practice daily, classical music mainly.

    The balance comes when you become able to hear yourself while you're playing, be an outside listener, kind of. When you have that "body double" experience, you know you are in the right zone because everything becomes immaterial, sound and feelings which go with it. When you start experiencing it playing trio, it means you are playing with the right guys and your technique is fine. When you experience it solo, well, you know your technique is definitely what it should be for your own purposes.

    On the other hand, when you feel great playing music but not so great listening to it later, you know something is wrong and you are not a good listener of yourself.

    So I developed this listener ability and instant feedback, mainly by recording myself a lot. By listening to myself on recordings, many of them privately made at home with my home studio, I progressively learned how to hear myself, and therefore reach this balance you are talking about, which I would redefine as the "this is right" feeling. Technique at this point is only part of the picture, but an essential one. If you miss a note, you hear it.

  16. tappingtrance

    tappingtrance Cooke Harvey Supporting Member

    Jul 27, 2005
    +1, yeah when you hear yourself as if you are listening to someone else it can be very cool and liberating - you tend to play less and get inside the story you are telling.
  17. Hey Good Duck! I am also interested in triad pairs and a particular pattern using two major triads a whole step apart works well on bass. The pattern consists of a major triad and then a major triad in it's 1rst inversion.
    ex. (Gtriad, 1rst inv. A) g,b,d,c#,e,a.
    Staying totally inside try it over a maj. 7 #11, from the b3 of a minor7 (13) and from the b7 of a dominant. They outline the harmony nicely. I also agree with the other post this stuff should not be forced into your improvisations. It takes awhile for these new patterns to be digested, just practice getting them under your fingers and hearing them. They will appear naturally one day.
  18. Somewhere in anohter thread I read here today it mentions the sugestion that to work on an idea - like triad pairs for instance - try writing tunes with them. Great idea.

    Trying new ideas expands your hearing and abilities and the result is a bit like when you're in market for a new car and in my case an Astra estate - ihadn't really noticed these things much and now I see them on every road every day.

    I'd even go further, and say that even if you don't use the ideas the exercise will have been worth it.

    Many jazz courses I have been on have explained an intellectual idea and then got everyone to try to drop them into a solo over the appropriate chords. It's great if you can do it but misleading to think anyone works that way in practise as Ed points out, and can be a rather dispiriting exercise.

    Thinking up new ideas is something though well worth practising in idle moments, but harmonic phrasing is less important than rythmic phrasing IMHO and having an overall picture so that you phrase a begining a middle and an end - a constant stream of ideas is just that, and does not represent a comprehensible solo. Consequently, how do you lead into your 'triad pairs' (or anything else you play) and how do you move away from them?

    But in general - some unaccompanied bass solos apart - most improvisations are within a band context and what the rest of the band does should matter IMHO, and if you can't do what Ed sugests you can't play the thing that takes advantage of you and the moment and makes (small group) jazz unique and special. You can prepare for what a band might do but you can't practise it since each occassion is unique.

    IMHO again, the best material for systematic practise of ideas to get them in ears and fingering as a springboard to give you possibilities as oposed to soloing by numbers is on the sax shelves of the local music store.

    Irronically, Hal has written a soloing by numbers book himself - Forward Motion, which is really about rythmic phrasing - can you hear rythmic phrases theat drive the music forward and how do you create tension and release in rythm?

    I find the players I enjoy playing behind the best are the most rythmic and they give the greatest oportunity for group conversation and swapping ideas. Just think, if the soloist put a flat 9 over a 7 chord and the next time the 7 chord appeared you did the same would anyone notice - would it matter - would it add anything?

    David Baker in his many many many far too many books reccomends playing all cominations in all keys in all 'tessitatura' rythm, dyniamics anyway you can imagine. There is only so much time iin anyone's life though. Trying to give yourself the ability to think things up on the bandstand strikes me as more productive. After all, just because you can play all this **** in the pracitice room doesn't mean it will come out on the 'stand as we've all noted.

    By the way guys, have a look at 'Expansions' by Gary Campbell - a slim volume on how to put together scales and patterns (incuding triad pairs) and practice them in a systematic manner and how you might use them. Campbell says himself that these things show up first in his composing but not in his soloing for some time. We must be patient.
  19. hdiddy

    hdiddy Official Forum Flunkee Supporting Member

    Mar 16, 2004
    San Francisco, CA
    I'm bumping this thread because it's such a great read and deserves more attention. FED PUKESPRAY's post at the top is very poignant and there are valid points on all sides. How I missed this the first time, I dunno. That is some mighty fine TBDB **** right there.

    I just happen to be looking at triad pairs right now and man this just hits the spot.
  20. Marc Piane

    Marc Piane

    Jun 14, 2004
    For me if I try to interject an idea just 'cause I was practicing I can't make it convincing. It ends up sounding contrived to me. I think that is a HUGE part of improvising. Believing, feeling, and hearing what you are playing.

    I remember analyzing a transcription of a Liebman solo on Softly. If you had showed me that solo without the context of the changes I would have never guessed in a million years what tune it was. In his hands IT KILLED!

    I was at a jam a few years back and one of my friends and I sang this guys solo pretty much note for note to eachother and made a game of identifying which Abersold Vol # it came from. Jamey should make royalties with all the young cats playing his solos.

    In my mind telling someone else's story ain't improvising.