Monday, 29 October 2012

The Sound

The Sound: I'm putting together a series of blogs on a voicing idea that has some connected but divergent paths that create transformations of chord quality and chord progression.

The Sound heard in jazz piano for over half a century now and we all know it so much it is often referred to as the 'stock 13" chord. I first learned it from the guys I was playing with in the 1960's and heard more about it from a jazz piano book series by John Mehegan, who featured this voicing in essentially what he called 'A' and 'B' voicings which using Fma7(b5) as an example of a G13 chord: The A version was this closed voiced chord in root position and the B version was the second inversion of that. This particular voicing was described by my friend Mike Nock, as 'The Sound' ...heard all over the world where and when jazz was played. Mike is an Australian (originally from New Zealand) jazz pianist who was visiting Grant MacEwan College's music program in the 80's I think. Mike was giving a talk about it. Of course it was already being taught in our courses there and it was affirming to hear Mike speak of this voicing in this way. There was a 2nd sound Mike mentioned where the 'A' note in this sample voicing FMa7(b5) was lowered to become (with a G bass) a G13(b9) or as a stand alone voicing for FDimMa7.

That did get me thinking: Oh yeah: Sound 1 (Fma7(b5) and Sound 2 (FDimMa7). I did have some conversations with a local brilliant pianist (who will be nameless for now) about this and over a period of time I was able to piece together a strategy to help to explore Tonality through to Chromaticism. This was a method of adding more color to a V13 chord in an incremental fashion, with some linear considerations like the bebop cliche.

First of all the voicing itself: using FMa7(b5) as an example, is used to create the familiar but still enchanting V13 chord as in:
FMa7(b5)/G = G13 (expressed here as a slash chord) N.B. GUITARISTS USE DROP 2s.
Here are other commonly played chord qualities using
FMa7(b5) (with these roots): 
FMa7(b5)/Db = Db7(#5#9) 
FMa7(b5)/D = Dmi6/9 
FMa7(b5)/B = Bmi11(b5) 
FMa7(b5)/E = E7sus4(b9)
In functional analysis:
bVIIS1/I = I13 ... (V13) 
IIIS1/I = I7(#9#5) ... (V7(#9#5) 
bIIIS1/I = Imi6/9 ...  (Imi6/9) 
bVS1/I = Imi11(b5) ... iimi11(b5) 
bIIS1/I = I7sus(b9) ... V7sus(b9)
This system mostly visits V7 chord quality and color along with  ii—V's and the integration with the Bebop cliche.

The bebop cliche could be described as a moving chromatic line between chord tones—specifically in V7: 5—b5—4—3 and variations but it is essentially that.

The chord shapes used are named to be descriptive as to their function. It's the drill that many have practised but in order to facillitate a hierarchy of tension/color, I'll reiterated a few basics:

G13—I6/9 using the 'Sound' as notated above would be:
FMa7(b5)/G—Emi11/C or in functional terms: bVIIS1/1 (V13) — iiimi11/1 (I6/9)
Interpolating the related iimi7 of V13 or Dmi9—G13 using this 'Sound' method of description we call
the iimi9 chord using a description that elides with the 'Sound' method calling it 'PS1' or "the Preparation of 'Sound' I, i.e. FMa7/D = Dmi9.

FMa7/D—FMa7(b5)/G—Emi11/C and in functional terms: bIIISPS1/I (iimi9) —bVIIS1/I (V13) —I

For an increase in harmonic rhythm the bebop cliche is introduced into this progression as another interpolation (which means basically: all the additional changes occur in the same amount of time as the original V—I). The purpose of this extra harmony added, creates some additional tension and release element in the progression. The iimiMa9 implies the V7/ii and spins out some extra energy to the iimi9 chord before it resolves to the V13 chord (The bridge to 'Confirmation' [Charlie Parker] is a good example). The bebop cliche in the progression example goes something like this:

Dmi9—DmiMa9—Dmi9—G13—C. Using the PS1 designation as the preparation of S1, it is logical that the 'Preparation' OF the 'Preparation' of S1 (PPS1), could look like this in the progression. Using this 'slash chord' method in this progression this is the result:
FMa7/D—FMa7(+5)/D—FMa7/D—FMa7(b5)/G—[Emi11/C] ... or in functional terms:
bIIIPS/I (/ii)—bIIIPPS1/I (/ii)—bIIIPS1/I (-ii)—bVIIS1/1 (/V) —I

Sometimes this cliche is expressed melodically over a ii—V as well. Check out John 'Dizzy' Gillespie's 'Groovin' High' for an example.