After moving to NYC, I was fortunate enough to get to hang with Mark Turner and ask him questions for a couple of hours. I never really got to study privately with him like a few of my friends and bandmates did, but I at least got to ask him his thoughts on music, the process, improvisation, harmony, and practice. There was MUCH talk about triads and voice leading… so you know I was happy to hear his thoughts on those topics.
I also picked up a few things indirectly from him through my friends that were studying with him showing me some of the ideas they were working on.
One of those topics was the importance of mastering the forms for the bird blues, rhythm changes, and Cherokee. The goal being that we should be able to own each of these chord progressions...
Peter Bernstein is one of my all-time favorite jazz guitarists. So of course he was the first teacher I reached out to study with when I moved to NYC - along with John Scofield. It was an epic and intense first year.
Studying with Pete basically meant hanging out, playing a lot of duo together, and just talking about different elements of the music and the tradition. He's an encyclopedia. He knows so many tunes, he can play them in any key, he's got so many stories, and he can dig into any philosophical or historical perspective of the music. He's a sponge and has been soaking everything up from the greats that he's surrounded himself with for decades.
One of the things he and I talked about the most was comping. How important it is and how to work on it....
If you were fortunate enough to get to take private jazz guitar lessons with Pat Metheny, what do you think would be the first thing he would ask you to do?
What do you think that Metheny would say is the absolute most important thing to your jazz guitar progress? I'm going to tell you what it is today, and I'm going to attach two PDFs and give you some ideas how you can accomplish it and begin applying it to your music and your playing to start seeing changes immediately and continue watching those changes grow and...
The staple pursuit of almost all jazz guitar players. It's an art form in-and-of-itself that can immediately set the legends apart from the pros apart from the talented hobbyists apart from the early stage players. Can you sit with a guitar and make music? Not simply play a tune... or make it through the form... but can you truly bring a jazz standard to life?
Ultimately, this is a lifelong pursuit. We mature and season over time with our playing much like a great wine or bottle of scotch. But I do believe there are practical steps we can take immediately to start seeing much quicker results. Not that they will get our technique to a place where we're sounding like Martin Taylor or Tuck Andress by next year... but they WILL take us from where we are...
Today's episode is based on three questions from Daniel.
(1) How do you use triad pairs?
(2) How do you apply triads over altered dominants?
(3) And how do you sound outside when improvising with triads?
(1) How do you use triad pairs?
There are plenty of traditional generic ways of using triad pairs which involve arpeggiating through one triad, then arpeggiating through the next, and then moving back and forth for a while. This is a fun technique that will get you outside of sounding like you're running scales. If you can't do this yet, you should try it. It's a good way to break things down.
However in the Melodic Triads approach, there's one additional thing happening. Melodic Triads is all about learning to control tension and...
Alright jazz guitarists...
I wrote a short, 2-measure idea for you that combines both topics applied to a basic V7 -> I6 chord progression. Then I moved that progression through the entire circle of 5ths so you could try it in all 12 major keys. You can download the PDF below.
Let me briefly explain what each of these two topics means, and then I'll analyze what's happening in the exercise.
This is a name I use anytime I'm attempting to create harmony in a way that does not simply involve playing this chord voicing, then the next chord voicing, then the next chord voicing, and on, and on, and on......
Look! Up in the sky!
It's an octatonic scale!
It's a dyad run!
It's triad pairs!
Yep, this whole run started with one simple major triad. But like a seed planted in the ground, watered, and tended to... it's bound to grow into something else.
Here's the basic theory going on that turned a simple A major triad into... that ^^^^
Actually first, let's talk about Bruce Lee for a second. Bruce once said that he's not afraid of a person who's practiced 10,000 different kicks once. He's afraid of a person who's practiced one kick 10,000 times. We'll come back to that in a minute. Let's pick up from the A major triad.
I'm using an A major triad over a C7 chord. There's a lot to cover, so I'm not going to explain too much about that.
I like to add a...
You may have heard the story about Miles Davis telling Herbie Hancock not to play "the buttah" notes. But did you know that he also once told John Scofield and some of their fellow bandmates that he WANTED them to "play the buttah notes"?!
Weird, right? Why would he tell Herbie not to play the 'buttah' notes and years later tell other band members to play them? And what the hell is a 'buttah' note?
Let's be honest... with Miles... sometimes things were just cryptic. Maybe he said strange things to get people out of their comfort zone so they'd try something new... who knows?
But let's look at how Herbie and Scofield both interpreted their experiences to see if we can learn something to put into the shed.
As the story goes, Herbie was sitting at the...