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Posts Tagged ‘jazz’

  1. Pitch Axis – An Introduction

    February 9, 2012 by RedSheep

    The concept of a pitch axis is that rather than having chords I through vii, every chord centres around a single pitch or note. While most music in the diatonic system has a root that is often visited, with a pitch axis the root is very strongly emphasised. Similar to how jazz musicians can consider scales on a chord by chord basis the scale that is used over each bar of the pitch axis is often based on the chords played with the pitch axis root in every chord.

    Joe Satriani - Guitarist Extraordinaire

    If It's Good enough for Satch, it's good enough for you

    A simple example is shown here

    Like the Video, Try playing a note( low E on guitar is good or middle c for pianists) then play a mode based on that note, like E minor followed by E major, then e phrygian,superlocrian,neopolitan,Hindustan,enigmatic etc

    Like the video this often works better if the pitch axis is played as a drone/long note

    Vai satriani’s and petrucci all use this as it adds a lot of harmonic interest and can be done on many levels of complexity. Changing from minor aolean to Dorian to melodic minor to major only changes one note in each scale per switch, but the mood and flavour of the sound changes noticeably.

    I’ve noticed that a great place to do such a change, that’s not specifically a pitch axis, is during a key change. The music has transitioned so much anyway that the new mode is a little bit extra that emphasises this change and allows you to add more texture to the song.

    Switching modes in this way is undeniably tricky and involves knowledge of every mode, for piano this may be easier but I suggest playing around with it. If you want to use chords your ears are your friends in finding a set of modal chords that sound appropriate to what you’re playing be it consonant or dissonant.

    So in summary
    Level 1 is modes over a drone
    Level 2 is modes over chords
    Level 3 is in isolation in a section of music
    Level 4 is using them to emphasise changes and transitions in the music

    Why this concept is so powerful is that you can decide how little or much to use it, which will dictate how subtle the mood change is. Check out Bjork for an example of how showy this Can be: Aeroplane

    It takes your ears to get something that’s got a good balance, but here’s a (VERY) rough piece I threw together based off of G Phrygian,Ionian,lydian and dorian.

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    Pitch Axis Sheet Music

    For further reading check out:

    Joe Satriani’s Guitar Secrets
    Advanced Guitar Soloing
    Exploring jazz guitar


  2. An Open Apology

    January 1, 2012 by RedSheep

    Me and major 6ths don’t have a lot in common, and I’ve never given them all that much thought. Like a wallflower or a database administrator they’re not considered much by your average joe musician, and for that mistake, major 6ths, I apologise. I recently got in bed with your sister, the minor 6th and she’s been distracting me

    I’vedone theory to the point that I know you share many of the qualities of a major 3rd, I see you as tasty padding for the octaves. Your jazzy dissonance never really fitted with my rock prog past, and I never really knew what you could help me with.

    It wasn’t until I recently started ear training again that I noticed you there in the corner of this tiny little bar. I heard you and while I could mimic the other intervals via the songs they’re in or by the mood they convey, you always eluded me and even after some real head searching I couldn’t find you in any songs. As I sit here now I believe you were in conquest of paradise

    As an apology I dedicate these 3 pieces to you. All extensively using your skill personality and quality to tantalise and caress my ears. While the other intervals make an appearance for character development, you are the protagonist, thirds be damned!

    I now see you as the secret temptress, you wouldn’t think it by your shy demeanour but once you’re comfortable with someone you don the garters, feathers and corsets and these the listener masterfully. In your element you dance between a perfect fifth and a dissonant seventh with just enough rough to keep it interesting. Jazz heads around the world have fallen for your charms and been sucked in for years, but then there’s also Mario and an old folk tune that took you on to boot!

    Yours apologetically

    RedSheep_Signature