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Thread: A Question for the Theory Geeks

  1. #1
    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default A Question for the Theory Geeks

    A simple, two-chord tune: two bars of Cm, two bars of Abm (repeated for at least 32 bars). The tune feels like it's in C minor.

    What jazz instructor Adolphe Sandole called the "harmonic line", the dominating melody that arises from the chord progression (eg what a saxophonist might play if he were part of a small group improvising a vocalist's accompaniment) would seem to be C to B (at least some of the time).

    The Quandry: B is not a note in the Abm chord.

    Solution 1: Rename the chord progression "Cm to G#m".
    Solution 2: Rename the harmonic line "C to Cb".
    (Solution 3 write a new key signature every two bars would probably look too annoyingly awkward.)

    Which would you choose?


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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post

    The Quandry: B is not a note in the Abm chord.

    Solution 1: Rename the chord progression "Cm to G#m".
    Solution 2: Rename the harmonic line "C to Cb".
    An Abm chord is technically spelled Ab Cb Eb; the Cb is enharmonically the same as B.

    If it was spelled as a G#m chord, it would have a B: G# B D#.

    C to Ab is a more common way to express the root movement, so I'd use the Cb and the Abm version.

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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    I agree with you, but feel uncomfortable losing the resolving-leading-note thing (at least the way it looks on paper).

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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    I agree with you, but feel uncomfortable losing the resolving-leading-note thing (at least the way it looks on paper).
    I don't see where that is really an issue with a "simple, two-chord tune". (although that doesn't mean it's simple to play well )

    One other way to look at it is just spell the Cb as the enharmonic B and don't worry too much about it. Frankly most average readers would prefer to see it written that way, even if wrong by theory rules.
    Last edited by DavidKOS; Oct-22-2018 at 10:46am.

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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Solution 2. Rename the melodic line C - Cb.

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    String-Bending Heretic mandocrucian's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Seems like it just wobbles back and forth between to keys, but I'd just notate it in Cm and use accidentals (Cb for the Abm measures)

    C dorian > Ab dorian sounds good. Cm6 > Abm6 (||Cm - Cm7 - Cm6 | Abm Abm7 Abm6 || if you want some movement)

    But C harmonic minor to an altered Abm scale(s) Ab Bb Cb Db-or-D Eb F-or-F#/Gb or G-nat sounds ok using chromatic resolutions (either up or down) into Cm chord tones, as if you were using a diminished scale. Cm > Abm > G7b9.

    Does this have an actual melody? or it is just an improv vamp? The pitches in a lead sheet would tip the backup players as to what scale(s) are most appropriate while it is upfront. Fot the rides ...player's choice

    NH

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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    What melodic content there is, after a few repetitions of just the chords, kinda stays in Cm, sometimes clashing with the Abm.

    I'll upload an mp3 of the section in question tomorrow (it's pretty late right now where I am).

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    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Some jazz guys form "scales" by simply meshing two triads, such as C-Eb-G and Ab-Cb-Eb, as appear here in the Cm and Abm chords, together to create an alternative form of scale structure. It is called something like Abm over Cm.

    Humans hear triads so strongly that these oddball mash-ups of normally "unrelated" harmonic structures still make some level of sense to people. I think I heard about this approach in some writing by jazz guitarist Mike Stern, he uses this tactic in some of his compositions and solos. It is moderately "outside" playing, just relying on the strength of triad structures.

    In this case, they aren't completely unrelated triads though, since the Eb is shared.

    Just listing the notes in the two triads, we have Cb-C-Eb-G-Ab, that's gonna sound vaguely Eastern European to me, you could rip off solos like mad using that combination. Must be a fun tune to mess around with. Add in a D and F or Fb according to taste.

    What tune is this? Is there a recording?
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    What melodic content there is, after a few repetitions of just the chords, kinda stays in Cm, sometimes clashing with the Abm.
    A deliberate dissonance or just not following the chord changes? no disrespect intended...I teach jazz improv and believe in following the chords.

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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Here's the tune it's nowhere near as musical as you guys are imagining it . It's from a Globe of Death (motorcycles in a cage) act.

    The form is a little different from the somewhat hypothetical tune in the first post there's a short G following the Abm. So actually, you get Cb to B to C progressively sharper outside of equal temperament.
    Like Niles said, it wobbles back and forth between two keys, but the Abm tonality kinda gets overrun.

    The "guitar" is a Jonathan Mann SEM-5, through an Avid 11R.
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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    why not call it a Ab2? or add the 7 (Gb) and call it Ab9?
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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Well, because it's not an Ab2 (or 9) it's an Abm triad, there's a Cb in the chord.

    The Cb is really the note being discussed here. I'm inclined to agree with DavidKOS call it a Cb when it appears within the context of the triad (like, when the strings are playing it, which would also help the unrestricted-by-equal-temperament string players play the note flat enough), and call it a B when it appears (in the score) by itself, especially for the tempered instruments.

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    Dave Sheets
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Thanks for posting the mp3, I like the mood in that.
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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Thanks, Dave.

    I apologize for the time-zone differences I can't imagine that this is something that one wants to hear when they first wake up.

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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    This discussion points up some of the differences between classical and jazz theory; I have heard people say "no difference" but I disagree, with respect to both schools. In this case I would defer to the jazz experts, because my rigid AP Music Theory curriculum would insist on "correct" spelling of all chords (in other words, it HAS to be Cb, not "B"). But that is based on theoretically strict structural concepts, which are artificial in the sense of "artifice," not "fake." The fact is, all the Eurocentric theories were solidified at a time when Europeans believed they had evolved into the highest culture, and that "primitives" and "exotics" had not yet discovered the major minor scales. I still argue for consistent spelling of scales and chords that make sense, but I can't argue with a jazz expert who says:

    The Cb is really the note being discussed here. I'm inclined to agree with DavidKOS – call it a Cb when it appears within the context of the triad (like, when the strings are playing it, which would also help the unrestricted-by-equal-temperament string players play the note flat enough), and call it a B when it appears (in the score) by itself, especially for the tempered instruments.

    That's logical, consistent, and--unlike many strictly theoretical decisions--it's musical.

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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Moving to the chord a maj 3rd below reminds me of the intro to "Goldfinger" (which used major chords, instead of minors). The greatest Bond theme (with "Thumderball" and "You Only Live Twice" coming in 2nd and 3rd) rivaled perhaps only by the opening "Brian Song" from Monty Python's Life of Brian.

    Here's the tune it's nowhere near as musical as you guys are imagining it . It's from a Globe of Death (motorcycles in a cage) act.
    Sounds like Hawkwind-meets-death-metal... Not what I had expected. Is this something you are covering, or did you write it?


    MY guess would have been some Peter Gabriel era Genesis (circa "Selling England by The Pound" \) or early King Crimson-esque prog-rock interlude. Or maybe a bossa nova or samba. & once I flashed on the "Goldfinger" link...surf guitar.

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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    I didn't write it, but I did compose the electric mando part (or at least arrange – I'm pretty much just doubling the horn line, trying to add a rock vibe, something alive and breathing) after the computer-generated track was recorded.

    It's from one of those Cirque du Soleil shows (only, not actually the Cirque du Soleil – this is a separate/competing company owned by the guy who was the Director of the early Cirque shows), of which I'm the Music Director (which means that I run the band, re-arrange/edit the music to fit whatever semi-permanent changes evolve, and conduct the music enough to follow the action).

    I wrote out my mando part (just 'cuz I write out everything I play), and that's when I started questioning what to call that Cb/B note.

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    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    How would this thread have evolved if I had started out with "Here's a two-chord tune: Click image for larger version. 

Name:	CmAbaug2 for Cafe.png 
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ID:	172115
    What's the name of the second chord?"

    ...my rigid AP Music Theory curriculum would insist on "correct" spelling of all chords (in other words, it HAS to be Cb, not "B")
    We all think that way I think that I boxed us in, in the first post, by saying that the second chord is an Abm ('cuz, well, it kinda is), and we all fought to get out of the box.

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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    If the chords were close-voiced, I would have used Cb for the 3rd for clarity of reading/notation. You are right about also having the chord name above the notation influencing the enharmonic spelling of the notation.

    If the order of the chords were reversed, notation only, I might have notated them as G#-D#-B > G-Eb-C

    my rigid AP Music Theory curriculum would insist on "correct" spelling of all chords
    Hmmmm…..According to the OCD "theoretical correctness" of the day, Ravel and Debussy were "wrong" half of the time. Oh NOOOOO...parallel perfect 4ths!!! What a travesty!

    NH

    (Just think how lucky you are not to be thinking about 1/4 tones!!! ha ha ha ha ha)

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  37. #20
    Registered User Jim Bevan's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Ya, prior to me naming the chord (and in doing so, giving it the full weight of European music theory), it was just sounds which my brain tried to organize into a triad. Prior to that, it was midi pitches in a computer, and prior to that, it was two black notes and a white note on a keyboard. We'd probably still have the discussion, though, even with no chord name, just the mp3 what chord it is, how it fits in the key etc. We like to organize/categorize/define what we hear.

    There actually is a kaval player in this band, and he's quite comfortable (and accurate) with his quarter tones luckily for me, he hasn't found anyplace to put 'em, and I haven't found the necessity to transcribe what he's doing anyways.

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    Oval holes are cool David Lewis's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Bevan View Post
    Well, because it's not an Ab2 (or 9) – it's an Abm triad, there's a Cb in the chord.

    The Cb is really the note being discussed here. I'm inclined to agree with DavidKOS – call it a Cb when it appears within the context of the triad (like, when the strings are playing it, which would also help the unrestricted-by-equal-temperament string players play the note flat enough), and call it a B when it appears (in the score) by itself, especially for the tempered instruments.

    Agh. Sorry about that.
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    Registered User Carl23's Avatar
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    Default Re: A Question for the Theory Geeks

    Because it is not complicated enough...

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makam#...Comma_Line.gif

    Same notation does not mean same pitch!

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