Archive for the ‘Humor’ Category
That’s right, I finally defeated justinwinslow dot com to take the number one spot. This Justin Winslow is the king of all Justin Winslows. Yes, the sole purpose of this post is to say Justin Winslow as many times as feasible to ensure I maintain my position as the master of my domain.
PS – Justin Winslow
This was an email from me to my piano player very late one night during a particularly introspective practice session. The text of this message is as important to me now as it was then and I thought it might be worth sharing – with non-musicians who want a better insight into the musical process, with the young musician who is still trying to figure things out, and even a more experienced player who has gone through similar experiences.
I had originally intended on rewriting parts of the text to make it more digestible and friendlier to the casual or sensitive reader. But, ultimately, I feel the tone and candor add some value – if nothing else, for entertainment.
A couple notes for the non-musician reading this: The roman numerals are a way of expressing harmonies independent of key. So, ii-V-I could be D minor to G major arriving on the root of C major. Like I said, though, the numerals themselves don’t explicitly define a key, just relationships. The Real/Fake books are a series of illegitimate and legitimate collections of “lead sheets”, transcriptions of the melody and harmonies of a performed tune. I also mention Sean Jones, who if you don’t know you really should (http://seanjonesmusic.com/).
Without further adieu:
From: Justin Winslow
To: Brian Buckley
Sent: Mon, October 11, 2010
Subject: Dude, I just had a breakthrough/revelation
So I decided to read some music while taking a shit to see if saturating myself with these tunes would somehow reinforce my memory and perception of them. Then something innocuous hit me, the first 4 of the bridge of A Night in Tunisia are written in the real book as:
| A-7b5 | D7b9 | G-6 D7b9 | G-6 |
I realized this is really just ii-V-i [|Aø |D7 |G- | |] (like I said, innocuous) until I processed the fact that it is really that simple. No alterations, no passing chords just the essence of it. Take it step further and you realize the A sections are just 8 measures of the tonic harmony (interspersed with dominant chords). Effectively you could play D dorian and be ‘right’ (though F mixolydian would be more appropriate but this is a useless tangent and frankly I hate thinking of things as modes).
So then, you basically have i for 16 measures, then ii-V-i in G to ii-V-I in F for the bridge and 8 measures of i again for the closing A section. This is the essence, the root harmony of the song. And, I realized this was a part of what Sean was getting at when he said that there are essentially 6 song forms (I think this is something of an over simplification but he is Sean Fuckin’ Jones).
To the point: finding the root harmonies of a song will make it a lot easier to hear and remember. Now, in A Night in Tunisia the Eb dominant chord in the A sections is important and really part of the main color of the tune. You would be ignorant (well, let’s say I would be ignorant as the bass player) to not use that driving groove and progression.
This brought me to another revelation; the Fake/Real Book is an absolute shit thing for young musicians to have. Basically, you have these transcriptions of what worked for this one band this one time at this one concert. Only it’s a distilled version of it so it doesn’t even give you the whole story. What you are left with (as someone new to jazz) is this pseudo-complex harmonic structure that tells you too much to understand the song (which is what you need) and too little of what a group would play to see what they were doing. Hell, some of the things might have made sense in one pass of the chorus but just feel odd when you read straight from the book. How many times do you end up re-writing something because it doesn’t work for us?
Now, the young musician is left feeling like he just conquered some great beast but really, has gained close to nothing from the experience. Given what I know about music now, it’s almost stupefying that I made it this far. It’s also easy to see why students who aren’t innately musical, or musically minded as Bill Evans might say, would end up useless after wiggling their way through an educational music program. This is what you were talking about too, with the kids who can’t just show up and play.