Help ! Modal Jazz/ fusion progressions and modulations.

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by 57fenderstrat, Oct 18, 2019.

  1. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Meister

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    Howdy folks! ,

    Something has been on my mind for a few years now and I have never been able to find much info or have any luck when I ask someone about it. It might be hard for me to explain it clear enough but I will try my best.

    In a modal tune..I don’t understand how you can abruptly change to a new key.

    Take the song So What- I understand that it is centered around D Dorian and moves up to Eflat. I understand that it sounds good because it is similar yet very new and interesting to the ear when it changes. I understand these modes share a few notes and you can use these notes as transitions from mode to mode to make it sound smoother when playing lines. I understand it uses AABA and why the modulation is there and why it sounds good...but I don’t understand how it is possible.

    Many of the chords are bulit on fourths, there is no harmony that is really functioning, there is no strong leading tone, there is no dominant chord to pull you to the new key.

    In a tune like Maiden Voyage, I kind of think of each new section or “chord/key change” as it’s own island of sound...how do I know which of these I can choose from and what island I can move to next ?!

    I once saw a YouTube video with Herbie Hancock at some kind of music event.. maybe it was a college or something. They had the audience pick random notes like c,a, fsharp, etc. and they made a tune like Maiden Voyage on the spot..mainly using Sus chords based on the roots the audience picked out.

    What I’m trying explain is a don’t understand the theory behind how you can modulate without functioning harmony and how do you pick what your a modulating to ?

    I understand you want something unrelated so it sounds good to the ear. But in a tune like So What could miles have picked just any other key center other than Eflat for the B section ? Any mode he wanted besides Dorian and phyrigain ?

    Are most model tunes stuck in the AABA format ? When picking out chords for a fusion backing track how do I know what I can choose from ? Are my options endless and it doesn’t matter what I pick ?

    I know people will say “if it sounds good it is good” , but I don’t feel comfortable doing something unless I understand the rules that make it possible or what my choices are. Even if I don’t follow the theory I want to do it knowing how I’m not following it rather than just picking random chords and keys.

    I want to be able to make a basic fusion/modal track and know what I can modulate to.

    Any time I ask or watch/read a lesson they just modulate but don’t get into things like how it was done and what choices they could have used instead.


    Anyways I know that was long and it turned into more questions than one. I know it’s a big topic and there isn’t just one answer or way to generalize it here but maybe this will start a discussion that will help me or where to look.
     
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  2. CheezeWhizz

    CheezeWhizz TDPRI Member

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    I'll take a shot . :)

    Voice leading and developing a theme. As the composer, you decide where it goes and what it comes back to.

    And if it sounds good to you it is good. :D

    That half-step up in So What just makes sense. Back on your heels for a nano-moment then your feet become stable and firmly planted.
     
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  3. LKB3rd

    LKB3rd Friend of Leo's

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    For So What, you won't like this, but there's no rules to it at all that you can analyze.
     
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  4. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    It would seem to me that the necessity to follow rules is a rather confining demand IF one is dealing with new and exploratory avenues. I will at times sit at the piano and find things that work, which I have never played before, and which as far as I can tell follow no rules. Then, I will explore those structures and find what ties two such ‘unrelated’ chords together....and how that use can be expanded.
    When rules are stretched, bent, ignored, etc; new things can happen which...yes...establish new rules???????
     
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  5. JL_LI

    JL_LI Friend of Leo's

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    There was s thread here a few months back about blues in the Dorian mode. I listened, learned the A Dorian scale, and put together a blues jam of my own. What I discovered is this. Chords do not resolve like they do in a major or minor key. After an intro, I play around an Am7 chord and loop around to start again. There are landing notes that tie sections together. I use F# a lot for this. For the AABA, I build around a D7 chord for the “B” section. After the AABA, I build a bridge on an Em7 to Am7 and land on an Am6 at the end of the bridge. Then back to AABA followed by a repeat of the first AABA I used note for note. The outro is the same riff as the intro. There are harmonies involved but not like in major or minor keys and the music loops rather than resolving from the V chord to the root. It took two months to get comfortable enough to finish the piece but I can now use A Dorian as easily as a major, minor, or blues pentatonic scale. I’m not claiming to be doing this right or to be doing it just like anyone else. I am saying that the effort to learn the mode is worth it. It’s my first foray out of country rock and blues in guitar and I’m loving it.
     
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  6. twangjeff

    twangjeff Tele-Afflicted

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    I think if you approach it as D Dorian to Eb Dorian, it will get old quick and you are correct, there is no way to make the change not sound abrupt. With modal tunes you have to go to the next step... its not bebop where you are trying to make the changes and just hold on. In So What for instance, you can start in D Dorian, add in D whole half diminished, you can explore different pentatonics (A minor or E minor pent for instance), and then get into the triad pairs to give the lines some shape (F maj and G maj for instance). The more outside (To a limit) and the more color tones you emphasize (To a limit) the more smooth you can make the transition.
     
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  7. Wally

    Wally Telefied Ad Free Member

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    Oddly enough, one piece I worked up on keyboard happens to use those notes found in the D Dorian, but I was working with an Am7 chord with a very open chord on the right hand....a G octave with the C in the middle. The A was in the bass.
    My next cord was an Ebmaj7. The common tone was a G. It works...beautiful sounds, imho. Informally ?trained? musician I am and I don’t wonder ‘why’ very often but I like to find things that are outside of my experience.
     
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  8. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good questions!
    It's important to keep in mind that Miles was rebelling against what came before - harmony and melody that focused on a lot of V to I and also tended to move towards the IV chord and then back to I.

    Miles Davis was always iconoclastic. This was just the contemporary example of him saying, "no, I'm not really giving you a V chord today". Now, having said that, all of the soloists including Miles imply something V7 ish much of the time before the chord changes. Surrounding Ebm7 is E natural and D natural. Both are contained in the D dorian mode and both are a 1/2 from Ebm. They're leading tones or approach notes (upper or lower neighbor tones). The D note is also the 3rd of Bb7 (V of Ebm) and E is the tri-tone substitution of Bb.
    Cannonball and Coltrane go way "off mode" and play a ton of bop and post bop ideas utilizing sub changes, especially emphasizing a V7 to i relationship on both sets of chords.

    Miles specified that he wanted m11 chords for the two sections. He also specified the initial voicings - stacked 4ths. D G C F A to E A D G B. He could have picked another mode but the band would have had to re-voice the harmony. *He did this on Sketches of Spain recorded in both '59 and '60 employing the Phrgyian mode quite a bit.

    "Rules" are almost always codified after the fact. Half step motion, to our relatively modern ears, sounds good and not necessarily abrupt. Composers have been using it since the late Romantic period.
     
    Last edited: Oct 18, 2019
  9. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Meister

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    These are all good replies and very interesting !
     
  10. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Meister

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    What I’m trying to do is understand how modulations happen without the dominant chords or traditional ways so I can work to something like these :

    In the middle solo part, that dank jam that sounds like something off the weather channel...it sounds to me like it’s two chords that are related to each other but then it moves to a new group of two and keeps doing that




    And then this one in the intro... at least to my ears for the first few chords it sounds like D flat minor 7 then to D minor 7 then to E minor 7.




    Maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree trying to think of them as modal modulations but that’s the vibe I’m getting from them.

    Sometimes I will loop just random sus chords and it will sound good but I feel like there has to be a better understanding then just moving the same chord shape up and down the neck
     
  11. deytookerjaabs

    deytookerjaabs Friend of Leo's

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    Yeah, big sets of rolling changes require over-thinking (or at least being super attentive) but tunes built on two chords is when you can "stretch out" all the ideas you might have...be they anything from counter-changes to those giant silly multi-octave ideas and everything in between. Or just swing it in the blues pocket. That's the whole point, in fact, even Davis said he intended for those tunes on Kind of Blue to be more roots-oriented than the playing on the album turned out to be.

    Thinkin' harmony/scales is fun but IMO the rhythm-first approach gets results rooted better in the original intention of the music.

    This is one of the few vids where I've found anyone explain it:

     
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  12. CheezeWhizz

    CheezeWhizz TDPRI Member

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    In a thread full of good stuff...this really pins it down.
     
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  13. boneyguy

    boneyguy Doctor of Teleocity

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    What are these 'rules' you speak of?

    Rules/guidlines are there so you can compose/improvise within a genre that is specified by those rules IMO.
     
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  14. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Meister

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    Maybe rules isn’t the right word haha but you guys are right most the the theory and ‘rules’ are created after the fact.

    What I guess I’m looking for is some kind of frame work. Like if I’m doing a 2 5 1 there are many substitutions and ways to change that or in ways tastefully break that apart in a new way. Same with a 1 4 5 etc. I can break these rules if I want to but I still have some kind of framework.

    When I look into this it’s like “here is a set of chords, play this mode over this set and this mode over this set” I have trouble finding out where these keys or chords are coming from. Are the just choosen because they are starkly different ?

    For example if I’m vamping in fsharp Dorian I don’t understand how you can just pack up and move into A Dorian for the next section.

    Or maybe I’m thinking of it backwards...maybe it’s just picking a sound you are looking for next and you pick a mode first and harmonize after. “I know want to move into a D Dorian sound so I will vamp with dminor7 and G7”

    I’m just overwhelmed with options I guess.
     
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  15. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Meister

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    If you check out the chords and key centers in this jam track f#dorian/adorian/cionian...the only logical thing I can see is these roots spell out an fmajor and are moving in thirds. Do you think something like this is what he was thinking about ? Could the composer have just as easily gone to something else like g# Dorian instead of a Dorian ?

    Is he using any kind of logic to pick these modes for the new sections ?

     
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  16. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire

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    Motion in 3rds, especially minor 3rds is very common and symmetrical.
    You can divide an octave into four equal parts with m3s and three equal parts with major 3rds. *Among other devices, that's why diminished chords repeat every four frets (m3s).

    In a ii V I, a really common sub for the V7 is to take the iim7 and move it up a minor 3rd. Ex; Dm7 - Fm7 - Cmaj7. Use the same shape (or grip) for the Dm7 and the Fm7 and you'll hear it better. Also try m9 and m11 shapes.

    Moving the same shape or set of intervals around is called "constant structure" or parallel motion. There's no set of hard and fast rules that govern this type of motion. A good song or a good solo i.e., a good melody, "justifies" the motion.

    Our 21st century ears are very accustomed to this type of movement ... and we like it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2019
  17. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Meister

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    Ooo I did like that Dm7 - Fm7 - Cmaj7. Just doing it with basic barres with the root on the 5th string sounded tasty. minor nines too
     
  18. CheezeWhizz

    CheezeWhizz TDPRI Member

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    Forgive Me in advance for getting basic.:D
    The 7 basic Modes...relate to basic diatonic harmony. At least to begin with. You build (harmonize) chord progressions with them.
    Take a chord like Cmaj7. 1-3-5-7. CEGB.
    The modes you can play over this chord and be completely consonant would be the 1st, 3rd, 5th, and 7th modes. C Ionian, E Phrygian, G Mixolydian, and B Locrian.

    Take all of those modes and you can harmonize the C major chord progression:

    1357
    CEGB - I Cmaj7 1357
    DFAC - ii Dm7 2461
    EGBD - iii Em7 3572
    FACE - IV Fmaj7 4613
    GBDF - V G7 5724
    ACEG - vi Am7 6135
    BDFA - vii° Bm7b5 7246

    If you look at the notes in the chords vertically, you'll see the four modes I listed above. You'll also see which are minor modes and which are major. Just look at the numbers.

    If you knew all of this already, I apologize for pointing this out this basic parent scale/key center thing. :)
     
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  19. telemnemonics

    telemnemonics Doctor of Teleocity Ad Free Member

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    Spend a decade or so primarily listening to modal Jazz and you might question your former sanity WRT preferring whatever it is you feel makes more sense!

    My feeling about music theory is that what "works" is dependent on how much you exercise your ear.
    I've listened to a lot of non Western music and otherwise mostly Jazz, but favoring the '60- '70 less mainstream stuff.
    I also played almost exclusively what was best described as Free Music for maybe ten years, with players who also listened to Avant-garde area Jazz.
    My finding was that there is no such thing as free music if played by musicians who study the musics that lead toward and feed that sort of music.
    Inevitably structures emerge and the music is no longer free. (Not talking about noise music)
    My music study and learning of theory came entirely from playing and listening, and since Monk, Miles, Coltrane, Tyner, Cecil Taylor, Don Pullen, and many others didn't feel terribly constrained by conventions or by un-exercised ears, those issues were not installed in my processor.
    Rules are there, but I find conventions cause a sort of musical claustrophobia.
    Possibly similar to how many might hear dissonance.
    Ears have certainly changed in the past 60 years, but here we read about vintage music that sounds unfamiliar to an edy=ucated musician, so I guess ears are still growing and changing.

    As far as how you can abruptly change to a new key, try thinking of an verbal argument for a process, flesh out the argument, and then become your adversary and switch to their viewpoint. Or become your ally from a different department.
    Will that not make perfect sense?
    IDK if that works, just thinking of how one who thinks a certain thinking doesn't make sense might compare it to a similar thinking process that is more acceptable.

    As long as the structure supports itself and works musically, it is not wrong or even odd.

    I'm actually glad this thread popped up because I went and listened to So What with fresh old ears and heard it in a more positive way than when I mostly rejected Coltranes early work with Miles because I felt that Coltrane had not yet found his voice or his own music.
    Tonight (this morning) it was a delight to hear that music again and hear it as if it was an old friend I never realized I loved until they were gone.
    Picked up a Tele and felt around the tune, feels homey.
     
  20. 57fenderstrat

    57fenderstrat Tele-Meister

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    Yeah maybe I’m just over thinking it, it works for my ear but My brain wants to know why I guess.

    It is interesting how ears grow though, how what once seemed dissonant changes over your life and ears get thirsty for new things
     
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