What do you do on Monk's Epistrophy?

Discussion in 'Tab, Tips, Theory and Technique' started by loopfinding, Aug 4, 2021.

  1. loopfinding

    loopfinding Friend of Leo's

    Jun 19, 2011
    europe endless
    Hey, just wondering what people's approaches are. I never really looked at this tune, also always been a little put off by its difficulty.

    I'm finding that trying to play the changes with arps outlining the chords and standard bebop stuff is really difficult/stiff sounding. But I think getting all skronky Dolphy (aka drunk Bird) while resolving "enough" to each 4 bars' tonal center, and then playing straight during the bridge to fake like you've been in control the whole time is kind of working. But obviously it's playing outside and not entirely on the changes, so sometimes running into unfortunate mishaps, I'm not necessarily super confident in my jamming the square peg into the round hole.

    I've heard some suggest taking a modal approach to it with like, centering around phrygian dominant. Others saying use the tritone sub for the dominant that's a half step up (so you just move laterally from Db7 to Gb7 instead of getting all wonky up and down).

    I don't know, how do you try to sound natural on it? What's your method?
    Last edited: Aug 4, 2021
  2. Edgar Allan Presley

    Edgar Allan Presley Friend of Leo's

    Jan 24, 2011
    Use all the approaches, so it doesn't get boring. With the dominant chords moving in half steps, I'll often use (overuse?) the dominant (half-whole) diminished scale. Your idea of vamping phrygian dominant is also a good idea. And then, of course, just hit those chord tones with chromatic passing tones. Spin variations of the head until it gets wild. Don't fear the wrong notes. Play simple chord tones and melody tones (pieces of the head) and play with the rhythm.
    loopfinding likes this.
  3. klasaine

    klasaine Poster Extraordinaire Silver Supporter

    Nov 28, 2006
    Los Angeles, Ca
    There are so many options and variables when you're dealing with non-resolving dominant chords, especially when you have a lot of chromatic motion. So yeah, all of the above can work great. I say 'can' because with improv, everything is conditional. How the chords are being voiced behind you plays a big role in what you can get away with.
    Personally, I hear the key centers as being the first chord in the bar i.e., that first section of C#7 to D7 is IMO the key of C# dom. The D7 is just a brief detour. I follow that logic for the whole tune and play fairly straight following the changes on the Bridge (F#7 section).
    It's a weird tune as are a lot Monk tunes but not as weird as it may look or seem just by that angular melody.
    Check out the recording from the "Monks Music" record. You'll hear plenty of approaches that are all very musical ...
    daves561 and loopfinding like this.
  4. RobRiggs

    RobRiggs Tele-Holic

    Jul 8, 2015
    Concord, CA
    I thought this was pretty creative

    Last edited: Aug 6, 2021
    TwoBear likes this.
  5. drf64

    drf64 Doctor of Teleocity

    Jul 24, 2009
    Ada, MI
    Epistrophy? I thought it was crippling OCD?

  6. TwoBear

    TwoBear Tele-Afflicted

    Mar 31, 2020
    oc. CA.
    Will this help or do you already have it?
    Edit; got to just love those Internet’s!
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