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Thread: Why is the "Stablemates" bridge so damn hard?

  1. #1
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
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    Why is the "Stablemates" bridge so damn hard?

    The harmony is fairly functional, and I've known the tune for a few years and put some time into it, but that bridge always alludes me. I have a really tough time connecting my lines over that harmony, and I'm not sure why.

    I should get around to transcribing some good solos on it. Do you have a favorite solo for this tune? I have a Dexter Gordon recording that's really strong and swinging.

    I just don't get how people can play this tune so fast and play conventional bop vocabulary over it...I have an easier time with tunes that should be tougher in theory...Countdown, Giant Steps, Conception, Inner Urge

    For anybody who doesn't know, the tune is in Db and the bridge changes are:

    Fm7 - - - |Gb9 - - - |G7#5 - - - |C7#5 - - - |

    B7 - - - |Bb7 - - - |A7 - - - |Ab7 - - -

    The last four bars can also be played with F#m7 B7, Fm7 Bb7, Em7 A7, Ebm7 Ab7

    Maybe it's so difficult because it's all dominants with no resolutions.

    I'm sure transcription is the non lazy way out. For now, any suggestions?

  2. #2
    Registered User FatJeff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acci View Post

    Fm7 - - - |Gb9 - - - |G7#5 - - - |C7#5 - - - |

    B7 - - - |Bb7 - - - |A7 - - - |Ab7 - - -
    Here are some things I do over that section:

    - Try using melodic cells (e.g. 1-2-3-5, or 1--2-3, or 3-4-5-7)
    - Try using common tones (e.g. Ab-Ab-Ab-Ab-A-Ab-A-Ab)
    - Try highlighting differing tones (e.g. Ab-Bb-B-Bb-A-Bb-B-C)

    The thing I don't do is to try to play bebop licks, since the harmony in that section (as you pointed out) is not all that functional. (Although that G7#5 - C7#5 I sometimes treat as a V-I). Slow and deliberate, rather than fast, is my way of wending through unusual changes like that.

    EDIT: I did transcribe Miles Davis' solo on this tune, and it was enormously helpful for me to hear my through the song. I can post a PDF if you're interested.

  3. #3
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff View Post
    Here are some things I do over that section:

    - Try using melodic cells (e.g. 1-2-3-5, or 1--2-3, or 3-4-5-7)
    - Try using common tones (e.g. Ab-Ab-Ab-Ab-A-Ab-A-Ab)
    - Try highlighting differing tones (e.g. Ab-Bb-B-Bb-A-Bb-B-C)

    The thing I don't do is to try to play bebop licks, since the harmony in that section (as you pointed out) is not all that functional. (Although that G7#5 - C7#5 I sometimes treat as a V-I). Slow and deliberate, rather than fast, is my way of wending through unusual changes like that.

    EDIT: I did transcribe Miles Davis' solo on this tune, and it was enormously helpful for me to hear my through the song. I can post a PDF if you're interested.
    Thanks Jeff - yes please post the transcription!

  4. #4
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    You're probably further along than me, but one thing my teacher has me do is play a 5 note pattern... like you could start in eigth notes F G, Ab Bb, C Bb, Ab G, repeat. Then when you get to the next chord you play the same pattern but change it to fit the changes (like F Gb, Ab Bb, Cb Bb, Ab, Gb).

    You can do this starting on different notes, but a lot of times you will actually have multiple choices for one chord. Like on instead of doing what I wrote earlier for the Gb, you could try Fb Gb, Abb Bbb, Bb Bbb, Abb Gb.* This can help you figure out how things sound over different changes (it helps to have the changes going on the background even on sustained whole notes) and it can help find common tones between chords.

    This approach is espicially good for weird things like all the chromatic stuff that is going on in that harmony, which I say even though I haven't spent time on that song specifically. It is harder to hear and think relationships that are chromatic than in 4ths/5ths just because we hear it less often in music so it isn't engrained in us the same way.

    *That looks kind of crappy but I was going for altered dominant. Hopefully. Altered dominant starting on the b7 was what I meant to write anyway.

    Post thought: You could also try writing out some solos just over the bridge, looking for ways to make melodic ideas that don't necessarily rise or fall with the chromatic movement of the chords. Not that it's bad to rise or fall with the chords, but you're probably better at that already.

  5. #5
    Registered User FatJeff's Avatar
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    Here's my transcription of Miles' solo (which is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVKedxJ8kME#t=0m54s). Let me know if you have problems accessing the file (PDF). https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B0O...UhlaXZMSC1IUkk

  6. #6
    Piano/Compose/Arrange engelbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Acci View Post
    The harmony is fairly functional, and I've known the tune for a few years and put some time into it, but that bridge always alludes me. I have a really tough time connecting my lines over that harmony, and I'm not sure why.

    I should get around to transcribing some good solos on it. Do you have a favorite solo for this tune? I have a Dexter Gordon recording that's really strong and swinging.

    I just don't get how people can play this tune so fast and play conventional bop vocabulary over it...I have an easier time with tunes that should be tougher in theory...Countdown, Giant Steps, Conception, Inner Urge

    For anybody who doesn't know, the tune is in Db and the bridge changes are:

    Fm7 - - - |Gb9 - - - |G7#5 - - - |C7#5 - - - |

    B7 - - - |Bb7 - - - |A7 - - - |Ab7 - - -

    The last four bars can also be played with F#m7 B7, Fm7 Bb7, Em7 A7, Ebm7 Ab7

    Maybe it's so difficult because it's all dominants with no resolutions.

    I'm sure transcription is the non lazy way out. For now, any suggestions?
    Treat the first four bars as two two-bar phrases.

    Play Fm7 > Gb9 (tritone sub for C7) as if it's going to cycle back to Fm7.

    The G7 > C7 phrase and everything subsequent are pure bebop II-V chords.
    Jerry Engelbach, piano/arrange/compose
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  7. #7
    Registered User jazzman1945's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff View Post
    Here's my transcription of Miles' solo (which is at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TVKedxJ8kME#t=0m54s). Let me know if you have problems accessing the file (PDF). https://docs.google.com/open?id=0B0O...UhlaXZMSC1IUkk
    Very nice! I think that should also be written the precise articulation and the typical Miles grace notes .
    http://www.jazzideas.com

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  8. #8
    Registered User FatJeff's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jazzman1945 View Post
    Very nice! I think that should also be written the precise articulation and the typical Miles grace notes .
    I usually try to notate the obvious articulations, but the more subtle nuances I have to leave up to the performer...they should already be familiar with the solo before they start trying to play it. The way I do transcriptions, I first learn to sing the solo exactly as played on the record; then I learn it on the fretboard; and only then do I put it down on paper.

  9. #9
    Gitariz Acci's Avatar
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    Thanks everybody and thanks for the transcription, Jeff!

    I know the changes are somewhat simple on paper, almost typical in a sense, yet for some reason I have hard time with them. After making this post I'm starting to think it's because there isn't really any stable resolution until the next A section, so it's hard for my lines to sound resolved.

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  11. #11
    Registered User FatJeff's Avatar
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    Who says the lines you play over the bridge have to have resolution? :-) I see this as a potential area to really get outside; just make sure you resolve nicely at the re-entrance to A.

  12. #12
    Piano/Compose/Arrange engelbach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff View Post
    Who says the lines you play over the bridge have to have resolution? :-) I see this as a potential area to really get outside; just make sure you resolve nicely at the re-entrance to A.
    Although a circle of fifths is in itself a series of implied resolutions.
    Jerry Engelbach, piano/arrange/compose
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  13. #13
    Registered User jazzman1945's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by FatJeff View Post
    The thing I don't do is to try to play bebop licks, since the harmony in that section (as you pointed out) is not all that functional.
    Why not? Bebop lines, if you want, you can build on any chord progression. In this case, it is quite tonal: the rise and descent of the semitone is associated with a sub 5.

    http://www.freejazzinstitute.org/sho...42_jazzman1945
    Above the second example there is no inscription: Adapting to given harmony.
    http://www.jazzideas.com

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    We shouldn't wait for favors from the Theory, take them from it is our goal!

  14. #14
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    Some interesting super imposed harmonies might save the day here.
    http://johndunlapjazz.com
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    "the way you change and help music is by tryin' to invent new ways to play, if you're gonna ad lib and be a what they call a jazz musician" - Miles Davis
    "I myself couldn't copy anybody. An approach I could copy, but I wouldn't want to copy the whole thing" - miles davis

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