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With a performance career spanning five decades, Charlie Austin has played on The Tommy Banks Show on CBC and the 1970's and 80's ITV Concert series, where he accompanied singers such as Mel Torme, Henry Mancini, Viki Carr, Connie Stevens, Carol Lawrence, and others. Charlie was the house band pianist and arranger for Second City Television (SCTV), produced in Edmonton. For over thirty years, Charlie taught in Grant MacEwan University’s Jazz Program, where he influenced a generation of Canadian jazz musicians. His comprehensive jazz piano text An Approach to Jazz Piano, and 450 Contemporary Piano Studies in 15 Keys, his groundbreaking collection of studies in popular styles, have been sold around the world. Now retired, Charlie continues to perform, teach, record, and inspire. Recent recordings include solo piano If I Should Lose You (2012) and trio recording Homage (2014).

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Constant Structure 6/13ths over a Blues Scale

In this clip we play with an interesting two handed chord that makes a kind of melodic texture which is transferable and workable over blues scales.

Start with learning the chords: that is, in chromatic root sequences. Other same-interval sequences like whole tone, minor thirds, major thirds,  perfect fourths (up), and the tritone (#4 or b5) are beneficial too.

Building on that, we can put together this two-handed chord, with a 6 over a V13.




Consider a C minor blues scale (1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 1):

In the right hand play a major sixth chord in root position (1-3-5-6-1).  In the left hand play a rootless voicing of a 13th chord, with the b7 on the bottom (7-9-3-13).   Do this for each of the notes in the blues scale.  It looks terrible on paper, but it's not so bad when you play it.


Note that the general harmonic context for all these chords can be the underlying C7 of the blues.

So this voicing is played over the sequence of a blues scale (1 b3 4 b5 5 b7 1). It sounds okay and strong even though it temporarily breaks some of the niceties of some harmonic rules. Thus for example we have a G13 voicing here sounding okay over the implied C7 chord of the blues in C.  It's part of a strong chain of these voicings that work because the vertical chord sounds like it can and does overrule the horizontal key, i.e. C7 blues (as long as they are moving a little).  Those 13ths over the blues scale sequence have a constant structure -- the same-chord in parallel motion.

This idea will work over all the chords in the blues the same way a blues scale does. It is fun and the concept can be worked with other chord voicings too too.. basically infinite..

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