Jam Band Camp Notes
Lead Sheet: just melody and chord symbols on paper, no arrangement and minimal form.
Fake Book: A book of lead sheets for well-known tunes, jazz standards, etc.
Diatonic: Based on major and minor seven-note scales. Also, staying within the key signature (no chromatic notes, or accidentals).
Dominant: A chord or tonality that has a major triad (1st-3rd-5th) plus a flatted seventh. This is the default we are referring to when we say “a seventh chord”, such as C7.
Mixolydian: the Dominant mode (scale), used with a 7 chord. The Major scale with a flatted 7th.
Dorian: a minor mode (scale) used with a min7 chord. The Major scale with a flatted 7th and a flatted 3rd, i.e., Mixolydian with a flatted 3rd. Same as Natural (relative) minor but with a natural 6th.
Blues Scale: 1, b3, 4, b5, 5, b7, 1. Used on 7 chords and m7 chords. Not diatonic.
minor Pentatonic Scale: Blues scale without the b5. Five notes.
Tonal Center: The ‘key’ of the tune. The harmonic “resting point”. The root and chord that “harmonic gravity” pulls you toward. The root of the last chord in a tune.
Perfect Cadence: V7 – I chord sequence. Most common chord movement in our music.
Blues: A specific 12-bar chord progression using only dominant 7 chords. I7 – IV7 – V7
The basis of 1000s of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Jazz, and Blues tunes, such as Johnny B. Goode.
Blues-based harmony: 1) both major and minor 3rd in melodies, bass lines, and riffs, and 2) all dominant 7th chords (both characteristics break the rules of diatonic harmony).
Use of the blues scale and other dominant scales such as Mixolydian.
Going from a minor 3rd to a Major 3rd in a dominant tonality is the “Number 1 Bluesism”.
Blues Licks: Commonly played bluesy melodic fragments, riffs, bass lines, chord sequences, etc., that are held in the collective public consciousness. Widely used in Rock, Blues, Jazz, R&B, Country…
Offspring of Blues: Jazz, Rhythm & Blues, Rock ‘n’ Roll, Soul, Rock, Funk, most Pop, Hip-Hop; most American music (except Marches). All have an accent on beats 2 & 4.
AABA Form: also called “32 bar popular song form”. The A section is 8 bars. The B section is 8 bars. AABA is 32 bars.
Chorus: in Jam music, one time through the whole chord progression. AABA is one chorus. One time through the 12-bar blues is one chorus. This is a different meaning than in Pop music with vocals. Solos are almost always a whole number of choruses; 1, 2, 3…
Tag Ending: When the last 2 bars of a tune are played three times before ending.
Head Arrangement: an arrangement for horn section that is collectively created by the band and not written down (musicians keep it in their “heads”). Famously associated with Count Basie’s band. Head Arrangements evolve from spontaneously played riffs, which other players harmonize and develop on stage. Often used to quietly back up a soloist.
Antecedent: a first ending for an A section that ends with the V7 chord, repeating back to the I chord at the beginning of the tune.
Consequent: a second ending for an A section that ends with the I chord, possibly followed by the V7 of the bridge’s key, leading to the tune’s bridge.
Trading Fours: A chorus where someone solos for 4 bars, then everyone rests while the drummer solos for 4 bars, going back and forth between a soloist and the drummer every four bars throughout the chorus(es).
Groove: a beat. Also a verb meaning to play in a rhythmically precise way – with a “good feel” – usually repetitively, that makes people want to dance, clap, and tap their feet. Also known as “playing in the pocket”, “locking in”, or “getting tight”.
Swing: Uneven 8th notes (or 16th notes), as opposed to “straight” 8th notes. The &’s of 8th note pairs are delayed by up to 33%, so their durations are: long-short, long-short… Called a Shuffle in blues. Sometimes called a “triplet feel”. When Rock, Blues, and Jazz are swung it is usually 8th note swing. In Funk and Hip-Hip 16th notes are sometimes swung. Jazz melodies are swung somewhere between the “triplet feel” and straight 8ths, depending on the musical moment, the tempo, the style of music, the player’s style… Extremely “triplety” swing melodies can sound corny; we straighten them out a little bit.
Syncopation: playing or accenting the “weak” beat or rhythmic unit. Playing the &’s or upbeats, with respect to 8th notes. 2 and 4 wrt quarter notes; ‘e’ and ‘a’ wrt 16th notes…, “Offbeat” compared to the “straight” or “square” way. Called “ragged time” in late 18th century and in early jazz, thus the term “Ragtime”, which was syncopated but not swung or improvised.
Anticipation: A particular syncopation: a note played one rhythmic unit early. Beats 1 and 3 are frequently anticipated by an 8th note, hitting early, on the ( & of 4) and the (& of 2).
Backbeat: Playing on beats 2 and 4 on the snare drum in Rock, Blues, Funk, R&B, Pop, Hip-Hop, Country, … Played on the high-hat with the pedal in jazz. The most basic syncopation.
Charleston Rhythm: | 1 (2) & (3 4) | with swing 8th notes. Widely used in blues and jazz comping.
Habanero Beat: The Charleston with beat ‘4’ added: | 1 (2) & (3) 4 |. If you play beat 3 as well it is what we call the Tango in the U.S. | 1 (2) & 3 4 |
Clave: A two bar rhythmic pattern. The ‘forward clave’ (3 2 clave) is:
| 1 (2) & (3) 4 | (1) 2 3 (4) |
Note that the first bar is the Habanero beat.
The ‘reverse clave’ (2 3 clave) switches the 2 bars around, and starts with a ¼ note rest:
| (1) 2 3 (4) | 1 (2) & (3) 4 |
The clave rhythm is played on woodblocks called “claves” in Cuban music. It is prevalent – in guitar, drums, bass, and keyboard parts – in Rock, Blues, R&B, Funk, and especially in New Orleans music where it is sometimes called the “Bo Diddley Beat”.
Release times: When you release a note is almost as important to the rhythm and feel of music as attack time is. Release time is when “silence attacks”. Using a variety of well-chosen releases feels good. Horns or vocals releasing together sounds “tight”. All the same releases throughout a song sounds monotonous, lacking in energy.
Comping: playing chords in a rhythmic and syncopated manner. Short for Accompanying or Complementing.
Locked Hands: both hands of the pianist consistently go down as one, playing chords together any time the pianist plays any note with any rhythm. This is the norm for comping in many jazz and blues style. Also used in “block chording”.
Chopping: A funky keyboard technique, usually on clavinet or organ, sometimes on electric piano, where rhythmic patterns – sometimes based on drum rudiments, such as paradiddles – are played with chords, back and forth between hands.
Riffs: single note accompaniment parts that are patterns, too repetitive and consistent to be melodies. There can be guitar riffs, keyboard riffs, bass riffs, horn riffs…
Timbre and Physics of Sound
Timbre is the “tone” of an instrument; what makes a trumpet sound different than a saxophone when they play the same notes, for instance.
Texture: The “sound” of the music at any given moment. Made up of the combination of current timbres and the type of part each instrument is playing, e.g., density vs. spaciousness. A “vertical slice” of the music at a point in time.
Frequency: How fast something vibrates. Determines a note’s pitch.
Overtones and Harmonics: Sound is vibrations. Most vibrations have within them smaller sub-vibrations at frequencies of rations 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, etc. of the fundamental note. These are overtones. The combination of overtones and their relative amplitude (volume) determines the “waveform”, which determines the instrument’s timbre. Harmonics are the same thing as overtones but they are numbered from the fundamental frequency; overtones are numbered starting from the 2nd harmonic. A “tone control”, or EQ, filters out or accentuates ranges of overtones that alter the timbre of sounds. A raspy sax has more overtones than a mellow sax. A distorted guitar has lots of overtones. A flute has very few overtones; the sound is “pure”.
Waveform: The shape of the wave that is created by a note’s vibration and its overtones. Determines timbre.
EQ: Equalizer. A hardware or software device at the front end of an amplifier or mixer that can boost certain frequency ranges and reduce others to compensate for a room’s acoustics, a bad instrument, an amplifier with a less-than-flat frequency response, to accommodate listener’s tastes, or for special effects.
Shielding: small signals going from a guitar or keyboard to an amplifier are susceptible to radio waves and other interferences that would make the “signal to noise ratio” unacceptable. Instead of two parallel wires, as in speaker cables, shielded cables are “co-axial”, with a cylinder of conductive material (metal) and a wire going through the center, separated with insulation. This design stops radio waves and other interference from making noise. A shielded cable with a “short” makes static-y noise.
Grounding: There is a voltage drop between a cable’s two ends. One of those ends is supposed to be at zero volts (the voltage of the earth’s ground). If something is not properly grounded – a floating ground – then that terminal is not at zero volts and noise problems occur. Sometimes switching the “polarity” of an amplifier or reversing the plug into an AC outlet can eliminate “ground noise”
Melodic Devices For improvising
Given a scale (a set of notes), what can an improviser do to create melodies?
• Play the scale up and down using 1/4 notes, 1/8 notes, 1/8 triplets, 1/16 notes…
• Change direction at any place in the scale.
• Cross the root of the scale (part way) into the next octave, in either direction
• Pause (rest, the end of a phrase)
• Start or end a phrase on any note in the scale.
• Start or end a phrase at any place in the bar.
• Change rhythms: mix 1/2 notes, quarter notes, 8th notes, 8th note triplets, 16th notes…
• Skip Notes; Use different intervals besides steps of a scale: an occasional octave, 7th, 6th, 5th, 4th, 3rd…
• Repeat a note two or more times.
• Play a repeated pattern of 3 or 4 notes, use 8th note triplets or 8th notes.
• Move a pattern through a given scale.
• Arpeggiate chords; use stacked thirds.
• Use “canned” blues licks.
• Motif development – vary and reuse melodic fragments.
• Displaced rhythm – move a motif to a different place in the bar
• Ornaments, trills, grace notes, slides, swoops, falls…
• Effects, tremolo, vibrato, growling, bent notes, distortion,…
• Using parts of the written melody
• Quotes from other tunes
• Use alternative scales
Musical Mnemonics, Ear Training:
9th Chord Arpeggio: I Feel Good horn line: 1 3 5 7 9
minor pentatonic scale: Low Rider bass
Blues scale: Sunshine Of Your Love riff
Major pentatonic scale: My Girl guitar intro
The following interval mnemonics are the 1st two notes of the melody unless otherwise…
1 – Flat 2: Jaws
1-4-1-3: Addicted to Love
1-5-5-6-6 Twinkle, Twinkle
1, 3, 4, 5 Oh, When the Saints Go Marching In
3-2-1 Mary Had a Little Lamb, 3 Blind Mice, You Don’t Know You’re Beautiful
1-3-5 Michael Row your Boat Ashore
5-3-1; Star-Spangled Banner
1-b3-5-4-b3 Whipping Post
1-4-b3-4-1 Oyo Como Va
1 – 1– b7 – b7 (down) – 1 – 1 Chameleon
5-6-5-3 Silent Night
1 – b5 (# 4, tri-tone) – 5: The Simpsons intro or Maria from Westside Story
1 – Octave – Maj 7: Over the Rainbow, Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire
1 – Octave – Octave – b7 – b7: Money, Money, Money bass line
Octave – b3 – 1 Ray’s Rock House
5-6-Maj 7- Octave The Adams family
b3-3-5-6-b7 Cruella Deville
• Always play softer than the soloist. If you can’t hear the solo, you’re too loud.
• A big part of electric instrument playing is controlling your amp, tone, and volume. Be constantly aware of it. Turn up for solos; turn down for accompaniment.
• Always unplug the amp side of a cable before the instrument side.
• With > 1 guitar or keyboard, play complementary sounds, rhythms, and parts. Sometimes as simple as “You comp long, I’ll comp short”. Organ and Piano is a classic combination.
• Don’t play notes in accompaniment parts that are in the bassist’s range.
• Generally, try to stay out of the soloist’s range and play during their spaces.
• The bass and drums are the foundation everything is built on.
• Feel the beat in your body and hear the groove in your head during the count-off.
• Try to change textures for different sections of the song. Change cymbals, keyboard patches, density of your part, range of part, type of part (riff vs. chord…)…
• Accompanists should help the soloist build in intensity. Come back down for the next soloist. Increasing intensity can mean louder, higher, denser, busier, brighter timbres, more effects, edgier harmony…
• Learn to “feel” 4 bars, 8 bars, 12, 16, 24, 32 bars so you know when a section, or your solo, is over without counting.
• Be looking up, watching for cues, especially near the end of solos, tune sections, and most importantly, near the end of the tune.