Bensons approach to playing changes.

Discussion in 'Playing and Technique' started by Tag, Nov 3, 2004.


  1. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    This was taught to me by Richie Hart, who was taught it directly from George Benson, who picked it up from hanging with Wes and Coltrane.

    You need to know your harmonized major scale. In the key of C, this is I chord: C maj7. II chord: D-7. III chord: E-7. IV chord: Fmaj7, V chord:G7, VI chord: A-7. VII chord: B-7b5.
    Now each of those chords has a function, meaning what it does to the melody being playd over it. It is either stable,(a resting place) (Tonic). Or is creating unstability, or wanting to move to a stable place. (Dominant) Dominant areas want to move to tonic areas. Think of when you sing AHHHH-mennnnn in church. You can hear the first part is dominant, then it moves to the resting area, or tonic.

    Now you have the seven chords above. There are three tonic chords. The I (CMaj7) the III (E-7) and the VI chord (A-7). These chords act the same way. They are all resting places, they just create a kind of different color, but they all function the SAME. Now there are 4 chords left. These are all Dominant chords. This means they are looking to resolve, or move to a resting area. Theses chords are the II chord: Dmin7. IV chord:Fmaj7. V chord: G7. and VII chord B-7b5. Now you only have two groups of chords, and ecah chord in each group funtuions the SAME way. This is SOOOOOOOOOOO important!!!!!!
    You do NOT have to learn 7 modes, one for each chord! If you do that, in a progression like a simple I-VI-II-V, you will be trying to play 4 modes to make the changes. Ionian on the I chord, Aolean on the VI chord, Dorian on the II chord, Mixolydian on the V chord, then back to Ionian on the one chord. UGGHH! Now if you look above at out groupings, you will see that the I and VI chord are in the same group, and are both tonic chords. YES! No need to make any changes there! Treat them both the exact same way. Play all your C maj lines, over BOTH chords. Of course A minor7 arpeggios will work, as will Emin arpeggios. All are tonic right? Now those two chords just became one. Now you have a D-7 and a G7 chord coming up. This is changing functions and is no longer a resting place. Although you are still in the key of C, if you accentuate C Maj, A min or E min, it will sound wrong. You will be playing the correct notes, but they will not be functioning the right way.

    Guys, THIS is what sets apart the good players from the bad. The tasteful from the bland. Dare I say it? Most jazz players from most rock players. On the Dominant chords, you must accentuate the correct notes. This comes from outlining the dominant chords. They ALL work! Look at our grouping above. You have D-7, G7, F Maj7 and b-7 flat V. You can play as simple as just D dorian over both chords, or go wild and use all of those arpeggios. This will be accentuating the correct notes, and lead you nicely back into the tonic area. To make it as simple as possible....The I and VI chord play C maj, the II and V chord play D dorian. I will make up a progression here that is more advanced, using all VII diatonic chords. Say we have a progression like this. Bar 1: C maj7 for 4 beats. Bar2: E min7-A-7 for 2 beats each. Bar III: F maj7-D-7 for 2 beats a piece. BarIV: B-7b5-G7 for two beats a piece. Lets look at this and break it down by function. Bar I: C maj 7= Tonic. Play all your Cmaj stuff here. easy enough! Bar 2. Oh no, two chords!:mad: WAIT! They are also both tonic chords! That means...Play more Cmaj stuff here! :)

    Bar III..DARN..two more chords..but wait..they are BOTH dominant chords! I can group them together as well! Make it easy, Ill play just D dorian over both. :dude Ok..bar IV..SOB, I KNEW it! That strange Bbmin7b5 chord. What the heck do I do know?? I have to think of that stupid B Locrean mode?? What does Tag say..hmmm.... AHHH!!!!!!!!! Its STILL a dominant area!! I dont have to cahnge at all!! Just keep playing D dorian! YEEEHAAA!!! This is not to bad!!! oh no, ANOTHER chord, just when I was really moving. I KNEW it wasnt this easy. That jerk Tag, I knew he was just a big mouth. Well, lets see..hmmm, no way....you have got to be kidding me?? Its dominant as well?? That means I can STILL just play D Dorian?? I DONT BELIEVE IT!!!!!!! (Repeat after me everyone)... TAG WAS RIGHT, TAG WAS RIGHT, TAG WAS RIGHT,!!!!!!!!!!!!!! LOL!!!!!!!

    Now this is breaking it down as easy as possible, but THIS is where you start. You need to learn bop lines, and pay STRICT attention to what they are being played over, and if it is a tonic or dominat area. You see, bop lines are not like rock licks. They accentuate the notes that spell out the background chords. I studied scale for YEARS, trying to learn jazz. I knew everyone inside and out, upside down, in thirds, 4ths, triplets, 16th notes, and I still could not play a thing over changes. I got a new teacher, forgot about all the scales, started learning bop lines and songs, and within a year I was playing pretty darn well.

    As you advance, I can show you how easy it is to just apply the same thinking over almost any progression. Then as you get better, you can start adding little things like whole tone lines, and diminished lines (both of which fall into the same groupings above, I just did not go that far.) All the substitutions, Melodic and harmonic minor etc. It all fits together SOO easily. The hard part is trying to develope your own identity with it, but using this method, I think ANYONE can learn to be a very tasteful guitarist in a very short time. You HAVE to learn bop lines and standard songs. Start EASY. Polka dots and moonbeams. Stormy weather. JazzBlues tunes with changes. Keep it SIMPLE. If you start with Giat steps, Stella etc, you are in for frustration.

    Start easy, get a grasp of one thing, then add another. But LEARN THOSE BOP LINES!!!!!!!!!
     
  2. felken

    felken Member

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    What is a good source for cliche bop lines in tab or notation that includes the context of the harmony the line is playd over?

    Kind of a condensed version for us working folks with way too little time to play.
     
  3. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Just for clarity, not disputing Tag's lesson: A-a-a-a-a-men is a plagal cadence i.e. IV - I
     
  4. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Two things. Pick up a Real book with the changes to many common standards. Then go here and buy this software.http://www.ronimusic.com/ Get the "amazing slowdowner" (Thanks Jackaroo!) Pick a standard you want to start with, and get several versions of different players playing that tune. (Dont make it a hard one!) Download the file on your computer and you can open it the amazing slowdowner. You can see the changes in the real book, and play along with the recordings until you know the song in your head real well. Learn the melody BY EAR. Then start picking out the slower, easier lines that you hear. You can slow them down with the software as much as you want, and it will stay in pitch. Learn the SIMPLE, lines you hear first. Learn the ones that catch your ear melodically, and see how they fit against the chords being played. Learn that line and practice it just like you did with rock licks. However, make sure you pay attention to the chords its going against. Record yourself playing the chord changes as simply as possible with any tape recorder. I use to use the little 29$ hand held cassette ones from radioshack. Then place that line EXACTLY in the same place as where you heard it in the tune. keep learning more and more lines. They will quickly become second nature, and you will begin to use them on your own, and add and subtract from them. You can also buy the Jamie Abersold play along CDs and books with the changes.
     
  5. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    IV dominant- I tonic. Thats the way I hear it.
     
  6. Mark C

    Mark C Member

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    Nice lesson, but I still think of ii and IV as subdominant. ;)
     
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  7. dumb donnie

    dumb donnie Member

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    First I want to say thanks for typing that up, it's a very interesting way to approach it. I would definately like some more advanced stuff in the future if you are up to it (the stuff you mention in the quote). Thanks again, i'm going to get to work on this stuff.
     
  8. RobertMiller

    RobertMiller Member

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    Thanks, Tag, for bringing a little clarity to a very confusing subject. Progressing in any genre is challenging, but particularly in the jazz realm, where there is so much harmonic inertia at play.

    OK, you were right, this time!:D
     
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  9. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    I get it, just the way you worded it could be a little misleading.

    One may think you were saying that a-a-a-a-men is V-I.

    IV is called the subdominant
    V is called dominant

    Regardless, IV & V are in the family of chords requiring resolution which is your point.
     
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  10. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Exactly. Lance. In all honesty. Do you or do you not think this is a fantastic way to approach it? I know you are probably far past this, but it makes it so easy, and all you have to do is train your ear to hear two types of sounds. Rest and unrest. Once you can hear that clearly, you can play anything you can possibly imagine and resolve it perfectly. On my "oh yea" clip, I was intentionally trying to play bad notes, but my ear led me to a resolution everytime. Simple changes, but that does not matter. You can go out or in at will. A dominant area no longer becomes "Altered dom scale! Or Go up a flat 5 and play that melodic minor! It ALL works. Its just up to the color you want to create at that time. Thats why learning scales stagnates you. Its nice to learn them, get a grasp of what they are, and forget them. Other wise when you see a flat9 chord, you will automatically think DIMINISHED!, when that may be the last thing you are actually hearing. A whole tone will work perfectly over that with its natural 9th. The line is pulling you back to the one, just with a different color than the chord is. Heck, the chord is already implying the diminished color. Why do you want to play whats already there? Just like on a min7th chord, most guys will play min\maj7. over it. (melodic minor)
     
  11. lhallam

    lhallam Member

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    Yes I do think it's a good methodology.

    The simpler the better. A lot of very intelligent people break things down.

    Joe Pass said he approached ii-V's as Dom7th chords and didn't worry about the chord quality too much.

    BTW - I am never far past learning anything new.

    Good explanation, thanks.
     
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  12. JimmyD

    JimmyD Member

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    There is a book called "The bebop bible" by Les Wise which is quite good.

    Plenty of stuff on the net as well. Google "ii-V-I lines" as well.

    Finding a pro level teacher would be appropriate as well.

    There aren't many shortcuts however. I've looked for years. There are good explanations however that can take some of the pain away.

    good luck,
    Jim
     
  13. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Cool. Here is a friend of mine Russ DeFilippis who is a great guitar player as well. He is also friends with my former teacher Richie Hart, and another one who teaches the "Tonic\Dom" approach. This guy is not a technique player, but one of the most musical guitarists I have ever heard. When he plays electric, he has the natural feel and style of Robben Ford. here is an interview with him. http://www.jazzguitarlife.com/Jazz-Guitar-Life-Interviews-Russ-DeFilippis.htm
     
  14. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    There are no shortcuts, I agree! I dont think this appraoch is one at all. I just think it it is the simplest and most logical way to look at music, and most importantly gets you to hear music correctly. There are many approaches. This is just the one "I" find best, and trying to share with anyone looking for something besides memorizing tons of scales\modes which I do not think you have to know to play jazz at the highest level.
     
  15. JimmyD

    JimmyD Member

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    Tag, I agree completely with what you wrote above and thank you for the effort extended originally in this thread. Your efforts are what I consider "a good explanation" or a good start for those (me included) looking to play more vertically over changes.

    I really enjoy your playing and maybe one day I'll ask you for a lesson or two as I'm in Pennsylvania, plus I'd like to hear the Bruno's in person. I could bring some Jimi Hendrix stuff along as well. ;)

    Regards,
    Jim
     
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  16. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    Except you're simple explanation has nothing to do with tonic or dominant chord families. It's merely keycenter approach.
    Which even though I break down stuff into 3 families is exactly the same here.
    Funny how we have discussed the tonic/dominant vs. tonic/subdominant/dominant for ages and in the end we both look at things via key center. Which I have to thank Mock for.
     
  17. JimmyD

    JimmyD Member

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    Don Mock? That guy is scary good!

    Jim
     
  18. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Huh??? It has EVERYTHING to do with Tonic\Dominant chord families. I spelled them out as well. Key center? If I were going to play in the key\tonal center, I would just play C maj\C blues licks over the entire thing and use my ear. If you think subdominant is a totally different family than Dominant, how to you explain playing a Fmaj7 Arp. over G7 resolving to C? Sub dominant...Sub for a Dominant.
     
  19. Ed DeGenaro

    Ed DeGenaro Supporting Member

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    D Dorian (C major) over Dm7...that's key enter.
     
  20. Tag

    Tag Gold Supporting Member

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    Key center, but NOT tonal center! THATS the problem with modes! You just hit the nail on the head! D dorian has NOTHING to do with C major! They have the same notes yes, but that means NOTHING. Accentuating the D minor is what makes that DOMINANT, and PULLS you to C Maj. Thats the entire thing that so many guys do not get. D dorian is DOMINANT. A TOTALLY different entity than C Maj. Now here is the ironic part. E phrygian IS the same as C Ionian! They are both tonic sounds in the key of C. And the other one...you got it! A aolean is the SAME as C maj as well. Tonic. G mixolidian, F Lydian, D Doriab and Bb Locrean have ZERO to do with C maj. Same notes yes, TOTALLY different function and sound. You HAVE to seperate them in order to sound tasteful, and you have to hear them as such in order to hear music correctly.
     

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