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Martino's parental forms, and application to improv

Messages
10,651
I recently watched the Pat Martino instructional video, and have been reading about his 'geometric' approach to building chords. The gist of it is that he thinks in 2 parental forms: The augmented triad and the dimished chord.

The augmented triad can be made into a major chord by lowering any one tone a half step, and because it inverts as you move up a major third, there are only 4 augmented triads. Similarly, the diminished parent can be made into a dom7 by lowering in one tone a half step. And it also inverts, every minor third.

I think linearly, while Pat is in some other dimension ;-) There is a decidedly new-age tone to the Martino thread over at allaboutjazz, more than technical discussion so I am posting here even as I read the Martino thread.

Pat talks a lot about this geometry. I can appreciate the cool mathamatical nature of it. I can also see the neat internal movement you can create when moving between cloesly related chords, as a compositional device. But does it relate to improv? Do you see an application to building lines? Is this over my head if I don't get it?
 
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Alter

Member
Messages
768
this is also the way partino thinks when playing over changes. he analyzes everything relative to the corresponding minor chord. his first video talks a lot about that, his second talks about the diminished/augmented concept.. he does some very advanced things playing lines over the substitution chords.. that is, instead of improvising over say a major chord, he plays over the diminished/augmented chords that are derived from it. you can also apply this concept when improvising chord solos, but it is more difficult... his videos are great, very inspirational...
 

Clifford-D

Senior Member
Messages
17,048
I recently watched the Pat Martino instructional video, and have been reading about his 'geometric' approach to building chords. The gist of it is that he thinks in 2 parental forms: The augmented triad and the dimished chord.

The augmented triad can be made into a major chord by lowering any one tone a half step, and because it inverts as you move up a major third, there are only 4 augmented triads. Similarly, the diminished parent can be made into a dom7 by lowering in one tone a half step. And it also inverts, every minor third.

I think linearly, while Pat is in some other dimension ;-) There is a decidedly new-age tone to the Martino thread over at allaboutjazz, more than technical discussion so I am posting here even as I read the Martino thread.

Pat talks a lot about this geometry. I can appreciate the cool mathamatical nature of it. I can also see the neat internal movement you can create when moving between cloesly related chords, as a compositional device. But does it relate to improv? Do you see an application to building lines? Is this over my head if I don't get it?
These are topics I want get into more, I just got a copy of "The Nature of Guitar".
I haven't really started it since I got it a week ago.
There is an article I believe in Guitar Player on Sacred Geometry, also this is available at his website.
From what I understand so far is that he uses the aug triad in spaces of a minor 3rd
(the dim7 chord). So you have Abdim7, Bdim7, Ddim7, and Fdim7 - all a minor 3rd.
Lower any tone and create a dom7 chord, G7, Bb7, Db7, and E7.
As I understand it he then super imposes the aug triad over the dim chords creating
G7(b9,b13), Bb7(b9,b13), Db7(b9,b13), E7(b9,b13).


How correct am I so far?
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,063
I recently watched the Pat Martino instructional video, and have been reading about his 'geometric' approach to building chords. The gist of it is that he thinks in 2 parental forms: The augmented triad and the dimished chord.

The augmented triad can be made into a major chord by lowering any one tone a half step, and because it inverts as you move up a major third, there are only 4 augmented triads. Similarly, the diminished parent can be made into a dom7 by lowering in one tone a half step. And it also inverts, every minor third.

I think linearly, while Pat is in some other dimension ;-) There is a decidedly new-age tone to the Martino thread over at allaboutjazz, more than technical discussion so I am posting here even as I read the Martino thread.

Pat talks a lot about this geometry. I can appreciate the cool mathamatical nature of it. I can also see the neat internal movement you can create when moving between cloesly related chords, as a compositional device. But does it relate to improv? Do you see an application to building lines? Is this over my head if I don't get it?
Personally, I think it's taking the idea of patterns to an insane level.
The term "sacred geometry" is certainly extremely offputting. There's nothing magical about the geometry of the fretboard. To suggest otherwise is borderline insane. (Not dangerously insane; just mildly loopy.)
Of course there are patterns (dependent on standard tuning), and we use them as guitarists, and rely on them to a large extent. There are all kinds of ways of "seeing" intervals and chords on the fretboard, and Martino's system is no better than anyone else's. (We all make our own in the end.)
I understand the simplicity of relating all triads to aug or dim triads, but don't really see the point. Yes, you can make a major chord by lowering one note of an aug triad. So what?
Aug and dim are not "Parental" forms in any musical sense, only in an accidental sense. The true "parent" chord is really the major triad, because it represents the lower harmonics of the root. It may not be as neat a form as the aug triad (with its appealing symmetry), but that's how music is. It is NOT symmetrical (its patterns, its underlying "simplicity", is logarithmic, not geometric) and we have to learn to live with that.
Symmetrical forms, such as aug triads and dim7 chords, are atonal. Tonal music is asymmetrical.

If music was composed from these kind of principles (and it could be), then it would make sense to extend them to improvisation on that kind of music. Otherwise, it's imposing arbitrary patterns or methods where they're not needed.
Of course, any artificial system like this may encourage you to discover new sounds, by taking you out of your comfort zone. That's a good thing. But it's not a way of understanding existing music: the kind we tend to deal with most of the time ;) .

I found this quote from Martino:

"...the communal language of music that all musicians share--that is, the language of scales, theory, and intervals that we all use when explaining or communicating music--really has nothing specifically to do with any instrument other than the piano."
http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-20676442_ITM

That's nonsense. The piano keyboard is certainly tied closely to our conventions of notation. But theory beyond notation is not linked specifically to piano.
Theorists like piano, of course, because all the notes are there, clearly laid out. Martino is quite right that that's a little unfair on guitarists (or other instrumentalists). But I don't think the answer is to invent a guitar-specific system to match what he sees as a piano-specific system. That's a kind of "yah-boo" response.
Patterns are limiting at least as much as they are helpful or revealing. They are "boxes" we need to break out of as soon as we can.
I don't want more patterns for guitar. I have enough. I try to think beyond them.
 

derekd

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
43,532
Personally, I think it's taking the idea of patterns to an insane level.
The term "sacred geometry" is certainly extremely offputting. There's nothing magical about the geometry of the fretboard. To suggest otherwise is borderline insane. (Not dangerously insane; just mildly loopy.)
Of course there are patterns (dependent on standard tuning), and we use them as guitarists, and rely on them to a large extent. There are all kinds of ways of "seeing" intervals and chords on the fretboard, and Martino's system is no better than anyone else's. (We all make our own in the end.)
I understand the simplicity of relating all triads to aug or dim triads, but don't really see the point. Yes, you can make a major chord by lowering one note of an aug triad. So what?
Aug and dim are not "Parental" forms in any musical sense, only in an accidental sense. The true "parent" chord is really the major triad, because it represents the lower harmonics of the root. It may not be as neat a form as the aug triad (with its appealing symmetry), but that's how music is. It is NOT symmetrical (its patterns, its underlying "simplicity", is logarithmic, not geometric) and we have to learn to live with that.
Symmetrical forms, such as aug triads and dim7 chords, are atonal. Tonal music is asymmetrical.

If music was composed from these kind of principles (and it could be), then it would make sense to extend them to improvisation on that kind of music. Otherwise, it's imposing arbitrary patterns or methods where they're not needed.
Of course, any artificial system like this may encourage you to discover new sounds, by taking you out of your comfort zone. That's a good thing. But it's not a way of understanding existing music: the kind we tend to deal with most of the time ;) .

I found this quote from Martino:

"...the communal language of music that all musicians share--that is, the language of scales, theory, and intervals that we all use when explaining or communicating music--really has nothing specifically to do with any instrument other than the piano."
http://www.accessmylibrary.com/coms2/summary_0286-20676442_ITM

That's nonsense. The piano keyboard is certainly tied closely to our conventions of notation. But theory beyond notation is not linked specifically to piano.
Theorists like piano, of course, because all the notes are there, clearly laid out. Martino is quite right that that's a little unfair on guitarists (or other instrumentalists). But I don't think the answer is to invent a guitar-specific system to match what he sees as a piano-specific system. That's a kind of "yah-boo" response.
Patterns are limiting at least as much as they are helpful or revealing. They are "boxes" we need to break out of as soon as we can.
I don't want more patterns for guitar. I have enough. I try to think beyond them.

Jon,

While I certainly respect your right to disagree, and you come across as an educated guy, frankly I find your post disrespectful. Pat is one of the nicest and most generous guys on the planet. He is also amazingly accomplished and is singularly unique in his approach to the instrument and theory.

I am not sure where statements like "Personally, I think it's taking the idea of patterns to an insane level.", and quoting a statement by Pat as "That's nonsense." are going to encourage anyone reading your post to take you seriously. There is not a fine line between disagreement and insult. It is pretty easy to do the former and avoid the latter.
 
M

Member 995

Pat talks a lot about this geometry. I can appreciate the cool mathamatical nature of it. I can also see the neat internal movement you can create when moving between cloesly related chords, as a compositional device. But does it relate to improv? Do you see an application to building lines? Is this over my head if I don't get it?
I haven't seen the video, but I can't imagine Pat not applying these ideas to improv.

I suspect that relying on both geometry and stock phrases (What does he call stock phrases? 'Exercises' isn't the right term.) is part of what allows Pat to improvise so quickly.

Bryan

EDIT - I remembered. Martino calls his stock phrases "activities."
 
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Clifford-D

Senior Member
Messages
17,048
I think Martino is amazing. Having dealt the blow of brain surgery and having to learn everything all over including music and guitar, with a handicap, the surgery changed his world. So if sacred geometry helps him get his music back from the grip of darkness then that's great. And the fact he did it on his own, greater. And then he goes as far as sharing it with the world.

Amazing, what a story. He had to invent a language he could understand due to the nature of his surgery and how it left him. He's acually a very lucky person, it could have been much worse.

Pure inspiration. Way to go Pat.

I memorized his "Country Road" tune, beautiful.
 

Clifford-D

Senior Member
Messages
17,048
I see this kind of question a lot.

The answer is always "if it relates to music, it relates to improvisation."

Improvisation is not something divorced from other musical concepts. It is the synthesis of all musical concepts, in real-time.

It ALL relates to improvisation.
Pure improvisation is a farely rare event. Most of what the average great player plays is stuff out of the memory banks, I call that simply "playing", to divorce themself from that and create pure improvisation, I think that is a rare event.
 

rotren

Member
Messages
2,892
I think the patterns ideas Pat talks about are interesting but it doesn't work for me. I try and break out of patterns. I find too much structure can be overwhelming and some approaches are too "mathematical" for me to have much interest in. Maybe I'm just too stupid to get it, I don't know. :)
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,977
keep in mind that pat came up with the new-age stuff after his formative years of copying organ trio jazz and wes montgomery. IMO, he makes things way more complicated than they need to be.

Despite all the multi-pointed stars and geometry you can boil his playing down to a very simple formula.

Melodic and related minor scales. By the way, his favorite is the melodic minor with chromatic passing tones.


  • Dom7 - Minor off the 5th
  • Altered 7th - Minor off the b7 or b2
  • Maj7 - Minor off the 6th
  • min7b5 - Minor off the b3
  • Dim7 - Minor off the b2 or b7 of the implied dom7 (treats it as altered dom7). In other words. Bb min or Dbmin off the Dbdim7
Here's the classic martino lick:

 
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jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,977
by the way, he was doing that geometric stuff before the surgery so there goes that theory...
 

blhm84

Member
Messages
642
"pure improvisation" (whatever that is) is creating melodies on the spot. Who cares if they come from patterns, learned licks, scales, arpegios, or pure nonsensical randomness, improvisation is beautiful and not many people do it better than Pat.

There are many roads to being a great improvisor. It is the essence of arrogance to assume yours is the only or correct one.
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,977
"pure improvisation" (whatever that is) is creating melodies on the spot. Who cares if they come from patterns, learned licks, scales, arpegios, or pure nonsensical randomness, improvisation is beautiful and not many people do it better than Pat.

There are many roads to being a great improvisor. It is the essence of arrogance to assume yours is the only or correct one.
Who's saying their way is the only way? My point is that if you're going to communicate information, do it with the goal of making it easy for the student to digest, not to make it sound more complicated than it really is.
 

purestmonk

Member
Messages
631
yeah!

Im cool with the melodic minor. When you talk about "related minor", are we talking about aoelian or dorian forms?

keep in mind that pat came up with the new-age stuff after his formative years of copying organ trio jazz and wes montgomery. IMO, he makes things way more complicated than they need to be.

Despite all the multi-pointed stars and geometry you can boil his playing down to a very simple formula.

Melodic and related minor scales.


  • Dom7 - Minor off the 5th
  • Altered 7th - Minor off the b7 or b2
  • Maj7 - Minor off the 6th
  • min7b5 - Minor off the b3
  • Dim7 - Minor off the b2 (treats it as altered dom7)
 

purestmonk

Member
Messages
631
This is a bit off topic but Pat is such a wicked improviser. Some people that I know think that he's a bit rigid, but if you look at the bigger picture, he's truly an amazing musician.
 

russ6100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,561
PM is a great guitar player, who's real strength lies in his delivery and time feel - that drive he has.

But when I think of "pure improvisation", in the purest sense, I don't think that's his forte.

When you take apart his solos, you realize he's really good at stringing smaller phrases together, that work off of pivot-points, and fit together like legos.

Most players who I feel often visit that place where they're really going out on a limb and creating in the moment, are usually the type that are big on motivic development, a thing PM doesn't do much of either.

I also agree with Jack that all that parental form esoterica has zero to do with how PM improvises - her learned the old school way - lifting solos from records and then on the bandstand - by ear and intuitively.
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,977
YES!!! I agree 100%. To me, there aren't many guitarists who are true improvisers. Frisell, Abercrombie, Jim Hall. Metheny at times (though he does fall back on patterns quite a bit). The chopsy guys like Martino you can boil down to a few patterns that are strung together. I have "the pat martino lick" on my lessons page. If you learn that and learn to apply it in the way I mentioned a few comments back in the thread you will have 75% of Pat's repetoire down".

Click on the martino tab on this page:

http://www.sheetsofsound.net/lessons.html

PM is a great guitar player, who's real strength lies in his delivery and time feel - that drive he has.

But when I think of "pure improvisation", in the purest sense, I don't think that's his forte.

When you take apart his solos, you realize he's really good at stringing smaller phrases together, that work off of pivot-points, and fit together like legos.

Most players who I feel often visit that place where they're really going out on a limb and creating in the moment, are usually the type that are big on motivic development, a thing PM doesn't do much of either.

I also agree with Jack that all that parental form esoterica has zero to do with how PM improvises - her learned the old school way - lifting solos from records and then on the bandstand - by ear and intuitively.
 

russ6100

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
4,561
Jack,

It's funny - when I was talking about players who *do* do more pure improv, I was specifically thinking of Abercrombie! :AOK
 

jzucker

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
20,977
Jack,

It's funny - when I was talking about players who *do* do more pure improv, I was specifically thinking of Abercrombie! :AOK
To me, Martino sounds as if he's trying to sound hip too much of the time. When I listen to Coltrane -- one of Pat's heros -- I never hear someone trying to sound hip. HE JUST IS. Martino seems to be constantly on the course of trying to impress guitarists. When you transcribe his music and take it away from the guitar, it's not particularly impressive. For chopsy playing, I'd rather hear Benson who is the perfect blend of time, groove and chops. He's another guy WHO JUST IS. He doesn't have to try to be.

Of course Martino's early albums like Strings, El Hombre, East and Desperado are classics. Somewhere along the line, (around desperado) he turned towards the symetrical rhythmic (all 16th notes) thing that just doesn't do much for me. Very impressive technically but not his best work. Good study material though....
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,672
Of course Martino's early albums like Strings, El Hombre, East and Desperado are classics. Somewhere along the line, (around desperado) he turned towards the symetrical rhythmic (all 16th notes) thing that just doesn't do much for me. Very impressive technically but not his best work. Good study material though....

I agree. The early stuff was killin'. After that, it almost totally looses me. I feel like he forsake his sense of phrasing (which he largely got from Wes) in exchange for those minor scale pattern runs. It really does start to sound like noodling to me.

Anyway, there is a geometry to the guitar. But I agree with Jon, there's nothing sacred about it. It kind of funny really; there's a whole lot of guitar players that seem to feel there's a lot of magic and mysticism contained within the fretboard- that the way the guitar strings are arranged is some sort of cosmic mystery (don't believe me? Check Harmony Central's forums). So here's a guy saying, "No, there's a rhyme and reason to it, and this is my way of making sense of it all" yet he tries to do it in such a mystical, spiritual way. Kind of funny...
 




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