The Jazz Theory Book by Marc Levine

Zappafreak

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218
Going through this right now and im up to the melodic minor and its modes. I understand the scales how their formed and such. I am just curious as to how most people play the corresponding chords.
How you you guys finger a Major#5, Susb9, Major minor, etc. Also does the book begin to explain how to apply these chords into substitutions and such in a little while? Thank you!
 

Flyin' Brian

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30,230
Not sure about that book because I never saw it, but there are many ways to finger the chords that you mentioned.
 

stevel

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14,946
Hopefully, what you should be learning is that X chord contains Y set of notes.

When you see "G7", you should know it contains the notes G, B, D, and F, and may contain duplicates of some of those.

You should also be learning that you can leave some of those notes out and still imply the chord - if a bass player plays the G, you don't have to, and you could leave out the D to no ill effect usually.

Likewise, in Jazz, chord names are as much suggestive of what chord to play as they are specific. So, in many cases, if you see G7, you could play G9, or other structures related to it, again including or omitting notes as the style dictates.

How you specifically finger any particular chord form really depends on a number of factors - there might be only one possible or logical way to finger a given shape, but when there are multiple options, where you're coming from and where you're going to may dictate which fingering you use.

If the book says "G" for G Major, and doesn't give you a specific Chord Diagram, then it's up to you. If you do have specific diagrams, then some of those may call to be fingered a specific way, but again, there can be over-riding considerations.

Steve
 

guitarjazz

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22,406
That's a good book. Sounds like you are ready to learn harmonized scales. There are guitar books that teach this.
 

gtrchris

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276
I have his Piano book which is fabulous but, it deals with advanced harmonization, chord substitutions etc from a pianists perspective-the chords have 5 and 6 note voicings throughout and are impossible to play on a solo guitar. Though gaining knowledge of these harmonic structures are invaluable for writing music and to use in improvisation on any instrument.
I'm curious though, is this book approachable without having a piano readily available to "realize" the examples?
I do play piano so it wasn't a problem going through his harmonization examples-which were very plentiful.
Maybe using his piano book(harmonic studies) in conjunction with the jazz theory book(melodic scale studies) would yield the best results?
Though as others have mentioned there are books written by guitarists for guitarists that deal with all these areas of study.
For example Ted Greene's books-all of them!!
 

guitarjazz

Gold Supporting Member
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22,406
I have his Piano book which is fabulous but, it deals with advanced harmonization, chord substitutions etc from a pianists perspective-the chords have 5 and 6 note voicings throughout and are impossible to play on a solo guitar. Though gaining knowledge of these harmonic structures are invaluable for writing music and to use in improvisation on any instrument.
I'm curious though, is this book approachable without having a piano readily available to "realize" the examples?
The piano book? Certainly.
BTW there are different ways to play closed voiced seventh chords on guitar. The Lenny way was to use a single harmonic in a lower voice to move that voice up an octave. Some other voicings take advantage of the major third tuning of the 2nd and 3rd strings.
 

dewey decibel

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That's a good book. Keep in mind, there are many ways to look at jazz harmony, and that book is only one of them. When I got it I was already fairly versed in jazz harmony, but it did help me a lot as it showed another way to look at things, namely how he looks at altered/melodic minor harmony.

His approach when dealing with those chords is to think key rather than chord/scale. So for either B7alt, D7susb9 or F7#11 you'd be thinking the same key (C melodic minor). The reason being melodic minor has no avoid notes (or so they say). And that's cool, it gives you a lot of things to work with. For example, you could theoretically use the same chord voicing for any of those three chords. Or, you can interchange them (your favorite F7#11 voicing for B7alt for example).

Now, I can definitely see where this would be of help to a piano player (horns as well). And while I've gotten some use out of it for guitar I still feel like it's more relevant for us to look at the function of the chord and go from there. Soooo....

You can look at each of those chords and learn how they would function in a tune (IIRC Levine does go into this). Some of them are complicated because they might work in more than one way. But you can start with the strongest sounds, which would be the 7th chords. So we'd have;

7susb9 7#11 7b13 7alt

So what you can do is take a stock 7th chord voicing and add your alterations. Let's start with E7 (just cause I like the shape):

1)x
2)5
3)7
4)6
5)7
6)x

So that's root-3rd-7th-root (bottom to top). So for E7susb9 we could do:

1)
2)6
3)7
4)7
5)7
6)

E7#11


1)6
2)7
3)7
4)6
5)7
6)

E7b13


1)8
2)7
3)7
4)6
5)7
6)

E7alt


1)6
2)6
3)7
4)6
5)7
6)

Those are all pretty stock, but that's all we're trying to do right now. So the question becomes when do we use those and why? Well those 7susb9 chords are usually a sub for a standard V7, and you'll often get a sitaution where you bounce between a standard 7sus and the 7susb9. This one is kind of easy to hear IMO because it has a b9 but isn't a diminished sound or the full one altered sound.

E7#11 isn't used as a V7 so much, it's likely to resolve a half step down (the common tri-tone sub), E7#11 to D#min, E7#11 to D#7, etc. Also used as a sort of tonic sound (like in a blues).

E7b13 I guess used similar to above, but to be honest in a V7 context I'm more likely to go full on altered if there's a b13 present. But you'll also see it resolve a 1/2 step up- E7b13 to Fmaj7

E7alt is mostly used as a V7 chord. It is pretty much interchangeable with that 7#11 chord a tri-tone apart, they're very similar sounds (E7alt = Bb7#11).

OK, do you follow? Kind of a lot of info to take on, right? I'm just trying to give you an alternate approach to Levine's (or maybe supplemental is a better term?). But how do we get to a place where we can actually hear/play this stuff? Learn it in context. One of the best things about the Levine book is that he usually gives you a couple musical examples to help explain the sounds he's trying to teach. If you don't know those examples- GO OUT AND GET THEM! Listen to them over and over. Besides being the actual sounds he's talking about they're usually from great all-time classic records. It's really easy these days with youtube and everything. Learn to hear the difference between a V7, V7b9 and V7susb9. Or a V7b9 and V7alt. It's really not that much harder than hearing the difference between a min7, min6 and min/maj7 once you get it in your ear. After that you have maj7#5 which is pretty easy to hear (can also be treated with harmonic minor) and min9b5 which is usually treated as a iimin7b5/half diminished. And that's it, that's melodic minor. Easy, right? :p
 

Zappafreak

Member
Messages
218
That's a good book. Keep in mind, there are many ways to look at jazz harmony, and that book is only one of them. When I got it I was already fairly versed in jazz harmony, but it did help me a lot as it showed another way to look at things, namely how he looks at altered/melodic minor harmony.

His approach when dealing with those chords is to think key rather than chord/scale. So for either B7alt, D7susb9 or F7#11 you'd be thinking the same key (C melodic minor). The reason being melodic minor has no avoid notes (or so they say). And that's cool, it gives you a lot of things to work with. For example, you could theoretically use the same chord voicing for any of those three chords. Or, you can interchange them (your favorite F7#11 voicing for B7alt for example).

Now, I can definitely see where this would be of help to a piano player (horns as well). And while I've gotten some use out of it for guitar I still feel like it's more relevant for us to look at the function of the chord and go from there. Soooo....

You can look at each of those chords and learn how they would function in a tune (IIRC Levine does go into this). Some of them are complicated because they might work in more than one way. But you can start with the strongest sounds, which would be the 7th chords. So we'd have;

7susb9 7#11 7b13 7alt

So what you can do is take a stock 7th chord voicing and add your alterations. Let's start with E7 (just cause I like the shape):

1)x
2)5
3)7
4)6
5)7
6)x

So that's root-3rd-7th-root (bottom to top). So for E7susb9 we could do:

1)
2)6
3)7
4)7
5)7
6)

E7#11


1)6
2)7
3)7
4)6
5)7
6)

E7b13


1)8
2)7
3)7
4)6
5)7
6)

E7alt


1)6
2)6
3)7
4)6
5)7
6)

Those are all pretty stock, but that's all we're trying to do right now. So the question becomes when do we use those and why? Well those 7susb9 chords are usually a sub for a standard V7, and you'll often get a sitaution where you bounce between a standard 7sus and the 7susb9. This one is kind of easy to hear IMO because it has a b9 but isn't a diminished sound or the full one altered sound.

E7#11 isn't used as a V7 so much, it's likely to resolve a half step down (the common tri-tone sub), E7#11 to D#min, E7#11 to D#7, etc. Also used as a sort of tonic sound (like in a blues).

E7b13 I guess used similar to above, but to be honest in a V7 context I'm more likely to go full on altered if there's a b13 present. But you'll also see it resolve a 1/2 step up- E7b13 to Fmaj7

E7alt is mostly used as a V7 chord. It is pretty much interchangeable with that 7#11 chord a tri-tone apart, they're very similar sounds (E7alt = Bb7#11).

OK, do you follow? Kind of a lot of info to take on, right? I'm just trying to give you an alternate approach to Levine's (or maybe supplemental is a better term?). But how do we get to a place where we can actually hear/play this stuff? Learn it in context. One of the best things about the Levine book is that he usually gives you a couple musical examples to help explain the sounds he's trying to teach. If you don't know those examples- GO OUT AND GET THEM! Listen to them over and over. Besides being the actual sounds he's talking about they're usually from great all-time classic records. It's really easy these days with youtube and everything. Learn to hear the difference between a V7, V7b9 and V7susb9. Or a V7b9 and V7alt. It's really not that much harder than hearing the difference between a min7, min6 and min/maj7 once you get it in your ear. After that you have maj7#5 which is pretty easy to hear (can also be treated with harmonic minor) and min9b5 which is usually treated as a iimin7b5/half diminished. And that's it, that's melodic minor. Easy, right? :p
And yes thank you those fingerings help a bunch!! The alt chord is what threw me
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,170
That's a good book. Keep in mind, there are many ways to look at jazz harmony, and that book is only one of them.
Yes!
When I got it I was already fairly versed in jazz harmony, but it did help me a lot as it showed another way to look at things, namely how he looks at altered/melodic minor harmony.
Yes - that's pretty much how it struck me too.
His approach when dealing with those chords is to think key rather than chord/scale. So for either B7alt, D7susb9 or F7#11 you'd be thinking the same key (C melodic minor).
I think we need to distinguish "key" from "scale" here, to be clear.
C melodic minor is not a key, it's a scale. None of those chords would be used in the key of C minor.
The reason being melodic minor has no avoid notes (or so they say).
And that's cool, it gives you a lot of things to work with. For example, you could theoretically use the same chord voicing for any of those three chords. Or, you can interchange them (your favorite F7#11 voicing for B7alt for example).
Right.
That last point is the most useful one, because both those chords would be seen often, used to resolve to Em. (Key of E minor, not C minor. ;))
As you say, they are essentially the same chord, only the bass note determines what you'd call them.

But the melodic minor connection is mere coincidence. None of those chords are derived from melodic minor. They can be, of course, but in actual music they're not. In functional harmony, chords are altered for various reasons to do with voice-leading to the next chord. That's really all we need to know.
It just so happens that when you take a V7 chord, retain its root and its essential inner tritone, and then add as many other chromatic alterations as you can in order to make half-step moves to the tonic chord (or its extensions) - what you end up with looks like the same set of pitches as a mode of melodic minor (from another key). That's a cute observation, but it has no musical meaning.
The more you think about that melodic minor scale, the more distracted you are from how the chord is actually working.

Of course, if you understand the functionality well in the first place - as you do, and as I suspect Levine assumed all his readers would - then it's OK. His book is like an advanced diversion, building on - or outward from - the basic knowledge we are deemed to have already. It's not how conventional harmony works - it's an alternative perspective.

The book's title is unfortunate. It's not "The" jazz theory book. It's "A jazz theory book for post-1960s jazz harmony". The subtitle should be "for those who understand functional major-minor key harmony already."

The quotes he uses from recordings lend the book a tremendous - but spurious - authority. Yes, such-and-such a player used that chord, and played that phrase. But there are other ways of explaining why they chose that chord or phrase. Other ways in which they might have understood how it worked. (No jazz musician before 1959 had heard of modes, and they didn't think in chord-scales.)

Levine is not being deliberately misleading of course! He's a great musician himself, an intelligent guy, and a good writer; there is an enormous amount of value in his book (I bought it 15 years ago, and I still haven't worked my way through all of it). But one can take a couple of bars from almost any jazz recording and explain it according to almost any theory you could invent. Few - if any - of his quotes are clear evidence for his theories. Sure you can see the quotes in that light; but shine a different light on them and you'll see something else.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,170
Going through this right now and im up to the melodic minor and its modes. I understand the scales how their formed and such. I am just curious as to how most people play the corresponding chords.
How you you guys finger a Major#5, Susb9, Major minor, etc. Also does the book begin to explain how to apply these chords into substitutions and such in a little while? Thank you!
As dewey says, make sure you listen to jazz, especially any of the pieces Levine quotes.

Those chords are all very interesting, but there's really no point in knowing them until you find a tune that contains one.

IMO, it's never a good idea to study theory first, and then hope to be able to apply it all in actual music. Study the music first, and ask questions when you see a chord you can't make sense of.

If you don't love jazz passionately (especially post-1960s jazz), Levine's book is of no use to you (well, other than some advanced reading out of idle curiosity I guess - nothing wrong with that! :).
If you actually want to make musical capital out of it, you should approach it from a reasonable understanding of how conventional major-minor key harmony works, eg in jazz standards. You should understand chord function, secondary dominants, leading tone chords, etc. You should be reasonably familiar with common jazz substitutions. You should know (and have played) a fair amount of jazz standards, and probably some more recent modal jazz, or post-modal pieces.
That's the groundwork which will help you make the most of Levine's book, and see it in the most useful perspective.

You want to understand altered dominants and how to use them? Follow the voice-leading. Take a simple ii7-V7-I and look at what happens when you alter the 5th or 9th of the V7; look at how it leads via half-step to chord tones (or 6th or 9th) on the tonic chord.
That will also reveal how close the V7 becomes to a bII7 chord, its tritone sub.
That's the secret to the altered scale, and also lydian dominant chords. The melodic minor mode they seem to derive from is an illusion. It's those half-step moves that are the point - and will also help you work out shapes for the chords. IOW, don't just choose a shape that has a few notes from the scale in it, that sounds good on its own or is easy to play; choose a shape that fits neatly between the shapes either side. That's what the chord is for.
 

flavaham

Member
Messages
1,866
I don't think learning specific fingerings for chords is always a good idea. Suppose you're at the 7th fret and the next chord is one that you only know at the 4th fret. That's probably going to lead to bad voice leading and a somewhat odd sound. You need to know (as Stevel pointed out) what is in the chord.

Suppose the chords are Emaj7 to C#m7. The following example would be rather cumbersome and not so smooth in my opinion:

e|-----|
B|-9-5-|
G|-8-4-|
D|-9-6-|
A|-7-4-|
E|-----|

Now, if you look at the notes in each chord you'll find some common tones. E-G#-B-D and C#-E-G#-B.

What I would most likely do in this case is omit the root of both chords (unless I was playing solo) and play this:

e|-----|
B|-9-9-|
G|-8-9-|
D|-9-9-|
A|-----|
E|-----|


All of the important notes of each chord are there and I made one tiny little move. The bass player's picking up the root so this sounds just fine!

As for learning how to play these chords, everything you need is in the chord symbol.

G7 - tells you that you have a M3, P5 and b7, right? What's important there? Probably the M3 and b7. Make sure those are in there.

Dm7b5. m3, b5, b7. All of those are important IMO, but the b5 is probably of significant importance, so I'd probably make a point to use it.

Am/maj7. m3, P5, M7. Again, figure out what needs to be there.

These shouldn't be fingerings. You should find these notes where ever you are at the time. There's a lot of freedom in that. If you MUST have fingerings, use something as a baseline and go from there. Maybe learn a Maj7 chord in every position and make each chord relative to it.

Maj7 chord is R, M3, P5, M7, right? So, if you need an X7 chord, you know to just lower the 7. Minor 7? Lower the 3 and 7. With this, you'll know by looking at the chord symbol what adjustments to make.

Again, don't be afraid to simplify. Often, the 3rd and 7th are all you need. I think this can often sound better than the 4, 5 and 6 note chords that we tend to learn. Those can get a little messy and step on the rest of the band.

In the long run, you need to just know the notes in the chords, but this is all stuff that I've gone through. I could probably use some practice on it though!:eek: Hope it helps!
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,170
Cross-posting! flavaham's making the same point I did.

Just to give an example in the same spirit:

e|-5---4---3-
B|-5---4---3-
G|-5---4---2-
D|-3---3---2-
A|-5-------3-
E|-----3-----

That's Dm7 to start with, and C69 to finish. The chord in between? G7#5b9 (G7alt). Compare with this:

e|-5---4---3-
B|-5---4---3-
G|-5---4---2-
D|-3---3---2-
A|-5---4---3-
E|----------

Now the middle chord is Db9. Not a lot of difference, right? You could add a G bass to this one, or the Db to the first one, and end up with precisely the same chord (which might be a little too dense harmonically).

Another option might be:

e|-5---6---5-
B|-5---4---5-
G|-5---4---5-
D|-3---3---5-
A|---------7-
E|-----------

The chord in the middle now has no root, so you can call it G7#5#9, or Db13, up to you. (I hope you can work out how the four notes imply either of those ;)) I've put E as lowest note on the last C6, to show more of the voice-leading (the bottom F of the previous chord leads down to it).

But the point is this is how altered dominants and tritone subs work: half-step voice-leading.
 

dewey decibel

Member
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10,736
I think we need to distinguish "key" from "scale" here, to be clear.
C melodic minor is not a key, it's a scale. None of those chords would be used in the key of C minor.

I'm not disagreeing with you, and I don't have the book here but I'm pretty sure that's exactly how Levine says it- to think in the key of melodic minor. I could be mis-remembering, but that's what I took from it.
 

dewey decibel

Member
Messages
10,736
Also I totally agree about putting these chords in context. But here's a couple quartal voicings for C7alt that I really like and use often (maybe too much) that maybe someone can get some use out of:

e)
B)
G)3-5-6-8-9--11-13
D)2-4-6-8-10-11-13
A)3-4-6-7-9--11-13
E)

You can then take those and move them to other string sets.
 

JonR

Member
Messages
15,170
I'm not disagreeing with you, and I don't have the book here but I'm pretty sure that's exactly how Levine says it- to think in the key of melodic minor. I could be mis-remembering, but that's what I took from it.
You're quite right.

For most of the section on melodic minor (pp55-77), he's quite careful to use the phrase "melodic minor scale", not "melodic minor key". As if he knows very well that it's a scale he's discussing and not a key (in the conventional sense).

But on p.74, he says this:

"... because there are no "avoid notes" in melodic minor harmony, the resulting interchangeability of all the chords means that you're playing the whole melodic minor "key" much more than any individual chord within it."

He puts "key" in quotes himself, which I think is significant - he knows it isn't really a "key", in the way that major and minor are keys (more than just "scales"). But then he omits the quotes in the following paragraphs:

"When you play melodic minor chords, because of the lack of avoid notes, you're really playing the entire key, not just the chord. Think key not chord." [his emphasis]

He goes on:

"What all this means is that you need to learn the chords from each melodic minor tonality, as a family. If you don't, you'll be unable to quickly scope out a chord progression such as D#alt, C#m7b5, Gmaj7#5, A7#11, F#susb9, Em(maj7). Wow! Is that a difficult set of changes? Not really. All of the chords are from E melodic minor - they're all the same chord. Remember, think key, not chord."

There's a whole load of things wrong with that paragraph!

1. "tonality". Melodic minor is not a "tonality", any more than it is a "key". It's a lazy use of theoretical terms, which is OK in context - if we understand what he's getting at, but not if we don't.

2. Anyone ever seen a "chord progression" such as that? I certainly haven't.

3. If "all the chords are from E melodic minor", then they aren't really changes at all, right? That's the main point he's making, after all. "They're all the same chord." So they're not "changes" or a "progression", at all!
(Get a grip, Mark, old chap...)

4. "Think key, not chord". Great advice. Except he doesn't mean it in the same sense that I think most musicians would understand it. (Again, his context is clear for most of us, but any theory novice reading this is likely to be confused.)
When we think "key", we think a bunch of chords, possibly all derived from the same scale, but certainly with one governing tonic chord.
A "key" is major or minor. A "minor key" will sometimes feature melodic minor (from the tonic); mostly it will be natural minor.
A major or minor key might well have chords derived (so the theory goes) from modes of melodic minor - but not the melodic minor of the "key".
Eg, supposing we have a G7alt in key of C minor. If we "think key not chord", we're going to be thinking "C minor" - not the Ab melodic minor that fits G7alt. We have to "think chord not key" in that case! (Of course, we can think any harmonization from Ab melodic minor, as a way of voicing G7alt - that's the very useful point he's making. But "think scale not chord" would make a lot more sense.)

As I say, his main point in this passage is good, important and clear - the equivalence of any harmonization from the melodic minor scale. He just muddies the waters by bringing in unnecessary words like "tonality" and "key", which have distinct definitions in any other theory text. Conventional theory is quite clear on that: melodic minor is not a key or a tonality, it's a scale. (In some views, it's not even a scale in its own right; like harmonic minor, it's just an occasional alteration to natural minor.)
Of course we accept that jazz treats it differently from classical, as a supposed source of various useful chord types, and (therefore) a useful improvisation scale.
That is, a lot of altered chords share an apparent derivation from melodic minor: that set of notes can produce a lot of familiar jazz chords.

However, it's misleading to suggest that those chords are derived from melodic minor in the first place. In practice, they are (were) derived by just altering chords derived from the normal major or minor scales, in order to produce certain harmonic effects. It just so happens that they ended up looking as if a mode of melodic minor was the source.
That appearance is, of course, very handy for jazz musicians, a useful memory aid - assuming we all know our melodic minor scales! Which is why Levine makes so much of it. It's not true, but it's a useful illusion.;)
(Rather like the notion that chord symbols are based on mixolydian mode. They're not, it just looks like that. But the fact it looks like that means we can see a consistency in the symbols.)
 

JonR

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15,170
I tend to think this way as well. Over the years I've come to understand that those who studied CPP theory (and "believed" it) have a different way of looking at things (and talking about them).

sounds like he's talking about the tonal center and modal flavors of that. Its more of a modal way of thinking. So I would consider that a E melodic minor tonality and playing any notes from that (whether in chord or single line).
I agree. If I ever saw such a sequence.
And if I did, I might wonder - based on the "all the same chord" principle - why the writer had chosen those different chord symbols. After all, it would imply that he/she was thinking of a certain sequence of voicings; which - however - are not revealed in the chord symbols, other than a bass line.
So I would still be at a loss as to what to play. Obviously improvising on it is easy - but how would I play the chords? Can I choose my own voicings? If so, why did the composer/arranger choose that particular series? (Seeing, as I said, that these are all interchangeable melodic minor chords.)

It comes back to some woolly writing by Levine, IMO. His point is valid and important, but it really needs a more real world example.
"Tonality" is used in a different way from CPP theory. (but possibly correct according to the dictionary)

This philosophy is based on the tonal center governing over the chords.
In a key, on a chord.
Can you explain that a bit more?
From my perspective (and I'm rather less educated in CPP theory than in jazz theory), a "tonal center governing over the chords" (plural) is what I'd call a "tonic" or "keynote".
That's different from individual chords having a "tonal centre" - commonly called a "root".
I'm not too fussy about allowing modes to have "keynotes" too (one tonal centre governing more than one chord, usually a whole piece).
And I accept that modal music is usually a series of chords (or chord-scales) each with their own "tonal centre" (whether or not one of them tends to dominate overall).
But yeah, I can see how "key" might confuse some people who are used to the CPP theory way of thinking about things. In that sense its not a "key". But there are quite a few people who disagree on what "key" means. This terminology difference has been going on for quite a while.
Yes, and it's pretty dumb when people use "key" to mean "scale". Why not just say "scale", and avoid the confusion?
I realise "scale" itself can have mixed meanings (implying a root note or not), but "key" definitely has the implication of one ruling note, a "tonal center governing over the chords".
It seems crazy to use "key" in a broader sense when "scale" will do just as well.

It would be OK if Levine was really saying that melodic minor can actually behave like a key (in the CPP sense). But that's not what he's saying. He's merely stating that chords harmonized from the scale are interchangeable - which is emphatically not the case in a "chord progression", otherwise there would be no "progression". The chords he's talking about are all used in contexts other than the key of the root of the melodic minor scale. (Chords harmonised from A melodic minor are not used in the key of A minor, other than the tonic.)
I know Bert Ligon talks about modal "keys" as well (e.g. key of E melodic minor). Not that it matters what he or anyone else thinks.
Well, what matters is a "common language", as far as that's possible.
I haven't read Ligon, so I don't know the context in which he might talk about a "key of E melodic minor" - and whether he means anything different from "scale of E melodic minor".

Thinking about it, I can see that "key of E melodic minor" could include all the chords harmonized from the "scale", so is different in that sense. And maybe that's Levine's sense: "key" = "harmonized scale" and nothing else.
That's fine if the context is clear (and in Levine it generally is).

But there's still the "elephant in the room", as it were, which is "key" and "tonality" in the functional sense. Functional harmony didn't die out in 1959 - any more than it did at the end of the CPP era. It's still all around us. We still talk about "ii-V-I"s, and the rest.
So - it seems to me - there's an obvious potential for confusion there. If we want to use melodic minor modes over a minor key ii-V-i, we don't choose the melodic minor "key" of i. We have two or three different "keys" going on (following Levine's usage).
If it's Bm7b5-E7#9-Am(maj7), we might - if following chord-scale principles - choose D melodic minor, followed by F melodic minor, followed by A melodic minor. And yes, as chord subs we might choose any harmonization from those 3 scales. But what use is it to regard them as three "keys" (in any sense)? In that progression - if we are using words sensibly - there are 3 "scales" and one "key".
If we regard the ii and V as somehow being in the "keys" of D melodic minor and F melodic minor, it takes our eye off the ball of functionality. (Let alone making the whole thing way more complicated than it has to be.)
Then another important distinction : "progression" in the Levine terminology means one chord after another. It doesn't necessarily have any CPP connotation associated with it.
Understood. I have no problem with that, although it's another lazy usage. We already have "sequence", which will do very well for a set of chords with no functional "progression" linking them.
Still, that's a less critical issue. (CPP graduates will point out that "sequence" has an entirely different meaning in classical theory.)
If you go down this route (one chord after another), you are into a specific kind of non-functional modal jazz.
Exactly. Which is where chord-scale theory makes sense.
I don't really care myself about the discrepancies but it does cause confusion.
Call me pedantic, but that's precisely why I care.
I mean, I'm not getting angry about it - it's not my business to police theory sites!

But it does get a little tiresome to see the same confusions over chord-scale theory and modes cropping up all the time. It's always down to beginners picking up lazily used terms - poorly defined principles. I'm not laying all the blame at Levine's door - he can't be responsible for everyone who glances through his book. There are worse offenders, on the web anyway.
Its useful to think in both ways IMO (chord or tonal center based)
Yes, I think in both ways all the time (plus linear melodic and rhythmic ways). I just don't usually see a need to use modal or chord-scale concepts when I do so.
I know that the kind of things I play could be described in chord-scale terms. But from where I am, they not only make it look a whole lot more complicated than it is; they don't explain anything.
 

russ6100

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Then another important distinction : "progression" in the Levine terminology means one chord after another. It doesn't necessarily have any CPP connotation associated with it.

If you go down this route (one chord after another), you are into a specific kind of non-functional modal jazz.

I don't really care myself about the discrepancies but it does cause confusion.

Its useful to think in both ways IMO (chord or tonal center based)
I'm not sure if this is terminology that he came up with himself, but Joey Goldstein, a great player / educator who was / is active on the UseNet newsgroup rec.music.makers.guitar.jazz, only used the term "chord progression" when referring to chords that *do* have CPP connotations, i.e. obvious cycling etc..

He would refer to a string of chords that were not related as "chord successions".

I've always kind of liked that distinction.
 




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