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7.5 beat time 

My love for North Indian Classical music began when I took a course taught by Vinay Bhide at Carleton University in 2002. His introduction to Indian music was aimed at all Western musicians, but to me seemed geared even more towards jazz musicians since so much of the excitement in Hindustani music comes from improvisation, usually over a pre-determined or standard form.  Their idea of form differs, but not as much as you might think. 

Although the amount of great reading materials is rapidly growing, I most…

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Forbidden Musical Devices 

During World War II, Hitler's regime forbade certain musical ideas and devices that didn't conform with their idea of artistic music.

From New Dutch Swing

It [de jazzwereld's guideline for entertainment music in 1940] was mostly a detailed roster of forbidden devices and practices: plunger mutes, growls, smears and other dirty timbres, ostinato basses, background riffs repeated more than three times, charts written by black musicians, washboards, the use of the word 'jazz' were all off-limits.

How many…

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Simple Triads 

One of the first theory lessons I like to teach is that there are only 12 major chords and 12 minor chords.
Learning these is attainable in a relatively short amount of time.

To simplify this further I start with the six "3 White note chords":
C, Dmin, Emin, F, G, and Amin

And the six "White-Black-White chords":
Cmin, D, E, Fmin, Gmin, A

With these second six we start to have the potential for some unusual and more offbeat chord progressions.

The remaining chords can be thought of as "black-white-black" (6), "all…

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Bud Powell Un Poco Loco 

My big project this fall was digging into Bud Powell's "Un Poco Loco". 



It's a song with more than one moment that pushes the envelope of standard jazz language, rhythm and form. The Max Roach drum pattern alone has been elaborated on by many- the 5 over 4 pattern is filled with energy and slightly lopsided, not quite adding up to two bars.At the fast cut time tempo, I feel like it has a falling forward momentum, which feels to me like he was aiming more for whole note triplets across the barline (this was…Read more

California Girls 

Given the swing from -15C to 15C and back that we are having, I'm pretty excited to have a show coming up where we play instrumental arrangements of Beach Boys tunes.  Brian Wilson was heavily influenced by Gershwin, and lush jazzy progressions sneak into the later material, but even on an earlier pop tune like California Girls there is an interesting exploring pattern at work.

Check out the chord progression for the chorus:

The song is in B major with the verses mainly using traditional I, IV and V chords…Read more

Untitled's Blues 

I can't count the number of tunes I have played called "Untitled".  Or a variation depending on what music notation software calls a piece with the title left blank.  I personally struggled when setting an untitled poem to music with what to call it.  In the end I used words from the poem that seemed appropriate.

Jazz tunes can be short- a blues head can be 12 bars long and provide enough material for extended improvisations.  One common titling tradition is naming tunes after colleagues and friends, like…Read more