Well welcome to this fifth lesson in this series devoted to Larry Coryell’s guitar-playing in particular his blues and jazz playing as outlined in the book called Jazz Guitar.
You remember that in our previous four lessons we covered several things based on a 12 bar blues and see where we looked at Coryell’s use of the A minor scale and A minor pentatonic based around the fifth position on the guitar at the fifth fret.
Chords: Then we looked at how he used a number of chord substitutions to make the harmony and the twelve bar blues more smooth and flowing. So over the standard three chords you would hear in a typical urban blues like Mustang Sally you hear these interesting chords like F#7b5, parallel diminished chords, Em7b5, and A7#5. That sort of thing.
Chromaticism: Then we looked at his use of chromaticism so how he employs notes which are outside of the key. He introduced us to the use of the diminished scale. He also of course liberally uses the blues scale and then in one of the other one of the other subsequent lessons we also showed how he moved from blues phrasing through to a more jazz type of phrasing with short phrases moving either up or down that don't quite end properly. The use of jumping intervals at the end of a phrase in bebop type intervals.
Harmonised Melody: In this lesson five we can see that Coryell has moved on from the concept of just a simple bass line, and chords then going to melody but he shows us how he harmonizes a melody. So what we what do we mean by that? Well let's look at it.
So if we start off with our familiar progression he starts with C7 then E in the bass, F# parallel diminished then down to the G minor seventh the same as we have done before.
Then his melody starts.
ED#EDEDD# DbC CDDC FF
Now if we look at that melody he harmonizes that with chords. So what chords does he use?
But he harmonises it with these parallel major 7th chords and that's a nice touch I think. You'll also notice that as he moves down to the melody of D there he used a B flat ma7 and we've talked about this in the previous lesson how for Coryell a common chord substitution below a C7 chord for him is a Bbmaj7. So there's our first phrase:
ED#EDEDD# DbC CDDC FF
Now for that melody note this time it's another Eb he harmonises that with a F# chord 13th, but it has an A# in the bass. This is a common thing that you'll find in jazz chord progressions. You may refer to a chord as an F# chord in this case F#9 or F#13 but in fact there's no F# in it.It is an F#13 but has A# in the bass. It is leaving out the F#. It's a common trick but it can be confusing for us. We say this is an F# Seventh. Where is the F#? But it is a way of understanding the underlying harmony I guess.
Look another way of looking at is that we’ve just got basically an F7 or F9 going up a semitone and adding a 13th. Now let’s put that in context:
ED#EDEDD# DbC CDDC FF
He then follows it with another chord Progression. Now this variation on F7 is an F#9#5 harmonised with percussive melody notes reiterating the melody note F with an F13 with Eb in the bass. Now you say why do we call this chord F? Why don’t we say it is F over Eb? and I think you know part of it is that it is Coryell’s way of thinking. It actually has a sweet kind of sound. It just fits very well in that context.
So that phrase then takes us into the next the next part of the melody which is:
Well now he does a similar thing here where he's starting by harmonizing the F note with an F7th so nothing very surprising there but when he goes to F# and A harmonising them with parallel diminished seventh chords resolving back down onto the G he harmonizes it with the Em7b5 chord It is really a C9 without the C. That chord occurs again a lot for Coryell In this context. He is using a C9 But places the E in the bass.
The next part of the 12-bar sequence really is just a bass note and chord texture so he does F7 then Em to this interesting chord that he calls A13b9 but it has a G in the bass. You could also call it Db with G in the bass. I guess you would think of it a kind of diminished chord. An A chord would have sounded good there but he uses a E minor to a G in the bass and resolves down to the Dminor. So that is a nice touch.
The melody for the next phrase is
he harmonises with Dm so for Dm7, for E Dm9, then for the notes D and F uses parallel diminisheds and an altered G13b9 for the E and G finishing on the Em7b5, more bass/chords this time through A7#9, Dm7 and the low G7th to the end of the first 12 bars.
Now that melody line he harmonizes that first of all with (guess what?) Bbmaj7 first. So the underlying harmony again: C7 but when he harmonizes the D he uses Bbma7 then harmonises the G with Em7b5 which is of course entirely appropriate in this context here. Then for this melody note this strange C# moving in parallel, diminished 7ths to an interesting chord melody here:
So the first chord he does is an Esus4#3 moving up to the F. It is like a combination of F major with a suspended fourth as well. Coryell likes this sound. Fsus4#3 is quite a good way of describing it so the underlying harmony is F7. He just approaches that from a semitone below. Now if you just took that melody on its own it would be:
So there he likens that to using a big Band-type phrasing again like as if you using parallel saxophones or parallel trumpets in a brass section only it's not quite like that. I suppose the underlying harmony would be:
Then he has a melody line on the top. So there's an interesting passage.
For the next part of the 12 bars he just moves through again bass lines and chords F7, B7, Em, Bb13, Eb13 with a short melodic figure. In the final cadence: If you take that melody on its own it is:
He harmonises that. When he does that harmonization it is on a Bbma7 chord Dm7, all Dm7. When the melody resolves on to C he has actually put a Bb13/Ab chord underneath. Bb13 underneath it then A7#5, followed by this diminished chord that Coryell likes. He calls it Ab13b9, a variant of the diminished chord. This moves down by semitone to Db9 (an odd but cool sounding A in the bass) and resolves to the key chord C7th.
Listen to that progression from the Bb13/Ab, A7#5, to Ab13b9, Db9/A and C9.
So there we have Coryell’s examples of harmonizing melodies and what have we learned from that? We have learned that well first of all over the tonic chord C7 he loves to use Cma7 to build his harmonisations. We have also looked how the B flat major seventh chord for Coryell here is one of his major cornerstones of his harmony, a lynchpin of his harmony.
He uses many parallel diminished chords between cadence points so to connect a particular chord to another chord he wanders for a while through a series of parallel diminished 7th chords. He combines that on this example with bass lines and chords like we covered previously and what we learned from this is that there are really three components to his jazz guitar style as outlined so far in this book. He has
1. a bass line with chords,
2. he then has melody lines which can be rewritten or improvised and
3. he shows us how he can harmonize melodies and of course all those three can be combined so
Bass lines, Chords and Harmonized melodies.
In his next lesson lesson 6 in this series we go much more deeply into the idea of harmonized melodies and explore harmonized melodies in a much more pure form so that is actually really interesting and I'm looking forward to making that video and sharing that with you. There is always a lot of insight to be gained from learning from other guitar players and finding out the tricks that make up each player’s individual style so we'll leave it there for today.
In the meantime as I normally do say to you of course practice every day, stay in the groove and make sure you enjoy what you're doing find some friends to play with and okay thanks very much.