Vocabulary in Jazz/Blues:
You remember in lesson five that we looked at Coryell’s harmonised melodies or chord-melodies in which he showed that, for him, the blues pattern consists of four or five structural chords, C7, F7, G7, plus Dm7. When harmonising melodies he stays close to the underlying chord with occasional ventures into diminished chords and chord substitutions. In fact, he showed us a kind of vocabulary of substitutions in that context: For C7 he would use Bbma7, and Em7b5, for F7, F7sus4#3, F#13, F#b13, for connecting passages diminished 7ths and the Gb/G diminished chord.
Vocabulary of Substitutions:
In lesson six we look at how Coryell expands his vocabulary of substitutions and shows us how he develops these ideas. Let us look at the opening phrase:
Coryell said of these two pages of writing that the music has a blues essence. What did he mean by that? Well we can say that there is none of the rhythmic drive, repetitiveness and dark humour of the blues, but there is the concept of harmony based on the 7th chord. Chord One is a seventh chord the music explores through that a sound world of harmonic depth that invites reflection.
In some ways the first eleven bars just lead us via diminished and altered chords to chord V, then resolve on D at bar 14, the music finally falls down though more stable diatonic chords back to Chord One. On the way Coryell turned the guitar inside out and led us on a harmonic and melodic path supported by mostly parallel chords; the bass and melody moving mostly in parallel motion.
The vocabulary of sounds goes beyond a simple blues and has some of the richness of harmony that we would find in the music of for example Maurice Ravel (1875-1937) or the late symphonists. Perhaps it is reading too much into two pages of music but Coryell’s classical European leaning shines through in this music and reminds us of the harmonic excursions of that other brilliant guitarist Joe Pass (1929-1994).
Well there we have it; I hope this look at harmonic extension inspires you to explore this vocabulary in your own playing. As always, play guitar every day, stay in the groove, make music with cool people and there it is.