Friday, February 3, 2012

Guide Tones

Last semester I filled in for the professor who teaches traditional music composition at UConn.  While he was on sabbatic leave, I deviously exposed his students to the depraved ways of jazz.  In addition to working through some extensive listening lists, we literally devoured Ted Pease's text book, "Jazz Composition - Theory and Practice".  If you're curious, my course outline for the semester can be viewed here.

This next blues, is derived from a concept Pease presents.  The melody is based on two, guide tone-based lines simultaneously weaving their way through the harmonic progression.  By alternating between the guide tones and using ample embellishment (anticipation, passing tones, neighbor tones, indirect resolution, escape tones, double chromatic approach, etc.), a bebop flavored melody was produced.  "Jordu" by Duke Jordan, and "In Walked Bud" by Thelonious Monk are two classic examples also utilizing this technique.

For my tune, I used a harmonic variation of the blues commonly referred to as a "bird blues".  Charlie Parker's "Blues For Alice" is perhaps the most famous example.


  1. Love your blog - great new tunes, loved the music reviews early on this year, as well as the comments about jazz in the 80's and so on. Really made me think.
    Your website is great too - well edited vids (in the jazz education section), excellent pdf material - love it all. I've learnt heaps in a short time. Thanks for putting me on to Mantooth's book too. Cheers!

    1. Thank you John for your kind words. I'm glad you are enjoying the blog and that the material on my web site has been helpful. I marvel that my sites have found a reader in New Zealand! :)


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