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Monday, October 10, 2011

Harmonic Minor Scale

Happy Thanksgiving to all my fellow Canadians.
Had a fun gig on Saturday with my old friend George Grosman who sings and
plays guitar. The two guitar thing can work well.

Have a busy week ahead. I'm mixing Tracey Dey's CD, teaching both at home and the Toronto Film School and have a gig Saturday with my jazz alternative Echo and Twang which I co-lead with guitarist/singer Jake Chisholm. Old country stuff with a bit of blues as well. Lots of fun.

I'll also be working on my jazz guitar method book which I started about a month or so ago. I'm thinking of calling it "Bray's Way or the Highway" :-). What do you think?
It's a lot of work but fun. Still learning Sibelius which has it's challenges or should I say I have my challenges with it.
The book is about thinking about music in numbers which allows you to play things in all keys easily and basically see music in a different way. I feel a clearer way. I am also discussing improvisation in depth and hopefully teaching it in a way that a lot of other books seem to miss. For example, the use of the harmonic scale and how it works over a dominant seventh chord if you use the harmonic minor scale based on the fourth of the chord. Over a G7 for instance, you can use the C harmonic minor scale. Unfortunately a lot of books just stop there with their explanation. By using the C harmonic minor scale from the root it doesn't fit. Simple as that. The scale needs to start from the 7th of the scale in order for the strong chord tones to line up with downbeats and essentially make the scale fit with the harmony. You can use the root of the harmonic minor as a pickup into the bar but the scale needs to start on the 7th if it's going to work. Also the Dominant seventh chord has to be in motion for the harmonic minor to work. If the 7th chord is a V or VI chord in a progression like (iii-7  IV7  ii-7  V7) it will work but if the 7th chord is not in motion like a 7th chord in a I  IV V blues progression, it won't work. The harmonic minor scale acts like a spring board into a resolving chord if the 7th is in motion.

Listened to Ed Bickert and Bill Mays "Concord Duo Series number 7" which is live from California. Beautiful collaboration. Ed Bickert is still one of my all time favourite guitarists on the planet and he lives in Toronto! My daughters have swam in his pool but of course I think that's cooler than they do. Youth today.....Unfortunately he doesn't perform anymore much to the disappointment to many fans.
Ed has such a command of chord voicings and sounds like a pianist but still has great single note lines.
Also listened to another favourite guitarist of mine Jim Hall with Ron Carter "Live at the Village West". Too bad about the clanging of cutlery etc in the background, a bit disrespectful, but the interplay between the two is amazing. So much space but full in the same sense. Great version of Sonny Rollin's "St. Thomas" and Gershwin's "Embraceable You".

Well that's all for now.

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