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  1. #1
    Premium Member BradArmpitt's Avatar
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    Default Chordal Tones vs. Scales

    I've been researching Carol Kaye lately, and in several interviews she mentions that jazz players from the '50s rarely used scales to improvise. Instead they used chordal tones and patterns, and they only used scales as a "passing tone" to go from chord to chord or in chromatic approaches.

    Could some of the more knowledgeable people here elaborate on this?

    Last edited by BradArmpitt; 02-24-2017 at 03:52 PM.
    "Practice, practice, practice. Practice until you get a guitar welt on your chest. If it makes you feel good, don't stop until you see the blood from your fingers. Then you'll know you're on to something." - Ted Nugent

  2. #2
    Premium Member palico's Avatar
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    Not sure I'm that knowledgeable but I'll give it shot.

    So chords are made up out of scales. The C Major chord for example is made up of the 1st, 3rd and 5th of the C Major Scale. In this example the C(root) E(3rd) and G(5th). So If you playing over this chord, you can use the C Major scale and it will fit. But what if you just used the notes C, E, G instead, go ahead and use it across octaves up and down.
    So:
    Scales you would play any of the notes from the scale: C D E F G A B
    Chordal notes you would play notes just from the chord itself C E G.
    Another name for Chordal notes would be Arpeggios, although arpeggio generally more refers to playing them in order, chordal notes would not necessarily mean in a particular order.

    Now with Jazz she is generally referring to chords that are much more complex than basic Major and Minor chords.
    Last edited by palico; 02-24-2017 at 07:06 PM.

  3. #3
    Premium Member BradArmpitt's Avatar
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    Thanks, palico. I follow what you are saying. I understand now why she believes it is much easier to learn the chordal tones first rather than entire scales.
    "Practice, practice, practice. Practice until you get a guitar welt on your chest. If it makes you feel good, don't stop until you see the blood from your fingers. Then you'll know you're on to something." - Ted Nugent

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    Quote Originally Posted by BradArmpitt View Post
    I understand now why she believes it is much easier to learn the chordal tones first rather than entire scales.
    My take is that to her using scales is not jazz and she looks down on it; nothing to do with chordal notes being easier to learn.

    As it happens, Alex Scott made a comment about this in the live Bass 102 course. See the archive week 6:
    http://members.jamplay.com/workshops/workshop/31
    It's in answer to a couple questions at 33:21 -- he mentions tunes which are not in a key, it's all in fancy jazz chords. See his words at about 35:20

    In short, not your normal key, not your normal scale, not your normal chords.
    It's beyond me, so I might be wrong. Ask Alex in the next live session!

  5. #5
    Premium Member BradArmpitt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwhy View Post
    My take is that to her using scales is not jazz and she looks down on it; nothing to do with chordal notes being easier to learn.

    As it happens, Alex Scott made a comment about this in the live Bass 102 course. See the archive week 6:
    http://members.jamplay.com/workshops/workshop/31
    It's in answer to a couple questions at 33:21 -- he mentions tunes which are not in a key, it's all in fancy jazz chords. See his words at about 35:20

    In short, not your normal key, not your normal scale, not your normal chords.
    It's beyond me, so I might be wrong. Ask Alex in the next live session!
    Thanks for the reply, nwhy. I'll check out Alex's lesson and see if that helps me get a clearer understanding. In several interviews, Carol specifically states that the chordal tones and patterns are easier to learn than scales, which is why she recommends learning them. She does also state, however, that her and other jazz players did "look down" on players who practiced scales because they felt such players were "locked in" to a particular way of playing which apparently isn't so beneficial in a jazz setting.

    I don't think Carol is AGAINST learning scales, per se, but she does make a statement to the effect of "If you learn your chordal tones and patterns, then you don't need scales." She then goes on to state that guitar schools don't teach this way anymore because most instructors are now rock players who don't understand the instrument as well as jazz players, they don't understand how the tones and patterns work together, etc.

    lol She is kind of stuck up about the jazz players always being better musicians but, given her resume and the people she has played with, I guess she has the right to be. lol
    Last edited by BradArmpitt; 02-25-2017 at 06:10 AM.
    "Practice, practice, practice. Practice until you get a guitar welt on your chest. If it makes you feel good, don't stop until you see the blood from your fingers. Then you'll know you're on to something." - Ted Nugent

  6. #6
    Premium Member palico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BradArmpitt View Post
    I don't think Carol is AGAINST learning scales, per se, but she does make a statement to the effect of "If you learn your chordal tones and patterns, then you don't need scales." She then goes on to state that guitar schools don't teach this way anymore because most instructors are now rock players who don't understand the instrument as well as jazz players, they don't understand how the tones and patterns work together, etc.
    Kind of sad really, she would make such as statement. The "chord tones" a.k.a arpeggios are used by shredders all the time in sweeping patterns. And she states the chord tone patters are easier, so that makes you better player to play easier stuff? LOL. Jazz does often take a better understanding of Theory at times but when you really look at it, it's just another style of music. Same we tend to look down on other styles because we don't like them as much.

  7. #7
    Premium Member BradArmpitt's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by palico View Post
    Kind of sad really, she would make such as statement. The "chord tones" a.k.a arpeggios are used by shredders all the time in sweeping patterns. And she states the chord tone patters are easier, so that makes you better player to play easier stuff? LOL. Jazz does often take a better understanding of Theory at times but when you really look at it, it's just another style of music. Same we tend to look down on other styles because we don't like them as much.
    It's just another form of tonewood debate, it seems, that could go around in circles as to which is better, and depending on who you talk to. lol It was new to me, though, so I thought I would ask and see if it would be worth looking into more thoroughly.

    I'm not far along in my own theory journey yet, but I can already see where theory would be almost mandatory for a serious jazz player. I have no doubt Carol knows her stuff, though. She's obviously a very knowledgeable and capable musician.
    Last edited by BradArmpitt; 02-26-2017 at 06:55 PM.
    "Practice, practice, practice. Practice until you get a guitar welt on your chest. If it makes you feel good, don't stop until you see the blood from your fingers. Then you'll know you're on to something." - Ted Nugent

  8. #8
    Premium Member robdbirch's Avatar
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    Thanks for sharing, good topic. Interesting insight and perspective from Wrecking Crew legend Carol Kaye. Myself I've been looking to expand chordal understanding mentally and an my awareness physically on the fret board. Liepe, I believe in the last live session recommended the John Marche series Chord Alchemy. I enjoy watching Wallman whip out the chords on his loops in the live sessions.

 

 

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