You can cut to the 'cocktail' chase and skip over the more frenetic tunes; that will leave you more time for transcription. Transcription is critical because it is your link to a century's worth of innovations by jazz giants. Sign up to join this community. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top. Home Questions Tags Users Unanswered. Ask Question. Asked 4 years, 5 months ago. Active 1 year, 4 months ago. Viewed 11k times. What parts do you have problems with?
It will get hard to get through if you don't have the concept of modes and scales down, so that could be one thing to study if you encounter problems. I believe the idea of the book is trying to build a very strong foundation for jazz improvisation, so it is quite thorough. Hal Leonard has books for certain styles of piano, which are somewhat easier to digest, maybe try one of those out?
Thanks, I will give those a shot. I have read through just the first section on 3 note voicings and tried those on a few pieces. I know one answer is grab a lead sheets and practice, practice, practice - but I suppose I'm just looking for a method that might hold my hand a bit more.
In the book he tries to have you apply the theoretical material to tunes. If you don't have a real book or one of the real book apps, download one and look up the tunes he suggests working on. And don't forget to flip to random tunes on your own and try the exercises out on tunes that catch your eye when you're just flipping through.
Also note that although cocktail-piano audiences may appreciate colourful re-harmonisations of familiar tunes, they still want to hear the TUNES, not your jazz improvisations on them! Iain Duncan Iain Duncan 5 5 silver badges 9 9 bronze badges. That's the one that really broke the wall for me. His Jazz Theory Book is the same. He throws you into the middle of things, doesn't bother to define his terms well and makes many assumptions that are by no means agreed upon or well explained.
Definitely not for beginners.
Mark Levine Jazz Theory Book
Areel Xocha Areel Xocha 2, 4 4 silver badges 13 13 bronze badges. Sign up or log in Sign up using Google. Sign up using Facebook. Literally hundreds of well-chosen examples are presented in a systematic and orderly fashion, transcribed from a wide array of recordings, with convincing explanations regarding the harmonic choices made by the performers.
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Were this volume to have nothing else to offer, which I do not mean to suggest, the transcribed musical excerpts themselves would present an invaluable reference tool for anyone with an interest in jazz theory. Aim for that state of grace, when you no longer have to think about theory. The format does not directly adapt to classroom use, since no exercises are included and material is not presented in order of progressive difficulty. Levine quickly becomes bogged down in discussions of several esoteric chords that are bound to raise objections from experienced jazz musicians and simply lead to confusion among less experienced.
The nadir of this chapter for me was a four-page discussion of the susb9 chord, derived from the Phrygian mode. Attempting to use this book as a text for any level of study would require careful selection and shuffling of material. Generally, he steers clear of popular and Broadway influences, despite their strong historical ties with the music. But Levine takes the title of his book seriously, and however much the materials of jazz may resemble or derive from popular, theater, or classical music, those connections do not concern him.
Unfortunately, what is egregiously lacking is theoretical discussion. For this reason, alternative interpretations or explanations of musical phenomena do not interest him. This view, in essence, assumes that any chord symbol used in jazz implies a full complement of upper extensions 7th, 9th, 11th, and 13th , and accordingly can be reinterpreted as some type of usually seven-note scale.
For example, the chord symbol Dm7, according to this approach, would imply a possible 9th, 11th, and 13th, and would therefore be seen as equivalent to the Dorian mode. It is an indisputable fact that many jazz musicians share this view, and the expediency and usefulness of this approach is not to be denied. A Cmaj7 9, 11,13 serving as a tonic chord in the key of C and the same chord serving as the subdominant in the key of G share the same notes, and may both be thought of as verticalizations of the Lydian mode, but they serve two entirely different functions in the diatonic context, and are likely to be treated as such by the improviser.
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Among other things, one contains the fourth degree of the key, and the other does not. But it may be necessary to think in terms of chords when diatonic function is a significant component of the harmonic motion. Instead, Levine presents a list of the seven modes associated with the diatonic scale and attempts to assign an appropriate chord to each. Presumably, the members of the tonic triad have no particular importance beyond that of the other notes in the Ionian mode.
Since the chord functions as a predominant, the inclusion of the fourth and seventh of the key, along with the tonic note, does not pose any difficulties when the full complement of notes in the Dorian mode are sounded. What he does not mention is that the fourth is the tonic, and that its absence and resulting expectation is fundamental to the tendency toward resolution created by dominant function. You might specifically want to play something dissonant, or you might want to play the 11th and then resolve it down a half step to the 3rd.
This may be true, but it does not explain why the note is found in a scale that is purportedly equivalent to the dominant chord. A more reasonable view would hold that the Mixolydian mode does indeed form a loose fit with the dominant chord, with the exception of the fourth note, which is not at all congruent with the upper structures associated with that chord.
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Initially an abbreviation for suspension, a sus chord is generally a dominant chord in which one hears the fourth tonic in place of the expected third. While the resemblance to the cadential triad is apparent, sus chords are seldom prepared or resolved as suspensions. On the contrary, the chord often occurs in contexts of minimal harmonic motion, where the chord is liable to remain for eight or more measures, and likely to move to another sus chord. Undeniably, jazz musicians have explored this possibility. The question is how to interpret the resulting chord.
If a sus chord is to retain anything of its presumed historical origin, then the absence of the leading tone would seem to be requisite. If jazz theory, in practice, has dispensed with the preparation and resolution of this suspension, what must remain is at least the displacement of the third of the chord. If the third is present, and we indeed have a dominant triad with upper extensions, then it is not clear what justifies pulling the 11th of the chord into the basic structure and calling it a sus chord.
If one were to argue that the voicings generally employed in contexts where both the third and fourth are present seem to suggest the sus chord, then it will have to be attributed to intended ambiguity, much as a twentieth-century composer might flirt with the ambiguity between major and minor tonality. There is little to justify the conclusion that sus chords implicitly contain the third, which is available anytime one wishes to include it in the harmonic structure. Again, Levine is avoiding the obvious: The Mixolydian mode is indeed roughly equivalent with a Vsus chord, with the exception of the third, which is completely foreign to the harmony.
The acceptance of dissonance and the propensity to hear what was once considered dissonant as consonant are two different things. If there has been a gradual acceptance of dissonant intervals, then it is because there is an increasing desire for dissonance. If dissonant intervals are slowly evolving into consonant ones, then there cannot be a concomitant gradual acceptance of dissonance.
It must be one or the other, not both. Levine is probably correct in asserting that the Phrygian mode is usually played over sus 9 chords, but beyond that, it is not clear what is to be gained from exploring the relationship. He does observe, however, that the notes usually played on the sus 9 chord are the root, 9, 4th, 5th, and 7th.
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If this is the case, and the potential minor 3rd and 13 suggested by the Phrygian are not used as part of the vertical harmony, then where is the alleged equivalence? He offers a minor b6 chord as the appropriate place for this mode. Not only is this chord rare, it may be nonexistent.
The reason is that it is unnecessary, since the notes are better viewed and explained functionally as a first-inversion major seventh chord built on the root a major third lower. This is labeled A- 6, with no reference to the D. This, indeed, seems the only logical way to view the progression. The chord commonly played in the second measure is A , resulting in a i, VI 6 , i progression in C minor.
There hardly seems justifiable reason to introduce an extremely rare vertical structure into the progression when a simple inversion of a diatonic chord will neatly provide the necessary notes. He selects the half-diminished seventh generally referred to as the minor seventh [ 5] by jazz musicians , with the caveat that the resulting 9 is an avoid note. But unlike other modes with avoid notes, this avoid note is the wrong note.
Jazz musicians frequently play the 9th on a half-diminished chord, but it is the natural 9th. The scale should contain a major second between the first two notes if it is to provide the notes associated with the half-diminished chord.