[Dixielandjazz] Guide tones---explained

Edgerton, Paul A paul.edgerton at eds.com
Wed Jan 19 11:00:56 PST 2005


In the key of Ab, the Ab chord is the tonic and probably wouldn't be Ab7 --
it would typically be Ab6 or possibly Abma7, which is rare in Dixieland.
The added sixth is very common on both major and tonic minor chords.  Of
course the added sixth of Ab is F. 

(this explanation was in the paragraph just before the one you quoted)

-- Paul Edgerton

-----Original Message-----
From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
[mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of Bill Biffle
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 8:50 PM
To: 'Ken Gates'; 'Dixieland Jazz'
Subject: RE: [Dixielandjazz] Guide tones---explained

If these are intended to be 3rd and 7ths, 

Chord:  F7   Bb   Eb   Ab
>         ==   ==   ==   ==
> Line 1: A  - Ab - G  - F
> Line 2: Eb - D  - Db - C

Then the F is wrong.  It should be Gb - 7th in Ab (maybe you just left the #
off the F#, which of course is Gb enharmonically.

Bill Biffle

-----Original Message-----
From: dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com
[mailto:dixielandjazz-bounces at ml.islandnet.com] On Behalf Of Ken Gates
Sent: Tuesday, January 18, 2005 7:48 PM
To: Dixieland Jazz
Subject: [Dixielandjazz] Guide tones---explained


Paul Edgerton gave permission to forward extracts of his explanation.
Here it is------------

             ABOUT GUIDE TONES
> Chords are defined mainly by their thirds (major or minor) and by their
> sevenths (dominant or tonic) though I have oversimplified somewhat.  If
> analyze a chord sequence in terms of its thirds and sevenths you will find
> that some of them are diatonic to the key.  That is, they are contained in
> the scale of the key signature.  But some of them are chromatic, or
> of the home key.
> For example, the  here are the first four chords of the tune Sweet Georgia
> Brown in Ab:
> Chord Third Seventh
> ----- ----- -------
> F7 A* Eb
> Bb7 D* Ab
> Eb7 G Db
> Ab C G**  (or F)
> The tones marked with one asterisk don't fall in an Ab scale and are
> therefore VERY IMPORTANT! I'll get back to them in a minute, but I should
> explain that in most jazz styles, chords typically have four voices.
> Dominant chords by definition have a major third and a minor seventh.
> tonic chords, the major seventh might be used (Struttin' With Some
> but more often the diatonic sixth is used instead.  That's what the double
> asterisk is for.
> Anyway, some people think of these thirds and sevenths arranged like this:
> Chord:  F7   Bb   Eb   Ab
>         ==   ==   ==   ==
> Line 1: A  - Ab - G  - F
> Line 2: Eb - D  - Db - C
> It doesn't matter which of the two lines is on top, because they keep
> interchanging thirds and sevenths.  Do you notice how each of the two
> move down by whole step or half step?  These are the sort of lines that
> hear the cellos playing in elevator music.  When you are just learning how
> to hear chord changes, these are your friends because they are
> easy to pick out.  This is what some people mean when they speak of guide
> tones.  They help guide you through chord progressions.
> I like to carry this one step further.  After a certain familiarization
> period, these become so easy to hear that you don't have to think about
> when the chord changes are "circle of fifths" like this example.  But
> remember that I said the thirds and sevenths that fall outside the home
> are the most important ones -- those are the real guide tones because they
> tell you when you have to deviate from the home key.
> Finally, I should mention that your home key isn't always the one given by
> the key signature.  For example, the tune China Boy is usually played in
> and most of the tune can be played by noodling around an F scale.  But the
> bridge actually changes abruptly to Ab, even though the key signature
> doesn't change.  You're temporarily in a new key, so you should look at
> chords in the context of the new key.  On the bridge, you should be
> in Ab, not F.  Soon enough the tune returns the home key.
> Some of the more complex tunes change keys (actually they change tonality)
> every few bars.  Especially the bridges (Cherokee, Have You Met Miss
> et al.) Tunes like that can be a lot of fun if you know where they're
> and they can be real traps if you don't!
> You might want to take a few of the tunes you like and write out the guide
> tones keeping them in the middle of the staff and usually moving by step.
> Then go through and circle the tones that aren't in the home key.  These
> the ones to learn, and make all the difference between sounding right and
> sounding like you don't know the changes.

This is Ken speaking now-----

Most people I know find music theory to be hopelessly boring.
I know very little--but I'm learning---guess I'm just curious.
I don't think that knowing these things will suddenly make me a great
player (I'm in a student phase---maybe at some intermediate level).
But I do think that some theory just might bring something new to
my practice/learning sessions that could slowly cause some improvement.

My thanks to Paul for a clear and concise explanation.

Ken Gates


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