Using the Augmented Triad On the Dominant Chord
I got this idea from Prez’ amazing solo on this tune (starts at 1:07 )
He frequently goes to the #5 (B in Eb7 in the key of Ab ) over the V7 parts of the progression which occur frequently ( Bars 1-2,6-7,9-10,19-20,25-26). This was a conventional suspense generator before bebop and it sounds very fresh on this tune but reflects its pre-bop vintage.
The basic idea is just play the #5 of the V chord ( B over Eb7 in Ab ) wherever you’d be inclined to play the 5 ( Bb over Eb7 in Ab ).
Back to Menu
Clearly a paean to tranny hookers:
“It’s like heaven right here on earth
With those beautiful queens…”
Would you expect any less from a songwriter named Harry Creamer??
Back to Menu
Approach #1 — Call and Response with “Call” phrases starting on the Tonic, Third, and Fifth
“The Preacher” has a melody based on a call and response pattern heard frequently in sanctified Afro-American song.
“John the Revelator” is a good example:
Tell me who’s that ridin’? — John, the revelator
Tell me who’s that ridin’? — John, the revelator
Tell me who’ that riding? — John, the revelator
Wrote the book of the 7 seals…
Blind Willie Johnson’s version is great:
“The Preacher” does a similar thing. The 16-bar melody neatly falls into 4 4-bar sections. In the first 3 sections, bars 1 and 2 repeat the same phrase and the remaining bars “answer” with different melodies. The final 4 bar phrase does not follow the call and response internal pattern. Instead, it functions as an “answer” to the prior three phrases. This is very similar to the “John the Revelator” pattern except that in this case phrases in bars 1 and 2 and phrases in bars 3 and 4 of each of the first 3 four bar sections are identical.
This first approach use call and response as an improvisational guideline. The first two bars of each of the first three four bar phrases is identical in each chorus. The latter two bars of each phrase are improvised with some reference to the original melody. In the three choruses, the repeated phrases start on the tonic, third, and fifth respectively.
Approach #2 — Guide Tone Line
I found a guide tone line that is nice to embroider. Because the first 3 four bar sections start with the same note, it reflects the call and response approach discussed in Approach #1.
| 3 | b7 3| 4 #4| 5 |
| 3 | 3 | # 4 | 4 |
| 3 | b7 | 6 4 | #5 3 |
|4 #4 |5 b2 | 4 7 | 1 |
| A | Eb A | Bb B | C |
| A | A | Bb | A |
| A | Eb | D Bb | C# A |
|Bb B | C F# | Bb E | F |
Back to Menu
Approach #1 — A Section — Descending Thirds ( Mostly )
This approach in its most basic form doesn’t have all that much to do with the melody but also doesn’t sound too far removed. It’s a nice guide tone line through the harmonic progression and helps to stay focused on that.
Step 1: Play these descending thirds in quarter notes to hear it:
3-b2 b3-1 2-7 b2-6 1-6 7-2(up) 1-6 #5-7 ( on A1) and 1-b7 ( on A )
In the usual key of Eb these intervals are:
G-E Gb-Eb F-D E-C Eb-C D-F (up) Eb-C B-D ( on A1 ) and Eb-Db ( on A2 )
Step 2: Rhythmic improvisation using the above guide tone line
Step 3: Mix it in with the melody
Back to Menu
All sections 4 bars
La Mi Fa Sol Do Re Mi Mi May Mi
May Re Do Re Do La Do Do
Do Re Do Re Do May Do Re Do
Mi Mi La Mi Sol
Do (down) May May May Do Re Do
Re Re Do Ti
What is the ChromaBender?
Brendan Power’s ChromaBender harmonica incorporates the recent “ultra-bend” or “x-bend” technology in a 3-octave, solo-tuned chromatic harmonica. It enables playing the deep, juicy bends characteristic of the richter-tuned diatonic harmonica –i.e. the blues harp — on a 3 octave, 12-hole Hering chromatic model. Like the richter-tuned Suzuki SUB-30 and it’s high performance custom version , blow and draw bends are available on every hole where the interval between the draw and blow notes is at least a whole step. On those holes with a half-step interval between blow and draw notes, either the blow or draw note is bendable but not both. There is no slide on the ChromaBender: you get all the “missing” sharps and flats by playing either draw or blow bends.
Click here for more information about ChromaBender.
Solo Tuning vs. Richter Tuning
I think the ChromaBender provides a terrific opportunity for blues and country-oriented diatonic players to take advantage of the unique capabilities of solo tuning. Richter tuning is great but solo tuning has much to recommend it as well:
- Identical blow/draw patterns in all octaves
- All notes playable as octaves
- Many double stops ( 4 major thirds, 4 minor thirds, 4 perfect fifths, 4 perfect 4ths, 4 major sixths, 4 minor sixths, two tritones, two major seconds, 2 minor sevenths, 12 octaves ) identical in each octave
Richter tuning is much more complicated since every octave is different and that makes duplicating patterns in different octaves difficult or impossible.
For chromatic players,ChromaBender makes it possible to play tunes with substantial key modulations and bend notes like on a blues harp.
Why I Chose Summertime
Summertime is a great tune and a familiar one. It sounds wonderful on both diatonic and chromatic harmonicas. On either a richter-tuned diatonic or a solo-tuned chromatic, you can play Summertime based on the pleasingly dark and sad Dorian mode, commonly referred to as “third position” by harp players. It also provides an ideal pportunity to demonstrate the harmo-hermaphroditic features of the ChromaBender.
Blow by Blow Description of the Performance
I’m still exploring this instrument. To do so, I’m composing etudes that allow me to get my chops together in the process of playing something that sounds more or less like real music on tunes I actually play in public. “ChromaBender Summertime” is my first and it helped me get a few things together and pointed out areas needing further refinement. By chorus:
First Chorus — Melody with Juicy Bends in the Middle Octave
This is basically a statement of the melody where I am using the x-bend draw and blow bends to embellish the melody in the middle octave. This octave is the same on both richter and solo-tuned harps. If you know how to play Summertime on either diatonic or chrom, you’ll be able to hear where the extended capabilities are, particularly on the 4 and 6 hole draw bends and the 5 and 6 hole blow bends.
Second Chorus — Low Octave Bebop
Exploring making the changes here. This requires hitting the bends with reasonably good intonation. Summertime works great as a modal tune but there’s plenty of modulations in the harmonic progression that are nice to paddle through now and again ( more like the beginning than the end of the canoe trip in “Deliverance” ).
I start out exploring big fat bends on the low-octave 3-hole draw. I then go into some bop patterns. The first is a blatant rip-off from the intro to Dizzy Gillespie’s “Bebop”. The second is a cliche cadence pattern. My main reason for using these two phrases is that they prove an excellent way to work on what I call “functional” bends. By functional, I mean you have to execute either a blow or draw bend to get the intended note. I’ve only heard two guys that bend notes in a way that is indistinguishable from an unbent note and I’m neither one of them. But I found the results a promising start. Practice makes better as they say
Third Chorus — Multi-Octave Runs and the Top Octave
One of the great things about solo tuning is that all the octaves are the same. This makes playing the same pattern through successively lower or higher octaves pretty easy. I play these multi-octave runs to get to the top once at pick-up to the chorus and again later in. In this second run I also incorporate tongue switching to do a multi-octave run composed entirely of wide intervals. This is another technique that is pretty easy in solo tuning and pretty difficult ( for me at least ) in richter. There are some expressive bends up there on holes 9 and 10. It will take a while to find them on 11 and 12.
Fourth Chorus — Octaves and Double Stops
Another great thing about solo tuned harps is the number of octaves and double stops available. Here I go for a variation on the swooping saxophone post-war Chicago blues chromatic sound. I’m doing sixth double-stops, wailing minor thirds, lots of octaves. This chorus is really about investigating to what extent this harp sounds like its chromatic cousin. Pretty similar.
Final Chorus — Mixed Bag
Now I’m just blowing.
Approach #1: Incorporate Voice Leading in Bars 1 thru 4
Improvise around the voice leading line found in the chord progression of bars 1-4 of the A section:
( in Eb )
Eb Db C B Bb A Ab Ab G
I’m liking the sound of a repeated phrase with one altered note that follows the voice leading line. “In Walked Bud” comes to mind as a good example of this approach.
A way to get started:
In bars 1-2, play a 2 beat phrase that includes the 1 (Eb). Repeat the phrase 3 more times and replace the 1 note with successive notes in the voice leading line up to the b6.
In bar 3, use the P5(Bb) as the substitute note and be quiet for a bit.
In bar 4, paraphrase the melody, which is itself the last four steps in the voice leading line and functions as two melodic cadences a half step apart ( leading to b5 and P4 respectively ).