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Playing the Changes: Guitar: A Linear Approach to Improvising Paperback – Apr 1 2006
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
The basic idea behind the book is to develop a system for using the structures within the modes of the major scale to solo over all chord types. The authors present a logical way to do that, but this may come as a surprise for players who were previously taught of major scales modes in the old fashioned way, ie: Phyrigian mode works over a minor 7th chord, Locrian works over a m7b5.. Well, NO, this is not entirely true. Actually, in real music, we are hearing such modes being used in different functions all the time..And the authors explain why..
The approach in the book focuses on chord progressions instead of individual chords. This is, in a sense, similar to soloing in key centers. However, while soloing in key centers does not allow you concentrate in essential tones that you should emphasize, the so called "pitch axis" system of the authors does allow you to do that exactly. If you have been wondering how proficient players are able to outline chord changes with a few notes, this book may be what you need. I believe open-minded players, even if they have been taught of the modes in the old fashioned way, can also benefit a lot from this book. The authors use the progressions to well-known jazz standards (in order of increasing difficulty) to apply the ideas presented in the lessons, but I believe musicians dealing with other kinds of music can also benefit from the material if theye are interested in improvisation.
The examples have been notated and tabbed, but the "tetrachords", which are four-note structures used by the authors as the simplest source of linear lines, are notated in standard notation, so some basic sight reading would be helpful.
Last but not least, the authors state that modal improvisation is just one of the ways they teach.. The system taught here is definitely a very good one, but there are other approaches as well. If you are willing to get more into the typical jazz (especially bebop) language where chromaticism plays an important part, you should be aware that this not the focus of this book. For more information on the use of chromaticism and typical bebop lines, I suggest you check out Don Mock's "Target Tones" book. I bought these two books together and they turned out to complement each other in an unexpected way. Sid Jacob's book on "Playing the changes-Guide Tones" and "Jazz Guitar Phrases" book are also highly recommended for that purpose. And finally, if you are interested in the different applications of tetrachords and similar small musical units for jazz guitar, you may also want to check out Andrew Green's "Jazz Guitar Structures"..
To summarize, I believe the information here would be beneficial for all types of guitar players interested in improvisation, and especially in jazz improvisation. I am giving it four stars, because I think the authors' approach could have been expanded for other structures besides the major scale.. But I guess I am a little picky..:)
I too was a little confused at first when 'tetrachords' were mentioned. The word 'chord' is there but the notes are played as a scale. When these scales are played over a single chord, the tension and resolution thing is totally understood. Playing an F note over a vamping Cmaj7 chord sounds pretty bad. But persisting with it and really listening to it, the tension and uneasy-ness starts to sound like a colour or shade, then resolve that F to E and bingo... the tension resolves and you can appreciate the F like a subtle taste in a fine wine.....
This book goes beyond 'play Ionian over Cmaj7, play Aeolian over Am7, play Dorian over Dm7, play Mixolydian over G7'.....
I'm only up to Lesson 5 in this book but so far I've really got a lot from it. Singing a Cmaj7 scale while playing vi ii V I is pretty amazing because the one scale sounds SO different depending on what chord is being played underneath it. The scale SOUNDS different!
Looking forward to the rest of the book.
I REALLY LIKE THE METHOD IN THIS BOOK BUT THE KINDLE EDITION IS SO BAD IT'S USELESS
I won't detail my praise of the method - there are plenty of positive reviews re the substance of the book and I completely agree.
THE KINDLE DISASTER
There are two major flaws in the Kindle edition of this book.
1) The tracks for the CD that comes with the hard copy are NOT available online. The Kindle edition includes a link [...] that only has pads for the chords used in the book. This means that there are no tracks for the examples played out by the author. One would expect to find all the tracks available for download organized with the same numbering set out in the book.
2) The notation for the tracks is only readable in standard notation. There are plenty of places where there is a mix of standard notation and tab to show the fingering that you should use while recording the comping part to improvise over. The tab is minuscule and, unless you have microscopes instead of eyeballs, unreadable. Fine, you would think, I'm gonna go ahead and magnify it, but NO: the notation and tab scores are saved in the file as images and therefore you have no way of enlarging them (the text around will increase in font but nothing will happen to the image).
I'm terribly disappointed that Berklee Press would do such a sloppy job (or tolerate that a partner do such a sloppy job for them) - I was really excited about the method but these flaws make it so painful to move from one exercise to the next one that I gave up entirely.
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