Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Bud Powell Celia Transcription (Analysis)

I will try to include three or four interesting insights I have taken from the transcriptions I will be posting here. Hopefully these will help you when trying to incorporate aspects of the transcription in to your own playing.

Double Time Segments (m.m. 1-2 and 9-10)

Examine how Powell connects arpeggios, chromatic fragments, and scale fragments in these segments. For example, at m.m. 9 there are three groups of sixteenth notes. The first is an arpeggio, second is a chromatic fragment, and third is a scale fragment. When combined with proper resolution on downbeats, this method can be very effective for bop playing.

Rhythmic Repitition (m.m. 7-8)

Powell starts of with a rhythmic idea in m.m. 7 and uses it again in m.m. 8. In each, he keeps the rhythm and shape of the line but switches his note choice to fit the harmony of the tune. Developing a single idea throughout an entire solo is a great way to become a better improvisor. Some modern masters of this technique are Brad Mehldau and Keith Jarrett.

Resolution to chord tones on the "strong beats" (Entire Transcription)

The strongest beats of a measure (in 4/4 time) are always going to be 1 and 3, with beat 1 as the strongest beat. By playing chord tones on these beats you can improvise much stronger melodies and provide a better harmonic grounding for the listener. Check out how Powell leads up to resolutions on beats 1 and 3. One of the most effective ways to resolve is by leading a whole step or half step away from your target note. All "bop" players do this! Especially over iii-VI-ii-V and ii-V progressions.

Resolution choices (Entire Transcription)

I took a short inventory of which chord tones Powell resolves to on beats 1 and 3 throughout the entire transcription. Can you guess the most used? It's the third. This shouldn't come as much of a surprise considering the 3rd basically decides whether any chord will have a minor or major sound. The next two, which were basically tied, were 5ths and 7ths, followed by 9ths. Resolving to extensions of the chords (9th, 11th, 13th) is a good way to make your lines more interesting or out sounding.

Powell uses the root on beat 1 (the strongest beat) only once throughout the entire transcription! Remember, you don't need to emphasize the root if you have a bass player. He will do it for you (most of the time...).

Enjoy the transcription!

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