Straight, No Chaser

Last year I made a diagram of the Sonny Rollins tune Oleo, using coloured rectangles to show the straightforward 'rhythm-changes' harmony, and overlaying them with a lattice of diagonal lines encoding the irregular rhythm. Another tune in the same vein is Straight, No Chaser. Here Thelonious Monk takes a well-known harmonic outline - the 12-bar… Continue reading Straight, No Chaser

Negative harmony part 3: the Levy legacy

In part 2 of this series we used chromatic circle diagrams to show how chords and scales are affected by chromatic inversion - the basic operation of negative or mirror harmony. We noted that there are twelve available reflection points or 'axes'. Jacob Collier popularised the use of one specific axis, located 3½ semitones above… Continue reading Negative harmony part 3: the Levy legacy

A tune won’t eat you alive. But try telling your ears that.

I want to say something about the 'Lady Madonna' theory of jazz education. The approach which says that, to be a good improviser, you need to 'listen to the music playing in your head'. Sure, playing what you hear in your head is better than playing some formula from a theory textbook. And sure, for… Continue reading A tune won’t eat you alive. But try telling your ears that.