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passing chords theory?

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  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2022 Posts: 874

    Horizontal... is how big band arrangers think…if you are writing for say a sax section you write for each player horizontally as they can only play one note at a time. It is difficult to come up with good lines for horn players thinking vertically. One can do this a bar at a time or longer, depends on the arranger. The idea is to give the players lines they are comfortable playing. When writing it is of course necessary first to know what the chord (harmony) is. Then you write the top line (sometimes called the melody even if it is an accompaniment) then you would write the next line underneath the top line and so forth. This is often close voicing which can be difficult to play on guitar. With a drop two voicing the under the melody line drops an octave opening up the sound and making things more guitaristic though that is not the original goal of a big band arranger. Guitar is often an afterthought…🙂. Drop two is the most common drop but others are available. There are pianists who think vertically and can get the job done but generally going back in history many of the best arrangers were trumpet/horn players and horizontal is the way. Much of this way of thinking will be passed over by guitarists as it is not mandatory to approach guitar from this view point but it is often the origin of passing notes and chords in the genre.

    BucorudolfochristBillDaCostaWilliams
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    Posts: 874

    Please note I fixed my late night mistake post above.

  • ChristopheCaringtonChristopheCarington San Francisco, CA USANew Dupont MD50, Stringphonic Favino, Altamira Chorus
    Posts: 187

    Is your question how to add passing chords, or when can I mix up my rhythm playing?

    If it's the second, have you taken the time to find the most stripped-down versions of songs? Like basic harmony, not real book / iReal / bebop backing tracking stuff. Once you've stripped a song down you can start to watch pros and figure out little tricks they do (adding 2's before some 5's, adding 5's when on a long 1 chord, using voice leaded passing tones, adding the 5 of the next chord, etc.)

    I think that will teach you more about what you can add in without throwing off a soloist vs. learning about passing chord theory (which as @dennis pointed out is very complex).

    Dennis has a great resource, but if you're just beginning I would highly recommend Christian Van Hemert's Rhythm Workout series on YouTube. It's much more applied and narrowed focus, but likely exactly what you're looking for.

    Finally, a word of warning: even if you get good at passing tones, use them sparingly. It's very distracting in a very bad way when a rhythm player adds a bunch of harmonic / rhythmic changes. It's the Gypsy jazz version of a drummer who is always playing fills AND a pianist who shoves too many chords in a song. Twice the annoyance from one person = no calls back.

    rudolfochrist
  • ScoredogScoredog Santa Barbara, Ca✭✭✭✭
    edited September 2022 Posts: 874

    Buco wrote privately and said he still did not understand and I can see why. Here is an example. There are other rules at play here but this is just to show it in practice...you write alto1 first, then bass and then the following lines under alto 1. Note no passing diminished chords in this example.



    BillDaCostaWilliams
  • Posts: 4,784

    I thought it might be something like that. I see now where it's going. Cool, thanks!

    Every note wants to go somewhere-Kurt Rosenwinkel
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