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Hello people,

I have been working on this piece for about half a year. At one stage it was much, much longer than it is now. Lately I have been cutting stuff out to get to the essential idea, and my question to all of you is: is this too concise, or does it come across?

The melody is written for guitar (it won't sound right on any other instrument). In fact, it was written for a specific player with whom I love playing duo. We are both jazz musicians and so this is a vehicle for improvisation. The audio you hear here is a quick export of the first rendition of the theme from Sibelius and is totally irrelevant, I'd like comments on the composition.

The harmony is built around descending triads except for the cadences, and I'd like your opinion on how the harmonic rhythm feels (tonic at bar 14, for instance) but any other comments are very welcome.

Thanks fo much for your time and assistance!

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I'll be honest, it's very difficult to say. The problem with looking at a head tune/lead sheet and trying to decide much about the piece, is that almost every straight, contemporary/retro jazz tune is pretty similar, on paper. I mean, there are a few strong streams of classic, straight up jazz musics, but every ballad or psuedo-ballad is going to sound like crap when a bunch of first year Berklee students plod through it, staying close to the notation, playing chord-tone solos and generally giving it a Band-in-a-Box vibe, but can probably sound like a little slice of heaven when well done. Think about Blue in Green as done by Miles Davis, versus as done by a High School jazz trio...

That said, I ran through this on my nylon string a few times, chords, melody, and poorly improved chord-melody, and I'm liking it. The harmony, I think, works just fine, for the most part. I didn't have an issue with the b14 tonic. It's a pretty traditional area for a tonic chord, at the end of the head, right before a turn-around chord. And, in a piece with some pretty, soothingly, smoothly traditional harmony, I think it fits perfectly.

Had this been some sort of edgy, contemporary jazz oddity, then yeah, the V-i would sound like a clunky thunk in a bucket, but here, I think it is 100% stylistically appropriate.

As far as the overall harmonic rhythm, I think you've stayed pretty (ok, extremely) close to Traditional Jazz expectations. Four bars in the home key; four in a distantly related key that makes for a flavourful but not 'out' change; Then back to the home key for four, and a cadence to cap it of, then a IVdom7 to bring you back around.

Can't see what would be off about that!

Nice work, it's a solid, very playable tune. Love to hear what you guys do with it, so keep us posted!

-Zack

Zack, thanks for your thoughtful reply; it made me smile. The prime reason I started writing back in the day was because I wanted to hear great musicians play my ideas. I'm not that good, even if I did finish conservatory jazz piano. I have heard awful pieces I wrote turn wonderful in the hands of people much more gifted than myself.

Regarding Blue in Green: I once had the audacity to play it with Gary Peacock (a one hour gig which was a mistake on his part - he was supposed to give a master class but saw a pianist and thought he had to play :)) - needless to say, I sucked big time.

I'm happy the HR sounds natural. It did to me, but the first part is 15 bars - I was wondering how others feel about it. And that V-i? Back in the day I played any substitute or outside chord I could find, but these days I enjoy my occasional perfect authentic cadence.

I'm writing more pieces for piano and guitar and am studying again (I stopped years ago) and this is a reason to practice again - I'll keep you all posted when we get the small club/theatre tour going.

Zack Cart said:

I'll be honest, it's very difficult to say. The problem with looking at a head tune/lead sheet and trying to decide much about the piece, is that almost every straight, contemporary/retro jazz tune is pretty similar, on paper. I mean, there are a few strong streams of classic, straight up jazz musics, but every ballad or psuedo-ballad is going to sound like crap when a bunch of first year Berklee students plod through it, staying close to the notation, playing chord-tone solos and generally giving it a Band-in-a-Box vibe, but can probably sound like a little slice of heaven when well done. Think about Blue in Green as done by Miles Davis, versus as done by a High School jazz trio...

That said, I ran through this on my nylon string a few times, chords, melody, and poorly improved chord-melody, and I'm liking it. The harmony, I think, works just fine, for the most part. I didn't have an issue with the b14 tonic. It's a pretty traditional area for a tonic chord, at the end of the head, right before a turn-around chord. And, in a piece with some pretty, soothingly, smoothly traditional harmony, I think it fits perfectly.

Had this been some sort of edgy, contemporary jazz oddity, then yeah, the V-i would sound like a clunky thunk in a bucket, but here, I think it is 100% stylistically appropriate.

As far as the overall harmonic rhythm, I think you've stayed pretty (ok, extremely) close to Traditional Jazz expectations. Four bars in the home key; four in a distantly related key that makes for a flavourful but not 'out' change; Then back to the home key for four, and a cadence to cap it of, then a IVdom7 to bring you back around.

Can't see what would be off about that!

Nice work, it's a solid, very playable tune. Love to hear what you guys do with it, so keep us posted!

-Zack

Hey, V-I has been the basis of Western Music since before chords were a thing, since before anyone realized there was such a thing as a V-I. No reason to drop them suddenly, just 'cause some guys want to sound 'out.' Not everyone needs to be Angelica Sanchez or Anthony Braxton!

But anyway, no, I don't think that 'missing' bar is an issue. Like I said, you've got that nice, clear, V-I-we're-done (I might keep that phrase, heh...) and then that nice, clear IV7 turn around. I think it flows nicely, and if I were listening rather than reading, I might not even have noticed the lack of a 16th bar.

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