Double bill concert “AfuriKo + Jim Funnell’s Word Out” at Le Baiser Salé (an inimitable Parisian jazz club when it comes to jazz with a world music flavour!) announced on jazz critic Guillaume Lagrée’s blog “Le jars jase jazz:” Jazz concerts selection in Paris and Île-de-France for February 2017.
Let’s take a look at a few things that can be done when an altered dominant chord presents itself in a tune (e.g. Eb7alt). The first thing to know is that the altered chord derives from the altered mode, otherwise known as mode VII of melodic minor. But to break out of the diatonic sound of the scale and gain a little freedom with it, here are a few tricks…
There are 5 different triads that can be used as numerators (the denominator being the basic chord sound, i.e. combinations of chord tones 1, 3, and b7) to get a solid sounding upper structure triad voicing for an altered chord:
You can then combine both minor triadic upper structures and both major triadic upper structures to form two hexatonic scales, which can be used as interesting melodic devices:
- bIImi / bIIImi
- bV / bVI
Now, if you take a closer look at both these hexatonics, you’ll notice that they have five notes in common. These notes make up a pentatonic scale (bV major pentatonic, a.k.a. bIII minor pentatonic), which can also be used as an even more angular melodic device.
Click “Download File” below to hear the midi examples notated above. The full PDF document is also available here. Enjoy!
The following “meditative practicing” technique comes in really handy when far away from your instrument.
All you have to do is choose a notated piece of music that you’ve got memorized and try and play it in your mind as precisely as possible, hearing it, and even feeling the touch of the piano (this also works if you play another instrument: just mentally recall the feeling you experience when playing your particular instrument). For pianists, Bach’s Inventions work well because they consist of two contrapuntal parts, which are already challenging enough to hear simultaneously with the mind’s ear. But you can choose virtually any piece of music. When a passage seems unclear, go back and “replay” it again, slower if necessary (just as you would when you practice on your instrument) until you’re able to hear each note, as well as each item of expression attached to each note, with utmost precision.
This technique certainly requires sharp concentration and thus works best in a calm environment. But if practiced correctly, its benefits are certainly to be felt as soon as you return to the piano (the following day for example – it’s always good to allow the mental exercise to fully sink in during the night…): overall, your knowledge of the piece will have been considerably strengthened; your memory won’t fail you and you’ll be able to concentrate on musicality right off the bat.
I’ve recently been working on most of Johann Sebastian Bach’s Two-Part Inventions as a kind of warm-up for the fingers and the ears (I learn them by heart and usually go through several first thing in the morning or at the beginning of each of my piano practice sessions). As I was playing No. 3 (D major) today, I realized I mostly was using legato phrasing and decided to venture into a staccato rendition of the piece. With the change of expression (staccato versus the former legato phrasing), I found myself much less self-assured: my memory failed me and I had to refer to the music on a couple of occasions. This, to me, was an indicator that I wasn’t hearing the melodic lines as clearly as I thought I was able to. Indeed, I don’t think my memory would have been caught off guard in that manner if a had been hearing them strong. So in addition to being a useful technical exercise, practicing cantabile style playing using both legato and staccato phrasing seems to be yet another great way to strengthen one’s inner hearing, and thus a very musical exercise. Highly recommended!
Jim Funnell’s Word Out
“Spirit of the Snail”
Produced by Jim Funnell
Released on Tuesday, 22 September 2015
CD release concert at the Sunside in Paris at 7.30pm on Tuesday, 22 September 2015.
Jim Funnell: piano and compositions
Oliver Degabriele: acoustic bass
Thibault Perriard: drums
Isabelle Oliver: Harp
“Dear cosmopolitan and xenophile readers,
As you know, the EU motto is “United in diversity.” As far as politics is concerned, it remains to be proved. On the subject of music however, British pianist Jim Funnell, Maltese bassist Oliver Degabriele, and French drummer Thibault Perriard illustrate it perfectly every time they play together. I have already praised their music in concert and in the studio. On this album, the triad is augmented with the presence of harpist Isabelle Olivier. She is nor a feminine alibi for a masculine trio, neither a classical one for a jazz trio. Her harp sounds like the kora of a Mandinka master.”
“[ Jim Funnell’s ] music is the singular result of a thorough reflection on rhythms, sounds, and colors.”
“Whether you want to stimulate your ears, your brain, or get your limbs in motion, enter the Spirit of the Snail with Jim Funnell and his band!”
– Guillaume Lagrée