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Posts: 6
Reply with quote  #1 

Hello Ted heads! 😉


You are probably all aware of Ted's GIT seminar video on youtube, ca. 1 hour long.

At about 20 minutes in, he starts talking about how you get into Bach style harmony, specifically implied chords with 2 notes. I have tried to make some exercises for myself, but end up confused. I was hoping some of you on this site know of any lessons in the archives that addresses this. 

Also, is Ted's "Single note soloing" working around stuff like this? Simplistic, minimal harmony with movement, before diving into complex chords. Maybe someone can describe the "Single note soloing" books in a nutshell?


Posts: 332
Reply with quote  #2 
If you want to understand Bach harmony, the best thing is to study classical music theory.  You do this by taking college courses in music theory or by very carefully studying college text books on music theory.  Then you listen to and analyze a lot of music.

Bach wrote in many textures, including strict four voice texture, strict three voice texture, strict two voice texture, strict one voice texture, free texture with the number of voices changing throughout the piece.  The traditional way of learning is to study his four voice chorales first.  This is because the rhythms are fairly simple, the ranges of the voices are not too wide, and the harmony is relatively clear and unambiguous.  Once you develop a good understanding of four voice harmony and voice leading, you can bring that understanding to analyzing two voice music, and the patterns you learned in four voice texture can help resolve the ambiguities of two voice texture.

As for Ted's two books on single note soloing, they are about improvising a single melody line over jazz chords in a jazz way.  They are about inside playing.  That is, what arpeggios, arpeggio fragments, scales, and scale patterns sound good over particular chords.  And why they sound good.

As a bonus, studying Ted's single note soloing books can really help your sight reading, even though that's not their main intention.  You learn to sight read in many positions, often having to shift or stretch up or down by a fret or two, and you try to get your eyes looking ahead to take in the notes jumping here and there.  The rhythms are mostly just swung eighth notes with an occasional triplet, so that part of the reading is not hard.

These two studies, Bach and jazz soloing, are quite different, about very different styles of music.  However, they both involve music, melody, harmony, and you can go very, very deeply into the study of both.  Welcome to a lifetime of learning!  No one knows it all.   Best to explore what you love.

Posts: 6
Reply with quote  #3 
Clean and informative response, James! For some reason I thought studying two voices would be more of a basic foundation but you opened up my mind to the opposite idea. Perhaps I should buy a nicely printed book on Bach's chorales? I understand the value of close analyzing, but would you please share some tips for doing so?

Posts: 332
Reply with quote  #4 
Analysis should always go hand in hand with listening.  You want to clearly learn to hear V I.  And then ii V I and IV V I.  And then on to all kinds of other progressions and variations.

When you analyze a piece of music, like a chorale or whatever, first really listen to it.  This used to be hard because you had to be able to play piano well enough to execute it.  (Often a chorale is too wide in range to fit all four notes into the left hand on guitar.)  But these days you can just go on youtube and hear anything.

Then you figure out the chord progressions and keys.  You notice how Bach follows certain rules like no parallel fifths and so on.  There are a lot of important voice leading rules.  But you also want to notice how Bach doesn't follow them sometimes and why.  For example, usually there is not more than an octave between the soprano and alto, or between the alto and tenor.  But sometimes Bach breaks this and often it is for melody going on in one of those voices.  It still good to know the rule and that Bach and others usually follow it.  But sometimes other considerations override the rule for them.  Other rules are almost never violated.  That's why "rule" may not be the best word.  The old composers followed voice leading practices to help them get independence in their voices, to create the effect of many melodies happening at once.  But sometimes their musical ear drew them to give priority to one practice and sacrifice another.  If you really study the chorales, you will see bending of the "rules:" voice crossing, double leading tones, cross relations, and so on.  But you will also see that these are the exceptions and not the usual practice.

It's also good to look at big picture and small picture.  Overall the chorale is in a given key but it modulates, that is changes key, inside.   It may cadence, that is come to rest (indicated with a fermata), in a certain key.  These keys may themselves form a progression.  For example, a chorale might cadence in I (the main key) and then in IV, and then in ii, and then in V, and then in I.  The entire piece is a large scale I IV ii V I progression.  And then small scale, in each phrase leading to the cadence there are lots of ii V I and other progressions.  There are often pivot chords (chords approached in one key and departed from in another).

To say that there is a lot to learn from Bach is an understatement.

Once I said to Ted, "You are such a great player.  What more do you have to learn?"  He responded, "There's always Bach!"

Posts: 6
Reply with quote  #5 
Thanks for all the information! I will save it on my computer and digest it. I'm listening to Bach Chorales vol. 1 right now, and it sounds quite pacey, and I don't think I could learn anything by ear, but that is not to be expected, I hope? I was imagining grinding through the sheet music.

Posts: 265
Reply with quote  #6 
what were the exercises like that you made up yourself? what's your theory level? are you familiar with diatonic harmony and the cycle of 5ths?
Dmolished = Egads

Posts: 68
Reply with quote  #7 
To assist in analysis of J.S. Bach's 431 Chorales you may want to consider the following two sites describing the amazing, in my humble opinion, Ted like detailed, loving and caring educational labor of love project by Christopher Czarnecki

I bought both volumes , the analyzed and non analyzed version.   While it may be convenient to have both volumes, you could do extremely well with just the analyzed version. Considering the volume of material in these books, that there is to work with, the price is very very very fair.

Of course, it'd be nice to get Maestro David Bishop's review or critique of this material.  [smile]

Good luck,in good health and happiness,  with your musical undertakings. 

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