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You ever hear about a concept maybe the second or third time and then it just hits you like a sack of bricks, and suddenly you hear this thing everywhere from then on?

I had a lesson in a jazz combo class this week about guide tones, because a trumpet player had asked about what kind of lines he might be able to play when someone else is soloing. So we were going through Four by Miles Davis and playing the thirds/sevenths to try to have the voice move as little as possible. I'd already heard Tony talk about this at least twice, and worked on playing the thirds AND sevenths in chord melodies a bit, but for some reason hearing the trumpet do this in isolation made it all come together, and now I'm listening to 8 Bit Big Band and just hearing lines with guide tones everywhere. 

In fact, I think I'm realizing that the strings or brass accompaniment parts that always make me REALLY enjoy an arrangement probably are all making heavy use of the guide tones with the seventh and the third, and maybe that is why these parts sound so satisfying.

Anybody else have a moment like that, which really made you rethink everything you were listening to?


tonymiceli Sat, 03/26/2022 - 15:50

yay! it happens to me all the time. i hear something a few times and then i get it.

it's cool that now you hear these lines everywhere!

Randy_Sutin Sat, 03/26/2022 - 19:09

I'm pretty sure they are called "changes" because of the notes that change as you move from one to another. Many notes stay constant when you're in one key. But, understanding the motion of the notes that change from chord to chord within a key center is central to building good counterpoint within that context. That is a foundational concept in composition (including improvisation). In my opinion, the motion of guide tones is where the keys to the kingdom of using all the other non-chord tones in a way that makes sense lies.