Oil and Water

A few weeks ago, I took a lesson in jazz composition. (I won’t name names because I don’t want my writing to sully his good reputation.)

One of the teacher’s observations was that my melodies are generally tethered to chord tones. Explanation: In traditional harmony, chords are constructed of root, third, and fifth. In jazz, most chords include a seventh, as well. But on top of those four notes are often a series of extensions and alterations, creating chords that look like math formulas: F7b9+11, for example.

I accepted my teacher’s challenge, writing a melody that only rarely rests on chord tones. Instead, it floats above the chords like…well, like oil and water. Interestingly, this freer approach to dissonance doesn’t sound as biting as one might think. If I hadn’t explained what I was doing, it’s unlikely you would have noticed a difference between this and previous jazz tunes I’ve written.

And that, my friends, is why I’m always trying new things. There is always something more to learn and often serendipitous accidents that come with experimentation.

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