Here we are again on our quest of proving that we can learn a complex Jazz Chord melody in a matter of minutes.
This time let's step it up a little bit from last week, let's play it in time instead of rubato.
Working on a Jazz Chord melody is never easy, but I would say that playing rubato tends to be easier than having to play on time. Rubato playing means that you are free to speed up and slow down the phrases on a piece of music, which allows you to stretch the difficult transitions, and play a little faster the easy parts. Wink wink ;)
When you play on time, you need to make sure that all the transitions sound natural and musical without stretching the tempo, and that adds challenges to the interpretation.
In this arrangement of "O Come All Ye Faithful" I added the playing on time aspect by adding a walking bass to the chords. As you know, walking bass consists of a constant motion of quarter notes in the bass, targeting chord tones, notes from the scale and chromatic intervals.
This piece is broken into four levels, and each level makes musical sense by itself so no matter how skilled you are, you can find something to have fun and learn. Here is an explanation of the 4 levels.
Easy Level: Single note transcription of the melody. You might notice that some notes could have been played in a different position or on a different string, but they are transcribed the way they are to get you ready for the next levels.
Medium Level: Melody and bass is added on the first and third beats of the bar. This two-part harmony section starts to define the harmony and chords that we will learn in the next two levels. In some parts it will give a Classical sound, and in some others, the tensions will introduce the jazzy progressions that you will learn in Hard and Prodigy levels.
Hard Level: Melody, Walking Bass and Chords. We will play a line of quarter notes in the bass that will vertebrate the rhythm character of the piece, and we will also add an extra note to the melody, that will start to draw the peaks and valleys of the Jazz Chord Melody.
Prodigy Level: Here's the full four-voice Jazz Chord Melody.
As I was writing the arrangement I couldn't stop thinking on how close classical and jazz pieces could be. If you just play the medium level, some of the parts sound very Classical, and then, as soon as you add the walking bass and more complex triads, everything turns into jazz. It reminded me of my times at Musicians Institute of Hollywood, when Professor David Oakes made us sight read J.S. Bach compositions A.K.A Johny Bach - as he was playing Jazz chord progressions that made those Baroque pieces sound like cool Jazz solos.
I hope you enjoy this piece as much as I enjoyed writing it. Happy holidays.
By Jose Hernandez