Daily Licking 020: Chorus 2 Of John Coltrane's Mr. P.C. Solo.

Continuing from yesterday's episode...we left our hero, Mr. Coltrane rapidly, (and I do mean rapidly) approaching his second chorus...

And on this chorus he does some saxophone-isms that are somewhat simplified for bass here, some of the rhythms he plays are not exactly triplets, and they are not exactly 16ths either, they are of some kind of tenor-istic-phrasing-duration..so the rhythms represent as close as I could get. If anyone has any alternative suggestions, let me know.

Right Out Of The Gate
Bam! First note of the second chorus - a big fat B-natural, a giant NATURAL SEVEN on that C minor chord, AGAIN, he just hauls off and ka-bammo! Oh you want some more of that, how about three beats later, that soon enough for ya, huh? Boo RAH! See, he is not fooling around, you want to have some altered notes on your solo, he says, I got your altered notes right on the downbeat of an entire chorus you clowns, take that. Full on Honey Badger. But check out those first two measures, there is about a rock solid a phrase as you can make.

Oh, you want a major third on a minor chord too, well just hold onto your dentures, because you only have to wait a measure for one of those too, how about an E natural AND a B natural together in measure 4. Take that minor chord. He don't care.

Digitalis Ridiculoso
One of things synonymous with Mr. Trane is a technique sometimes called "digital patterns" or just "pattern playing", and he busts that out during this chorus.

What this technique refers to is taking a set of notes, the classic example is to take the root, the second, the third and the fifth of the chord you are on and to play that same note relationship for each chord as it goes by. For example, if you were on a C maj, you would play C, D, E, G, and then when the next chord came by, say it was a F maj, you would play F, G, A, C - you keep the relationship of the notes the same, and just start on the new note with each new chord. This is really handy for chords that only last two beats.

So for instance, in measure 6, starting on beat 3, he plays one of these patterns - R, 5, 4, 3 - or F, C, Bb, Ab - as a descending phrase. This is the classic minor pattern used for minor chords - R, 3, 4, 5, he just mixes up the notes. But that is an entirely different post.....

Now check out what he does in the next measure, its a two-fer, a duo ridiculoso, if you will. He uses a pattern, and he uses them to outline a chord substitution all in one. He uses those digital patterns to imply an additional chord progression within the measure. Wait, you can do that? You can if your name is J. Coltrane.

He turns a measure that has one chord, the Cmin7, into a measure that seems to have TWO chords, a G7 AND a Cmin, each one lasting for two beats. This makes a strong resolution from the five chord to the one chord. How does he do that?

He busts out his handy-dandy classic digital pattern example, verbatim - R, 2, 3, 5, starting on G which makes him outline a Gmaj sound very clearly - G (root), A (natural) the second, B (natural, again!! and this is over a C minor still. Blasphemy, I tell ya.) the third, and then the fifth, D - so the root, second, third and fifth of a G maj sound.

And then right after that, what's he do? Plays a pattern over the C min - R, 2, 3, 4. So he puts in basically the strongest resolution in music, the dominant, G maj, to tonic C min, right there. Five to One. Bach would be so proud.
This is a very simple example of a technique that Coltrane probably took further than anyone else. This just scrapes the very surface of how deep he went with this, but it shows the technique.

Coltrane didn't invent this idea of playing or suggesting different chords during a solo, but man, did he take it to an entirely new level of ridiculoso supremo no one had ever done before. The album this tune is on "Giant Steps" was the introduction of this concept to the world at large, but he had been doing it for a few years before this was recorded, so the story goes. He would play the progression that became "Giant Steps" during his solos...on other songs but implying the chords that would become that famous song by using those digital patterns and making the progression he wanted to imply fit over the song everyone else was playing. Now, this completely freaked people right-the-hell out as he did it, obviously. But he dug it, so he took his favorite chord substitution progression and turned it into the tunes "Giant Steps", "Countdown" and "Central Park West" and a couple of others. Today you can use that progression, sometimes called the "Coltrane Cycle" during a solo and make it work. It is well known substitution that can be worked out for just about any progression.

And how he does these crazy substitutions was with these digital patterns, grouped to outline the chords he wanted to sound out. I am quite sure this is not the last time this will come up during this solo.
Playing Changes
If you are looking for a textbook example of what "playing over changes" means, or you have heard that phrase and not sure what it means, this example shows exactly what it means. Mr. Trane demonstrates it in action during the second half of measure 6 and the first half of measure 7. Let us examine said measures thusly...

In measure 6 the chord is an F minor, which we all know, has an F, an A flat, and a C as the basic triad. So, Mr. Trane hits those notes, actually every single one of them, using one of those aforementioned digital patterns he is so famous for  - R 5 4 3 - in a descending line.

But, in the next measure the chord "changes" (get it?) to a Cmin7, so what does he do?

Well, like we talked about up there, he uses more digital patterns to outline the new chords, and making sure to pick notes that will indicate "hey, these notes are different than those last notes I just played, so we must be on a different chord". It is the act of playing those different notes during your solo or "making the changes" that outlines the harmonic progression of the tune you are playing. The better you do that the stronger your solo sounds to people listening. See why chord tones are so important?

So when Mr. Trane hits the C min, he plays an A natural, not an A flat like he did on the F min chord. A flat is the third of the F, but A natural is the 6 of the C, so he makes a Dorian-ish sound, just like that. But he makes sure to play a B natural and an A natural so there is no doubt, something is different.
He could have played an A flat on the C minor and it would have worked, but by changing that note as the chord changed, he really emphasizes the difference.

Now take this concept and apply it to an entire tune and you get the idea of "playing over changes", hit the notes that are different between each chord and you can highlight the progression. You can spend a lifetime doing this, even on a song you have played 1000 times.

Well, there you go, here is the second chorus, two versions, first slow, and then one at probably-unplayable-by-mortal-man-on-a-bass-speed, but it is the tempo they took it at.

Refer to yesterday's episode for the YouTube recording of this chorus, starts at around 35 seconds.

( Update - chorus three is uploaded here - http://bassoridiculoso.blogspot.com/2011/02/daily-licking-021-chorus-3-of-mr-pc-for.html )
Slow - 90 bpm
bass lick 4/4 tempo 90 | CMin7 b+8 g a b a f g a | g eb f g f2~ | [f8 d f8] [eb8 c eb] gb8 eb16 d16 f16 g16 gb8 | [e8 g c] b8 bb8~ bb4 r4 | Fmin r4 r8 c8~ c4 g8 bb16 ab16 | g8 eb8 e8 g f8 c8 bb8 ab8 | Cmin7 g a b d c d eb f | g8 r8 d f eb c g gb | Ab7 ab8 bb16 c16 [db8 gb ab] bb8 r8 [bb-8 b db] | G7 [d8 eb8 g8] b8 eb8~ eb4 d8 db8| Cmin7 [c8 gb8 g8~] g8 a8 a4 r4| Cmin7 r1 |

Tempo Ridiculoso 260bpm
bass lick 4/4 tempo 260 | CMin7 b+8 g a b a f g a | g eb f g f2~ | [f8 d f8] [eb8 c eb] gb8 eb16 d16 f16 g16 gb8 | [e8 g c] b8 bb8~ bb4 r4 | Fmin r4 r8 c8~ c4 g8 bb16 ab16 | g8 eb8 e8 g f8 c8 bb8 ab8 | Cmin7 g a b d c d eb f | g8 r8 d f eb c g gb | Ab7 ab8 bb16 c16 [db8 gb ab] bb8 r8 [bb-8 b db] | G7 [d8 eb8 g8] b8 eb8~ eb4 d8 db8| Cmin7 [c8 gb8 g8~] g8 a8 a4 r4| Cmin7 r1 |

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