Announcing "The Bergonzifying Transmogrifier" - A Basso Web App

Boy, are you gonna be glad you were not Raptured.


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Presented for your approval and edification, the first web app from Casa De Ridiculoso, The Bergonzifying Transmogrifier. Perhaps the first of many, who knows.

By way of the following uncharacteristically informative summary you can learn what this thing is and what it is for.

Question: So what is "The Bergonzifying Transmogrifier"?
Answer: The Bergonzifying Transmogrifier is a free web application that generates all the possible combinations of any four musical notes that you choose and then notates and creates an MP3 file of the combinations.

It "Transmogrifies" the set of four notes you choose, similar to a method outlined by the saxophonist Jerry Bergonzi in his "Inside Improvisation" series of method books.
Question: Where is "The Bergonzifying Transmogrifier" located?
Answer: http://bassoridiculoso.net16.net/
Question: How does it work? What do I do?
Answer: You pick any four notes you want from a set of drop downs, you hit a button labeled "Bergonzify!" and then you hit a button labeled "Notate!". Then you marvel at the magic of math, the internet and my laziness, then gaze upon and perhaps even listen to what all the possible combinations of those four notes you chose sound like.
Question: Um, okay. Why would I use this thing?
Answer: Say you are, oh I don't know, making a walking bass line over a blues progression. For instance. So you have 3 chords, say C7, F7, and G7, a basic three chord blues.

Say you want to make this walking bass line with just the chord tones of each chord, and you want to find all the different ways to play each note of each chord and connect each chord together with smooth motion. Here is what you could do:

  1. Transmogrify the notes in the first chord, in this case a C dominant 7 chord - C, E, G, Bb.
  2. Next, either use the Transpose function to transpose the results to F and G, or do a new Transmogrification with the notes in the other chords, F7 (F A C Eb) and G7 (G B D F). You will end up with the following sets from the Transmogrifier:

C7 permutes.png

F7 Permutes.png

G7 Permute.png

  • Now since the blues starts with a bar of C7, pick the first measure of your bass line from the Transmogrifications, say I pick this one:
    C7 1 bar.jpg

  • The next chord is F7, so pick one of the F7 measures where the first note is a close as possible to the last note in the C7 measure. The last note of the C7 measure is an E, so lets pick this one for the measure of F:
    F7 1 bar.jpg

  • When you play those two together you get:
    C7 1 bar.jpgF7 1 bar.jpg

  • Repeat for the rest of the blues.

  • Now making a bass line of just chord tones may not always sound great, but it is a good way to learn how to do it. Of course, you can make other permutations like say, a triad with one passing note on the 5th - C, E, G, and Ab:

    C triad with Gb.png

    And now you can use this to connect the C to F and experiment with all the combinations. The variations never end.
    More Info and Gory Details
    You can read more about this concept in a post from a few weeks ago located here - http://bassoridiculoso.blogspot.com/2011/01/daily-licking-005-every-possible-way-to.html

    Even though this app is is named after Mr. Bergonzi, alas, this is not an idea he actually invented. However he certainly did codify it down into the most concise and digestible format.

    This idea of exploring all possible patterns in a series of notes goes back to Mr. Coltrane, who is probably most famous for using it during "Giant Steps", but he had been using it for years before that. Several other educators have mined this area as well - Jerry Cocker in "Patterns for Jazz", Gary Campbell in "Triad Pairs" and other books, Ramon Ricker has as well in his series of books. Any books by those guys come Basso Approved.

    Despite the concept that improvisation is about just playing whatever, it is more like a considered set of choices being made amongst any set of notes going by in a song. So how do you get your head wrapped around how what notes to play? Well, there is a brute force way of deriving that set of choices, and if there is anything a computer is good at, it is crunching numbers. Its not so good at the other part, the application of those choices in an artful way. So lets let the computer do what it is good at, and then let the humans do what we are good at.

    Using as an example the classic set of notes Coltrane is famous for, here is what is going on. He took the 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 5th notes of a chord (so on C7 that would be C, D, E and G) and then he played all different mixtures of those four notes, or he picked one pattern and played it on each chord, or he did both. So here is what all the combinations look like if you use numbers instead of note names:
    So you can change the notes from 1,2,3,5 to whatever the heck you want, and the formula for creating the combinations stays the same. This is what the Transmogrifier does, it just figures all those out and gives you notation of them. Any notes you want.

    There you have it. Go nuts with it. Let me know how you use this thing, it has a million uses so I would be interested in hearing what people do with it. And send any bugs you find my way as well.
    Special thanks goes out to Nikita from Bopland.org for whipping up a little script that lets the notes stay within a specific range. Go check out Bopland.org, that is the service that generates all the clickable notation and MP3 files on the site. It is a gold mine of licks and learning. Nikita does an amazing job putting it out for free.

    Until next time, ciao.

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