Jazz Theory: Diatonic triads in harmonic minor

Garzone Triads: The Triadic Chromatic Approach

Question by Miguel
(Barcelona, Spain)

garzone-triads-the-triadic-chromatic-approach-21408915   George Garzone

Hi Marc,

I’ve seen that you use to practice Garzone triads quite a lot. I would like to know more about this device. Seems that there is much mystery around George Garzone’s Triadic Chromatic Concept.

My understanding is that it consists in playing different triads in non-repeating inversions and approaching them by chromatic steps up or down. For example, C major root position (C E G) then Bb augmented 2nd inversion (F# Bb D), etc.

It seems that in this way you get a high degree of “outness” but because of the inner structure of triads there’s a certain coherence to the whole thing.

So, can you develop a little about the whole Garzone triads thing? What are they, how do you apply them and how can you practice them?

Thanks a lot for your time and effort with this wonderful page that is helping me so much.

Miguel


M-A’s Answer:

Hello Miguel,

Indeed, I’ve been working on Garzone’s thing for many months in row now. It has definitely helped my hearing abilities and improvisations.

I’m actually surprised at the “work vs progress” ratio that I’ve achieved : I thought it would take more time to show up in my playing… I guess Garzone’s ideas and concepts just suit me like a glove. (Works well on guitar too!)

What is the Triadic Chromatic Approach? (AKA TCA)

Here’s a great review of the 2 DVD set for the curious. (by David Valdez)

And here’s a “masterclass” in Downbeat magazine (May 2009) discussing TCA.

The idea behind Garzone’s triadic chromatic concept is twofold : Triads (connected by half steps) and “Chromatic Approaches” .

1 – Triads
Play either major, minor, diminished or augmented triads and “move them around” in random inversions (by connecting them with half steps.)

By avoiding repetition of the same inversion and moving by only a 1/2 step on each successive triad, the line is borrowing from the twelve-tone row.

Triads played in this fashion have a lot of forward motion and resolve often to the chord-tones of the moment. Simply by “luck”, the odds are in favor of resolving these ambiguous lines! (you’ll have to try it to hear what I mean.)

2- Chromatic Approaches
Playing “Random Chromatic Approach” as George Garzone explains is guided by two concepts :

  1. Select a major third on your instrument. (for example : C to E)
  2. Play randomly on any of the five notes within the selected interval without repetition or obvious patterns. (for example : C to E, use the notes C, Db, D, Eb and E ONLY!)

To avoid repetition (and sound as random as possible) is easy : within the major third, do not repeat de same interval consecutively in the same direction!

 

My “take” in this approach: Perspectives from a Jazz Guitarist

Here’s what I think, in point form, of the TCA. I’m speaking only for myself here. (Want to know who’s writing these lines? Here’s a little about me… )

 

  • The TCA is, first and foremost, a kind of “ear training” for me (see this ear training article). It’s not just another tool to sound “out” or “free”.
  • The TCA made me discover new areas of the fretboard and different fingerings for triads.
  • I cannot, will not and won’t even try to apply TCA directly (“note-for-note”) in my improvisations.I don’t see the point in doing so. I personally work hard at the TCA simply to open my ears and fingers to different sounds and new possibilities.

    …and honestly, I don’t think even George Garzone himself applies the concepts when he blows! It’s more of a practice tool than a literal way of playing. (I know some people have analyzed Garzone’s solos only to find “incorrect” applications of the TCA!)

  • The lines created with the TCA work especially well in deep, swinging, solid rhythms. (it’s not just about melody!) George’s time and rhythms are so strong that I believe that’s why the TCA sounds so good.
  • My whole playing and hearing in general started to change after only one or two weeks of working at the TCA.
  • The TCA is guitar friendly. Garzone triads and lines sound good on the lowest strings. I’ve never really liked the sound of the low register on the guitar… but Garzone made me change my mind!
  • The TCA will sound different from instrument to instrument and that’s ok. It should also sound different from player to player (even if they play the same instrument!)
  • I’ve been practicing the TCA with a metronome at slow tempos in various subdivisions of the beat: quarter notes, eight notes, triplets etc.
  • I’ve been practicing the TCA with playalongs (usually slow blues). I’m trying to stick to the rules and stop the line when I HEAR it resolving. It’s hard.
  • I worked approximately six months at the major triads. I’ve just recently started on the minors. The bright sound of the major triads is just way easier to hear in random inversions!

 

Some Tips… Do’s and Don’ts

Are you ready to practice the TCA? Some things to keep in mind:

  • Just “T” : Start with just major triads. Also, when you move on, don’t mix triads types. Practice the major with the major, the minor with the minor, etc. It helps you to “pre hear” the next few notes of the line…
  • I repea : DO NOT mix triad types!!!
  • Just “CA”: Practice “Chromatic Approaches” by themselves in many registers of your instrument.
  • Finally “TCA”: Attempt to mix triads and chromatic approach (to give TCA) when you’re solid at doing both separately.
  • Start SLOW (really SLOW!) When I first started, I played quarter notes at 40 BPM and I could barely keep up!I even tried this : metronome set at 60 and I would perceive each click as a triplet. (meaning, actual tempo of 20 BPM) It’s a test of patience but it’s well worth the effort.
  • Sing along with your playing (for guitarists, pianists and bassists). It’s ok if you make mistakes. Try to “sing what you play” AND “play what you sing”. The TCA will just sound much more lyrical to you (and others!) in this fashion.
  • Play all the TCA stuff with a good, full sound on your instrument (in every register).
  • Just play after TCA : Play “free” for a while immediately after you practice the TCA. (free form, free time and free “everything else”) Listen to your lines and note choices. Notice anything different?
  • Whenever you can, ask for a colleague to play a drone on piano or guitar while you practice the TCA. Just an open “C G” fifth will do. (or use the DVD’s play along section).
  • DO NOT attempt to “plug” any of the TCA lines into your solo (at least, not in public). If you do so, you will: 1- Look/Sound like a fool 2- Have missed the point!

That’s all I got (so far). I hope it helps you Miguel (and other visitors), to understand the Triadic Chromatic Approach and how I’m practicing it.

Please feel free leave comments and questions at the bottom of the page.

Practice Well,

Marc-A Seguin

WARNING / DISCLAIMER :

I’m not affiliated to George Garzone, JodyJazz Inc. or any subsidiaries of affiliates.

I do not intend, in any way, to infrige the copyrights of the DVD “The Music of George Garzone and the Triadic Chromatic Approach”. I own this product and the discussions on this page are for educational purpose only.

In fact, I encourage you to get your copy of the 2-DVD set as it is one of the finest “jazz education” product available on the market.

I have practiced diligently the exercises prescribed by Mr. Garzone on the DVD and I simply would like to share my thoughts, feelings, musical ideas and progress I’ve made using the approach.

PLEASE NOTE THAT I’M NOT TRYING TO SPOIL ANY OF THE DVD’s CONTENT FOR THE VISITORS THAT HAVE NOT YET PURCHASED AND / OR WATCHED THE DVD.

Comments for Garzone Triads : The Triadic Chromatic Approach

Nov 21, 2011
Perhaps
by: Marc-Andre Seguin (admin)

Hey Josh,

Perhaps it’s a little too “early” for you. But you could also take a look at it now, learn what you can and then come back in a few months / few years for another pass.

What’s great for beginners is you’ll be forced to learn triads very well to apply the Garzone thing. Even if you spend only a week on the major triad, you’ll get a lot out of it if you’re a complete beginner. It should be completely new material, so you’ll make strides fast.

Remember : one triad at a time! (-:
M-A

Nov 19, 2011
Too Early?
by: Josh G

I still consider myself a beginner jazz guitarist. Should I wait till later to work on this or try doing it now?

Apr 12, 2011
The fool who missed the point.
by: Infamous B. O. P.

Stumbled upon a Chris Crocco vid on youtube. He has some repeated lines that have come from this. That would lead me to believe there are some patterns that he is plugging in.
I do not have the DVD. So what you wrote here is very valuable information for me. Thank you.
I am the fool who missed the point. I read much info on the internets and compiled an approach that made some sense for me. I started out mixing triads. I practice over standards. I use them at gigs. Cats are always turning their ears with a smile on their face in a positive way.
I will now incorporate your proper method. I look forward to the new discoveries and freedom the approach will yield.
Is it OK to start on a diminished triad from the third of a dom 7th like I normally would? Or a minor triad from the 5th to get an implied 9th chord?
I love new sounds. Wonderful website!

(Note from Webmaster : Yes, you could start triads in this way if you like. Anything goes! M-A

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