Playing Outlines: Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony

Question by Sergio
(Jerez de la frontera)

Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony

Resolutions in a II-V-I


Hi Marc.
What are you thinking when you play outlines from Bert Ligon’s book “Connecting Chords with Linear Harmony” ?

Are you playing the chords arpeggios or are you playing all like the parts of the same scale?

Thanks in advance.

M-A’s Answer:

Hello Sergio,

This is a good question.

Let me first specify that this is NOT what I would be thinking about in context of performance … what I am describing here is only my thought process while practicing the outline from Ligon. Because, as you know, in performance, there’s many more things to keep your ears busy with! (-:

Ok, so, simply put: I think about the proper resolutions.

That’s it!

If I’m playing/practicing an outline, my goal is to “make the changes” as well as possible. I want the line to define the harmony. So I focus on the transitions (the resolutions) from chord to chord … in fact it doesn’t matter if everything in between is all wrong notes. The most important part is the resolutions. See the second image above, the notes circled in red.

If I am working on some sort of more intricate outline (say the one for the Giant Steps progression) and I have trouble hearing the next chord, I slow down and sometimes sing or play the chord. This helps me a lot. I just stop at the point where I don’t hear it well enough … it keeps me from playing too mechanically! (-:

For instance, as in the picture above, I would strike the chord and stop at the second circle note (the 3rd of the next chord in this case).

I hope this helps,

Marc-Andre Seguin

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