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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
This guy (Bill Graham, a pianist) does a good job explaining various concepts that Barry Harris uses. In this clip he goes over the "half-step rules" (chromatic passing tones) for dominant 7th chords, and "family of four dominant chords." You pretty much have to get down the half step rules first (one example would be the bebop scale, but Barry took that concept much further than most). Really interesting stuff that leads to good melodic lines, based on the bebop tradition. I think it goes beyond that, though, and is very deep. A huge amount of material to learn, and you have to take it slowly. See what you think:


Here's someone else explaining the half-step rules. He has over 30 episodes on Barry Harris's methods to check out!


If anyone wants to discuss this Barry Harris approach, feel free. It may seem pretty overwhelming at first, but I think there's a lot to it and most of it could be very useful. I don't have a lot of it down by any means, but have been fooling around with it and there's plenty of potential here.
 

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This guy (Bill Graham, a pianist) does a good job explaining various concepts that Barry Harris uses. In this clip he goes over the "half-step rules" (chromatic passing tones) for dominant 7th chords, and "family of four dominant chords." You pretty much have to get down the half step rules first (one example would be the bebop scale, but Barry took that concept much further than most). Really interesting stuff that leads to good melodic lines, based on the bebop tradition. I think it goes beyond that, though, and is very deep. A huge amount of material to learn, and you have to take it slowly. See what you think:


Here's someone else explaining the half-step rules. He has over 30 episodes on Barry Harris's methods to check out!


If anyone wants to discuss this Barry Harris approach, feel free. It may seem pretty overwhelming at first, but I think there's a lot to it and most of it could be very useful. I don't have a lot of it down by any means, but have been fooling around with it and there's plenty of potential here.
I think I watched a couple of minutes of Bill Graham's video a few weeks ago - I stumbled onto that one, actually .

Just watched a couple of minutes of the guitar players explanation which seemed similar so I switched off again.

Why ? Because I already know about it.

Barry's videos I haven't checked much either, I'll admt .

I can tell though that it has to be very useful for people that need to be directed in a certain way . " here are the rules of .."

I did learn to play directly from recordings though so that's the approach I found worked for me. Based on one's particular goals
the only thing that really matters is that you get where you want to go not so much how.

I think these folks are providing a good service for people looking for specific info presented in a detailed manner .
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
I think these folks are providing a good service for people looking for specific info presented in a detailed manner .
Yes, and Barry's videos don't go into a whole lot of detail; he tends to teach 'by ear' and demonstrating on the keyboard. You can pick up his ideas, but it takes a lot of effort and concentration, which may be a good thing in the long run. But the guys in these video clips do break it down into the details and it also takes some effort & time to absorb it. I don't need to listen to them play through all the examples, once I get the idea, though. And as soon as anyone mentions "rules" it can be a huge turn-off. But in this case "rules" is simply used for lack of a better term. The idea is to understand how to use chromatic passing tones and why they are so useful. The proof is in the outcome: How it sounds. The goal is not to play by a bunch of rules, but rather ingrain some technique that helps to improvise melodically.

I doubt this methodology is for everyone, partly because it takes some patience and effort to get through it (So far I'm only picking out the bits and pieces I find useful), but it's well worth checking out. I especially find the 'family of four' dominant chords to be interesting. It goes a bit beyond tritone substitution, but in a way that makes sense. Whether or not I would ever be able to apply it in a real life, on stage situation remains to be seen. I think it all has to be internalized to the point where you don't have to think about it, as is true for any improvisation technique.

I got interested in this after picking up one or two simple ideas a few years back after watching a Barry Harris video (I had to watch it over a bunch of times to finally absorb what he was saying) and I have been able to use those ideas improvising, even on a fairly basic blues. Now I see it was only the tip of the iceberg.

I totally agree with your statement: "The only thing that really matters is that you get where you want to go not so much how."

But I though maybe some might find Barry's approach interesting and useful; I think it's worth checking out. I'm also curious what others might make of it.
 

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Barry is great when you study with him. He puts so much heart into it and has this incredible way of getting to know his students really well.

I've studied with him on and off for about 15yrs. One time in Rome, there was a jam session with Barry on piano. A bunch of us were playing Yardbird Suite and Barry just hears everything. i played this stupid thing I'd been working on in 5th bar of the A Section, and he clocked it immediately. Every time we got to that part of the form he called across the crowd (it was packed) to me and nodded. I've never messed that bar up again! He's really funny, and very kind.

We once had Barry come in to talk to Middle School kids at a school in London where I was Band Director-the kids adored him, but the teachers didn't get it. I laughed at that :)
 

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There was some dvds and books published a while ago, and also a guitar book. I checked them, and as well as i understood(i think) melodically what it is about(not that i know it cold), i thought there was just a lot more to work from the piano point of view, voicings, the harmony it creates combining chords with diminished,....Melodically i would just transcribe bebop, although maybe there is really something for us sax players there that i donut know.
The harmony thing is really interesting, has someone of you studied it on piano or guitar?
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Hey thanks for the responses. jamiejazz, that's great that you got to study with Barry.

i thought there was just a lot more to work from the piano point of view, voicings, the harmony it creates combining chords with diminished,....Melodically i would just transcribe bebop, although maybe there is really something for us sax players there that i donut know.
Actually, I do think there's a lot there for us sax players, or I wouldn't have brought it up. After all, Barry figured out a lot of his concepts from listening to Charlie Parker, among others. Most of this stuff has to do with the melodic line, which is what we're playing on the sax. And knowledge of the harmonic movement is very useful--I'd say essential--for improvising. Some of it might seem formulaic, but it's actually just the opposite. These are tools and techniques that can free you up and allow you to be creative. At the very least, it's great training for your technique and timing. The half steps smooth out the line and help to place chord tones on the downbeats. I'd be glad to discuss some of the specifics with anyone who has checked it out enough to have a discussion. I have a lot to learn and haven't got it all under my fingers by a long shot.

Just transcribing bebop is great to do, but unless you are very perceptive you'll simply end up with a transcription and maybe the ability to play some of those lines. But you won't necessarily know why and how they work. Once you know that, you can create your own lines, based on solid musical principles, which is what it's all about. I think... I'm not pretending to be any kind of expert.
 

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Yes, and Barry's videos don't go into a whole lot of detail; he tends to teach 'by ear' and demonstrating on the keyboard. You can pick up his ideas, but it takes a lot of effort and concentration, which may be a good thing in the long run. But the guys in these video clips do break it down into the details and it also takes some effort & time to absorb it. I don't need to listen to them play through all the examples, once I get the idea, though. And as soon as anyone mentions "rules" it can be a huge turn-off. But in this case "rules" is simply used for lack of a better term. The idea is to understand how to use chromatic passing tones and why they are so useful. The proof is in the outcome: How it sounds. The goal is not to play by a bunch or rules, but rather ingrain some technique that helps to improvise melodically.

I doubt this methodology is for everyone, partly because it takes some patience and effort to get through it (So far I'm only picking out the bits and pieces I find useful), but it's well worth checking out. I especially find the 'family of four' dominant chords to be interesting. It goes a bit beyond tritone substitution, but in a way that makes sense. Whether or not I would ever be able to apply it in a real life, on stage situation remains to be seen. I think it all has to be internalized to the point where you don't have to think about it, as is true for any improvisation technique.

I got interested in this after picking up one or two simple ideas a few years back after watching a Barry Harris video (I had to watch it over a bunch of times to finally absorb what he was saying) and I have been able to use those ideas improvising, even on a fairly basic blues. Now I see it was only the tip of the iceberg.

I totally agree with your statement: "The only thing that really matters is that you get where you want to go not so much how."

But I though maybe some might find Barry's approach interesting and useful; I think it's worth checking out. I'm also curious what others might make of it.
Re: my use of the term 'Rules' I shouldn't have said that . Guidelines is the better and more neutral term, I think .

Good luck with it, JL !
 

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This is a really nice explanation of the concepts. I've intuitively been using many of these by copying the greats, but the concept of 4 dominants is new to me and it's great to have a systematic approach on developing altered dominant lines explained in such clear fashion.
 

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JL- I have been really into the TILFBH channel for the past couple of months. Specifically I have been shedding what he calls the BarryHarris chromatic scales on major and dominant 7th scales. They sound very bebopy. I hope all the practice pays off. Have them under your fingers yet?
 

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Barry's videos and videos by various BH "disciples" have been very helpful and fascinating to me over the past couple years. I think his way of seeing things kind of unifies theory/harmony in a way that helps me understand it and build ideas from it. I feel like his concepts get closer to the essence of the way stuff works and gives you a logic to work from that is not bloated by a plethora of scales and modes that for me, have always gotten in the way. Everybody is unique in the way that we learn so the more ways to see things the better IMO.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
JL- I have been really into the TILFBH channel for the past couple of months. Specifically I have been shedding what he calls the BarryHarris chromatic scales on major and dominant 7th scales. They sound very bebopy. I hope all the practice pays off. Have them under your fingers yet?
I have a fair amount of it 'under my fingers' to the point I don't have to think about it, especially playing various ii-V-I lines. The real trick is to get it in all 12 keys. That's very important. But there is really no end to all the variations you can come up with, so there will always be more to learn.
 
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