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Recently I have been listening to al lot of Coltrane's music. Just going through his whole discography and personally, as much I really love those early albums, I love his later more experimental albums (Crescent, A Love Supreme, Transition, Sun Ship, Meditations) and I especially love his playing. As you all probably know his playing changed immensely over his career and in the beginning he has more of a straight ahead jazz/bebop sound but later changed it. My question is however, what are some theory based aspects in Coltranes later playing that he uses often that make him sound the way he does? Sometimes i hear other saxophonists and I can clearly hear that they are influenced by his later playing. Any thoughts?
 

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I think what you're referring to is what's often referred to as his 'modal' improv style period. So from a theory standpoint you could say it's based on modal approach rather than scales and arpeggios relating to specific chords, but I think what was really going on was his having been influenced by Indian music (which is far more systematized than western music) to the extent that the patterns/scales used in classical Indian improvisation have specific emotional and situational elements that are an integral part of ragas as much specific notes are.

Indian classical music doesn't move harmonically the way Western music does, but it pays tremendous attention the way emotional energy is incorporated into the sounds created and while the improvisations are tightly specified in terms of note choice, it is not because of the sort of harmonic theory found in Western music but for the emotional, energetic 'feel' those patterns evoke in the listener. Coltane's use of his own specific patterns (often similar to Western modes and repeated multiple times) takes place over familiar 'jazz' chord structures, but what he's doing has less to do with harmonic extrapolation from the chords than the creation of an emotional 'feel' using his own specific (modal) patterns, and I'm pretty sure much of it was exploratory and experimental. In ragas this is executed over drone notes that don't modulate or even change harmonically, but in Coltrane's music this concept gets applied to a changing base harmony: jazz changes. So not so much playing things that sound cool (even though they do), but to create emotional spaces in the music that can be communicated to the listener. I think analyzing the patterns in terms of modes misses the point of why he was doing what he was; it's mistaking the forest for the trees. It's not unusual to find instances of people having deep emotional or religious experiences listening to Coltrane's improv (not many jazz players have their own actual church). That may all seem like hooey, but it is very much in line with the framework for Indian classical music which he was definitely influenced by.
 

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It was a revelation when i listened to his later records, i could listened to them for hours and, just like rhythmisking says, they are like a religious experience. That energy i would say is my main influence on playing sax. The use of moving fourths and pedals on the rhythm section sets the mood for explorations and then moving pentatonics, motives, triads, runs for your solo...Just making a bad simplification.
Some of that 'style' has been 'codified' so that you can find studies, essays...and also find interesting this video although not free
https://www.mymusicmasterclass.com/...sation-masterclass-videos-1-2-and-pdf-bundle/

Doug Webb demonstrate some of this techniques. Superimposing, shifting tonalities, playing outside, coltrane changes, alternate changes....

You must know this means nothing out of context, with the other musicians playing in the same vein. But you could use it with some taste in other context too, i think.

Anyway, nothing is like listening to the quartet playing, i love it.
 
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