The name Barry Harris is associated with teaching this method, but many horn section arrangers and George Shearing st the piano are also habitual users. Make the chords a touch more modal and close the voicings you will get Bill Evans style comping.
what is comping?
many daws have this
but I don’t really know what it is
Accompany is shortened to comp and the term has picked up the stylistic piano way of playing pithy small chords under a soloist to accompany without getting in the way. They should voice lead smoothly unless you need some more drama and really act as a carpet for a soloist, but in many fun ensembles this can become a dance of soloist and accompanist playing a thing in tandem, phrase from sax ends, piano fills dead air, sax picks up, piano recedes, and really fine work become almost contrapuntal jazz.
Comping in a DAW is assembling a single track from several takes, pretty much how every vocal you have heard on record for past 25-35 years has been produced.
I have completely understood you
I understand better now why you posted this, now that you explained bebop scales and chords above.
Yep, he is even using chromatic pitches outside those 8 note scales at times and gets passing diminished chords that work and flow like jazz harmony.
One big diff between jazz and pop harmony is this top down approach over the bottom up approach. And my favorite flavor is less rigid and uses less diminished chords and kinda has a free modal flavor. Where you can use chords that are wildly “wrong” as long as they resolve interestingly. Wayne Shorters chord progressions often have these qualities.
My original Meander for Windows that I started working on in 1988 treated harmony and melody in a more jazzy way that resulted in a lot of harmonic modulations, which contained a lot of non-scale notes. It was very easy to get out of control and sound bad. I also had a lot of non-diatonic scales, which drove chord formation crazy, but I addressed with those same controlled modulations, but things would still often sound bad.
Meander for Rack is a lot more controlled these days by sticking to modal diatonic scales and no “modulations”. And a much narrower use of 7th chords.
I appreciate your explanation as it helps me to understand music composition better.
For sure, at first jazz harmony seems like chaos, and it can be, but one form that sounds very smooth and still uses lots of “outside” chords is this one bebop harmony style. Each player tinkers with these “ formulas” to get what they hear out of the stuff, but this 6th/dim forms a nice backbone to learn the flowing older jazz style.
The thinking is a bit a layered onion , you first establish the simple triad or 4note harmony used as big signposts, like the chords go Am7, Dm7, G7,Cmaj7 , so for melodies played over each chord, my 6th/dim reference changes, I pull from Am6/G#dim7 over the first, Dm6/C#dim7 over second, maybe G7/F#dim7 then C6/Bdim7. Or go hard and do the Db7/Cdim7 over the G7 for extra crunch. The bass players ignores all this madness and plays a fluid line for the main changes establishment and the piano or guitar sound out all this drama and viola , jazz,
Huh well I didn’t think I’d get jazz theory here! But if you are interested in this the short but dense book “voicings for jazz piano” by frank mantooth will have you stacking fourths for days. Highly recommended
Stacked forth is the best flavor, it’s modern and flexible. My favorite stacks are Maj7b5 chords which generally stack #4,P4,P4 over root and second inv 7sus4 that stack P4,P4,P4 over root, these type chords can be used to slide fluidly through changes too.
Yeah I’ve thought a lot about writing a voicer with different densities and strategies. Not an easy problem but one day it will be top of my stack.
comp means two totally different things. in a daw it means making a composite track from multiple takes. In jazz in means accompaniment. Two totally different things.
Maybe you and Brian could jam on a pretty swooft module that understands a few styles of jazz harmony, his is well in its way to doing the older style with pizazz.
Wow, so many great replies here! Thanks everyone for the pointers and the enthusiasm.
As far as what I’m doing, I think @cubistguitar I think has the right idea. In the example video there is one input for the root (D), and another input that selects the chord type, in this case “min7”, giving Dmin7 — these inputs are not changing in the video example, only the melody input is changing.
From a theory perspective, it sounds good harmonically because building a diminished chord off of some the most common non-chord tones (the 2nd, 4th, and leading tone) all result in a chord that is nearly equivalent to a V (five) chord in the key (i.e. E, G, Bb, C# is like an A7b9 without the A).
To be perfectly honest, the “diminished passing tone” approach doesn’t sound as good with all underlying chord types (or all passing tones), it kind of depends what you are playing. But in a number of situations it works well. I agree with the commenters who suggested that it would be good to have other options for harmony (modal, stacked 4ths, etc) as well, that is something that I have been thinking about for an expanded version of the module but I will probably start by releasing what I’ve got.
It’s going to be hard to sound “good” if your program doesn’t have any conception about voice leading. “even in jazz” you can’t just bash out block chords on the same voicing going through the changes. While there may not be “rules” of voice leading as unbending as the common practice harmony rules, there are still some things to pay attention too.
Yeah the state and voice leading stuff is what I’ve been thinking about. Chord to chord transitions. I think a starting point is a simple comping plugin which just plays the 3 and 7 shell and moves between chords with the minimal leading. At least that’s where I would start since it solves a lot of the technical problems like what your ins and outs are and will be musically useful.
My stack of projects is way too big to take this on now but I do think it is a really interesting project.
I definitely think your idea is worthwhile and very interesting. Perhaps releasing the current module is the way to go, but I would encourage you to give some thought on how you might expand the capabilities in the future, either within the current module or with additional modules, including expanders. In my experience, we need to always remain backward compatible if we enhance existing modules.
How does the user know what root and chord type have been selected? Are you planning on adding any additional panel display widgets before releasing what you have? You might want to look at Aaron Static’s modules for inspiration on how to handle scales and chords. Unfortunately, the developer is not active here since porting the modules to Rack V2 a year ago. Or at least they have not replied to my PMs.
Oh while I’m sharing my “ideas I might do one day” list here the other idea I had for tbis module is that iReal pro (which is a great practice app) represents their lead sheets in an easy to parse compact url format. And they have basically every tune ever charted in their community forums. So a module which consumes that to generate the changes was on my mind. If anyone does this dm me and I think I have a smidge of code which starts pulling apart the sheets but nothing shippable
Great idea, just the shell (3&7) and you have all you need. Generally the voice leading goes down in cycle connected changes, but you get to a point where you have to wraparound, either by getting back to first measure or just starting to go too low and having flip back up. So start by implementing shells moving down, and some mechanism to flip back up and that would satisfy some urges. Especially if that flip up was on a passing chord then falling to a more consonant one, it would sound amazing. Great ideas floating around here. Of course some ability to flipp all these values and have it trend upwards and flip down occasionally would be amazing too.
@Squinky, there are some typical voicings used for this sort of harmony, you could have some voicing selection ( close/drop2/drop3/drop2-4) and keep that type spacing for quite a while, ( so yeah not just bash away in one type voicing, but one kind of spacing ) and there rules of thumb too, always move smallest amount to next chord, no need to repeat the melody note in the harmony, 3rd and 7th are most useful and 5th and root are less useful, voices don’t cross unless for dramatic purpose, the rules could be used to generate the first voicing and get it moving properly, especially if the flip up / flip down mechanism I mention above is present.
Jazz harmony like this is not so much the main harmony of the song, but blocks moving in tandem with melody, it would have the rhythm of the melody and would need to shift chord type according to a slower harmonic rhythm, a brilliant idea for a “jazz harmonizer” module. It would not usually replace the backdrop harmony, but add some excitement to certain passages.