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Part IV

The Transition
From Listening
To Playing
Your ears will always lead you right, but you must know why. Anton Webern.

Knowing And Learning

The Mean Streets: Where Its At
The Map
The Motor: Gettin Around
Chord Symbols: How To Write Down The Sounds
You Know
Substitution: Colouring a sequence without
altering the direction
Summary And Further Reading Suggestions

The Transition From Playing To Listening

Part IV The Transition From Listening

To Playing
Knowing And Learning

n this chapter you will learn to read the map that musicians use for relating the notes to each other.
With this skill you will be able to work out where you are, and where you are going. And you will be
able to understand and describe what other musicians are doing as well.

There are only two predicates. Everything else flows from them. And they themselves are simple and
quick to learn.
But when I say learn I mean knowing it so well that it comes to your mind without your having to think
consciously about it. If I ask you to count from 1 to 5 you can do that without thinking what comes
next?. Well, that applies to the two things you have to learn here. I will try to help you by showing you
simple and effective ways to accomplish this learning process.
This learning has nothing whatsoever to do with playing! Your playing is a separate matter and should
develop in a way related to your musical tastes and goals (for practical advice see Part VI How and What to
Practise) but acquiring the necessary knowledge is a tremendous investment. With it and there isnt
much of it you will always know what you are doing, and the choices you make while playing will be
better choices.

For musicians only

If you already play, you may think you dont need this chapter. I can only urge you to read on. You might
find it a real eye and ear opener!

The Mean Streets: Where Its At

Here we come to the very small body of new knowledge you need. What you will learn here is totally
reliable, although it is indeed minute. Most importantly it is ready to be added to by what you find out by
the experience of actually playing.
So what exactly do you need to know?
To set the scene, I think an analogy may help. If you are faced with being, say, a despatch rider in a town
which is totally new to you, what do you do? You buy an A to Z Street Atlas. And with it, you can find
all your delivery points, and work out a route between them. At first you rely totally on the map, and you
may not always pick the best routes, because the map doesnt necessarily make them clear.
And to begin with, you will be slower than more experienced riders at working out how to get to where,
and will often have to stop en route to consult the map. But you dont need anything besides the map in
order to go to work! Having it to hand, and knowing how to use it is all you need. You dont need any
knowledge of the terrain at all. So the fact that you couldn't pass the equivalent of a London taxi drivers
test of The Knowledge in no way inhibits you from getting on with the job.
Most music theory is taught by a method equivalent to having to learn by heart the layout of the map,
page by page, until you have it, before you can start to be yourself. As a jazz musician, you have to own
the territory, to feel that this is my town, and you know that the best way to learn a town is to get among
the mean streets and start exploring!

The Transition From Playing To Listening

The Map
The territory in music is the keyboard. Even if you dont play a keyboard instrument, that still applies,
because the notes you play on other instruments are derived from the keyboard. (If you are interested in
taking this further, there is a discussion of the matter in the Scales section of Part VIII More Things to
Think About).
This section gives you the map of the territory, shows you how to read it. The next section gives you the
Motor, so you can get around under your own power.

Whats out there

There turns out to be surprisingly little to the map. In fact there are just two things, and both of them are
largely visual.
The first is a list of the twelve notes in a specific order called the cycle.
The other is one specific pattern of seven ascending notes, used as a the ruler to measure how far
apart notes on the map are. It is called the major scale.
Neither the cycle nor the major scale have anything to do with playing an instrument, so rest assured that
whatever your level of technical skill is right now, there is nothing to prevent you becoming an expert
straight away!
You will be amazed at how far you can get from such a small theoretical base as this. Indeed, if you still
want to take a longer route you should ask yourself how much time you can afford to waste!

The Transition From Playing To Listening

The cycle
The cycle looks like this.

The cycle is a never-ending list, so there is actually no beginning and no end, although by convention it is
reckoned to start from C, like it is shown here.
It is best seen as the orbital road or Beltway, (just as the M25 circles London, or the Priphrique does
Paris) moving around the territory, with each of the twelve notes being a junction. You can cruise
smoothly round it in either direction, taking each junction in turn, or at any point jump across the circle
inside the orbital road to another junction. Because there are only twelve notes, and because they are all on
the orbital road, there are no roads or other places to go inside the circle. (You may also have felt that
there was nowhere else in the world when you have been stuck on the M25).
Because there are twelve notes, and because there are twelve hours on a clockface, this is a good way to
show the sequence and the best way to remember it. Especially because we are used to clocks moving
forward- the direction we call clockwise. So the order to remember the notes in, first off, is clockwise
round the cycle from C.
Dont be confused if you find some people calling the cycle the cycle of fourths and others the the cycle
of fifths. Despite the two different names, they both refer to the same cycle you see here, and neither of
them are wrong names, for reasons we will come to below. But in the interests of keeping matters simple,
we will just call it the cycle.
Above all, and before anything else at all, you need to be comfortable with this sequence, so that you
can recognise when a list of notes is that particular order, and when it isnt.
As soon as you have this internalised, you can see straight away, by looking at a sequence of chords,
whether it goes round the cycle or not. And wherever you see a sequence which does go round the cycle,

The Transition From Playing To Listening

right away you dont have to remember every individual chord because you know what is coming
(In the examples which follow it doesnt matter at all for the moment what the symbols after the note
names mean. The point is simply to recognise cycle sequences when you see them. Just look at the note
1. This sequence consists of chords on four consecutive notes round the cycle





2. This sequence only has the middle two notes consecutive







3. This sequence has no consecutive notes



4. This is a sequence of four sections of four measures each. The sequence for each section goes round the
cycle for three chords but repeats the third chord to complete the section.. There is no cycle relationship
between each of the four measure sections although numbers two and three start with a repeat of the
(already) repeated note, and number four is just number one all over again. Theres a lot of playable music
in this sequence, but already, by just knowing the cycle, you can see it is quite easy to remember as a
And if the pattern were to start on a different note than the A we use here, you would still see it as the same











Because the great majority of songs are dominated by sections in which the sequence is consecutive, the
task of remembering their sequences is immediately reduced to manageable proportions as soon as you
really know your cycle. (This book also shows you how to reduce the task way further than that by using
the LEGO bricks approach).
Test yourself on your cycle knowledge NOW to be sure it is solid. It is no use pretending.
Try these self-tests out:
Write the cycle out as fast as you can on a piece of paper.
Shut your eyes and picture the cycle and say (aloud if you want) the names of the notes you see, again
as fast as you can.
In fact, test yourself wherever you are; in the bath, at the bus stop, whatever! Do it whenever you have
ten seconds of spare time. Keep doing it until it is as normal to know that G comes after D as it is to know
that 4 comes after 3.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

Immediate Payoffs
Play in any key without having to think about it
Scour your copy of Lionel Grigsons A Jazz Chord Book for cycle sequences. You will be surprised and
rewarded. For instance, when you get to the Jerome Kern song Yesterdays you will find a sequence of
eight consecutive chords round the cycle! They start on the last two measures of the first line of the
sequence, in Grigsons presentation. Read them from left to right, a row at a time.








If you dont know your cycle, you wont recognise this pattern. So not only will you then have to play
each chord at a time, you will have to remember the sequence as if it were a one-off unique set of chords,
with no pattern. But if you know your cycle, you dont have to remember anything except the starting
point, and how long it goes on for. And actually, in songs, you will find you are able to feel the stop point,
so that leaves just the start to remember!.
One of the biggest benefits of learning this way is that you will bypass altogether what is a really irksome
problem for most jazz players - having to play a song on a transposing instrument or in a different key to
the one in the book.
Concert pitch changes are all you ever need
The chord sequences as presented in Grigson are in what is called concert pitch. That is, when the chord
in the book is C, the note sounded is C on the piano (and also on the guitar, double bass, trombone, flute,
among others). But there are problems if you play what is called a transposing instrument. For instance,
if you play a so-called Bb instrument, (such as tenor or soprano saxophone, or trumpet), when you play a
C, a pianist will hear that as a Bb, and if the pianist wants you to play what he/she calls C, you must play D
on your instrument to do it. If you play alto saxophone, when you play a C, a pianist will hear that as an
Eb. If you play other instruments which come in different sizes, the one you play will be described in
terms of what its C will sound like to a pianist: e.g. Bb clarinet, A clarinet, Eb Horn, G Flute etc.
Now, usually all these transposing instruments have to have their own version of the chord book. So the
Eb version of that bit from Yesterdays for example would look like this:







It is still just eight consecutive chords round the cycle! Only the place you start from is different.
BUT if you know your cycle, and you are aware that your instrument is an Eb or whatever, you can
manage with the same book as the piano player, because you are always playing a perceived pattern (like
these eight consecutive round the cycle chords) and never ever a specific set of pitches.
You might not be in charge of which key you play in
Unfortunately, even if you could buy a special edition of Grigson for every one of your transposing
instruments, it would not save you if you found yourself in a situation where you had to play the song in a
key other than the one in the book! You would have to scribble it out in a different key.
And there are lots of reasons why the key in the book might not be the one you need. First, many tunes are
played in a variety of keys. For example, Autumn Leaves is regularly played in five different ones, Stella
by Starlight in three. Any chord or fake book is only ever going to have one of them. And then again

The Transition From Playing To Listening

circumstances might arise which dictate a last minute change to a different key. It might well be
determined by a singers range, meaning you will have to play in a key you havent ever done the song in.
Or (and this is a true story) the piano at the venue turns out to be around a semitone flat, and the pianist
cant play a semitone sharp to come up to meet you. So you agree to play the whole gig in keys a semitone
flat. Another example: Archie Shepp played alto instead of tenor on his splendid Denon album Ladybird.
But he wanted to play Donna Lee, which was a song on which he was only comfortable with the tenor
saxophone key, so he used the tenor fingering on the alto, which meant that Jaki Byard and Cecil McBee
had to play the Donna Lee in Db instead of the usual Ab.
Then again, if you play with fairly fast company, you will often find that for variety, an unusual key will be
called for familiar material, or a key change will be called for every chorus.
For each song in his book Grigson had to select what he judged to be the most common key, and as a result
of feedback actually changed the keys of some songs between the first and second editions. In the blue
covered edition, he did offer Quincys Handy Transposer as an aid, but if you know your cycle you dont
need anything so cumbersome as this note by note system. And in any case it has been dropped from the
computer-set edition.
All too often you see desperate players either ducking the problem by deciding not to play the tune at all, or
frantically trying to write out a new version of the sequence on the bandstand.

The way to make sure you never have any problem with this sort of thing is to make the cycle
sequence second nature.

Judging Distances
Look at your keyboard, and compare it to the diagram.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

Starting from C, there is a sequence of seven ascending notes, topped off with an eighth one, C again, the
same as the first. This is how all distances between notes are measured in jazz as well as in WEAM.
The distances are measured from the first note in the pattern to another note in the pattern, and the name of
the distance is the ordinal number of that other note. So for example, the distance from the first to the fifth
note in this pattern is simply called a fifth. The usual name for this pattern, and the one which we too will
use, is the major scale.
Note that there are twelve different notes, starting on C, before you get back to C again. The black ones
are just as important. But despite the fact that there are nearly as many black notes as white notes, only the
white notes have their own names. The white notes dominate the way all notes are described, even to the
extent of calling the gap between C and C an octave, implying a repeat every eighth note - which is what
would happen if there were only white notes. The actual repeat is every 13th note!
By convention the white note scale from C to C is used as the yardstick, the norm by which to measure
the gaps between notes. Any scale could have been designated as the yardstick, but this is the one that
was. That is why it is called the major scale: for purposes of reference, its the boss. (In the Scales
section of Part VIII More Things To Think About, we discuss the reasons for the choice in more detail, but
for now, we should simply accept it). At least, as long as there is an agreed yardstick, it makes describing
things to ourselves and other people a simpler matter.
With the diagram, you can now see why, even if you dont play one, the most practical way to learn this is
by looking at a keyboard. You use its layout to make clear what the patterns of the notes you play and the
gaps you leave are.
You dont have to remember very much because you can always check by looking at the keyboard again.
The size of the distances between notes (i.e. how many notes there are in between) is of vital significance
to performers and composers alike, and especially to jazz players, who are of course both. So it is best
tackled at the outset, and the best way is by contemplating a real keyboard.

Immediate payoffs
Twelve scales for the price of one
You can start a major scale on any note, and it gets its name from the note it starts on. So the picture above
has marked on it the notes of the scale of C major. Once you know how it works, you can play all the
Here is how it works:
Look at the diagram. There is an unplayed note between each white note, except for the two places
between E and F, and between B and C. If you count the notes from C to C as 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, these two
places are 3 to 4 and 7 to 8. In all the other places, two consecutive numbers have one unplayed
note between them.
The blackness and whiteness of what gets played or missed out is irrelevant: what does matter is
whether there is an omitted note between two notes of a scale or whether there isnt.
So the rule for the major scale, as you can see from the diagram, is that as you count from 1 to 8, you
leave one unplayed note, except when you count from 3 to 4, and from 7 to 8.
Explore all the major scales
You are now fully equipped to play all the major scales. This may surprise you if you have any
experience of WEAM education, where the idea of easy and hard keys is rife. But you can now prove
to yourself that what is hard is not the key, or the playing of it, but the sight reading of it, which certainly
does become more complex the further away from C on the cycle (in either direction) you go. But we are
here to play not read. So you can play all twelve of the major scales right now! Do it on the keyboard.
Just jab the notes with one finger if you like: this has nothing to do with technique, only knowledge.
Start by playing the scale of C major, counting as you move up the keyboard. Leave one unplayed note
except for 3 to 4 and 7 to 8. If you make a mistake, you will hear that it isnt right, because you know
what the melody of a major scale sounds like. Now start on the very next note to C (the black note

The Transition From Playing To Listening

between C and D) and do the same. Carry on doing that starting on each of the very next notes until you
get back to C.
The heading above says explore the major scales because what we are doing here is starting to learn the
geography of the keyboard. It has nothing to do with being able to play them fast, or with reading
them from music. It will take you some time to become entirely comfortable with all this, of course,
because it is not knowledge which you lack-(you have that now)- but skill or experience and you are
gaining that every time you test yourself!
Eighty four scales for the price of one
Although the C to C white note pattern is the major scale, it clearly isnt the only pattern there is. You
could for example play a white note pattern starting on any note. In fact, these are all real scales too. They
are called the Church Modes, or sometimes, less accurately just Modes.
As you saw from the major scale, a mode played on the white notes has just two places where the interval
is a half step. The only difference between the modes is the fact that these two places occur at different
parts of the scale. You dont have to remember a list of where the two places come, because all you have
to do is look at the keyboard, choose your white note, and start counting! Its certainly harder to
remember the Church Mode names than it is to play them!
But play them you certainly can. You can play any Church Mode starting on any note.
Here I have put them in a diagram, starting on C, and moving up the white notes one at a time. Check the
following list against your keyboard. Count as you play the white notes from each starting point, and
confirm for yourself that the listed adjacent pairs are the right ones.
White Note Pattern
(and Church Mode



C-C (Ionian)



D-D (Dorian)



E-E (Phrygian)



F-F (Lydian)



G-G (Mixolydian)



A-A (Aeolian)



B-B (Locrian)



Now, using just the adjacent pairs, you can play any mode starting on any note, whether it is a white one or
not. Eighty-four scales for the price of one! Why not start by playing all the modes, starting on C, so
that you can hear how much alike and how different they are.
All of these modes have their own character, just as much as the major scale does, and you should get to
know what they sound like. If you play them in the following order, all starting from the same note, you
will find that each one is the same as the previous one, except that it has one extra note flatted.
Lydian (F-F)
Ionian (C-C)
Mixolydian (G-G)
Dorian (D-D)
Aeolian (A-A)
Phrygian (E-E)
Locrian (B-B)

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Admittedly there is some jargon to learn here. But at worst it will let you communicate with other
musicians. At best it will allow you to express complex notions simply.

What Distances are called

The usual word for the distance between two notes is interval. e.g. the interval between C and E is a
third. This is because if you count C as 1, and go up the major scale, you say 3 when you play E. The
same principle applies to all the other intervals second, fourth, fifth etc. This reference back to the
major scale applies regardless of what different scale you may be playing. If the third note of your
scale is Eb not E, it is not a third. The word third (and all the other words for intervals) refers
exclusively to the distance between notes in the major scale. That is why it is best to see it as a distance
not a number.
By the way, now you can see why the cycle is sometimes called the cycle of fourths, because if you go
clockwise round it, each new note is the fourth of its predecessor (e.g. F is the fourth of C). If you go anticlockwise round it, each new note is the fifth of its predecessor (e.g. G is the fifth of C), so it is also the
cycle of fifths. Since both directions are equally valid, that is why here we sensibly just call it the cycle.

What the Roman Numerals are for

You will have noticed that as well as the Arabic numbers 1, 2, 3 etc., the diagram has Roman Numerals as
well. This is because musicians generally use them as a shorthand to describe a specific note in a scale.
Instead of writing the fifth note of Eb major, for instance, they write the V of Eb major. Having two
different sets of numbers neatly solves one problem in writing out jazz changes because the type of chord
is often, as you saw in the examples above, indicated by a number, like 7. Being able to use a different
notation for the root of the chord makes our intentions clear. For instance a chord described as a V7 tells
us very concisely that not only is it a chord of type 7, but its root is a fifth away from what we currently
regard as I. So from a single symbol we get the context as well as the delineation.
Although both Grigson and this book give you chord sequences with actual note names, there are books
like Jerry Coker's wonderful Improvising Jazz, and the late John Mehegans series on Jazz Improvisation
where all the chords are given as Roman Numerals, and there are no note names at all. Using this book
will enable you to handle both ways of writing changes easily.

The names for black notes

The naming of a note is obvious if it is a white note. Less so if it is a black one.
The convention for naming the notes in the major scale is that the list of its note names should always
basically be a list of the seven different white note names. Where you find that the next white note isnt in
the scale, and you have to play a black note instead, you name the black note as a modification of the white
note you wanted to play.
For example, if we want to play a major scale starting on, say, D, we start with the sequence of white note
names from D to D:
And then everywhere a black note has to be played, it gets its name from the white note we started with. In
D major, the third note is the black note between F and G. Since we wanted to play F, we call it F# not
Gb. The same applies to the fact of the seventh note being the black note between C and D. We wanted
to play C, so we call it C#.
D E F# G A B C# D
So in this case the two black notes are called F# and C#, not Gb and Db. Check out your scales again, and
you will find that whatever comes first, a sharp or a flat, all the rest of the black notes are the same. You
either have all sharps or all flats.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

What about starting from a black note?

Look at the cycle and you will see that the five black notes occur consecutively between 2 Oclock and 6
Oclock, that is, between Bb and Gb/F#. The clock idea is useful here too, because counting forwards
from twelve, the clock position of the note on the cycle tells you how many black notes there are going to
be in each of those major scales. So there is one black note in F major and G major, and there are four in E
major and Ab major.
The keep it simple principle shows us that it is less complicated if we describe all of these notes as flats,
like they are shown on the cycle. If you want to keep to the idea of each new note in a major scale having a
new basic note name, then this is the only way to do it.
Yes, but in that case why does the cycle diagram have Db/C# and Gb/F#?
Well spotted! Just as you can describe the major scales on the first half of the cycle as the flat scales, so
you can describe the ones on the second half of the cycle as the sharp scales, since their modified notes
are all sharps.
The reason for those two different note names is that the straight cadences which we are now used to, have
two approach sounds before coming to rest. More importantly, all three of the sounds (Further away,
nearly there, and there) occur on consecutive notes from around the cycle. If you consider that from the
point of view of stopping on C, then starting from two steps back, we go through D and G to get to it. D is
the II of the C major scale, and G is the V. By applying that principle, (often called the II V I) we call
the two preceding steps by the names of the second and fifth notes of the major scale they are going to stop
So we say C# instead of Db when it is being used as the II of a straight cadence to B. And we say F#
instead of Gb when it is used as the V of a straight cadence to B or the II of a straight cadence to E.

Are there such note names as Cb, B#, Fb or E#? These are all white notes
We can take things too far. In WEAM, in the interests of harmonic correctness the modified (raised or
flattened) degrees of the scale always use the original white note names, even though they apply to
different white notes! For instance, the VII of Db is clearly C. If we wanted to talk about the bVII of Db,
which is the white note B, a WEAM person would say that that note was Cb. The third of Gb major is Bb,
so in WEAM, the flat third of Gb (actually the white note A) is called B double flat. In search of the kind
of consistency they want, they regularly go as far as double and triple sharps and flats!
You can do that too if you like, but I had better make clear that I take my stand behind Bartok, who thought
all notes should have had their own names from the time the equal temperament tuning system was
introduced. Accordingly, and to the chagrin of some colleagues and reviewers, whenever the note
described comes out as a white note (like the A above) then I use the white note name.
So I wont ever even use names like Cb, let alone the ones with double or triple in them. I prefer simplicity
to complexity, and for me the simple names are best. It doesnt stop me knowing that A is the flat third of
Gb, and being able to use the fact, nor prevent me from playing it properly, and ultimately, that is the
important thing.

Ways of referring to the notes which are not in the scale.

What you call the notes between the scale tones depends on where in the world you are, and how you
acquired your knowledge. England is the source of much confusion because it uses different names for
nearly everything. It used to have its own fingering system for piano music, with a + for the thumb then
fingers 1 2 3 4: now (I hope) long gone, which involved publishers in putting out two editions of
everything. In England, an interval which is a half-step flatter is described as minor when the rest of the
world says flat, and one which is a half-step sharper is described as augmented when the rest of the
world says sharp or raised.
The generic words for basic intervals differ too, but are not so generally polarised into England and the
world. The interval you get by moving up or down to the very next note on the keyboard is called

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variously a semitone or a half step. Moving by two such notes produces an interval called a tone or a
whole step.
In England at least you will have to be aware of the English eccentricities but I dont suggest you use them

What is the biggest interval I'll need to know?

Intervals bigger than a seventh are used regularly, and so have to have names. We dont say eighth we
say octave, but ninth etc. up to thirteenth are commonly used and should be taken on board. They are
clearly the equivalent notes to second through sixth, but sounded an octave higher.

Now. How solid are you?

While it does not matter at this stage whether, or how fast, you can actually play any of this stuff, it does
matter that you can read the map quickly. So you practise these things:
get to know the notes in all twelve major scales
get to be able to name any note you might be asked for, e.g. what is the V of Db major
That is what you practise. There are some tests on all this below.
You have to be solid, and that means knowing where your knowledge is flaky, and fixing it fast.
You can test yourself to see how well you are absorbing your new skills by asking yourself questions like
those below. And, as with learning the cycle you can do these tests in many casual situations throughout
day and night.
These questions are based on two classroom tests used regularly on my students. Probably you should fill
in actual answers at least once, if not in the book at least on a photocopy. However the main point is to
show you what a thoroughgoing knowledge demands of you, so that you can be honest with yourself and
attend to any weaknesses. In performance, speed of response is nearly as important as accuracy, which is
why time indications are given for the tests.

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Note Knowledge Test: time allowed 2 minutes

Write the note names:
1. III of Eb
2. IV of A
3. VI of Bb
4. V of Ab
5. VII of E
6. II of Gb
7. IX of F#
8. X of F
9. XI of B
10. XIII of G
11. VI of D
12. VII of C
13. bIX of G
14. bX of D
15. #XI of A
16. bV of E
17. bVI of B
18. #V of Gb
19. bVII of F#
20. #IV of Db
21. #IX of C#
22. bV of Ab
23. #V of Eb
24. #IX of Bb
25. bIX of F

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Major Scale Knowledge Test: time allowed 7 minutes

Write the notes for each major scale in full

The Transition From Playing To Listening

This account of the map has consisted of only two bits of actual knowledge that you need to learn. One is
the sequence of notes called the cycle, and the other is the layout of the major scale. When I say you
have to learn these things, I stress again that I am not talking about playing at all. I mean recognising them
when you see them, and being able to bring them to mind instantly when required.
Do not be tempted to skimp on this stage. Everything that follows is predicated on it. All too often
students fall into the trap of thinking they will be able to pick it up as they go along, only to find they don't
understand something (and try to blame the book or their teacher for it) when all that is the matter is that
they dont know their cycle, and/or they dont know their major scales! You only do it once, so do it right.

The Motor: Gettin Around

Our despatch rider analogy also assumes you can drive the appropriate vehicle. What is the jazz equivalent
to that? Well, surprisingly, it isnt being able to play your instrument! It is knowing what generates
the feelings of mood and movement that we learned to recognise in Part I What to Listen for in Jazz. Once
you know that, you can get anywhere - no matter what your level of instrumental skill.
Each of the sounds you know, at rest, nearly there, further away, sad, straight, or blue, is produced by
doing simple consistent things. Certain notes in combination produce them. So all we have to do is to say
what these are.

To get anything out of this section, whether you intend to play one or not, you will need a keyboard to
work on. Dont worry, you dont have to be able to play it at all. But you must have one to
experiment and explore with, otherwise this book will just be words. Your keyboard doesn't have to be
elaborate as long as it will let you play at least 5 notes at once. Some Casio models, as well as having a
good piano sound, will allow you to split the keyboard sounds, so that for example you could have a
double bass sound at the bottom, with a piano on top. That could be very helpful.

Straight Cadences in All Keys

Lets go back to something we already did -the straight cadence to C in Part III Just Do It. We can use it
to see how things work.
Play Chord Three, the one with a deep C and the right hand playing E G B D, straddling middle C. See
what those right hand notes are on the C scale. They are III V VII and IX. And they produce an at rest,
or there sound.
Now play Chord One, the one with a deep D and the right hand playing F A C E, straddling middle C. See
what those right hand notes are on the D scale. They are bIII V bVII and IX. And they produce a further
away sound.
We might note in passing that it looks as if an at rest is converted into a further away by flattening the
III and the VII. Well come back to it, but in the meantime theres another immediate payoff. We now
have the simple formulaic means to go ahead and play straight cadences in all keys, and so carry on from
where we left off at the end of Part III Just Do It.
All you have to practise now is looking for III V VII IX on your keyboard.
HEALTH WARNING. If you are not used to keyboards, or indeed to actually playing at all, this stage
might take you longer than you expect. Dont despair, even if your brain and/or your fingers either take on
an apparent life of their own, or even seem to go on strike. Practise little and often. Remind yourself that
there is no theory here, just the getting used to the keyboard layout, and learning to co-ordinate some

The Transition From Playing To Listening

Do it with just the there sounds to begin with. Look at the keyboard as you play them, and gradually you
will find the patterns showing themselves to you.
At some point you may feel that the right hand is too low or too high. This is partly taste, and partly to do
with the quality of your keyboard. If you get that feeling, just try taking the whole voicing up or down an
Now do the same with the further away sounds. These use bIII V bVII and IX. Let your eye seek out the
natural III and VII, and then play the flat version.
That done, you can move to the question of playing whole cadences. As long as you can start, and all that
takes is finding the bIII V bVII and IX of the starting point, you have plenty of time (two whole measures)
to figure out where the III V VII IX of where you are going to is, because the purely mechanical nature of
the way you get to the second chord means you dont have to give it a second thought.
So, even if this is your very first encounter with a keyboard, you can now play straight cadences in all keys.
You know everything you need to. So go to work, and get used to doing it

About that middle chord.

You will probably have noticed that the root of the middle chord is not in an obvious cycle relationship to
the other two. It is easy to find of course, because it is right between them. If we go around the cycle, say
from D, we go D G C. So we end on C anyway.
The next thing I want you to do is to play all your cadences again, exactly as before, but this time taking
the roots around the cycle, not going down in half steps. So there is just one note different, the root of the
second chord. It gets a different sound but it clearly does the same job of getting us through a straight
cadence. By now you should be comfortable with letting your right hand find the proper voicings, so you
will have some concentration to spare to take the left hand through the cadence via a different route.
Later on we will learn a little more about what we are doing, how to describe it, and how to write it down.
The important thing is to do it first. If you knew what you were doing, it might frighten you.
You dont believe me?

A true story from the land of WEAM

An amusing (but absolutely true) anecdote illustrates the difference between the WEAM and jazz
approaches. I was showing the cadence voicing above to a student, and we had just got to the point where
she was able to play the roots as a cycle sequence.
As she played the second chord, the classroom door opened, and Christopher Hobbs - a fabulous pianist
and wonderful composer - looked in a bit quizzically and said:
Wow, a third inversion dominant 13th with a minor ninth. Thats a bit exotic for a beginner isnt it?
Dont tell her I said, she doesnt know thats what shes doing! She didnt have to know, but she could
play the right notes in every key every time. (She does know now, of course, but the theoretical
knowledge came after the practical ability).
The moral of this is that you can find some beautiful and apparently exotic things even though all the
theory you know is how to find III V VII IX.

What makes it run?

The basic chord we have been using for a there chord sound is III V VII IX. This is usually called a
major chord.
You convert that to a nearly there sound simply by flattening the VII. So on C, E G B D becomes E G
Bb D. For historical, and not entirely convincing reasons, this sound is usually called a dominant seventh

The Transition From Playing To Listening

A further away sound has both the III and the VII flattened. So on C, E G B D becomes Eb G Bb D.
You could view this as a single modification to the nearly there dominant seventh, i.e. just flattening the
III because the VII is already flat. Doubtless that is behind the name for this chord being a minor seventh.
These are the basic controls of our motor.
Now you should wonder what is happening on our dominant seventh, the one we played in Part III Just Do
It and again above.
If we play a Db root, the F Ab B E works out as III V bVII and #IX. So it has the III V bVII we expect, but
with a surprise in the #IX.
If we play a G root, the notes are (in ascending order) III VI bVII bIX.
The notes are not in this order, so we now know that they dont have to be. As long as they are simply
there, theyll work. And the V is missing but it still sounds like a dominant seventh. So tentatively we can
suggest that the V (which is common to all three chords in our cadence) doesnt carry that much
information. The information carriers are the III and the VII. According to whether they are flat or
not, we can hear what kind of a chord it is.
It doesnt seem to matter much whether the IX is flat or raised.
Isnt all of this starting to get a little complicated?
The answer is a clear No, and brings up the most important aspect of voicing chords on a keyboard. It
only depends on your knowing the stuff tested in the note knowledge quiz above.

If its OK, dont move it

Over and over, I have pointed out that jazz is not a vertical, chord at a time music.
You play a chord in a context with other chords. You choose an opening voicing, such as the four note
one I have used as an example here. When the next chord comes up, you dont automatically shift
everything to a restatement of the same voicing in root position on the new chord. You say to yourself: do
I have to move anything at all, and if so what?
You can prove for yourself that repeating F A C E over Db sounds horrible. So you experiment. And you
find that you have to move to the real V and bVII, Ab and B, over the Db. But that both leaving the E
where it was, and moving to the expected Eb sound good. They do sound different, and sometimes you
will play one, and sometimes the other. You are now in a position to choose. Play the major cadences
again, varying the dominant seventh sound as you do it.
This probably tells you why piano players often seemed absorbed with the sight of their keyboards. It isnt
because they have to watch to see where their hands are going. What they are doing is seeing the available
notes in the upcoming chord, and deciding what they dont have to move, in order to get the effect they
Grigson neatly encapsulated the principle as fewest notes, least movement.

Do do do what you did did did before

Its time to go through the cadences again, but with a few more variations. Do this looking at (and
preferably playing) the keyboard or you will think it is complicated. We are just considering the top note
in each of the voicings.
The IX of the minor seventh, E over D minor seventh was carried over unaltered over the dominant seventh
chord. So you know that whether as a #IX (over Db) or as a VI (over G) it worked.
But you know that a IX sounds good anyway. And (from playing the voicing over a G) that a bIX sounds
good too.
This means that you could move it down a half-step, along with the middle two notes, so that it was a IX
over Db. That sounds good too. And if you switch the root to G, the Eb is read as a #V - which also
sounds fine.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

Also, if you move it down a whole step, (D gives the proper V for G, and a bIX for Db) it works as well.
They all sound slightly different. They have different qualities.
You now have a lot of choice when you are playing a straight cadence. When it comes to the dominant
seventh chord, you can choose to go round the cycle or down a half step, and have half a dozen different
voicings you can decide on.

You choose
The object lesson from all this is that the choice is yours.
You choose whether to play on a chord at all.
You choose what to play as the voicing (there is no such thing as a correct voicing).
And you choose when to play. You might want, as you have been doing here, to sustain the chord for
the duration of the measure. You might leave some gaps and jab a few times.
Everything will depend on how you are feeling, and how you are responding to the environment you are
playing in.

Chord Symbols: How To Write Down The Sounds You

You already know the sounds of many more chords than just the three in a straight cadence. So here we
get the complete set. How to make them happen, and how to write them down. After that we can put our
full kit of LEGO bricks together.
Chords consist of certain skeleton notes which set up the basic sound. Typically these are the first, third,
fifth, and usually seventh notes in the underlying scale. You play these and you get a bare but recognisable
chord. Other notes can be added, and these are a matter of taste, so for practical reasons we omit them
The term for the skeleton of a chord is arpeggio.
In writing down the changes for a song, there are two things to specify each chord. First is a note name,
giving the root of the chord, and second is a symbol indicating its quality.
The reason for using symbols for chords is highly significant. It isnt that there isnt room on the page (or
time in your life) to write down the specification. The important point is that the changes are not a score to
be read: if they were, the changes could be presented in ordinary musical notation. Instead, what the
written changes are is an indication of the harmonic background, a general guide to the players. As we
said: you choose.
Thats a lot of leeway. If you are playing on your own you can always do it how you want (as long as it
makes sense to you). If you are playing with others you can still do what you want within the limits of the
groups objectives.

Parent Scales
For each chord type there is a scale which unrolls the vanilla version of the chord without making
waves or
George Russell uses the term parent scale, which he defines neatly as the scale which best conveys the
sound of the chord. The function of the parent scale is to show you which notes arent blue notes with
that chord. But you can play any note you like, provided you can make it sound right. The notes in the
parent scale are just the ones where, for instance, if you sound the chord and sustain it, you can play the
parent scale, like unrolling wallpaper, to see what the pattern is, and where its own resting points are.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

The scale always includes the chord tones, and these feel stronger than the other scale notes. Strong
enough to stop on, or to play all together, missing out the other notes.
For each of the chord types I give you the parent scale relative to C.
You wont necessarily find these scales in a WEAM manual. That doesnt make them invalid. But you
will find them in use in the music, as well as formally laid out in authoritative jazz manuals by people like
David Baker. They are real scales. In Part VIII More Things to Think About, there is a full discussion of
the issue of scales. You dont need to read that discussion in order to go to work here.

LEGO bricks for scales

Your job is to know the parent scale for every chord type. That is, you must know its sound and recognise
it when you hear it you must know its DNA, the blueprint or pattern you need to generate it. Seeing a
scale as a pattern means it is literally a no-brainer to apply that pattern to any starting note.
If at this point, you think I am talking about playing some sort of Scale Syllabus, then you havent been
paying attention to the recurring them of this chapter! I dont mean that you should be able to play them
other than with one finger on a keyboard to learn the sound, still less that you should practise them! (See
the section Dont Practise Scales (ever) in Part VI How and What to Practise).
When you consider a phrase, whether on a record or in a transcription, you must be able to see what is
going on. Thats all. At its crudest, you must be able without a second thought to be able to translate the
phrase mentally to its Roman numeral form, its pattern, so that you can then see what notes it would
involve in any other key, simply by applying the Roman numerals.
If you struggle to see which notes are in the parent scale, and which are colour tones, let alone which notes
are the arpeggio ones, then you have work to do. But you should leave your instrument untouched while
you do it.
In any case, the task isnt as daunting as its sounds because you basically dont need any more than the
eight scales we discuss in a moment. And, thanks to Evan Parker, we now have LEGO bricks for scales
As well as giving you the parent scale, relative to C, for each of the eight chords, I also give it as Evan
Parker-style LEGO bricks for scales.
Evan worked out that the building blocks for most scales consist of four note groups. And that using four
note groups put much less computational load on his brain when he was playing. The term musicians use
for a four note group is a tetrachord. Most scales can be easily expressed as a pair of tetrachords, where
the second one starts either a half step or a whole step up from where the first one finished.
This makes remembering large numbers of scales very simple, because the main memory task is just to
learn the tetrachords. You simply have to be solid for any of the four note patterns, starting anywhere.
And excluding the starting note, which is always a given, that means you are learning three notes only for
each pattern!
Here is an example.
The minor tetrachord is I II bIII and IV from the major scale. So, for example C D Eb F.
A diminished scale can be built from two of these, with a half step in between.
Minor. Half Step. Minor. CDEbF F#G#AB. (And you repeat the starting note at the top of the
If you know your tetrachords, and which ones your scale uses, you can instantly play any given scale on
any given root.
Here is a list of the tetrachords we will use for the parent scales, with a symbol for each. It will help you to
remember them if you see notes two three and four as notes from the major scale, either natural or
modified. E.g. is I bII II III.

The Transition From Playing To Listening


Notes from C




C Db D E


C D E F#


C D Eb F


C D Eb E


C Db Eb E


C Db Eb F


But before we start using symbols for the eight chords we are going to use, it is necessary to discuss the
idea of using symbols at all.

The trouble with chord symbols

Each chord type has a symbol to indicate its quality. Some of the symbols for chord quality are logical,
and some arent. And because practice has changed over the seventy odd years jazz musicians have been
using symbols for changes, there are usually several ways of indicating the same thing. So in what follows
I give reasons for each of the symbols as they are introduced, and say what (at least some of) the
alternatives you might meet are. In an ideal world we would agree on a set of symbols that were as concise
and precise as they could be, and there is nothing to stop you deciding only to use such symbols. However,
since you are going to see chord sequences written by all sorts of people, you must be able to understand
what they mean. I hope that by discussing the nomenclature for each chord quality you will feel that you
are on top of the problem not the other way around!
In recommending a symbol for each chord quality, I am guided by the keep it simple principle again. I
dont ever use the symbol 6 for instance. C6 is supposed to indicate a C major chord to which the VI has
been added. In my view there is no such chord quality, so I dont write it. Of course I do know that you
can add a VI to a major chord, and that it does have its own particular colour. But adding colour is the
players choice not that of the person who wrote down the changes. The problem arises once again from
applying the WEAM notion that the chord quality is determined by every note being played (i.e. a vertical
view of events), and that if the melody over a C chord is an A, then the C chord must be a C6. The chord is
actually just a C which the player has decided to add a VI colour.

Back to basics: the straight sounds

When we looked at Cadences The Basic LEGO Brick in Part I What to Listen For in Jazz, we took the
ending of At Long Last Love, and within that little piece of structure, found three different chord sounds.
We played them in Part III Just Do It, and when we looked at The Motor above, in What makes it run? we
met the usual names musicians give them. What we do here, as well as describing them a bit more, is
simply to say how to make them happen, give the name musicians usually use for them, and the chord
symbols used to indicate them. (In the case of straight cadences, then, there is a bit of revision here, so I
hope nobody minds).

The straight there sound: the major chord

Chords which sound there or at rest are often called resolved chords, the analogy being that whatever
caused the unrest or tension is now over. They are, as we suggested in the discussion of At Long Last
Love, home and dry, where the words say Love.
Making it happen

The Transition From Playing To Listening

You get a basic straight at rest chord by sounding I III and V together. (So if C is your root you play E
and G on top of it).
What to call it
Because this chord only uses notes from the major scale, the sound it makes is called major too, so we
have just been describing a C major chord.
The notes indicated, as you can see, are alternate notes from the major scale. They make the chord very
clear and bare sounding, but at least totally unambiguous. In jazz the next note that you would normally
add is the VII (i.e. B if C is your root), which to jazz musicians has always sounded like a chord at rest. On
the other hand, in Blues, Rock, and Church Hymns for example, the VII is avoided, and the next note you
would add is the octave, C.
The Symbol for the major chord
By convention this is now the delta, .
The parent scale for the major chord
Example: CDEF GAbAB C
In many chord books, a major chord is indicated by the absence of any symbol at all. This may appear to
save time, but it prevents you from recognising whether it really was a major chord, or someone just forgot
to write the symbol. (It happens: oh boy, it happens!). For that reason I prefer to use a symbol with every
chord type. But in general if there is no symbol next to the root in the chord sequence, or if there is a , it
means that the VII and the IX should be played. Some books still say maj 7 instead of , and
unfortunately, the second (blue cover) edition of Grigson, (the one in which he first formally adopted the
delta) still accidentally included a few songs where the bare symbol was intended to indicate , such as the
last two bars of Like Someone in Love. Most of the deltas have been omitted from the computer set edition.

The straight nearly there sound: the dominant seventh

You will recognise the sound of this chord as the nearly there sound on the word Last at the end of At
Long Last Love. It is so nearly there that you firmly expect the next chord to be at rest. (The fact that some
songs play games with this expectation is something we will come to later). For now we have a chord
which we know we have to move on from in order to resolve.
Making it happen
If we start with a resolved chord, such as C major, you switch on the flow (add a suggestion of movement)
by adding a bVII if you are not playing a VII at all, or by flattening the VII if you are playing one. On
King Olivers Dippermouth Blues, you can hear the absence of tension in measure three of the stop-chord
choruses under Johnny Dodds, you can hear it turned on by flattening the seventh in measure four, and you
know you are going to flow to the next chord the band plays. Just changing that one note turns the chord
into one that says you cant park here, you must move on.
What to call it
For reasons we (mercifully) dont even need to think about, the nearly there sound is called a Dominant
The symbol for the dominant seventh
By convention this is the figure, 7.
The parent scale for the dominant seventh
W -
Example: CDEF GABbB C

The Transition From Playing To Listening

The symbol 7 is inconsistent with everything else in chord symbols. Normally when the Arabic number
is used it indicates a degree of the scale. #11 for instance means that there is a sharp XI. And, despite the
fact that I dont use it, 6 is intended to mean that a natural VI is played. But with dominants, the simple
7 means the chord has a flat VII. If you want a natural VII you use the delta, . This odd practice dates
from the 1920s when chord symbols began to be added to popular sheet music. There were almost no
songs where the natural VII was used, and so the people in the music publishers saw no risk of confusion in
saving themselves the effort of keeping on writing bVII.

The Straight further away sound: the minor seventh

There is more energy, a stronger sense of direction, in this chord than in the dominant seventh. But you do
expect (and usually get) a dominant seventh following it, and again, that following chord will be one step
around the cycle. In At Long Last Love it is where the words say Long.
Making it happen
You get the further away feel by taking a dominant seventh, and then flattening its III.
What to call it
The usual name for this sound is a Minor Seventh. When a minor seventh is followed by a dominant
seventh from one step around the cycle, the two chords together are called a minor-to-dominant pair.
The Symbol for the minor seventh
By convention, this is now a minus sign, -.
The parent scale for the minor seventh
- H
This chord is called a minor seventh, again not particularly logically, since we should really be calling it
a minor dominant seventh. The usual symbol for it is just a minus sign, but Grigson amongst others
tended to write m7, until the latest (posthumous) one.
A real chord sequence
Now we can specify the changes to a straight cadence. Funny isnt it. You can play straight cadences in
any key, using a wide variety of voicings, but youve never seen it written down in its own right. Lets
take one to C again. All we do here is repeat the grid we gave for the ending of At Long Last Love in
Cadences The Basic LEGO Brick in Part I What to Listen For in Jazz, except that we use actual chord
symbols instead of the words we used before.



Each cell is one measure. The first three measures have a single chord symbol (root plus quality symbol)
in them. This means the chord lasts the whole measure. The fourth measure has a % sign, which means
it repeats the previous measure. (Some people, including the computer set version of Grigson, use a ditto
sign instead of the %).
Relative to C as I, the sequence can be described as II- V7 I. Aebersolds Volume 3 uses this as its title.
But, you should be asking, isnt this what we played in Part III Just Do It? That was a straight cadence to
C. Only it wasnt exactly the same, because the second chord was a Db not a G.
Lets think about that for a moment, and about the difference between this books approach and that of
normal music lessons. Playing the bass notes as D, Db, and C is a no-brainer because each new note is
just a half step down. So that is why we do it.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

Normal music lessons would always make you start with the chords given above. You would have to
find your way around the cycle with the bass notes, D, G, C. A lot more to think about while you are still
getting used to things.
So why do they do it the harder way? Because in WEAM terms, Db is a complicated theoretical idea: it is
a tritone substitution! (Mother, where are you when I need you?) So although it is easier to play, and to
play right every time, you are not allowed to do it until you know some advanced theory.
And theoretically it is a substitution for the G. But you know it works, and you also know, in practical
terms, why it works. If you think about it, you know that whether your root is Db or G, the two notes that
define a dominant seventh, the III and the bVII are both there, and both the same, whichever root we use.
B is both the III of G7 and the bVIII of Db7. F is both the bVII of G7 and the III of Db7. We look at
substitution in depth below, but for now, just take on board that it is all right to substitute a dominant
seventh in this way. If you are proceeding from the II, you just go down a half step. If you think of the
cycle, you just pick up the note diametrically opposite the regular V.
It might be a good idea at this stage to practise not being phased by the sight of a written down
cadence, whatever key it is in. Turn to the page giving Separate Straight Cadence Tracks in all Keys for
Concert pitch instruments in the Playalong chapter. Play or read through the cadences given there. You
just have to glance at it, see that it is an ordinary cadence, then look at your keyboard as you decide
whether, what and when to play.
And there is now nothing to stop you going all the way through the straight cadences demonstrating
LEGO brick joins either, if you want to.
Now look through your Grigson, and start to see how many straight cadences there are in songs.

Sad sounds and their symbols

Now we look at what turns the straight sounds we know about into sad ones. We will take the chords in the
order they come up in a sad cadence, and I will apply the same pragmatic approach as for straight cadences
in Part III Just Do It, a formula for the further away and resolved sounds, and a mechanical way of
playing the dominant.

the sad further away sound: the half diminished

Making it happen
You make a minor seventh sad by flattening its V, so that on C, the chord then becomes C Eb Gb Bb.
What to call it
The name for this chord is half diminished.
The symbol for a half diminished

The parent scale for the half diminished

+ H
Example: CDbEbF GbGAbBb C
Half-diminished is a term that has apparently been in use for centuries, but it still doesnt seem a totally
logical name. (What a fully diminished chord is, we will come to). Some people though still call it a
minor seventh flat 5 and write their chord symbol m7b5 - which takes a lot of space. Mostly now you
will see as the sign for it.

the sad nearly there sound: the altered dominant

Making it happen

The Transition From Playing To Listening

In terms of the sadness of its sound, a dominant seventh is a non-starter. If it does resolve to a minor
chord, you get a feeling of surprise, because sadness isnt what you expected.
You can, however, convert a normal dominant seventh to a sad one. You do it first by raising the V a half
step. And you can increase the sad feeling still further by adding a bX (i.e. a bIII an octave up).
What to call it
The name for this chord is altered dominant.
The Symbol for an altered dominant
The parent scale for the altered dominant
For reasons not at all clear, jazz musicians regard the bX used above as a #IX, so we will have to stick with
that too. Because we use Arabic numerals next to root notes in chord symbols, this is written as 7+9. Also,
calling this chord altered dominant seems pretty dumb- when literally any alteration of a dominant
makes it altered. Something else we are stuck with.

the sad at rest sound: the minor major

Making it happen
You can make a major chord sound sad by playing a bIII instead of a III. It is that simple. If you alternate
between straight and sad major chords, you will hear the contrast, and feel yourself in control of events. If
you play the separate notes of your chords one after another, again alternating straight and sad, you will
also hear it.
What to call it
The name for this chord is minor major.
The symbol for the minor major.
The parent scale for the minor major
- W
Example: CDEbF GAbAB C
By extension from calling the major major, the sad chords are always called minor. Minor Major may
sound like an oxymoron, but that is because of the extreme use to which the two words are being put. The
word major gets used as major in the sense of its being the boss scale, the yardstick. It also gets used
to mean at rest or resolved. Minor means not the boss. So minor major means an at rest sound
which is not the boss sound. The symbols for this vary, but increasingly the minus sign is being used to
indicate the presence of the minor third. Previously the letters m for minor, and M for major were
used. I never thought much of this because not everyones handwriting makes it clear whether it is a big M
or a little m! What you will see now for a minor (sad) chord at rest is -, i.e. a minus sign for the minor
aspect and a delta to indicate that it is at rest.

Sad cadences
Lets look at a simple basic voicing for a sad cadence, which you can then practise in all keys.
A sad cadence to C looks like:

The Transition From Playing To Listening



The roots are the same as a straight cadence, and the function of each chord type is the same, but the
quality of each chord is sad.
The sound of the half diminished, the sad II, is one that really cries out for the root to be duplicated in the
voicing. (Experiment with leaving it out). So I suggest that you build the chord up from the bVII, and then
put the I bIII and bV on top of it. So a half diminished on D would be voiced C D F Ab
The mechanical dominant in the sad cadence voicing involves two things to be done to the half
diminished voicing:
i) splay the bottom two notes out by a half step. e.g. the C goes down to B and the D goes up to Eb.
ii) move the top note up a whole step. e.g. the Ab becomes Bb.
This gives you a voicing of B Eb F and Bb.
(Note that with this voicing it doesnt sound right to substitute Db for G as the root).
My suggested voicing for the resolution of a sad cadence is to play the VII at the bottom, and then II bIII
and V. For C this is B D Eb G. Note that you are already playing two of these notes, B and Eb.
Get used to playing sad cadences in all keys. Take your time, and when you are ready, you can turn to the
Playalong page with separate sad cadences in all keys, and again learn what they look like written down.

Thats (nearly) all folks

You are now equipped to play all cadences, straight and sad in all keys, on a keyboard as well as any other
instrument. The Harmony with LEGO Bricks playalong, as I said, gives you a separate track for each.
Learning your way through these now is the foundation for everything else you need as a jazz player.
If that is what you want to be, now is the time to put the work in.
Play them with the changes in the book in front of you, so that you get used to not being phased by the
sight of any chords. Then play them without the book. Improvise freely (using random notes if you want)
as long as you know which cadence you are on.
Remember that as a jazz player you always have the right to silence. As long as you know what is
going on.
In Part VI How and What to Practise, you will find other suggestions to deepen your knowledge of the
possibilities, and unlock and extend your skill in exploiting them.
There are just a couple more sounds from our LEGO bricks kit that we should find out how to make, and
we can also take a systematic overview of how you colour up a sequence - i.e. the principles of
substitution. The two extra sounds first.

supertension dominant sevenths: Lydian dominants

Making it happen
This sound, which is what makes the last two bars of each of the first two eights of Invitation so satisfying
is produced by stacking a simple three note major chord on top of a basic dominant seventh, to produce a
seven note chord. The major chord is built on the II of the dominant seventh. So for example, to play a
supertension dominant seventh on C, you play C E G Bb from the ordinary C dominant seventh, and on top
of it you play D F# A, the simple major triad from the II of C.
What to call it
The name for this chord is lydian dominant.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

the symbol for the lydian dominant

These days it is usually written 7+4, although 7LYD gets used, and you still see 13#11
The parent scale for the lydian dominant
+ H -
This chord used to be called a thirteenth with a raised eleventh, and used to be written as 13#11 in chord
books. As with so many of the older names, it was true but unhelpful. Generally now it is called a lydian
dominant chord, because the scale derived from it is a lydian mode but with a bVII. This scale is also
known as the acoustic or overtone scale, and Lendvais excellent book demonstrates that it dominates
Bartoks diatonic compositions.

Diminished Sevenths: Sounds which suggest movement in an ambiguous

Discussing half diminished chords inevitably meant that we had to mention diminished chords. But what
are they, what do they do, and how do you make them?
They are the chords where there is tension of something like the dominant seventh type (they feel nearly
there), but, unlike with a normal dominant seventh you dont know what is going to happen next. You will
have heard piano players accompanying silent movies in scenes like where the heroine is tied to the railway
lines while at the same time both the train and her rescuers are approaching her. Who will get there first?
Tense, isnt it?
Those piano players are playing diminished sevenths. You make one by playing any set of notes a bIII
apart. So the chord in C has C Eb Gb A. If you ripple that a few times on your keyboard, it will not be
difficult to see the scene with the railway line! This symmetrical relationship, where all the notes are the
same distance apart means that the diminished chord on C has the same notes as the diminished chords on
Eb Gb and A. And since that has used 4 out of the 12 notes possible, it is easy to see why there are only 3
diminished chords in practice, although any one of the three could have up to 4 names!
The Symbol for the diminished chord

The symbol for a diminished chord is the degree sign , but some books say dim or dim 7.
The parent scales for the diminished chord
The ambiguity of this chord is exemplified in its having two parent scales. Both alternate between half
steps and whole steps. They differ in which one they start with. Both are symmetrical: the second
tetrachord is the same as the first one.

Example: CDbEbE GbGABb C


Example: CEEbF GbAbAB C

What is going to happen next?

You dont know what is going to happen because the pull is in so many directions at once, and any of them
could win.
You could just straighten yourself out and stay where you are!
What this means is that say a C could just resolve to a C. You can hear this on King Olivers
Dippermouth Blues in the stop choruses. Measure two is a C leading back to C major in measure three.
Measure six is an F# (the same notes as C) leading back to C major in measure seven.
The diminished chord on Indiana/Donna Lee just before the last four measures (where the singer has just
mentioned the Wabash, and draws breath to long for his Indiana home), is usually written as B, resolving

The Transition From Playing To Listening

to Ab. But as B is in the diminished chord of Ab, it is another example of the same. Youd be So Nice to
Come Home To starts its last eight measures youd be SO nice, youd be paradise where so is a Bb and
nice is Bb.
You could settle a half-step lower.
Where the diminished chord is used as a substitute for a VI in a turnaround or retake, it leads naturally to a
chord a half-step lower. The resolution of the penultimate sad cadence in Autumn Leaves does it, so does
the opening of Heres That Rainy Day, and the bridge of Afternoon in Paris uses Gb instead of C7 to lead
to F-. This is equivalent to resolving to C from a diminished chord on Db, or any of the notes in Db, Db E
G Bb.
You could settle a half-step higher
In songs using the rhythm turnaround forward motion, the II- is reached from a half-step underneath,
e.g. Bb B C- etc. The opening of songs like Imagination and You Make Me Feel So Young start with
two beats on a major chord, two beats on a diminished chord a half step up, both leading to the next chord a
further half-step up. Listen for this and you will recognise it. Now you know how to get the effect.
Thats three places to go from C. But because the notes in C are the same as those in Eb, Gb, and A,
each of those could move on to themselves, or a half-step lower or a half-step higher. And that is three
possibilities for each of four notes. Three times four is twelve, and there are only twelve notes.
So if we take stock of all this, we see that a diminished chord can move on to anywhere at all, and it
sounds believable when we get there.

Substitution: Colouring a sequence without altering the

This section needs you to have a picture of the cycle, alive and vibrant in your head. As we have seen from
cadences, most movement on the cycle is around the rim, either clockwise for normal cadences, or anti
clockwise for Amen cadences.
The nature of harmony means that once a further away sound is started, the destination is signalled too.
But a song can tease us in several ways. It might change its mind along the way, and never arrive at the
first destination. Or it might do what we look at here, and put different colours on some or all of the
approach chords. Some of these confuse us more than others along the way as to whether we are going to
where we thought we were, but when we get there we can see that it was OK. Colouring just means
substituting a different chord for the next one around the cycle, and then resuming.
In Part VIII More Things to Think About we suggest that Giant Steps is a board game. But from the time
equal temperament was introduced, the cycle has been the best board game in town if you use harmony.
The more you can handle yourself adroitly on that circular surface the better.
Most cycle based progressions go forwards, of course, so that a cadence to C goes via roots D and G to get
One of the ironies, as we just saw above, of following the theoretical approach to chord sequences is that
if you get to C by the direct route, D Db C, this is supposed to be difficult. It involves what is called
Tritone Substitution and is allegedly very advanced.
On the keyboard, though, using Db here instead of G is much easier than the non-advanced version,
because you just go down to the next note. (This ease of approach was illustrated fully above when we
learned to voice straight cadences and hard chords turned out to be much easier to play than simple
All that substitution is about is using an alternative chord to the normal cycle one, but without interrupting
the flow that the normal one was participating in. It changes the colour and the angle slightly, but you are
not knocked off course, and you know it is right as soon as you hit the next chord and feel it is OK.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

Any alternative chord which works is literally a substitution, and the tritone is by no means the only or
the most common.
Bartok, who knew more about the cycle than almost anybody, drew axes on the cycle. For example, he
drew a line from C down to Gb/F#, and crossed it at right angles with a line from A to Eb. Any note you
do this from will yield the notes of a diminished arpeggio, and that is the easiest way to think of them.
Bartoks proposal was that each of the four notes thus identified could substitute for each other. And, as
we will see in a moment, this does indeed happen a lot in the sort of songs we are looking at in this book.
The most mysterious relationship is between notes at opposite ends of a given line across the cycle, e.g.
between C and F#, the tritone, so called because one end is three whole tones away from the other. This is
as far as you can get away from another note if you are going round the cycle.
The tritone was called the devil in music in medieval times, and the devils mode was the B to B mode
(Locrian) because it was the only white note mode which did not have a perfect fifth as its fifth note, it had
a flatted fifth instead. Accordingly it was not used in church music.
Bartok himself exploited the contrast in works like Bluebeards Castle, which is principally a dark work in
F#, but which ascends to C for the fifth door (Bluebeards Kingdom), full of light and life, before going
back down into the sombre gloom.
And yet....
A dominant seventh on the tritone of G is Db7, and as you have already found out it makes such a beautiful
approach to C that you know it must be very closely related to G7, or it would not work! In fact the two
most important notes in defining the chord, the III and the bVII, are exactly the same, F and B in both
chords. In Part III Just Do It above, you found that if you could use Db and G interchangeably as bass
notes, without having to change a thing in the right hand voicing. So if you are playing a tritone
substitution, only the bass player has to play a different note. (Maybe thats why it is a bassist Bird is
yelling at on the cover of Grigsons book).
Bartoks list of the substitutes for a dominant seventh leading to C is G Bb Db and E (the notes of a G
diminished arpeggio).
Dominant seventh chords on each of these roots are to be found in ordinary songs resolving to C. That is,
they go where the G7 that ought to have been played was going to go, but via the substitution detour.
Refer to Part V A Kit of LEGO Bricks to Build Songs With for a more examples.
Bb7 to C. This is the Yardbird Cadence we meet in Part V A Kit of LEGO Bricks to Build Songs With.
Db7 to C. The fancy nearly there.
E7 to C. This is much less common, and if you spot any more examples please let me know. The most
well known is in Mal Waldrons Soul Eyes, where the end of the A section is C7+9, which resolves
beautifully to Ab major on the first bar of the B section.
Seeing these alternatives as ordinary also lets us understand easily the often quoted statement from John
Coltrane about his three on one chord approach. Trane said I could stack up chords - say on a C7, I
sometimes superimposed an E-flat 7 up to an F-sharp 7, down to an F. That way I could play three chords
on one. We have just seen that C7, Eb7, Gb7 (F#7) and A7 are all normal and interchangeable dominants,
leading to F. All (all!!) that Trane did was to play three of them at once, instead of just one.
Reverse cycle movement. Cadences which resolve anti-clockwise are called plagal cadences in WEAM,
and usually amen cadences by jazz musicians. They have a hymn-like sound and are usually either just
the plain major or minor triad, e.g. F A C, or F Ab C, leading to C.
Songs only rarely use these directly, but in substituted form, as dominant seventh chords, they turn up a lot.
Bartoks compass points for an F (and I choose F because in the example I want to get to C), are F Ab B D.
In practice the only one I have come across is the simple tritone substitution for an amen cadence, namely
the Rainbow Cadence, discussed further in Part V A Kit of LEGO Bricks to Build Songs With..
(If you find any more in the repertoire please let me know. Due acknowledgement will be made in
upcoming editions of this book). This cadence starts with the real dominant played as a major chord.
Then it approaches the resolution via a dominant seventh on the VII of the resolution.

The Transition From Playing To Listening

So the form of a rainbow cadence to C is:



Compare this with the amen cadence we get at the end of a soul blues.


Sweet Substitutes: a Summary

While a promised resolution is underway, as opposed to a join, which jumps from a resolved chord to the
beginning of a new construction, there are many possibilities as to what the next root may be. In looking
over any set of changes, try to spot the difference between a real change of direction, with the old
abandoned, and no change of direction, just a substitution to vary the colour.
In the section above What is going to happen next? we saw that a diminished chord could resolve to
anywhere and still sound believable.
In the Substitution section above we saw that a chord on C can be preceded by chords on any of these roots:
G Bb Db E (the conventional dominant seventh and its substitutes).
F Ab B D (the IV in an Amen cadence, and its substitutes).
So mixing and matching, we can come from or go to any note on a chord by chord basis. This is of course
what George Russell meant when he said that in a tuning system like ours, nothing was totally wrong. The
trick is to spot the skeleton of the path being taken, and not be thrown.

Summary And Further Reading Suggestions

This section has been designed to get you started in a practical way, so that you have the ability and
confidence to develop your knowledge and your ability to try out things on a keyboard. Even if you dont
play one, you can think of your keyboard as a calculator: you hit a few keys in order to solve problems.
If you want to take it further, the JAZZWISE catalogue has lots of products which might interest you.
Several of the Aebersold playalongs have had the piano parts transcribed, for instance. And there are some
excellent general books about jazz keyboard. I particularly like Jerry Cokers Jazz Keyboard, and Dan
Haerles Jazz/Rock Voicings for the Contemporary Keyboard Player.