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The Woodshed: Meat and Potatoes

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JJ Rocks Article # 204:
From St. Croix Music Magazine, Issue # 40, January, 2010
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I used to think that soloing was only a song by song mental orgasm based on a collection of ideas confined within a composition (I always get philosophical after my 2nd cup of tea in the morning). But then, I started to break it all down to the three families of harmonic thoughts. Major, minor, and dominate chords were my awakening to simplicity. I can thank guitar giant Joe Pass for that. Now I dont think about all the extensions on a chord when Im soloing. To me, the extensions of a chord are just the fill notes of a key. Its all about separating the melodic meat from the harmonic potatoes.

So here you are reading a chart, or just trying to remember your favorite tune. All of a sudden, a huge chord comes to town and the first thing you notice is that it has a long extension. Personally, I dont like long extensions. All I want to do is play with my solo without any interruptions. Hold on, am I starting to sound like a blues player? Anyway, when Im grooving on a chart that has more than only 3 chords, I have to simplify the way Im thinking before trying to solo. Thats it in a nut shell.

So if you see A 13th, just think dominate (7th). The same goes for a ninth chord or any other extensions on top of Root, 3, 5, b7. Just think dominate and add chromatic fillings with rhythmic changes when you are soloing, and that is that. The same applies to major based chords, and of course, the musical red headed stepchildren, minor chords. I dont care how many extra doo dads there are on top the chord, Im more concerned with the bottom line. I want something that I can build on while not being a slave to extravagance. Life chooses the basic steps first. So does music.

 
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