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The ABCs of Bebop Ornamentation By Greg Fishman Have you ever listened to a classic recording of Charlie Parker, Sonny

Stitt, Cannonball Adderley or Dizzy Gillespie and wondered just what to call those fast extra notes they're adding to their eighthnote lines? Those notes are called ornaments. Bebop is a highly ornamented style of music. The "ornaments" are usually sixteenth-notes or sixteenth-note triplets within a line of mostly eighth-notes. They add a polished, sophisticated quality to the lines. The ornaments can be embedded within the line or sometimes used as a pickup to an eighth-note line. In this article, I'll discuss ways to incorporate these ornaments into your own improvised lines. CHRISTMAS TREES When I hear the word ornament, I immediately think of the colorful decorations used to hang on Christmas trees. Ornaments come in a wide variety of materials, shapes and colors. For example, some are glass, while others are plastic. Some are shaped like a ball, while others are shaped like stars or animals. Ornaments come in all different sizes and colors. The size, shape and style of the ornaments you'll use to decorate your tree will depend on your personal taste. For example, some people like lots of ornaments all over the tree. In this case, the primary focus for those viewing the tree is the ornaments. Others go for a less is more approach, using just a few ornaments, (or none) and choosing to place the visual focus on the beauty of the tree itself. Of course, the trick is to strike just the right balance between the tree and the ornaments. If there are too few ornaments, the tree looks too plain. If there are too many ornaments, the display can look gaudy. EACH PHRASE IS A BRANCH Why all the talk about Christmas trees? Just as ornaments can decorate the branches of a Christmas tree, musical ornaments decorate the branches of your musical phrases. Think of each phrase in your solo as a branch on a tree. You decide how you'd like to decorate that branch. If you want to draw someone's attention to that particular branch, you'll decorate that branch with lots of ornaments. However, not all lines need ornaments. Sometimes the beauty of the line will stand on its own, with no need for ornamentation. At other times, you might want to add some ornamentation to give the line a little bit of rhythmic sparkle. THE VISUAL CHRISTMAS TREE Try this experiment: Look at a Charlie Parker transcription (from the Charlie Parker Omnibook) from a purely visual perspective, and imagine the eighth-notes to be branches on a tree. Whenever you see the number 3 which denotes triplets, or if you see anywhere from two up to six sixteenthnotes within a line of eighth-notes, those represent the ornaments on the branches. Often, the

triplets and sixteenth-notes are next to each other. This approach will let you visually scan the solo and observe where the ornaments are located. To take the visual perspective a step further, take three colored pencils; red, green and gold. First, circle all of the triplets and short groupings of sixteenth-notes with the red pencil. Next, lightly color in the circles with the red pencil. This is a visual representation of an ornament. Next, lightly shade all of the eighth-notes with the green pencil. This is a visual representation of a tree branch. If you see long streams of sixteenth-notes, lightly color them with the gold pencil. When a musician plays these longs streams of sixteenth-notes, it's called playing in double-time. (While double-time playing is beyond the scope of this article, it's an important part of the bebop language, and it will be the subject of a future article.) Double-time playing is brimming with energy. It's almost like an electric current running through the notes, because they're going by so quickly. Color all of the double-time portions of the solos with the gold pencil. This will represent the electric lights on the Christmas tree. Hold the solo at arm's length, and look only at the colorsyou have green branches, red ornaments and gold lights. Try this for a few solos of different players, and you'll quickly see where the ornaments are placed, and you'll have an idea of just how many to use, and where to put them. WHAT ARE ORNAMENTS IN THE TRADITIONAL MUSICAL SENSE? In the world of classical music, ornamentation was used most extensively in music from the Baroque period (1600 - 1750). Baroque ornamentation includes trills, mordents, turns and appoggiaturas as well as glissandi. Listen to any music by Bach, Vivaldi or Telemann, and you'll hear lots of ornaments as they were used in this period. FAST-FORWARD 200 YEARS Let's time-travel about 200 years past the end of the Baroque period, to the year 1950. Bebop started around 1945 or so, and by 1950, many elements of the bebop style were firmly established. Take the ornamentation from the year 1750 and apply it to the conventions of 1950s bebop, and you end up with improvised lines that have the excitement of spontaneity combined with the intricate details of a carefully composed piece of music. I'm not suggesting that ornaments weren't used by the swing and traditional players. Swing-era musicians also used ornaments, but the bebop musicians put more emphasis on them. I feel that there were two primary reasons for this: bebop players introduced faster rhythmic elements into the music as a result of the virtuosic technique of its top practitioners, such as Charlie Parker and Dizzy Gillespie. Also, bebop players favored more chromaticism than the swing-era players, and the ornaments often injected quick bursts of chromatic flavor into a phrase without inhibiting the natural flow of the line. THE BEBOP MORDENT The mordent is one of the most common types of ornament used in bebop. A mordent is a rapid, single alternation between an indicated note and the note above. In classical music, a mordent is often indicated by a short, squiggly line above the written note. There are upper and lower mordents. To create an upper mordent, play the written note and then play a note a half-step (or

whole-step) above the written note, before returning to the original note. To create a lower mordent, play the written note and then play a note a half-step (or whole-step) below the written note before returning to the written note. In the bebop style, the upper mordent is more common. Examine Dizzy Gillespie's well-known bebop composition, Groovin' High, for some great examples of the bebop mordent. Measure nine contains two eighth-notes on beat one. Measure ten is a variation on measure nine, using a mordent. This is an excellent example of the contrast between the pure melody and the ornamental version of the melody. Also, look at the fourth beat of measure sixteen in Groovin' High for another example of a mordent. There are four sixteenth-notes on beat four, and the second and third sixteenth-notes represent the mordent. If you remove those notes and play the first and fourth sixteenth-notes, you'll hear the main melody notes without the ornamentation. SUDDEN SIXTEENTHS For lack of a better name, I simply labeled this device the way I see it and hear it. When you have a line of eighth-notes, and suddenly the note values switch to sixteenth-notes just for two notes, and then revert back to eighth-notes, I refer to these sixteenth-notes sudden sixteenths. An excellent example of this device can be seen in Miles Davis' composition, Half Nelson. Look at the first two measures of the tune. Davis uses the sudden sixteenth device on the upbeat of beat three in the first measure of the tune, and on the upbeat of beat one in the second measure of the tune. Sometimes the sudden sixteenths can occur as pickup-notes, rather than in a moving eighth-note line. Again, let's look at Davis' Half Nelson. In the fourth measure, on the upbeat of beat three, Davis uses the sudden sixteenths as freestanding pickup notes to the new phrase. THE TRIPLET ORNAMENT One of the hallmarks of the bebop style involves placing an eighth-note triplet on a downbeat, preceded by an eighth-note, which occurs on an offbeat. The triplet generates rhythmic momentum which gives the line a feeling of forward motion. Check out beat one of the first measure of Dizzy Gillespie's A Night in Tunisia. It has an eighth-note pickup (on the upbeat of beat four) and then an eighth-note triplet. Charlie Parker's Scrapple From the Apple uses a triplet ornament on beat two of the third measure, and Parker's Dewey Square uses a triplet ornament on beat four in the first measure. COMPARING THE TRIPLET ORNAMENT WITH THE BEBOP MORDENT At this point, you might be wondering why the triplet ornament isn't considered a bebop mordent. After all, both employ triplets. However, the triplet ornament usually has the rhythmic value of an eighth-note triplet, while the bebop mordent uses sixteenth-note triplets. Another key difference is that the bebop mordent is limited in range. It usually moves the distance of a half-step or whole-step above or below the original note in the phrase to which the mordent is being applied before reverting back to the first note. An easy way to think of it would be to remember that the third note in the mordent must be the same as the first note.

By contrast, the triplet ornament can contain notes with larger intervallic leaps. Thirds are most common when using the triplet ornament, but the notes of the triplet can be any interval. THE GRACE NOTE ORNAMENT Perhaps the easiest to play from a technical standpoint, the grace note is a very effective way to dress up a plain line of eighth-notes. Sometimes the grace note is simply placed in front of the first note of a phrase. However, it is also effective to add grace notes in the middle of a moving eighthnote line. In addition, grace notes are commonly used to add character to longer rhythmic-value notes, such as half-notes and whole notes, especially when playing a ballad. THE GLISSANDO ORNAMENT Glissandi can fill in very wide melodic leaps with splashes of harmonic color. The glissando is a colorful way of going from one note to another. They're usually chromatic, though they can sometimes be diatonic. Depending on the level of detail on a written part, each note in the glissando can be notated, but often, it's simply represented by a wavy line between two notes. Glissandi are especially effective when playing ballads. For a great example of glissandi in action, listen to John Coltrane's recording of Guy Wood and Robert Mellin's My One and Only Love, from the classic album, John Coltrane & Johnny Hartman. PORTAMENTO The Portamento is similar in character to a glissando, but the pitches are not distinct; they're in constant ascending or descending motion between a starting pitch and an ending pitch. The clarinet introduction to Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue is a famous example of a portamento. Although portamenti can be played on clarinet, saxophone and trumpet, trombones and non-fretted string instruments are idiomatically better suited to playing portamenti. So, what's the difference between a glissando and a portamento? Johnny Hodges playing a ballad, for example, with a long scoop up to a note, represents a portamento; John Coltrane's ballad playing represents the use of glissandi. WHERE DO THE ORNAMENTS OCCUR? Ornaments can be used in the beginning, middle or end of an eighth-note line. Sometimes they're used as a pickup to an eighth-note line. Although ornaments are most commonly used in the beginning or middle of a line, they can be used anywhere you'd like to draw attention to the rhythmic detail of the phrase. While ornaments are usually used in conjunction with eighth-note lines, it is possible to use them with longer value notes, such as using grace note ornaments with half-notes or whole-notes. MORE TUNES FEATURING ORNAMENTS Many tunes from the bebop era feature ornaments as an integral part of the melody. Check out Clifford Brown's Joy Spring, Lee Morgan's Ceora, Tadd Dameron's Hot House, Charlie Parker's Confirmation and the bridge of Duke Jordan's Jordu.

THE EXAMPLES I have created a set of detailed musical examples which demonstrate the bebop ornaments as they're commonly used. Please note that the music examples use the label Original Phrase to denote the phrase before the application of ornamentation. The applications of the various ornaments are marked with letters after the numbers, such as: 1A, 2B, 3A, etc.

Examples 1A - 1C Example number one demonstrates the use of the bebop mordent, one of the most common of all bebop ornaments. The first two measures of Example 1 show a phrase with no ornamentation. Note that there are three different rhythmic versions of the mordent. Example 1A shows the ornament as four sixteenth-notes. Example 1B shows the ornament as a sixteenth-note triplet followed by an

eighth-note, and Example 1C shows the ornament as an eighth-note followed by a sixteenth-note triplet. It is important to play each of these examples and notice the different effects produced by the slight variations in rhythm. Each of these variations has a distinct feeling, and it's important to hear the ornament not just as a group of fast notes, but as a specific rhythmic grouping of the notes that will best convey your musical intent. Examples 2A - 2C This example demonstrates the same ornament as Example 1, but with the mordent applied to the second beat of the phrase instead of the first. Play through examples one and two and note the different effect the ornament has on the phrase when placed on the second beat. Examples 3A - 3C This example also demonstrates the bebop mordent used in Example 1, but places the ornament on the fourth beat of the measure. Examples 4A - 4D Example 4A uses the ornament on beats two and four of the measure, leaving beat three with the eighth-notes. Example 4B uses the ornaments on beats three and four, leaving beat two with the eighth-notes from the original phrase. It is interesting to note that the use of two ornaments in the same measure, (as in the above examples 4A and 4B), cause the non-ornamented notes in that measure to actually stand out as having a heightened melodic quality. This is in contrast to the use of just one ornament in the measure, which draws the listener's attention to the portion of the measure with the ornament. Example 4C uses the ornament on each beat of the phrase. Example 4D uses three different rhythms for the ornament. Play example 4C and then play example 4D. Notice the subtle differences in the effect of the ornament with the varied rhythms.

Examples 5A - 5H Examples 5A - 5H demonstrate the use of sudden sixteenth-notes applied to the original phrase. It is important to note that it is common practice for the sudden sixteenth- notes to occur on the upbeat (as in 5A and 5C). However, there are some occasions where the sudden sixteenths may occur on downbeats. I've listed them all here for the sake of completeness.

Examples 5I - 5J These examples demonstrate the sudden sixteenth-notes applied to the first two notes of the phrase. I've included multiple versions starting on the upbeats of one, two, three and four. Notice the different effect the ornament has when starting on different beats in the measure. Example 5K Example 5K demonstrates the use of the sudden sixteenth-notes as pickup notes to the original phrase. Notice that the previous examples all applied the ornament to the notes of the phrase itself. The difference with Example 5K versus Example 5G, aside from the fact that the ornament is approaching from below the original phrase, is that the ornamental notes are not included in the original phrase. This is a subtle but important point to remember; ornaments sometimes are applied to existing notes in a phrase or lick, and at other times, all notes in the original phrase or lick remain intact, and the ornamental notes are new notes which did not occur in the original phrase. This is especially common in the case of the ornament acting as a pickup to the phrase. Example 5L Example 5L is similar to 5K, except that the sudden sixteenth-notes are triplets, and they're approaching the original phrase chromatically from above the 'B' natural on beat two, while in Example 5L, the sudden sixteenth-notes are approaching the 'B' natural on beat two from below. Example 5M - 5N Examples 5M - 5N demonstrate the use of the sudden sixteenth-notes in groupings of four notes, rather than two notes. This is a great way to imply a double-time feel, or to indicate to the rhythm section that you're about to go into double-time.

Examples 6A - 6C These examples demonstrate the use of the Triplet Ornament. This is one of the most common ornaments in the bebop language. Compare the original phrase with Example 6A. Notice that in Example 6A, there is a pickup note a half-step below the original opening note of the phrase. This is a very common practice, and it's an effective device because it highlights the original opening note

by preceding it with a lower neighboring-tone. Example 6B demonstrates the use of the bebop mordent ornament applied to beat three of the phrase. Example 6C is a hybrid of Examples 6A and 6B. This is good example of using two different ornaments (the bebop ornament and the triplet ornament) in the same phrase. Play the original phrase and then play Example 6C, and you'll notice just how much more rhythmic energy is present in Example 6C when compared to the original. Examples 7A - 7E These examples demonstrate the use of the grace note ornament. This is one of the easiest ornaments to execute. The grace note is usually a lower neighboring tone a half-step below the note to which the ornament is being applied. However, there are some occasions where it could be a whole step. There are also some occasions where the grace note can be an upper neighboring tone. Examples 7A through 7D demonstrate the grace note applied to each note of the original phrase. Play through all of the examples and notice the effect the grace note ornament has on each note in the phrase. Example 7E demonstrates the grace note ornament applied to all four notes of the phrase. Sonny Stitt often used grace notes in this manner, especially in his early 1950s recordings. Examples 8A - 8D These examples demonstrate the use of the glissando ornament as applied to the same phrase used in Example 7. When playing the glissando, be sure and play the melody notes in time. In other words, if a note occurs on the upbeat of beat one, you can't arrive late to that note just because there's a glissando. You need to make the gliss smooth and precise, while still maintaining the original rhythm indicated by the phrase. FINAL THOUGHTS Ornaments are a great way to stylize your playing. They add a professional level of detail and polish to your improvisations. It took me many years to gain control of the ornaments. It's important to take your time and explore each ornament at your own pace. For example, you might want to start with whichever ornament appeals most to you. Try to apply the ornament to some of your musical vocabulary and notice how much sparkle and life you can bring to even your most familiar licks or patterns. Listen to one of your favorite recordings, and try to focus on nothing but the ornaments used by each soloist. I guarantee that you'll start to hear the recording in a different way than ever before, and you'll start hearing in much greater detail.

As a final suggestion, mix and match the different ornaments when improvising. Think about these different ornaments as additional variable factors in your improvisations. It will definitely keep things fresh and exciting for you, the band, and the audience.