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Mr. Goodchord Goes Keyboard, Part 2


by Mitch Haupers

Break down harmonic walls! Make melodic leaps over imposing chord structures! Now we follow this potent voice leading system into quartal territory

r. Goodchords back! In the first part of this series (Sept . 0 3 ) , we introduced you to Mr. Goodchord and the fact that his Mr. Goodchords Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the Year 2001 and Beyond is not just for guitarists anymore. We applied the system to triad-based materials (tri ad s ,s evenths, and hybrid voicings). This time around, well dig into quartal (voicings built in fourths) and cluster voicings (voicings built in seconds), and give you a glimpse of the rich world of chords and lines available when you apply Mr. Goodchords voice leading to these somewhat ambiguous and beguiling sounds. Well also give you two exploratory voice leading lessons, one from Yellowjackets keyboardist and composer Russ Ferrante, and another from Boston-based pianist and composer Vardan Ovsepian. Mr. Goodchord (a.k.a Mick Goodrick, jazz guitarist) insists that his two (soon to be three)-volume set is not a method book. In fact, he thinks of these volumes as non-method books. The books supply every possible voicing and every possible way of moving it within the three scales we use, and let you explore the material to your hearts content. Its natural to want to jump into this material and play the chord structures harmonically. But dont forget to arpeggiate it, too. Your melodic development will be enhanced, and it will give a sense of harmonic continuity to your lines and soloing. To get used to these newer-sounding four-part chord families, pick any two voices and play them through the cycl e ,t h en pick another combination of two voices and do it aga i n .E ach four-part chord has six possible combinations of two voices. Breaking the four-part chords down will help you to understand the intervals of the chords,as well as to hear the individual lines within the progression and how they relate to each other. After you work with this voice leading material for a while,youll see that chord families can be viewed as different ways of experiencing the scale from which they arose. For example, if you play through all the

Mr. Goodchords Keyboard Chord Decoder: Whats with all these Ds and DDs?
Just as he or she would do with a seventh chord, an arranger will look at a four-part quartal chord in close voicing (4WC, or four-way close voicing) and theyll number the notes, in their mind, from top to bottom regardless of the inversion. Here we have a four-part quartal chord in root position (a), first inversion (b), second inversion (c), and third inversion (d). Note that the numbers next to the chords refer only to the note order from top to bottom; no functional or intervallic information is implied.
1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4 1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

With the chord tones numbered, arrangers will take certain notes and drop them down an octave (D) or two octaves (DD).With any of the inversions shown here, you can take the second note from the top and drop it an octave, and youll have a drop 2 voicing (D2). If you take the third note down an octave, its a Drop 3 (D3). You can drop more than one note at a time. See Example 1 for more examples.

four-part chord families of C major/D2 in the following order: sevenths, TBN 1 (triad over bass note 1; G over C), TBN 2 (triad over bass note 2; Bdim over C), four-part quartal voicings, and then spread clusters, you may feel more familiar with the sounds of the first two families (sevenths and TBN1). Once you work with the material for some time, youll soon realize theyre all just the C major scale. Youll notice that we offer very few chord names here. The reason is that the names one might use get complicated (Cmaj9, no5th, for example). With these particular voicings, names could easily tend to limit how they can be used. They revolve around structures of fourths and seconds,and theyre more ambiguous sounding than the structures based on thirds.And
ILLUSTRATION 2003 RICK EBERLY

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in many cases, theyre more flexible in terms of their multiple functions. The type of voice leading we use here is called disjunct. The roots are not always in the lowest voice of the chord, and the principles of economy of motion apply, meaning that stepwise and small leaps to the nearest chord tone in the next chord are the general rule. Youll see how this gets really interesting when we get into the lessons from Vardan Ovsepian and Russ Ferrante. This type of voice leading sounds very different than parallel motion or running a constant structure through a scale. One isnt better than the other, or even more important to learn. Theyre equally useful. By their nature, quartal chords are made up of fourth intervals, whereas cluster chords are built of seconds. This certainly is evident in D2 voicings in four-part quartal voicings and four-way close voicings in spread clusters (see Mr. Goodchords Keyboard Chord Decoder: Whats with all these Ds and DDs? on page 50). If you havent played these much before ,t h ey can sound vague and disson a n t ,m aybe even a bit confusing. One of the great insights you can gain with this voice leading approach is that, depending on the inversion, four-part quartal voicings and spread clusters can sound almost consonant by vir tue of the vertical order of intervals. Give Examples 18 a try. Vardan Ovsepian hails from Armenia and has applied his classical training to his composing, improvising, and jazz playing. His first record,

Abandoned Wheel (Fresh Sound), explores the contrapuntal possibilities of solo piano; keeping both hands in motion, he avoids the clich sound of a comping left hand under a soloing right hand. He delves into this more traditional approach to the keyboard on his second record with quartet, Sketch Book (Fresh Sound) but he applies his own interpretation of the Mr. Goodchord materials. See Examples 814. Russell Ferrante needs no introduction in this magazine. As the keyboardist/composer/co-founder of the world-renowned band, Yellowjackets, Russ is known for his heartfelt solos, adventurous writing and his signature voicings. One of the keys to Russells great voicings is his ability to create unique sonorities from simple structures. His voicing rule of thumb is to try and build chords with no doublings. For brainstorming ideas, playing ballads,and coming up with those expressive orchestral intros, this disciplined approach is well worth exploring. Examples 1519 show exercises that Russ has devel oped after spending some time with the Mr. Goodchord voice leading material. Clearly, voice-leading is his language,something he excels in; just listen to his tunes and solos. Its inspiring that even seasoned pros are getting new insights from and are finding uses for this information.Enjoy the time you spend working with Mr. Goodchord and look for another installment in the near future.k

Ex .1 . Each of these takes a particular inversion of a close-voiced four-part quartal chord and redistributes the notes in a particular way. In 1a, we take the second note from the top and drop it down an octave for a drop 2 (D2 for short). In 1b, take the third note from the top and drop it an octave; this is drop 3 (D3). Drop the second and third notes in 1c down an octave to get a drop 2 and 3 voicing (D2&3). In 1d,drop the second and fourth notes for a drop 2 and 4 (D2&4). And finally, in 1e,drop the second note two octaves and the third note one octave for a double-drop 2,drop 3 (DD2D3). Note how I used different inversions in the close-voiced chords, yet I ended up with C in the bass for every drop voicing.The trick is to know which close-position chord in which drop voicing will put the note you want in the bass.
a) 1 2 3 4 b) 1 2 3 4 c) 1 2 3 4 d) e) 1 2 3 4

1 2 3 4

Ex .2 . This gives you an idea of how you can take a quartal voicing through each of the cycles. Each measure contains the first three chords of one cycl e .S e e if you can complete each chord cycle by referring to the complete cycles as spelled out in the September issue. Here were taking a close-voiced three-part quartal voicing through all the cycles of C melodic minor.
a) b) c) d) e) f)

cycle 2

cycle 4

cycle 6

cycle 7

cycle 5

cycle 3

Ex .3 . Here we take three-part fifth chords (the spread counterpart of three-part quartal chords) through the first three chords in the cycles in C melodic minor.
a) b) c) d) e) f)

cycle 2

cycle 4

cycle 6

cycle 7

cycle 5

cycle 3

Ex .4 . Here we take three-part quartal voicings (spread) through cycle 2 in C major, using the Mr. Goodchord Universal Notation System, in which the arrows represent direction of movement between voices (either up or down). The dashes represent common tones between two adjacent chord tones that dont move. The vertical stacks of note names are the chord structures. Once youve been through it a couple times, play through it over a D or A pedal point. This will put you in D dorian mode, and since there arent any avoid notes in dorian, pretty much anything and everything you play will work very nicely. Arpeggiate the quartal voicings to come up with some really cool melodies.
n n

D G C

D E A

B E F

G C F

G A D

E A B

C F B

C D G

A D E

F B E

F G C

D G A

B E A

B C F

G C D

E A D

E F B

C F G

A D G

A B E

F B C

n n

Excerpts copyright 2003 by Mr. Goodchord Publications from Mr. Goodchords Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the Year 2001 and Beyond. All rights reserved. Used by permission. w w w. k e y b o a r dm a g. c om J A N U A RY 2 0 04 K E Y B OA R D

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Mr. Goodchord Ex .5 . Here the scale is C melodic minor, were using four-part quartal chords in drop 2 voicing, and were taking the voicings through cycle 2. 5b shows you the same progression in standard notation,using the most basic rhythm. Note that common tones between chords can be re-played,as between bar lines here, or they can be held, as with the lower notes within each bar. Eb B F C D G F C D G Eb A B F Eb A B F C G A D C G A D B Eb

Ex .6 . This example shows a drop 2 four-part quartal voicing moving through cycle 4 of the C melodic minor scale. The repeat signs surrounding the voice leading work the same way as they do in ordinary music notation simply repeat what is between them. This is in long form, which means you have to play through the cycle a number of times before you arrive at the original voicing you started with. This may be two, three, or even four times through, depending on the chord type and cycle.
n n

Eb B F C

Eb A F B

D A Eb B

D G Eb A

C G D A

C F D G

B F C G

B Eb C F

A Eb B F

A D B Eb

G D A Eb

G C A D

F C G D

F B G C

n n

Ex. 7. Enough theory for the momen t .T h e se voicing types show up in the real world al the time. In fact, theyre quite similar to the kind of things McCoy Tyner plays, such as these voicings similar to those in the last two bars of I Wish I Knew, from John Coltranes, Ballads (MCA). In 7a, note that his quar tal voicings move through the scale in parallel motion so that the cycle 2 motion ascends with the root always in the bass, as you would predict. Also, look at the complicated chord symbols needed to describe the quartal voicings. Now check out the alternative voicing in 7b. The notes are the same, but the voic ing is different, which completely alters the sound of the progression. In 7c, we use three-part fifths. In 7d, we use disjunct voice leading.

Ex .8 . Heres another cool real world example. Keyboardist/composer Russell Ferrante describes the idea behind his voicing choice in this excerpt from Coal Minor Blues as sixths collapsing into fourths. Its interesting that the first chord is a spread cluster (G,A, Bb, C) and the second is a four-part quartal voicing (Eb, Ab, Db, Gb), yet both are functioning as I major and I minor, respectively, as this is over an Eb pedal. Russ will have more to say a little later.

Ex .9 . This is an excerpt from the head to Rooms, which is on Vardan Ovsepians CD Sketch Book (Fresh Sound). He makes extensive use of Mr. Goodchord voicings in it. The first four bars are three-part quartal voicings superimposed over fifths, which creates minor elevenths over cycle 5.
1

Fm7,11

Cm7 13

Gm7,11

Dm7 13

Am7,11

Em7 13

Bm11

Excerpts copyright 2003 by Mr. Goodchord Publications from Mr. Goodchords Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the Year 2001 and Beyond. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Mr. Goodchord Ex.10.This example shows D2 spread clusters moving through cycle 2 of the C major scale.This example led pianist Vardan Ovsepian to discover that the motion of voice leading is as important as the actual pitches in the chart.These spread clusters can be seen as combinations of alternating thirds and sixths, shown in shades of blue in the first two chords. Using the same motion, Vardan substitutes different intervals in the right and left hands as well as introducing modulations away from the diatonic scale to come up with interesting voice leading variations, which youll find in the subsequent examples. E C B D F A G E D B A C E G F D C A G B D F E C B G F A C E D B A F E G B D C A G E D F A C B G F D C E G B A F

n n

n n

Ex.11.This variation uses alternating fifth and second intervals in the same motion as Example 9. In this case, we get the same triad twice over different bass notes.
C/F C/D Bdim/E Bdim/C Am/D Am/B G/C G/A F/B F/G Em/A Em/F Dm/G Dm/E

Ex. 12. Here the same voicings are played down a whole step each bar, and still results in the same triad twice over different bass notes.
C/F C/D B /E B /C A /D A /B F /B F /G E/A E/F D/G D/E

Ex. 13. Based on Example 11, in this progression Vardan makes every other chord minor.
C/F Cm/D B /E B m/C A /D A m/B F /B F m/G E/A Em/F D/G Dm/E

Ex. 14. In this variation, Vardan makes the intervals of the left hand (seconds and fourths) different from those in the right hand (thirds and sixths).
C/F Em/A Bdim/E Dm/G Am/D C/F G/C Bdim/E F/B Am/D Em/A G/C Dm/G F/B

Excerpts copyright 2003 by Mr. Goodchord Publications from Mr. Goodchords Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the Year 2001 and Beyond. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Mr. Goodchord Ex .1 5 . Russell Ferrante of the Yellowjackets has always been adventurous when it comes to voicings. But hes also one of the many top players who have embraced Mr. Goodchord, and who have applied their own creativity to the material. Here is a hybrid of cycles 3 and 6, using close three-part quartal voicings.

Ex. 16. This example uses the same voice leading as Example 15, but Russell shifts between C and Db every two chords.

Ex. 17. Russells always looking for interesting ways to approach melody; heres how he plays Example 16 as a melodic exercise.
3 3 3 3 3

Ex .1 8 . Polytonality and polychords are favorite techniques for Russell. Here he takes three-part quartal voicings in cycle 6, C major, in the right hand and superimposes them over a descending bass line in Ab (a) and E (b).
a) b)

etc.

etc.

Excerpts copyright 2003 by Mr. Goodchord Publications from Mr. Goodchords Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the Year 2001 and Beyond. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

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Mr. Goodchord Ex.19.This is the intro to Russells tune, Coal Minor Blues, which appears on the Yellowjackets Blue Hats CD. This is a great example of how Russell combines seventh-chord voicings and quartal voicings, and how he uses passing tones.
Intro 1

Coal Minor Blues, written by Russell Ferrante. 1997 Teeth Music,LaViera Music, and Kalabash Music. All rights reserved. Used by permission. Excerpts copyright 2003 by Mr. Goodchord Publications from Mr. Goodchords Almanac of Guitar Voice-Leading for the Year 2001 and Beyond. All rights reserved. Used by permission.

Mitch Haupers is the managing partner of Mr. Goodchord Publications (www.mrgoodchord.com) and an Associate Professor at Berklee College of Music (www.berklee.edu/news/2001/02/mhaupers.html).

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