Hal Galper & Chord Tone Illusion
I’m going to pay for this in the morning. Its 4 AM. I should have been sleeping hours ago. Instead, I worked, watched some videos and practiced bass. Now, I’m blogging.
So, my cousin came by today with his daughter. She’s around a year older than Ella, has teeth, can say some words and runs around. I got in from work with just enough time to spend about 90 mins with them before they had to go. So, anyhow, he plays piano, and his daughter played with the ukulele I got for Ella a bit. We got to talking and I told him about the Hal Galper videos I’d seen a while ago on Youtube. I ended up sending him the links, and tonight I watched them all again while I ran root-5th-8th exercises.
So, I get through his Technique – Part 2 video again, and towards the end (starting somewhere between 7:00 and 7:30) he starts talking about “let the melody be your guide” and plays something melodic after complaining that we’ve been conditioned to hear a certain way and that chord-scale patterns have become a crutch that we use to fake improvisation. Go listen to it and then come back.
Ok. So, he plays this rhythmic pattern and then deconstructs it to show how its actually an illusion based on 4-note patterns that land on chord tones. I thought that I understood what he was saying, although I don’t have the coordination or conditioning to do a lot with it yet, so I put it to an abbreviated test. Try this:
Get into a position to play a major scale. I did it on the D (5th fret)of the A string. Play a triad and octave, just to quickly get the sound in your head.
Then – play the note BEFORE each of the chord tones followed by each chord tone.
So, do this: [note before the root – root], [note before the 3rd – 3rd], [note before the 5th – 5th], [note before the octave – octave]
It sounds like something. He was right! Landing on the chord tones does make it sound like there’s something melodic being played. Because there are 8 notes being played, it actually sounds like some kind of eastern scale to me. For all I know, I did inadvertently play a scale I’m not acquainted with yet.
Then, step it up. Play the note before each chord tone 3x and then the chord tone. Maybe do triplets and then land on the chord tone. It still sounds like something musical! I know that Hal says that its illusory, but to me, its still fun to play, and its also a fun exercise.
After I’ve looked at this with a clear head, I’m going to have to approach the Talkbass folks and see if they have any theory information to divulge about this. I don’t know if these are chromatic tones, or non-scale tones, or leading tones, or something else altogether, but its a fun sound to explore. Its also interesting what sleep deprivation makes the mind latch onto in the wee hours. I did just notice, after writing this out, that that last note before the octave in those patterns is actually a chord tone. I didn’t realize it was the 7th when I was playing it. Rawr.
Here are links to some other stuff from Hal that I posted about at the beginning of last year: