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AABA Jazz Song Incremental Post (Intro)

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Hello! it has been a while since I've posted something on this site. I want to get the ball rolling again so here is a jazz song in AABA form that I have been working on.

Now, I feel as though it may be profitable for myself to post the song/arrangement in increments so that I don't rush the song as a whole and can get detailed feedback on all the content in each section (the principle of focus and fragmentation I guess :P)

First of all I am going to post the introduction of the song. (Hence this post)

I will provide a lead sheet of the melody/harmony for the rest of the song and a score for the current section I am writing. In other words I think I have written the melody and harmony out sufficiently I just need to arrange it with voicings and counterpoint, etc.

With regards to this intro I feel as though my first 8 measures of the intro are interesting with the basic but effective counterpoint and the harmony that flows with it. I am going for a sustained intro that doesn't have support of the hypothetical rhythm section. I'm thinking of adding the rhythm section after the intro ends which I feel is typical and effective in jazz arrangements.

My gut tells me that in the second half of the intro the texture spaces out more with practically no counterpoint but I feel it maintains its drive through the concerted/block harmonies. I would gladly appreciate comments on the voice-leading as I am still learning/practicing this. 

Feel free to prove me wrong and tell me things other than what I am thinking about the piece as I would love for this piece to grow into the next "The Shadow of Your Smile" or "Stella by Starlight", etc.


Edited by MrLernerAndLoewe
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Hi there;

First off, some of those chords are deathly hard to play without rolling them; the right hand can only cover so much. I know you'll find a way around that so I'm not too concerned.

The other thing is that these intros... since they're essentially taking the role of the soloist, here... should always feel like they're moving unless pausing for dramatic effect. Yours seems like it only moves around one melody line with a lot of pauses for big chords, which I would advise against. 

In regards to voice leading, you seem to be doing okay. Maybe on your big chords maybe not *everything* should up chromatically, like some contrary motion could be really nice there, especially if you're aiming for something like "Stella by Starlight" (I prefer Rhapsody in Blue for this analogy personally; Gershwin does great contrary motion in that one).

It does sound pretty nice, but is maybe a little bit too broken up to be really focused as an intro. 

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Taking a look at the lead sheet (vocal part) I'd like to make two suggestions:

1. The chord progression is totally standard: diatonic and some secondary IIm - V7 patterns. Perhaps some different chord in any point of tension, would be great. A chord borrowd from other mode. Surely you wont have to change the melody shape, only find chords taht fit. A simple example: the very last chord Db6 can be substituted for Dbdim7 - Db6.

2. The melody is basically constructed in two motives that repeat and repeat. In the first part is:

Captura de pantalla 2016-09-03 a las 11.28.29.jpg

And in the second part:

Captura de pantalla 2016-09-03 a las 11.37.20.jpg


I think, particularly for a vocal part, is good some kind of variation in me melody line.

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Thanks for the replies guys!


With regards to the chord practicality I am writing this score as a sketch for an ensemble of brass, woodwinds, etc. So I wasn't necessarily thinking about the piano's ability to play the large voicings on the score. I am not a terrific piano player anyways. But I do understand that yes those voicings are difficult to play especially with the tenths in the left hand and the sprawling doubled lead voicings in the right hand.

With regards to adding more motion. I'm thinking of changing the inner voices a little more by either changing the disposition  to allow for more motion or by adding another contrapuntal line. Does this sound like a good solution? I don't want to add the oom-pah (stride) rhythm because it would detract from the  sustained texture I want for the intro.

@Luis Hernández

Thanks for the input as well. I remember you from your post on my lullaby piano piece and must say you are usually pretty thorough with your reviews :)

When you're saying the progression is standard I understand what you're saying how there is just many secondary II-V tonicizations. From my understanding of your post it sounds like I need to reharmonize the chord progression with more colors and motion (as suggested by the other reviewer).

Maybe the harmonic rhythm should be more active (a chord every two beats) rather than the current chord for two bars then two chords for two bars. Would this solve the lack of motion and variety?

With regards to the lack of variety in the melodic line I wrote the ascending sequences as a tension builder into bar 11 where the variety starts to appear.



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Guys like Richard Rogers and Jerome Kern made the intro an art form unto itself, so I admire your courage. There is not much room to hide, if any. But it sounds like you're off to a good start with the chord progression. However, I will contradict myself and say that intros are more about writing simple gestures that set the mood, usually with orchestration. I am thinking of I Could Write a Book, for example, or even Stella By Starlight (Frank Sanatra). They both lack a discernible melody. It would seem a shame to waste a good chord progression on the intro. It should only be a teaser so that when you get to the verse you say, all right, this is what I want!

But to address the chord progression that you have, you might try GbM7 for the third beat of the first bar, which would give the melody a little more motion, followed by Bbm7 for bar 2. Bar 8 is a somewhat wasted opportunity because the chord doesn't change at all and it probably should. In that vein you could try changing a chord twice in the same measure, here and there. And in general, never use chords that don't have a seventh, whether it's minor, major, dominant or altered. This is something a jazz pianist once taught me, and I pass it onto you.

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