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MrLernerAndLoewe

I've Often Thought Of You - Jazz Piano

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I wrote this song precisely last year and arranged it for an orchestra for this website and now here it is in a mellower format, that of a jazz piano arrangement with a brush drum kit. I think it sounds nice overall. I had this song reviewed professionally by a multi award winning songwriter who gave me a B+ for the musical grade so enjoy! As always advice will be appreciated!

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Generally speaking, I thought this was pretty nice sounding; you know how to move jazz chords around, which is admirable. The things I noticed are listed below.

About the drum kit; drummers still accent when there's a beat change with the brushes... it just sounds like white noise in this recording.

0:08/0:25 - Having a non-swung eighth note figure (on the seventh of the chord) took me out of this a little bit.

0:34 - These holds are a little bit too long; even it was a transcription of an orchestra part, you should add chord enhancers to not have audiences get bored of two consecutive holds.

1:21 - Really? The clash between C7 and Cm7 seriously takes me out of the atmosphere you built up.

2:52 - Ending on the augmented 11th is a little weird... maybe you like it better than I do?

I also think your melody is a little bit too conservative; I wouldn't be able to sing this without getting a little bit disinterested. It's a jazzy piece! You have so many cool rhythm options at your disposal!

Congratulations on the grade, though. That's always nice to hear respected people praise your stuff.

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Thanks @Monarcheon you are such a great critic and reviewer! I'm going to respond to each of the comments with my thoughts in hopes of clearing anything up or asking any questions, etc.

1) I didn't like the sound of the swing eighths on the introduction and in general I don't like the sound of too much syncopation so maybe I guess I'm displaced among genres :( I feel that syncopation takes away the beautiful qualities of a melody at times and rarely use it when I write. What I'm trying to say is that I love the sound of jazz harmony but not the rhythmic part.

2) I understand what you're saying about the two consecutive fermatas It does get a little lengthy. That was the end of the intro so I felt it necessary to kind of slowly sway into the main ABAC form. I guess what you're trying to say about chord enhancers is to throw in a little arpeggio or idea to lead into the ABAC form right?

3) I don't know whether it's your ears or mine but the C7-Cm7 clash is not really a clash from what I understand. It is actually called a C7#9 harmony that is an innovation of the jazz idiom. In fact, Jimi Hendrix (not really a jazzy performer/writer) made it mainstream with his song "Purple Haze" dubbing the Purple haze chord name. It must be that my ears are more accustomed to jazz than yours are or maybe you're right maybe it does the kill the mood. Anyways it is sure worth considering.

4) Ending on the "Augmented 11th" is very common in jazz harmony it creates a sense of drama at the end of a composition just as you hear very loud endings to symphonic movements. The harmony in this context is called Ebmaj7#11.

With regards to my melody I wasn't really going for a jumpy bebop melody I was shooting for a vocal melody that utilizes quarter notes and half notes and almost no eighth notes (except in the introduction as a result of melodic embellishment). As this is after all a song that it meant to be sung rather than played by a saxophone player at 200 bpm such as sonny rollins or john coltrane. 

Sorry for ranting so much I gladly appreciate your comments and your listening :)

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2 minutes ago, MrLernerAndLoewe said:

I don't know whether it's your ears or mine but the C7-Cm7 clash is not really a clash from what I understand. It is actually called a C7#9 harmony that is an innovation of the jazz idiom.

The E natural and the D-sharp are clashing. That's all I'm saying. Maybe it's just the way it's played in the recording.

3 minutes ago, MrLernerAndLoewe said:

I didn't like the sound of the swing eighths on the introduction and in general I don't like the sound of too much syncopation

Sorry, I misspoke. I meant that it was a little weird to me it was the same note twice. If you went the ninth, then the 7th, it might mitigate that a little bit.

5 minutes ago, MrLernerAndLoewe said:

The harmony in this context is called Ebmaj7#11.

That's right. Whenever I want to end on that, though, normally I feel like it's built up to? Perhaps the fact the drum sound kind of comes in rather loudly made it seem that way. I will admit you lead into it well melodically, but something dynamic wise or harmonically, perhaps, should be added.

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Thanks so much for the thoughtful advice :) I think I'm going to reharmonize the C7#9 with Cm7. After much listening it does feel awkward. I think theoretically and aurally why it feels awkward is because the D# in the melody never really resolves. I've learned that tensions usually resolve via stepwise motion in a downwards or upwards direction (a suspension and a retardation) but very rarely if ever by skip especially seeing that my #9 resolves up by a skip of a seventh to C. The repeated hammering of the #9 doesn't help either thanks so much for helping me figure it out.

Edited by MrLernerAndLoewe

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21 minutes ago, MrLernerAndLoewe said:

I was correct in my explanation of the vertical aspect but not the horizontal aspect which is equally if not more important :)

 

 

My apologies if I came off as too harsh. My intent is to not force you to alter your piece in any way.

As most, if not all music judging is, it's my personal opinion, and I will without hesitation say, I've only picked up Jazz in the last couple years, so if you are more accustomed to it than that, then consider what I have to say as mute.

It really did a good job of being calm, it was merely my mentioning of my criticisms that made it sound worse than I think it is, and I once again apologize.

I think my main gripe with your chord was I was expecting a resolution and it never really came.

Cheers!

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I really learn a lot with the comments and reviews! As I do with the compositions themselves.

When I listen to this work I think of the American standards. The melody is perfect to be sung, without any big leaps. It's a very nice piece, indeed.

I understand Monarcheon's point of view. I don't think dissonances or that final chord (lydian?) are wrong... In fact, I'm a good friend of that. But when the atmosphere is so tonal... some dissonances, being mild, can sound "heavy". There are passing dissonant chords that are great here (1:40). However, the final chord seems "unprepared", coming from "everything tonal and right", is a bit shocking. The ear is asking for a resolution for that #11... I insist, in other harmonic environment, it would be, surely, perfect.

Anyway, this is just your taste. And this comments are just that.... Little things!

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It's a nice song. That one weird chord might have benefited from a wide open chord voicing. In general the chords are close and lack the subtlety that this kind of music really needs. I don't know if you have a teacher or if you are learning the jazz language on your own, but you could learn a lot from Diana Krall and her chords. You can get the sheet music at Musicnotes.com for $5 a piece. Pretty good.

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