How I apply the information in this book…

You might be asking yourself ‘How do I use this material when I play or compose? How can I approach all this information in a way that makes musical sense and that sounds good’? I have included three original compositions that show how I use these concepts and ideas. The Inside of the Outside, A Joe Jones, and Uncle Salty are three very different original compositions in scope and style.

First off, you should realize that when I write or play, I am not thinking about all the different patterns and sequences and trying to play them verbatim. Far from it. I am not interested in playing specific patterns as improvisation or writing them as composition. I don’t consider that to be creating. I am trying to hear melody, harmony and rhythm in relation to what I am playing, and in relation to the musicians I am playing with, I am trying to serve the music with what I play and compose. I feel the music knows what it wants and I am trying to discover what that is through the process of musical dialogue in a solo or by sculpting it through a composition. Either way, it’s a process and one that needs to be encouraged and fostered as you develop as a musician.

I started to explore these different intervals in the mid 1990’s after I got out of college. (Yes, back in the 20th Century!) I got into exploring these intervallic relationships as a way to expand my playing, composing and listening. When I played with Bela Fleck and the Flecktones (1997-2010) I brought in a 12 tone row with wide intervallic leaps that became the backbone of our tune ‘Huckleberry Row’. I realized that by spreading out the intervals, I listened more carefully to be sure of what I was playing. So, it made me a better listener as well! I also had to play the exercises slower because I wasn’t as familiar with the patterns. The ear has more difficulty identifying wider intervallic leaps than shorter intervallic leaps. By practicing these sequences slowly, it gave me an opportunity to listen in a different and more expansive way. Practicing and playing this way were what really opened me up to the music of Ornette Coleman. When I ‘heard’ Ornette for the first time, I mean, when I really GOT IT, I nearly drove off the road! No kidding. It was like the sun came out from behind the clouds. So, again, I come back to that word ‘process’. We are all in process.