Sunday, February 23, 2014

Applying Classical Theory to Jazz Composition: Muse Eek Publishing Presents Bruce Arnold’s New Book “My Music”

Guitarist and composer Bruce Arnold has forged a unique sound in both his playing and compositions. In “My Music” he de-mystifies the theory behind that sound, so that others may use the same tools for their own music. 

Finding one’s own personal and recognizable sound is the ultimate artistic goal for any musician. Since his first solo CD outings, Bruce Arnold’s music has been completely his own, prompting one critic to write: “It doesn’t fit neatly in any pigeonhole… elements of fusion, to be sure… plenty of jazz/blues leanings… but what shines through is that it is original playing!” So what is the magic formula, how does one connect with the mysterious muse? What is the method behind the music?
In “My Music”, Bruce Arnold takes a highly complex subject, and in simple, clear language explains the structures used in his compositions. Through the use of trichords Bruce presents a method to either entirely replace the usually tertial based chords used in contemporary rock and jazz or to give interesting substitutes for common chord structures such as the 12 bar blues. In other words, his system can function either as a replacement for the commonly used chords in traditional jazz and rock improvisation, or can be used to form new-sounding compositions and improvisational forms using non-tertial trichord structures.
To further demystify and demonstrate these theories, Arnold provides examples of his own works, and also provides full written scores along with audio files. (The digital download edition has audio files in MP3 format. The physical edition has a CD included with the book.)
“My Music: Exploration in the Application of 12 Tone Technique to Jazz Composition and Improvisation” examines the following concepts: The use of pitch class sets in a contemporary improvisational setting, non-symmetrical trichord groupings, hexatonic based composition and improvisation, 23rd chords and 12-tone composition, he use of four trichords as a source for playing within and outside of the key center, the creation of pseudo 12 tone improvisational fields, the use of pedal tones and other common rock and jazz techniques to create 12 tone harmonic structures, application of all of these ideas to solo guitar playing, symmetrical and non-symmetrical groupings of 4 trichord arrays, application of trichord structures to typical jazz forms such as the 12 bar blues and Giant Steps.
With this battery of information, the reader can not only understand the structural foundations of Arnold’s music, but can build upon this composer’s work, to discover new avenues to explore in their own musical ventures.