Week 26 – Any Which Way (But Loose)

Some of you may recognize the title of this tune from a Clint Eastwood movie from years ago. Although not a great movie, I like the title and thought it summed up this weeks tune musically.

About ten years ago I started using manuscript paper notebooks to write down composition ideas, chord voicings etc… Kind of like an artist using a sketch book I suppose. Occasionally I will be browsing through or looking for a particular idea I’ve written down in the notebooks. This weeks tune came about through an idea (first two bars of the bass line) that was a sketch for something else that was from years ago. From there the bass and melody line developed pretty quickly, but I intentionally kept the chord structure open, harmonically speaking. In fact I didn’t really write in chord changes. Not that this is a free tune (music without predefined chord structures.) Rather I thought the melody and bass should imply the chord, giving the improviser freedom and to get away from the chord/scale relationship that sometimes seems too present to me in the improvising processs. In talking about how to approach improvising with my students, I think it is important to remember that a scale merely represents possible note choices to a given harmony, vertically. Musical lines are linear, they exist in time. The challenge is how manage note choices to form these musical lines in time (linear) and also imply the chord changes.

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