In this, the 4th and final in our 4-part series, we examine an arrangement of the great standard ‘Fly Me To The Moon’ (Bart Howard, 1954).
In order to prepare for the lesson, first study the attached chord chart (downloadable as a PDF). I would suggest printing this off to use as a guide when going through the video – or finding a lead sheet (in almost any of the widely available Jazz Standards Real Books) which has the melody and chords written in.
4 Part Harmony:
As this 4 video series deals specifically with 4-part harmony, I thought it would be a good idea to quickly delve into what this actually is in a broad sense and how it equates to the guitar.
A chord that supports a melody (written or improvised) in jazz is usually made up of 4 different notes or more – these notes when sounded together form a chord. A melody when played against a chord gives us a reference point for harmonizing a ‘voicing’; usually we start with the melody if arranging a new section (knowledge of the bass movement and chords is paramount here!), and harmonise downwards from this.
In 4 part harmony the top (highest) note is called the lead note and will be treated as the melody note, mainly because it is the easiest to clearly hear when sitting atop other notes in a chord. This is also called the ‘Soprano’ note in some arranging classes, particularly 4-part for section writing (horns / big band etc) and voice (choral) arrangements. The notes are then numbered from 1 to 4, 1 being this melody or highest note.
Note 2 (one note lower than the Soprano or highest) is the second note, also called the ‘Alto’ voice. The next note below this is numbered note 3, and is called the Tenor part – these two parts (2 and 3) are referred to also as the ‘inside’ parts as they make up the inside of the chord. The lowest note is note 4 and is referred to as the Bass note. It is important to observe that in this lesson and throughout 4 part arranging that the Bass note may not exclusively be the tonic or root note of the chord. That is true for most of the exercises in this video – so please use the backing tracks (brought to you by iReal Pro http://irealpro.com/) which have a basic bass line and drum sequence to play along to, if you are having trouble hearing the bass line movement.
When the 3 notes below the melody are written in descending order (without omission), it is called CLOSE VOICING.
On the guitar, these 4 voices are usually (but not exclusively) voiced on the top 4 strings of the guitar – DGBE in ascending order, and therefore the voices are numbered 4321 from lowest (Bass) to highest (Soprano).
‘Drop 2’ Voicings
On the guitar (due to fingering requirements and the way a guitar is tuned in standard tuning) we most commonly use ‘Drop-2’ voicings of 4-part chords in standard jazz. This is where you harmonise vertically down a chord (see below example) as you would in a simple 4-part Close voicing, then take the 2nd note and drop it down exactly one octave. In the first bar of our example we have a 4 note voicing of a Cma7 chord with a B natural on top as voiced ‘CLOSE’ because the notes descend in order without omitting any. In the next bar this voicing has been turned into a ‘Drop-2’ by taking the note G or the 2nd voice, down exactly one octave. Notice how much easier this is to finger on the guitar!
In this video we firstly discuss the final arrangement, analysing each chord bar by bar – with a focus on some of the possible substitutions and colour chords we may utilise and also being able to name and play the chords, in particular the often-tricky-to-see rootless voicings. For example, when the melody is an F and the root is a D (in the key of C Major), we may use either a Dmi7 or a Dmi6 voicing as our ‘inside notes’, depending on our tastes or the chord sequence surrounding that particular chord.
Note the prevalent use of the diminished 7th chord as a substitute for the V7 chords such as G7(b9). Observe that a dominant 7th with a flattened 9th is synonymous with a dim7th – they are interchangeable; just remember the rule that in order to find out which diminished 7th chords belong to which dominants (there are four dim7’s for every dom7[b9] chord) , we must play the dim7 off the b9, 3, 5 or b7 – so for G7(b9) we could play either an Abdim7, Bdim7, Ddim7 or an Fdim7.
We have also included a backing track at 80BPM (even though this is a rubato arrangement) if you feel like a challenge. Remember to strike every chord with clarity and keep holding each shape as long as possible to get a legato or ‘joined together / fluid’ sound at the point of change for each chord.
2 Beat Changes
4 Beat Changes