~ from Bach to Coltrane ~

~ our giants across the centuries ~

'two gentle giants merge to harmonize our world of musics ... '

In a nutshell. One third of our musical trinity is the harmony that drives our music along, supporting the melody and combining with rhythms to get the dancers up and the house a rockin'.

In our theory studies, Bach and Coltrane become our bookends. While we do go a bit beyond in the theory,

and create a combined historical timeline and cultural evolution of harmony's tonal qualities from an inside, diatonic basis on through to the distant realms of polytonality, atonality and eventually the full 12 tone chromaticism of free jazz and beyond.

inside / outside
diatonic basis
the chromatic buzz
towiki ~ free jazz

And while European Bach bequeathed to us a vast vast library of harmonic potentials within a collection of keyboard pieces titled "The Well Tempered Clavier", published in two parts, the first in 1722 and the second 20 years later, Americana Coltrane creates an organic evolution of the harmony in jazz composition, within a decade span that electrified the global jazz community.

to wiki ~ WTC

That we have publishing dates and scores for both composers makes our 'in hindsight' theory work a snap. Artistically is where the real challenge begins as we each must decide for the creation of our own current work which elements along these evolutionary pathways are necessary to bring forth our own art. Then the shedding begins to master the chosen resources; the pitches and their evolutions into arpeggios and chords.


Keyboard chords. For our theory story here Bach's WTC represents the vast range of diatonic harmonic resource we gain by the perfection of the equal temper tuning of the pitches. For prior to this time different ways of tuning apparently do not have the full 12 pitch / key center potential as equal temper tuning provides.

ways of tuning

So the tuning precision of the 12 pitches 'encouraged and allowed' the scope of Bach's masterwork? In theory, that's the idea put forth here. As such it becomes a bookend for our theory studies. For while melody goes to the early mists of antiquity, the chords as we know and enjoy them today do not really exceed 500 years.

Saxophone chords. Coltrane started out with the full equal tempered resource of chords equally from all 12 pitches of the chromatic scale. He played saxophones, so no real way to play chords; select pitches struck together as on a piano. Coltrane conquered this reality through combining sheer will of velocity of pitches / rhythms with arpeggiating the pitches of each chord that comes along in a song's chord progression. This approach we know theoretically today as 'sheets of sound.'

chord progression

'Sheets of sound' is a melodic cascade of notes that create a chordal effect not unlike that created by an orchestral harp, but Coltrane's jazz is way way faster in basic tempo and articulation of the number of pitches in a phrase. It's hard to hear the changes in these sorts of lines, the pitches just go by too quickly for most of us to hear and understand its theory. Further aural challenges develop through Coltrane's chord substitution principles.

towiki ~ sheets of sound
hear the changes

While very few strengthen to this level of actual performance, knowing its pitch theory is rather quite simple really. An alternative to 'sheets of sound' in the last decade or so is the rapid chromaticism of pitches that in 'harmony theory sense' lies just a bit beyond the organization of 'sheets of sound', a further degree in the blurring of tonal direction, altering of the tonal gravity, aural predictability and tonal center arrival of the art.

aural predictability
tonal center

Two pathways in. So in the next menu there's two main pathways to initially choose; chords or melody. Find these exact same listings on the main menu of the title page.

Developing the diatonic harmony available on an equal tempered keyboard instrument of J.S. Bach.

diatonic chords

three chord stories

chord color tones
chord substitution
chord type
evolution of harmony

Developing melody and into chords following along the pathways pioneered by John Coltrane.

sheets of sound

'I was obliged to be industrious. Whoever is equally industrious will succeed equally well.'

J. S. Bach


'Invest yourself in everything you do. There's fun in being serious.'

John Coltrane



(1) Isacoff, Stuart. Temperament ... The Idea That Solved Music's Greatest Riddle, p. 40-42. USA Alfred A. Knopf, New York. 2001

(2)Aebersold, Jamey and Slone, Ken. The Charlie Parker Omnibook. New York: Atlantic Music Corp., 1978.