A NEW WAY FORWARD

"How the innovators innovated. The theory behind what

the innovators did that changed the complexion of the music."

Louis: The supertonic, or perhaps more commonly Two and Dorian are theory labels for the second scale degree of the diatonic / major scale. We also have a Two chord type built in the major tonality. In a diatonic minor key, the Two chord is half diminished, sometimes referred to as that mysterious "Tristan" chord of 19th century Romantics. Also on Two we'll build a dominant chord, often termed Five of Five, that essential cycle of dominants of the Ragtime era forward found in the American sounds.

supertonic
Dorian
Two chord type
half diminished
Ragtime

Bird. We'll find the supertonic Two in all of the nooks and cranies of the American sounds. As the descending penultimate pitch to the tonic One, melodic lines often pass through Two on their way to One. Chordally the diatonic minor Two is mostly a Pop and Jazz color, although as the dominant Five of Five motion, a Ragtime style staple. In more modern times we'll often find it in Rock tunes and the Blues in mostly ascending melodic and harmonic patterns.

penultimate
Five of Five
harmonic patterns

Of course in nearly all stepwise motions we need the supertonic pitch and or chord to smoothly build the lines. As a tonal center, the Dorian mode provides an essential core of pitches and intervals creating a unique emotional environment that mostly Jazz artists have explored through the decades.

stepwise
tonal center
tonal environment

West Coast Cool. We do have a bit of a link to the ancient Greeks with the Dorian mode. Although tenious in that little documentation remains, even a hint can create shadows from the mist. More recently in medieval times, we have what we commonly term as the church modes which includes the Dorian mode.

medieval times

Elvis. The theoretical distance between One and Two is a whole step we term a major second. Example 1.

Louis Jordan. As a key center, upon the second degree of the diatonic scale we locate the Dorian mode. Overall minor in its tonality, Dorian is a core color of American Jazz both in composition and blowing. Examine the pitches of D Dorian as extracted from the pitches of the C major / diatonic scale. A scale within a scale? You guessed it. Example 2.

composition
blowing
scale in a scale
scale degrees
root
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
scale formula
1
1
1 / 2
1
1
1
1/2
major / Ionian
C
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
scale formula
1
1 / 2
1
1
1
1 / 2
1
minor / Dorian
D
E
F
G
A
B
C
D

Notice how we've simply reshaped our core scale formula to create Dorian by moving the first whole step interval to the end of the group? This allows the minor third interval between the root pitch D and its third F. The second key Dorian aspect is found on its 6th scale degree. In Dorian mode, this interval is a major 6th, forever solidifying its unique personality. Into the wayback we go and find this essential Dorian gem. Example 2a.

wayback
chromatic scale

Dorian melody. Recognize this melody? Scarborough Fair has been with us almost all along. Learn it here if need be and basque in Dorian modality Example 2b.

video of

Tough to put into words / food for thought. As an improvising musician, learning and internalizing these familar lines has deepened my inner strength in regards to knowing where the pitches are. It was said of Charlie Parker that while performing, he had the ability to think ahead, precompose his improvisations. So while in the process of improvising, did Bird show us that it's possible to in a sense prewrite what he was going to play while he was playing?

improvisation
shedding
improvisation
12 keys

Could that partly explain his wonder sense of time and melodic invention? That he was composing a couple of measures, or more, in front of the band, thus consequently just plain stronger and less apt to get tripped up along the way as he already knew what was ahead? Thanks Mr. Parker for some amazing music, showing what's possible with the human mind and spirit as well as pointing toward a new way to move it all forward.

improvisation
shedding
improvisation
12 keys

Our own improvisational growth. While not too sure if I explained that so well, I do know that since I began practicing to play my deeply rooted melodies from back when I was a kid by ear, such as the above Scarborough Fair, I've completely evolved my own approach to improvising on the generally more complex melodies and harmonies found in Jazz I love to play today. That whether it's just that I better learn the locations of the pitches or become stronger in expressing the emotional intent, by rote learning deeply ingrained melodies, or both, that so much more music happens artistically in my improvisations and I'm able to reach deeper into many aspects of the music.

my melodies
rote learning
improvisation
12 keys

So maybe do some digging too. As time permits, dig back into your memories and find the melodies that Ya sang as a kid. Even just one is often enough to start. Search out and find the pitches of this melody on your git and develop absolute confidence and mastery over the notes. Once it's under your fingers completely, simply sing the melody and recreate your voice with guitar, gradually finding the nuance of your emotional, vocal inflection in your guitar's pitches.

early melodies
sing the line, play the line

Strive to capture the song's intent. It's emotional environment if you will. If it's a joyous tune be joyous. A pentatonic, happy go lucky vibe, be happy. Reflectiveor moody? Reflect and dig deep for the pitches. Longing? Then pine away. Sad? Try to find the tears. This deeper interpretation of your earliest melodies will manifest itself in what your playing now. A deeper emotional connection might just resonate in your music and bring greater artistic satisfaction to you, the players you hang with and the dancers and listeners who need you to help them get there too :)

emotional environment
musical emotions

Harmony / chord type. Our Two chord, especially when we add its 7th, becomes a chord type. One of three possible core configurations of intervals, the ii-7 is a cool and sleek middleman between the restive tonic and its dominant chord tension. As part of the essential Two / Five / One cadential motion, the Two chord sets in motion our initial direction or tendancy to move towards a tonic stability. Examine the intervals of our Two chord type and a few common voicings. Example 3.

chord type
root position
Two chord type intervals
common ii -7 / Two chord voicings

Two / Five / One. Our Two chord, especially when we add its 7th, becomes a chord type. One of three possible core configurations of intervals, the ii-7 is a cool and sleek middleman between the restive tonic and its dominant chord tension. As part of the essential Two / Five / One cadential motion, the Two chord sets in motion our initial direction or tendancy to move towards a tonic stability. Example 4.

chord type
root position

Stepwise motion. We'll often find the Two chord knitted in between One and Three in our diatonic stepwise motions. In this next idea we get both an ascending and descending example such as in the classic Pop song "Lean On Me." Simply stepwise diatonic motion from One up to Four and then back to One. Example 5.

diatonic chord progressions

Roman numerals. In the last idea we used upper and lower case Roman numerals to designate our chords. We find this type of labeling of the chords more in academia that in common practice. Knowing the key of the music, while players often talk about a One chord or Four for example, in writing out charts we most often use letter name chord symbols. The Roman numerals come into play when we're analying the music or harmony of a song. Upper case denote major chords, lower case minor.

Roman numerals
charts

V of V. Five of Five is simply a first evolution level move away from diatonic harmony. All we are doing here is morphing our diatonic Two minor 7th chord into a Five chord, dominant type chord. This motion most like originates in the American music during the ragtime era. In popular songs such as Maple Leaf Rag by Scott Joplin we hear this Five of Five as well as other diatonic chords in the progression morphed into a dominant chord type.

evolution of harmony
Five of Five
dominant harmony

We'll see this Five of Five motion eventually evolve into the diatonic Two chord in later decades as tempos accelerate and there is more modulation in a composition. Composers now a days can recreate olden times sounds (cliche) with using this type of harmonic motion. There is also a ultra modern Jazz version of this concept whereby all of the chords in a song are converted to dominant chords in the soloing sections. Here's just V 7 of V7 to One motion first followed by its softer, diatonic Two / Five / One version. Example 6.

modulation
cliche
modern dominant harmonic substitution
softening colors

We'll see this Five of Five motion eventually evolve into the diatonic Two chord in later decades as tempos accelerate and there is more modulation in a composition. Composers now a days can recreate olden times sounds (cliche) with using this type of harmonic motion. There is also a ultra modern Jazz version of this concept whereby all of the chords in a song are converted to dominant chords in the soloing sections. Here's just V 7 of V7 to One motion first followed by its softer, diatonic Two / Five / One version. Example 6.

modulation
cliche
modern dominant harmonic substitution
softening colors

In the minor tonality. In a minor key our diatonic Two chord takes on a unique coloring, mostly essential to the Jazz artist. Known as the "half diminished chord" or "-7b5", its fairly common to see inversions of this chord in the Blues as a substitute voicing. Here's Two / Five / One in A minor, our relative minor key to C major. The V7 chord is altered. Example 7.

relative minor
half diminished
inversions
Blues

We'll come across this half diminished chord down the road a bit. As you can probably see from the root B in the last example, this half diminished chord is the diatonic chord built on Seven in our major keys.

Seven

Review. So lots of cool and important components on and from Two. Its proximity to the tonic generally means we'll bump into as we "to and go" from our tonic pitch, generally ensuring its importance in the music.

"What we play is life."

2
b3
3
4
#4
b5
5
#5
b6
6
b7
7
8
9
#9
-10th
10th
11
#11
12
b13
13
b14
14

15

#15
Footnotes:

(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.