There are many forms that open different directions
in music, but when we come down to it, a study of
the instrument itself is much more effective when
it’s no longer influenced by any of these styles.
The common inversions for both the augmented and diminished shape can be seen in
Fig. 1. When any of these forms are viewed
horizontally, they automatically unfold repetitively with the same fingerings. This happens either four frets apart (augmented) or
three frets apart (diminished). Also, they can
be organized as seven “common” groups of
augmented triads, as well as five “common”
groups of four-tone diminished clusters.
Once these common groups of “parental”
forms are memorized, the instrument harmonically begins to multiply itself into an
automatic vocabulary. Unlike most methods
that are based on scales, the extension of
these forms unfolds from a system based
upon a study of opposites. Its first application moves us through ascending or descend-ing alterations of any of the single tones
within the chosen form. In other words,
once the form is decided, this type of alteration produces its next stage of expansion.
For example, the alteration of the
central triad, (C, E, or G# augmented)
in Fig. 2 produces some interesting
results. By lowering the G# to G, the
triad becomes C major. By raising the
same tone (G# to A), it becomes the relative minor triad—A minor—in the key
of C. The same phenomenon takes place
when applied to either of the other two
chord tones, producing a total of three
major (C, E, and G#) and three minor
alterations (Am, C#m, and Fm) of a single
augmented triad. Of course, four of them
in a horizontal row ( 4 x 3) result in all 12
keys before the next series of its automatic
inversions. As it was presented above
through horizontal alterations, it now shall
follow as automatic fingerings in vertical
forms, viewed in Fig. 3.
In the upcoming studies, the harmonic
forms we’ve covered so far will not only
continue to expand, but shall also serve as
Augmented Triads. An augmented triad
consists of two major-third intervals.
There are a few different ways to think
about these, including the standard for-
mula of 1–3–#5. This is an interesting
sound because it doesn’t occur naturally
in a diatonic scale. Since the intervals
within the chord are equal, any note of
the chord can be considered the root.
Saxophonist John Coltrane used aug-
mented triads to create his major thirds
cycle, which occur in such compositions
as “Countdown” and “Giant Steps.”
Diminished Triads. The diminished
triad is made up of two minor-third
intervals stacked over a root. Think
of it as a standard minor triad with a
lowered fifth ( 1– 3– 5). It occurs natu-
rally in a major scale when you create
a triad based on the 7th degree. As
with the augmented triad, any note in
the chord can be considered the root.
the architectural groundwork for melodic
linear studies. Next month, we will look at
how the diminished form creates automatic
voicings for dominant chords.
Start here With a discography that stretches out over 40 years, Pat Martino has developed a unique voice that
has influenced generations of musicians. Here are four albums that cover four distinct periods in Martino’s career.
mer Mitch Fine, organist Trudy Pitts
keeps the young guitarist on his
toes, and together they embody the
classic jazz-organ trio.
this album of originals that opened
music and rhythms outside of main-
stream jazz. Combining a classic
jazz rhythm section with tabla and
tamboura was very psychedelic and
adventurous for 1968.
the stage in
1987 for a
live gig in New York City. Comprising
of only four tracks, the album shows
Martino in strong form, and the
tunes give him plenty of room to
stretch out over the swinging foun-
dation provided by bassist Steve
LaSpina and drummer Joey Baron.
“Tenor,” and “Blue.” He matched
each word up with a note in the
Aeolian mode and then improvised
the phrasing and chord changes. The
result is a great combination of intel-
lectual and extemporaneous expres-
sion. Pure Martino.