The Fiddle Sessions Jazz Violin Project: Go Tell Aunt Rhody – #8 Evan Price
By Evan Price
In this solo, I made extensive use of ‘neighbor tones’ in order to create the illusion of harmonic motion, of which there is very little in the chords of the tune. ‘Neighbor tones’ are simply non-chordal notes which surround the chordal notes. They can belong to the scale which corresponds to the key signature—called ‘scalar neighbors’—or they can be chromatically adjacent. In either case, they can be used to dress up an otherwise purely arpeggiated phrase by drawing note-y little bull’s eyes around certain notes in the arpeggio.
Since chromatic neighbor tones are easier to spot (just look for the accidentals), let’s round them up first. Examples can be found in measures 3, 6, 7, 11, 12, and 14. Let’s take special notice of the pattern in m. 3, as it gets repeated several times in various forms. Between beats 2 and 4, the notes E and C# serve to connect the chordal notes, F to Eb, and then C to D. In this case, E and C# are considered chromatic passing tones. A similar lick occurs in m. 6, although since the underlying harmony is different (a Bb chord instead of F7) we would consider both the E and Eb to be passing tones between the chordal notes, F and D. C# would be called a lower chromatic neighbor of D. The subsequent uses of this pattern—on beat 4 of m. 7 and beat 4 of m. 11—are simpler and do not include lower neighbor tones (C’s or C#’s) at all. Aside from this very useful little sequence, there are few chromatic notes. Measure 3 starts with a G#, or a lower neighbor to A; and both measures 12 and 14 include bull’s eyes around the note Bb: look for the sequence C, Cb (or B), A, Bb.
Next, let’s look for the diatonic or scalar neighbors. In m. 4, what appears to be an arpeggiated F chord—F, A, C, A—can also be described as a collection of neighbors surrounding Bb. The same thing happens in m. 8. Also, take note of the many uses of A as an approach to Bb (last note of m. 4, penultimate note of m. 16), which can either be analyzed as a member of a BbM7 arpeggio or as a lower neighbor.
About the author
Evan Price has played gypsy jazz with The Hot Club of San Francisco (www.hcsf.com) since 1998. He is also a 10-year, Grammy-winning veteran of the Turtle Island Quartet and has paid dues and won fiddle contests in a variety of genres. He attended The Cleveland Institute of Music and Berklee College of Music, where he studied with fiddle guru, Matt Glaser.