The Fiddle Sessions Jazz Violin Project: Go Tell Aunt Rhody – Martin Norgaard
By Martin Norgaard
My solo on Go Tell Aunt Rhody is heavily influenced by Bebop. Specifically, I use a lot of eighth notes that connect chord tones with arpeggios, scales and chromatics. Eighth-note lines in tonal music in many styles from fiddle tunes to Bach and Bebop is constructed by placing the notes of the accompanying chord on the strong beats. E.g. on the Bb chord in this song I often place the root Bb, the 3rd D, or the 5th F, on beats 1 or 3 of the measure. Therefore if you circle the notes on beats 1 and 3 in my solo you will see that they often are part of the chord in that measure. If the chord tones are not on the beat, you will notice melodic tension such as in measures 9 and 17. My book Jazz Fiddle Wizard has several lessons devoted to teaching the reader to play with chord tones on the strong beats.
Also influenced by bebop, I view the F7 chord as being Cm7 to F7. E.g. in measure 3, I anticipate the measure starting an Cm7 arpeggio on the 4th beat of the previous measure leading into a chromatic lick that places the F and Eb (7th of the F7) on the third and fourth beat.
You will also notice I often approach chord tones from a half step below (e.g. measures 1, 9, 10, 17). At other times I approach chord tones chromatically from both above and below like in measure 13 where I approach the 3rd of the Bb triad (D) from above (Eb) and below (C#). Though often associated with bebop, chromatic approach notes were also used by Gypsy Jazz players. I cover the technique extensively in my book Getting Into Gypsy Jazz Violin.
Inspired by bebop phrasing, you’ll notice that I play quarter notes either short or long. I learned this from listening to horn players and to Stuff Smith who masterfully transferred bebop phrasing to the violin. The heavy long slide in measures 20-21 also echoes Stuff’s playing.
I hope you have fun studying this solo. Check out my website JazzFiddleWizard.com for more information about my Mel Bay books. Finally, thanks to Stacy Phillips for including me in this series.
about the author
Martin Norgaard is Assistant Professor of Music Education at Georgia State University in Atlanta. He is the author of ten jazz string method books for Mel Bay Publications including Jazz Fiddle Wizard and Jazz Fiddle/Viola/Cello Wizard Junior and the composer of several string orchestra pieces for The FJH Music Company and Alfred Music Publishing. His most recent research, a qualitative investigation of the cognitive processes underlying improvisation, appears in the Journal of Research in Music Education. Dr. Norgaard is a frequent clinician at state, national, and international conventions such as Singapore International String Conference, The Midwest Clinic, MENC and TMEA, and currently serves on the national board of American String Teachers Association as Member-at-Large. Check out his web site at JazzFiddleWizard.com.