Street Smart Guide to the Bach Chorales - Book
REVIEW by David O'Rourke
"This publication of the Bach Chorales will be of terrific use to the jazz arranging student who has been immersed in the style of writing using block harmony and 'drop' voicings. When the subject of open voicing is introduced in the genre the relationship between the two outer voices is emphasized as the point of departure in one's study of open or spread voicings. Incidentally, some refer to drop voicings as 'semi-open voicings'. One of the greatest solo jazz guitarists, the late Ted Greene released one album that displayed the heavy influence of the chorales on his unique jazz guitar style. He confirms their importance to him in his books as well as in a few arrangements he did for solo guitar which are now shared with the world by his widow and former students.
Mr. Alexander shows points of resolution (he calls them hit points) and suggests working backwards from those as many jazz arrangers do in their writing. He goes on to isolate the two outer voices, then adds alto and tenor but not before he analyses the intervals along with their relationship to to the bassline. By using these approaches as well as others he suggests, he gives the student a template for how to:
- a) carry out their own analyses of these works, or any multiple voice writing for that matter.
- b) by separating the voices he also gives a key to getting these works under the fingers for those who play keyboard at a basic level, or as some in the business say, those who play 'arranger's piano'.
Some may be initially disappointed that he didn't analyze each of these works and spoon feed us with the fruits if his labor - at the end of the day, the student will be more likely to internalize most of what he learns if he does the work himself. What author has done is given a number of refined paths to use when approaching these chorales.
Finally, by creating this 'street smart guide' Mr Alexander has taken some of the intimidation out of studying these works, which are IMO the musical equivalent of the Shakespearean Sonnets to a student of Shakespeare's oeuvre. This book belongs in any arranger's or composer's library!"
New in our series is The Street Smart™ Guide to the Bach Chorales available as either a PDF download or perfect bound paperback (this edition). Included are all 389 chorales from the 1898 Bachgeselleschaft edition.
Unlike other editions, The Street Smart™ Guide to the Bach Chorales comes with an instruction set explaining that the Bach chorales are all four-part choral arrangements of both original and popular hymn tunes of the day. You'll learn the Street Smart way of how to study and immediately apply what you learn, including tips on how to record them.
Also included is a template for printing out your own blank sheet of music paper. This is a must for any musician's library that you'll use for years and years to great benefit. The chorales even gave Mozart a boost, and he was pretty good!