Example of Chord Spellings in 12 Tone Tune

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chord spellings

Below is a chart of a composition recorded on my 1st CD Blue Eleven called Variation 1. You can also find a detail analysis along with a recording of this tune in the book:

MY MUSIC: Explorations in the Application of 12 Tone Techniques to Jazz Composition and Improvisation

This tune uses 015 (half step and a 4th) as it’s basic building block. I play this composition both as a solo guitar piece and with a trio. If you take an 015 and move up in minor 3rds you get all 12 notes:

E, B, D#
G, D, F#
Bb, F, A
C#, G#, C

Chord Spellings

Notice the chord spellings in this piece. I really tried to let the musicians know exactly what was going on via the chord symbols. This can get very tricky to anticipate what works best but usually a chord symbol is preferred by jazz musicians. The chord symbol gives them a basic idea of the sound you are playing.

The MP3 below is from the solo version of Variation 1. The rhythms are simplified but notes are the same. Hear Trio version in the My Music Book

Chord Spellings in 12 Tone Tune
Variation One By Bruce Arnold

Bruce Arnold Music Education Genealogy Chart

You might enjoy checking out the “Music Education Genealogy Chart” located on my artist’s site. You will clearly see the historic progression of pedagogy that is the basis for Muse Eek Publishing Products. Great musicians throughout history have been studying the ideas presented by Muse-eek.com which derives its content from a a lineage that stretches back to Scarlatti!

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2 Replies to “Example of Chord Spellings in 12 Tone Tune”

  1. Love this as a solo piece.

    When the chord names get crowded up against one another, I wonder if you can get away without the “7” in there. Doesn’t the triangle always mean major7? Certainly not hard to get used to as is, but it might save you some space.

    Been enjoying this blog a lot. You’re always finding new ways to approach music, and it’s inspiring.

  2. Hi RIch,

    Glad you liked the piece. There is always a problem when writing chord symbols. There are no accepted rules partly because everyone has been educated differently. If I see a triangle I only assume major and not a 7th. Although I admit I’ve never seen the triangle used without a “7” after it so there is the rub. Over the last 50 years or so contemporary jazz, rock and other styles have pushed past traditional chord structures. This has caused musicians to come up with very interesting, sometimes funny, names and symbols for chords. Everything from “moo” major which Steely Dan called a major chord with an added 9th to my highly complex examples. Overall a group of musicians start with the chord symbols found on a chart and through rehearsing and listening develop their own ways of interpreting these structures. Maybe some day this will be all codified but I doubt any time soon.

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