Christmas Time Is Here Tutorial
In this lesson we will be creating a jazzy Christmas arrangement for the tune ‘Christmas Time Is Here’.
The tune is written in ¾ and has a laid back tempo which can be interpreted freely.
We jump straight in with two-handed voicings, initially starting with simpler chords and then gradually increasing the complexity of the voicings we choose to play.
As well as a full arrangement we will also be exploring some ideas and concepts for soloing over the form of the tune. In particular we will look at:
Creating and developing musical motifs
Using chord tones in improvised lines and phrases
Identifying and focusing on the ‘characteristic’ tones of the chord/mode
Try to familiarise yourself with the distinctive sound of the #11 over the Eb7 chord.
Play the melody in the upper registers and arpeggiate your left hand voicings.
Listen to lots of recordings of the tune for more inspiration.
Hayden, I have a question as to why the Eb13(#11) in the second measure uses #11 and not (b5) and in the fifth measure, the Bm7(b5), which is a scale of all sharps, uses the b5 and not #11 to indicate the note? I’m probably more used to seeing Bm7(b5) because of the term “minor7b5” designation used for the 7th jazz chord; but why isn’t the Eb13(b5) used since it is a scale with flats?
Firstly understand that there is no standardised way to refer to alterations. The most contentious example is the #5 or b13. Enharmonically it is the same note but you will find different jazz musicians refer to it differently. I have always favoured the #5, but in some lessons I do also use b13 and then explain that you will come across both terms, just so that students are aware of this.
Now onto your question…
The key thing you should analyse is the tonality of the chord you are dealing with ie. is it major, minor or dominant? The key signature is irrelevant in terms of analysing the alterations.
Here’s the rules I follow:
Rule 1) For major and dominant chords, it would always be the #11 and not the b5.
The associated chord scale for Eb13#11 would be the Lydian Dominant mode. The notes are Eb(root), F(9), G(3), A(#11), Bb (5), C(13) and Db(b7). Notice that the natural 5 (Bb) is in there – therefore the A must be the #11. Otherwise how would you analyse.classify the Bb?
You can apply the same analysis to major chords, because the natural 5th is present in the Lydian mode.
Rule 2) For -b75 and dim7 chords, it would always be the b5 and not the #11.
For -7b5 chords, it is specified in the chord symbol that the b5 should be present. But if you wanted to analyse it further….
The associated chord scale for B-7b5 would the B Locrian (from major scale harmony) or B Locrian natural 2 (from melodic minor harmony)
The notes would be B(root), C or C# (b2 or 2), D (b3), E(4 or 11), F(b5), G(b6) and A(b7). Notice that the 4 or 11 (E) is present in the scale, therefore the F must be the b5.
Does this kind of analysis make sense?
My recommendation Lonnie would be to always analyse the chord and corresponding scale numerically. This will help you identify each tone from a numeric, or functional standpoint. I hope this helps… if you’d like any further explanation let me know 🙂