007 Making My Own Music – Fusion

Making My Own MusicIn this episode, I talk about my jazz fusion piece “Fusion” composed in 1994. I also talk about extended major and extended minor chords.

I started by reading an email from Steve Snively and a comment from Viv Black.

My favorite chords are the extended major and minor chords that are built by stacking alternative major and minor thirds.

For major:

  • C-E-G is a major chord
  • C-E-G-B is a major 7th. This is a melancholy sound. I play short clips from Tin Man and Ventura Highway by America that use a lot of major 7th chords. Late Day Storm uses 2 major 7th chords for the second half of the chord progression.
  • C-E-G-B-D is a major 9th. It sounds like the major 7th, with the addition of the 9th which is a color note.
  • C-E-G-B-D-F# is C maj9#11. I played Tell Me A Bedtime Story by Herbie Hancock that starts with the major 9th, and has a nice sequence ending with a maj9#11. (Bmaj7, Gmaj7, Emaj9, Cmaj9#11 – all the F# in the melody)
  • C-E-G-B-D-F#-A is Cmaj13#11
  • C-E-G-B-D-F#-A-C# is actually Dmaj7 / Cmaj7. This is used at the end of Colour My World by Chicago

For minor:

  • A-C-E is a minor chord
  • A-C-E-G is a minor 7th
  • A-C-E-G-B is a minor 9th – my favorite chord. Zanzibar by Billy Joel uses this chord. My song Fusion uses only minor 9th chords.
  • A-C-E-G-B-D is a minor 11th. Funk (for solo piano) and Sleepy use minor 11th chords.
  • A-C-E-G-B-D-F# is a minor 13th

The chord progression is simple: Dm9 for 2 measures, and Gm9 for 2 measures.

When I created this in 1994, I was only using MIDI and the sounds that were built in to the PC. I didn’t have any good way to record and mix audio.

I use layering, where each time through the chord progression, a new part comes in, while all the other parts repeat their part from before.

  • The first time is just the bass guitar and the cymbals
  • The second time is the high electric piano part
  • The third time is an electric guitar
  • The fourth time is the mid-range electric piano and the bass drum and snare drum
  • The fifth time is two shaker parts
  • The sixth time is where the saxophone comes in

I played the 1994 version of Fusion.

I then talked about how I re-sequenced the piece in Cubase in 2011. I was able to get better synthesizer sounds, and record myself on the saxophone. I then played the 2011 version.

I came up with an idea of how I can get a better recording of my jazz band arrangements. I can try to play all the saxophone parts, and try to get a trumpet and trombone player to play all the trumpet and trombone parts. Then I can mix the whole jazz band from my computer. If this works, I will publish my arrangement of Miles Davis’s Four, as well as re-recording Powerhouse.

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